I have pages written about India. Dozens of pages of unedited psychobabble, in fact. About the incomprehensible environmental devastation and the stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots and the adverse impacts of globalization that will make you want to come home and sell everything you own.. and then fall off the face of the Earth. I had a very small portion of those words carefully edited to go along with today’s post and then, five minutes ago, I deleted the entire thing because I was terrified that my words might make someone feel equally as shitty as I do right now. And I don’t want anyone to feel equally as shitty as I do right now.
So, today, we’re not going to talk about India because doing so would require me to a) make everyone feel glass-half-empty or b) force a sugar-coated version of our trip that isn’t at all representative of my experience there. India was rough and beautiful and chaotic and spectacular and – at the risk of confusing the shit out of anyone who’s never been – it was simultaneously the most wonderful and awful place I’ve ever visited.
But we’ll talk about that later.
Right now we’re going to talk about the fact that it’s 5AM and I’ve been up for four hours, and I’m currently sitting on the couch in my underwear because IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT (!) and the radiant heaters fired up and, according to the thermostat in our living room, it’s
blazin’ hip hop 86˚F in here. Thom’s up, too, watching HBO from the confines of our bedroom, where he’s been since we got home last week. Well, with the exception of that fun trip we took to the hospital where he was tested for malaria and a bunch of other tropical diseases the doctors thought he might have, even though we were told by people who see dengue fever (dang-y) on the regular that he most certainly is suffering from dengue. The good news is, he doesn’t have malaria. And the other good news is that he’s home and dengue isn’t fatal. But the bad news is that recovery can take weeks and I can already tell the poor dude’s getting cabin fever. Unfortunately for him, I run a tight ship and am committed to making sure he shakes this thing ASAP (by way of overpriced juices and cookies and stew), so he won’t be leaving the house anytime soon.
Aaaaanyway. I’m a few hours away from going on live television (!) so I’ve got to go take a shower and brush my hair and contemplate cutting my bangs because I woke up with a giant zit on my forehead and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the only thing anyone is going to be able to look at. OH! And because it’s that time of the year and you guys have been emailing me like crazy people (I like all of you crazy people, by the way): real deal vanilla extract will be available during the first week of December. I’m not sure which day just yet but, come late November, I’ll post an announcement on both Facebook and Instagram. So follow along if you’ve got your hopes set on snagging a bottle. If sales are anything like past batches, I don’t expect it to be in stock for more than a day.
That’s all from my end. Wherever you are, I hope your belly is full and your head is well rested.
Notes: This recipe makes a big (BIG) pot of stew. We tend to eat it for a couple of meals and then freeze the rest (it freezes really well), but if you’re not a fan of eating leftovers, I recommend halving the recipe. I don’t always make this with tomato paste, but slightly prefer the tomato paste version to the one made without it. I peel the skins off of my chickpeas
because I’m crazy to make digestion a bit easier and, although it’s somewhat time consuming, it’s absolutely worth it. If you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, feel free to use the powdered stuff. About 1/4-1/2 teaspoon should do it. For those of you who don’t like squash (HI ANZE!), you can use sweet potatoes or double the chickpeas. If you don’t have a splatter screen and want to use a lid to cover the pot, reduce the liquid to 3 cups and lower the heat just a tad. Also? HELLA TOPPINGS, FTW. Don’t skimp on ’em.
SPICY PEANUT STEW WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH + CHICKPEAS
3 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 small can (6 ounces) tomato paste, optional
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks (my chunks weighed in at 1 pound 4 ounces)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup spicy peanuts, finely chopped (recipe follows)
Fine sea salt, to taste
Grain of choice
Finely chopped kale
Grape tomatoes (if your market still has ’em)
1/2 cup spicy peanuts, roughly chopped (recipe follows)
Add the peanut oil to a large soup pan set over medium heat. Heat just until it starts to sizzle then toss in the chopped onion and sauté until transparent; about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, serrano pepper, and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add the cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and mix just until everything is combined. Dump in the fire roasted tomatoes and stir until everything is evenly mixed, then stir in the tomato paste (if using), peanut butter, and vegetable stock, followed by the the squash, chickpeas, and peanuts. Bring the stew to a light rumble then reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot with a splatter screen, and continue simmering for 35-40 minutes.
When the stew is finished cooking, serve it in bowls and top with a scoop of your favorite grain, some chopped kale, grape tomatoes, and spicy peanuts. The stew will keep refrigerated, in an air tight container, for 3-4 days. It can also be kept frozen, in an air tight container, for at least one month. Just make sure you let it thaw it completely before attempting to reheat it.
Yield: About 8 servings
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Heavy pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
In a small bowl, stir together the oil and spices, then add the peanuts and toss to evenly coat. Heat a small skillet over medium heat then toss in the peanuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the peanuts are hot and just barely toasted. Transfer to a small, air-tight container for keeps.
Yield: 1 cup of peanuts