Monday, November 20, 2017

Catching Up, and a Quick Vietnamese Curry

There's been a lull on One Hot Stove for almost two months. Too much fun in real life; not enough time for blog-land. Some highlights from the last couple of months-

Kids: Our toddler is about 16 months old now and what an age this is- utterly adorable and exhausting. If you can imagine a cross between a monkey and a puppy, that's what our Niam is like. He loved playing with his big sister and chasing our hapless and very patient Duncan. There's never a dull moment with these three around.

Halloween: Lila decided months ago that she wanted to dress up as a bumblebee. We found bumblebee costumes for both her and her toddler brother. V dressed up as a beekeeper- wearing painter's overalls bought at the hardware store and a real beekeeper's hat (borrowed from a neighbor) on which I sewed plastic bee buttons. I made two giant flowers made from tissue paper and carried them as a prop. It was a really fun family costume.

Fall break: We took the kids to Chattanooga, Tennessee for Fall break- and what a scenic city it is. The Tennessee river runs right through the city and is criss crossed by several bridges, including a very cool pedestrian bridge. There are parks and play fountains and an old-fashioned carousel. There's a children's museum and a well-designed aquarium that does not have captive whales and performing dolphins. This is just a lovely city to visit with young kids.

Fabric baskets: My sewing machine has been entirely neglected since Mr. Baby came along. I dusted it off and took a Saturday morning workshop to learn how to make fabric baskets. You start with cotton clothesline, wrap fabric strips around it and then coil and sew the clothesline in a basket shape using the zigzag stitch on the sewing machine. It was very enjoyable to learn a new project that was surprisingly doable without the typical beginner frustration, and even meditative to make.



Working on working out: I think the last post I wrote finally motivated me to take some action. I renewed my gym membership and started going to ballet classes again, twice a week. It is making me so happy to be doing ballet again- I love the challenge, the grace and the technical rigor of ballet. I'm trying out all sorts of things- running a little, walking a lot, swimming a bit, looking into strength training classes- brainstorming ways to get a good fitness routine into place. I hope 2018 will be the year when I hit my stride. Also last month, my friend who is a physical therapist conducted a workshop- a series of 3 sessions on postnatal physical therapy to improve core stability. It was a great learning experience although the take home message was that core stability is not an easy fix.

* * *
Our dinner last night was a quick Vietnamese curry.  I love the mellow, yellow, creamy coconut based curries in Vietnamese restaurants. Most of the ones I've eaten have thick chunks of potato, carrot and tofu. I started making these at home after I tried a recipe from Veggie Belly.

The only specialty ingredient you need here is Ca Ri Ni An Do, the mild and bright yellow (turmeric-heavy) Vietnamese curry powder you see here which I found quite easily in my local Asian store. It is called Madras Curry Powder, because what could be more Vietnamese than a Madras curry? Food knows no boundaries.

My curry is not authentic or anything; I did not have lemongrass and I just used whatever veggies I had on hand. It turned out very tasty and satisfying for Sunday supper on a chilly Fall evening though.

Vietnamese Veggie Tofu Curry


1. Cut a block of extra firm tofu into bite sized cubes. Pan fry them with salt and pepper until golden. Set aside.

2. Heat some oil and saute some onion, then stir fry whatever vegetables you have on hand. I used half a head of cabbage, a red bell pepper and a box of sliced mushrooms.

3. When veggies are nearly tender, add 2 heaped tbsp. Ca Ri Ni An Do curry powder (or more to taste), a splash of soy sauce and saute for a couple of minutes.

4. Add a can of coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes.

5. Taste the curry and adjust flavors with more soy sauce if needed, and some sugar and lime juice.

6. Add the fried tofu and plenty of minced cilantro. The curry is done.

Your turn- tell me what you've been up to the last couple of months! 

27 comments:

  1. The basket looks beautiful! Thank you for ending the silent streak. The Vietnamese curry looks delicious. I am partial to coconut milk which soothes and mellows everything in its rich unctuous mellowness. Tom Yum!

    I have been cooking at the local veg cafe more regularly - been told to not cook so much and keep it simpler. It works, mostly. Been trying to do some writing as well, mostly unsuccessfully. Look forward to trying out the recipe.

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    1. And the update on the babies...16 months already? Wow! Enjoy!

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  2. Ammani- hello! The basket was such a pleasure to make, I think it would make a lovely holiday gift (filled with homemade goodies) but I doubt I have time this year to make any more. What have you been cooking at the veg cafe? What dishes have been the biggest hits?

    Yes the baby is a rambunctious toddler already- time flies and all that :)

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    1. Nupur, I have been trying various things including Erissery. I don't think anyone had served Erissery to Germans before I did, so wrote about that experience. I served it as soup using seasonal pumpkins. But lately, have stuck to mixed veg curry and rice/roti and curried red lentil & coconut milk soup. We are expected to use up veg that cannot be sold (because it's bruised) at the organic veg shop which sits in front of the cafe. So this menu suits that purpose. It has been a huge learning curve though.

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    2. I just found your post and read it. Linking it here: http://jikku.blogspot.com/2017/10/serving-erissery-to-germans.html

      Making up a menu, using up veggies that would otherwise be wasted, and feeding a crowd- that does sound really fun and also challenging! What a great experience. I fantasize about doing something like this :)

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    3. That is such a lovely thing to do. Thank you for posting the link, Nupur.

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  3. Hi Nupur,
    I am a regular reader of your blog. My 2nd daughter is also 16 months old. We recently move to Hongkong from Tokyo. I am in the middle of setting up the house. I often stuck up with Same type dal rice when it comes to toddler feeding. Could you pls share the toddler food guide line it would be really helpful.
    Also it would be great if you share do and don’t regarding core stability form physical therapy lessons.

    All the very best to your fitness journey!

    Thank you .

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    1. Hi Chitra- good luck setting up your new home! How interesting that you get to live in these Asian mega-cities. Do you like Hong Kong so far?

      About the toddler feeding- I honestly don't make special meals for my kids, they just eat what the rest of the family eats. Breakfast is often oatmeal, idlis or eggy pancakes. Lunch and dinner are dal/rice, beans of different sorts, grilled cheese, pasta, quesadillas, tofu, veggies cooked different ways. We offer fruits, applesauce (no added sugar) and yogurt as snacks. My toddler loves finger food so we often roast veggies and offer as small cubes.

      Physical therapy: It was a very intense 6 hour hands-on course- including a lot of info about anatomy (abdominal muscle layers). Hard to describe it here. I would suggest looking up "diastatis recti" to see if you have abdominal muscle separation and how to fix it, and "transversus abdominis activation" about how to activate the deepest abdominal muscle layer and strengthen the core.

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  4. The drought breaks!! Good to see your blog and again, I'm full of admiration for all things you do. Bless you all

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    1. Thank you for the kind words! Hugs to you :)

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  5. Hello!
    nice to see your updates! Time does fly yeah!
    I love any kind of coconut milk curries - this isa fun take on Vietnemese food!

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    1. Sangeetha- I agree, coconut milk does make the most luscious curries!

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  6. good to see you back :-)

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  7. haha Nupur,
    A cross between a monkey and a puppy :-) I hear ya; boys are different. I remember my boy being that way; high energy and I used to always be exhausted.
    You're so talented; that fabric basket looks flawless. I started to sew this summer and have completed several wallet projects. Highly therapeutic and loved it. Past 6 weeks, I've had to deal with stress fracture in my right foot; awful. Heavy boot and unable to drive/walk and all of my normal activities and chores have to continue as usual, hmm it's been a struggle. I'm out of boot now, doing PT. It'll be a while before I can walk normally. For someone used to hitting gym 5 days a week, its been hard. On a happy note, I'm now learning to swim :-) lol

    I love the simple curry you've posted; will def. try it soon.

    Enjoy time with kiddos, they'll grow up too fast!!
    Take care
    Meena.

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    1. Hi Meena- High energy toddler is right, and that energy is being expended destroying my house right this minute ;) Congrats on starting to sew- it is great fun, isn't it? I remember making little tea bag wallets a few years ago.

      Sorry about your stress fracture- ouch! I'm sending healing thoughts your way. Enjoy the swimming lessons!

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    2. Thanks for your thoughts Nupur; appreciate it. Painting has been my hobby for years; and I felt sewing is similar to painting; just use colorful fabrics instead of paints:-) I love it.
      And you enjoy your time with your toddler. I love kids and that age is awesome.:-)

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  8. "If you can imagine a cross between a monkey and a puppy". This thing really made me laugh. My kids behaved the same way at that age and I felt completely drained at times!
    I have been reading your blog for quite some time and admire your talents. And yes, I have to tell you that I just ordered a sewing machine over the weekend taking some inspiration from you. Now I am eagerly waiting for it to arrive!

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    1. Anjali- congrats on the sewing machine! I hope you enjoy it for years to come. I know I enjoy mine, just not able to find time and mental space for sewing in this season of my life.

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  9. Ah, good to see you back! Hope you had a fun thanksgiving break :) I think we need a thanksgiving meal post next...

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    1. Drafting the Thanksgiving post as we speak :)

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  10. Oh how nice to see your post! I was kinda worried what happened. The vietnamese curry sounds luscious, I love thai curry so I have to try this too.

    I have a 20 month old and I’m trying to potty train him. Do you have any inputs? He’s just not getting a hang of it and I’m getting frustrated. Sorry about this icky, weird question on a food blog. Please feel free to delete if you think it’s inappropriate.

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    1. Vietnamese curry is very similar to Thai curry in concept- in the sense that a good spice powder/paste plus coconut milk gives instant results.

      I have no potty training tips, I'm afraid. We are not there yet. And I have completely forgotten what I did with my daughter 5 years ago! Good luck :)

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  11. Welcome back! That basket looks so good. I saw something similar st the local grocery store in my neighborhood and they were very expensive!
    Your baskets will make perfect holiday gifts!
    Niam is already 16 months. Wow! This is such an adorable age when they want to talk and all that gibberish with a few clear words and mimicking our gestures!
    I am on a forced sabbatical from blogging, the laptop I used has a cracked screen and it becomes difficult to connect to the tv and type. I was also undecided around thanksgiving and so, here I am without a laptop and wishing I could have just made up my mind. Oh well!
    On the cooking front, I find myself gravitating towards the simple polo-bhaji, amti -bhaat or pithla- bhaat- bhakri a lot, when I don’t make soups - specially in cold weather.

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    1. Hi Manasi! Yes, the baskets would make lovely gifts, if only I had time to make more :)

      Yes, toddler age is very entertaining with the gibberish. Our lad follows his big sister and big doggy everywhere and copies everything they do.

      I haven't made pithale in a while- time to make it! And kadhi too.

      Here's wishing you a new laptop with a beautiful screen :)

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  12. Hi Nupur, Good to see you back online. I was honestly a bit worried on you not posting for so long. It is always a pleasure reading your blogs. God bless your family!

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  13. Been awhile since I caught up with my favourite food blogger :)

    Just to comment on the vietnam - Madras curry powder link, a friend of mine recently visited Vietnam and visited this beautiful and huge mariamman temple in Ho Chi minh city built by tamils of the Chettiar community in the early 1900s(!) . Yes so Tamil and Vietnamese cultures have a long and intertwined history due to trade and what not. So actually not surprising they use Madras curry powder.

    Lila is the cutest haha .. her idea of family lol !

    Happy holidays to all 5 of you !

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!