Are you finally warming up? No more brown water running through your pipes? Are all of the blankets, tarps and sheets off of your outdoor plants? It is hard to believe the Arctic Freeze of 2021 is behind us… And, boy, it is one for the books! I don’t know about you but we, like thousands of others in the greater Houston area, were out of power for about 30 hours. Not as bad as some and worse than others. We had an indoor temperature of 50 degrees and no water. That didn’t deter me from cooking up food I was intending to use that was in the fridge. When the storm hit, we moved our refrigerator food to the garage in a big cooler. Our daughter, Julie, used the trunk of her car as a refrigerator and another used the back porch as an outdoor freezer/ refrigerator. We all had to do what we could, and we got past it. Now I hate to waste food and this blackout was no exception. I had a challenge and I was going to make the best of it.
Most of you don’t know that I was a Girl Scout for several years, even into high school. Sometime during my scouting days, I earned my “Ambassador Survival Camper Badge” along with a few of my camping crew of sister scouts. We spent a weekend camping / roughing it in the forests of Ohio. To earn this badge, we had to complete the following requirements:
1. Plan a survival camping trip with limited supplies.
2. Gather your gear.
3. Plan and prepare your trip meals.
4. Learn a survival camp skill.
5. Go camping.
We did great with all of the above, except when we were sent out on a “reconnaissance mission" with only water, a compass, and a piece of paper with compass directions and approximate footstep distances. We failed miserably the first weekend and had to repeat the task a month later. However, what we excelled at both times was foraging for wood and berries, making a fire and a meal. We finally achieved the badge by excelling in the gathering of information, knowing /trusting where and when to stop, rest, drink … and arriving at our designated rendezvous in record time using only the compass and the paper with the compass readings. Why am I sharing this? Because Feb. 15 and 16, I relived that experience in my own home. And I excelled at cooking in the dark. I had raw chicken defrosted in the garage cooler along with assorted slightly wilted veggies. I foraged in the kitchen with a flashlight, using only my mental map to seek out and find spices and herbs to use with the chicken. I was also in luck by foraging and finding the last can of evaporated coconut milk high up in the cabinet. This I secured before dark. I was now in business, and ready to start cooking. It was 6 p.m. and dark and, with my stove on an inner wall, I had no window but still I made a fantastic dinner. “Please Join Our Table” as we raise a toast to my Girl Scout days and enjoy our made-in-the-dark, yellow curry chicken.
Karen’s Tribute to Girl Scouting Yellow Curry Chicken
(Remember I am foraging in my kitchen in the dark here.)
1 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3-inch chunks, or use precut slices of chicken fingers
1/2 can condensed coconut milk, shake well before opening
2 teaspoons fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon powdered ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fresh turmeric or 1/4 teaspoon ground
Salt and course ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup of poblano pepper, cut into small slices (or 1/2 of a jalapeno)
2 small white potatoes, cut into 6-8 cubes
3 carrots, sliced on the bias into 1/2 - inch pieces
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 red onion, cut into crescents
Peel of 1/2 of a lime
1/2 of a lime in wedges
2 tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) or more if needed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
2 teaspoons tandoori seasoning
1 teaspoon Harissa seasoning
Toasted sesame seeds
Fresh cilantro for topping
DIRECTIONS: Place the carrots and potatoes in a small pot with water to cover. Boil and cook until tender but not all the way done. Drain, saving 1/2 cup of the water, set aside. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and sauté in a large stove top pan with 1/2 of the EVOO for about 5-7 minutes until done. Remove the chicken and set it aside. In the same chicken pan, add the remaining EVOO, peppers and onions and sauté until the veggies are tender but still slightly crisp, scraping the *fond from the bottom of the pan. Return chicken to the pan; add the spices and 1/3 cup of the reserved water. Add remaining spices and vegetables, sauté 1-2 minutes and gently add the coconut milk, folding it in. Adjust seasonings; add more water to get the consistency you desire and serve topped with sesame oil, lime wedges, cilantro and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. If I had fresh Pho noodles, I would have added that, too.
*Fond: the browned bits and caramelized drippings of meat and vegetables that are stuck to the bottom of a pan after sautéing or roasting.