Mango Curry

Date night. It used to mean theatres, jazz clubs, bars and walking through town together. Now that we have two wee people and no obligated babysitters it now means a take-away in front of the TV after the kids are in bed. On the rare occasion that we do actually get to leave the house we often spend the time talking about or worrying about the kids anyway so our stay-in date nights feel more secure and cosy in many ways.

We started using a few different take-away places before we settled on our favourites. Our favourite Chinese place does something amazing with deep fried beef and our favourite Indian place does an incredible mango curry that quickly became a firm favourite. That is until the incident.

We’d gotten used to a delivery time of 45-60 minutes but on this night when we were both really really hungry that hour came and went and at 10 minutes past I got a text message to say that there would be a delay of 20 minutes. We were annoyed, but at least we had our own supply of poppadoms and mango chutney so we broke those open expecting to finish our starter and have the main on the table. We waited, and waited. At the 2 hour mark finally our food arrived. By this stage we were hungry enough that we could eat an entire zoo, let alone a horse. The curry tasted great but there was a horrid aftertaste of feeling ripped off. I got online and fired off a message to the company expecting at the very least an apology. Nothing.

And so it was that I decided it was about time that I learnt how to make my own mango curry. A little bit of experimentation has gotten me the following recipe and to be honest, we like it better than the take-away. And even better, if I use the slow cooker I can do the hard work in the morning and we can sit down to eat as soon as the kids are asleep – no more waiting!

Anyway, I do hope you like it. Let me know in the comments if you give this a try.

Serves 4

4-5 chicken breast fillets diced (you can use thigh fillets, or even another meat if you prefer)
2 onions
3 Tb korma paste (milk allergy? Try the Sainsbury’s version which at time of writing is totally dairy free)
2 cans mango
1 can coconut milk
1 sachet of coconut cream
handful of toasted flaked almonds

Chop one onion into thin wedges. Set aside.
Quarter the other onion and place that into a food processor (or blender).
Brown the chicken in a little oil in a frying pan. Put that into your slow cooker and add the onion wedges to the pan. Cook until the onion softens. Add to the slow cooker with the chicken.
Put the korma paste mango, coconut milk and coconut cream into the food processor with the quartered onion. Whizz it up until it forms a sauce – taste test for the heat levels. Add more korma paste if you prefer a hotter curry.
Put the sauce into the slow cooker and stir.
Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
Serve with rice and sprinkled with the almonds.

Note – if you find the curry too hot, stir a tablespoon of lemon juice into the curry to neutralise the heat a little.

Another note – I’ve not been able to have this dish stick around in a bowl long enough to get a nice picture, but it looks remarkably like the picture I’ve used here!


Applied Life Skills

Like most people who are out of school for a few years, I despair for those kids coming through now. It seems that ever since I left all those years ago the level of education has been going downhill. Of course, when I think about it rationally I can see that this has been happening for a while and was happening while I was still in school. And the reasons for it are fairly reasonable when you consider the kind of adverts that used to feature in women’s magazines to sell kitchen appliances such as the one above.

With most girls doing some for of cooking and typing in school while boys did woodwork or machining, something had to give if we were ever to see equality and as a result most of these kinds of gender-stereotype subjects have simply been dropped. This has resulted in a generation of uselessness IMHO – but I think I might have a possible solution. That solution is a new subject for the curriculum, taught with the same level of classroom facing time as the traditional maths and english. I’m going to call it Applied Life Skills and this is what it will cover:

Spelling and Grammar – I remember having an English teacher in year 8 (when I was about 13) who told us that he thought the curriculum changes to English were appalling and as such he was going to teach us what he had to but also teach us what he thought we should know. Now most of it I did know as I was one of the rare kids in my area who read books for fun but what he covered was things like basic spelling and basic grammar – stuff like the you’re/your and their/there/they’re. The biggest lesson I learnt from him personally was that if you honestly believe you’re right, make it happen. I still think of him when I read CVs from people who cannot spell correctly. (no checking my spelling here now – that would be petty and rude!)

Filling in Forms – sounds odd, but the number of supposedly educated people I’ve come across who couldn’t fill in a form, it really makes you wonder.

Cooking – I was lucky enough to have access to a subject called Home Economics in my high schools. It was considered a soft subject because we would get to make cake and eat it. I baked at home so to me it really was just the fun part of the week but I’ve been shocked at the number of people who cannot cook basic things, and many of them complain that they can’t follow a recipe. If you can’t follow a recipe in a cook book, how can you be sure that you’ll follow a set of instructions given by a boss? If I could have things my way I’d make following a recipe part of a job interview!

Life Maths – the kind of maths that you encounter every day of your life and which many people can’t cope with because it was part of the bigger and often hated maths subjects – things like calculating interest off in a sale, understanding accumulated interest, understanding how odds work in betting, how to convert currencies and how to recognise that the deal being offered by the banks is gonna send you bankrupt.

Hand Craft – if everyone knew how to sew on a button would we perhaps get less wastage? What if everyone could darn? Yes it may be cheap to pop into Primark/Pennies and buy a sweatshop cardigan*, but surely it’s better for the world if you didn’t? And if everyone learnt how to knit or crochet sure they may not ever use the skill again, but they’d also learn that they CAN do these things, and they’d learn to read a pattern – which means learning to follow instructions which translates into being able to pick up new skills from instructions later on which in turn makes them more employable.

First Aid – every person should have a first aid certificate.

Nutrition – we should all have a basic idea of simple nutrition and how that can change – for example when a woman is pregnant, or for children or even for vegetarians.

Basic Computer Use – everyone should be able to install and uninstall programs, know how to search for things online, effectively use word/excel. Not necessarily to macro level but they should be able to at least not panic when they are resented with a screen and perhaps even understand that things like macros and mail merges exist.

Hygiene – wouldn’t it be wonderful if every person left school with a certificate in basic food hygiene? Add to that a basic understanding of how disease is spread and perhaps we can reduce our reliance on antibiotics and also reduce the number of productivity days lost to avoidable illnesses.

World Culture – we all tend to live in our own worlds, we see the same kind of people who, because they live in our worlds too, have the same experiences. If we had a subject where we learnt about different cultures and their views of the world – both secular and religious, perhaps we would have a greater understanding and tolerance for them. Kind of the bonus of learning a language without trying to memorise conjugation tables.

History – I know, history is already a subject and many find it dull, but if you permeate all of the above with a light smattering of history related to it you may be surprised to find that it ain’t so dull after all. For example, learning how to cook a recipe from a 200 year old cook book would be quite fascinating, as would understanding just how bad things were before doctors discovered that washing their hands was a good idea. History gives context to the why we do things this way now and context means greater understanding.

So, that’s my idea of things that should/could be taught in school – what would you add to the list?

*I suspect that, being such a large chain, Primark actually doesn’t use sweatshops but the clothes are so cheap that this is the impression that they give.


Bye Bye Georgie Boy

My George Foreman grill just died. It’s been such a handy thing – although I know I’ve never used it to it’s full capacity, but whenever I wanted steaks or sausages or burgers or anything meaty it was there for me. Five years it’s done me and tonight when I plugged it in it the fuse switch tripped. I shut down a few outlets and flipped the switch back, but sure enough it did it again. I’ll probably open it up on the weekend and see if I can see any reason for the short.

But this gets me thinking – is 5 years a good time for a kitchen appliance? How long would you expect you expect to get out of an appliance if you use it every other week?