Ex Trailer Trash

Curried Favor


Today was interminably long but… things got done.

Work started at a breakneck pace, thankfully slowing a bit this afternoon. During morning break I sprayed the oven with Easy-Off, the fume-free variety because the other stuff kills me. I hadn’t used this type before, and my daughter had and said it didn’t work well for her. Since it was all I had, I figured it might help get off the worst of the crud, and I’d keep scraping at the burnt-on stuff over the next few days to reduce, if not eliminate it.

Only thing I can think of is the kid didn’t allow enough time. I let the stuff do its thing from 10:30am til I got off work at 4:30, and 99% of the burned-on grease and crud wiped away with one swipe with a wet rag. What didn’t come off with the rag alone, I loosened with minimal elbow grease and a stainless scrubber, then wiped it away.

My oven looks like new, y’all. I’m stoked.

I definitely won’t let it get that bad again. (It was bad. This is the first time it’s been cleaned in over a year and a half.)

My knees are screaming bloody murder. They can stuff it. I’m glad it’s done.

Since the oven was temporarily decommissioned, dinner was the world’s easiest chicken curry, pictured at the top of the page.

I started by cooking rice according to directions (other than the part about letting it stick, but we won’t talk about that.) I bought chicken pre-diced and dumped that into my biggest skillet, browned it and threw in veggies. I used bell pepper strips, diced onion, and a small can of peas & carrots, drained. Use whatever you like and have on hand. Stir-fried until the pepper strips weren’t frozen any more. Added two cans of cream of mushroom soup and two cans of water. Stirred and heated until it got bubbly, then stirred in a generous amount of curry powder. One lesson I learned a long time ago: never skimp on spices.

If that sounds like a lot of time and work – trust me, it isn’t. Prep time is fast and easy, and the end result is yummy. I imagine you could trade the rice bed and eat this with naan, but G doesn’t like naan.

I know. I don’t understand it either.

The photo run this weekend was fun. Unfortunately it’s too hot to do another unless we leave home at 5am, which isn’t a preferred way to start my day off. We didn’t pull into Tempe Friday until 10:30am, by which time it was already in the 90s.

The orange cantilevered umbrellas sit alongside Tempe Town Lake, which was constructed in the Salt River bed.
This memorial honors first responders. It rises a short distance from the lake

Adding different photos here than I posted to FB, because I know most of my readers overlap.

Lots of art throughout the town, like this orange-loving monkey painted on the side of a utility box

Yard/garage sales have all but evaporated. I assume it’s a perfect storm of gas prices and people working umpteen jobs to pay for the sucker-punch of gas prices and housing, both of which are completely out of control here. We were lucky when we got gas a week ago for 4.29 a gallon. (It was over 5.00 a gallon in Phoenix proper and nearly everywhere else in the state.)

By this weekend the local gas stations had jacked up the price to 4.99 a gallon – except one station I found on Gas Buddy, which I’ll be using before we refill next time. Thank GAWD I work from home now, and thank Gawd for buying our house when we did.

If you’re wondering why I started adding the dividers to my entries, they’re to remind me to keep it short and sweet. One of my few readers pointed out my word-vomit (my term, not hers) made it tough to read and digest. So I’m trying both to break up the text with pictures and shorten the entry text overall.

Sorry, couldn’t resist one duplicate. This is a favorite of everything from the weekend.

10 thoughts on “Curried Favor”

  1. Damn, lookit you go! A clean oven, skillet curry, AND really, really good photographs? You really are a Renaissance woman! Woooo! (Funny story: I’d never used “Cream of Something” soup until I hooked up with midwestern wifey, who found that both hilarious and frightening when she moved in. But after trying my version of her trailer park favorites, using veloute instead of canned glop, she banished the stuff also. But I certainly appreciate it is a great time and effort savor if you don’t go to the trouble of making your own French mother sauces 🙂 )

    On a serious note, those photos are really a step up from your previous offerings. Just getting that horizon level made an immediate and noticeable improvement. And I love the polychromatic chair pic, with your great use of shallow depth of field. Kudos all the way around, babe!

    1. I keep the can o’ glop for days like yesterday when cooking ANYTHING was gonna be a challenge. However, I’m happily begging for your veloute recipe for future culinary excursions.

      Thank you, too, for the comments on my photos. I make a concerted effort to get stuff straight – and other than the photo of the chairs, these were my LEAST favorite photos from the weekend, lol. (Photo of the glop-filled meal was just a snap with my phone, doesn’t count, lol.)

      1. Ah, the phone snap was fine too. We as a society have come to expect that level of photographic quality from our phones 🙂

        Veloute? It’s actually simple, and as a recipe that goes back all the way through Escoffier, you will have no trouble finding instructions for the Real Deal online. Basically it’s a bechamel sauce using chicken stock instead of all milk. You can go all authentic and do things like simmer veal knuckles for a white stock first, etc. etc., or go streamlined and modern. Which would be just making a roux (equal parts butter and flour cooked briefly to form a paste) into which you add chicken stock, then finish with heavy cream (and often finishing spices like white pepper and nutmeg). That’s pretty much all I do any more, veal knuckle prices being what they are. And honestly, it’s still freakin’ great. What really elevates my own (if I do say so myself) is that I make good rich homemade chicken stock. But even canned stuff will work (just avoid the cubes).

        If you make it, take a pic and send it to me 😉

        1. Sooo… gravy.

          I looked up online and found several versions mentioned, which is why I asked for your specific option. Sounds like you use ’em all, which makes sense. Besides the white version you mentioned, one mentioned thickening with egg yolk rather than a roux, which I thought sounded interesting. One involved cream and mushrooms. I could see each working with different recipes.

          Most of the time if I’m making something OTHER than gravy, I use cornstarch as my thickener, using it mixed with liquid and stream/stir in rather than making a roux. It gives a silkier texture. It’s what I used when I made homemade cream of mushroom soup, and I liked the outcome. I still browned the mushrooms and minced onions for flavor. I might not know all the terminology but I’ve cooked enough – and experimented enough – to have done most of the stuff you describe.

          BTW the curry recipe is what I did after the first time I tasted curry at a restaurant. I went home to try and replicate it. I grew up with a Midwest mom whose idea of innovation was swapping stewed tomatoes for tomato sauce, heating it up, and dumping it over noodles as her version of spaghetti, so I was a bit slower on the uptake, lol.

          1. Yeah, the egg yolk + cream “liaison” method of thickening is excellent, and one of my go-to’s. It’s also one of the standard thickening methods along with simple reductions, roux, gels, etc. And if I recall correctly, Escoffier himself expressed a preference for pure starches, so your use of cornstarch is sanctioned by the master himself! (I like to play around with different starches btw, mostly for my own amusement. They all have slightly different properties, which I find interesting.)

            BTW, although I use liaison thickening myself sometimes – including in veloute – I don’t often recommend it to others. It can be a bit temperamental, not to mention now increasingly expensive. It’s much easier to just mix up a roux, or add a pure starch solution, or even just reduce. You lose a little in the richness and unctuous departments, but frankly most times it’s hardly noticeable.

            Good on you for trying to replicate restaurant dishes at home! I do the same thing, and like you…sometimes slow on the uptake 🙂

        2. Now I’m determined to try the liaison method at least once, to see how it tastes. I’m not intimidated by more challenging recipes – and from experience, even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly it can still taste marvelous (texture notwithstanding.)

          Heck, when I was in high school we were challenged to do something we’d never done before. I went into the kitchen and whipped up a dessert based on a vague idea. Took the results to class. There were no leftovers.

          Basically created a super-soft donut dough and drop-fried. It created spikey, hollow, tender-crisp balls – which I split and filled with in a melon-ball scoop of rainbow sherbert. A dusting of powdered sugar finished them. (Hey – I was in high school and this was my first genuine attempt at recipe-free cooking.) I had to freeze them to get them to school, so the bread texture wasn’t ideal, but nobody complained.

          1. Lol. To quote Lou Grant, “You’ve got spunk.” (Of course his next line was, “I hate spunk.” But we’ll ignore that part.) So, great! Yeah, go for it! It really does add something to sauces where it’s applicable, and I’m sure the technique is not going to hard for you at all. I mean, it really isn’t hard. You just have to watch you don’t scramble the egg.

            That dessert sounds lovely! High school, huh? Very impressive, Young Glasshoppa 🙂

  2. You accomplished one of those tasks that we put off even when it isn’t that difficult to just invest in the time and effort. Your dinner sounds delish and I have have tried it.

    Love the photos. the monkey was cute and those chairs were awesome.

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