Curry with Beef Kofta and Spinach

Remember when I said I was eating out too much? Yeah, just when I think I’m ready to give it up I have two back-to-back meals that rank high up in that realm of “best ever.” It’s been awhile since I’ve been that excited.

Kachka – it was a ‘not-a-date’ night with my friend Jenny. Our catch-up nights always involve dinner somewhere and we end up parking ourselves at a table for a good three hours. I don’t think we’ve ever been disappointed, and Kachka was no different. It’s getting a lot of good press in the food world [Bon Appétit and NY Times, for example], but we managed to get a table without a reservation or a wait. I was really surprised. My knowledge of Russian food is limited, but as usual, I don’t really care about authenticity [although, I hear they hit the mark]. Does it taste good? I’m sold. We opted for their Ruskie Zakuski Experience, which is a sampling of nearly all of their cold small plates, and an order of the cabbage rolls. The food is very smoked fish heavy, and it was so, so, so, so good. Highlights = Baltic Sprat Buterbrodi [tiny smoked fish, parsley mayo, pumpernickel toast], beet cured king salmon, and Herring ‘Under a Fur Coat’ [7-layer salad of herring, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, mayo, eggs]. My mouth watering just thinking about it. We finished dinner with Russian style ice cream sandwiches made with wafers, black currant tea milk caramel, and hazelnuts. We were talking so much that the ice cream started to melt, but it reminded me so much of an airy, less sweet, cold marshmallow fluff. Everything is better with black currant tea milk caramel.

Kukai Ramen & Izakaya – best. ramen. ever. Not that I’ve had that many bowls of ramen, but I like to think I just save my experiences for the good stuff. Their locations are in the NW, Taiwan, and Japan. Sounds legit enough for me. The garlic tonkatsu shoyu ramen has a thick, rich, garlicky broth. The noodles don’t clump together and have a great texture. Those seasoned half-boiled eggs are the things dreams are made of. I could eat just a bowl of those. Seriously good stuff. I see now, though, why they offer a low sodium version of the broth. It didn’t taste extraordinarily salty, but my god could I feel it later. Sausage fingers. Worth it.

Beef Kofta Spinach Curry

The curry in this recipe is much more Indian than Thai. Garam masala will do that. This is a ridiculously simple curry to throw together. I’m always intrigued when a curry doesn’t have coconut milk. It’s a nice change to get the full on flavor of the spices. It has a whole mess of spinach in it, too, which I will never be bummed about. I could eat spinach all the time. The meatballs come together easily without a binder of some kind, but don’t suffer from texture issues. The key is to brown them, and I mean really brown them, before rotating them in your hot skillet. I’ve learned to resist the urge to move them even though I  want to. If I think they’re ready, I know I need to wait a little longer. This ensures extra flavor while keeping the meatballs together.

The meatballs don’t stew in the curry sauce for that long. It’s a quick and easy meal in that respect. If you want to infuse more flavor, and you have more time on your hands, feel free. It ends up smelling really good, though, so it’s hard to justify waiting.

Inspiration: Fuss Free Cooking


  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 10oz frozen spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • salt, pepper
  • diced chilies, cilantro, rice for serving


In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon of garam masala and the teaspoon of turmeric. Mix until smooth. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the ground beef, the other tablespoon of garam masala, and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined. Using an ice cream or cookie scoop [or, you know, your hands], roll out little meatballs of a uniform size — approximately a tablespoon. Heat a pan on medium high heat. Space the meatballs out in an even layer. Do this in batches if your pan is too small. Allow the meatballs to brown fully before moving. Set the meatballs aside.

In the meatball pan, add the the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Turn the heat down to low and add the grated ginger and garlic. Stir quickly and often so it doesn’t burn. Add the turmeric/garam masala mixture to the pan. Sauté for about two minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sauté for another couple of minutes. It should darken in color. Add the chopped spinach and water. Bring the water to a boil before turning the heat back down to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to break up the frozen spinach if it’s been clumped together. If the curry starts to get dry, add more water. After 10 of the 30 minutes have elapsed, add the meatballs. Try to submerge them as much as possible. Cover and simmer for the remaining 20 minutes.

Now is a great time to make rice if you haven’t.

After 30 minutes, check the curry. Taste for chile flakes or salt. Serve the curry and meatballs with rice. Top with any of your garnishes.


Roasted Vegetable & Cumin Chickpea Bowl

When I haven’t been working 10-13 hours a day [tax time round two!], we’ve been entertaining Andrew’s parents who were in town for a little over week. When people are in town, you know you’re eating way too much well when you’re not showing them things like the Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop’s Close [cue plug of Andrew’s blog].

Things eaten in the last week: a funguy burger with my favorite fries from Killer Burger, a tuna melt and fat slice chocolate chip zucchini bread at Community Plate, a pile of brisket with horseradish aioli from Radar, a machaca burrito from King Burrito, a buffalo chicken pizza from MOD Pizza, a Jamaican jerk chicken salad from Fire on the Mountain, a Bowl of the Gods acai bowl from Kure Juice Bar, a turkey and brie on a baguette with a cup of fragola pasta salad from Addy’s Sandwich Bar, a lemongrass chicken and crispy pork belly vermicelli bowl from Freshroll, a duck bologna, egg, sauerkraut, coffee mayo and American cheese breakfast sandwich on a parker house roll at Portland Penny Diner, and a bacon cheese burger at Tilt.

Guys, I’m tired of eating out. It happens sometimes. Everything in moderation.

I made a chicken basil stir fry [based on this pork recipe] almost immediately. Simple flavors. A vegetable or three. The body seems to handle only so much butter and salt.

This simple roasted vegetable bowl fits the bill for just what I want after a week of eating out. The vegetables are great on their own, but even better when in a bowl for easy eating with a side of cumin chickpeas. The hardest part is actually getting them to the bowl because I find myself popping a piece of sweet potato here, a piece of broccolini there until half the tray is gone. I’m the type of person that could easily stand there and eat an entire tray of roasted vegetables all to myself. I’ve been known to do it with crudité platters too. Vegetables are a weakness. There are probably worse problems to have.

The original recipe from Minimalist Baker has a three ingredient tahini sauce, that would have been awesome if I actually had tahini on hand. I ate it plain because that’s just how much love I have for roasted vegetables. The cumin chickpeas were really, really, really great. Crispy outsides with soft insides. A bright pop of flavor with every bite.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl


Inspiration: Minimalist Baker


  • olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 bundle of broccolini, tough stems trimmed and cut into pieces [stalks too!]
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 15oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric


Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato and onion in some olive oil and salt and pepper so it’s lightly coated. Spread them out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place in the oven.

After 10 minutes, toss the broccolini in the bowl with some more olive oil and salt and pepper. Add it to the baking sheet in the oven.

After another 10 minutes, toss the kale in the bowl with some more olive oil and salt and pepper. Add it to the baking sheet in the oven.

While everything is roasting, heat a heavy skillet on medium high heat with some olive oil. Toss the chickpeas in a bowl with all of the spices so that they’re evenly coated. Add the chickpeas to the hot pan. Let them sit for 30-60 seconds to really develop a crispy char before stirring. Adjust your heat if necessary. Once they’re crispy on all sides, and your kitchen smells awesome from all of the spices, remove them from the heat.

When the vegetables are done, you can either serve up individual bowls or mix everything together in one large bowl and go to town. The ones in the small bowl above was just for looks. I totally ate it out of the large bowl.

Coeur D’Alene & Wallace, Idaho

[Part one, two, three, four, five, six]

The end of our trip came quickly. Just like all trips do. The beginning feels like a slow and steady pace. The middle starts to dominate, and before long you’re packing your bag to head home. It sneaks up on you. I spent a lot of time wishing we could have done more, but there isn’t anything too relaxing about running yourself into the ground trying to see anything and everything.

We stayed in an Airbnb while in Coeur D’Alene. It was another detached unit from the main house. They converted their garage into an apartment. It was incredibly clean and cozy. The location was walkable to the lake or downtown, and they even had bikes you could borrow [not that we did].


Coeur D’Alene was a destination on our tour, sure, but it also served as the last stop before the 6+ hour drive home. The city is known for its lake, mostly, so we spent a lot of time walking down by the lake or through town and back at the apartment reflecting on all that we had seen throughout the past few weeks. It’s a lot to digest, and if you don’t write it down in some fashion, you will forget. It’s inevitable.

Since most of this part of the trip was relaxing and redundant, I’ll spare you the mundane details. Highlights included: eating pork tacos and garlic fries and drinking local beer at Crafted Tap House, starting the day with coffee and scones at Calypso Coffee, finally washing the car off from all the road grime, eating our weight in sushi at Syringa Japanese Cafe, and watching the Champions League Final at Capone’s Pub & Grill.


An extremely memorable part of the trip was the time we spent in Wallace, Idaho, a silver-mining town. It’s a small little piece of history. It’s mostly known for being where Dante’s Peak was filmed, but I think you should go there to grab a beer from Wallace Brewing Company and to take a tour of the Oasis Bordello Museum. The bordello was active up until 1988 when the madam and the ladies of the establishment left town because the FBI was coming to visit. Nearly everything was exactly as it was since they left in such a hurry. It’s an amazing piece of history, even if it is a bit seedy.

The heat affects Coeur D’Alene in the summer something fierce, despite being on the lake. We didn’t end up in the water at all, but I wanted to.


It’s a different sort of ending to a trip to come home from a long drive in your car versus a really long flight. The car turned into a moving closet with all the crap I felt like we packed around. We felt infinitely lazier than when we’re out of the country because of the car, too. The number of miles spent on foot dwindles considerably when you have a car at your disposal. The sites are generally more spread out out here anyway.

The takeaways from this trip were: 1) America is beautiful, 2) I’m thankful for national parks, 3) people at national parks can be generally stupid when they treat it like Disneyland, 4) there is good food everywhere5) I could live in Montana [or Jackson, Wyoming, once I with the lottery], and 6) saying yes to pretty much everything is usually a good idea. How else are you going to see the world’s largest potato chip and tour a bordello museum?

Kale, White Bean, and Bacon Salad

There has been a period of time this summer where I would put a [rinsed and drained] can of white beans over greens of any kind and call it a salad day. The combination is refreshing, filling and easy all at the same time. Bonus points for being good for you. Of course the results of these endeavors generally end up not too photogenic [read: ugly] or we end up eating it all before I can take a photo. This was the one exception. Just in time for the rain to move back in.

Kale and I are friends. I enjoy that hearty green flavor that it carries, trendiness be damned. Massaging it in dressing or roasting it can generally make it more palatable for those who don’t share my fondness for green flavors. Substituting something else for the kale wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’ve had something similar with arugula and spinach without any real issue. Go lighter on the dressing if you do. In this case, the dressing is a simple one made of mostly staples that even my kitchen has [except for lemon zest, which I unceremoniously leave out 9/10 times]. Dijon mustard [and mustard in general] will always make me happy. I’m getting the hang of making dressings in a mason jar. The key is to actually get the seal on well enough so when you start shaking it, you don’t end up wearing it. That’s happened. At least twice.

Kale White Bean Salad

The table in the photo is of the new patio table! We haven’t spent nearly the amount of time I expected to out there this summer since the weather has been so unbearably hot and most of my time has been spent studying for CPA exams. When we had been getting out there, we managed to conjure up every nearby flying bug [flies, bees, and mosquitos] to join our party despite the use of mosquito repellant coils and candles. They’ve ran us off a couple of times because it’s just too much. Here’s to hoping the newfound cooler weather and rain runs them off so there can be a few more meals out there among the dying boxwoods and ferns. Seriously, the heat was too much. I’m ready for the partly cloudy, on-and-of rain we’ve been having.

Inspiration: White on Rice Couple


  • 1 bunch of flat leaf kale, ribs removed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 4 slices of thick cut bacon, double if you can’t get thick, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 15oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


In a jar, add the olive oil and the rest of the ingredients through the parsley. Add the lid and shake to mix together. Set aside. Alternatively you could whisk the ingredients in a bowl.

Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Add the bacon pieces. Cook until crispy. Remove them to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Reduce the heat to medium on the pan and add the garlic for approximately 30 seconds, stirring often so it doesn’t burn and it gets coated in bacon grease. Add the kale to the pan, stirring occasionally until it starts to wilt. Add the beans and the Worcestershire sauce until the beans are warm.

Add the kale and beans to a large bowl. Add the bacon and dressing. Toss to combine and incorporate the dressing.

Serve warm [but it’s equally good cold].

Missoula, Whitefish, and Glacier National Park

[Part one, two, three, four, five]

The drive from Bozeman to Missoula was rather uneventful. We opted to take the northern route so we’d drive through Helena, but now my only memory from there was the sandwich we had at Staggering Ox that bordered on dreadful. What does one expect from a sandwich where the bread looks like a can?


The highlights from Missoula were rather limited as the weather swung from grossly hot to a deluge of rain and hail the size of marbles. We had it on good authority from a bartender at Flathead Lake Brewing that our time in Missoula would be best spent eating and drinking our way through the city. Otherwise the main attractions involved outdoor activities both of which were hampered by the above referenced weather. I’m a fair-weather outdoors[wo]man. I don’t deny it.


Missoula is in the midst of a bit of a growth and revitalization. Parts of the town that once embraced being questionable and sketchy were now being turned into breweries, playhouses and period appropriate apartments. Our Airbnb was one such apartment. The apartments were originally built in the 1890s and our host has been restoring them. He’s been known to do it all over town. When we pulled up, the once dilapidated apartment complex nearly still looked as much, at least from the outside. Questioning looks were shared between Andrew and I as we were wondering just what we got ourselves into. Fears dissipated quickly as we ascended the stairs to the entire floor that was to be ours for the next few days. The apartment looked exactly like it would have back in the 1890s, only restored. One half of the floor contained the kitchen and the bedroom. The other half a living space, a bathroom, and another room that was still under construction. An additional apartment with a similar setup was occupied full-time downstairs.


Biga Pizza was hands-down the food related highlight of Missoula. We managed to squeak in to grab a pizza at their bar before they closed for the night. Their meatball verde pizza has a cilantro-jalapeno base that dreams are made of. It’s bright and refreshing with a subtle spice. I want jars of the stuff to pour on everything. We fell in love with the pizza and owner that we wanted to come back for more the next day, but they’re closed Sundays. We opted for Monday lunch before heading out on the road. After pizza, we went to Big Dipper Ice Cream. I hadn’t realized just how jaded I was by the Portland ice cream scene [read: lines and $$$]. My jaw dropped when I could get two gigantic scoops of house-made ice cream for less than $4. They cater to purists and crazy people alike. I had to get the two scoops so I could get their green tea and black licorice. Breakfast at Catalyst Cafe was a recommendation by the owner/chef at Biga Pizza. The cafe started out as a coffee cart. It’s now a highly popular breakfast destination. We were recommended the Mexican inspired breakfast plates, which is exactly what we got. HEAPING portions of chilaquiles and huevos rancheros are an understatement, but the quality wasn’t sacrificed. It was a perfect combination.


We stayed in Missoula for two nights and got on the road again [after coffee and pastries from Bernice’s Bakery and sandwiches from Biga Pizza]. Columbia Falls was the next destination so we could head into Glacier National Park for a few days. Unfortunately the Going-to-the-Sun road was still mostly closed for the year, so we wouldn’t get to experience nearly enough of it to form an opinion. Columbia Falls is a tiny little town, so if you’re not in Glacier, you spend a lot more of your time in Whitefish. Whitefish is the next town over and a resort town on a much smaller scale in comparison to Jackson. The Airbnb we stayed in was a newly constructed addition to the owner’s shop on their property. It was really nice.


We spent a lot of our first day in Glacier driving around to get a lay of the land. Since the road was blocked only 15 miles in, and there is only that one road, access was pretty limited unless you’re ready to go on some big hikes. The Avalanche Lake hike was pretty easy and the views from the lake up to the surrounding mountains were stunning. We didn’t get anywhere near a glacier, though. It was a fairly crowded hike since it was one of the only “main areas” to go. We had to circle for awhile to even find a parking spot.


Whitefish has a great brewery [Great Northern Brewing!] that serves a solid beers and a plate of nachos as a post-hike feast. Their specialty beers, Guy on a Buffalo [coffee porter] and Big Mountain Tea Pale Ale [made with Earl Grey], were total standouts. The bartender suggested we hit up the farmers market to get a fish sandwich from The Cuisine Machine, a caterer with a food cart. They were out of their famous Walleye sandwich, but if the cod was any indication, it was incredible. Light flakey white fish is a weakness, and I’m particularly picky if it’s lightly breaded. Easily one of the best fish sandwiches of my life. It was there that the owner/chef told us to hit up Polebridge, a small town [village?] on the edge of Glacier to eat at the saloon. A lady at the bakery stand told us the same thing. Their original bakery was in the mercantile out there. We knew what the next day in Glacier would hold.


Polebridge is a trip. We were told that normally there is about 150 or so people that live in Polebridge full time [often in their cars!] and then it jumps to 300 when the summer season hits and there is more work available. There is literally just the one dirt road, the saloon, and the mercantile. The front of the mercantile is the bakery case where you can get various flavors of home baked cookies, that look just like ones made at home. The fruit danishes were sold at a premium because they took so many hours to make. Dinner at the saloon was another home cooked affair. I hadn’t had, but severely craved, a simple steak the whole time we had been on the road trip, so to get a steak salad and a beer and sit outside on picnic tables on the lawn was heavenly. The server, a well-traveled older gentleman, stood outside and chatted with us about Polebridge, his world travels, and why Montana is such a draw to very well educated, well traveled people. It was a really great time. As usual, people get a bit bummed when they hear you’re spending such a short time in their town [we were leaving tomorrow]. I love that kind of pride.


The following morning we’d eat at Farmhouse [a tender fried green tomato benedict on a biscuit!] on our way to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho — the final stop on our road trip.