Monday, August 22, 2016

Adas Polo - Persian Rice With Lentils



I met Isaiah my freshman year in college when I worked at Intramural Sports (I bet you did not know that about me) and we quickly bonded over sports, reading, and our affinity for foreign food. Eating it on my end, and making it on his.

Isaiah spent a large part of his childhood in the island of Yap in Micronesia (I bet you didn't know that was a place) and I could spend hours listening to the stories he had to tell of this fantastic part of the world. It is in this island where his mom learned this recipe from a friend and passed it on to Isaiah, who made it a million times for me in our 4 years as undergrads.

Bless his heart.

At some point he gave me the recipe and I lost it, but I was lucky enough to have him back visiting for a few days last week, and I practically threatened to not let him leave the state until he gave me the recipe again. Being the amazing soul he is, Isaiah did not just give me the recipe, he cooked for me! Again! Just like old times, and it was amazing.

Thank you Isaiah: for your friendship, for instilling in me your love for running, for cooking for me countless plates of Persian rice and pasta and pesto. Lord knows I will never look at fresh basil without thinking of you. Miss you and love you.


A note from Isaiah: There are many variations of this polo/pilow dishes in Persian cuisine, and it is the etymological root of "pilaf", the broth-rice dishes which are widespread in the Middle East, Turkic cultures, and elsewhere.

A note from me: I learned to add Spike Seasoning to this as a 'garnish' on top of the yogurt at the end, right before eating it. Isaiah forbade me from telling you this because he didn't want the Persian community to send us hate mail for defacing their dish. So I take full responsibility and any and all liability lies with me. Go ahead, add Spike. It will change your life.

PERSIAN RICE WITH LENTILS
(serves 4)

Ingredients

2 cups basmati rice
1 medium yellow onion - thinly julienned
1/2 cup green lentils
1 medium potato
1lb. ground turkey (or ground beef)
1/3 cup raisins
1tbsp. cinnamon
1tsp. turmeric
1/3 cup chopped baby carrots (optional)
water, salt, olive oil
Natural yogurt (optional)

Pre-Prep

  Rice:
  Rinse several times draining water each time
  (my mom rinses 7 times but i'm not that patient)
  Soak for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer (cooks faster and enhances flavor)

  Lentils:
  Rinse several times as they can be grimy
  Pre-soak lentils for at least 30 minutes

Preparation

(preparation can be parallelized with a bit of practice)

  Rice:
  Bring to boil in 4 cups water, pinch of salt, and spot of olive oil
  Cook 4-5 minutes until just-soft (yes I know it's not pasta, but sort of al-dente: soft but still just   slightly crunchy in the middle)
  Drain rice and put aside

  Lentils:
  Bring soaked lentils to boil, and then lower heat a little bit and high-simmer until soft
  Drain and put aside
  (optionally can add cumin, garlic powder, etc. for more flavor)

  Meat, onions, (carrots):
  Brown meat in skillet, drain off extra oil/water if applicable
  Add cinammon and turmeric
  
  After browning, push meat to outside edges of pan to create opening in center
  Add oil in center, and sautee onions

  (optional: mix in carrots at end after heat off, so they get some seasoning but don't really cook. They will cook in steam later)

  Potato:
  Slice breadth-wise, not too thick, about 1/2 to 1 cm
  Put 1 tbsp of canola or olive oil into bottom of main pan
  Heat oil at 350 or medium-high heat (my pan has the thermometer setting)
  Cover bottom of pan with adjacent potato slices (don't stack, they won't cook)
  Cook ~5 mins or so until they get tender around the outside (make sure to nudge them a few times to unstick, if not using a nonstick pan)

  Assemble:
  Put 1/2 of the rice in a layer on top of potatos
  Put 1/2 of lentils as next layer
  Put 1/2 of meat/onion/carrot mix as next layer, then sprinkle 1/2 of raisins
  Add the remaining rice, then repeat the lentils/meat/etc. layer

  Pour a little bit of water (maybe 1/4 cup or less) down the side of the pan at a few points around the circle (so it flows down to bottom) to get the steam going

 Turn heat up to 400 (if using the presto above), or medium-high on a range. Leave at higher heat for less than five minutes, then turn to very low. The goal is to steam the whole dish. Using a glass lid is helpful because the condensation on the lid indicates steam without needing to open and release. Be very careful and pay close attention here because if it is hot for too long, the bottom of the dish might burn (I made this mistake several times during the first few attempts). Leave on low heat for another 8-12 minutes.

Now remove the pot lid, and put a serving platter (or cookie sheet...), on top of the pan, and flip upside-down in one motion (be very careful!!!).

This is how you get the nice crispy potatoes on top :) make sure the platter-device has a little bit of extra room on the sides because sometimes the rice pile will collapse when you remove the pan -- remove it slowly. Otherwise, just scoop out.

Optionally serve with yogurt.

Enjoy :)

Isaiah







Friday, July 22, 2016

Random notes from the road.






Hello from the road. I'm sitting here sipping on coffee, writing by the ocean, AKA living the dream, even if only for a few days.

I made friends with the barista at this coffee hut, and I've been gifted many a espresso shot. This blog post is brought to you by caffeine, if the writing does not make sense, blame the caffeine... And the lack of sleep. I've been awake since 4am.

The following are unrelated conversations that took place while I was overdosing on coffee, totally eavesdropping.

You're welcome.

"Take a look at this broccoli. It came out of my garden. We are going to make a calzone with it. You'll have to come back for lunch."

"I am from Iowa, grew up in Colorado, now I live in Mexico. I'm here doing the Alaskan adventure. I will go back home in January."

"Do you think the kind of drink people order says something about them?"
"No. It's how they order it. I need versus Can I have. It makes a difference."

"Good morning. I'll take one of your exquisite cappuccinos, and a latte for Rachel, with almond milk."
"Here are your drinks."
"I don't think of them as drinks. I like to think of them as drinkable dreams."

"Can you make a cortado? I want to be as shaky as a chihuahua."
"I call it a meth-cortado. It almost sounds sophisticated."

"If you walk to the end of the spit you should see a lot of starfish right now."
"What's a spit?"

"Do you play that mandolin?"
"Yes."
"Do you know Jeremy Lee? He's my first cousin. I come from Louisiana."

"Are you keeping a ledger here?"
Me: "Yep. Of everyone who walks in."





On an unrelated note, there's fresh Alaskan salmon, fresh veggies, brown rice, potatoes, and flower petals on my dish.

This is heaven, right?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bare Skin

I will only ever love you with my arms behind my back,
because I'm gonna love you heart forward.
It's all I know.


If we knew a year ago what we know now, we would have been kinder, more tolerant of our weaknesses, less rough around the edges. If the last year of our marriage had been any harder, I wonder if we would have broken, but I know if it had been easier our roots would not have grown deeper, our hearts wider, and our eyes would not have opened to meet the people who emerged from the ashes that the burning conflict left. 

We rose and found each other again, naked, vulnerable, and tired from trying. Our eyes met and we saw each other like the first time, except better. Not an inch of love surface deep. Patching each other's wounds, nursing ourselves back to health, falling in love the way only people who have survived a war together can.

We made it. 
Happy anniversary, high five to five years.
I love you more.


I'll be the Earth that grounds you from the chaos all around. I'll be the home you return to I can be your middle ground. I can serve as a reminder, if you jump you will not fall. Go on and spread those wings of reason, we are water after all.


And if you call on me, I'll come running like a coyote. 'Cause we're pillars indeed, a lighthouse when you're out to sea, a beacon when direction's all I need, a compass if you know what I mean, drunk on that nectar of all that you are to me.

You can trust me in my instincts, 'cause they are like that of a bird. I am loyal, I will feed you, sing you songs you've never heard.

Who wants to wear the hat this morning, I reckon neither of us cares, 'cause there is more to life than leading, and I would follow you, I swear.


And if you call on me, I'll come running like a coyote. 'Cause we're pillars indeed, a lighthouse when you're out to sea, a beacon when direction's all I need, a compass if you know what I mean, drunk on that nectar of all that you are to me.

And I will always share my fire, proper way to pay respects, lay tobacco down in gratitude, yeah, one thing I cannot neglect. There are eyes that watch us closely, and there's a story they will tell. There's a war 'tween fact and fiction, we have no time to dispel.


So familiar, yet so foreign, polaroids say so much. Bring me ceremony parallels, I'll bring palaver and sagebrush.


And if you call on me, I'll come running like a coyote. 'Cause we're pillars indeed, a lighthouse when you're out to sea, a beacon when direction's all I need, a compass if you know what I mean, drunk on that nectar of all that you are to me.


And I love your feet for how they found me, and how they walked upon four winds. Be my deer, I'll be your meadow. 
Come graze upon bare skin.



Photography by the talented {{Bex Fairleigh}}
Flower crown by the skillful hands of {{Natasha Price}}
All lyrics in italic by Nahko and Medicine for the People.








Saturday, July 9, 2016

Before and After: Simple, Minimal, Functional


Simple. Minimal. Functional.

Those were the words that my clients gave me to build their kitchen design. They wanted the main room in their home to match their minimalistic, Scandinavian roots. A kitchen where details were felt more than seen, and at the same time could accommodate three kids and extended family.



This is what the kitchen looked like before. A major problem was that the pantry had little storage space, and the fridge didn't allow room for a wall cabinet.
By removing sheetrock we were able to capture enough space to not only fit the oven and microwave, but also the fridge with upper storage, and a pantry with roll out shelves.
Spacious drawers replaced what used to be basic base cabinets around the perimeter and the island.


We took away the raised panel cabinets and replaced them with shaker style cabinetry with slab drawers in white painted maple. By shortening some of the wall cabinets and adding floating shelves, we were able to display the client's beautiful Nordic porcelain collection, and to visually open that side of the room. We decided to keep the shelves and the island in natural maple to provide an understated contrast to the white perimeter. The island now houses the two garbage bins inside the cabinetry.


We chose a wide format, textured tile, horizontally stacked on every wall and around the window. The under cabinet range hood was replaced with a chimney hood. Under cabinet lighting on dimmers was added to the perimeter cabinetry and also under each floating shelf.


I could talk about this countertop forever, but for the sake of brevity let me just say that it is quartz, the gray veiny wave that runs through it makes the most beautiful statement, and it complements the wave in the tile like a match made in heaven.


Definitely one of my favorite designs! If you are in the market for a remodel we would love to see you!


Design, materials, and installation by {{K&W Interiors}}
All after pictures by Kathryn Wierzbicki.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Of the sea







"Adventure is often seen as the province of the young - something to do when you are fit, broke, inexperienced, and lacking other commitments." But in my experience, my thirst for adventure has only expanded with the years, it has spilled into my marriage, and now into motherhood.

I will be the first to tell you that adventuring with a toddler is not for the impatient, it is not easy or calm, and certainly not convenient. But we still do it.

"Why? even after hundreds of tries, my explanations rarely get close to touching the true heart of our inexplicable passion. Because we are here to discover the world. Because we believe there are things to learn by walking. And because I can't imagine a different way to be. We are not the fastest, highest, farthest or longest. We are first in some things only because we chose paths that others have not. We learn. We explore."

Every year we try to go to at least one place we have never been to before. This year it was Seldovia. We drove to Homer where we made our base camp in a cabin at the foot of Kachemak Bay, from there we took the ferry, and spent the most marvelous 4th of July surrounded by the excitement only a place we've never been to brings: new foods, new people, new terrain to explore. We even napped on a bench overlooking the bay while Benjamin napped in his stroller for 2 1/2 hours, his little legs exhausted from running around.

Maybe one day he will love the outdoors and this great state as much as we do. Maybe he won't. But if the memories of collecting rocks on the bay, feeling the fresh sea air on a boat, touching and eating freshly caught fish, and meeting new people stay with him, if he learns to appreciate a beautiful day no matter the weather, if he comes to see adventure as a way of life, then that would be enough.













































P.S. All quotations from Erin Mckittrick and her book Small Feet, Big Land.

P.P.S. A huge thank you to Dale Kaercher and his wife Patty for his care and hospitality towards us. You certainly are the boss!
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