We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway.
Dali dismisses time as having no value in dreams, and as they very important to our living, time is less important than we think.
Sartre dismisses the past as non-existent, and Einstein says that time is relative and complex.
Here’s what we lay people know about time.
We had been thinking about yesterday for a very long time, ascribing to that day power to bring us close to perfect joy if we only we cooperate: go to Mass, attend service, give perfect gifts, don’t be naughty.
We started thinking about yesterday during that day itself of a year ago.
As we start our anticipation of next Christmas every time we thought of how we could have improved yesterday: less food, fewer people, fewer gifts, better movies.
And now yesterday in the past.
After a year of stardom it’s in the past heap.
And the past not a tangible.
Is that what Christmas was?
What the coming Christmas will be?
How we think of it in the abstract?
In the abstract.
Which is the past.
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway.
Wednesday, December 26, 2018
My 258th consecutive posting, committed to 5,000.
Time is 12.01am.
On Wednesday, Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 38*.
I am really appreciating the weather this December. Despite it being colder than normal, it’s been amazingly similar day after day: sunny, in the mid-thirties.
With the repetition we know exactly how to dress for the weather.
I’m loving it.
Dinner is Roast
Goose, in the oven at 7.00pm on Tuesday night to slow roast @ 200* for 11 hours, 1 per pound.
Family coming over.
Question of the Day:
Any updates on the Curry recipe?
Hint: A comparison of something put together almost casually with something scholarly.
Love your notes.
Contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
From Marc Olivere
Subject: A bit about the Gardner Museum
I don’t know it you follow the Globe on Sunday mornings ( many prefer the Times), but I’m fascinated by this article and I thought you might be as well. I apologize if you’ve already read it.
Meeting a masterwork, as if for the first time
Web Meister responds: A great article on cleaning a great work of art. Just copy and paste the link. Thank, Marc.
Answer to Question: Any updates on the Curry recipe?
Two thoughts to share.
The first is an update to the recipe posted last week.
The second, is a more scholarly approach.
Let’s do the update to last week’s recipe first.
CURRY SAFFRON SAUCE
for 2 people
For Chicken or many other meats: 16oz of fresh boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into 2” cubes
For Fish: 16oz of fresh fish cut into 2” cubes
Or protein of choice
The sauce for any protein remains the same, including the sausage for fish selections and the anchovy for the meat selections.
PREP THESE AND RESERVE UNTIL SAUCE IS READY
Chicken or fish or other protein, cut into 2” cubes
¼ cup fresh pineapple, large-dice [(1/2 cubes)
4oz hot Italian pork sausage, large dice
6oz mushrooms, sprinkled with 1 ½ TB flour and sautéed to medium brown, touch salt and 1/4t fines herbes
2oz each thinly sliced red bell peppers and red onions, lightly sautéed, with a touch salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or basil
8oz coconut milk
3TB fresh lime juice
4oz fresh pineapple juice [or if not available, substitute coconut water with pineapple added]
4TB curry powder
1 scant teaspoon saffron
1/4t cayenne pepper
1 anchovy, washed
Simmer for five minutes or until unified
Add the chicken or the fish and the other reserved ingredients and actively simmer the pot for 15 minutes for fish and 20 for the chicken.
Add 2oz heavy cream and simmer for 5 minutes more.
1 cup rice made with 1 cup coconut water and ½ cup fresh pineapple juice(or substitute 1 ½ cups coconut-pineapple water) cooked al dente
Here’s the second, the scholarly.
The Other Curry
Indian cuisine is one of the great ones of the world. There are hundreds of cuisines, but only a handful, or maybe two handfuls, of truly expansive great ones.
And of course, Indian is a broad category, like Chinese. There are sub-categories, as many as there are differentiated areas – each a “terroir” – of these immense sub-continents.
Indian cuisine is also, in my experience of trying to learn bits of it around the edges (and very fragmentarily at that) incredibly complex and nuanced, and has as much to do with the unique combinations of closely localized ingredients as it does with the highly specialized cooking methods and the technologies that allow them, like, to name just one, the tandoor, a mainstay of the art in Northern India as well as a handful of other neighboring regions. And Indian cuisine’s dishes are even harder to replicate using western cooking technologies, as hard as using a cast iron skillet to do wok cooking.
We white people only get a gist of a taste of the authentic products of classic Indian cookery (or Chinese for that matter). Those of us who live in cities are lucky, as our home turf is also a magnet for people from other cultures who make the remarkable decision to live in our country and continue to embrace at least the culinary facets of their native culture. Even if it’s only a matter of numbers, only cities can give other cuisines a chance to provide a living.
I read with some interest your ad hoc, “out-of-my-head” (probably not meant ambiguously in at least two senses) recipe for a curry.
Me? I learn to cook the dishes of the great cuisines with a great deal of humility, even though I enjoy my own level of confidence in the skills I’ve acquired in 50 years of cooking, and in the knowledge I’ve gained about why certain cuisines do certain things with the same ingredients as other cuisines, even as much as the products end up differentiated in a crystalline way.
Anyway, I read your recipe and I am not by any means (and please don’t take this the wrong way) tempted to try it. I’m not even tempted to concoct my own ad hoc spontaneous rendition. I am not even sure, beyond a kind of intuitive understanding, what the generic application of “curry” to a dish’s identity is supposed to mean. It would, to me, be like calling whatever it is beef stew, and lumping (pun not intended) the sub-categories in that general taxonomic heading together: so Boeuf Bourguignon is “beef stew” as much as is Ropa Vieja, or (just to be a wiseguy) just as much as is Daube de Boeuf...
And a generic “curry powder” (and don’t get me wrong, there are many many fine ones in the markets and groceries)! The only advice there being, make sure the bottle or jar you’re buying is on a day well before the pull date. Nothing gets stale to worse effect than powdered spices.
As you might guess, I have an alternative approach – neither as convenient nor as expedient. I do know from personal experience that there is no comparison, as in “Don’t Look Back” not ever again, once you try what I’m about to suggest.
First, acquire what will be a lifetime addition to your kitchen armamentarium, no matter what your age, and that is, a spice mill of the most basic sort, but a well-made kind of spice mill. I use this one, which works incredibly well, couldn’t be simpler mechanically, cleans easily and is beautiful to look at. Manual labor, but nothing to fail or break or, probably, wear out.
It is pricey however. So good thing it will last a lifetime.
Or you can try this much cheaper alternative.
I have a mess (well, I have five) of these. And at Ikea prices you can buy ten for the price of the Skeppshult. At six bucks, the Ikea shopper can have a dedicated mill for any number of different specialized blends. It’s harder to clean the Ikea mills to a pristine condition so that there’s no cross-transfer of tastes and aromas. So it’s a good idea to get a few.
Then, depending on your preferences for the curries of the different parts of India (never mind the curries of Indonesia, Thailand (which actually use pastes, more than powders), Japan, etc. ... you get the idea) you can prepare far more flavorful and fulfilling base ingredients for your favorite dishes by toasting (in a skillet) and then grinding the spices you prefer in the ratios and proportions you prefer. The first time you go to the trouble, as I say, you’ll taste what you’ve been missing, and will use those empty spice jars from commercial products to store your home-made blends in the smaller quantities you can use before they go stale.
Here’s a base list of what you’ll need, in my experience. I have these in my kitchen. They retain flavor in their native – seed or whole leaf – state in an air-tight container far better than the already ground powders do. There’s a reference in this list to curry leaf. This ingredient, essential to curries of not only India, but some other sub-Asian cultures, is available readily online in bulk, and though not often mentioned in so many recipes of the sort that start, “first grab your favorite jar of curry powder” (not to mention the fact that not all commercial curry powders even have curry leaf as an ingredient). Its presence in a recipe is, in fact, ubiquitous, and it’s used analogously to our use of laurel (which is placed as a whole leaf in stews, soups, even chowders, universally in so many western recipes), and it adds that certain je ne sais quoi to a more authentic (and flavorful) curry.
medium spicy medium sized dried chili type
Piri Piri Chilli or another dried small spicy chili type (I use bird’s eye; very spicy)
Curry leafs (you can get that in the local Asian store or on Amazon)
Black Pepper seeds
dried Fenugreek leafs (Kasuri Methi)
The various seeds alluded to are toasted over low to medium heat in a cast-iron skillet carefully, so as not to scorch them, and are then reserved to be crushed in a spice mill, either together, if pre-measured proportionately to your recipe, or separately and then mixed in the crushed or powdered state, which is easier to measure in the correct ratios of the specific recipe. And, incidentally, your kitchen smells powerfully good while doing this… like you’ve passed through some portal into an ancient Indian market…
I’d also advise the curry cook to get a basic understanding of the use of ghee (clarified butter; now common enough that packaged brands are available at most supermarkets), the universal cooking fat of the south of India, especially if you are looking for the “opulence” (as you kept referring to it, Dom) of the final curry sauce attributable in your kitchen to the addition of heavy cream (to which I can only say, “wow”). Use ghee where fat is called for. In combination with whole coconut milk (as opposed to the “lightened” versions, which are partially de-fatted by removing some of the coconut oil), which I think of as heart disease in a can, and the result should be opulent enough (assuming the recipe’s authenticity is preserved with the cooking in ghee). To be sure, many Indian dishes can be prepared using vegetable oils (much lower in saturated and trans-fats).
Also, personally, I would look for ways of adding some vegetables to the curry. So many authentic curries do include one or two vegetables (at least) and there are enough that are familiar, like potato or spinach, or both, that it lends a note of comfort to an otherwise exotic main dish. The use of aromatics in creating a base for an Indian curry (which is, after all, a kind of stew) is not heresy, and in fact makes the dish that much more well-balanced and nutritionally more fulfilling.
As long as you’re going to wing it, making a curry, why not do it with a few other flavor enhancers, and authentic ones at that, to make the dish even more satisfying?
And yes, I know, I’m talking about a lot more work. But I’m still trying to learn what’s better to do, at least once in awhile, than to make a really spectacular meal with every i dotted and every t crossed.
Good morning on this Wednesday, December 26
We discussed and got lost in time. And Marc sent a link to the cleaning of the Gardner’s ‘Rape of Europa’ by Titian.
And we presented an update of our own Curry Saffron recipe followed by a scholarly approach to the same topic, by Howard, the inimitable.
Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?
See you soon.