Saturday, January 05, 2008

Finding comfort in a winter storm

The whole west coast is getting a big old wallop of winter, complete with a bit of shake, rattle and rolling up in the Haida Gwaii. So my wonderful DH and I hunkered down and enjoyed a warm, cozy romantic, lazy Saturday.
We started the day with a big plate of Danish pancakes, known otherwise as crepes. My wonderful DH insists that the only way to eat them is rolled up with raspberry jam. Luckily we had some of that in the house. It was even locally made. Yippee!

I spent most of the day knitting up a Healing Shawl for a cousin who's recovering from a car accident and daydreaming about all the projects for this coming year.
For my wonderful DH, I have a pair of Gaston Socks, a Bog Jacket and a Tree of Gondor sweater to do. For myself, I'm brainstorming a few ideas for my Tolkien Yarn project.
I've also had my heart set on knitting a corset. It's been on the back burner for years but I think it's time.
Annie Modesitt's gorgeous knitted corset.

I've sewed and constructed a number of corsets for myself and friends in the past. My fascination with corsets started about 15 years ago when I and a bunch of a guerilla feminist friends took part of an installation that looked at the politicization of the female body. I made a papier-mâché corset using strips of paper that had my rants and raves and general soapboxing about women's bodies. My entry was probably the most tame of all the installations. Well, from a well-meaning, albeit neophytish criticism of fashion, media and society's unrealistic expectations of women and their bodies, I took the corset the other direction. I began celebrating it.
Well, actually, more precisely, I started celebrating women's body of curves and reclaimed the corset as a symbol of a woman's tool to self-definition of her body and her life. You have to remember, this was during the whole Grunge era and everyone including me was dressed like a lumberjack. To peel away all that frumpy, cloaking fabric and to re-introduce myself to my silhouette was quite refreshing.
Corsets don't have to mean constriction and conformity. They can be a tool for a woman (and men) to underline and redefine themselves. They can be a way for a women to say " I want to accentuate all the things that make me who I am." Corsets can be made with paper, flowers, feathers, metal, wood, fabric, leather, latex, bark or anything else you can get your hands on. You tie all that together with my love for historical clothing and you have quite a fun hobby:).
Well, if anything, at least a corset does wonders for your posture.
For a bit more information on corset building, check out this general overview.

Back to dinner...
To help keep us warm during this weekend storm, I decided to make up a lamb curry with some lamb shanks from Heritage Horizon organic farm that I had in the freezer. In fact, most of the lamb is still in the freezer. It's amazing how much meat can come from one small lamb.
(some of our lamb order)

This is one those all day cooking affairs but it's mostly hands-off since most of the cooking time is letting the curry simmer and do it's magic. The recipe and summary of the curry is at end of this entry. Obviously, the curry paste itself can be used with wide range of meats, seafoods and veggies. It's a great sauce to make up and freeze for another time. You can also use the curry sauce, uncooked as a form of meat marinate/rub.
For the curry, I decided to make a curry paste based on a chermoula. Here's my chermoula, one red onion, 1 large bunch of cilantro, a couple of black hot peppers, 2 thumbs of ginger, a head of garlic. All except for the ginger were either from local farms or from my garden.

I then took the handblender to it made it a chunky sort of paste. You can also do this in the food processor.

To this I added my curry powder and threw it all into my wok with some veggie oil. I cooked up until it started taking on some colour and the whole house smelled like Little India.

Then I added about 4 cups of my tomato sauce. You can use chopped tomatoes, either frozen or canned. I used a homemade tomato sauce from my freezer stash that didn't have any seasoning, just veggies (red and golden tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers.)

My sauce came out more yellow due to the fact that most of my tomatoes were golden tomatoes from my garden. If you use red tomatoes or canned tomatoes, your sauce will end up red, of course. I tossed the curry sauce into a crockpot and let it simmer on high for about an hour and half. This will develop and bring together all the flavours.
Then I browned some gorgeous lamb shanks in some veggie oil on medium high heat. Be careful not the crowd the meat in the pan or else you'll up steaming it instead of browning it.
Then I dump the shanks into the crockpot and cover them with the curry sauce and let it simmer away for a few hours. The aromas will now start permeating through the walls and will waft through the neighbourhood.
DH considers having to smell this wonderful curry cooking away all day as a form of torture:) All evening, he kept asking when dinner was going to be done, groaning that he was so hungry and it was smelling so good. Ah well, it's about time his Id learns some patience :P

Once the meat is all cooked and tender, I simply pull the meat off the bone and cut it into bitesize chunks. I keep the bones in the curry for it continue releasing it's flavours. Here's the finished product:

It was sooooo good. I don't think we said a single word to each other while eating. It was that good. The best thing....leftovers!

Not so Fast but still Dirty Lamb Curry

Curry Paste:

1 medium red onion
1 large bunch of cilantro
2 thumbs of ginger, peeled and minced
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
chili peppers (you can use whatever heat bombs. I used 3 small black hot peppers which are about the same heat as 3 thai red chilis for a bit of heat kick)
3-4 tablespoons of curry powder (I used a homemade curry powder but you can use store bought)

3-4 cups of chopped tomatoes (fresh, canned, frozen)
4 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons of veg oil or butter
salt & pepper to taste

1- Chop and combine all the ingredients of the curry paste except for the curry powder. Blend with a hand blender or food processor until it makes a chunky paste. Add curry powder.
2- Heat up a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a wok or large pan/skillet. Toss the curry paste into the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes or until it takes on a bit of colour and the onions have softened.
3- Add the tomatoes. Stir and bring the sauce to a boil
4- Either continue simmering in the pot on the stove over low heat for an hour or transfer to a crockpot and continue cooking on high for an hour or more.
5- An hour later, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat in a skillet/frying pan. Add lamb shanks and let them sit and sear for 4 minutes on each side. Don't move the meat around when searing, just leave it alone!
6- When the lamb has been browned on all sides, add to the sauce.
7-Continue cooking until the meat starts falling off the bone, about 2 hours later.
8- Pull meat off the bone and cut into bite size pieces.
9- Serve with chopped cilantro, mint, yogurt and your favorite chutney!

Happy Eating!

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