Friday, January 27, 2012

India Republic Day Feast

In a happy coincidence, we had a feast of Indian food yesterday, which happened to also be India Republic Day. My friend Michelle wanted to bring a meal to say "thanks" for helping her out a few times by bringing her son home from school, and was in the mood to try some new Indian recipes. Little did she know that one of my love languages is having other people cook for me!

She brought over a delicious assortment of dishes I've never made before: chickpea patties with tamarind sauce and coriander chutney, aloo curry, and a mild but flavorful green bean and pea dish.

The potato (aloo) curry was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten, and it was delicious! I had already spooned some of it on the kids' plates before I saw the whole chili peppers cleverly hidden under cilantro leaves . . . and Aaron took a big bite before noticing that his mouth was about to erupt in flames. So, naturally, I took his picture.

I enjoy spicy food, so this dish, accompanied by yogurt and jasmine rice, was a treat. Even with my "cast iron" stomach, though, I could feel the burn. Nathan and Anya Rashi were good sports about tasting it, even after they saw Aaron's reaction! The chickpea patties were a big hit, and Michelle prepared them the healthy way: brushed with oil and baked, instead of fried.

Michelle's investment of care and time for this meal made me feel so loved! And what a fantastic way to celebrate the world's largest democracy, and our daughters' birth country.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Progress, Pinewood Derby and a Product Review

Doesn't everyone wear sunglasses to shovel snow at night?

Today brings another baby step in our adoption process! Our wonderful case worker stayed up into the wee hours last night registering us (and our fellow Dillon families) with CARA, the government agency that facilitates adoptions. Thanks to her, we have an official case number with CARA, and are in their system.

Then CARA will be selecting 100 families from outside India to be matched with various orphanages. We don't know if we will be part of that 100, but we are praying that we will! Needless to say, we are thrilled to have heard news twice in January, after such a long dry spell in 2011!

Meanwhile, family life is humming along. My brother Matt helped Nathan create his Pinewood Derby car, which is the fourth year he's loaned his expertise and woodworking equipment. We had a blast on race day, and took Matt out to lunch (another fun part of the tradition).

* * * * * *

And in honor of the cold weather (it was -6 here last night!), I decided to post a good, warm recipe -- and my first-ever product review. The Indian recipes I've experimented with have all been "from scratch" so far. In the interest of branching out -- and for convenience on busy evenings -- I decided to try a pre-made Indian sauce.

I tried the Taj Ethnic Gourmet brand Punjab Saag Spinach Sauce. ("saag" means spinach). One of my favorite dishes is Chana Saag, chickpeas with spinach in a creamy, tomatoe-y sauce, and that's why I chose this particular sauce from their line. It cost $4.25 at the natural food store where I found it, and I found it online for $3.99.

You can add tofu, chicken, shrimp, or cheese, but I mixed it up a little and used chicken and chickpeas. I've been wanting to eat more vegetarian meals, but the rest of my family are meat lovers, so this was my compromise. When I first opened the jar, the tomato aroma was a little overwhelming, and reminded me a little of Chef Boyardee products from my childhood. (Those are not fond memories.) I decided to start cooking the chicken and chickpeas to see if it improved as it cooked -- and happily, it did.

But I still decided to enhance it with a little garam masala and black pepper, and I added some milk to make it creamier. For color, I added some frozen peas as well, and the results were terrific! (Aaron is reading over my shoulder, and says I should say it was "astounding.") Everyone liked it, which is no small feat for a family of five. The only thing they requested was more chicken next time.

If you'd like to try my doctored-up version, here is the recipe:

One 16 oz. jar Taj Ethnic Gourmet Punjab Saag Spinach Sauce
6 oz. water
3 chicken breasts*
One 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup milk or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. garam masala
black pepper to taste

Mix sauce and water in large skillet. Add chicken, garam masala and pepper and cover; cook on medium heat, turning chicken every ten minutes or so to cook evenly. After 30 min., add chickpeas and green peas. Cook another 15 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and peas are hot. Use two forks to shred chicken in the pan, and stir in milk or yogurt. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.

*You can also use frozen chicken breasts -- just increase the cooking time. Chicken should shred easily if it's done; if it's difficult to shred, simmer it longer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good news!

Happy dancing!

Just a quick post to say that Dillon sent our dossier to CARA in New Delhi! We have been waiting for months for the okay from CARA to send them in, and this is definitely an answer to prayer for many families.

Of course, the fun part of this adventure is that we have no idea what will happen next, or when it will happen. :o) But at least CARA is accepting dossiers again from out-of-country families, which was a necessary step for referrals to start happening again.

We are celebrating today!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Joy and hope

I've been away from the blog celebrating Christmas (and now New Year's) with family and friends. It has been a fun week with children home from school, family and friends in and out of each others' houses, cousins visiting, and more. And at the core of it all is the reason why we hope: a baby, God putting on flesh, to reunite us with our heavenly Father.

We are so thankful for him, and for another year with our parents, with healthy children, with a loving circle of friends. And we are hopeful because of him -- and hopeful that this year we see the little face that will be added to our family, and learn the name to be added on our fourth Christmas stocking.

This week should bring some news about when and if the Indian government will be asking us to re-submit our dossier to be considered for a referral. Our prayers are with all of the waiting children -- those waiting to be matched with families in India, and those who will make their way across oceans to their families.

Many blessings to you in 2012!