“Family” Dinners

So a couple of friends and I have recently started a little tradition to do “family dinners”. Which is really just three of us that live a couple blocks apart making an effort to get together every Sunday for dinner and some bad TV (or movies) and just hang out for a little bit on a Sunday night.

This Sunday I was particularly excited because my friend, Case, decided to make Corn and Sausage Chowder, which might sound a little odd but is actually quite delicious. Now, Case calls himself a Kansas cooker and I love it cause he just throws all sorts of random stuff in the pot and it just works. He claims he got this from his mother who would make them help her out as kids by finding stuff in the kitchen that they thought would be good in a soup. I adore Corn Chowder but I have never ever made it nor did I have any clue how until last night, which makes no sense because it falls into that Southern Comfort food category which I just adore. Though for some reason I’m more of a French cooker… like my bible is the Larousse Gastronomique, has been since I ever set foot in a kitchen. I do things like souffle and mousse and braised short ribs (which is on the menu for next weekend). It makes no sense coming from an Indian girl born and raised in Texas. You’d think I’d know how to do good Southern Comfort food or at least Indian food. But no, I’ve got nothin’ on either of those. However, you want me to make you souffle or risotto or anything that involves heavy cream, I’m your girl. Example, next week is my turn for dinner and I’m doing braised short ribs in a sauerkraut sauce over swiss chard, crunchy green beans with almonds & garlic and either pureed potatoes or polenta with mushrooms. Oh and lemon souffle with fresh raspberries to finish. (Well ok the raspberries might not be in season, I forget I am not in Texas and can’t get whatever I want whenever I want pretty much all year round but definitely the souffle).

That being said, I was just stunned at how simple, easy and delicious corn chowder is! Now we made enough soup for a small army (note there are only 3 of us eating this soup, we had enough leftovers for the rest of the week for all of us) but here is the recipe as follows:

Corn & Sausage Chowder
1 qt half/half
2 large-ish russet potatoes
3 bell peppers (in any colors you’d like, we had red & green)
1 large onion
1 can creamed sweet corn
2 cans sweet whole kernel corn
2 large sausages
1 bag flour
and any other seasonings you’d like
(feel free to leave out the sausages and add other miscellaneous veggies as you’d like)

Slice one potato into very thin slices and then dice the other one into 1/4″ cubes. Throw the sliced potato into a very very large pot half filled with water and turn on to boil.

Dice all other vegetables and sausage. Put sausage into a large saucepan and brown. Let cook for about 2-5mins. After that add in the onions. Let those cook until they look somewhat clear. Then add in all the other veggies and saute for another 10-15mins. Once the veggies look just tender.

Pour all the ingredients from the saucepan into the pot of boiling water. Add in about 3/4-1qt heavy cream. Add in all the cans of corn.

In a separate bowl mix together water and flour until smooth. As the soup cooks and you want it to thicken add in the flour-water mixture. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to get the soup to the consistency that you’d like – the thicker you want it the more flour-water mix you should add.

Add in salt & pepper generously to taste. We put in cayenne pepper, garlic salt, all spice and something else. But the spices can be just about anything based on what you like and what you want in it. Also I like to think a little splash of beer gives it some good character. Keep on relatively high heat and check on it every few minutes, stir as necessary.

The whole process takes about an hour to make. It’s really not bad and it’s an excellent meal. Especially in the winter when it’s super cold outside. It was pretty perfect for yesterday.

Yep, That’s My Hometown

The largest US city to elect an openly gay mayor, yes that would in fact be Houston, Texas. It’s made headlines in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the BBC and countless other news organizations. I am exceptionally excited about this because not only is it the first openly gay mayor but also the second woman to be mayor. Our first female mayor, Kathy Whitmire, was absolutely fabulous. I just remember Houston being an exceptionally vibrant and interesting city to live in as a kid when she was in charge. Sadly, as all things go in politics she eventually left and the city has simply never been the same. So I am extremely hopeful that Annise Parker can do some great things for the city. Not to mention this is *huge* for the gay rights movement. Not only do we have another openly gay mayor but it’s in a relatively conservative town in a really conservative state where it is not that easy to get over the gay issue. I have always stood by the fact that Texans would come around eventually because we’re not as backwards as everyone seems to think we are and I believe this would finally be proof! I am so ecstatic that it’s my hometown that has made headlines about this. I am truly proud to be a Houstonian.

Kudos to you, Houston, for being the largest American city to elect an openly gay mayor 🙂

An Interesting Way To Start The New Year

I have been inspired by a friend of mine to reflect a bit on how I wanted to start the new year and how I actually started it. Now she had two separate posts on what she wanted and what actually happened but I think I can cover all of mine in just one (especially considering I started thinking about posting this just now).

So initially I actually had contemplated starting out the new year quietly, at home, by myself. I know this doesn’t sound particularly exciting but I’ve had an exceedingly busy and social year and I really just wanted some down time. I was thinking of a good book or maybe a stupid movie or better yet working on my website and playing around with some Ruby on Rails. That was my idea for a perfect New Year’s Eve. And to follow that with some loose resolutions (because I don’t really believe in resolutions) that I will be healthier and make time for myself amongst all my crazy activities.

My actual New Year’s Eve was spent with some of my friends in Austin, who I have not seen in years. And to be honest it didn’t really feel like a new year’s celebration, we went out for dinner and then to one of the bars downtown and ended up wandering around Austin for hours after the bars closed (it’s a long story, let’s just leave it at that). But it was not too far from what I had initially wanted because it didn’t actually feel like the typical New Year’s Eve celebration, it was more like a few very old friends of mine and I going out and “getting into trouble” as usual.

Actually it was pretty interesting getting up in the morning because we didn’t drink all too much yet all three of us (that went out and were crashing at the same place) still weren’t feeling 100% in the morning. And I dubbed it the “Adult Hangover”; you don’t have to drink excessively to be tired and cranky after a night out. It’s the grown up version of that lingering feeling of regret for going out partying with your friends. Except now, as adults, you are smart enough not to drink yourself stupid but you still get the consequences of not being able to bounce right back after a long night.

So for my first day in the new year I decided to visit my cousins who also live in Austin and I really couldn’t have thought of a better way to begin the new year than with people that I love that I rarely get to see because I live so far away. And after such a great kick off to the new year I decided to make some slightly more concrete new years resolutions: actually eating healthier, seriously trying to keep up a vegetarian diet and hopefully by the end of the year become vegan, go to the gym/exercise at least 4 times/week (excluding soccer and dance), have a more positive body image, seriously focus on my academics (no more lame excuses), be more positive and productive at work and last but not least make sure to fit in some substantial time (at least a couple of hours) every week to just be by myself.

And I did learn something while I was back home. “You can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” I don’t know if I’ll ever live there again because I do miss seasons whenever I go south but I will always have a special place in my heart for Texas and everyone I know that still lives there.