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Comfort food and books for comfort

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Christina Stock Photo Serving suggestion for Thai sweet and sour cucumber sauce and Satay peanut sauce.

Sauces and a sweet book

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Rice, dumplings and Asian rice noodles — these three ingredients have one thing in common: They are usually very bland by themselves. However, they turn into delicious meals with the addition of sauce. Today, I want to share with you three sauces that are at the heart of Asian cuisine. Two of these are well-known and a favorite among anybody who has visited a Thai restaurant. The third, however, comes from Indonesia.

As a former colony of the Netherlands, Americans don’t know a lot about Indonesia’s culture or food. Why? Because as a former colony, the population has double-citizenship and those who want to find adventures living in a different country come to the Netherlands and don’t want to move to the U.S. Anybody who has ever visited the Netherlands will understand why. This country of tulips, windmills and cheese is simply charming. I know about the country — not only because I visited it several times, but because of my Godmother and adopted aunt, Wendy. You might want to wait on making the Indonesian sauce until the middle of next week. I’ll have an original recipe for it next Sunday.

Satay/peanut sauce

Ingredients:

1 tsp red curry paste

½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1 can coconut milk

½ cup chunky peanut butter

Add the red curry paste and the coconut milk into a nonstick saucepan and heat on medium heat, stirring until the curry paste is thoroughly blended with the coconut milk.

Next step, take the pan off of the heat source and add the sugar, salt and peanut butter. Return to the stove and mix until smooth. Allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes — that will thicken it up. Once it has a nice, thick sauce consistency, taste and add more salt or sugar to your liking. It is now ready to serve or to put away for later use in the fridge.

This sauce keeps up to a week in the fridge.

Serving suggestions: Use as a dip for Asian dumplings, chicken or toss with rice noodles and veggies.

Hot cucumber Thai sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup white sugar

¼ cup diced cucumbers

¼ cup diced sweet onions

1 red serrano red chile pepper, chopped and deseeded

Add the sugar and white vinegar into a nonstick saucepan, heat on medium heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved in the vinegar. Pour the vinegar/sugar mix into a container with the diced cucumber, onion and chile. Cool in the fridge for at least two hours and serve.

Serving suggestions: This fits with spring rolls, dumplings, chicken patties and even as a salad sauce. The sauce keeps up to a month in the refrigerator.

Ketjap Manis — Indonesia’s sweet soy sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup water

1 cup soy sauce

7 Tbsp dark molasses

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Combine sugar and water in a 2-quart nonstick saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, keep stirring until it is bubbly and thickens, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer for an additional three minutes.

This sauce will keep two to three months in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions: As a dipping sauce for vegetables, dumplings, eggrolls or drizzled over rice.

As a base for Indonesian stews.

Books for comfort:

Today, we continue with New Mexico Co-op author Ramona Gault, who used to live in Santa Fe after leaving her life in the corporate world. She has worked as public relations director of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) in Santa Fe, which she says is her favorite job yet.

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Author Ramona Gault

She is the author of “The Dry Line: A Novel,” which weaves together threads of a mother-daughter saga, a post-Vietnam experience in a New Mexico village, and a sweet romance.

Gault emailed in a short blurb out of “The Dry Line: A Novel:”

“Are we outlaws, Mom?” Anna Darby doesn’t answer. She’s not big on self-reflection, but she would do anything for her beloved daughter, Paris, except tell her about her father, who was killed in Vietnam. Anna is running as fast as she can, trying to survive on her social worker paycheck in Albuquerque in 1987. But when Paris gets into a scrape with the law, and an old friend asks for a big favor, Anna acts impetuously. As a result, she meets Cisco, a combat veteran who paints ghosts by day and rides the back roads on his Harley by night. Will he be the love of her life, or the death of her? And can feisty Paris save Tonio, a strange, neglected boy who lives in a cave? The barely suppressed sorrows of the past erupt in a remote desert village, and Anna and Cisco must figure out whether, and how, they can heal.

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Ramona Gault’s newest book, “The Dry Line, A Novel,” promises an achingly real story.

“I lived in New Mexico during this time and heard many stories about the men who returned from Vietnam and found almost no resources to help them recover,” Gault wrote. “I’m now based in Seattle but New Mexico is my heart place, forever. I write for the New Mexican’s Bienvenidos and Indian Market magazines.”

Her e-book is available for free with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon or as a printed version. For more information, visit ramonagault.com.