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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thanks, Internet

D. had to go to the ATL for a book event tonight, so it's just us girls tonight (and our guard dog, Cooper). We had a nice meal inspired by this post and recipe for aloo simla mirch (potato and sweet pepper curry) on one of my new favorite blogs, The Perfect Pastry. "Supper was better than I thought it would be," proclaimed the four-year-old, but I knew it would be good even with my (minor) changes: I just put one slit serrano in and kept it aside for my own plate, I grated in half a tomato I had sitting around, and instead of making fresh all-out curry powder I used a little of the stuff from Taj Mahal and then coarsely ground some cumin and coriander seeds. Served with some leftover spiced brown basmati with some peas. Oh, it was wonderful. Thank you, Margie.

After supper, I turned on a movie, thinking maybe T. would kind of fall asleep on her own, saving me the whole drawn-out bedtime routine—we were both so tired this afternoon—and I could get some work done. Not a chance. We sat on the couch, huddled together, gripping our girlie nightgowns, totally engrossed in the extremely manipulative and simplistic but highly effective Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, which I'd seen on a list of a few recent non-snarky movies for youngsters blogged on Sweet Juniper!. (Thank you—really—Sweet Juniper! writer.)

For my part, once I managed to separate the Spirit Matt Damon voice-over from the ADM Informant! Matt Damon voice-over recently experienced, I was fine. T.'s reaction was a little more complex: She was sobbing through most of it—with sadness as well as happiness—but she would not let me turn it off no matter what happened. Or even turn down the volume so the sappy (but again, highly effective) Bryan Adams–Hans Zimmer score wouldn't get to her so much. This movie was intense for a kid, veering from euphoric relief to wrenching heartbreak every ten or fifteen seconds. Seeing T. parsing all that was almost too much for me. She enjoys the long form—Ponyo, which I find incredibly slow for an animated feature, has been a favorite of hers for a couple months—but I've never seen her so thrilled about a movie. She couldn't stop talking about it afterward. We watched all the DVD extras, and I learned how to sort of draw Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron, and she colored him red and green, and then she ran and got lots more paper and announced that she was going to make a movie about the horse. "But it's going to be different. It will be shorter. And no people will try to ride him, because wild horses aren't supposed to be rided. And the good guy will use a rope to get apples from a tree for all the horses." (And there was something about a strip'ed pebble.) She added, "I think you're going to like this movie. Half of it will be scary, and half of it will be good." Which sounds perfect to me.

Note the tissue handy. (And that's my wine, not hers.)


margie said...

I'm glad you liked the Aloo Simla Mirch! And knowing the fantastic food that your daughter gets to eat on a daily basis, I'm glad that she liked it, too :)

I've thought about adding tomato to mine (I put tomato in a lot of my Indian food), but I hadn't tried it yet. That'll be the next adjustment!

Patty said...

We had an eggplant-potato curry this week, too, from Vegetarian Epicure, and it really hit the spot. Only the peppers were from our garden, but the eggplant was from the farmers' market. It called for several tomatoes, but I only had one. Love that about curry, that you can change it successfully. Had it again last night as leftovers and it was still tasty.

A.Kelley said...

this sounds great. going to have to try! also wanted you to know i'm having a giveaway on my blog at the moment and thought you might want to check it out!

margie said...

Hey Liana,

I just picked up your book this evening on my way home from work - it looks fantastic!

I particularly like the way it's laid out - and we already have early Concord grapes that I was planning to buy this weekend for grape jam, so I think I'll try out your recipe.

Anonymous said...

Liana, Your Canning book just arrived on my doorstep and am thrilled. This is the third book I have invested in and definately my favorite so far. Am finding my way back to my childhood as well by some limited, hopefully loving canning for my family and friends. I have a question that is puzzling me... can I safely double the recipes? or does that affect the acid/preserving process?
many thanks, mb in oregon

Liana Krissoff said...

MB: That's a good question. Someone asked it on the book's Facebook page and I forgot to copy it here:

The jams, jellies, and other fruit preserves really should not be made in larger batches: the amount in the recipe is about all a home kitchen–sized pot can handle; the fruit, if it didn't boil over, would have to be boiled longer to account for less surface area and evaporation compared to the volume, and the jam would get overcooked and possibly scorched before it becomes jamlike.

Most of the pickles can theoretically be doubled as long as you have the space and manpower to do things quickly and efficiently: Put the beans or whatever in the hot jars before they cool down, make sure the brine is boiling when you pour it into the jars (but remember you shouldn't let brine boil too long, as acetic acid evaporates at a faster rate than water, so the acidity and safety of the brine could be compromised), quickly remove the air bubbles and put the lids on, and get the jars in the canning pot asap. The processing times are based on the assumption that the food in the jars is already pretty hot, so if it takes longer than average and it cools down too much the processing might not be sufficient. To be safe, I'd suggest adding 5 or 10 minutes to the processing time even if things go smoothly, and starting over with new brine (and a smaller batch) if things don't.

All that said, I've done a lot of canning, but I very rarely make batches of pickles larger than the ones in the book—I prefer the experience to be a calm, unrushed one!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Liana... should I assume that the chutneys are the same as jams? So, it seems then that the biggest concern with changing recipes is the item being canned being at a certain temp prior to water bath so that the processing time is correct ...and you have a FB page? am going to look for it right now!

Elizabeth said...

So excited - just bought the canning book today - and you are here in GA ! COOL !! I am in Gwinnett, so if you ever do classes .... ????
I am a beginning canner LOL, and the book looks awesome :) ... thanks !

McKenzie said...

Liana, I recently received Canning for a New Generation and I have questions about using pickling lime. Sorry that this is off the topic of your post:

I am planning to make Sweet Green Tomato Pickles using the tomato crop from my family's garden. I cannot find pickling lime in Boston area stores. I've contacted a brand directly and called stores to which they supposedly distribute it, and expect that I would have to order it from the internet and freeze my tomatoes in the meantime. I also read that if there is any residue of lime in my batch, I risk lowering the acidity too much of my pickles and inducing botulism. Is there an alternative to pickling lime I can use and maybe find more easily in stores? Is the lime a necessity for the recipe?

Liana Krissoff said...

McKenzie: I haven't tried it yet, but there's a new-ish consumer product put out by Ball called Pickle Crisp, calcium chloride (which has long been used by many commercial picklers). By all accounts it works almost as well as a lime soak, and all you have to do is add a little to each jar as you're packing it; it doesn't affect pH/acidity. However, if you can't find pickling lime in stores near you I'm not sure you'd be able to find Pickle Crisp.

I've made the green tomato pickles without the lime soak, and they're tasty and worth doing—but of course they're not crisp.

Dog Ear Books said...

Liana - Hey, I was looking for a way to email you but didn't see one. I just opened a bookstore downtown and was interested in maybe setting up an event or something to promote your book. You can email me at



Marla said...

Hey Liana!
My son and his girlfriend were SO excited when they got to the Fall chapter of your canning book because of what you said about The Seven Silly Eaters. I am the illustrator. I wanted to thank you for the mention, and this seemed one way to get in touch with you.
My email is and I'd love to send Thalia a signed copy if you'd like.

Crystal said...

Liana, I loved your canning book and have already tried the lemon curd and the apple butter (slow cookers rock!)Both were a hit. Thanks so much can't wait for summer and some fresh tomatoes to experiment with.