I love butterhead lettuce & some lessons in Indian cooking

So here is something about me: I love to cook. But I’m not very good at it.

This weekend I learned a few crucial things about food and cooking:

  • Crushed tomatoes in a can do not equal diced tomatoes (Crushed tomatoes equal tomato sauce, diced tomatoes equals there will be small chunks of tomatoes and some juice and whole, peeled tomatoes equals small little tomatoes that don’t have their peel on them) Key point: don’t buy crushed tomatoes unless you actually want sauce.
  • When you are making Indian cooking, be sure to have curry powder on hand. Don’t rely on the Indian neighbors to get you through this unfortunate predicament.
  • Potatoes take a lot of time to cook if you don’t have a proper cover over them.
  • It takes a while to macerate strawberries—we’re not talking wam-bam thank you mam-strawberry.
  • Update: You are apparently supposed to rinse brown rice before cooking? Anyone ever heard of this?
  • With a little resourcefulness, you can always make it work.

Let me let the pictures tell the story from here on out…

So Saturday I went to the farmers market and got all sorts of delicious goodies.

I am so sad, it was the last day of the farmers’ market (well, that particular one right down the street that I go to) until June 5th! That is in a million years almost! 😦

Here is what I spent at the market. As promised, I am tracking all my food spending this week. You will notice that apples were only $1.60 — that’s a full dollar cheaper than at the Giant this week. Just sayin’. The carrots were also a steal, I got a TON of those for $3. Yeah I have to peel them myself but they taste so much better. And you’ll see how good of a deal all that lettuce was…(seriously, what happened to that post about cheap, processed food?! Um, I’ll take the fresh from the farm food for cheap mmkthx.)

So I got done washing my lettuce and dried it off and realized I had enough lettuce to feed a small country so then I start nibbling away on this stuff like a freaking rabbit and that was when I decided butterhead lettuce might be my new favorite vegetable. There, I said it. Move over, iceberg, there is a new lettuce in town and it tastes divine. Butterhead lettuce is called that because it actually has a buttery texture to it and when you eat it the amazing taste just goes straight to your head and you start making all sorts of butterhead lettuce sandwich combinations. Seriously, that’s why.

Like hummus + carrots (use vegetable peeler to get really skinny and delicate) + cucumber sliced really thin (cuc’s aren’t in season but I was craving them this week so I got ’em. Yes, I crave cuc’s sometimes.)

And then!

Whipped cream cheese spread + teeny tiny chopped up apple! = holy this tastes like dessert but like salad but it’s a snack-size and sweet yet savory. Phew.

So I had this plate of goodness for my lunch.

I have never entertained myself in the kitchen with lettuce for such a long time. In fact, you should go out, find a farmer selling butterhead lettuce (I hope it’s season isn’t now over!) and then create your own butterhead creation and tell me about it!

It was a good thing all I did was essentially eat lettuce for lunch because later on big sis Katie and her main squeeze John came over and we, well, I…decided we had all the ingredients to make a wonderful Indian dinner! And by all the ingredients, I mean, about half of the ingredients, and none of the crucial ones. But oh well it was a carb-fest! Here’s what happened…

The spread…

Potatoes: The recipe I found online said these pot’s would cook up fine and they did not. In fact, we had to make a make-shift cover to keep in the heat to cook them better, they just kept getting crisp on the outside.

So knowing that, here is what I would suggest you do.

  • Boil the potatoes until they aren’t really quite done. You want them cooked through but al dente, or whatever. (I’m just making this up but I bet it’ll work better than what we did.)
  • Cool them down in ice water or whatev’s. Then peel off the skin.
  • Cut ’em up like the size above. Put them aside.
  • In a wok, heat up 2-3 T. of your fave oil. When heated (medium heat), throw in 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds.
  • Cover that thing ’cause the mustard seeds are going to pop ALL over the place, trust me. (So make sure you have a cover for the pan/wok or else you have to McGuiver your way through it. Read: aluminum foil.)
  • When the seeds are done popping, throw in some tiny chopped up bell pepper, garlic, onion or whatever you like. I like all of that so we used it all. John hates onion so naturally I used onion in literally everything we cooked that night.
  • Throw in some salt, a tsp. of cayenne pepper, a dash of turmeric.
  • Once everything is basically almost about done cooking, put the potatoes in to brown them up and finish them off cooking.
  • Voila! Or whatever the Indian version of that word is.

Stir the potatoes.

Also, if you really want to cop out, like we did, because we didn’t have curry powder, you can just throw this kind of stuff in…

I recommend you don’t because this stuff is loaded with sodium. But whatever, we did. Because we didn’t have curry. I mean, it’s top of the charts in the UK.

OK so meanwhile you are cooking the rice, by the way, don’t forget about the rice (yes, you do need Naan, potatoes, and rice.) NOM NOM carbohydrates. Just kidding, we probably could have done without one of those three, but couldn’t decide which. And who doesn’t love naan?

So, simultaneously we had this other thing going on:

Oops, I meant…this:

Tomato-Chickpea Curry:

  • Melt down like a T. of butter in a saucepan.
  • Throw in little tiny chopped onions. Cook those for 10 minutes.
  • Add a T. of curry powder (or if you are like us and forgot to buy the star ingredient, just toss in some curry sauce).
  • Add a can of DICED tomatoes (not crushed, aka pureed) *Sigh*
  • Add juice of one lemon, can of chickpeas, 1 T. of sugar, salt, pepper, 1/4 c. water (or ’til it looks right—we obviously didn’t need any water!).
  • Bring that to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes. This should thicken it up.

Then we popped the naan in the oven for a couple minutes and were ready to eat!

OK, maybe I have low standards in the Indian department, but despite all the hiccups with cooking this dinner, it came together well.

THEN. Katie brought soy ice cream. So we made ate it.

And I macerated the strawberries in about 30 seconds. (I know, you’re supposed to let strawberries macerate overnight. We didn’t have that long. Heh.)

Dessert!     El fin!

In the end, this dinner was about 50% local and basically 100% organic, which was great. The strawberries were from the USA, so I made an exception with those. I cannot wait for summer and all the delicious fruits it brings.

Ever just have a complete flop of a cooking experience but still manage to make it work? (Still don’t understand why we didn’t just run to buy some curry…) Sometimes that’s part of the fun of cooking for me. Why’s cooking have to be so serious?? It shouldn’t be! Just don’t burn the house down and that’s all that matters I say.  😉

17 responses to this post.

  1. butterhead lettuce is my favorite! even my salad phobic brother loves it. i’m intimidated by cooking indian food, but i LOVE the stuff!


    • heehhe I love that you were the first to comment on this, I totally thought of you as I was drooling over this lettuce. I was like, “ya know, there might actually not be more to life than this lettuce…” 😉


  2. This is such a fun post! Honestly, I’ve always been a little intimidated about cooking Indian food, but I’m not sure why. You’ve definitely inspired me to give it a shot! 🙂


  3. I’ve definitely had a fair share of cooking flops, but that is what makes it fun! I work at a farm stand and so many customers ask me “..what can I cook with that? what can I use it in??” and I always start by giving them some idea but then I tell then that they can use it however they want! That’s what I love about the kitchen, there are no rules – it’s a total art/fun/eat fest! 🙂

    By the way the dinner looks awesome and delicious!


    • I am defintely always that person asking for help figuring out what to do with things at the farmers market, haha but then I never follow their advice very closely anyhow! I just have to make it up as I go along.


  4. 1) I am so jealous you have a farmers’ market in the winter. I literally can’t wait until summer for farmers’ market goodies!
    2) My mother just finally tried quinoa and told me about the mess she made trying to rinse it (as the box said you are supposed to rinse). (She doesn’t have a fine mesh strainer and apparantly didn’t think of using a dish towel.) I gave her a tip – just skip the draining. I do!
    3) Fortunately, whole canned tomatoes are good for almost anything. One time I bought them by accident instead of diced, so I just broke them up with a wooden spoon in the pan and it was beautiful
    4) Your lettuce wraps look delicious!


    • that’s a good idea, I should only by whole tomatoes from now on. you can always break them up but you can’t put reverse the process!


  5. I’ve never tried butterhead lettuce, but it sounds delicious! I’ve had a lot of cooking fails, usually involving baking. It’s so easy to forget an ingredient!


  6. Hey there!
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. I had a quick peak at yours, and I really like what I saw! That chick pea curry looks awesome!
    By the way, you don’t need to rinse brown rice – you can, especially if you notice a few dirt clods (so rare nowadays!), but the only reason white rice needs to be rinsed is to remove the dust (fines) from milling. Left on the white grains, it makes it less shiny (especially in the case of Japanese rice) and sticky (more than it should be). Italian rice is the only one that doesn’t need rinsing because you want the stodginess. Brown rice, on the other hand, being unmilled, has no fines to ruin your rice.



  7. Your buttery little rollups are absolutely beautiful!
    And it’s so true, farmer’s market food is such a win win- yummier, cheaper, more environmentally friendly. Mine starts in early May and I am COUNTING DOWN!


  8. The food looks delicious! I love to cook too although many time the food does not turn out as expected, every time I learn something new. Thanks for the crushed tomato tip 😉


  9. We should try this again, soon. Have you invested in curry powder yet?

    Also, now that I’ve tried Butterhead, I will say it is ten times better than iceberg (not that I usually buy iceberg, I usually go for Romaine.) But it was goood.


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