Thursday, October 6, 2011
My life has been a little crazy lately. I have been making Major Life Decisions and having Adult Conversations. Admittedly, two intimidating things that I hesitate to act on due to my very nature. I am leaving my job, where I have been, quite comfortably for the past five years. So what, big deal? Well, I work for my brother and I have helped him through these years to organize and build his business, which is a small but busy law firm and when you work for family you have an allegiance and loyalty beyond the normal employee realm.
I’ve known for a while now that this is not where I want to be. I don’t knock the legal profession by any means, but I knew, inside of me, that using my brain power to draft lawsuits and order toner was not exactly in line with what I want for my life. For a few years I stayed bolstered by the thought that I “work to live, I don’t live to work” and that’s fine. “My job is not who I am” I would tell myself as I arm wrestled the Xerox machine and took out the garbage. That being said, there have been very clear pluses to being here: I have been able to pursue amazing things in my personal life, I have been able to teach yoga, to write this blog, and for those things, I really am so thankful for my time here.
After I got back from my vacation though I knew it was beyond time for me to have an Adult Conversation with my brother. I cried, because well, I’m a giant baby and that’s what I do and he laughed and told me, in the nicest way possible, to get the hell out of here. So we are interviewing replacements, and I have a new job lined up; a part time one that will allow me to learn more about food and wine and allow me to interact with people on a daily basis. Which is good, because I love people (and did you hear the part about wine?). This transition will allow me to teach a bit more, learn a lot more and maybe write some more and increase the amount of recipes that come up here on a weekly basis. But much more than this, this transition will actually make me work towards a career path that is in line with the things I love most. It will give me the gift of time, which is precious: time to figure out if I can make a living out of the things that give me life.
I’m scared. If we’re being completely honest, I’m scared shitless (pardon my French). I’m essentially hacking my income in half during the worst recession in our time. But I am so supported. I mean SO supported, in every possible way. Not one person in my life has questioned my decision. It has been met with enthusiasm and excitement and support. I am extraordinarily lucky to have the people I have in my life. They know what I am slowly figuring out, that sometimes even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, that you just need movement, in one direction or another. I’ve realized through the past few weeks as I’ve worked through the steps to make this big change, that the only thing that has held me back until now has been me. It’s a potent thing this realization that we’re in charge of our lives. A little bit scary, a lot bit intense, but ultimately, completely right, completely mine and absolutely wonderful.
So I was thinking, how do I share this story and not make it just some random rambling about me, me, me? Because let’s be serious, you come here for the food. That’s why everyone in the history of time does anything, because they have heard there would be pizza, or cake. I realized that all this does in fact, tie in to cooking and specifically, this delicious dish I made this weekend. In the kitchen, we tend to hold ourselves back from making things that are unfamiliar or seemingly difficult. I know that my phobia of baking bread is rooted in the fear of failure and waste that might occur if I screw it up. And I know that I’ve never attempted to make a real homemade curry sauce because how could I possibly have all the ingredients for something so complex? But you know I had this acorn squash and I had these sweet potatoes and I just knew that they would be delicious in a coconut milk curry. So I looked up a few recipes and realized that everything I needed, had been in my pantry this whole time. Nothing to hold me back indeed.
FALL VEGETABLE CURRY
(adapted just slightly, from this recipe)
1 acorn squash or ½ butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1 onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chick peas, drained
3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce, or 1-2 red chilis
2 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime (I used half a lemon instead)
½ tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. rice vinegar (or substitute apple cider vinegar)
1 tbsp. ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/3 purple onion, sliced (I used a white onion)
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
Scoop of Greek yogurt
Combine all curry ingredients in a blender, or large jar (if you have an immersion blender). (You can grind the turmeric, fennel seed, cumin and coriander seeds in a spice grinder first if you like, or with a mortar and pestle. I don’t think it’s 100% necessary, but I did because I didn’t want crunchy seeds in the end result). Blend together all the ingredients until smooth and set aside the sauce. You can refrigerate the sauce for a couple days, as I did this I thought that would be a great idea to have it in the fridge ready to go for a quick weeknight dinner.
Chop your vegetables and heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté onion until fragrant and translucent, then add all of your vegetables and the curry sauce to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let cook until vegetables are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes, maybe longer. Taste the sauce and adjust spices if necessary, if you want more heat, add more Sriracha, more salt, add more soy sauce, a little sweeter, add a pinch of brown sugar.
Serve over basmati rice, jasmine rice or cous cous. Garnish with chopped cilantro or Thai basil if you have access. I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool the heat, but this is also optional. This curry gets better each day you reheat it, just like a good soup.