Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I have officially not cooked anything since Christmas.

And I probably won't be cooking anything for a while, since as of Wednesday I'll be officially homeless and in the process of moving to Seattle.

But that's okay, because I'll have plenty of road adventures to write about. Friday I had a last lunch with a friend; it was my last chance to eat East Coast oysters, so I ate 37 of them (mostly Wellfleets), had two glasses of gruner veltliner, and finished off with a shot of Cynar. It was a good lunch.

Otherwise, I've been working all week. I'm working tonight, and all day tomorrow, and then Wednesday morning I'll get up and drive to DC. I'll spend the night there with friends, and continue on to my parents' house in Virginia on Thursday, where I'll be off the grid for a few days (no internet, no cell reception, no cable). I'll see my friends there, say goodbye to everyone, and then continue on to Missouri, where I'll finally be reunited with my husband.

So, in the meantime: Happy New Year! Eat some oysters.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner this year was an informal affair--just a few friends, some good food, and some wine. Here's what I made:

Roast chicken with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots
Butternut squash risotto with beet greens
Roasted beets
Kale caesar salad
Spinach gratin
Buttermilk cornbread
Brussel sprouts
Cranberry upside-down cake
Cranberry brownies

And someone brought sweet potato pie.

I also saw Django Unchained, the new Quentin Tarantino movie, on Christmas Day. I'd never seen a movie on Christmas before. It was a fun day off, but I missed my husband and my family way more than I thought I would (which was a lot). Fortunately, I'm on my last week of work, which means by this time next week I'll be reunited with my cats in Virginia, and a few days after that, with my husband in Missouri.

Which means a few days after that, we'll finally be on our way to Seattle!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cranberry brownies

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It's a white Christmas here in Boston. I'm getting a live stream of photos from my husband's Christmas in Missouri, and I really wish I were there right now.

Instead, I'm comforting myself with a warm batch of cranberry brownies. Rich, chocolatey, moist, with a pop of fun tart cranberry flavor. Delicious.

From Coconut & Lime:

3/4 cup butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 8x8 baking pan very thoroughly. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add 3/4 cup chocolate chunks. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly. Chocolate should be thoroughly melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Stir in flour and remaining chocolate chunks and stir until the flour is incorporated. Fold in the cranberries. Bake about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with just one or two sticky crumbs. Cool on wire rack before slicing and serving.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm done

For the last month, I've been in a holding pattern. Done with packing, stuff is gone, but still working. Still not quite to the driving-across-country-and-looking-for-jobs part. For a while, that felt right. I can't explain it, except to say that somehow I needed a buffer zone. I was partially excited about the prospect of Seattle, but also partially stunned by the idea of leaving a perfectly good job, one that I enjoy and do well.

Well, now I'm done. I'm ready to go.

Sometime last night, I turned a mental corner while at work, and I stopped in the middle of what I was doing and thought, "Okay, I'm done. Time to get this show on the road." I want to see my husband and cats again, I want to see some Western scenery (preferably without snow on the roads), I want to be in our new city. I've been a little afraid of getting there, of not finding a job or an affordable apartment or breaking down in a snowstorm in Idaho and having to eat the cats to survive, but now the stasis is worse than the unknown.

And isn't that always the tipping point in my life? When the stasis becomes worse than the unknown?

So, Merry Christmas, everyone. All I want for Christmas is to see my husband and cats again, and then a road sign that says, "Welcome to Seattle!"

Today I'll be relaxing. Tomorrow I'll be a cooking a mini-Christmas feast and drinking a lot of good wine, complete with a big post!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Giant beers, for the end of the world

The world didn't end yesterday. But is anyone surprised by that?

It made for a good excuse to drink a lot of beer, though. Thursday night, after work, my coworkers and I plowed through a collective 10 or 12 liters of fine Belgian beer. A six-liter bottle, a three-liter bottle, a magnum, and a few regular-size bottles.

Pouring an almost three-foot-tall bottle of beer is heavy, by the way.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pig head

The other night, I ate a pig head.

And it was one of the top 5 most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth.

A little backstory: Since I've got less than two weeks left there (eep!), I feel it's safe to disclose that I work at Craigie on Main, Boston's finest restaurant. One of their specialties is the pig head. Remember the pig head I had in Montreal? Naturally, I couldn't leave town without experiencing Craigie's fabled pig head.

I got some friends together and I went in on my night off. We got octopus, terrines, and pig tails to start; then the pig head and bone marrow; then the cheese plate and beignets for dessert. (We also had a lot of cocktails.)

Here's the thing about pig head: if you can get past the concept of digging your fork into a pig's face, it tastes amazing. It's fatty, meltingly tender, and the skin is super-crispy. Craigie serves it Peking duck-style, with pancakes, a boudin noir-hoisin sauce, and a spicy pumpkin sambal. The pancakes and sauces help cut the fat of the pork a little, which then means you can just shovel it into your face at a faster rate.

Here's the other thing about pig head: the whole thing is edible. The cheek, the eye, the snout, the ear. Everything. Cheek: fattiest part. Ear: like a great big pork rind. Eye: like a big gob of pork fat butter. I'm serious. I ate the eye and it was the best part of the whole thing. We stripped that thing down to the bone.

Not to discount the pig tails: like fattier ribs.

But I'm not used to eating so much rich, fatty food in one sitting, so yesterday I was suffering from a bit of a pork hangover (in addition to the regular kind of hangover). Which is why I didn't get around to blogging about it until today.

So, don't be scared. Eat the pig head. You'll be glad you did.

And feel free to use that as a metaphor for life, as well.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Not a whole lot going on in Broke Foodie land these days. I haven't cooked anything since a vat of soup on Monday (which I still haven't gotten all the way through, thanks to staff meal). My temporary roommate and I are going to have an Orphans' Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, for those people without familial obligations, but it won't be anything fancy. There'll be some amazing wine, but I doubt the food will get any more sophisticated than roast chicken. I realized that it couldn't get any more sophisticated, even if I had the energy to cook an eight-course extravaganza; I don't have any of my usual kitchen tools at my disposal (no food processor, mixer, ice cream maker, souffle pan, tart pan, ramekins, etc.).

Mostly I've been eating soup, with stale leftover bread from work, and wraps, with spinach and egg or cheese. Also some cookies, though not homemade.

Christmas will be an excuse to sit around and drink amazing wine for two days, but I'll let you know what gets cooked. In the meantime, hug your loved ones. My husband is very far away today, and after yesterday's events, I really really want to hug him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A new use for ginger beer

I keep Barritt's ginger beer around for Dark n' Stormys (and the occasional Moscow Mule), but last night I discovered another use for it.

Rye, ginger beer, lemon and mint.

Kind of like a Whiskey Smash, with carbonation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day-off cooking

For the first time in recent memory, I made a pot of soup and it lasted all week.

Between that soup, free staff meal at work, a pot of oatmeal, and the odd wrap, I fed myself all week long.

Is that exciting? I don't know. Not for you, since I haven't had any new recipes to post. It means my food bill will be miniscule this month.

Today I'm going to cook up a bunch of old favorites. Another pot of soup, with cranberry beans, butternut squash, venison, and maybe some green beans, as well. A batch of baked penne, with arugula and lots of cheese. Maybe some kale caesar salad, too.

Then I'll eat some of it, drink some wine, and curl up with a movie.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye, NYC

I spent yesterday saying goodbye to my friends in NYC.

We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of drinks, and laughed a lot more. I also purchased a couple of hard-to-find food items, saw an Olafur Eliasson exhibit, and frittered away part of the afternoon at Pastis, drinking wine and eating pate (and reading a book). There wasn't any haute cuisine, but that wasn't the point of the visit.

Food finds: whole vanilla beans, 3 for $5, purchased at a Middle Eastern bulk grocery on Atlantic Avenue. Pimente d'Esplette, a kind of intensely flavored AOC-designated French pepper, a cornerstone of Basque cuisine. A bottle of tiki bitters.

I still love the bustle of NYC, even though I haven't lived there in over three years. But I'm sure exploring Seattle will be equally exciting.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Out with friends

Last night some friends and I went to a local charcuterie and cheese place. I realized about halfway through the evening that it would be a while before I'd get to enjoy that level of camaraderie again. All day yesterday, I had friends texting me--"Now that you're in the city, we can hang out!"--and eventually I overcame my day-off inertia and met them. When the restaurant found out we were all in the industry, they showered us with free food. We ate non-stop for four hours, plowed through three bottles of wine (between four people) and still only paid about $75 apiece for everything.

It was outstanding. The free food, of course, but also the company, the wine, the atmosphere. It will take a few weeks in Seattle to find a job and an apartment, to get settled, to make friends, to get to the point where I'll have people to go out with (and disposable income to spend), and even longer before other local restaurants start sending over freebies. Maybe this is the universe telling me, "Why are you staying at home this month, when you have no husband and are sleeping on an air mattress? Seize the day! Go out with your friends while you still can!"

And on Thursday, I'll get to do that in NYC. One last time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Veal and potato soup

Occasionally, the restaurant where I work will make veal for two. A big double veal chop, plus sweetbreads. The double veal chop is truly a joy to behold: brontosaurus-sized, glistening with butter and fat, enough to make any vegetarian reconsider (IMHO). But it's a lot of meat, and sometimes, people don't take the leftovers home.

The other night, two tables forgot to take the rest of their boxed-up veal leftovers with them--a few slices of the chop, plus the bones. I salvaged the two boxes, took them home, and threw them into the fridge, thinking to use the bones for veal stock.

Today, when I opened the boxes, I realized there were some good slices of veal meat in there, too. So I'm using them in a veal and potato soup.

Since the veal is already cooked, I'm just making a plain potato soup, without the cheese, with the veal bones added in while the potatoes are cooking. Once the potatoes are cooked through, I'll add the chopped-up veal, plus some herbs and salt, and finish with a little milk or cream. I'll garnish with some fresh carrot greens.

Doesn't that sound awesome? I'll drink my favorite tequila with it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chamucos tequila

Every once in a while, the universe throws you a bone.

During the New Mexico chapter of my road trip, I discovered this tequila. It had a devil on the bottle, and it was delicious. Smooth, floral, amazing. Best tequila I'd ever put in my mouth. I bought a bottle.

Then I couldn't find it outside of New Mexico. Not in California, not in New York. Not until my current job--the bar there carries it. Even so, it was not available to me personally; the local New England liquor stores didn't carry it, either. I despaired.

Until last week, when I discovered that the random wine shop across from my new digs had it for sale.

I'm going to drink it on my day off tomorrow. (Some of it--not the whole bottle, of course.) I will drink it neat, with no ice or mixers, because this is not a cheap tequila that you dump into a margarita. This is like drinking a little piece of a road trip. Then, I'm going to purchase an additional bottle to take with us to Seattle, because God knows when I'll be able to find it again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

And we're off!

We're one step closer to Seattle. The Providence apartment is officially history, our stuff is en route to Washington, my hubs is on his way to Missouri, and I'm spending the month with a friend in Boston. Now all that's left to do in this move is work all month long, save all my money, and drive out to Seattle in January. (And then find jobs and an apartment, but first things first.)

My new quarters are a bit sparse. I'm sleeping on an air mattress, using borrowed sheets, sitting on a folding camp chair, and stacking a few books on the floor. My kitchen remnants are here; whatever I don't use in the next month will revert to my friend when I leave. I'll be working all the time--December is an exceptionally lucrative month for those in the food industry--so I won't be cooking very much that's exciting. Lots of soup, pasta, beans, oatmeal, eggs. You know, the usual.

It's been a physically grueling week, and the prospect of spending five weeks apart from my husband during the holidays is not especially appealing. But for now, I'm going to fix a big batch of oatmeal, drink some more tea, and enjoy not having to think about packing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's done!

We are officially completely packed and loaded. I am officially exhausted and sore.

Long story short, we managed to completely fill our one 6 x 7 x 8' cube. We did have to jettison some things I'd hope to fit: the microwave, the vacuum, and most alarmingly, my grandmother's antique mahogany dining room chairs. It was a grueling two days of carrying boxes down twisty stairways, setting them down outside, and then rearranging all the already-loaded boxes for maximum space efficiency. The snow and rain yesterday didn't help any.

UPack will collect our cube today, and it will magically reappear at our (currently unknown) doorstep in Seattle, roughly two months from now. Tomorrow we'll meet the landlord, turn over the keys, and start the next chapter of this saga.

It's very disconcerting living in an empty apartment. We're sleeping on an air mattress, sitting on the floor, and watching movies on our laptops. We went to a last dinner at Cook & Brown, where I used to work, and spent the evening nibbling and drinking. It was our last night together until January.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The loading begins!

 The loading begins today!

Once our UPack container arrives, we'll begin the process of the physical move--loading it with all our packed boxes and what little furniture remains. Then UPack will take it away again and transport it to Seattle. I'll take a few belongings on to my friend's apartment in Boston, my hubs will fly out to the Midwest, and we'll begin the process of waiting out the holidays. I'll work my butt off, make lots of money, and we'll start driving to Seattle after the New Year.

Oh, and I'm working all this week, so the next few days will be particularly hectic. I'll keep everyone posted!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving recap

It was a low-key holiday for us. I got to see all my siblings and their kids, and spend some quality time relaxing in the countryside. Enforced relaxation--my parents have no internet, no cell phone reception, and no cable. Not even a daily newspaper.

"Thanksgiving dinner" was really just dinner. There was no turkey, no stuffing. We had venison loin, rolls, cranberry sauce, and other things, but it wasn't a big deal. We deposited a bunch of stuff in my parents' garage for long-term storage, gave them custody of the cats for the holidays, and spent our time hanging out with all the kids.

Who were loud. I don't know why a full military is required anymore; if you rounded up all the nation's two-year-olds and set them loose on the enemy, they would spew a trail of destruction greater than any war machine. And deafen everyone in the process. Don't get me wrong, my nieces and nephew are the cutest kids ever. But my goodness, when the three of them are all fussy at once, I wanted to hide under the bed along with my cats.

Still, it was good to see everyone. I won't see my sister and her family again for a while. I drank an entire bottle of extremely delicious Grand Cru burgundy, all by myself. I slept at least 8 (and sometimes 10) hours a night. I ate a lot of homecooked food.

Now we start the packing; by this time next week, all our stuff will be in transit and my hubs will be in the Midwest with his family. This is the calm before the storm.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why I'm not buying anything on Black Friday

I'm not buying anything on Black Friday.

Mainly because I'll be driving ten hours from Virginia to Boston. Also because we're in the process of moving, and the last thing I need right now is more stuff. But I still wouldn't buy anything, even if I could.

Because, holy crap, who needs all that stuff?

Why get up at 4 am--or just not go to bed--and face trampling crowds for more consumer goods? Why face a trampling crowd for anything? Why wait outside, in the cold, in a very long line, for the privilege of shopping at Best Buy? Do you really save that much money? Are Christmas presents that big a deal?

This year, my husband and I won't be exchanging gifts. We didn't the first year we were married, either. (No money.) Having him as my husband is plenty enough for me. We'll get something small and touching for our families, but since we're in the process of moving, no one is expecting much in the way of material goods. Our gift to everyone is a chance to see us again one last time before we decamp to the opposite coast, and vice versa.

Even during normal years, Christmas presents in my family run about $50 apiece, tops. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive. We're happy to see each other, relax, and drink some beer.

So my example to you this holiday season: don't buy stuff. Sit back, relax, drink a beer, enjoy your family without the halo of consumerism. Think about what you would do with all the stuff you already have if you had to move it cross-country.

Also, there's the internet. You can get the same deals online, delivered right to your door, without ever having to wait in a line.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's almost Thanksgiving! Brine vs. no brine, plus how to cook a turkey

I just looked up from all my packing/moving and realized it's almost Thanksgiving. I'll be celebrating with my fam in Virginia--it'll be my only holiday celebration this year, since I'll be working for Christmas and New Year's.

We'll probably eat fresh venison all week long--why buy a turkey when there's a freezer full of meat? But for those of you planning to be all traditional and stuff, here's a great article about brine vs. no brine for your turkey.

Also, here's how to cook a turkey.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rotini with spaghetti squash

Or, as I like to think of it, plain old pasta with a little extra veg.

Because spaghetti squash has such a spaghetti-like texture, it goes beautifully either with or instead of pasta. For a gluten-free vegetarian experience, shred it and top it with spaghetti sauce. For extra veg, mix it with your usual pasta and add sauce.

You could even get fancy and add a little greenery, some fresh arugula or spinach, maybe.

I just roasted a spaghetti squash, shredded it, mixed it with a box of cooked rotini, and topped with my usual sauce.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Soup greens"

I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up a couple of things and discovered a new grocery store creation: "soup greens."

This is a store-made package of various (old) produce that could go into a pot of soup, all of which I'm assuming are too old/blemished to sell individually. Because I went in for a couple of things to throw into a pot of soup, I grabbed one.

For $2.99, I got two carrots, half a stalk of celery, one-quarter of a leek, a turnip, an onion, most of a big parsnip, and some parsley and dill.

Not the greatest quality, but perfectly acceptable for a pot of soup. I added a can of red beans, a handful of wheatberries, half a bag of frozen spinach, and broth.

Then I made a big batch of garlic bread with a free loaf of ciabatta from work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We've finished packing!

We've packed everything that can be packed. Our moving cube doesn't arrive for twelve more days, but we'll spend most of next week at my parents' house in Virginia for Thanksgiving.

I got a new laptop yesterday--my old one, purchased in 2006, still technically worked, but couldn't pick up a wireless signal. So, not really a laptop anymore. I'm spending the next couple of days getting that set up, transferring files, blah blah blah.

And we're eating the last of everything. Meals include grilled sausage plus the last of the grits plus frozen green beans; pasta; salad; and one last batch of soup. I'm not sure what we're going to eat when we return from Virginia, for those last four or five days. Perhaps we'll commandeer some Thanksgiving leftovers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bacon, potato and red pepper hash

Ah, hash. I've made white bean breakfast hash, sausage and potato hash, blue potato and corn hash, even sweet potato hash. Really just an excuse to eat crispy-fried potatoes, with other things.

This hash is one of those everything-left-in-the-fridge dishes. I simultaneously used up the rest of the potatoes, the bacon, two giant red peppers, and half a bag of frozen lima beans. And because I'll put a fried egg on top, the rest of the eggs, too.

Feel free to use this as a template, to empty your own refrigerator.

Dice some potatoes, and boil in water until almost but not quite cooked through. Drain. Fry some bacon. Remove the actual bacon and saute one diced onion and two diced red peppers in the bacon grease. When soft, add the potatoes back in, and any frozen veggies. Keep the heat on high and keep an eye on it. Stir it enough to keep it from burning, but not so much that you keep it in constant motion--you want a nice brown sear on everything. (I also threw in four diced mushrooms, just 'cause.)

When sufficiently browned, season with salt and pepper, crumble the cooked bacon on top, and serve with an egg on top. Good any time of day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What we've made from selling our crap

So far, $2600.

Not bad, huh? I'd much rather have the $2600 than have to move all that stuff right now.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The late-night wrap

I engage in quite a bit of late-night dining. Waiting tables is like that. I eat staff meal at 3 pm, and then nothing. I run my ass off for the next eight or ten hours, and then I need to eat something as I'm driving an hour home. Preferably something with protein.

These days, it's a wrap, a piece of cheese, and an apple. The wrap (Stop n' Shop-brand flour tortillas, $1.50 for 8) is filled with salad greens, maybe some nuts and/or dried fruit, and either a cooked egg or some cheese, for the protein. I roll that up, wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it in the car--it's cold enough to do that now. I keep a water bottle in the car, too. When snack time comes, I can cover all the major food groups--I have fresh fruit, greens, dairy, and protein (eggs and cheese).

Most importantly, none of these things will make a mess in the car.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Roasted eggplant and white bean soup with gruyere sausage

Not much left in the ol' cabinets. But I do have some nice sausages, bought on sale. I'm making a roasted eggplant and white bean soup, with some gruyere and roasted garlic chicken sausage added in.

I used this recipe as a starting point, without the fresh herbs or the onion, and all broth instead of broth and water. I'm out of onions, so I'll use half a head of garlic instead (at which point I'll be out of garlic, too). I'm also adding in a red pepper, and of course the package of sausage. I also won't blend it, since my blending equipment is all packed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Packing the little stuff

Packing is one thing. Packing stuff you use on a daily basis is another.

How do you deal with packing the stuff you actually use? Computers, TVs, the bathmat, the skillet, the pet bowls, that last coffee mug?

In this as in all things, it helps to have a plan.

Our moving situation is a little unique in that our stuff is disappearing long before we personally show up in our new city. I'll spend next month with a friend in Boston. That makes things a little easier in the kitchen, since all the stuff I can't use up and can't pack (baking supplies, oils and vinegars, spices) can go with me to her place, and then just stay with her when I leave. Ditto cleaning supplies and bathroom stuff.

It's all the other little things. The cup we keep pens in. The canister full of whisks and spatulas. The cat food bowls. The toilet brush. The butter dish. All those things have to be washed, dried, and packed away ahead of time.

This dovetails nicely with our plan to get rid of all the crappy Tupperware. We'll keep the good stuff, but we've ended up with a hodgepodge of scratched, melted, cracked, and/or stained Tupperware as well. Two old Tupperware tubs can stand in for the cat food and water bowls. Ditto the butter dish. In a pinch, you could even use a Tupperware tub as a glass to drink out of, I suppose. We can eat out of the Tupperware as well, so that we can pack the rest of the china.

I'm going through the house and collecting all those bits. I took the pens out of the mugs, saved out a few for immediate use, and packed the rest along with the mug. We're in the process of going through our clothes and shoes, setting aside what we'll keep with us, and packing the rest. The stainless steel things I keep makeup in were packed; now all my makeup resides in a plastic shoe box. The little bowl I keep salt in was washed and dried, and the salt placed in a Ziploc bag. Same with the last spices; I put a little of each in a Ziploc bag, to go with me to Boston, and the rest will get packed.

Ziploc and Tupperware go a long way here.

We're also in the process of backing up all our files, so that we can at least pack the desktop and printer (the laptops stay with us). I'll back up everything on an external hard drive, which I'll keep with me. I'll also update our "Doomsday List" which stays in offsite storage with my parents--a list of all our financial information, bank account numbers, user names and passwords, plus copies of our driver's licenses, passports, Social Security cards, and marriage certificate. In case something happens to one or both of us, someone can deal with our credit cards, student loans, etc.

Be sure to set aside a "last box," which will hold all the things you'll need first in your new home. Shower curtain (and rings), sheets, pillows, travel mugs, a couple of glasses, maybe some disposable silverware, a flashlight (just in case), a roll of toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, a couple of lightbulbs, a towel or two, and all your bathroom stuff (toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, etc.).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Red beans and grits

Like red beans and rice, only with grits instead of rice. Why? Because I don't have enough rice left for a sufficient batch. So I'm using grits instead (regular grits, not cheese grits).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Baked shells with spinach and cheese

Essentially baked ziti, with mini shells and a bag of frozen spinach. All the flavors of lasagna, with none of the effort.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Packing, part 2: Space Bags

You've seen these things on TV. You put your clothes in and vacuum out all the extra air, compressing a big pile of stuff down to a flat pile of stuff. I was intrigued by the possibility of getting all our summer/extra clothes into one box, instead of three or four, so I picked up a box of these things at Target.

Review: mostly positive. They worked great, and did indeed shrink three boxes of clothes down to one big box of clothes. However, I'm not sure how much room I saved overall. If I'd packed that big box really well, by stacking and rolling, I probably could've gotten most of those clothes in there without paying $18 for  five spacebags. It's also worth pointing out that while the air is sucked out, the weight of the clothes is not. It's still a heavy box.

That being said, I think I'm going to get some more, smaller Space Bags, for suitcase purposes. My hubs will be spending the holidays with his family in the Midwest, and he'll need to take a lot of sweaters with him. The spacebags will help get more into a standard-size suitcase.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Curried lentil salad

Thank God, I've finally used up all the lentils. I was starting to get really tired of lentils. No more lentil recipes for a while, I promise!

This curried lentil salad is really easy. It's basically cooked lentils mixed with a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar, and curry powder. Salt and pepper to taste. You can add a little minced red onion and fresh garlic if you want. 1/4 cup olive oil to 2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar, and maybe a tablespoon of curry powder (or to taste).

Serve room temperature or cold.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Roasted cauliflower with paprika

I got a head of cauliflower on sale the other day, and this is a very quick and delicious thing to do with it.

Cut it into large florets. Put a little olive oil in a roasting dish, and toss the cauliflower to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 400 degrees until cooked through. Remove, and toss with paprika (I used pimenton, a smoky Spanish paprika).

That's it!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to pack

We passed through the storm without incident. We still have power, and no damage. However, I'm heartsick at what's happened to NYC. I still consider myself a New Yorker, and New York was the first (and really, only) city I ever loved. I hope all my friends there are okay.

Also, Happy Halloween!

I spent the last couple of days packing and watching CNN. So, today's moving post will be about packing.

The women in my family are known for their ability to, as my dad puts it, "pack nine pounds of crap in a five-pound bag." Remember, every box you move is a box that you're paying for, and lifting, and unpacking. So it behooves you to have as few boxes as possible. That's one of the reasons why it pays to be ruthless when culling. (Less stuff = less stuff to pack = less stuff to move.)

Start with the stuff you don't use on a daily basis, and slowly work in toward the stuff you use constantly. Don't bother with trying to keep the kitchen stuff separate from the bathroom stuff; when you're packing a box, everything is fair game.

When you pack a box, pack it tight. I mean TIGHT. If you pack a box full of books, and there's a little space left over in the corner, maybe the size of a coffee cup, put something in that space. You want to use every available cubic centimeter in every box. To maximize space, of course, but also to keep items from rattling around loose.

If you're wrapping fragile items, wrap them in your own linens--towels, sheets, washcloths, potholders. I've used sweaters and scarves and socks as packing material before, as well. Quilts, blankets, and curtains can be used to wrap pictures and furniture. Old newspapers make great packing material, too. Ditto plastic bags, Ziploc bags, and trash bags (all of which can be saved and reused after the move). I'm hoping to get all the way through this move without having to buy bubble wrap.

Spices and small kitchen items can be burrowed inside glassware. Silverware can be wrapped in newspaper, a few pieces at a time, and wedged into corners. Small office supplies--pens, boxes of paper clips, Post-it note pads--can also be wedged into small spaces. Packing a jar or a coffee cup? Put something inside it first.

Remember to remove batteries from things, and to remove the light bulbs from lamps. If you're dismantling something (say, a bookshelf), put the screws in a Ziploc bag and tape it to the item in question.

The last box packed should be the first one unpacked, and it should contain all the basics you'll need before the serious unpacking begins. To wit:

Shower curtain, and rings
Toilet paper, and maybe a roll of paper towels
Sheets and a pillow
Box cutter
Tools (if you don't have a separate toolbox)
Toiletries (toothbrush, etc.)
Flashlight, just in case

Mark the exterior of the boxes well. You can use a shorthand (B for books, K for kitchen stuff), but make sure each side of the box is marked. If a box contains fragile items, or needs to stay right-side up, mark those as well. I keep a roll of packing tape and a Sharpie in each room.

Examples I'm particularly proud of:

I removed all my shoes from their respective shoe boxes, and filled one box with all my shoes--nestled together end to end, and packed in tight. I put socks in between the shoes, and filled the spaces in the box with bracelets, unspooled Christmas ribbon, and belts.

I rolled all the wrapping paper into one large roll, wrapped a couple of posters around that, and dropped the whole thing into a poster tube.

A box of wine glasses had a little room at the top, so I took my espresso cups out of their boxes, wrapped each one in newspaper, and dropped one in each glass slot. I spread some maps over the top to fill the box all the way.

I'm also starting a separate pile of things that will stay with us, in the cross-country car journey, rather than be packed. Tomorrow's post: maybe some actual cooking.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What to do when you're moving, Part 1

I've moved an average of once a year since...well, since I started college. Let's see, that was 20 (!) years ago. So I consider myself a pro at moving. Especially since the move from San Diego to Boston, where we had exactly two and a half weeks from start to finish to move cross-country. We were both still working full-time. I made it happen.

Fortunately, we have a little more time with this cross-country move. But whether you're moving across the country or across town, the first steps are the same.

(For the purposes of these posts, I'll ignore the obvious first steps, like: Alert your landlord. Alert your parents. Alert your current workplace.)

1. Cull. Go through all your closets, all your boxes, all your bookshelves. Examine, ruthlessly. In our case, we're able to be particularly ruthless, since we're moving cross-country on our own dime. Is this item worth the hassle and expense of hauling it 3,000 miles? In most cases, not really. Some things with sentimental value will live in my parents' garage for a bit; the rest will either be sold (Craigslist) or donated to the Salvation Army (tax credit).

We're selling off all the furniture, except for the bed, my red leather chair, and Grandma's dining room table. We weeded out what's left of our book and movie collections (See Making money off your stuff), took some household items to a furniture consignment shop, and have started a huge donation pile.

Examples of things that are not worth hauling cross-country: a fake Christmas tree. Cheap Target nightstands. Cheap Target floor lamps. Fans. Gardening implements. Anything that is missing parts or only partially works. Our second car.

2. Get rid of all the stuff in the pantry. Not by throwing it out, but by using it. You won't be able to transport liquids (oils, vinegars, booze), and canned goods are heavy. The only kitchen stuff I'll pack are the spices, and I'm trying to use those up, too.

3. Ditto cleaning supplies and stuff in the bathroom--shampoo, etc. Any leftovers (partial bottles of ketchup/dishwasher detergent/whatever) can be listed on freecycle. Trust me, someone will come to get them. (This is a good way to restock on the other side of your move, FYI.)

4. Start making a list of what will need to be replaced on the other side. Furniture, pantry supplies, household items, stuff from the drugstore, whatever.

Up next: Packing!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Selling a car

We've sold one of our cars.

We sold the Camry in anticipation of our upcoming cross-country move; the Prius gets such good gas mileage, that it's become our primary vehicle. The Camry was handy when we were both commuting to work, but with one of us unemployed, it's sat largely untouched in our driveway for six months. Rather than have to deal with getting two cars cross-country, we decided to sell it. If we need a second car in Seattle, we can purchase one there.

We took the easy way out: we simply returned it to the dealership. No, it wasn't a lease. Dealerships will buy a car directly off you, without it being a trade-in. We made an appointment at the nearest Toyota dealership, and brought it in. They looked it over, and offered to buy it back for what we still owed on the loan. Some minimal paperwork later, and we walked off the lot sans one car and one car payment. The whole process, from start to finish, took about an hour.

Now, if the dealership had not offered us what we still owed, I would have then taken the car to Carmax, to see what they would offer, and then listed it on Craigslist to see what the private market would bear.

It's easier than you think to sell a car you don't technically own, especially if it's not to a private buyer. The blue book value was about $2,000 more than what we owed; it's possible I could have made a profit, especially if I'd shopped it around a little, but I have enough to worry about with this move. I don't have to make a car payment on it anymore, which is all I really cared about.

That same day, I returned the plates to my nearest AAA office (they can do simple things like cancelling plates, saving me most of a day waiting in line at the DMV), got them cancelled and got a refund on the registration, removed the car from our insurance policy (did that online, took 5 minutes, saved $60 a month), and returned the EZ-Pass box.

I think I spent more time and energy selling the sofa.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Butterscotch pudding

What better way to use up the last of the milk?

2 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter

Put 2 cups milk, the sugar, and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook just until it begins to steam. Combine the cornstarch and the remaining 1/2 cup milk in a bowl and stir to blend, with no lumps. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and just begins to boil. Reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, stirring, another 5 minutes or so. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Pour into small ramekins and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Storm prep

As Sandy tracks toward New England, we're taking some basic precautions. Remember Irene?

We already have flashlights, extra batteries, and plenty of candles. We have a gas stove, so we'll still be able to cook, even if we lose power. Ditto water--city water isn't dependent on power. (It'll just be very cold water.) Temperatures are supposed to be relatively mild, so it won't be a catastrophe if we don't have heat for a few days.

As far as food is concerned, I plan to spend today cooking up the last meat in the freezer (a whole chicken) and making a batch of soup, as well. The freezer is full of frozen broth; if that thaws, no big deal. There isn't anything in the refrigerator that will go bad quickly, outside of cream and eggs, and we can eat the eggs first. Cheese can sit at room temperature for a while, as can vegetables.

A few kitchen tips:

A full freezer maintains its temperature for much longer than an empty one. If your freezer isn't full, fill some Tupperware with water and freeze those. When you lose power, don't open the freezer for at least 24 hours; everything will stay cold for at least that long (if it's full, and you don't open the door). After 24 hours, you can use the still-frozen Tupperware containers to line a cooler, at which point you can transfer the contents of your refrigerator to the cooler. Once the ice melts, you then have some extra containers of water, in case something happens to the water supply.

Try not to open the refrigerator any more than absolutely necessary during those first 24 hours, either, to preserve the inside temperature as long as possible.

Many things can stay at room temperature, if need be, and still be fine. Cheese, juice, vegetables, greenery, condiments, and butter will all be perfectly safe outside the cooler. If you have a gas stove, or a camper stove, there's no need to stock up on canned soup. You can cook just like normal, and heat up things on the stove.

Do your laundry now, and make sure you have a full tank of gas.

If we lose power, it won't change much. We'll be doing exactly what we're doing now: packing, and drinking the last things in the liquor cabinet, except by candlelight.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken and lentils

This is a great one-pot dish, somewhere between a stew and a big messy pile of goodness. If you want something closer to a stew, add more liquid; if you want something closer to chicken with juicy lentils, add a little less.

Bonus: I've almost used up all the lentils!

1/2 cup olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut up (I used a package of eight boneless chicken thighs)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon coriander
1 bunch each cilantro and parsley, chopped
4 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils

In a Dutch oven, brown the chicken in the olive oil. Remove from the pan once browned on all sides, and add the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce, coriander, cilantro and parsley. Salt and pepper. Add the broth (or water) along with the cinnamon sticks and lentils.

Cook on low, covered, for about 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Add the chicken back in and cook for another 10-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Penne with garlic and broccoli rabe

This recipe is straight from Smitten Kitchen. It's incredibly easy to throw together: a box of penne (or other shape), a head of broccoli rabe, a few cloves of garlic, a half cup of olive oil, seasonings, parmesan cheese.

Reprinted below:

1 pound pasta, whatever shape you like (but chunky ones will match up better with the rabe)
1 pound broccoli rabe, heavy stems removed, remaining stems and leaves cut into 1- to 2-inch sections
1/2 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more or less to taste
About 1 heaping teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)
To serve: Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

 Bring a huge pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and five minutes before its cooking time is up, add the broccoli rabe. It will seem like too much for the water, but with a stir or two, the rabe should wilt and cook alongside the pasta. Drain rabe and pasta together and pour into serving bowl. In the same pot or a tiny one, heat the olive oil with the garlic, pepper flakes and Kosher salt over moderate heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic becomes lightly golden. Pour mixture over pasta and toss to evenly coat. Shower with freshly grated cheese and eat at once.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We're moving!

If you've been a loyal reader, you'll know I started this blog in San Diego (after just moving there from New York), and continued it when we moved to Massachusetts and then Rhode Island.

Now, dear readers, it looks like we're heading back to the West Coast: this time, Seattle.

We'll be officially moving after the holidays, although we'll pack up our stuff and send it out sooner than that. DH will spend the holidays with his family, while I work and save up a last gasp of cash for the move. Then we'll drive out in January.

Neither one of us has a job there yet--but his chances of getting a job are much higher there, and I can (hopefully) get a job anywhere. Seattle has great high-end restaurants, too; dare I say it, more than Boston even. DH has lived there before and loved it. Since becoming unemployed, he's become increasingly depressed, and since we moved to New England for the job he lost, being here is a constant painful reminder  of that lost job. A change of scenery--let's call it a geographical cure--will go a long way toward putting a sparkle back in his eyes.

So, this blog will warp a bit over the next few months. For now, in addition to recipes--most of which will be dedicated to using up the remaining weird stuff in my pantry--I'll also be posting advice, resources and stories about cross-country moving (and moving in general). Of course I'll keep you posted on our progress. Once we move, look for posts about getting settled, unpacking, and all that delicious Pacific Northwest seafood.

If any of you are in Seattle, drop me a line.

Now, back to packing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Alaskan

I'm faced with about 2 inches each of a bunch of weird stuff in my bar: Creme de Violette, Herbsaint, yellow Chartreuse, Cointreau. Our drinking is about to get really creative.

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with ice, strain. Serve with lemon twist.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Butternut squash and bacon baked pasta

This is really a casserole, but nobody likes the word "casserole," so we'll call it baked pasta instead. Any shape of pasta will do. I threw in an acorn squash, too.

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon slices (raw)
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
8 ounces uncooked mini penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan; crumble bacon. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shallots to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender. Combine squash mixture, bacon, and shallots; set aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain well. Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making money off your stuff

Not cooking related, I know, but valuable information nonetheless.

Hubs and I are in the process of going through our books and movies and getting rid of the fluff. We'll also be getting rid of the last bits of extraneous furniture. When you're getting rid of stuff, there are a bunch of different ways to get some money for it.

1. Yard sale. Good for getting rid of random crap, but labor-intensive.
2. Sell it on craigslist. (Not good for rural areas.)
3. Donate it to the Salvation Army. If you itemize, that's a tax deduction. Also, if you call 800-SA-TRUCK, they'll come and pick up your donation for you (if there are big items involved, like furniture). Sometimes the tax-deduction value at the Salvation Army is worth more than whatever cash you can get for it.

All of the above is great for bigger stuff, like furniture and electronics. I've also taken some household things to a local furniture consignment shop. But for smaller things, like books and DVDs?

You can swap them, on and For every book/movie you post, and someone wants, you get a credit that you can then use to claim something else. You pay for shipping your stuff out, but then you get your new selections shipped to you for free.

You can sell used books at or (You can also donate them to your local library and collect an additional tax deduction.)

You can sell used Blu-rays and DVDs at or (Also

You can sell used videogames at or

Or, you can list it on You won't get any money, but someone else will give it a good home and maybe you'll get some extra karma points.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Maurin Quina

I discovered this stuff last night at work. I actually have the poster--I think the poster is more famous than the beverage it depicts--but I didn't know this liqueur was still in production.

Surprise, it is, and it's delicious. It has a rich cherry and almond flavor, without being sweet. Maurin Quina Liqueur was created in 1906 by Auguste Maurin in Le Puy en Velay, and quickly gained fame with the help of Leonetto Cappiello, the Italian-born artist who created the infamous green devil on the label. Smooth and delicate, it's created by macerating wild cherries, quinine and bitter almonds in fortified white wine, and then blending it with cherry brandy, lemon juice and cherry juice.

Drink it neat or on the rocks.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Black bean soup with sausage and chard

It's that time of year again: the leaves are changing color, it's cold outside, and I just want to eat soup all the time. Are you like that, too? This is today's concoction: black beans, Italian sausage, and chard.

1 bag of dried black beans, soaked and pre-cooked
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 links sweet Italian sausage
1 head Swiss chard, stems removed, chopped
Seasonings: cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper
Optional: 1 jalapeno

Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings into a large stockpot with some olive oil. Brown gently, then add the onion and garlic (and jalapeno, if using). Saute until softened. Add the beans and enough broth to float the mixture.

Cook on low for an hour or so, or until the beans are cooked through. Add the seasonings and chard, and cook until the chard is just wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All-purpose tomato sauce

I've updated my tomato sauce recipe a bit. There are a few variations; with meat or without; with carrots and celery or without. (With carrots and celery is better, but I've made it without before, when I was out of both, and I just increased the onion, garlic and seasonings a bit.) I've included the full version below. Obviously you can leave the meat out if you want.

4 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes
1 big onion, diced
5-6 big cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
4 links of Italian sausage (2 hot, 2 sweet)
Olive oil
Seasonings: bay leaves, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper

If using the sausage, squeeze it out of the casings and brown it in a little olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Saute until softened. Add the tomatoes with juice and seasonings. Cook on low for a couple of hours, until fragrant and delicious. Season to taste.

Let the sauce cool, and then puree it in your food processor. (That way you get the better flavor of the whole tomatoes, without big weird chunks of tomato.)

At this point I usually divide the pureed sauce into various containers, and freeze most of them. That way I can always pull a container out of the freezer, and have a steady supply of tomato sauce.

This can be used as spaghetti sauce, soup flavoring, or used in any recipe that calls for either canned tomatoes or tomato sauce.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bucatini with broccoli rabe, bacon and goat cheese

Broccoli rabe is one of those great bitter fall greens. It's versatile, and it was on sale last week. Also on sale: bucatini (hollow spaghetti).

1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti)
1 head broccoli rabe, chopped
1 leek, chopped
6-7 slices of bacon, in chunks
2 tablespoons dried sage
1 log of goat cheese
Salt and pepper

To make this, I cooked the bucatini until al dente. I cooked up the bacon, removed it from the pan, and gently sauteed the leek and the broccoli rabe until the rabe was wilted. I then added the cooked pasta, the bacon, sage, and a log of goat cheese. Stir well; salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Garlic bread

Not a day for cooking anything complicated. I'm still recovering from work last night; it was incredibly busy, and I got my ass handed to me repeatedly. So today I'm whipping up some basics: pasta with pesto and peas (quick, easy, nutritious) and root vegetables with wheatberries (to use up the turnips, parsnips, and pretty blue potatoes). As a treat, I'm making some garlic bread.

The nice thing about working all the time is that I can bring home slightly stale leftover bread. I have a bag full of baguettes for this garlic bread.

4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf crusty bread, split
3 tablespoons grated cheese, Parmigiano or Romano, optional
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine garlic, butter, and oil in a microwave safe dish or in a small saucepan. Heat garlic and butter and oil in microwave for 1 minute or in a small pot over moderate-low heat for 3 minutes.

Toast split bread under broiler. Remove bread when it is toasted golden brown in color. Brush bread liberally with garlic oil. Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and parsley. If you added cheese, return to broiler and brown 30 seconds. Cut into chunks and serve.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Green tomato soup

It's that time of year again: green tomato season. I ripped all my dead tomato plants up, and saved the unripened green tomatoes. They were cherry tomatoes, so I couldn't make fried green tomatoes: I made soup instead.

2 tablespoons butter
4 to 6 ounces country ham or bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
8 medium green tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium red tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
dash Tabasco sauce, optional
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; add ham or bacon, onion, and garlic. Sauté, stirring, until onion is tender. Add chicken broth, chopped green and red tomatoes, and minced jalapeno pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, pulse in a blender or food processor until almost smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and add celery salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper and Tabasco sauce, as desired. Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kabocha squash curry

It's that time of year: squash, chard, apples, soup. I got some fun squash at the store the other day, including kabocha squash. It's green and speckly, and very similar to butternut squash on the inside.

I made this curry with it, copied below:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 medium green bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger (from about a 1-1/2-inch piece)
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 (13- to 14-ounce) can unsweetened regular coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 medium kabocha squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed white rice or steamed brown rice for serving

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 6 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, and ginger, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the curry paste, stir to coat the onion-pepper mixture, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, water, soy sauce, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer.

Stir in the squash, return to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is fork-tender but still firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Taste and season with salt as needed.

Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately over steamed rice.