Joy No. 45: Juanita

This is a good-news/bad-news type of post.

The good news: Juanita’s makes killer tortilla chips. The perfect balance of oil and salt. Delicately crisp but hearty. And her bags have just the right number of doubled-over chips with that extra crunch to keep me mining for “just one more.”

The bad news (if you’re not from around here): They have limited distribution.

The good news: I just discovered you can buy them online.

The bad news: Juanita’s charges $10 to ship a $1.99 bag of chips.

The good news: Juanita’s charges $10 to ship a $1.99 bag of chips. (Trust me, this is good news for your waistline. I’m slouching here at the computer covered in chip crumbs.)

But if you could use a bit of  joy in a bag and have a spare $12, click on the photo below. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Joy No. 36: Purple food

I have an unexplained attraction to purple food. Is this normal? My mom has it too. She buys eggplants just because they’re gorgeous. I think she cooks them up and eats them, and when I buy them I usually do too. There have been times, though, that I’ve allowed them to sit beautifully in the kitchen for just a little bit too long … That’s no good.

Recently a friend told me how good beets are for us. I still haven’t researched exactly why, but I was happy to believe her and went that very day to buy two bunches of the heavy purple roots. We ate them right away, including the greens, and the next time I was at the store I bought more. I saw some red (actually purple) cabbages nearby, so I bought one of those too.

I have to admit that I had been enjoying looking at them in the crisper but had not been inspired to cook them up. Until today. I saw Joy the Baker’s post about black bean and sweet potato tacos — and it called for red cabbage! Check out her photos. Our supper looked just like that. Gorgeous. Festive.

Now about those lovely beets …

Joy No. 20: My new favorite chicken recipe

News flash: I think I’ve uncovered the super-secret portal to rich flavor that I thought I could only find in a good Indian restaurant.

The recipe that delivered me there is “Dhania murgh” (Chicken coriander) from Premila Lal’s Indian Recipes, a book I received from my friend Diana, and I think she brought it from India. I made this chicken for supper this evening, and now I wish I had made more so I could give everyone I love, or even like (except for the vegetarians and cilantro-haters), a spoonful of this amazing dish over a bed of brown basmati rice. Heavens.

Side note: Wouldn’t it be great if we could attach aromas to blog entries or e-mails?

Because I can neither pass around my pot of chicken or broadcast the aroma lingering in my kitchen, I’m going to share the recipe. (I took a photo, but it just didn’t do it  justice.) Part of the key is the time this recipe requires. Not a lot of active time but a lot of simmering time. I hurried it along a bit, and it took 2 hours, start to finish.

Dhania murgh/Chicken coriander (from Premila Lal’s Indian Recipes)
(adapted slightly for ingredients and staff at hand)
1 medium chicken
1 pint yogurt
4 oz. lowfat milk
6 cloves garlic
¼-½ teaspoon ginger powder (real ginger root would be even better–PL calls for a 1½-inch piece) 
2 oz. almonds (dry roasted, unsalted)
2 oz. raisins
1 teaspoon turmeric
~1 tablespoon mild canned chillies
1 large bunch (4 oz.) cilantro, big stems removed
1 can (pint) lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
Have husband take apart chicken. Mince garlic and mix with ginger to make a paste. Smear chicken pieces with the paste. Heat butter and oil, and fry chicken until browned. Remove from pan, but leave butter/oil in pan.
Mix yogurt and milk, add turmeric and salt (I went for about ½ teaspoon and ended up sprinkling a little more on my portion at the table), and mix well. Reheat butter/oil and fry almonds and raisins, add yogurt mixture and chicken, and cook till only a little liquid remains. Add chillies and cook till dry. Add cilantro leaves and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently without stirring till chicken is tender and you can stand it no longer.
We ate it over rice with a side of steamed broccoli. Soooooooo good.

Joy No. 2: Curlycue melon

When I sliced through this watermelon today, I found a three-pronged curlycue pattern inside. Can you see it? (The three prongs extend outward from a point in the center.)

I have always loved curlycues. In elementary school I spent a significant amount of time copying a beautifully scripted S from a stick pin that I received as a gift and wore with my cowl neck sweater. That S was gloriously curlycued. If you were to ask me right now, I would draw you an S that is curlycued nearly to the point of death.

Curlycues in a melon? Truly a joy surprise!

Joy Meter= 8

Joy No. 1: Office Supply Pedicure

I was hoping to come out of the chute with something deep, but this is what I’ve got.

Maybe this is joy for beginners.

I don’t read many blogs, but I happened on Joy (what a great name) the Baker and her “Peach Cobbler for One,” which I promise will bring you joy. And it did bring my family and me joy, but I made the cobblers (using nectarines — so fabulous) before I started my 50 days of joy, so I’m only unofficially including a record of them here.

From somewhere on that blog, I found a link to fancy nail polish tips. One was to use reinforcement labels — those donut-shaped stickers you put around the holes on loose leaf paper so it doesn’t get ripped out of your three-ring binder — to create a French manicure-esque two-toned effect. Being an office supply junkie and actually having a pack of reinforcement labels in my desk drawer, I had to try.

It felt very self-indulgent, but the results, pictured above, have brought me joy. (For the record I have indulged in only one professional pedicure in my life.)

I should probably establish a Joy Meter. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate the Office Supply Pedi a 5. JM=5.