My inspiration for cooking are the recipes that came from Great-great-grandma Gee, Great-grandma Coen, and Grandma Warfel, which say a pinch of this, a handful of that, and season to taste for a pound or so. As far as I am concerned what is fresh and available or in season dictates a lot of the ingredients, and what is on allowed on the low-fat, low carb list dictates the rest.
G-g-g-ma Gee bequeathed to us a recipe for “Pickled Beets” or “Pickled Anything” which depends on large quantities of any kind of vinegar (white, apple cider, or wine) and large quantities of anything sweet (sugar, molasses, maple syrup, sorgum). With those two basics for a start you can add anything from the herb garden that is available (garlic, coriander, tarragon, thyme, sage, bay, dill, onion, parsley, rosemary, savory, chives, basil, peppers, cardamom, oregano). I’ve used her recipe several times, and of course it’s turned out differently every time, but it’s always good, in my humble opinion. Thank you, G-g-g-ma Gee!
I first ate Curried Beef prepared by my friend Tim, who grew up in Thailand, when we were seminary neighbors. It was so spicy hot that the only way to survive was to keep eating it, and wiping away the tears. Promptly after the meal my colon emptied, but going in it tasted wonderful. It doesn’t have to be that hot. You are in control. You make the decision. The next time I asked to help Tim prepare the meal, and I found out how he did it, and I began to develop a tolerance that removed the untoward side effects.
Two things are essential. If one starts with essential ingredients, you can go anywhere from there. This applies to many things in life. For this recipe it is onion and ginger, at least one whole fresh onion and about three inches of fresh ginger root, both chopped fine and sauteed in oil (olive oil, canola oil, or any oil). Of course I have substituted onion flakes and onion powder, and ground ginger from the can, but I don’t like to. I don’t know what the upper limit on quantity for these two ingredients is. I’ve never found it yet. But one onion and about four ounces of ginger will take care of a pound of something.
At this point you can add a curry powder of choice, or the ingredients of any fresh curry that you choose to make from any of the ingredients that G-g-g-ma Gee suggested for her pickle. In fact if you want to wait until later and make this curry sweet and sour, you can just add her prepared pickle to the mix. Or you can just add any peppers you like, finely chopped, from green, white or black ground pepper to chopped jalapeno, habanero, or Thai peppers. There you may need to be a little careful.
Add a pound of ½ inch cubed beef or chicken or pork or soy substitute stuff, or ground meat, and brown at medium high. If you’re not going to cook this for a few hours, then you can add hard vegetables like potatoes or carrots now or soon. And to hurry the process you may want to tenderize the meat. Or you can just fix the curry sauce and leave out meat, adding fish or vegetables later, after the herbs and spices have cooked through the sauce.
Add water to cover and simmer for at least an hour, if not in a hurry, it may be a couple of hours. But you can also fix a hurried version in about fifteen minutes. Or if you prefer a creamier flavor and texture, substitute coconut milk, half and half, cream, skim milk, or evaporated milk instead of water. Most of these are not allowed on my diet.
If you have found a curry paste from India, Thailand, or Vietnam that you would like to use, you can add at least a tablespoon of it, or follow directions on the package if you can find someone to translate them, after the mixture has simmered for a while. Or just live dangerously. It will usually take the place of most of the other seasonings added after the onion and ginger. And it will thicken the curry without needing to add much other thickener.
After the long simmer, add a thickener to the mix, corn starch or flour as needed. Then add any precooked meat, fish or vegetables that you do not want to turn to mush. If you want some of these to remain crisp then you will be ready to serve it in a minute.
Serve on a bed of rice, white or brown or wild or seasoned or fried, or on noodles or on toast or on steamed vegetables. You can add or subtract any ingredient, as far as I am concerned, except the original two. You can even add some salt if your blood pressure allows it, but I don’t think it is necessary. Usually this dish will serve at least four people, but since it is better on the second and third days, I usually double or triple the recipe, and enjoy the leftovers, if there are any. There usually aren’t. Jan says she will stay married to me if I continue to prepare this occasionally.