In the Kitchen with Big Monkey

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Curried Sweet Potato Bisque

Monday, January 24th, 2011

A hearty dish for the people.

Once again, I come before you, not to entertain and enlighten, but to ask for your support. Although, it makes me a little uncomfortable to be so blatantly self-serving, I feel it is only fair that when I ask for other people to support and promote one of my projects, well, I probably should promote it myself. So, here you go.

I am always experimenting in the kitchen trying to come up with new recipes or new combinations of flavor. Sometimes things turn out pretty well and those I try to share, the failures I chalk up to experience and try to be all zen about, in an Edisonian sort of way. Today’s recipe was a great success, which I have been meaning to share with you for a couple of months, but it took a nudge from a friend to finally get me to write it down.

I discovered Indian food and curry late in life, but I fell in love with the flavor and I am trying to make up for lost time. Lately, I have added it to all kinds of dishes with varying levels of success, but my favorite new curried dish is this midwinter bisque made with sweet potatoes onions, bell pepper and lots of spices.

I first made this to serve at a friend’s gallery open house last fall and have made it several times since then, but I kept forgetting to document things. So last week I made myself focus, grabbed the camera and made a great batch of this bisque, just in time to get snowed in. About that time a friend mentioned that Instructables was having a Homemade Soup Contest that I should enter it, so I did. That’s where you come in.

They will be accepting votes from January 23-26 and the entries with the highest number of votes move on to actual taste testing.  I feel good about the quality of my submission and the finished bisque is really tasty and good for you, in order to get into the finals I need your help.  So please, take a moment to visit my Instructable and if you feel it is worthy, I would appreciate your vote.  It also helps if you rate the project, so please help me out, if you can.

As always, I thank you for your support.

Vote Here

Update:  After I submitted my project for consideration, it was not only accepted for the contest, but they featured it on their site for a day.  Pretty exciting, huh?

Bigger update: Not only was it featured, the recipe won First Prize.  Thank you all for your support, now go forth and make this soup.

Going Organic with Tomato Basil Bisque

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Taking the slippery slope into organic gardening...

Taking the slippery slope into organic gardening...

One of the best parts of Autumn is the harvest of the bounty of summer and the final payoff of all of those long hours in the garden.  It is a time when our kitchen kicks back into gear after it’s long summer break, at time for baking and best of all a time for soups and stews.  There is little more welcoming than coming home to the smell of freshly-baked bread and a pot of stew that has been simmering all day.  One of my favorite Fall dinners is my mother’s Tomato Basil Bisque with a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich on homemade sourdough bread, now that is serious comfort food.  Normally, by this time of year we have to rely on tomatoes that we canned earlier in the season, but here we are in the first week of October and we still have fresh tomatoes on the vine, so let’s take advantage of them. Click to continue »

Simplified Complexity and the Duality of the Lowly Pimento

Friday, March 27th, 2009
Here comes the sun...

Here comes the sun...

Spring is a time to retire the heavy stews that kept away the winter’s chill and celebrate the season of the sandwich and nothing says comfort food like pimento cheese.  Now if your experience with pimento cheese involves picking up a pot of the processed grocery store stuff, then I can understand your lack of enthusiasm, store-bought spreads are like the movie adaptation of a book, they often share a name and precious little else.  Likewise, if you are reading this north of the Mason-Dixon line then there is a good chance you are unaware of this delicacy and therefore “don’t know what you are missing”.  It seems hard to believe, to anyone raised in the South, that this ubiquitous potluck dinner/church social/picnic/afternoon tea/school lunch staple is a “regional” dish.  To the rest of you I am preaching to the choir, but stick with me and maybe I’ll find some scripture you haven’t heard yet.

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Wanderlust and Soda Bread in the Season of Green

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

rowboat-close

When March rolls around and Spring begins peeking at us from behind the trees, I begin to long for fields of green.  Soon enough the flowers begin to raise their heads from their long winter naps and the signs of the turn of the season become impossible to ignore.  It is about this time that one of my favorite holiday’s rolls around, when everyone gets to put on the green and pretend that they are one of the blessed people, if only for a day.  For me, St. Patrick‘s Day is not about drinking and carousing, although I have been known to do my fair share of that, it is really about the change of the year, a celebration that we have made it through another winter and that the time of bounty is ready to begin again, the polar opposite of Thanksgiving, if you will.  A time to consider what lies ahead and what this new year will bring.  Of course, if you would like to celebrate that with a raised pint, well as long as the beer is black and stout,  then who am I too judge.

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Science and Magic in the Modern Kitchen

Thursday, February 26th, 2009
plasma

It's poetry in motion...

My wife was giving me a hard time last week, apparently I have been slacking in the cooking department lately, so I decided to treat her to my take on a recipe she made last week, with mixed results.  Since it was Mardi Gras, I decided to revisit a recipe for Cabbage Jambalaya that Mary R. gave us while we were in Thibodaux at the first of the year.  My take on the Jambalaya was great, although I did get it a little too spicy, I have learned, though, that making the exact same dish, only better, is probably not the best way to keep peace in Monkey Manor.  Which got me to thinking about cooking, following recipes and deciding when to blaze your own trail.

We live in an age where simple cooking is becoming a bit of a lost art.  I have friends and family for whom making dinner means grabbing a box out of the freezer or a can out of the cabinet and applying heat to it’s contents.  There is nothing wrong with this, I am all for our brave, modern world filled with such conveniences, but it’s kinda like watching the movie instead of reading the book, it is sort of the same only not as good.  Grandma is on the other end of that spectrum, she almost always starts with a bunch of raw ingredients and uses her experience rather than a recipe to craft her meals.  I settle somewhere in the middle, and here is why…

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Calculated Randomness and the Quest for Understanding

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

clock

Over the last few weeks, I have noticed a flurry of “25 Random Things About Me” posts circulating around the social networking sites.  I think it is an  awesome way for people to connect and get to know one another better, but I take issue with the use of the word “random”.  I mean, you get to choose the things you share, and looking at what people choose to share, it is obvious that they are making a calculated effort to show you facets of their personality or life that will portray them in a particular light.  Not quite random, but beautiful, nonetheless. So why do we choose to share these things?

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A Midwinter's Reflection with Hot Bacon Dressing

Friday, January 30th, 2009

fence

As I look outside, the thermometer is hanging a little below freezing, the wind is whipping through a sky of steely  gray, a typical dreary midwinter’s day.  Not too much to get excited about, it is kind of hard to think about much except staying inside and keeping warm.  A good day for a nice pot of stew, some home-baked bread, a cup of cocoa and curling up by the fire with your sweetheart, or at least a good book.  Then my eye is drawn to what is left of the garden, most of it turned under waiting for a spring planting that seems light years away, but that turned soil, with it’s current coat of frost calls to me with the promise of good things to come.  Of course, this leads my random mind down the path to that first meal of the season made entirely of ingredients from our garden, that day is a big deal for a fellow like me who gave up the farm for more cosmopolitan delights, before discovering I had been living in paradise all along.

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Big Fun on the Bayou

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Last week, I learned how to do something I had always wanted to do, I learned to shuck oysters, but let’s not get too far ahead of the story…

Each year after Christmas we try to slip away for a caching road trip with friends, it is a nice way to end the year and it helps to start off the new year rested and ready for big things.  We try to not plan things too much and often we are not even sure where we are headed when we pull out of the driveway.  The only rule is that we head generally south and find warmer weather.  This year our wanderings ended up in Southeast Louisiana and son of a gun we had big fun.

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From the French for "toss together"

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Totally random shot out my sunroof at a stoplight

So here is how this works, sometimes I am inspired to write about things and share them with you, sometimes I am just not feeling it, so I don’t write anything and other times I am terribly inspired about all kinds of things, but there are just not enough hours in the day to do my real work, my play work, my play play and take the time to write about all the things I have been doing or thinking about.  This is one of those times.  So, being extra clever I try to write some extra stuff to have “in the bank” for when life gets too hectic and I can assure you that the bank is full of half-fleshed out ideas, but there is nothing that feels right this week.  I really want to tell you about the things I learned down on the bayou last week, the politics of auto repair and what I learned when I went to the mountaintop, but that will have to wait for a little while.  So what do you get, besides random iPhone pictures and rambling?

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Snickerdoodles and Red Diamonds

Monday, December 8th, 2008

It is time for a Monkey Christmas memory, so try to read this one in your best Truman Capote voice, and get your hat and get the buggy, cause it’s fruitcake weather.

Well, no actually, it is not fruitcake weather and my name is not Buddy, but it is time for a treat far better, when the snow begins to fall in early December it is time to bake Snickerdoodles.

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