Friday, January 29, 2010

Easy peanut sauce with chicken skewers

The boy is a big fan of chicken satay and has been wanting to try a peanut sauce at home. He found this easy recipe on and it 's a winner.

Peanut Sauce
1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
1/3 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. tamarind paste OR 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processer. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust accordingly: Add more fish sauce if it's not salty enough, or more chili sauce if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add more sugar.

How much easier do you want it?! I didn't adjust the seasoning at all — perfectly peanuty with just a little spice. I used Sriracha for the spice and had a block of tamarind lurking in the vegetable drawer. The consistency was slightly runnier than I expected and I might reduce the water to 1/4 cup next time, though it does thicken as it sits. It would be great on just about anything: beef or chicken, fresh veggies, warm or cold noodles, summer rolls. The boy wants to start putting it on all his sandwiches! We had it last night with chicken skewers using the marinade below.

Ginger Marinade:
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 Tb honey
2 Tb sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb ginger root, minced
2 Tb green onion, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine all until honey is dissolved. Marinade up to 24 hours or apply just before grilling and use to baste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter is the time for books

In case you didn't know, I love to read. I keep an updated list of the books I've been reading just over on the right side of your screen there — scroll down a wee bit to find it. If you've visited here before, it won't surprise you to see that much of what I read is food related.

Have I also told you about how much I love the Ann Arbor library system? You can read my rant on the subject here. I recently visited the Pittsfield branch and it is stunning. The building opened in 2006 and is a great example of sustainable design.

Below is a look at the cozy reading room looking out over the marshes with gorgeous modern armchairs and a working fireplace. Magical!

Two of my favorites books from the past year are This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow and Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. They are both fascinating portraits of strong personalities and their relationship to food as well as the people around them — and they both have wonderful recipes woven throughout. I'm also a sucker for great Indian sagas like Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts or The Far Pavilions by M.M Kaye. This year, in a similar tradition, I loved The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan.

What have you been reading? Anything I shouldn't miss out on?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Forcing spring

I went a little wild buying bulbs. Remembering how happy it made me come spring time last year, I scooped up dozens — maybe even tens of dozens — of bulbs to plant. Crocuses, tulips, daffodils, scilla — and some more unusual-looking Fritillaria. After two lengthy planting sessions late in the fall, my eagerness waivered. The brown paper bag with the unplanted bulbs has been looming on a shelf outside our front door for months. They didn't sit quietly. My guilt got me to thinking last week during a warm spell that maybe I should just try to pry open a big hole up in the semi-frozen ground and throw them all in, see what happens. Then I had a better idea. Why not let them do their thing now? They're not your traditional paperwhites or amaryllis, but a few crocuses in the house would certainly be welcome!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hello people of Chicago …and Montana!

As part of my goal to branch out beyond the interwebs in 2010, I'm happy to announce that my artwork will soon be available in Chicago at the Renegade Handmade store in Wicker Park and through their online store. Created as an extension of the Renegade Craft Fair, the store is a unique one-stop shop for DIY goods with an amazing selection of housewares, jewelry, posters + prints, plush items, clothing, stationery + more!

And for my Montana peeps, you can check out some of my goodies in person at Frayed Sew (isn't that the cutest name ever?!) in Helena. Frayed Sew is owned by Becky Schreiner and is devoted to handcrafted items including childrens' and adult clothing, jewelry and accessories. Come on down!