Sunday, February 6, 2011

This dam winter...

Up until last week, I couldn't have told you what an ice dam might be, let alone been able to embark upon a 30 minute or longer diatribe on what havoc they wreak and how very, very much I hate them.

Ice dams are what happen to your gutters when you have the World's Longest Winter With Assorted Precipitation and ice well over a foot deep accumulates in your non-draining gutters. And then it snows. And rains. And snows some more. And the heat radiating from your house melts the layer nearest the roof, causing a melt layer. Which now has nowhere to go due to your gutters currently resembling something more commonly connected to penguin abodes, so it FINDS a place to go. Which in my house means in the windows, down the walls, and over my kitchen door. And while I've been lectured on not cleaning my gutters properly (and the allusion that, therefore, this is all my fault, which may or may not be true), I'm seeing the same thing happen to houses whose owners vigilantly remove any stray leaf or detritus that dares fall on their property. So. I have waterfalls all around, incessant dripping, and as of Thursday night, a door to the outdoors that froze OPEN. At 9 pm. Need I mention that it was 7 degrees F and dropping?

I employed my myriad home repair skills (whacking with hammers and shaving the door frame. Also, swearing. A lot.) to no avail. Asking for help is not a strong suit of mine, but faced with a Frigidaire of a house and a growing ice rink in my mudroom, I sucked it up and called a friend. Who, bless his cotton socks, showed up with another friend in tow, and did a handy temporary fix for the night. He even showed up the following day, hopped up on my icy, steep roof, and pried well over a foot of snow and ice off the whole thing. He is now the official superhero of this winter in my books.

Anyway...that was all a very long prelude to saying that this winter is epic, and beginning to wear on me. I'm a pretty good sport about snow, and can rise to the occasion quite happily with a pot of stew, a good book and naps. But for the love of god, this was about enough for me. I couldn't take one more heavy, meat-based dinner, and my budget doesn't quite have room in it for a trip to somewhere snow-free, so I decided I needed to bring spring to the kitchen.

Yesterday at the wine store we'd tasted a very rich and delicious Pinot Gris that I'd fallen in love with, and I wanted to make a meal that would accompany it nicely. After some thought, I decided that a curry sounded like just the thing, and a way to bring some bright flavors (and green veggies! Remember those?? I didn't, either.) to the table.

Curries often intimidate me, as the genuine articles require a list of spices as long as a hockey stick, and involve toasting and grinding and god knows what else, in order to achieve a decent dish. Well, my shortcut loving friends, allow me to introduce you to curry paste, if you haven't already met. An enormous flavor punch, with practically zero effort. Total win in my book. Anyhoo...what to curry? (I hope curry can be used as a verb. If not, it can be now.) Because one can curry virtually anything that holds still long enough to quite tasty results, really. Chicken, fish, veggies, and so on. I opted for shrimp this time around, but you could easily use whatever flips your kilt when you're making it. Just do note that shrimp is very quick cooking, so adjust your cooking time accordingly if you use something different.

Since this whole dish comes together very quickly, I started my rice prior to anything else, and the timing turned out well. I LOVE jasmine rice with spicy foods, especially to sop up excess sauces, but you could get away with whatever's in your cupboard. Without any further ado...

Coconut Curry Shrimp
(bastardized from Cooking Light)


1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp red curry paste (this is hot stuff, so go lightly to start...this amount gives a decent amount of heat)
1 tsp sugar
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined (or chicken, cauliflower, whatever...)
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

  • Get your rice cooking!
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and curry paste to pan and saute until onion softens and curry paste is blended in nicely. (You'll have to moosh the curry paste up and work it in, as it tends to blob up vs. evenly distributing.)
  • Stir in sugar; saute 15 seconds.
  • Add shrimp; saute until shrimp are pink, stirring frequently. This takes about 3-5 minutes for shrimp.
  • Stir in coconut milk and fish sauce; cook 30 seconds or until heated through.
  • Remove from heat, add green onions and basil.
Serve over jasmine rice with a side of sauteed sugar snap peas for a burst of much needed spring!

3 servings (for gluttons...the rest of you might make this stretch more)

And no, there aren't any pictures to accompany this. Not merely because it was inhaled upon completion (it was), but because my laptop went to be with Jesus this week, and I'm stuck using a desktop that was built in the time of mastodons, and uploading pictures might set it on fire. And then how would I obsess properly on Facebook? Really, people...I have priorities. Bad ones, sure, but still.

I'm going to go put fresh towels on my leaking windowsills now.