Saturday, February 20, 2010

MOTW, dear husband and Chicken Tikka Masala

Something I've discovered about Mess Of The Week: if I take a picture and post it, I get pretty motivated to clean up the mess. I guess there's something about broadcasting my home's imperfections that makes me want to take care of business. This week's shot is of my craft room: Holy disaster, Batman!

See what I mean?

My craft room often ends up being the place where I put stuff I know I want to keep but don't have a good place to put. Formula cans that I'm saving for decorations at Evan and Jenni's wedding? Craft room. Baby gifts for a baby who isn't due for five more months? Craft room. 72-hour emergency kit? Craft room (really, not the best place for it - not super accessible in case of actual emergency).

Right after I took this photo I spent a good hour and a half, assisted by my dear, organized mother ("Here, give me all the quilt batting that's just flopping all over the place and I'll roll it up tight and bag it, then you stuff it right there and voila! More space!"), cleaning up the space. It's nearly done now. I need to spend about 30 more minutes in there, but it's sure hard to find 30 minutes sometimes. When it is all done I'll post a photo. It's such a beautiful room when it's clean and organized!

It was a surprise from Curtis almost 3 years ago. We had decided that little room would eventually be my craft room, but I didn't expect it to be a priority in the house renovation. But, when I came home from a week-long trip with Kathryn Vivian and my mother down in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to see Owen when he got home from Iraq, I was totally surprised to see that Curtis had worked so hard to get this room ready for me to move into. He had put up new drywall, painted it pink like he knew I wanted (and then painted it pink again when the first color turned out shockingly-over-the-top pink), put the light fixture up and cut out hearts to tape to the window. Seriously.

We got home late at night and after we had put the kids in bed I looked down the hallway and noticed the door to that room was shut but the light was on (I could see around the edges of the door.) It seemed odd, since it was a room that was never used, just full of tools, cans of paint and other renovation supplies. I said "Curtis, the light is on in the room at the end of the hall," and I went down to shut it off. Was I surprised when I opened the door! Truly one of the best surprises I've ever received. Stuff like that, that's romance. You can keep your poetry and red roses. I'll take the man who loves me enough to survive on four hours sleep a night for a week to surprise his sweetheart with a ridiculously pink craft room.

My brother Owen and his girlfriend Marci came up to send the day yesterday and I decided I would show off my mad cooking skillz and make Chicken Tikka Masala. You can find the recipe here It was super tasty but kind of a lot of work. It involved things like toasting spices and grinding them with a mortar and pestle and lots of chopping. Owen and Marci were very helpful in the chopping department - they would make great sous chefs.

The end product was worth it.
Super yum. Word of caution: wear rubber gloves when chopping the chiles! It took 24 hours for the burning on my right hand to completely subside. Also, I used half of the amount of chiles the recipe called for and I thought it was plenty spicy (granted, I am a wimp when it comes to that stuff, but even Marci, who likes heat, thought it had a "nice kick").

Also made some granola when Owen was here. Best granola ever. It's Casas comfort food. I used to send it to Owen when he was in Iraq and he loved it. It's a little different from other granolas in that it is not clumpy, but all loose instead.

Here's the recipe.


3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup corn oil (reg veg oil works, too)

1/3-1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup each: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, wheat germ, raisins. I also usually add flax meal (ground flax seed), craisins and nuts, if I have them on hand (like slivered almonds or hazelnuts)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Sometimes I also add a little cinnamon, about 1/2 teaspoon or less

Mix dry ingredients (MINUS the raisins) in 9"x12" pan - pour oil over and mix with hands. Bake at 375 degrees. STIR FREQUENTLY to keep from burning. Bake for about 20 minutes (ish - ? or more?) until some of the pieces of coconut start to get toasty brown. Add the raisins after it's out of the oven, unless you like the raisins (and craisins) a little cooked, in which case add them while it's still cooking.

We love this granola. Curtis calls it "nature's broom," if you know what I mean.


Libby said...

Wow, that food sure looks good! Maybe we can make it together sometime, OK?
The granola was Wendy Knaupp's recipe, and it sure has stood the test of time. I think I got it back in 1973!
And Curtis IS a dear. I'm not convinced that he thinks I'm sincere when I praise him, but I'm not too good at dishonesty, so some day he'll accept that I really mean it.

Gwennie said...

Yet again Abbey inspires me to make something yummy....gonna check the pantry and stock up on what I dont have for GRANOLA....def Casas comfort you Ab....and CurtI too :)