As of last night, I was officially admitted into my first grad program, an Ivy no less, for the social psych Ph.D. And let me tell you: it feels good. It feels very confusing, and hopefully the options will become more clear as the days progress, but it’s very nice to have an option, and a leverage point. It is exciting and anticlimactic all at once: after three interviews, you kind of have an idea of where you might stand, and after all the anxiety and angst of doing applications and then interviews, in a very odd way the admission isn’t so much coveted as is the knowing of what you might be doing and where you might be doing it for the next several years of your life, and since that hasn’t occurred yet one admission is simply a step. Granted, it’s a freaking huge step, and it might be that way just for me. For everyone who has supported me in any sense, from you fellow bloggers’ notes of encouragement here on the blog and for those of you who have heard it all and more in the past years and months, I appreciate it more than I could ever put it in words and deeply regret that I will not be shutting up about it just yet, and thank you for your as-yet infinite kindness and patience.
To celebrate, I went out and bought a new crockpot, the kind that has the removable insert. This isn’t exactly a celebration, as I’ve wanted one every time I use my ancient crockpot that does not have the removable inside, and determined to get one since I saw they were on sale at Target this week, but somehow it feels more deserved and less of an indulgence (it’s a perfectly functional ancient crockpot . . .) when I tell myself it’s because of a celebration. I am also hoping it will distract me from trying to buy a new handbag as a celebration: for all the fashion sense I lack, I have expensive taste in handbags. I also bought a Swiffer, which I've also wanted for some time now, and thought it perfectly justifiable in that now I will have a way to clean the kitchen floor properly after I've made a lovely mess cooking.
I actually made this beef curry Monday night and am only getting around to posting it now, but that’s ok because now I can tell you that yes, you could reheat it in the microwave and it won’t disintegrate, not even the peanuts. I’m not sure I could say truthfully that as in the case of stews or some soups that curry gets any better when you let it sit for a day or two, but in this case it’s so good to begin with and it certainly doesn’t get any less appealing. I had been somewhat worried that the sauce might overpower it, increase in intensity, but if anything I think with the time the spice decreases just a smidgeon and mellows a bit. I don’t find it problematic but you may want to account for it. I adapted this ever-so-slightly from the Thai cookbook (simply called Thai) my mother found for me in a BJ’s store or similar – I had been skeptical with its origins, but it’s actually quite a lovely book. I used flank steak instead of round because I had it in the freezer, cut back on the curry paste and omitted red chilies because I thought it’d be fiery enough, and though there’s a recipe on the next page I used a good jarred curry paste. Though the sauce says ‘sweet’ with the palm sugar, there’s no real sweet taste to this dish, just smooth coconut milk shocked into flavor with the curry. The recipe will take slightly longer than you may anticipate – all right, it took longer than I anticipated – about 40 minutes, so start it after you’ve started some rice and dinner will come together easily. Personally I think it could use more peanuts but other than that I really loved this. Adjust the heat to your liking, and don’t stand over the pot to breathe in the aroma as you stir it; the steam could sting your eyes and nose.
THICK BEEF CURRY IN SWEET PEANUT SAUCE
adapted from Thai by Judy Bastyra
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk (regular or light)
1-2 Tbsp red curry paste
3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar or soft light brown sugar
2 lemon grass stalks, brusied
1 lb flank steak, cut into thin strips
3/4 c roasted peanuts, ground or crushed with a mallet
Pour half the coconut milk in a large, heavy pan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the milk separates. Stir in the curry paste and cook 2-3 minutes until the mixture is fragrant and thoroughly blended. Add the fish sauce, sugar and lemongrass. Mix well.
Continue to cook until the color deepens. Gradually add the remaining coconut milk, stirring constantly. Bring it back to a boil.
Add the beef strips and peanuts. Cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the lemongrass stalks and serve hot with jasmine rice. Garnish, if you like, with Thai basil or kaffir lime leaves.