The weather in nyc has been so nice lately (aside from all the rain). It finally feels like spring is here to stay
On nice weekends, Nate and I like to get out and walk as much as possible. Most people in nyc take the subway if their destination is more than 20 blocks away, but we look at that as a great opportunity to sneak in some extra exercise while getting to where we want to go (and saving $ to boot!).
We’re always looking for fun stuff to do on the weekends and this week I came across an ad for the James Beard Foundation’s Bi-Annual Cookbook Sale. Nate and I laced up our sneakers and headed downtown.
The sale said it was supposed to start at 10am. By the time we got there at 10 on the dot, there was a line of about 5 people. Apparently, the sale takes place in James Beard’s one-time residence- a historic townhouse in the west village. The books are scattered on tables in one little room and it can only hold so many people, so they limit how many people can be in there at once.
While waiting in line, Nate and I had a discussion to determine whether bi-annual means twice a year, or every two years. I finally pulled out my phone and looked it up, and apparently it means both definitions…how stupid is that?! The two guys in line in front of us must have heard our somewhat ridiculous conversation and informed us that this sale only occurs every 2 years…good thing we didn’t miss it!
I’m not sure where the cookbooks come from, but it’s a sale of used cookbooks that range between $1 and $20. Because I like to think I’m rather frugal, I jumped at the opportunity. I always have the urge to buy cookbooks but never want to spend the money when I know I’ll probably forget I even have them. This was the perfect solution.
After about a 20 min wait, we finally got in. There were hundreds of cookbooks! It was kind of hard to really take your time and look through them since there were so many people and the books were scattered on tables in no particular order. I made my way to the back where the $1 books were. We browsed for about 15 min and finally selected 5 cookbooks. I had no idea if they’d be any good, but at that price I couldn’t resist. I got all 5 books for $14!
When we left the building, the line was all the way down the block. I couldn’t believe so many people knew about this thing and came to it. We walked all the way home (6 miles roundtrip) with a stop off at this awesome spice shop, Kalustyan’s, to pick up some Indian spices for what I was going to make for dinner. When I finally got home and assessed my goods I was quite pleased with my thrifty purchases
When I arrived home I got to work on dinner: Curried Chickpea Stew with Spiced Rice. I had been wanting to make Indian food for so long (although this recipe was adapted from Cooking Light so I’m not sure how authentic it is) but kept putting off going to the spice store since it’s not exactly around the corner. I didn’t want to get the spices at the regular supermarket, thought, because if they even had the ones i wanted, they were sure to be ridiculously priced.
At the spice store I had picked up a big bag of cardamom pods, and some tumeric, neither of which I’ve ever used before. As soon as I opened the cardamom pods, the fragrant, almost floral aroma wafted out. They smelled SO good. I’m definitely going to put the rest to use in some dessert since this recipe only used 3 of them.
*Please do not be turned off by the extensive ingredient list for the chickpeas. They turned out so delicious and now I have all the spices on hand for next time.
I’m also throwing a bonus recipe into this post since the few dark, crappy pics don’t warrant a post of their own. I made a simple and delicious Israeli Couscous with Peas and Mint the other day…just in time for the wonderful spring weather. Nate later informed me that he doesn’t actually like peas (oops!) but he ate it anyway, indicating how delicious this dish really is.
Curried Chickpea Stew with Spiced Brown Rice
Adapted from Cooking Light
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 2/3 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala (or 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 cinnamon stick)
3/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cardamom pods, crushed
2.5 cups water
1 cup diced carrot
1/4 tsp salt
1- 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1- 14.5 oz can fire-roasted crushed/diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbsp cornstarch, if needed
1/2 cup Fage 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Put all ingredients in Rice cooker and stir. Cook til done. Or you could could it in the normal rice way in a pot.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil and swirl to coat. Add 2 cups onion; saute for 6 min or until golden. Add ginger through the cardamom; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add 2.5 cups water, carrot, 1/4 tsp salt, chickpeas, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 min or until carrots are tender and sauce is slightly thick. If stew still isn’t thick, take out some broth, whisk the cornstarch into broth until dissolves, then mix back into pot. Continue cooking and stirring for 1-2 min or until thicker.
Place rice mixture into each of 4 bwols; spoon chickpeas over rice. Top with yogurt and cilantro.
*To cut carbs, I served my portion over spaghetti squash. I baked it for an hour at 375. After letting it cool, i cut it in half and scraped the strands out with a fork. Then I mixed in some salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Israeli Couscous with Mint and Peas
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup Israeli couscous (or orzo)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 lb fresh peas, shelled, or 2 cups frozen peas
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp chopped mint
Cook couscous according to package directions. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and lemon zest, and saute until translucent.
Add peas and lemon juice, and cook until bright green and tender, adding a little water if shallots brown before peas are tender.
Add cooked couscous, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Remove from heat and stir in mint.