N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

A little taste: Momma Colene’s Year Round AMAZING Aloo Gobhi

My wife’s mother makes a lot of dishes from all over the Middle East, and one of my favorites is a little dish called Aloo Gobhi. Basically, it is curried cauliflower and potatoes…and delicious!  It is amazing served warm over Basmati rice (with some saffron thrown in for good measure), but it is just as good piled on a paper plate cold for a picnic.  Eat it year around and thank my mother in law every time you do!

Here is the recipe:

Aloo Gobhi (Potatoes with Cauliflower)

The potato is called the king of vegetables in India.  Potatoes are often added to many meat, vegetable, and rice dishes.  Aloo Gobhi is a wonderful combination and it tastes great hot or cold.  The cauliflower is ofent fried to maintain its texture.  Here is a lower fat and my favorite Aloo Gobhi recipe.

1 medium cauliflower

2 medium potatoes

2 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil.)

1 pinch asafeteda (optional) [thank god it is optional!  I don’t know what it is! -nrb]

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) [but preferred! It doesn’t make it as hot as you might suspect. – nrb]

1 teaspoons coriander powder

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)

Trim and divide the cauliflower into 1-inch florets (about 4 cups).  Wash and drain well.  Set aside.

Peel and wash the potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces.  Set aide.

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over mediaum heat.  Add asafelida [not sure of the spelling here -nrb] (if using) and cumin seeds.

Fry until seeds are golden brown, a few seconds.  Add the onion and fry until it is transparent, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring ocassionally.  Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and ginger.  Stir to combine.

(I usually microwave the potatoes to cook all faster.) [I put them in for 3 minutes, but they could have gone longer. Next time I’ll try 5. – nrb]

Sprinkle turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper over vegetables.  Stir thoroughly to coat vegetables.

Cover with lid, heat through and then reduce heat.  Simmer until vegetables are tender but firm, 8 to 10 minutes.

Sprinkle coriander powder, lemon juice, and garam masala, stir to combine.  Increase heat to medium and pour remaining 1 Tablespoon oil around sides.  Fry 3-5 minutes, stirring until done.  Garnish with with cilantro!! [Those are HER exclamation points, so I’d suggest doing it!! – nrb]

I usually increase amounts and keep adding oil as needed until done.  ENJOY!

[I DO, TRUST ME! – nrb]

A Little Taste: Grandma Howard’s Cure-All Cinnamon Rolls

Here is the recipe I was talking about in my previous post:


The actual hand-written recipe in all its glory. And also the dough.

It says:

They cure any illness: mumps, cramps, head colds, flu, earache.  We should know because Mom (her mom, my grandma) fixed these when we were sick. Serve with hot tea, per Aunt Jan (my aunt, her sister).

So here it is, in all its glory (and I added bits to further explain what she means in certain places).


OMG, don’t they look amazing? Even the one peeking up in the back isn’t horrible! (These have pecans on them, btw.)

Grandma Howard’s World Famous Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups milk

1 stick of butter or margarine

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Put 2 cups in a pan on medium [I’m assuming milk – nrb] heat then add: butter, sugar and salt.  When the butter has almost melted remove pan from heat.  Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.  [It is going to take longer than 10 minutes…I had to move it to a bowl and put it in the fridge about 7 minutes. – nrb]

Put 2 packages of yeast [A package has about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of yeast in it – nrb] in 1/4 c. water [I made it warm water…and stirred it and then stopped, I’ll get clarification later. – nrb]

[OH, I’d also pause here…you are waiting for the yeast to activate and the milk to COOL DAMNIT! – nrb]

Beat 3 eggs in mixer and combine with cooled liquid [and the yeast, I’m assuming. – nrb].  Then add 6 to 8 cups of flour [At cup 4, don’t worry, it will come together.  At cup 5, unless you have a stand mixer, put the mixer aside!  Trust me, or it will start to crawl up your arm, the dough, not the mixer. I used a spoon, it was fine.  By cup 7, I had to switch to hands. – nrb]

Move the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil.  Cover with a warm damp cloth until bulk doubles, about 1 hour.


The dough…she LIVES!!

From here you can make these in to regular dinner rolls or you can make cinnamon rolls.

For cinnamon rolls, take half the dough [she never tells me what to do with the other half, I just made more cinnamon rolls, HA! – nrb]  and roll it into a rectangle shape about 10×14 or there about [I think mine was bigger…much bigger. – nrb].

Yes, that is a wine bottle in the background...I don't have a rolling pin.

Yes, that is a wine bottle in the background…I don’t have a rolling pin.

Brush with melted butter 1/4 to 1/2 cup and sprinkle with one half of following: 1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/2 cup sugar, mixed well.

Grandma Howard always cut her cinnamon rolls with a string.  I use dental floss.

Put in a 13×9 pan [I oiled mine with cooking spray. – nrb].

Bake at 350, 15 or 20 min.

Serve with honey butter or icing [I gotta get her icing recipe!!! – nrb].  Makes a big batch, cut in half for a smaller batch.

Enjoy we love both of you.

Mom and Dad


My siblings and I love ours a little under done…so these are for me. Trust me, the sides are a lovely golden brown color.

Go home mom, you’re drunk.

Okay, so my mom sent me some recipes…This is so wonderful and awesome, because in my house growing up the kitchen was filled with love.  It was THE place to be, and my mom encouraged me to experiment (I even have the old cookbook that I used to flip through when I was a kid, and later used to get my feet wet with cooking).

BUT my mom is blessed two-fold being both a born cook and a born baker…I am not.  While we both can eyeball ingredients and adjust on the fly…and we can both SMELL when something is done…she can FEEL when dough is ready.  I can’t.

I’ve always been too impatient for yeast based breads and cakes.  I’m a “what IS cool?”, “what IS lukewarm?” kinda gal, and I always err on the side of “OH GET ON WITH IT ALREADY” rather than making sure my yeast is safe and warm (not hot and dead or cold and asleep).

So this morning, CHRISTMAS MORNING, I decide to make my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls…a recipe passed down from my mom.  I used to make it with her, and she let me shape the dough remainders into little men and flowers and such, and she let me help sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar.

It looked so easy.

I was mistaken.

Like I said, mom is a natural born baker…so when she says things like, “put 2 packages of yeast in 1/4 cup of water”  I start hyperventilating.  I don’t HAVE packages, I have a jar of yeast!  HOT WATER?  COLD WATER?  LUKEWARM???  Do I stir in the yeast?  Do I just let it sit?  BAH!!!!!

Then it gets better, she tells me to stir in the milk mixture that has cooled (okay, cool-ish, I just couldn’t wait any more) in with the eggs…and add flour (6 to 8 cups?  That is like 2 cups of failure waiting for me right there!) but never once mentions the yeast again!


Thankfully, the dough came together at cup number 7, after it nearly took out my mixer by crawling UP the beaters and almost getting into the machinery at cup 5.  Now it is perched on top of my stove waiting for me to roll it out into a sheet and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar.

Wish me luck!

Happy Holidays!

I thought I would share my favorite short Christmas cartoon.  It was created in 1936, and it is adorable!  It puts me in mind of my many steampunk friends.  Enjoy!

Christmas Eve fun…

I love how this one says “Santy”, instead of Santa…it’s very Mid-Western and reminds me of my grandparents. 😀

Also, brushing reindeer teeth! And drilling rocking horse butts! lol  This one gets better when you’ve got an adult (aka dirty) mind.

Dog Holiday Fun!

This is for my pair of very bad dogs!  The “ear wave” is the very best part.

Surprise Holiday Fun!

Here’s “Santa’s Surprise” from 1947:

Snow holiday fun!

I love this one, and I sorta feel this way this year…all the sudden we went from the 60’s to wind chill!  Time to go to fur storage, and that is SNOW FOOLIN (1949)!

Holiday fun…depressing fun?

I was thinking about all those ancient cartoons that I used to see all the time when I was a kid around this time of year…they don’t show up much anymore, but I thought I’d spend this week highlighting them!

I remember seeing “The Little Match Girl” and being traumatized by it.  To this day, it gets to me.  Let me share the trauma!

Thinking thanksgiving…

Why do I have to be thankful?
I don’t wanna.

I don’t want to think of all the things in my life I should be thankful for, from my wife (and the fact that I can have a wife), to my dogs, to my family and friends, to my job, to my safety and health…

I don’t wanna spend all day listing off how blessed I am. It’ll take too much time and I need to get to enjoying it.

Someone said to me the other day: I have so much to live for, it sort of makes me scared.

I know exactly how that feels. There was a time when I didn’t care much what happened to me, I was a little self-destructive and a little short-sighted. I did wild things and had (fleeting) good times. It gave me stories to tell now, cautionary tales of a sort.

The minute I found a family to love, that all changed…I went from not caring, to being terrified. I had too much worth living for, and suddenly death was very real and present. I still live with that fear, it has changed over the years, but it is still there and still a driving force.

But hey, it lets me be thankful. 🙂