One upside of a new school, endless driving, and too much time spent hanging around car parks is I've met a lovely bunch of people. New friends who quickly swept me under their wing when things got tough: when Dad took a turn for the worse: when I needed help most.
We don't have family nearby, and as despair gripped hold, they calmly gathered up the children and packed me off to the airport. No fuss. No bother. Amazing.
I was just thinking about all this, because the mum who looked after my youngest came round yesterday and I wanted to make her something special. A chance to dig out a favourite recipe that's done the rounds (another joy of new friends..)
She's Vegetarian and Sweet Potato curry has got to be my top veggie meal - I'm pretty sure anyone who's ever come here long enough to be fed has had it. Vegetarian or not. Possibly a reflection of my limited recipe repertoire, but mostly because it's a cracking curry.
It's also the reason why there's nearly always a jar of red thai curry paste in the fridge - a favourite cheaty cheeky shortcut - perfect for giving a dullish meal a quick, warm, lemony, garlicky boot up the behind without all that tedious chopping. I'll probably get bored of it soon because it's going in EVERYthing - soup, savoury rice, pasta sauces. Just a little, mind: a friend once mistakenly used a whole jar…. I love a chilli hit, but that floored us all.
I've even been known to pop half a teaspoon into some of the kid's meals to jazz things up a bit (spice by stealth you see..)
No one's complained yet.
Anyway, back to why the paste's in my fridge in the first place. This delicious, quick and easy curry.
3/4 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped or cubed
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
1 tin coconut milk
inch of ginger finely chopped
half teaspoon of chilli powder (optional)
2 stalks lemongrass finely chopped (crush with back of a knife first)
1 tablespoon red thai curry paste
half a chicken or vegetable stock cube
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes
juice of half a lemon
Gently fry the onion until it begins to soften, and add the chopped garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chilli powder (if you want the extra heat)
After a few minutes pop in the curry paste and stir.
Next, get the sweet potato pieces into the pan, give it all a good mix about, and stir fry until the potato just start to soften.
Pour in the coconut milk, plus half a stock cube and add a little water so the liquid just covers the sweet potato. Let it gently bubble away for 8 to 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook on for another 5 or so, to heat them through.
Season, and add lemon juice to taste.
Serve with a good sprinkle of chopped coriander.