Be Bold for Change & Shrimp Curry with Spinach

International Women’s Day is tomorrow. Although it has been around for more than a century, IWD is not particularly well known in the United States. I doubt you’ll find a large stock of cards to choose from at the Colonial Pharmacy or even your favorite gift shop. However, after the historic Women’s March in January, there might be a bit more interest and excitement this year.

So what’s it all about? A National Women’s Day was declared in the early days of the last century to honor the Garment Workers’ Strike of 1908. It quickly went international. From Armenia and Azerbaijan to Chile, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania, Zambia and more, people around the world observe International Women’s Day on March 8. It is a day to celebrate women’s achievement s and push for gender equality.

How can you, should you celebrate International Women’s Day? Be bold, be bold for change. IWD is a call to action to help make a better working world, a gender equal world. Think of it as an opportunity to commit yourself to change. Overwhelmed? Don’t be; it’s okay to take one simple step. And please, don’t be shy. Feel free to declare what you will do to help accelerate gender parity in your home, in your state or across the world.

The leaders of the Women’s March have suggested that, if they can, women should take the day off from work. More than forty years ago, the women of Iceland went on one-day strike and it changed the course of history. They skipped the office as well as the never-ending pile of laundry, cooking and childcare. They took to the streets for a massive demonstration and brought the country to a standstill. Schools, shops and offices closed. The businesses that remained open were bedlam with harried fathers trying to get some work done and keep their children entertained.

Next, women can exercise their economic power and stay out of the stores. Women drive seventy to eighty percent of all buying decisions in the United States. Decide to buy nothing on March 8. If you feel you can’t possible stay out of the shops for even one day, stick to small, local women- or minority-owned businesses.

And finally, you can put your pink hat away. The color of International Women’s Day is red. There may not be a march up Main Street in your town or mine. However, when you stroll into the local bookstore or visit a friend in the hospital, your red sweater will show your support.

Don’t forget to celebrate. Read a book by your favorite woman author, visit the Soo Sunny Park exhibition at the Currier Museum or see the stars at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. International Women’s Day is a time to honor women and feel inspired by their long list of social, economic, cultural and political achievements.

Be bold, celebrate and bon appétit!

Shrimp Curry with Spinach
Perhaps you will end your day with a gathering of friends to celebrate your own accomplishments, friendship and solidarity. Enjoy!
Serves 6

About 1/4 cup your favorite curry paste*
Olive oil
1/2 onion, cut in thin wedges
1 carrot, cut in small dice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2-1 cup shrimp or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Basmati rice
1-2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 1/2-2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro

Heat the curry paste in a saucepan over medium high. If the paste is stiff, add a little olive oil. Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and pepper and stir to evenly coat the vegetables. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes more.

Stir in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Can be made ahead to this point. Cool the sauce to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.

While the sauce simmers, cook the rice. Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 15 minutes. Drain the rice and return it to the pot. Stir in the butter, cover and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a large skillet and raise the heat to high. When the sauce is bubbling, add the shrimp and toss to coat. Add the spinach in handfuls and toss to coat and wilt. Continue tossing until the shrimp are pink and all the spinach has wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and juice.

To serve: spoon the rice into shallow bowls, top with shrimp and spinach and generously sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

* Curry paste combines many different and all wonderful spices. You can make your own or find a jar in specialty food stores and some large supermarkets. Look for curry paste NOT curry sauce. You don’t want to overpower the shrimp so start with a mild paste and continue experimenting from there.

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One Year Ago – Mini Tarte Tatin
Two Years Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Four Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Five Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Six Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Seven Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Eight Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? Now that the seasons are changing, how will you spend time outside? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

International Women’s Day & Mini Tarte Tatin

Nana_Grant_Mom_Nana_Westland

Today is International Women’s Day. “What’s that?” you may ask. Well, it’s a day to celebrate women; particularly working women. Although it started more than a century ago in New York, IWD is far from top of mind. Gift shops and pharmacies haven’t put up special racks of IWD cards. It will be business as usual at the post office and the banks. Don’t expect your male colleagues to organize a special lunch, drinks after work or even a cake. Although, this international holiday is celebrated all over the world, you’ll find little if any hoopla in this country. Too bad, there’s a lot to celebrate.

Anyway, fifteen thousand garment workers, many of them newly arrived immigrants, launched the first International Women’s Day. They marched through the Lower East Side and rallied at Union Square on March 8, 1908. Their goal was equal economic and political rights. By today’s standards, their demands seem more than reasonable. Days were long and life was tough for garment workers. They spent sixty, eighty or more hours per week in crowded, poorly lit factories with no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer. In spite of the long hours and awful conditions, women earned $7 maybe $8 per week; about half of what men earned. On the political side, suffragettes had been asking for the vote for more than fifty years. In 1908, the Nineteenth Amendment was still more than a decade from ratification.

I don’t plan any demonstrations or marches today. Instead, I’d like to celebrate some of the women in my life. First, there is the great grandmother who built and ran her own business. Nana Grant was an immigrant with a few years of elementary school education when she moved to Boston. Widowed at a young age, she had a three-year-old to provide for. She opened a tiny store and sold penny candy, buttons, ribbons, needles and thread. She sold enough buttons and bows to send her daughter to private school and college. My niece Gillian must take after her great-great grandmother. She too runs a small shop but she sells wellness in the form of herbs and tinctures.

Then there is my mother, who battles late stage Alzheimer’s disease. Every day, she provides a lesson in resilience and grace. Quite simply, Mom is the kindness person I know. In spite of her disabilities, and they are significant, she greets everyone with a smile. Her laughter and smile are wonderful medicines. They won’t cure her Alzheimer’s but they always makes me feel better.

Another niece, Michaela, begins her first post-college job this week. It’s not as if she’s never worked. She’s weeded gardens, babysat, served beer in a sports bar but, with this new adventure, she starts her career. And an admirable one at that; Kaela will be working in alternative energy.

Whom will you salute today? What acts of courage and determination, what achievements will you celebrate? Perhaps you will toast women who have risen to the top of their field: powerful CEOs and politicians, talented athletes, actors and musicians or brilliant authors and artists.

Or perhaps, like me, you will raise a glass or word of praise to someone closer to home. The sister who helped a generation of children learn to care for the earth along with their letters and numbers. The grandmother who made jam tarts with you and sparked a lifelong interest in cooking. Our lives are filled with family, friends, teachers and neighbors. They offer support, all kinds of lessons, hugs and reality checks. Some stay a short time, while others are, at least in spirit, with us forever.

Young and old, here and gone, I raise my glass to my women friends and family, may you each thrive and revel in a life well lived. Bon appétit!

Mini Tarte Tatin
While this recipe has its origins in French baking, I’ve made it my own by combining the spirit of my Nana Nye’s jam tarts with my mother’s apple pie. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 tablespoons butter
8 tablespoons sugar
2-3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8ths
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Sweet Pastry (recipe follows)
8 (6-8-ounce) custard cups

Make the Sweet Pastry dough (recipe follows).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put 1/2 tablespoon each butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in the bottom each custard cup. Toss the apples with spices. Arrange the apples in the cups, packing them tightly in concentric circles. It’s okay if the apples stick up above the rim of the cups.

Put the cups on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes (the fruit will settle slightly). While the apples bake, roll out the dough and cut in rounds about an inch larger than the custard cups. Refrigerate the rounds until ready to use.

Remove the tarts from oven and lay a pastry round on top of each. Return the tarts to the oven and continue baking until the pastry is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tarts to a rack and cool for 10 minutes.

To serve: place a plate on top of each custard cup and using potholders to hold the cup and plate tightly together, invert each tart onto a plate. An apple slice or two might stick to the cup; carefully unstick them and place them on the tart. Serve warm with vanilla or ginger ice cream.

Sweet Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, cold
2-4 tablespoons ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and shortening and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle with ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

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One Year Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Three Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Four Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Five Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Six Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Seven Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate International Women’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Celebrate International Women’s Day! & Scallops and Roasted Pepper Sauce

Perhaps you haven’t heard or barely heard but March is Women’s History Month and the 8th is International Women’s Day . I first stumbled upon International Women’s Day during one of my many trips to Russia. In a former life, I was an international sales and marketing maven and Russia was part of my territory. IWD is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Russia and much of Eastern Europe. I don’t know if Hallmark has a store in Moscow but it’s a big day for cards and flowers. A cross between Mothers’ Day and Labor Day, it celebrates the contributions of famous and not so famous women.

When it comes to heroes, ordinary or otherwise, my great grandmother comes pretty high on my list. I never met her and only know her from my mother’s stories. From what Mom’s told me, it is clear that Nana Grant was a remarkable woman. One of eight or nine children, my great grandmother grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia. Living with the harsh climate and rocky terrain of eastern Canada, Elizabeth Hailey learned the virtues of hard work and thrift early in life. She also developed a healthy respect for education and the opportunities it can bring.

After she married John Grant, they moved to Boston to build a new life in the land of opportunity. After only a few short years, Mr. Grant died of pneumonia. A single mother with a three year old daughter, many, maybe most, women would have hightailed it back Canada and the family farm. But Nana figured that there would be more and better opportunities for her daughter in New England than New Scotland.

That said there were not a lot of options for women like Nana Grant. With only a few years of elementary school, teaching or nursing was not an option. Factories were hiring but the pay was pitifully low and conditions abysmal. In 1900, women did not start their own businesses but that didn’t deter Nana. Necessity was the mother of her entrepreneurship.

Nana opened a notions shop. In the age of Walmart, there is a least a generation of people who have never been to, let alone heard of, a notions shop. Her tiny store sold bits and bobs, thread, pins and needles and penny candy. Her courage, hard work and drive were the keys to her success. She didn’t build an empire; her success cannot be measured in hundreds or thousands of stores across the country. Quite simply, she made a living, loved and raised her daughter and gave her a university education and all the opportunities that go with it. She also adored my mother but that’s a story for another day.

International Women’s Day is a good time to celebrate and reflect on the courage, achievements and determination of remarkable women. Maybe you’ll raise your glass to someone famous, a noted and notable senator, favorite author, brilliant CEO or award-winning actor. Then again, maybe you will honor someone closer to home, your mother or grandmother, your daughter, granddaughter or niece. Take a few minutes to think about the women who have helped you become you. Offer a toast to that special teacher, an old boss or wise friend … even a great grandmother you never met but whose life and courage inspired you.

Bon appétit!

Scallops and Roasted Pepper Sauce
Nova Scotia is famous for its seafood. This scallop dish is perfect for a cozy celebration. Enjoy!
Serves 4

About 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
Roasted Pepper Sauce (recipe follows)
1-2tablespoon cold butter, cut in small pieces
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Pat the scallops dry and season with paprika, salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Put the scallops in the skillet and cook until opaque in center, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Add the wine to the skillet, deglaze the pan and reduce by 1/3. Add about 3/4 cup of Roasted Pepper Sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter and whisk until smooth.

To serve: Arrange the scallops on a platter or individual plates, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with parsley.

Roasted Pepper Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 large red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 (or to taste) Thai pepper, seeds and veins removed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the bell pepper, onion, garlic and Thai pepper in an ovenproof skillet, add the vinegar and just enough olive oil to lightly coat, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast at 375 degrees until the vegetables are soft and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the pepper mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the oregano and chicken broth and process until smooth.

Cover and store extra sauce in the refrigerator or freezer. It’s a great sauce for chicken and pasta.

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One Year Ago – Creole Shrimp & Cheesy Grits
Two Year Ago – White Bean Dip
Three Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding
Or
Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend International Women’s Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for lots more to read, see & cook! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2012