Our house is an old house. We’re talking about built in 1907 old, older than any of my grandparents old. It is full of character, full of pretty moldings, and when we bought it it wasn’t so full of insulation.
Brr. It was cold in there. Some of you who live in much more sensible climes may not be so concerned about the insulative properties of your homes. Living in Winnipeg with a poorly insulated house makes for a chilly winter as well as pretty high heating bills.
Anyway, there was one January morning that first winter (before we got the insulation done), where Mister had already left for work, and I was having some trouble inspiring myself to get out of bed. My morning classes beckoned, but it was so cold out of the blankets. One of those mornings where there wasn’t yet a time impetus, so staying in that half asleep haze is an option.
And then I heard footsteps.
As I said, Mister had left for work for the day. Trooper the Wonder Puppy hadn’t joined the family yet. I thought I was alone in the house. And there were footsteps. Someone was there.
Was there a stranger in our house? How did they get in? We don’t live in a neighborhood that is terrible, but it certainly isn’t known to be the best one around. An intruder!
Making decisions informed by all of the scary movies I’ve ever watched, I grabbed my cellphone from the bedside table and hid under the blankets. Being relatively small, laid out flat and very still, the terrible intruders couldn’t find me… right?
I turned my phone to silent (in film the soon to be hostage is too often found because their phone rings). And I sent Mr a text message: There is someone in the house. This way, whoever was in my house wouldn’t hear me talking.
Mister immediately phones me. Luckily I had turned my ringer off, right? Mister obviously hadn’t studied up on his scary films. His calling to help would be what made the boogeyman find me.
He must have figured my line of thinking, because he then sent me a text back.
Me: I heard their footsteps.
Him: Do they know that you are there?
That’s when the real wave of fear kicked in, the potential gravity of the situation. Someone was in our house, and though I was hiding, it wouldn’t be very hard for them to find me. What was I going to do?
My limited knowledge of scary films didn’t help. I’m a scaredy cat, I don’t watch too many of them. I was hiding. The potential kidnapper wasn’t going to hear me talking on the phone. But what comes next?
And that’s when I heard the giggle.
A far away sounding giggle.
It was followed by a child’s voice, and more footsteps.
I got out of bed and looked out of the window. It was the neighbor’s kids playing in the yard.
The thing about winter is that it is cold. Another this is that sound travels further in cold air. Cold air is denser air, and denser air provides better transmission. Houses with almost no insulation in the walls do not create much of a sound barrier either. It sounded like the footsteps were in the house, when really they were in the neighbor’s yard, being made my the neighbor’s kids.
Luckily, I got to phone Mister and tell him that everything was fine. No home intrusion, no burgling of Dana. Needless to say, we were happy that it was only a scare. It inspired Mister to tell me what to do if someone broke into the house and he wasn’t home.
Looking back I find it pretty hilarious how quickly my panicked mind went to the movies. And how silly the solutions gleaned from film had been. Luckily there was no real danger, and if a time occurs when there is I will be better prepared.
Curried Squash Soup
(recipe adapted from Jyl Chegwin)
1 butternut squash (or other squash of choice)
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
3 Cups chicken broth
1 Cup coconut milk
1 Cup water
- Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Cut the onion in half.
- Place the squash halves, onion halves and garlic cloves in a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Roast the vegetables in a 375° F oven until the squash is fork tender (~1 hour).
- Let the contents of the pan cool enough to handle. Scoop the squash from it’s skin with a spoon, peel the onion, and squish the garlic out of it’s skin.
- Add the chicken broth, ginger, and curry powder and then either use a blender or an immersion blender to make the soup nice and smooth.
- Put everything in a pot over medium heat, and stir in the coconut milk and water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes for the flavors to marry.
- Soups on!
Who wouldn’t want a bowl of this tasty goodness? It’s sweet from the squash, creamy from the coconut milk, and a little spicy from the curry. If you have vegetarian friends coming over, all you need to do is swap out the chicken broth for vegetable.
Mister, who still claims he doesn’t like things with curry in, liked this soup too! He says: This is the best thing I’ve ever had with curry in it.
This time last year: Cream Puffs
And the year before: Mister’s Woodgrain Birthday Cake
I really love it when you can follow the story of a recipe, the lineage through which it has been passed. I got this recipe from my friend Joe from work, who got the recipe from his aunt, who got the recipe from a little old lady while on a trip. The way a recipe can jump, hop and skip around is really interesting to think about, especially since it probably evolves a little every time it gets passed along.
So here is a recipe for pastelitos, ‘little pies,’ Carribean pasties, from a recipe that has made (at least) four stops in different kitchens along the way. What will your iteration be?
(recipe from Joe Zacharias)
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 potatoes, coarsely grated
1 green onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 1/2 Cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 Cup butter
- To make the filling, fry together the beef, onion, pepper, salt, green pepper, potato, green onion, garlic, and first measures of curry powder and cayenne. Cook this for a good long while, until the beef has a good level of brownness and the potato no longer tastes starchy.
- Remove the filling from heat and let cool. While it is cooling, assemble the dough by combining the dry ingredients. Next, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. Start to knead the dough, adding the ice water in small amounts until it comes together, the texture of pie crust.
- Roll the dough out very thin (~1/8″) and cut into rounds. Spoon the filling onto the dough circles and seal, making a half circle shaped pocket, like an empanada or a perogy.
- Bake in a 350°F oven for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is slightly browned.
- Serve and enjoy!
The color on these is just gorgeous, thanks to the curry powder and the turmeric. They have a really nice little hit of spice too. Perfectly good as a standalone snack or meal, these are also really good to dip (a girl has got to dip, you know?); I suggest tzatziki, barbecue sauce, or raita.
Also, if you make more pastelitos than you are going to consume, you can freeze them and bake them later. Freeze spread out on a cookie sheet, so that they don’t all stick together, and then transfer them to a resealable bag.
Mr, who claims to not like things that involve curry, snapped up these lovelies toute suite! He says pastelitos are “super tasty and good for dipping!”
A few days before Easter I got a phone call from Mr’s mum. She was looking for a recipe for a curried chickpea salad; something she could whip up a batch of and keep in the fridge for a few days while bringing portions of it to work for lunch. I told her I was sure I could find something and that I’d make a batch for Easter supper, so we could try it out, and she would have some left to start off taking it for lunch.
I was pretty happy with how it turned out, as was Mr’s mum and the other Easter guests. The chickpeas take up the spicy, tangy vinaigrette really well. Next time, I would suggest a little more curry, because I would like the flavor to be a little more prevalent, but that’s just me.
There was one person who was downright unenthused about our curried chickpea salad, Mr. He’s the apple of my eye, but decidedly not a fan of chickpeas; nor does he enjoy curry. In his eyes this was pretty much salad gone wrong. Luckily, the Easter feast provided a lot of other options for him, so he could abstain from the chickpeas and the curry without missing too much of the meal.
Curried Chickpea Salad
1/2 Cup sultanas
2 – 15 oz tins chickpeas
1 red bell pepper
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 tsp curry powder (I’ll increase to 1 Tbsp next time, I like a little more heat)
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 punnett alfalfa sprouts
- Soak the sultanas in some hot water so that they will plump up.
- Drain the tins of chickpeas and rinse them well.
- Dice the bell pepper.
- Put the three aforementioned ingredients together in a large resealable bowl.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, curry powder, maple syrup, and salt to a bowl and whisk together the vinaigrette.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the chickpea, sultana and pepper mixture, and seal the bowl. The longer you let it sit the more married the flavors will be.
- Add the alfalfa sprouts just before serving, so that they don’t get soggy, tossing to coat.
I think it would be awesome to experiment with the add-ins of this salad: cut grapes instead of sultanas, cubes of avocado, diced cucumber, maybe serve it over some greens… the options are limitless!
Just remember to try to keep your salad balanced. The vinaigrette has maple syrup for sweet, curry for spicy, apple cider vinegar for sour, and salt to even it out. Chickpeas make the salad earthy and fulsome, but the sultanas add some sweet chewiness, and the sprouts give it a little crunchy bite. Add whatever you please to the mix, but if you try to keep a balance of flavors and textures in mind your salad will be all the better for it.
Because Mr doesn’t like chickpeas, nor curry, this is what Mr’s Mum has to say about the salad (because she is the one who had the idea): “I like the variety of flavors in the salad, and think that it will be good with lots of different add ins. Works for me!” The avocados were her idea!