Monthly Archives: May 2012

Kadhi with Pak Choi

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Last night I totally binged on sourdough pizza. It was glorious. But it didn’t leave me with much of an appetite this morning. Yet even when my body isn’t interested in food, my mind can’t help but obsess: what could I eat that would bring back my appetite and crank up the metabolism?

Meet kadhi: a spicy sour Indian soup made of yogurt and chickpea flour. I was first introduced to kadhi by Urvashi Roe at Sakonis in London, and again later by Toddy Peters who sent me her recipe for kadhi, which has now been sitting in my “to make” pile for weeks.

Well the pile is now one recipe shorter, as I made the kadhi for breakfast and I can now say that I’m an even bigger fan of kadhi than I was before. This stuff was like instant appetite reviver. I loaded it up with veggies, including carrots, leftover butternut squash, and the unlikely pak choi (it was the only “green” I had). The kadhi made a great sauce for the pak choi and I will definitely be implementing this vegetable in future kadhi iterations.

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The tangy yogurt broth, the fresh crispy pak choi, the hot spices – this was the total solution to my digestive woes.

I couple notes on ingredients from Toddy:

The best yoghurt to use is not mild creamy fresh yoghurt, but the bottom of a pot that’s been open a few days, or that pot you found pushed to the back of the fridge unopened and is a few days out of date. Not Onken or anything billed as creamy and mild, more the cheapo brand in the local corner store.

I opted for the posh yogurt from The Organic Farm Shop which is quite sour and also very rich.

What I love about this soup is that the base is so simple, but can take on infinite variations with whatever vegetables happen to be available. Today, it was pak choi and carrots – later in the year I can see kale, parsnips and potatoes making it into the pot. As such, I’m throwing this into the mix with Ren’s Simple and In Season recipe round-up, hosted by The Botanical Baker. Hope you enjoy!

Kadhi
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2
 

This is the basic recipe for kadhi broth, to which you can add vegetables, rice, dumplings, paneer or anything you wish. I added the carrots to the broth just after adding the spices, and then the whole pak choi at the end.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup yoghurt (the more sour the better)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp besan (gram / chickpea flour)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp oil (I used light olive oil)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • 7 curry leaves

Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, mix together the yogurt, water and besan and mix well. Bring to a boil, then add the turmeric, salt and sugar. In Toddy’s words: “Boil until the raw taste of the besan disappears (about 15-20 mins) and there is a kinda “soft” texture.”
  2. Make the “tarka”: heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add the mustard seeds, dried chillies, green chilli, garlic and curry leaves. Gently fry until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add to the yoghurt broth. Serve with additions of your choice!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Serving Calories: 128 Fat: 8.5 Carbohydrates: 4.7 Sugar: 3.3 Fiber: .3 Protein: 8.1 Cholesterol: 4

This Year’s Garden

My Tiny Plot

This weekend I feel like I’ve finally got this year’s gardening project under control. Last month, I started my gardening year as I always do: overly ambitious, and with a clear leaning towards veg not ideally suited for the UK climate: aubergine, peppers, tomatoes, chillies … with a few nods to chilly Britain in the form of cabbage, beetroot, potatoes and beans.

French bean! Oregano from Carl
Cabbage Kestrel Seed Potatoes

But maybe I’m not overly ambitious at all – I’d rather believe I’m just ambitious. Because so far, I haven’t let anything escape, whither, or die (with the exception of a few cabbage sprouts that got slugged last week). And I’m especially optimistic with the arrival of an early birthday present from my sister: a mini greenhouse!

New mini greenhouse thing

My 2012 Gardening Setup

I have a large garden, but most of it’s grass, and the actual space for growing stuff is pretty small. Also, I rent so I can’t really do much about that.

That said, I’m working with a small raised bed and a bunch of containers of various sizes. To help things along, I’ve now got the greenhouse, which I’m totally in love with. I set it up this weekend and the temperature difference is noticeable. It’s like a little warm cozy den. I almost want to put a chair in there and hang out in it.

The greenhouse has also inspired me to resurrected my DIY polytunnel for the raised bed. Mediterranean veg will be mine.

DIY Polytunnel

What I’m Growing

Or at least trying to grow. The list:

Tomatillo reaching for the sky
Tomato:

  • ‘Gold Medal’ Bicolour
  • ‘Costoluto Genovese’ Tall Vine
  • ‘Latah’ Very Early Red
  • Moneymaker (good ol’ reliable)

Aubergine:

  • Brazilian Oval Orange
  • Rosa Bianca
  • Casper White

(I also tried “Striped Rose” and “Thai Yellow Egg” but those seeds fail to germinate.)

Cucumber

Chillis:

  • Serrano
  • Jalapeno
  • Orange Habanero
  • Canario Rocoto
  • Peppadew
  • Cheyenne
  • Pimienta Da Neude
  • Yellow Trinidad 7 Pot

Herbs:

Sugar Baby Watermelon

  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Oregano (thanks, Carl!)
  • Dill
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lavendar
  • Tarragon (thanks again, Carl!)

Everything else:

  • Tomatillo
  • Cucumber (‘Paris Pickling’)
  • Bell peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Perpetual Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Radishes
  • Sugar baby watermelon
  • Pumpkin
  • Lettuce (thanks, Carla!)
  • Strawberries

Something I really like about this year’s garden is that it’s had so much input and inspiration from other people.

My sister gave me a mountain of seeds, including heirloom varieties of eggplant and tomatillo. Dan, who I met via Rachel through a Mexican cookery class at The Vegetarian Cookery School, sent me a heap of crazy chilli seeds to grow. Carl Legge has sent me oregano and tarragon from his own garden to continue growing here. And Carla Tomasi has sent me some fabulous summer and winter lettuce seed mixes which I fully intend to go to town with in the greenhouse.

Lettuce seed packets

How it’s all going

I’ve started most plants indoors and I seem to have covered almost every available windowsill with plant pots. The tomatillos and tomatoes are reaching for the sky. The aubergines are tiny, but show promise – today I thinned out these sprouts and planted them in bigger pots:

Eggplant to-be

The salad seeds from Carla have exploded into life:

Salad Leaves

The beetroot is looking pretty puny so far. I hope my installation of the DIY polytunnel will encourage them along:

Beetroot

Something is definitely eating my radishes:

Nommed on Radishes

Whatever it is doesn’t have the same taste in perpetual spinach. Here are some new sprouts, alongside what remains of last year’s spinach crop:

Perpetual Spinach

And there’s something about this cabbage sprout that makes me smile:

Cabbage

I’m fairly amazed that I’m already seeing French beans appear:

French bean!

And I’m a sucker for a gimmick. I bought a “grafted” bell pepper plant at Dobbies yesterday:

Grafted bell pepper

The pepper was a splurge. And I should point out one of my goals with this whole gardening stuff:

Saving money

I need to save money this year, not spend. And it would help me greatly if I could offset some of my grocery store spending with goodies from my own garden. This is where I’m hoping the greenhouse will really help. Even if I only filled it with lettuces and herbs, that would save me so much money. The trick will be keeping it producing on an ongoing basis, and producing ENOUGH food at that.

As a mostly vegetarian, I eat a ridiculous amount of vegetables. I especially seem to spend lots on salad and herbs. So one of my goals for this year’s garden was to grow a LOT of leafy veg, and to spend only where necessary.

So far I’ve managed to spend less than £20 – enough to buy some seed potatoes, salad seeds, the plastic cover for the polytunnel, some manure and of course, the vanity pepper. I’ve resisted the urge to impulse-buy pretty pots and “fun”-sounding seeds, opting to work with the seeds I have leftover from last year.

As far as growing enough lettuce to feed myself, well, I’m realising just how much space it would take to actually make that happen. I mean let’s face it, I could eat way more than this single pot of lettuce in one sitting:

Salad Leaves

But I’m going to go for it, which might mean getting clever with containers. To that end, this guy’s vertical garden is truly inspiring.

More pics of my garden progress on Flickr: Gardening 2012.

Knee Update: 10 Months Post-Surgery

Knee TapingThe last time I wrote about my knee was seven weeks after my knee surgery last July. It’s time for an update, and this time I actually have something hopeful to say that might even be helpful to some of you.

A little background: I’ve had chronic knee pain in my right knee for several years now. Last year, the doctors found a cyst and encouraged me to have it removed as it would be a “minor” surgery and it might fix the underlying problem.

So I had the surgery and did my physiotherapy, but the pain persisted. I tried resting. I tried exercising. I tried wearing a knee support. I tried lots of things. Not only did I continue to have the pain I experienced prior to my surgery, but I also had new troubles: my knee constantly felt almost numb.

Finally after all this trying I found myself in enough pain that it was difficult to walk any distance. This was a little over a month ago, well after the surgery. So I went to my GP who took one look at my legs and said “your right leg is noticeably smaller than your left leg – you need more physiotherapy.”

I decided to shell out for a private physio. Her theory was that I had scar tissue in the joint from the surgery that was causing me the weird numbness. Meanwhile, muscle imbalance was the source of the original knee pain. So she prescribe three things:

First, an exercise that involves me sitting in a chair and pushing my right leg into the floor as hard as I can – repeat ten times, for ten seconds each time, three times a day. Second, she massaged my patella to loosen the scar tissue. Third, tape!

I’d heard of “taping” before but didn’t know anything about it. Here’s what the interwebs say: “The taping technique is based on the body’s own natural healing process. Rather than “strap down” the muscle, the philosophy is to give free range of motion and allow the body’s own muscular system to heal itself bio-mechanically.”

The physio described it to me as “retraining” the muscle to do what it’s told. As such, the tape was applied to the same muscle I was working when I did the leg-push exercise.

Well I don’t know if it was the patella thing or the exercise or the tape (probably a combination of all three) but this is the first time I’ve felt real progress with my knee. After only a month, I’m swimming without the pull buoy for the first time in over year. I’ve been dong 20 minute warm-up runs at the gym with no problem. And I’m walking with gusto.

This isn’t to say the problem has disappeared completely. I can still “feel it”, especially after prolonged exercise. (Today I did a 2-hour walk in the country, after which I could feel some stiffness in my knee, but that subsided after a short rest.)

I would love to be able to run properly again for real distances. But that’s one thing I’m NOT going to push. Actually what I’d really like is to be able to go backpacking. I know I’m not there yet, but it’s something to work towards. So, I’m going to try to get out once a week for a “long” walk. If not for me, then for Rocky, because he needs to learn that car trips mean good things (he’s currently a bit whiney in the car).

But now I’m digressing. I look forward to the knee update that says “All better now! Let’s go run a marathon!” Stay tuned!