Thursday, November 20, 2008

German Curried Chicken

In honor of my German grandmother Brigitta, I'm going to share one of my favorite dinner recipes, German Curried Chicken. You are probably asking yourself how can curried chicken be German, but I assure you, this is not like any curry you have had before.

Please note that I never measure anything when I cook, so all the directions below are estimates. Adjust as you see fit.

German Curried Chicken
1 medium onion, diced
1 T olive oil
1-2 t curry powder (any generic kind will do)
2 chicken breasts, thawed, cut into bite size pieces
2 large spoonfuls of flour
1-2 c milk
1-2 spoonfuls of sugar
1/2 c lemon juice
salt to taste

Saute the onions in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes until they are tender. Add the curry part way through. If you aren't sure how much curry you like, add just a little bit at a time (you can always add more once you make the sauce to taste it). Add the chicken and continue to saute until the chicken is cooked through. Add the flour and quickly stir until the oil has combined with the flour (this is crucial, because otherwise you will get a lumpy sauce). Add the milk and stir on medium heat until it thickens. You need to stir constantly so that the bottom doesn't burn. At this point add some salt and additional curry to taste. The sauce should be a warm yellow color. I Once the sauce thickens, add the sugar and the lemon juice. This will give it the German kick (they love anything sour). I usually add more lemon juice until it really has a kick.

Serve over rice and top with any of the following toppings: coconut, pineapple, diced tomatoes, sunflower seeds, or raisins.

If your sauce is not thickening, then you either didn't add enough flour or too much milk. I would suggest blending some flour in a little bit of milk until the lumps are all gone (this is important) and then adding that mixture to the curried chicken and cook until it thickens. If you've made any sauces before, then this should be easy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

things i've learned since being married

It is kind of entertaining at how many things I've notice about myself since being married. Maybe it is the fact that I have Ben (the perfect man) next to me most of the day to realize just how many silly habits I am still holding on to. Ben is hands-down the most patient, kind, charitable person I have ever met. How could I not notice these small characteristics when living with the best person I know?

Now, I am not at all complaining about being married to the perfect man. I love that Ben is always an example to me, and I'm sure there are things that he has noticed I am perfect at (like being willing to fold the laundry...all the time and always wanting to eat more vegetables). But here are a few things I noticed last week about myself:

1. I have a temper. It is rare, but it still happens. Like when I step outside my house and notice that someone has BACKED INTO THE SIDE DOOR OF MY PARKED CAR and just drove away. I know that Fritney isn't the picture of beauty, but a huge dent in the side of my car isn't going to help the resale value. And I can see how sometimes you can touch a bumper and not notice, but doing a three-point turn directly into a parked car is definitely noticeable. See? I sometimes get mad. After knowing Ben for three plus years and being married for 6 months, I have yet to see Ben even remotely mad.

2. Eating on a regular basis keeps me happy. Now I pride myself on being able to go all day without having to stop for meals while on vacation. I love that I can just keep going. But on a normal day, I will quickly admit that I need meals otherwise I get grumpy. Luckily I am the first to notice the need for food, so the grumpiness is at a minimum when it happens, but it still happens. Good thing Ben is patient and knows when to recommend we grab dinner.

3. I love to sleep. I also prided myself in college on being able to not get 7-8 hours a night and still feel great. Refreshed even. Well not anymore. In fact, I could count the times I've used the snooze alarm on my two hands....that is until I got married. Now I love to snooze. Probably because I love to sleep and it doesn't hurt that I have a personal heater next to me.

4. I'm always cold. Always. I also didn't realize this until Ben is always fine and I am always freezing. And it isn't in my head. My feet are literally ice cold at times.

5. I get bored insanely fast. I kind of new this was strange when Kim would always laugh at me when I would be home for no more than 20 minutes and declare I was bored. But without five roommates to distract me, I notice that I get bored so fast. I need to be constantly doing something productive. Although this ties into number 6....

6. I am insanely fast. At practically everything. This may seem like bragging, but I have yet to meet someone who is generally faster than me. I could list so many examples, so I think I will. 1) I was the fastest dishwasher at the London study abroad program (we usually finished dishes 30-60 minutes ahead of other groups), 2) I can make most dinners from scratch in 20-30 minutes, 3) I usually walk faster than those I am with, 4) crocheting projects only last me a few hours, 5) I am currently doing two people's job at work, and 6) last Christmas when we were making ornaments, I made 50-60 while my sisters/mother only made 20. I figured out the reason I get bored is because I am so efficient and fast. I can make dinner, do the laundry, and clean the house in about 45 minutes. So it is no wonder that by 8:00 pm I am bored. Which leads to number 7.

7. I always have at least four projects going on. Here is a list of projects I currently am working on: Christmas presents for the nieces and nephews which are top secret and cannot be discussed on the blog, a baby blanket for a friend, leather bound books for presents, packing food for a week for my Thanksgiving vacation, etc. I love being productive and seeing the end product of my work. Which reminds me, I need to start tying flies for my brother-in-law for Christmas. See, the projects never end! Most people I know can't and don't want to juggle this many projects at once. I thrive on it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

that pink blazer had to come in handy eventually...

Ben probably thought I was crazy for suggesting trying on a bright pink blazer that we found at my favorite thrift store (the Community Clothesline) in Minnesota. I knew it would come in handy, I just wasn't sure for what. And last week we found out what for:It really made the perfect Used Cars Salesman costume for Halloween. And are those the polyester pants and tie that I also found at the Clothesline, you betcha! And although you can't tell from the pictures, yes that is a goatee that Ben is sporting.

You would think that with such great costume genius I would come up with something awesome. My costume had potential, but one fatal flaw: if I stopped moving I just looked like a blue monster, a very boring blue monster.
Me dressed as a car wash. At least the costume looked great in motion.

christmas crafts

I have a quandary. Usually I blog about my most recent crafting, but since these are all for Christmas gifts (either for friends or family), I can't post it on the blog or all Christmas surprises would be ruined. This kind of kills my blogging spirit, especially since so many of these things are awesome! If I was to blog about the crafts, here is what the editing version would look like:
A few months ago I came across the idea of making ******* as Christmas presents
for my *****. I think I actually giggled to myself because the gift was perfect.
I headed to the ***** store and found the perfect ***** of ****** to make them
with. The ****** looks fantastic, and I can't wait for ***** to open it.
This will all make more sense come Dec 25.

What I can tell you about the crafting is that Ben has gotten into it this year. You never know, come Christmas 2009 he might even join the Spencer Christmas Craft.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

in praise of slowness

I started reading a new book today, called "In Praise of Slowness." I'm only 25 pages in, but I'm intrigued by the idea that sometimes slower is better. The author is in favor of balance, knowing when to slow down to make life better.

This has made me reflect on how some things in life are just better slow. Here is a list off the top of my head:

1. Cooking. Yes, I love that you can defrost chicken in the microwave in 2.5 minutes, but other than that, I prefer to do things the slow, old fashioned way. I bake my own bread (letting it rise while at church on Sundays), make all my soups from scratch, and love when I can really call the meal my own. Cooking is really an art, a kind of folklore that is passed down from generation in the kitchen. I love that half of the things I cook I learned from my mother, who learned from her mother. I also love that I have the time to experiment with new recipes. I wouldn't trade cooking dinner each night for anything (although I do love it when Ben and I cook together).

2. Gardening. Okay, I currently don't have a garden, and this will come to a great shock to my parents who witnessed my disapproval of helping out in the garden growing up, but I do love gardening. Well not always, but I guess I love the product. I love the mass amount of tomatoes, squash, potatoes, and beans that come at the end of the summer.

3. Eating Dinner. Maybe this is the reason why I like to have a set table, place mats, and the food in dishes. I just like enjoying the moment, appreciating the food we are eating. I will admit that I often hurry through a bowl of grape nuts at breakfast (or worse, at my desk), but dinner is something that I prefer taking time for.

4. Talking with friends. I think one of the greatest blessings of being single was actually getting to spend time with friends, lots of time. I loved that I lived with so many wonderful roommates and that we got to spend time relaxing after a long day and just talking to each other. And now I get to spend that same kind of time with the best man in the world (at least for me) each night. I love how when I am truly relaxed and happy with a friend, conversations just flow and time stands still. We can easily talk for 1-2 hours without even noticing the time. I am eternally grateful to those few precious friends who keep me sane through our conversations, since nothing is quite as cathartic as talking to a close friend.

5. Walking. I am a fast walker in terms of speed, but walks (the kind you take with friends or out enjoying nature) are always best when not rushed. I love just taking in the outdoors. Maybe this is why I love my commute so much. Yes I have to talk to the metro in the rain and snow sometimes, but I love that I have 15 minutes to clear my head and stretch my legs after a long day at work. Walking does wonders for me.

6. Fishing. The great thing about fishing is that is cannot be rushed. You have to wait, have patience, and just enjoy the moment. As I always remind Ben when I am catching no fish, fishing isn't about the fish, it is about the water. There is something cleansing about just being in nature. I love just standing in a middle of a stream with the cool touch of the water around my legs and listening to the ripples. Fly fishing allows to you appreciate this more than anything I have ever found. In fact, the last time we went fishing I completely missed a few strikes because I was so taken with watching wildlife (a beaver swim around me).

7. Babies. One reason I love Christmas is that each year I get to spend quality time with my sister's kids, which usually involves a baby. I love that they can't be rushed. Some of my favorite memories are of holding Zari in a sling for hours on end while she slept cuddled again my chest. Besides that she was my personal heat source, I love that taking time to appreciate the moment is what it is all about.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Lately Ben and I have been dining at one of our favorite restaurants, a small pizzeria just a few blocks away. Their pizza is incredible; really fantastic crisp crust, fresh mozzarella, and lots of fun toppings. My favorite is the white pizza (ricotta, smoked mozzarella, basil). Ben likes it with pepperoni on top.

In honor of our love of pizza, Ben and I decided to try making calzones on Sunday. With a hearty appetite after a Fast Sunday, we threw together a bunch of random ingredients in our fridge to make really great creations. I have been working on perfecting my pizza crust. I typically like deep dish, but these never turn out well at home, so lately I have converted over to thin crust. I would highly recommend investing in a $15 baking stone to make the best crusts (and always preheat the stone).

Pizza Dough
I actually made normal french bread and let it rise in the fridge while we were at church.
2 1/2 c warm water
2 Tbs yeast
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 c oil
1 tps salt
1 egg yolk
6 c flour

Combine water, yeast, and sugar and let it grow for 5-8 minutes. Add oil, salt, egg yolk, and half of the flour. Stir until the lumps are gone and then add remaining flour until a soft dough forms. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double.

Punch down and cut off a small portion. Roll out into a circle as thin as possible. Put any combination of the following ingredients onto half of the dough, leaving the edge empty:

Sharp cheddar cheese
Ricotta cheese
Spaghetti sauce
Vodka spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese
Flavored sausage

Fold the dough over and press the edges together to seal (I like to roll the bottom edge on top of the other edge and then press together. Transfer to a preheated, corn meal dusted baking stone and bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown). Brush with olive oil and lightly salt. Eat hot.