Branson was our destination for the July 4th weekend. It's about 540 miles from home - a very pleasant 8-9 hour drive. We stopped in St. Louis to get a claustrophobic tram ride 630 feet up in the famous Gateway Arch. I captured panoramic views of St. Louis, much better than these from the viewing gallery as I tried to hold the contents of my stomach in me. It's rather unnerving to know that you are not in an aircraft but in a structure so tall and be able to look down and feel like there is nothing holding you up.
The windows are cut in at an angle so that you can look down all the way to the base of the Arch. You can also see each leg of the Arch. There are staircases in the Arch that were used to get to the top before the trams were installed. It takes about 4 hours to climb to the top using them; it takes 4 minutes in the tram. The stairs are now used for maintenance of the trams and as emergency exits. I would have gloated more about the shots I captured if I had not done pressed the wrong menu option and deleted all 150 digital images. Perhaps I would be better off if I just did not mention it. Sigh! I guess it means we need to make another trip to St. Louis soon!
Branson was a ton of fun, despite it not being my kind of place to holiday in. Lots of kid-friendly shows, beautiful Ozark mountains... I got to ride in a dome train which was one of the two highlights of the trip. The other being that I got to spend 3 quality hours with a very wonderful online friend, who as luck would have it, lives in the Ozarks! He has a woodwork shop that makes exquisite handcrafted wood spice racks.
A surprise party for a couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary kept me busy the following weekend. I made Mutter Paneer and Spicy Mushroom Appetizers. I don't have the proportions for the Mushroom Appetizers as I was on auto-pilot by then. We were cooking for 60 people and any semblance of knowing what proportions should be had long deserted me. I am still in a fair amount of shock that everyone loved the mushrooms. The Mutter Paneer was a hit, too. I just made it in the largest pot I had. It was too little cos it was just too good! Usually when the level in the serving pan starts dropping, folks tend to avoid the dish. But in this case, the pan was literally wiped clean. I wish I'd taken a couple of photographs but I was just too frazzled to even think about it. And, as usual, I was on IST instead of CDT!! Late!
Another Indian Food Rocks original recipe
- 1 large white onion, diced fine
- 1 can Contadina tomato paste
- 2 cups of water, less for a thicker sauce
- 2 in. by 1 in. piece of ginger, grated
- 2 medium flakes of garlic, grated
- 1-1/2 tsp of garam masala
- 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder (optional)
- 2 lbs frozen peas
- 2 blocks of Nanak paneer (400g each), diced into 1 in. by 1/2 in. pieces
- 8 oz of fat free sour cream
- 1/4 cup oil to sauté the onions
- Oil, as needed to shallow fry the paneer
- salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a large
- Sauté the onion in the oil on medium heat until it is translucent and almost pink. About 10-15 minutes.
- While you are doing this, start shallow frying the paneer in a small frying pan. Drain on paper towels.
- Pause to add the tomato paste, ginger, garlic, garam masala, red chilli powder to the onions and sauté for another 5-7 minutes or until the oil starts to separate out from the mixture.
- Return to the paneer
- Cool the mixture. If you are like me - late and always in a hurry - drop a couple of ice cubes into it to help the process. Too many ice cubes will make the sauce more runny so take care when you do this!
- Using a hand-held blender, purée the mixture so that it is a little more homogeneous. I usually place the kadhai in the kitchen sink so that the sauce does not splatter onto the walls and all over my cooktop.
- Fold in the sour cream and then return the kadhai to the stove.
- Add water, peas and the fried paneer. Add more water if you want the sauce to be more runny. Keep on low heat until the peas are cooked and the paneer has absorbed some of the flavor from the sauce.
- Add salt according to your taste. (I've been making real salty food lately so start with a smaller amount, taste, adjust, add more if necessary, taste, adjust...you know the drill!)
The garam masala used for this recipe should be flavorful but not overpoweringly so. The ginger and garlic impart the most flavor in this recipe. The sour cream is a substitute for the heavy cream that is usually added to this dish in restaurants.