Monthly Archives: August 2010


One of these years (evidently, not this one), I’m going to get better
at starting meal planning from what’s available, instead of working
from recipes and engaging in elaborate scavenger hunts to find the set
ingredients.   Now, it’s not the south
or anything, but there is a summer Farmer’s Market on
Grand Manan, and goodness knows there’s plenty of local fish and
seafood to be had.  And, it’s always a bit of a gamble as to what
will be at the grocery store on any given day — some days, the chicken
thighs are boneless/skinless, some days they’re not.  Some days
there are lemons but no limes.  Others, it’s the red onions that
have vanished.  I have sympathy — inventory control must be
hellish on an island that can double in population on a sunny summer
weekend, and who knows what they’ll all take it in mind to want by way
of groceries.

So I decided to make Indian Butter Chicken.

Actually, I was looking for a set-and-forget meal, and came across one
Chicken Makhani
, and decided to give it a whirl.  Of the
ingredients I needed, the grocery store was obliging with the chicken
(though with bones & skin) and the lemon.  IXNAY on the curry
powder, coconut milk, and cardamom pods (garam masala, fenugreek —
right out).

Not deterred, I picked up some (unsweetened) dessicated coconut, and
headed home to sort it all out.  The Internet was as obliging as
usual — turns out there are Ways to
make coconut milk
from dessicated coconut.  Of course, that
requires spinning the drenched coconut in a blender (which I don’t have
on the island), and squeezed through cheesecloth.  Hmm.  I
didn’t have any of that in the house, either.    Moving
from “not deterred” to “obnoxiously stubborn”, I elected not to race out to the store in the
few remaining moments of openness on a Saturday afternoon, and worked
with what I had — my busted up  old Braun food pro, and a tea
towel.  I had to work very
hard not to think about how much fabric softener I’d used when I’d last
laundered it…

Coconut milk

Does that coconut milk look faintly blue…?  (No!).

Next up were the spices.  I knew “curry powder” is a generic label
applied to a spice combination you can (and should) make up
yourself.  Even with the lack of critical components, I wanted to
have a go — my random spice collection included some important pieces,
such as coriander seeds.  These toasted up nicely in a hot
pan.  Of course, I don’t have a mortar and pestle ono the island,
or a blender (see note above) or a spice grinder.  I was resigning
myself to resorting to the always-suboptimal ziptop and rolling pin
method (yes, I have a rolling pin — and no blender.  I didn’t say
it made sense, did I?), and then I recalled this trip’s extravagant
addition:  the table salt grinder, with its ceramic mechanism.

impromptu spice grinder

In the end, I didn’t have anything like the right components, but I
added extra dried mustard, and a bit of this and that, but the grinder
did it’s thing, and I had  curry powder & garam masala:

ground spices

In the end, I guess all that really mattered was the chicken and the
butter — set to slow cook for a number of hours.

en voiture!

And plated:

respectable finish

It was, actually, quite tasty.  A flavourful braise of
chicken.  Someday, possibly even soon, I will have to try the
recipe again with more of the expected ingredients.  It certainly
won’t be quite the same adventure, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty.

Almost FO!

I need to sew in the ends, cut off the test strip, wet finish this thing and take better pictures. But I can’t resist sharing a preview! My first weaving project, off the loom. It is very much a first project, with all the expected mistakes and shortcomings. But, it was fun! And, I think I’m hooked… 🙂