Recipe Thursday: Thai Basil Chicken Curry & Corn Fritters

The reality is this week our curry will be made with leftover Turkey (since the child decided to whip up Turkey dinner last week!) and since our Thai Basil are sweet tiny wee seedlings, we will substitute with Italian Basil. If I pair this with Corn Fritters (Tod Man Khao Pod), the child might eat dinner with us. So, as usual, this is a recipe in a recipe in a recipe. That’s how I roll.

It seems as if this doesn’t focus on foods that are in season right now, but for us – we are at the tail end of Winter and just at the beginnings of real Spring for us so a lot of of we still are eating up is the stuff in the freezer (like last Summer’s Corn and Green Beans) but the herbs are coming up (Cilantro, some Basils, etc), we have young onions, and various veggies to add to the Curry (or to even replace any meat options – just add more veg like julienned Carrot or roasted Cauliflower, and right now our CSA is giving us Bok Choy which is nice and meaty, and you could add Mango or Pineapple chunks to this if you want to mix the sweet/salty and add more vegetation). This is great served with Flatbreads, Cauliflower Rice, or Lime-Cilantro Brown Rice.

If you find that most of your big ingredients are frozen/uncooked, you can also thaw the meat then add Curry ingredients to a Slow Cooker (Cook on High for 15 min, then Low for 6 or so, removing Chicken halfway through to shred and return to cooker, add Cornstarch or Arrowroot to thicken if desired), adding the herbs in the last hour. If, like me, you have a lot of these things on hand (and since my leftover Turkey is already cooked/shredded), I will do this on the stovetop. I do tell you here how to whip up a Thai Powder Curry, but the Red Curry Paste recommended in the Fritters is for you to either whip up on your own (brave soul) or find packaged (Thrive Market has a nice spicy one), and to make Lime-Cilantro Brown Rice just stir in 1/4 cup chopped Cilantro to 4 cups cooked Brown Rice while it’s warm, and Lime juice to taste – for us, generally 3/4 of a Lime, and just a bit of Sea Salt.

May your tastebuds be tickled.


Thai Basil Chicken Curry (inspired by Closet Cooking)
Servings: 6 (with rice/fritters)

2 pound boneless/skinless Chicken fillets (or Turkey, Firm White Fish, or more Veg)
2 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Curry Powder, or to taste [see Note]
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce (or Soy Sauce)
2 Tbsp Lime juice (or Rice Vinegar)
2 Tbsp Coconut/Palm/Organic Cane Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil/Olive Oil or Ghee
1 Large Red Onion, diced (or Sweet Vidalia)
1 Jalapeno, diced (or preferred Chili)
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp Ginger, grated
1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Basil, chopped
3 Kaffir Lime Leaves (optional)
Sea Salt to taste

Saute Onion in 2 Tbsp Oil until translucent, then add Garlic, Ginger, Jalapeno, Curry Powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Add Chicken, spooning spices and veg over top until coated and browning up – if too dry, or when it gets dry, add Coconut Milk, Fish Sauce, Lime Juice, and Sugar, mixing thoroughly. Partially cover and cook on Medium until Chicken is cooked. Remove Chicken and shred, then add back to pan, stirring into gravy. Add Cilantro, Basil, and (Kaffir leaves, if using) Sea Salt to taste. At this point if you find the gravy is not thick enough, cook longer a little higher or add Cornstarch/Arrowroot slurry (2 tsp of powder to 1/4 warm water, stirred thoroughly and added to Curry – cook for 2-4 minutes after adding). Serve over Lime-Cilantro Brown Rice (see in description above in blog).

Note: Thai Curry Powder (Makes about 1/2 cup) (from Spruce Eats)

  • 3 Tbsp Coriander, whole or ground
  • 2 Tbsp Cumin seed, whole or ground
  • 1 Tbsp ground Turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground Ginger
  • 1 to 3 tsp Chili flakes (or Cayenne), depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 tsp White Pepper, whole or ground
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 whole Clove (or a pinch of ground)

If using whole spices, toast for a few minutes in a saute pan until fragrant (if using ground, add to onions above while sauteeing, or warm through until fragrant – careful not to burn), then grind in mortar with pestle or in spice grinder [tip: to clean spices/coffee from grinder, pulse plain rice until powdered, then wipe with cloth]. Keep in a lidded jar after cool.

Tod Man Khao Pod (Corn & Bean Fritters) (from Food52)
Corn Fritters:
2 ears of Corn (2 1/2 cups kernels)
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour (or GF Flour Mix, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup Cornmeal
1/2 cup Green Beans (or similar bean), diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
1/4 cup Canola Oil

Chili Vinegar Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Thai Chili, sliced

  1. To make dipping sauce, combine Vinegar, Sugar, and Salt in saucepan over medium heat. Stir and remove from heat once Sugar and Salt dissolved. Add the Chili and set aside to cool.
  2. Remove Corn kernels from cobs. Discard cobs. Place Corn kernels in food processor. Pulse 5 times just to create a paste where most kernels are whole and some are broken up/smooth.
  3. Whisk Egg with Soy Sauce in large bowl. Add Corn kernel paste, Flour, Cornmeal, Curry Paste, and Beans to Egg mixture. Mix to combine. The mixture may seem a little thin. That’s OK! It’ll cook up fine.
  4. Heat Oil in pan over medium-high heat. When Oil is hot and working in batches, drop golf ball (about 2 tablespoons) sized amount of batter into pan. The batter should flatten out as you drop it. If not, feel free to press the tops of the fritters as they are cooking to form a patty shape. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Repeat until all of the fritters are cooked. Enjoy with the Chili Vinegar sauce or with store-bought Sweet Chili sauce.

Happy Thai Dinner!

Duendesday in Spring

{life with a curious and crazy almost 11 yr old}

What a consummate little hostess with the mostess, my little peach is – at the Mother’s Day Picnic she was complimented on her conversational skills, her whipping up some fresh whip cream and serving dessert, and her knowledge/information about our homestead. On the morning of we ran out to the garden nursery and she picked all the flowers for the porch and specially picked out flowers for all the ‘mothers’ that might join us.

At the picnic her uncle gave her his supercool cardboard chair that he made for a MECA project when he was schooling there – she loves it. She immediately decorated it as her faerie throne. I’m sure there will be a procession and a proclamation at some point!

Now she’s helping Josh finish up our studio room – she’s dusting the floor before we poly-whey it, and then she will probably help him install the lighting fixtures and build the shelves, she loves building. She’s a real helper sometimes (even if she doesn’t always like her picture being taken- ha!).

I think we’ll keep her.

Tuesday Happenings

The weather has truly been co-operative and lovely lately. A real full Spring, which is rare around these parts; generally we have a lot of rain and maybe still some snow and the last frost is no joke. And because things are a little different, we might struggle later on (if we don’t get our water tables up! but then again, if the ticks don’t recede, etc) but right now is quite the sweet spot. Dandelions everywhere, the Apple Blossoms are about to burst, there are swelling buds on the Grapes, and the Garlic is looking fine. We somehow even managed (well, not I; the man and child did all the work) to weed and mulch the Strawberry boxes and plant a slew of goodies. I went a little crazy this Winter (who didn’t?!) and ordered all kinds of things so more goodies are sure to arrive (shade plants like Amber Coral Bells, cottage flowers, and Ramps!) and then there are all the lovely seedlings I’m growing (late, but strong). As a last minute party favor, Duende and I went to the local greenhouse in Winthrop and bought a bunch of porch flowers just to invite more Spring to stay.

What’s on the agenda for this week? The reality is with all this Spring and interruption via sickness, I have to get back to dissertation work (I have a lecture scheduled at The Good Life Center in Harborside, ME in July) but I am deliberating doing a new batch of Dandelion Wine and maybe some Violet and Forsythia Syrups. There is a classic (ish) Kimchi in the crock now, but I want to get a foraged batch up soon. And it’s pickle week so new pickles will go up – Parsnips, Fiddleheads, and little Japanese Turnips (we like a creative and fun pickle ’round here!). Later this week Duende has a Cabot Cooking Class and maybe a friend visitation. Meanwhile, Josh has been taking a MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) class with orchardist Michael Phillips and learning a lot to upgrade our orchard game. He will also participate in the Maine Grain Alliance’s Kneading Conference which ends with the annual Skowhegan Bread Fair (which we’ve been going to for the last couple of years sans 2020, this year July 31st). Lots of professional upgrades and interests this year.

May your Spring be easy and encouraging.

Muse for a Monday

Apple Blossoms

BY SUSAN KELLY-DEWITT

One evening in winter
when nothing has been enough,
when the days are too short,

the nights too long
and cheerless, the secret
and docile buds of the apple

blossoms begin their quick
ascent to light. Night
after interminable night

the sugars pucker and swell
into green slips, green
silks. And just as you find

yourself at the end
of winter’s long, cold
rope, the blossoms open

like pink thimbles
and that black dollop
of shine called

bumblebee stumbles in.

Recipe Thursday: Garden Focaccia

We do all kinds of things with our Sourdough pizza dough: Friday night Pizza (of course, generally a cheese or olive/cheese for the child – with sauce, and a white pizza for us sometimes with mushrooms and basil and ricotta, mmmmm), Stromboli (a PA treat with lots of cured meats/cheese/peppers and olives as sort of an inside out pizza/hot hoagie/calzone type of thing), and lately we’ve been wrapping nitrate-free hot dogs in them for a little ‘pigs in a blanket’ action. And now we’re dreaming of a Garden Focaccia.

It’s almost Mother’s Day and since the apple blossoms will likely show by the end of the week, and our baby (meat) chicks just arrived we are quite the place to be. How better than to let folks wander the orchard, get some nibbles, and enjoy this moment of Spring loveliness with us. I spend a little relaxation time on Pinterest getting garden/cooking/craft ideas and am just in love with the picturesque bread canvases out there. Shooting flowers made of Red Bell Pepper slices, Red Onion blooms, Scallion stems and Basil leaves – whatever we can find to make lovely garden pictures. I might be thinking Apple trees made from Asparagus spears and Sun-dried Tomatoes with Spinach leaves and Garlic Buds, maybe a flower garden below it made from edible Flowers (Forsythia, Dandelion, Violet, Pansy – just a few in season right now) with a Yellow Pepper Sun. So many ideas, I’ll probably have to make a couple!

Use any kind of pre-made pizza dough or make your own (non-Sourdough is easy and fun – 6 ingredients: 3 cups flour mixed with 1/2 tsp sea salt in a pile, make a well in the center and add proofed 1/2 pkt (or 2 tsp) yeast in 1 cup tepid water with 1 Tbsp sugar or honey until foamy then add 1 Tbsp Olive Oil, using a strong fork to whisk flour slowly into liquid center until all is incorporated, then using your hands work/knead the dough until it all comes together into a ball – using sprinkles of water if needed, 1 tsp Olive Oil a Medium bowl – roll the ball all around in the oil, then leaving ball in bowl, cover with damp towel and let rise for about an hour, or until doubled. Punch down dough, roll into a ball again and let rest for 10 min, then shape and build garden or pizza!). We keep ours frozen and then thaw for a couple of hours until ready to use.

On a sheet pan with parchment paper and a little oil (or on a baking stone with cornmeal), stretch out dough to form a ‘canvas’ or rectangular pizza, add ‘focaccia dimples’ and a little salt – add shapes of veggies or meat or cheese, pressing items into the dough a bit but don’t be afraid to crowd (some will shrink), then brush everything with Olive Oil, shake seeds or spices on, then bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 25-30 min until golden brown and puffy. Cool on a baking rack for about 15 min, then cut into squares and serve (maybe with fresh Ricotta!). For a more detailed version/recipe, check out LavenderandLovage for their lovely version.

Enjoy your Spring, whatever the occasion.

Duendesday: Wood Imp

{life with a curious and crazy almost 11 yr old}

On a perfect day you can usually find Duende up a tree! Most of our older apple trees are kooky with lots of crossing branches and good places to grip – she can get up into most of them (Ted still confounds her, his mid-section is still just a little too high for her to get up into). When she’s not in a tree she’s either making mud cakes or baths, or hiding like a wild puma behind clumps of grass so she can jump out and ‘attack’ the dog, or us, sometimes a wandering hen.

She loves her little creek area, which hopefully this Summer will be expanded and cleared a bit to include a little pond and a bridge or two. Her little garden is a nice spot, too – she’s mapped out 4 little square beds and we found some free small garden fencing that fits perfectly. She’s already growing her seedlings (pumpkins, eggplants, heirloom golden tomatoes) and awaiting time to sow some green beans, sunflowers, and carrots.

She was getting something out of the freezer the other day and found a Turkey, so apparently she’s roasting a Turkey today and making Mashed Potatoes and Gravy with Asparagus. I am so spoiled by this kid – ha! This goes along with her recurring baking lately (she’s trying to perfect a cake still for me but makes a marvelous Banana Bread – just perfect) and taking over of the weekly menu.

This next coming weekend for Mother’s Day we are having a small and socially distanced garden party to welcome the apple blossoms which are sure to arrive right on time (we see their little budding faces!). My little wood imp hostess will be very helpful, I’m sure. She’ll be making faerie flower crowns for everyone!

Tuesday Happenings

  • The pasta is made for this week’s specials: Gold Beet & Thyme Gnocchi, Red Beet Farfalle, and our house favorite – Classic Gnudi (cheesy little pillows of goodness).
  • Josh’s beautiful Sourdough Boules are cooling on the racks, while the newly popular Oat Breads are baking nicely. Bagels and Flatbreads are done. And we are wooing a new partner today with some bread.
  • Seedlings are growing stronger day by day on the porch/greenhouse – I have just enough time to put up a few more trays of flowers and herbs. Duende’s plants were started first (she is very excited about her new garden this year!) and is the biggest, craziest jungle tray on the porch. And our dear friend Justin’s are the second biggest, as I am setting up some plants for his return from the nursing frontlines out West (Welcome Home!!!).
  • As the apple trees begin to sprout buds (and maybe even a flower opening this week!), Josh has planted all the new baby trees (Beach Plums, more Pears and Apples, Willows, and the beach Rosa Rugosa) though we have some crowns and rootlings still to get in (Purple Asparagus, more Comfrey, Artemisia, Echinacea, Lavender, Bleeding Hearts, Hollyhocks, Wild Bergamot, Hops, & Phlox) and still some shade plants and more orchard companions on the way. And Duende has chucked her ‘seed bombs’ (I think this year mostly made of more Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Parsley, and Red Russian Kale seeds).
  • Renovations are underway – the studio room is finished and has painted walls/ceiling, a new door, and will get this week a new pine floor (VT Coatings sealed), and a sliding barn door on the other end of it. And then, new shelving units built! Exciting! And then we will put in the new kitchen Marmoleum flooring and some star-tile accents (like the oven pad and back door area).
  • Then outside renovations really begin, as well – we are getting a little excavator to dig up the back yard to level out and make an outdoor kitchen area with a bread oven, a grape arbor/pergola with seating, and a better play area for our glorious child. As well as a pond area we are shaping in the middle of the creek bed – Josh is building a little bridge this week and we are making wild bench plans, with cultivated spots of Ostrich Ferns and Ramps nearby.
  • Meat Chicks come this week – and our brooder is ready. Who doesn’t love getting chicks in the mail (hilarious – thank you Murray McMurray!) though hopefully by the time they come we will have figured out how to discourage the little Red Squirrel who has chewed holes through the lids of the bins we keep the chicken scratch/food in…

It’s a precipice kind of week. All of our jobs have either started or we have ordered supplies for them and now we just have to buckle down and get them all done. I will tell you more soon but I have an exciting lecture for a lovely Garden Lecture series for The Good Life Center scheduled later this Summer and Duende has a month before her homeschool teacher assessment and graduation to 6th grade (wow – can you believe it?!!). We’ll keep you posted! Happy Day!

Monday’s Musings

May ~ Christina Rossetti

I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.
It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

Foodtalk Thursday: Libations

My child is already dreaming of deep Summer treats like Ratatouille (Thomas Keller’s, of course – thank you Pixar) and the frozen Corn on the Cob we socked away last year is no longer exciting her. She’s ready to grill things and has also decided she wants to make meat jerky this year. I love this kid. The Lemonade pitcher is out already, and homemade popsicles are being created.

Meanwhile, Josh is also having charcuterie dreams. Not only does he like the idea of smoking and curing meats and other delicious treats, but I think lazy picnic dinners after morning/afternoons working hard on the homestead appeals to him. Some fresh-made soft Ricotta with fragrant strips of basil, yesterday’s Sourdough Baguette, an array of rainbow sliced Heirloom Tomatoes with a little Olive Oil and Truffle Salt, Pickles (of course, maybe something from the Secret Pickle Club like Dilly Beans or Fiddleheads), and a lovely Smoked Sausage of some sort…accompanied by a lovely Summer (m)cocktail or Lavender Lemonade.

And that is what we’ve come to talk about today. Mocktails/Cocktails. I feel like I missed out on a lovely pandemic ritual of Zoom cocktail hour…(one I’m going to start right now!!) where people could just show up and meet, bring your favorite beverage and just hang out. Really, how did I not think of this? And I know, some folks are burnt out on internet communications but some of us rely on them. Some of us don’t see other adults very often (before, during, and/or likely after the pandemic) and this could be a great way to relax and get to know folks from afar. I will send out a notification when this picks up – I’m sure it’s going to be a hit! Tonight is the trial run with just one far-flung friend, I’ll let you know how it goes.

What shall I drink? I have to say that I read a disconcerting article the other day about the abuses of alcohol over the pandemic (Winter, mostly) here in Maine which echoes national numbers (and likely international as all people need an escape or some relaxation, or just a treat at this time). We spent much of our Winter realizing that we needed to clean out in general (our bodies, our house, our crazy) and actually drank less. Not that we drink a lot, but we are social drinkers, for sure – and enjoy adult privileges responsibly (mostly). We found an online liquor club that delivered and so spent some time boosting our cabinet of alcoholic curiosities – so many fun accoutrements. I’m no mixologist but I enjoy a fancy drink that’s not too fussy.

When the weather shifts, I shift, too – Winter calls to me with Brandy and single knuckles of Scotch, sometimes a matching chill of a Juniper Gin & Tonic, or warming up with an Apple-y Hot Toddy (cider & whiskey, cinnamon and clove…mmmm). Josh is called by various Scotch’s, American Whiskey’s, and deep flavored beers in the Winter. But by the time June rolls around I’m wishing for a Provencal Rose by the poolside (though I have no pool, alright – for the depths of the dappled orchard), and Josh moves to clear beers (he’s still hating the IPA movement; it’s not that he doesn’t like IPA’s, he just likes other things, too – but the market is still saturated with high alcohol complicated IPA’s). For this Spring, I built up an assortment of Elderflower and Bergamot Liqueur, Icelandic Vodka (my medical practitioner recommends Vodka as a low calorie/no sugar option, especially for women’s changing bodies!), and though I don’t like the additives of most flavors that companies use I found a couple that were naturally flavored like a Grapefruit Gin and the Wild Roots distillery out of PacNW.

My standards are pretty succinct. I’m a lowbrow kind of gal. We have a Soda Stream. A typical cocktail for me is a medium glass (yes, I have a lovely assortment of vintage glasses), 2 ice cubes, a shot of alcohol (likely vodka or gin), and bubbly water. Sometimes a spoonful of liqueur as a fancy floater, or a squeeze of lime, and a sprig of herb or edible flower (right now all of my drinks have Forsythia blossoms in them, in another week or two it will be Violets, and then there is Lilac and Honeysuckle…). My child won’t even let me get out of the kitchen without a flower or sprig of herb in my drink (she makes all her mocktails with a sprig or flower, too – so fancy!). Sometimes Duende makes her delicious Lemonade (made with Organic Lemon juice and Maple Syrup or Honey) and I add a little of that, too.

I do make flower simple syrups, too (also for sale) – which are great for mocktails and cocktails alike. Lavender, Pine, and all the other flowers mentioned. I have fantasies of making my own bitters (and learning how to use them), and liqueurs. I recently got Pascal Baudar’s Wildcrafted Fermentation book which has some libations and then he has another Brewer’s book I must look into. Ashley English has some great recipes, too (as the whole Taproot magazine family does and shares). I do make my own flower wines (Dandelion, Red Clover, Rosehip all have been delicious, the last being a really deep flavor to use as a liqueur and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Goldenrod; very green – we learn if we’re lucky). And Josh makes Hard Cider (though Joe’s is better, in Josh’s defense Joe is adept at beer-making) and is starting to make some beer. Our lovely friend Justin and Dan make delicious mead (Dan makes great beer with Joe, too) which they are gracious enough to share (thank you!!).

So, apparently if you come by – we are having fantasies of picnics and fancy drinks. Bring on the warm weather!!!