Very holiday around here

Very holiday around here. Some of my students were a little startled that I’m the one who hangs the holiday lights on the porch roof at our house (in the midst of a discussion of domestic labor division), but as we discussed, there’s really no reason why men would be any better at working on a roof than women would — and in fact, I’m both lighter than Kevin, and have better balance. Way better to have me up on the roof! Aryabhata was not exactly helping, though.

I’ve been going fairly intensely on work all day (Feast shipping + some urgency in getting lights and hanging them off the porch gutters before the average high temp. dropped 25 degrees tomorrow), but we paused long enough to assemble gingerbread houses (from a Target kit) before dinner.

Then I came upstairs to crash for a little bit, and have been watching Holiday Gingerbread Showdown, but Anand and his grandmother just came up to show me the house he’d decorated and the little video he made explaining it. I think this is actually the first time he’s successfully decorated a gingerbread house, and he did it all by himself; he’s pretty proud. Also amused. I have to admit, I love his house much more than any of the ones on the show. 

I've been going fairly intensely on work all day (Feast shipping + some urgency in getting lights and hanging them off the porch gutters before the average high temp. dropped 25 degrees tomorrow), but we paused long enough to assemble gingerbread houses (from a Target kit) before dinner. Then I came upstairs to crash for a little bit, and have been watching Holiday Gingerbread Showdown, but Anand and his grandmother just came up to show me the house he'd decorated and the little video he made explaining it. I think this is actually the first time he's successfully decorated a gingerbread house, and he did it all by himself; he's pretty proud. Also amused. I have to admit, I love his house much more than any of the ones on the show. :-)#blog#serendibkitchen

Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj on Monday, December 9, 2019

Kavi made a gingerbread house too. As you can see, she is just a tiny bit more painstaking than Anand.  I am impressed by both her dripping icicles and her cross-hatch roof tiles! May need to draft her into more serious baking with me soon…

Kavi made a gingerbread house too. As you can see, she is just a tiny bit more painstaking than Anand. 🙂 I am impressed by both her dripping icicles and her cross-hatch roof tiles! May need to draft her into more serious baking with me soon…#blog#serendibkitchen

Posted by Mary Anne Mohanraj on Monday, December 9, 2019

 

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Mission accomplished :-) Chai spice banana bread

Mission accomplished. 🙂 Chai spice banana bread; the kids said it was better than all the banana bread I’ve made before (from standard recipes), which was very satisfying. Will post recipe shortly.

I’m going to freeze a few loaves to sell at the Colorful Holiday fair on the 21st, and I think make another batch soon, because we have just THAT MANY frozen bananas in the freezer, and I am going to clear space, dammit.

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Sri Lankan Shepherds’ Pie

Sri Lankan Shepherds’ Pie
(15 minutes cooking time + 40 minutes baking / cooling)

Usually mashed potatoes go pretty fast around here, but we made so much for Thanksgiving that we actually had some leftover. Shepherd’s pie to the rescue — but I had a long work day today, so I wanted a version that required the minimum of actual cooking.

Could I avoid chopping onions and carrots the way we usually would for shepherds’ pie, and still come up with a tasty dish? Yes, as it turned out, if I combined it with the approach we use for ginger-garlic chicken. Though if you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, you’ll need to make them fresh, which will add a bit of cooking time, I’m afraid.

Ingredients:

2-3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1.5 lbs ground lamb (you could use beef or another meat instead instead)
1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 t. black pepper (or cayenne)
1 teaspoon Sri Lankan curry powder
2 T flour
1/4 c. ketchup
1/8 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. chicken broth
1 T lime juice
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. frozen corn

NOTE: If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes and mash them first, before starting the meat, as there isn’t really a good pausing point during the meat-cooking process.

1. Set oven preheating to 400F. Turn lamb into a sauté pan, add ginger, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and curry powder, and fry on high until browned — the lamb should give off enough oil that you have no need for more, although do add oil if needed.

2. Add flour and stir for a few minutes, until flour is browned and the ground lamb is thoroughly coated.

3. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and chicken broth; cook a few minutes, stirring, until well-blended. Simmer a few more minutes until liquid thickens into a sauce. Add lime juice, stir, and adjust seasonings to taste. If there’s excess oil, blot it up with a paper towel or skim it off at this stage.

4. Stir in frozen peas and corn until well blended. Turn off heat and turn mixture out into a casserole dish. Spread with mashed potatoes.

5. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes, until top of potatoes are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool (and set) for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Imagining people opening these packages with delight

Tamarind-chili marshmallows — they look a little deflated in the mixed sweets bags compared to the other marshmallows, and I hope people don’t mind — that’s just what the tamarind does to the marshmallow. It still tastes good, I promise, even if it’s not quite as fluffy.
It’s so satisfying, packing up these larger packages, with the sweets and the soaps and all; I’m just imagining people opening them on the other end, hopefully with delight. 🙂
 
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This didn’t quite work

This is an experiment that didn’t QUITE work — I wondered if I could make a sort of bark with milk toffee and chocolate. I usually have a lot of milk toffee bits left after cutting it into squares, and while Anand is happy to eat them all right out of the bowl, it seemed like they might be useful in something.

I have to admit, while it tastes fine (and bittersweet chocolate actually does a good job of balancing the sweetness of the milk toffee), I *almost* didn’t even eat it, because it looked so bad when I was stirring it in the bowl. I mean, it didn’t really look like food!

It looked better once spread out on parchment, hardened, and cut up into bark pieces. But still, I’m not sure I’d make it again. Maybe I’m just shallow — I want my food to look good too.

If you have milk toffee bits left over, I’d recommend stirring them into vanilla or dark chocolate ice cream instead. 

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Sweet Treats and Island Relaxation

We’re really getting very close to finishing Kickstarter shipping on Feast. All the simple packages have been done, and now we’re finishing up the fancier ones, the Sweet Treats and Island Relaxation packages. Gods willing, those will all be going out by Wednesday this week, when the USPS pick-up is scheduled. Some of the marshmallows are pictured below — gingered chai and honeyed rosewater with saffron. Mmm…

Then we’ll just be left with the ‘problem cases,’ where for whatever reason, something is unclear. Addresses missing, orders that don’t seem to match up pricing and items, etc. — we’re going to have to write back to a few dozen people and try to sort out what happened on those.

We’re trying to get these sorted as fast as possible, but we’ve been fighting various illnesses around here that are really slowing us down — poor Stephanie got here and started working this morning, and then got felled by a migraine; she kept trying to power through, but eventually admitted defeat (a solid hour after I told her to just go home and rest…).

It’s hard to stop when we’re so close to the end, but at the same time, if we work tired and brain-fuzzled, we’re just going to make mistakes that will require fixing later. We’re double-and triple-checking every order and still, I’m sure some errors slipped through. If you didn’t get something you ordered, then PLEASE, let us know, and we will do our best to make it right!

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Ginger-Garlic Chicken Stuffing, with Cashew and Cranberry

I didn’t have time to write up this recipe in the heat of Thanksgiving prep, but it turns out that my kids’ favorite Sri Lankan dish, ginger-garlic chicken, makes a very nice stuffing. I’m eating the last of it for lunch, right out of the Pyrex with a fork.  I think it’d also make a pretty tasty lettuce leaf wrap.

I love the way the tart sweetness of the cranberry contrasts with the savory flavors. We didn’t make it spicy this year, so the kids could eat it, but I think this’d be even tastier with a hint of cayenne.

 

***

Ginger-Garlic Chicken Stuffing, with Cashew and Cranberry
(serves 24 as a side dish, 12 as main, 30 minutes)

1 heaping tsp ginger powder
1 heaping tsp garlic powder
1 heaping tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
12 chicken thighs, about 2 lbs., deboned and cut small bite-size
vegetable oil for frying
1/2 to 2 heaping tsp red chili powder (to taste, optional)
1 c. chicken broth or water
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chopped cashews
2 c. dried bread cubes

1. Mix first four spices in a large bowl; add chicken pieces and rub with your hands until well coated. Marinate 1/2 hour

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan or on high; add chili powder (if using) and cook 15 seconds, stirring.

3. Add chicken and sear on high, turning to brown all sides.

4. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook approximately 15-20 minutes, until meat is cooked through.

5. Uncover and add chicken broth or water (if using water, I’d add another 1/4 – 1/2 t. salt), cranberries, and cashews; turn up heat and bring to a boil.

6. Stir in bread cubes and turn off heat. When stuffing is well blended, serve hot, or for later serving, turn into a casserole dish and cover. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and serve hot.

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Packing up more Feast cookbook orders

Just finished packing up another set of Feast cookbook orders, and had to pause again because I’m out of curry powder and need to toast / grind / pack another batch. Back to the stove — good thing I have plenty of dumb Hallmark holiday romance movies to keep me company with all this late-night spice-toasting….

I’ve taken to double-fisting the grinding, because one of my grinders is automated when you push the button, so it really is almost twice as fast to use two. Feels ridiculous, though. 

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A few lovely hours with my visiting sister, brother-in-law, and the fabulous niblings

A few lovely hours with my visiting sister, brother-in-law, and the fabulous niblings. We started by stuffing them full of bombtoast, which really is an excellent brunch food. It’s so much better than French toast, because the sugar in the batter means you don’t need syrup and can just grab slices as they come off the stove, hot, and chomp away. Also, it turns out that not only are they great with bacon (which I already knew), but they’re also excellent with leftover cranberry sauce. 🙂
Recipe: http://serendibkitchen.com/2019/03/31/sri-lankan-bombay-toast-bombatoast/

I *may* have put my sister Sharmila to work on arrival, but in my defense, there’s been a LOT of curry powder to toast and grind and pack up in the last few weeks, and Kavi’s getting tired. 

A little cousin love for the holidays.

Some in the family may remember that Sharmila is generally not super-fond of cats, as there was an unpleasant incident with a neighbor’s cat when we were children (Robert Garbowski, was that your cat? We were trying to remember…). But Sripati is SO sweet that she ended up petting him anyway. #Spacecats for the win.

Veera and I are twin-braid twinsies today! (We were even coincidentally coordinating in grey and red, both of us with birds on our winter sweaters…)

Brother-in-law Ry N was kind enough to help carry our Christmas tree home for us, and by ‘help,’ we mean he ended up dragging it the whole block himself.  Here’s Sharmila telling everyone to say “Christmas Tree!”

Give a girl a sword, and she may use it on her aunt!

Selfies, trying out Beat Saber in VR, and a little piano entertainment from Ms. Veera…

(Kavya is, btw, definitely taller than me now, according to her aunt and uncle. And we’re pretty sure she and Sharmila are the same size in clothes. Kavi is a little bummed that she can’t just go start raiding my sister’s closet — guess we should visit D.C. sometime soon…)

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Sri Lankan party prep question

Sri Lankan peeps, quick question. How far in advance do you think I can make the following (as I try to be reasonable about party prep for our Christmas tea, which is in two weeks):

– rolls, cutlets, patties: my understanding is that I could make them this week, all the way to breading, and then freeze, so I just have to take them out the night before the party and then fry. Is that right?

– same for vadai and prawn vadai?

– how about Scotch eggs?

– stuffed prawns?

– ribbon sandwiches — the fillings will keep frozen for months, right? (I have some from the last time I made these). I can thaw the day before, assemble sandwiches, and then layer them in foil trays with wet paper towels and refrigerate overnight? To take out and trim off edges and cut into triangles just before serving?

– caramel pudding — can I make this and keep it in the downstairs fridge for two weeks? Is that too long?

– mango pudding — same question!

– milk toffee I think keeps forever

– marshmallows freeze fine, although I think since we’re only two weeks out, I can make them, store in the fridge in an air-tight container and they should be fine?

– any other fabulous short eats / desserts you think I’m missing?

(Please comment at https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10160192939799616)

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