Tikka Masala is my Jam

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve food-blogged and I feel like with the colder weather (seriously, yipe) everyone needs a fridge that is full of my very best dish.

I make some good food, y’all.  Truly.  But Chicken Tikka Masala is proof I love you and want you to be happy.  I’ll order it every time I go out, and always think, “this is good… but I like mine better?”  What I’m saying is, I have not met a chicken tikka masala I like more than my own, and I HAVE TRIED, you guys.

It’s payday this week, so I’m probably going to make sure I have room in the budget (February suuuuuuuuuucks money-wise, people) to put a big batch together next week.  Here’s what you need, to do the same:

  • garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger, or just buy the stuff that comes pre-pureed in the jar if you like (and I do)
  • 4 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2-3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1+ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (we’re a spicy household, just be sure to balance the heat with the flavor)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus sprigs for garnish, more, if you love cilantro the way I do.
  • A lot of cauliflower.  For us?  3 or 4 heads.
  • A few tablespoons more ghee, salt and pepper to taste

If you like not being broke, I recommend buying spices in bulk from your purveyor of choice.  I use what’s in this recipe for a wide variety of dishes, and I’m always glad that we’re not out of cardamom.  Whole fat yogurt is, oddly, hard to find sometimes.  I get mine from our local co-op.  I make my own ghee, but you’re welcome to purchase it instead.  I find that small jars go too quickly in our house, and large ones are just prohibitively expensive, though I should honestly check our local Indo-Pak grocer because I’m still not great at being patient enough to wait for all of the milk solids in butter to separate.

  • Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk them together with a fork, and place them in a small skillet to toast them.  After a few seconds to half a minute, they’ll become very fragrant.  Take them off the heat, and put them in a  bowl.  Combine yogurt, salt, and half of  that glorious smelling mess of spices; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours, or overnight if you prefer. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
  • While that’s getting gorgeous, make your cauliflower rice.  If you’re clever, you have a food processor.  Rough chop the cauliflower in batches, and hit it with the food processor in appropriately sized batches until it is the size and consistency of grains of rice, and put it all in a big bowl.  If you’re me, you don’t have a food processor, so you use the best knife in the house, practice your knife skills, listen to jazz and make a giant mess for  a while.  I like to do this with wine, because I care less about getting cauliflower on the floor, which will happen, just accept it.
  • When all the cauliflower is rice-like, mix in your ghee, salt and pepper.  Place about a head’s worth in a skillet that has a lid, and cook it, covered, on medium for 5-10 minutes.  Do this in batches, until you’ve made the whole lot, or just make what you plan to eat that day, and seal the rest up in the freezer or fridge for another day.  We go through some cauliflower rice, so it’s always nice to have a lot on hand already prepared or ready to cook.
  • When your chicken is done (4, 6, or 12 hours later), move on to the  rest of the steps.
  • Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. I use my Lodge ceramic coated cast iron because it is the shiznit.  Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spices from Step One, and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them.  Wear a damn apron, and shield your squeeze hand with your open palm, or you will get tomato in your eye/on the wall/on your cats.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.  If you’ve left the yogurt and spice mixture on rather thickly (I tend to, because SO DELICIOUS SMELLING) it may not blacken, but I find that 10 minutes is more than enough in our gas oven to get the chicken primed to go in the pot.
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces (CAREFUL IT IS HOT), add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

    Serve with masala chai (which is its own post, frankly) and/or a nice glass of Pinot Evil.   Marvel at your masterpiece.

Tikka Masala is my Jam

Nested Conditionals

I am working on a [redacted] problem and it is both hard and satisfying.  It involves some nested conditional (if/else) formulas and I am making a promise to myself today that I will set aside a few hours to try and wrap it up tonight (and maybe do some research over the lunch I swear I am going to take).

Nested Conditionals

Speaking of the Shades and Shadows,

I know you’re reading this.

I know you probably can’t help yourself.  I don’t color my truth any differently than I normally would, for knowing you visit me here; though I’ve done my best to protect your identity, the things you’ve said and done.  I’m not even sure why, anymore, as all the love I once had for you has turned to so much cold ash.

I hope the truth breaks over you like a slow sunrise, as kindly as it can. I hope the day that comes after that dawn is a good one for you, and that you breathe freely, perhaps for the first time in your life.  I hope it doesn’t come at too high a price, and that the people who fall by the wayside in the meantime find the healing, support, and answers they need.  I hope when this happens, you still have people in your life that will gather to take care of you, to catch you after the freefall.  But for any of those things to happen, you will need to look at yourself and your relationships with rigor, honesty, and courage.

But in the meantime, I think you should go.  You’re not doing yourself any favors by comin’ ’round here.  All you will find is a woman far happier, freer, and full of wonder than you ever could have loved.

Speaking of the Shades and Shadows,

Boy, You Bubble Wrap My Heart

I have a date tonight and it’s with Thomthulhu and we’re going to Twisted Tail and it’s going to be pretty much the best.  My new hair is straight up ridiculmazing smokey lavender dreamboat city, and I’m wearing my favorite dress.  We’re going to Twisted Tail and I am a pleased and happy girl who looks like this today:


I feel tired this morning, but slept better last night than I have in a few days with a little help from Molly Hooper.  Chamomile and snow drop are pretty effective sedatives, let me tell you.  I’ve been drinking (and sampling) more tea lately and I find it makes me happy. Plus, come on — Homestuck blends?  Sold.  Good job, Adagio.  KANAYA AND FEFERI!  I love them.

Work has been going well, though I’m giving more than I’m getting from it these days. Outside of work I am trying to commit some formula structures to memory and develop more facility with them.  I have a budget to work out for my upcoming Rails Girls event in June, and need to come up with a plan to populate that event with awesome and varied and adventuresome women* and girls*.  Some of that may involve buying a plane ticket for a certain beloved twelve-year-old I know to come stay with us for some of the summer.  I have my first Girl Develop It event in a little over six weeks, and I’m excited to get a good foundation in Java.  The internet’s not going anywhere, after all.

We have a few shows coming up in February, and I’m excited to perform (and make a few extra bucks, honestly).  Beatrix and Bria have offered to help me with costumes (not my strong suit), and making room in our Library for a small sewing machine is probably a thing I should investigate.

Overall, things are grand.  I’m hoping today just flies by.  I’m quite looking forward to my date tonight.  ❤ #fhtagn


Boy, You Bubble Wrap My Heart

Don’t believe me just watch.

Some days, you just listen to Uptown Funk and plow through the bullsh*t.

I am hot sh*t dudes, and I’m also excellent at forgetting my hot sh*tness.  Yesterday was harrrrrrrrd at work, but I’ve gotten so much support and affirmation that it’s kind of like, who do YOU know that bills 50+ hours in a week where she TOOK A SICK DAY.

On the hilarious side, I was stuck on a broken down train last night from ohhhh 7PM until about Midnight.  I was pretty heated at the time, until Molly suggested I fart on the whole day and everyone in it.

We have been fiscally responsible over the last few weeks, and I’m hoping to take Thomthulhu out over Center City District Restaurant Week, next week.  I’ve adjusted our budget to more accurately reflect expenses over the next four to six weeks, and things are slightly less dire than I initially planned, which is good news.  I’m eyeing up The Dandelion, Farmacia, and Twisted Tail.  If I know Thomthulhu, he’ll see “Smoked Duck Hearts” and that’ll be the decision made.  I’m a lucky girl and he’s got PRIORITIES.

I YOLO my hair tomorrow, which is awesome.  I love being the hot chick with the rad ever-changing violet undercut.  It is nice looking like I feel on the inside.  I also sort of like the idea that I’ve transformed in the last six to ten months, and that there’s a progression that is both internal and external to mark that.  I like to think that I’m pretty unrecognizable from the woman I was a year ago.  Except I’m still pretty cute.  My tattoos are the same (but man, do I have plans to change that up!), but that’s about it.

I’ve returned to dance in a major way, and that’s been such a glorious rise from the ashes.  I’m hopeful that as my worklife becomes a little less like WORK+COMMUTElife, I can find some movement classes or workshops.  It feels good to be using my body for expression again, and even more so because the people I’m involved with are so positive, productive, and energizing.  It’s such a contrast.  In the meantime, singing in the car with Rhiannon and Lucy on the way to a show, or ribbing George from backstage, or High Fiving Bria when she comes out on stage to the Toxic Avenger Theme Song with a mop is motherf*cking triumphant as sh*t.  Don’t believe me, just watch.

So you know, up town funk you up up town funk you up.

Apparently, I’ll be guest-spotting over at Carnalcopia about boundaries, and a phrase for which I am now the only google result (“Harsh ye naught my shine”) is going to be made into glorious purple calligraphy tee-shirts.

Work changes are progressing well, and I’m very glad about that.

Life’s pretty grand.  Gonna kiss m’self I’m so pretty.





Don’t believe me just watch.

Kimchi Party Ya Ya Ya!

I’ve written before about my thoughts on beginning a supper club co-operative amongst my dear ones.

In the spirit of beginning that adventure, I’ve planned and made preparations for a Kimchi making gather at our (still unnamed, it’s making me crazy) abode, and I’m hella excited about it because first of all, I love cruciferous vegetables with a deep and abiding love, and more’s the better if they’re made into spicy crunchy flavorful pickled substances.

Seriously, I eat a LOT of cabbage with a LOT of enthusiasm (I balance it out with Brazil nuts, a varied diet, and regular seaweed snacks — yay Selenium!)

We’re on a pretty austere grocery budget these days.  Thomthulhu’s last day at his job (good riddance!) was Monday.  He left voluntarily to return to school for History and Classics, and I’m extremely proud of him.  Today is his first day back at school, and I wish I could be there when he got home.  I can’t wait to see him grow into an amazing teacher.  The idea of seeing his degree conferred in 2017 makes me pretty marshmallowy.  One of the consequences of his amazing choice is that I’m our sole breadwinner for the time being, and that means we have to be far more cautious with our money than either of us has ever needed to be.

So the idea behind our Kimchi Making Gather is this:  We, as the hosts, will provide jars, labels, kitchen space, board games, and the main flavor component of Kimchi (gochugaru).  Our guests will bring extra ingredients to make enough kimchi for everyone to take some home to their pantries, and leave some with us!

I’m pretty excited to read the book I ordered to prepare for the party at the end of the month, and to see my friends gathered in my kitchen having a wonderful time.

Kimchi Party Ya Ya Ya!

Il Neige!

It snows!  Harsh ye naught my shine, haters.  L’hiver for lyfe.

My commute in on the train was lovely this morning, though chilly.  I should have thrown some of those pop-the-seal-warm-the-toes things in my Sorels before I left the still-unnamed Apartment.  I love how darkness glows just a bit in the early morning when it is snowing.  I also love excuses to wear my fuzzy snow boots with the red laces to work.

Yesterday was Thomthulhu’s final day of work, and I’ve struck a hard bargain with our former landlord regarding the eight days of rent he’s ‘requesting’ for February.  You know, after we had vacated his now pretty dilapidated and poorly maintained building with a roof that leaked into our living room and a basement corner propped up by two by fours on the second of January.  Writing the required communication for that bargain to be struck was challenging, but I did it.

A lot of my people are talking about Resolutions for the New Year, and I think it is pretty great.  There’s not really enough long-term change required in my life for me to muck about with one, though I do have a pretty lengthy to-do and to-master list most of the time.  I’m happy with my body, my food choices, my capacities, and my choices.  The things I am working on are in pretty full swing, and have been for months; and “keep on with it, girl” isn’t much of a resolution.  It’s more Just How I Roll, these days.  I have a pretty substantial project to complete Wednesday after work so that I may submit it Friday, but I feel pretty confident I can make that happen.  My project and learning experience with Hanif will start the following week, and will likely transition into a larger project (and a corresponding list of mastered skills).

I’d like to keep the orchid that T gave me alive?  It would be nice if it would re-bloom.  We’re going to try to grow herbs in the kitchen?

Career change will take the shape and timing that it takes, probably within the next three to six months, factually speaking.

Our new home is amazing.  We have a bunch of projects to build and art to frame. We took some measurements for where shelves might fit in places like the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom yesterday evening when I got home from running a few errands.  We have a bed to build.  I have art to make.  Managing our money seems to be going as well as it can go under our current constraints.  I seem to be doing a good job of maintaining love, friendships, intellectual interests, and time for myself even though my commute is lengthy and begins early in the morning.

So, what would I be resolving to do, then?  I’d like to maintain my ridiculous hair.  My birthday month (March, for those of you following along at home) will likely involve a donation jar/paypal link dedicated to a pretty ambitious tattoo and I’d like to start the first session this spring, when my thirty-third birthday passes.   So maybe I’ll do like, quarterly resolutions.

My resolution for this quarter is that I’ll have a really amazing birthday this year.   My birthday is a Friday this year, so I might take off from work.  Maybe I’ll go to the Barnes by myself (or bring Thomthulhu, if he is done classes early enough in the day!) Thirty-three belongs just to me, and I’m going to celebrate it with accomplishments, progress towards my goals, appreciating myself, and investing myself in projects that are just mine.  I will also probably research, plan, execute, and eat a really beautiful meal for a very small group of friends.  Catalyst Con is the following week, and I’m going to be attending for at least a portion of the weekend with a few of my dear friends. Depending on how the first quarter shakes out, I can set new goals for April-July!

Il Neige!