Thursday, February 6, 2014

Recipe: Japanese Curry

Jenny's Vegan Japanese Curry
Recipe Source: Family recipe, with modifications by Jenny

Japanese curry is yellow in color, as opposed to the green and red Thai curries. While it is not original to Japan (curry was first introduced to Japan through the English, who obtained this delicious spice from India), it has become one of Japan’s most popular dishes. With the large Japanese population and influence in Hawaii, Japanese curry has become very popular there is well. It is most often found served over rice or over chicken or pork katsu (breaded cutlet).

Growing up, my parents often made chicken curry for dinner. Their recipes varied depending on what ingredients they had available in the refrigerator.

Because I choose not to eat meat, yet have a desire to use recipes from my childhood, I have come up with an excellent vegan version of Japanese curry, while staying true to the flavors and consistency of the curry I grew up with.

This is a very mild curry (compared to many Thai and Indian curry recipes) that my children, ages 4 and 2, are able to enjoy. My husband enjoys it as well and likes having leftovers to take to work the next day.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups carrots, chopped as desired
4 stalks celery, chopped as desired
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (leave the skin on)
2 tsp. McCormick Curry Powder
1 tsp. salt
5 cups water

Roux Ingredients:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
½ c. flour
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. ketchup
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are tender (about 5 minutes).

Add the garlic. Add water, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Then add potatoes, curry powder, and salt. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

While simmering, make the roux. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the flour. When combined into a paste, add the curry powder, ketchup, and soy sauce. Stir constantly so that it does not burn to the bottom of the pot. Add about 1 cup of water from the vegetables pot and stir until smooth. If needed, continue to add water from the vegetable pot until the roux is smooth. Then, transfer the roux to the vegetables pot and stir until well combined. Simmer for 30 minutes (or longer, if desired).
After the roux, before simmering. It will thicken very nicely the longer it simmers.
If you prefer a less thick curry, you can skip the simmering process.
Serve over brown rice.
Nutrition Information
Serving Size: About 1 cup; Servings per recipe: Approx. 8
Calories: 173; Total Fat: 7.5g; Sat. Fat: 1.1g; Cholest.: 0mg;
Sodium: 595.3mg; Carb.: 24.5g; Fiber: 3.3g; Sugars: 4g; Protein: 3.6g
Because I have small children, I chop my vegetables small enough for them to eat without choking. However, as they get older I will probably use larger chunks of celery and carrots. If you prefer this, you will need to adjust the simmering time to ensure the vegetables are tender all the way through.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Here we go again!

We are very happy to announce that we are expecting!

I'm sure that face will look much cuter in July.

We found out back in December. So far, this pregnancy has been going great. While I did have some nausea (which occurred in the late afternoon/evening), I never actually threw up. This is also my very first vegan pregnancy. (The kids and I have been vegan for about a year. Even George spent a little bit of time drinking whole milk before we switched to soy). I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do a vegan pregnancy because I want to make sure the baby is getting all the nutrients it needs, but so far everything is great. My blood work came back and baby and I are both healthy (and I got a bonus in good news along with this, which I’ll post about later). Even my iron was great, which was really good news because I had low iron when I was pregnant with George and had to take a supplement. And that was when I was still eating meat. Ha! So I’ll continue being vegan until I am told that I need to do something different. I won’t be happy about it, but a healthy baby is top priority.
Yesterday, we had the big ultrasound appointment where we learned what baby #3 will be!

The kids and I met Hubby at the doctor’s office and we all went in together. Bridget was not feeling her best (she caught the latest GI bug) but she so badly wanted to go. She has been so excited about having a new baby, and has even prayed that it would be a little girl for her to play with.
Very quickly into the ultrasound, we discovered that it is a BOY!
Bridget was heartbroken. She just stood there and I could tell that she wanted to cry, but her shyness prevents her from doing that in front of strangers. She’s the only one who was hoping for a specific gender… the rest of us just wanted a healthy baby. But seeing her so disappointed, I was almost wishing that it would have been a girl, just for her. But, we are still very happy to have another boy.

After coming home, I let Bridget know that with her and I being the only girls, we get to have our own special ‘girl time’ and that she’s still going to be daddy’s baby girl. This cheered her up a little bit. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, she’d come to me with questions like “Why does Heavenly Father think I need another little brother?” and comments like “I wish I was having a little sister so that I won’t be so lonely”. Way to break my heart, kid.
George's reaction was… nothing. He has no idea what’s going on. I think he finally got the concept that there is a baby in my tummy, but he’ll probably need reminding. I’m sure he’ll be a good big brother, as he is so loving towards Bridget's baby dolls. It’s sweet to watch him feed the babies and carry them around. Then of course being the boy that he is, he’ll whack the baby’s head on the floor a few times and laugh.

Now, back to the baby: He is due on July 17th, 2014. His heart rate was 148 (at 16 weeks, 5 days along). So far, I’ve gained just ONE pound (although I do feel like I’ve gained more). I was a bit alarmed by this and promised my OBGYN that I am eating a lot but she said that this is perfect considering the baby only weighs 6 ounces right now. She said most women gain way too much too early but that I’m on the right track. So yay! My next appointment is in 4 weeks, and sometime in March I also have a fetal echo scheduled with George's pediatric cardiologist to see if this new baby has any sort of heart defect. It’s rare for someone to have two CHD children, but it does still happen. I’m not worried about it and I think it will all be okay. Even if the new baby does have a congenital heart defect, at least we know what to expect with surgery, recovery, etc. But we’re hoping for the best, of course.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Charmer turns TWO!

The Charmer had quite a birthday! Two nights before his birthday, he got sick. We still don't know how, because no one else got sick. I'm guessing he must have found an old cheerio or something on the floor and ate it. It's hard to have a spotless home with two young kids running around. Anyway, he threw up 3 times that night. This is the first time he has ever gotten sick and thrown up (with the exception of being in the hospital and trying to eat while doped up on morphine). The next day he had a fever and didn't want to eat. So we figured he'd be sick on his birthday. But, when he woke up on his birthday he felt fine! Fever was gone and Mother Nature had delivered a magnificent gift to the birthday boy. Here he is, so very excited about the snow:

My dad came over and we took the kids on a walk in the snow. It was fun. We had to be very careful because underneath the 4 inches of snow was about a 1-inch layer of ice. But it was so quiet and peaceful on our walk and we all loved it. We must have been outside for over an hour, just taking it all in. It's not every winter that eastern North Carolina gets a good snow. Finally, Sugar Plum and the grownups got a bit too cold and decided it was time to head back inside. Bear must have screamed for 20 minutes because he so badly wanted to play longer in the snow.

After lunch and putting Charmer down for his nap, I got to work on his birthday cake. I didn't think I would be making one on his birthday since he had been sick. So I had to get to work. It didn't turn out so good and collapsed in the middle and one of the layers was not cooked so I had to put it back in the oven, and so the outer part of that layer got hard. It was a mess, and I was completely puzzled because I had made this exact cake for Sugar Plum on her birthday and it turned out perfectly. My dad said it must be because of the extreme cold outside and pressure change, etc. I'll accept that. For Charmer's birthday dinner, I made his favorites: French fries and Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders. And of course, ketchup. That was his real treat.
Then it was time for cake! He was so excited and loved us singing to him. Then at the end, he joined in. He was especially cute when blowing out his candles, one by one. The babies both enjoyed the cake, and didn't even realized mommy had messed it up. I suppose if you put enough chocolate frosting on something, it really doesn't matter what it tastes or looks like.


The next day, Granny and Papa came over to give Charmer his gift. (You'll have to excuse his lack of clothes. He was protesting putting anything on but his socks, even though it was still freezing cold outside.) They got him an airplane (he loves airplanes!) that he can take apart and put back together with a handy-dandy toy screw gun. He's always trying to 'help' Papa and Daddy when they're building something, so this was a great gift for him. His favorite part is, of course, the screw gun.

After all of the snow had melted off the roads, Grandma and Granddaddy drove up from New Bern to take us out to lunch and give him his gift. He got a kid-sized basketball goal! He caught on very quick, and so did Sugar Plum (she likes to sample all of his new toys and make sure they're in good working order for her little brother).

Afterwards, we gave Charmer our gift. It didn't get here until the day after his birthday because of the snow, and Hubby has been working late and didn't get home in time to give it to him yesterday. We got him a toy fire truck, a fire truck book, and a fireman hat. He is now well equipped for imaginative play. Here is our little fireman:
While his birthday had to be spread out over a few days, I think he still really enjoyed it (and probably didn't even notice the delays).
We are so grateful for this little boy and are hoping for no hospital visits, surgeries, and illness this year! He's already been through so much. I could use a boring year.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Charmer!

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