Flyin’ solo

So Jill went out of town this week with the girls, so it was just me.  So I will shoulder the heavy burden (not really) of writing this week’s post.  So here goes…

I decided that since it was just me, I could try to accomplish some tasks around the house; some of those things that are easier to do when you don’t have to worry about needing to go another direction as much.  So here is my (overly ambitious) list:

  • Finish the second garden box (done!)
  • Dig the bed for the squash (done and planted!)
  • Paint the basement stairs landing wall with blackboard paint (done!)
  • Tidy up my workshop (not done. 😦 )
  • Start re-finishing an end table (not even started)

You may have noticed that the top two items are “plant” items.  So I have completed building the second garden box (it has yet to be painted).  Disappointingly, our HOA introduced a wrinkle in the whole garden process.  Evidently, they don’t like vegetable gardens near the front of the house.  I think it’s just because they haven’t seen a pretty vegetable garden before.  Either way, we might have to move them somewhere else (down the hill maybe).  Poo.

I also dug the squash bed (about 6″ deep), and filled it with Dirt(tm).  It’s on a slope, so I put rocks on the uphill side to try to divert water around so it doesn’t flood the bed.  That worked.  Mostly.
The next day we got some torrential downpour; not what I had counted on.  It washed a bit of the dirt out of my nice new hole, but not all of it.  So I still count that as success.  Today (Sunday) I soaked and planted the zucchini and summer squash seeds, so we’ll see how they do (crosses fingers).

On the “plate” side, Jill (bless her heart) gave me a couple of menu items to cook.  One was a cottage pie (like shepherd’s pie, but with beef instead of lamb).  The other was a Thai chicken curry.  Nothing horribly complicated.  Here are the basic recipes:

Cottage Pie

1 Swede, peeled and cubed (sue me for using the British term)
Some carrots, chopped
Some celery, chopped
An onion (maybe two if you like), also chopped (see the pattern here?)
Some ground beef (I used a pound)
Some potatoes to make some mash

Brown the beef.  Set aside.  Sweat the vegetables.  Add the beef back into the pan, and stir in about 3 Tbsp of flour.  Add a little red wine real quick to deglaze.  When the wine has cooked down a bit, add about 750 ml of stock (beef, chicken, meat, etc).  Cook about 45 minutes to thicken the gravy.

While the gravy is cooking, peel and boil some ‘taters (precious).  Mash them down with a bit of milk, butter, and some cheddar cheese (Gromit!).

Put the beef mixture in a casserole, scoop the mash on top, and stick it in the oven for about 10-20 minutes-ish to brown the taters.  The broiler may help with this, but watch it like a hawk.  Serve and enjoy!


Now onto the chicken curry.

Curry paste (I used Thai Red that I got in Bangkok)
Some bell peppers (I used three)
Some onion (I used one)
Bamboo shoots (optional; I used two cans)
Chicken (I used two breast halves, cubed into small-ish pieces)
Coconut milk (full fat)
Rice (Jasmine is a good choice)

Put the curry paste in a big pan and fry for just a moment.  Add the chicken and frizzle (technical term: fry) that up.  Add the peppers and onion, and continue frizzling.  When the veg are translucent/are cooked down a little, toss in the coconut milk and bamboo shoots.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes (ish).  The goal is not to cook out/thicken the liquid.  Thai curries tend to be pretty liquidy.

Uncover and spoon off some of the excess coconut fat.  It tastes good, but if you don’t the mouthfeel will be kinda greasy (not as good eats).  Simmer a little more if you like (I did about five/ten minutes, I think)

Serve over the jasmine rice.  If you don’t like Thai hot stuff, have a glass of milk handy.  If you do like Thai hot stuff, go to town.  It’s tasty.


The final recipe (served to the girls when they got home today) was chicken, ham & leek pie:

Some chicken (2 breast halves again, small cubes)
Some ham (small bits)
2 leeks (cleaned & chopped)
Puff pastry (I made a rough puff, but store puff would be better)
One egg, beaten for eggwash

Brown the chicken & ham; set aside.  Sweat the leeks down (don’t brown them).  At this point, you can put the whole mess in the fridge if you made these ahead of time

For the sauce:
Roux (2 Tbsp butter melted, stir in 2Tbsp flour)
1 cup milk
Spoonful of chicken goo (Better than Bullion)

Add chicken goo to milk, then add to hot roux.  Whisk while the milk comes up to a boil.  Make sure that the milk doesn’t stick on the pot (it will try), as it will burn.  Not good eats.  Let it boil gently for about 30 seconds (keep stirring), take it off the heat.

Preheat oven to 400.  Put the chicken&ham&leek mixture in a casserole (or enamelware rectangular pie tin 🙂 ).  Pour the sauce over the mixture, and cover with the puff.  Brush on the eggwash, and toss in the oven.  Cook about 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown & delicious.  Remove from oven, and let stand about 10-15 minutes to cool & set (It will be pretty toasty right out of the oven.  Once again, serve & enjoy!