Sunday, July 31, 2011
The News Sentinel reports this morning that the United States Forest Service offers a program in the Cherokee National Forest on Citico Creek that teaches children to snorkel so that they can observe the abundant life in the river. A similar program has been available on the Conasauga River on the southern end of the National Forest since 2000.
The program at Citico Creek offers the opportunity to see three rare fish, the eponymous Citico Darter, and the Smoky Madtom and Yellowfin Madtom. Of course, if you don't want to drive to Monroe County to look for these fish, then you can drive up to Abrams Creek here in Blount County to see them.
According to the Daily Times a seventeen-year-old girl vacationing with her family from Florida died yesterday after being swept by swift current over the waterfall at the Sinks in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The report says she became pinned between the rocks underwater, where the tremendous pressure of the falls kept her submerged for around three hours, when rescue workers from the Blount County Sheriff's Office and Townsend Volunteer Fire Department were finally able to free her body.
I've been on countless outings to the Sinks since I was a lad, and I can vouch for the strength of the current coming over those falls. Frankly, the guy in the photo just below the falls is pushing his luck. There's a nice, deep swimming hole there once you get a bit downstream from the falls, but this poor girl isn't the first person to drown at the foot of them. As peaceful and beautiful as the mountains are, it is important to remember that they can be dangerous as well.
In Bengal, this dish is known as murgi malai, and in the Bengali language, the word murgi means chicken and malai is cream, either dairy or coconut. Coconut is a favourite ingredient of the region, and it grows in abundant supply in Bengal, Orissa and Assam.
Here is the recipe:
1 tbsp. ground almonds
1 tbsp. dry coconut
2/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup ricotta cheese (You can also use more coconut milk, which is what I did.)
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root (I used dry ginger powder.)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
1 pound chicken breast, skinned and cubed
3 green cardamom pods (I used dry cardamom.)
1 bay leaf
1 dried chili, crushed (I used three I dried out from last year's harvest.)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) (I used dry parsley, since this is mainly garnish.)
Dry-roast almonds and coconut in skillet until browned a bit and transfer into a large bowl. Add coconut milk, ricotta, ground coriander, chili powder, garlic, ginger and salt to the bowl and mix. Brown chicken in skillet in oil with cardamom pods (I used dry cardamom.) and bay leaf. Pour in coconut mixture, add crushed chili and fresh coriander, cover and cook ten minutes or so, stirring every so often. Uncover, stir and cook for two more minutes. Serve over Basmati, a long-grained rice common in India and Pakistan and available at the Maryville Kroger.
This is the second time I've made this dish, and I knew from the last batch to go heavier on the spices than set forth in the recipe, which I copied above directly from the book. I doubled the seasonings shown above, which may have been a bit much, and I used maybe three tablespoons of ground almonds and perhaps a third of a cup of coconut. My result reminded me a little of the Panang Curry served at Lemon Grass restaurant in Maryville, though my dish was a Westerner's ham-handed attempt compared to the wonderful food at Lemon Grass.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I was in college during the Reagan years, and it is interesting now to read in more detail about what was going on in the world during that time. I was studying Russian then and was interested in the changes that were coming about in what was then the Soviet Union under Mikail Gorbachev. I especially enjoyed Noonan's account of Reagan's negotiations and interaction with Gorbachev which set in motion events that would ultimately bring an end to the Soviet Union.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Sherry and Sarah called me at work while en route to Nashville this afternoon. Sarah wanted to tell me that she made a 100 on her first spelling test of second grade. She's her own harshest critic, and worried all week about missing one or two words out of the fifteen. She missed one on her last practice quiz this morning, but pulled out a perfect score on the real thing at school. I'm glad that she's proud of her accomplishment, and I complimented her on how hard she worked for it this week.
Quiescent is defined first as "being at rest" or "inactive." Since the product is frozen, this seems accurate. Quiescent is secondarily defined as "causing no trouble or symptoms." Hmmmmm. I would hope so.
Confection is defined as "the act or process of confecting." Confect is defined as "to put together from varied material," or "to prepare" or "to preserve." Confection is further defined as "a fancy dish or sweetmeat" or "a sweet food."
I would characterize this advertising as truthful, yet baffling.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
As a second grader, she has a bit more on her homework plate. She now has fifteen weekly spelling words instead of ten. We did quite a bit of homework over the summer (66 pages), but did not practice spelling tests, as we do during the school year. She was apprehensive about her first practice quiz at home Tuesday evening, but only missed two of the fifteen words on her first try. She's already memorized the two she missed, so she should be well prepared for her first spelling test this Friday.
We usually pack Sarah's lunch, but we let her buy lunch at the school cafeteria once a week. She usually buys her lunch on Fridays, when the cafeteria serves pizza or bread sticks. This week, she decided to buy her lunch today, when the cafeteria is serving steak and gravy, mashed potatoes and peas. Maybe she is becoming an "older."
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Laura and Grace met us for supper last night at Sullivan's after attending a meeting about HOPE Academy, which she is exploring for Grace. Yesterday morning La sent me a recipe for a tomato pie. I posted another recipe for tomato pie last summer, and it adds garlic, Parmesan cheese and sour cream to the ingredients in this recipe.
UPDATE: La and Grace made the WBIR story on HOPE Academy. That's them seated at the table.
1 - 9" pie shell
3 or 4 - home grown tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 Tbs. of fresh basil chopped
1/2 thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 cups grated cheese, the sharper the better for my taste but mild works fine too
Bake pie shell according to directions. Cool. Place thickly sliced tomatoes on paper towels to absorb some of the moisture. Cover bottom of pie crust with tomato slices and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine mayonnaise, cheese and basil in a bowl and stir together. Carefully dot the mixture over the tomatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, cut and enjoy.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
While we were at the beach I finished reading John Sevier as a Commonwealth-Builder: A Sequel to The Rearguard of the Revolution by James R. Gilmore (Edmund Kirke), which was first published in 1898. I was in a hurry at the library and wanted to quickly select a couple of books on John Sevier to take on vacation, and I did not learn until I got the book home that it was a sequel, so I may go back and read The Rearguard of the Revolution. The sequel tells of Sevier's activities in the attempt to establish the State of Franklin, which died in infancy, his role in successfully establishing the State of Tennessee and his leadership of Tennessee until his retirement and death.
The author is an unashamed admirer of Sevier, and the book struck me as terribly biased in favor of Sevier and against anyone adverse to him. I recently had a conversation about bias in our modern media and made the point that such bias has been present since the nation was founded, and Commonwealth-Builder certainly shows that such bias was in existence at the time it was published in 1898. I am as big a fan of John Sevier as anyone, but I suspect advocates for his adversaries, John Tipton and Joseph Martin, would present the facts differently.
I learned something about a couple of my favorite campgrounds that I did not know from this book. Apparently Abrams Creek, which flows into the Little Tennessee River just below the campground, was named for a friendly Indian (Native American, if you prefer) called Abraham, who lived in the area. Indians massacred the family of a man named Kirk, who lived on the Little River. Another man, Hubbard, known for his hatred of Indians, arranged through Abraham to assemble the Cherokee chief Old Tassel, of whom I have read before, and several of his lieutenants at a cabin on the south side of the Little Tennessee River just across from where Abrams Creek flows into it. Settlers surrounded the cabin with the Indians inside it and Hubbard allowed Kirk to tomahawk the native to death. I've camped on that side of the river many times without knowing it was the site of such atrocity. I now have a story I can scare the kids with next time we go up there.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
One of my first attempts at cooking outside my comfort zone was Daube of Beef Provençal, and I've made it several times now. I find it interesting that like the tajine the French dish takes its name from the daubière, which is the traditional pot it is cooked in.
Here's yesterday's stab at chicken tajine:
8-10 chicken thighs
2-4 tbs. olive oil
medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander (We were out.)
1 tsp. ground ginger (The recipe called for fresh ginger.)
1 tsp. paprika
4 tbs. salt
2 tbs. black pepper
2-4 cups flour
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup pitted olives
1 cup chicken broth
1 sliced carrot
12 oz. can of apricot nectar (The recipe called for 1 cup dried apricots.)
Travel to North Africa or France and acquire tajine or daubière. Or stay at home in East Tennessee and use your Dutch oven or a big ol' stew pot. Mix flour, salt, pepper and paprika on large plate. Heat olive oil in tajine or other pot. Toss chicken in flour mixture to coat and brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for five minutes, and add and mix coriander and cumin in last minute. Add apricot nectar and chicken broth, increase to boil and reduce by half. Add carrot, olives and almonds and reduce to simmer. Simmer thirty to forty-five minutes. Serve over couscous. (I used leftover Spanish rice I brought home from lunch at Los Amigos.) I might add more seasonings next time.
Sarah and her cousin Grace spent a lot of time digging in the sand. Sarah has loved to dig since she was tiny.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Mr. Bill always gets into trouble on these trips. Oh nooooooo!