Friday, July 31, 2009



As many of you know, whenever I go down to Casa Belew, I try to cook as many meals as possible. I've developed a few standards (which I've featured on this blog): hummus, pita toasts, vegetable curry, some sort of mexican feast, pan-roasted chicken... But this time, I wanted to use some of those ideas and lighten them up. See, we had each lost a bit of weight on this last tour, and I wanted to help us keep the ball rolling.

On the first night, I decided to tackle one our favorites: Vegetable Curry. Now I know what you're thinking: vegetables - must be healthy, right? Well most Indian recipes call for a drastic overcooking of this fabulous food group, which in turn, drains them of a lot of their nutritional value (hence the popularity of raw diets). They also usually call for a good amount of ghee (clairified butter) or oil, and then are finished with cream or coconut milk (which is a "good fat" but still a fat, nonetheless).

My solution? I decided to cut the fat (by reducing the amount of oil and coconut milk) and the cooking time, so that the vegetables were more "crisp-tender" and therefore more nourishing. I also made it more of a soup-y stew (aka more seasoning and more water) so that it would be more filling for a lesser amount of calories - and money!

serves 6-8

Curry Paste
2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp garam masala
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 serrano chiles, minced (you can use less, but I like my curries to have some kick)
1 tbsp agave nectar

Toast the spices in a large stockpot over high heat for about a minute, until they darken slightly and the kitchen fills with their aroma.
Transfer to a small or medium sized bowl (or better yet, a mortar and pestle) and add the remaining ingredients until it forms a nice, thick paste.
Set aside (if making the curry immediately), or refrigerate until ready to use.

The Stew
2-3 tbsp oil
3-4 leeks (or 2 onions), chopped into 3/4" pieces (or if using onion, diced fine)
2 cups (1 1/2-2 lbs) red bliss potatoes, skin-on, and diced into 3/4" pieces
Curry Paste (recipe above)
1 small head (or 1/2 large head) of broccoli (or cauliflower), florets chopped
1 1/2 cups pureed tomatoes (preferably fresh, but if using canned, use organic diced tomatoes and puree in a blender or food processor)
2-3 cups water
salt to taste
2 cups chickpeas (cooked fresh al dente or from a can - again,if using canned, try to use organic and rinse well)
1 cup frozen peas
1/4-1/2 cup light coconut milk
fresh lime wedges and cilantro

In the same large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and potatoes and cook 10 minutes, or until they start to brown (or caramelize).
Add the curry paste, and stir well (with a non-metal spoon) for about a minute.
Add in the broccoli florets and move them around, ensuring to coat them with the delicious (and now very fragrant) curry paste (about a minute).
Add the tomatoes, 2 cups water, and salt (I recommend starting with a 1/2 tsp). Scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon, to agitate and release all of that yummy frond (residual flavor left from the caramelized vegetables).
Add in the chickpeas and frozen peas.
Bring the mixture to a boil (covered - you'll hear it start to bubble) and reduce the heat to medium.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes - until the vegetables are just cooked through.
Add in the coconut milk and cook for another 2 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and adjust thickness by adding more water, if necessary.
To serve: Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Squeeze a lime wedge over each one and serve with more cilantro and lime on the side (I like lots extra).

I served this with a curried red pepper salad (just use my recipe for lemon agave vinaigrette, and substitute lime for lemon and add 1 tsp curry powder) and faux naan (aka warmed multigrain pita drizzled with melted garlic butter - sorry, couldn't resist there!)



Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25 - MT JULIET, TN - An unrelated rant about female bassists

I apologize to my foodie fans at this point, but I just wanna put this out there, since it's been on my mind lately...

I picked up the bass guitar when I was 11 years old because, yeah, the one my guitar-collecting Dad happened to own had four strings (but it was also fretless... and a long scale Gibson Ribber... but that's besides the point). I wanted badly to play music with my drumming brother, because I felt we were moving apart at that age: he was my best friend, and I didn't want to lose him. I had tried to play guitar, but the closeness of the strings and idea of chords and solos didn't appeal to this shy little girl. Of course adults questioned my decision making, "Julie, isn't that instrument going to be hard for you? Aren't your hands too small?" I shrugged, and never even doubted my thought process for a moment: I had no desire to be in the spot light. I just wanted to have common ground with Eric again, and I thought that picking up the bass would be the best way to make that happen.

Over time, my competitive streak broke through. My Dad taught me Cream songs like "Politician" and "Sunshine of Your Love." He also tried to influence me by putting on Stanley Clarke vinyls (to which I'd sob and sake my head, thinking his lines were impossible to ever play). Eventually though, my competitive streak broke through, and I thought "Why can't I learn this stuff? Why can't I just practice and become just as good at bass as my brother was at drums?" I never saw boundaries - no differences in approaching the bass as a girl. If anything, I wanted to be the best as I could be - female or male. And that's not to imply that I think I'm the best by any stretch - but I'm always working harder...

Anyway, I just don't appreciate hearing things like "Yeah, she's good... for a girl." And that's not to say that I receive these sentiments personally... well, ok, I used to... and why is that whenever I tell someone I play an instrument that they also ask if I sing? I just like to think that listeners don't even consider gender when they hear ANYONE play. Perhaps it's a Utopian idea, but for now the prejudice undeniably exists, and it sucks. If a player is good, then he/she is flat out GOOD. Adrian Belew is an amazing guitar player. Eric Slick is an amazing drummer. Perhaps it is harder for them as men to make a mark in the Music Business, but maybe it isn't, since it is so male-dominated, it's almost expected.

So I guess my point is this: women should not have "the fear." Who says you can't shred, slap, tap, loop...? The guys? Really, we have to put the slimy he-men to rest and prove that we are capable of rocking (in many ways... including the kitchen) - but just don't get better than I am, because as said, I am competitive and might have to kill you...

Thank you, and good night!

PS - The ABPT's album is available now at StoreBelew... there's a sample of the title track available at