WND – Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax

July 2, 2010

In my grandmother’s house there was a fire alarm mounted on the wall of the kitchen.  Anytime you turned on the stove to cook something more complicated than water the fire alarm would inevitably go off, and someone would have to grab a towel and use it to frantically fan the air in front of the fire alarm until it stopped shrilling.  I always wondered what had possessed my grandparents to mount a fire alarm in their kitchen, or what had possessed them to leave it there for decades given that it went off every time you tried cook anything.  I mean, for me it was just part of the tradition of summer – standing in the corner of the kitchen with a towel at the ready while dinner was being prepared – but if I had to live with it year round I would have found somewhere else to put it.

I actually still don’t know the answer to that, but I can tell you that I talked fast to prevent my Landlady from putting a fire alarm up in our kitchen, or in the hallway right outside the kitchen.  I managed to convince her than in an apartment the size of ours it would not violate fire code to move it four feet further down the hallway and stick it over the door in my bedroom.  This has two benefits.  One, it’s just that slight bit further away from the kitchen which means that the heat from turning on the oven to bake something doesn’t set it off, and two, there are now two doors between the fire alarm and the kitchen that can be closed when you’re cooking something smoky which (mostly) means that nobody has to stand underneath the fire alarm with a towel waiting for the inevitable.  It’s also not in the bathroom, unlike one of the fire alarms in our last apartment – we took the battery out of about a week after moving in because the steam would set it off every time you took a shower and that got old fast.

This is a long way of saying that grilling chicken, shrimp and having the oven on to roast the sweet potatoes set off the fire alarm last night.  I efficiently flapped a towel at it and belatedly remembered to close the doors between it and the kitchen, and turned the fan in the kitchen to point out the window and possibly send some of the smoke with it.    Meanwhile, I fantasize about how in my next kitchen I will have a hood over my stovetop – along with room for a kitchen table, and counter space (I dream big, man).  Mind you, my grandmother’s stove had a hood and that never seemed to do much to stop the fire alarm.  What I am certain of, is that a hood would help contain the smell of grilling, because even through every window in the apartment was open last night and we didn’t turn the fans off until we went to bed, this morning the apartment still smelled a little like cooking.  I don’t know about other people, but I’m never as fond of whatever it was I made for dinner when I can still smell it the next night.

Spicy Chicken or Shrimp Masala w/ Yogurt Sauce
Crunchy Peanut Slaw
Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad w/ Chili-Lime Dressing

Spicy Chicken or Shrimp Masala w/ Yogurt Sauce

Cook’s Illustrated recently released a ‘30-Minute Suppers’ edition of their magazine, which both contained recipes I thought I might make, and which were as easy as advertised.

I was a little frantic last night getting all of Dinner together, but that owed something to making it for eight people not four, and something to the fact that I got home a half hour later than usual.  Plus, I was making two other side salads to go with it.  This is also why there are almost no pictures, I kept forgetting to take any.  However for the record, I made this last week as a simple deconstructed salad – grilled romaine (more interesting in theory than in practice), mango slices, grilled chicken, yogurt sauce, pita bread – for two of us in under 40 minutes.

The original recipe calls for shrimp, but some people don’t like shrimp, and some people are allergic to shrimp, so I also did it with chicken.  Unless you live on a coast and have access to an excellent sea food store I recommend buying (raw) frozen shrimp.  Most of the shrimp you buy at a sea food counter in a grocery store has been defrosted from frozen anyway, and you can do that yourself at home in about 20 minutes and it’ll be fresher – just defrost in cold running water, shell and pat dry before you mix it with the spice rub.  Plus, if you buy it frozen, the odds are good someone else will have deveined them already which is the part of shelling shrimp that I find really tedious.  For the chicken, butterfly it and pound it lightly until it’s thin enough to cook up fast over a hot grill.

2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek style is best)
1 1/2 lb shrimp or chicken

In a bowl combine the first eight ingredients and mix together to make a paste.

Mix 1/2 tsp of the spice paste with the yogurt, stirring until fully incorporated.

Add vegetable oil to the remaining spice paste and stir to break up any clumps.  Pour spice mixture over shrimp or chicken and toss to coat thoroughly.

Grill shrimp or chicken over a hot grill until cooked through.

Crunchy Peanut Slaw

I edited this fairly heavily this time around, and I liked the way it came out better – it was moister and tasted less like raw cabbage and more like a slaw.

– I added two grated carrots and a grated apple.

– I salted & peppered the salad before I added the dressing, and I dressed the salad earlier and let it sit for a while, instead of seconds before serving.

– I cut the oil back to ¼ cup, upped the rice wine vinegar to 4 Tbsp, and used a generous 1 tsp of soy sauce.  I still didn’t use all of it to dress the salad (maybe ½-2/3 of it).

Recipe previously given:  Dinner with a side of Schadenfreude

Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad w/ Chili-Lime Dressing

My jalapeno didn’t go missing between the store and my kitchen this time, so I made the dressing as directed and it makes a lovely creamy green dressing when you whirl it together in the food processor.  That being said,  if you can’t find jalapenos or don’t want to buy them I can’t say I tasted much of a difference between using a jalapeno and roasting the sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes.

Recipe previously given:  Dinner with a side of Schadenfreude



  1. […] Recipe previously given: Dinner with a Side of Schadenfreude And edited: Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax […]

  2. […] Recipe revised:  Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax […]

  3. […] Recipe previously given: Of Shoes and Ships and Ceiling Wax […]

  4. […] And the amended later: Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax […]

  5. […] Recipe previously given:  Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax […]

  6. […] Recipe previously given:  Of Shoes & Ships & Ceiling Wax […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: