Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

This is a variation on a theme - Sophia's cheesecake - that grew out of my extreme disappointment in a pumpkin dessert recipe I tried out a bit ago. (Trust me, this is way better than that was - I'm still surprised anyone I served them to ate them!) I've since done two or three experimental batches, and I think this is the final version of this recipe. If it's not, however, I'll be sure to post any future adjustments I make!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crockpot Butter Chicken à la Jean-Marc

This was fantastic. I absolutely hate handling raw meat - despise and detest it really - but how this turned out made it totally worth it. A must make! Although if you don't like cayenne you might want to pull back on that just a tad. This is an adaptation of a couple of recipes, easily serves a group of six or more. (I'm still delighting in the leftovers, and I gave half of them away!)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This may well be a recipe someone else has already come up with, in which case I declare myself the Finder-Keeper and you, the original inventor, the Loser-Weeper! So ha! The joke's on you!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Masala Pie

When I originally planned my menu for this year's Canadian Thanksgiving dinner I had thought to just make straight up pumpkin pie for dessert. As I was making the first pie, however, I realized that a lot of the spices for the regular pie were the same as what's in the tea masala I brought with me from eastern Africa when I moved to the States after high school. That led to my second pie, the pumpkin masala one! I may be modifying the recipe later depending on how the pie actually tastes tomorrow night, but my sampling of the batter makes me think that this will be a keeper! (And perhaps something to pull out in the future for St. Thomas' main feast day since it falls in mid-October!)

Thanksgiving, Indian Style

Each fall I celebrate two Thanksgivings, one in early October when the Canadian side of my family celebrates it and the other in late November when my family in the United States celebrates it. Since I've lived in the United States for the better part of the last decade it's American Thanksgiving that generally gets the big celebration, whilst I generally observe Canadian Thanksgiving with a little cranberry sauce, a bottle of Canadian beer, or even both if I'm feeling really festive!

This time around, however, I'm staying with friends who won't be able to eat a full American Thanksgiving dinner since they're on the reformed calendar and start fasting mid-November, and I'm feeling inspired both by that and my parents' long tradition of making Indian food (and possibly a recent episode of Steven and Chris, lol) to make an Indian-style Thanksgiving dinner. Depending on how things turn out I will be posting the recipes here, with the exception of the recipe for the masala pumpkin pie I just made, which I tasted before baking and which was absolutely divine! (THAT recipe will be posted shortly!)

This has all come together rather last minute and I'm not aiming to simply transform traditional staples by adding some curry, so don't get excited for 'curried roast turkey' or 'turmeric mashed potatoes' - they're just not happening! (Well, okay, turkey was supposed to happen, but have you seen how expenses just plain turkey breasts are these days?! Pass the chicken, please and thank you!) On the menu for tomorrow night's Thanksgiving dinner is butter chicken, spiced mashed sweet potatoes, pumpkin saag (from the Veganomicon, a must read!), and masala pumpkin pie. And, of course, jellied cranberry sauce from a can, the way God intended! (I just can't give that stuff up!)

I'm about halfway through my cooking and calling it for the night since I have church in the morning. (A joyous feast to everyone celebrating the Protection of the Mother of God tomorrow!) I shall, however, post an update sometime tomorrow after dinner if all goes well, and then the recipes shortly thereafter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Update (16/10/2013): Most of what I made turned out okay, but the pumpkin saag was AWFUL. Absolutely awful. For some reason some of my friends liked it, but I thought it was utterly foul. Never again! If you're desperate for something awful involving pumpkin and spinach go buy a copy of the Veganomicon (linked above) and try it for yourself - it's on page 184.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Michiganian Peanut Stew

Once upon a time I thought peanut butter was for spreading on toast and peanuts the only snack legally allowed to be served on airplanes. Now thanks to my lovely Ghanaian and Bolivian friends from university I know that you can throw them together with a few greens and seasonings and make an awesome stew too!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kielbasa Chili

I would never in a million years have thought that I would eat a chili worth dying for, but this is definitely it! It seems so greasy and wrong - and it is, oh so very wrong! - but it's entirely irresistible. Any sausage lovers out there are going to love this. (You just can't go wrong with kielbasa!)

Sophia's Cheesecake

This became my favorite go-to dessert almost instantaneously - it was that good! Making it for a get-together or event is always a gamble as you can never be entirely sure how much of the resulting yummy goodness will actually make it out of the kitchen! (If only that were just a joke!) Disclaimer: Don't expect to bring any leftovers home if you do take it to a function. (You've been warned!) Unless, of course, you are friends with people who don't like food, in which case you shouldn't be wasting this on them in the first place!
Sts. Sophia, Faith, Hope, and Love

Sophia's "cheesecake" (cheesecake bars really) is excellent for fattening up those loved ones in your life needing a bit of meat on their bones and can be highly useful in bartering and/or hostage situations. I have also found it to be an excellent thank you gift for overworked clergy and a good treat for the little people in my life. As well as an excellent treat for myself. Have I mentioned that I really like this recipe?

The original recipe was for sopapilla cheesecake, but I've rechristened my adaptation in honor of the many, many, many Sophias I know - you seriously would not believe how many Sophias, Sonyas, Sophies, Sofiyas, and Sofichkas have been in my life over the years! (Plus if you say "sopapilla cheesecake" as fast as you can it basically comes out sounding like "Sophia's cheesecake" anyways.) A life of the original Sophia - St. Sophia - and her daughters can be found here.

Greek-Style Kollyva

Kollyva is a basic part of Orthodox Christian life in much of Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. Although predating Orthodox Christianity, kollyva today is made in memory of the dead and blessed during memorial services in line with the Lord's saying that "unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24). Although kollyva can be made with rice or other grains, wheat is traditionally used in making it because of the Gospel passage.
Kollyva for the Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

In most Orthodox countries kollyva is offered on certain days - St. Demetrius' Saturday, the Soul Saturdays during Lent, and the Day of Rejoicing among them - as well as for funerals and memorials. There are many ways to make kollyva, but the recipe here follows Greek practice in a general way, albeit with modifications I've made over the years since I started making kollyva.

Feel free to follow the recipe or to modify it to suit your tastes - there's no right way to make kollyva, as long as it tastes good ;-)! Over the years I've had everything from kollyva with Jordan almonds to kollyva with candy corn, so be as adventurous as you like. (There may well be as many ways to make kollyva as there are people making it!) If you are making kollyva in memory of a dead loved one or dead loved ones, then while you are preparing it pray as much as you are able for the people you want remembered later in church. God grant them (and all of us) to partake in His heavenly kingdom!

Oxen and Elephants

Welcome to my blog! I've taken its name from an Ethiopian proverb: "A fool will pair an ox with an elephant." While I am generally a cautious cook, I do occasionally find myself combining crazy things or fusing elements from different cuisines that don't often come together. These culinary adventures are sometimes great, but at other times they remind me of the proverb, much to my chagrin!

I plan on posting the more interesting of the recipes I try, mostly because I tend to modify most of the recipes I take from cookbooks or online and I'd like a record somewhere so that I don't forget what I've done. Selfishness aside, I do enjoy my cooking and I like to share it, so this blog will be another way of doing that! (Albeit a somewhat more involved one for you since I won't just be giving you the fruit of my labors!)

I'm an Orthodox Christian and and a wannabe vegetarian/pescetarian who loves bacon, so there are seasons in my life I'm vegan or vegetarian, and others when I'm a full-on carnivore. Hopefully this will result in there being a bit of something for everyone posted here sooner or later! Whatever may come, I hope it's as enjoyable for you as it is for me! Good appetite!