Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sara Jane: Thankful tree and Chicken Curry

November is always the month that I take a little more time to think about those things in my life that I truly am thankful for.  I know I'm not the only one because my Facebook feed is full of what everyone else is thankful for, too. :)  I enjoy reading what others are grateful/thankful for.  It makes me smile.

When my oldest, Penelope, was just a little baby, I started a thankful tree and have been doing it ever since.    It is nothing fancy.  I simply cut out a brown tree trunk with a few branches and then everyday in November, we each write something (or in Penelope's case, 5 somethings) we are thankful for on simple little leaves.  Our first tree was very small.  Now, with five of us writing thanksfuls on it, the tree has become quite large.  It takes up the entire side of my refrigerator.  Not the prettiest site to see but it warms my heart whenever I see it.

The tree looks quite bare right now but by the time November is through, our tree  (and refrigerator) is  overflowing with leaves.
Now, the fun part.  When November is through and it is time to put up all my fun Christmas decorations, we carefully take off all the leaves and put them in a labeled box.  Each year we have done this, I have simply put the boxes in storage.  This year, however, we are going to wrap the small box up and make it into an ornament on the Christmas tree.  I really think it will be fun to someday look at these when my children are grown.

Now that Penelope writes, it is really fun to help her spell out what she is thankful for.  
I can't leave with out sharing with you my favorite recipe.  Chicken Curry.  I never knew I liked chicken curry until several years back when we went to our friend's house for dinner and they served it. It was like love at first sight! Amazing! After this heavenly meal, the search was on for the perfect chicken curry recipe that I could actually make. While trying to use up a gift card at Borders, I found a rather intimidating Indian cookbook called The Complete Book of Indian Cooking.  It is now the ONLY curry recipe I use.  The recipe may look overwhelming at first, but don't be fooled. If you can follow directions, then you can make this recipe. The spices can be found at most supermarkets. I buy mine in bulk at a specialty store but I have also found them at Safeway and Albertson's (they just tend to be more expensive there).  If you really can't find the spices locally, try this ordering them online here.  The spices that are in this recipe are always in my cupboard now and I do buy them in bulk to make sure I ALWAYS have them.  I have made this recipe probably 100 times and have altered it a bit so I will give you my version of the recipe.  Here you go....

Chicken Curry

4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves
6 green cardamom pods
1 piece cinnamon stick (2 inches long)
3 whole star anise

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed (If you buy already minced garlic like I do, I add 4 teaspoons)
4 tbsp mild curry paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp five-spice powder
3 lb chicken, skinned and chopped into bite size pieces 

14 oz. Canned tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. Creamed coconut (sometimes I add an entire 14 ounce can for a more mild, soupy curry)
 2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Heat the oil in a pan at a medium high heat and fry the cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon stick, star anise, and curry leaves until the cloves swell.  About 5 minutes should do the trick.  You will know its ready when you can smell all the spices.
2. Add the chopped onion, and garlic and fry until the onion turns light brown. Add the curry paste, turmeric and five-spice powder and fry until the oil separates.
3. Add the chicken pieces and mix well. When all the pieces are evenly covered, cover and cook until the meat is nearly done.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and the creamed coconut. Simmer gently until the coconut dissolves. Mix well. Fold in the chopped fresh cilantro, then reheat and serve hot.  I never find that this needs salt but if yours does, then add it.

We usually eat our curry over rice but lately it just feels like too much food so I eat it as a soup instead.  If you are feeling extra adventurous, try this naan recipe.  It is delicious and goes excellently with the curry.

We had extra tonight, so we gave some away.  
One last thing before I end my longest post EVER!  One month ago, we acquired our dog, Jack.  I have never really been a fan of dogs but seeing that my husband and children all wanted one, I thought it was probably time we get one.  We looked for months but couldn't find one that went well with our family.  Then one day, everything fell into place and Jack moved in with us. This dog is incredible.  He is gentle (well as gentle as a 105 pound boy can be) with the children and follows me everywhere.  He has melted my heart. So, today, I am thankful for my new buddy, Jack.  He has been the perfect addition to our family!


  1. Sara, I LOVE curry and can't wait to try this! And speaking as "Jack's" neighbor, he is the sweetest dog!
    Kristie :)

  2. I love your chicken curry! I fondly remember the time you and your cute family brought dinner over to us (probably while pregnant, or after having a baby).

  3. I love curry! I can't wait to try your curry recipe! And your beautiful dog makes me want one, too!