N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Nate’s Lovely (Just Like Him and His Wife) Peanut Sauce with Tofu

I have done nothing to change this recipe, nothing at all…it is perfect the way it is!
You can also bake the tofu with a little corn starch sprinkled on it and it will give you a nice crispy mouth-feel.  And don’t worry about the sugar on the fried tofu, it will work itself out, seriously…it makes tofu into something completely new and amazing.  (I am so happy Nate shared this with me, I’m actually going to make it today — Christmas — because cooking and Christmas go hand in hand.)

Swimming Rama Tofu

Peanut Sauce:
1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
1 cup fresh ground peanuts (I use peanut butter because I am lazy. — nrb)
1/4 cup fish sauce (Tiparos is my favorite)
2 TB red curry paste (Mae Ploy brand is good)
3 TB palm sugar or brown sugar

Combine ingredients in saucepan and simmer over medium heat until thickened.

Cut non-silken extra firm tofu into 1/8″ to 1/4″ strips. Dry off the
strips with a paper towel.
Sprinkle tofu with sugar so they will caramelize . Heat pan with 2 TB
oil and pan fry the tofu until golden.

Serve over wilted spinach (I just microwave for a few minutes) with peanut sauce.

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.

A Little Taste: Revisited

(This is all because my wife does not believe me…and because I added pictures to this post.)

Check out the my favorite 7 Veggie Cous Cous:



A Little Taste: OMG, Someone Call 911 Mac N’ Cheese!

For our “Going Away” party for my nephew (he’s been visiting for a month), a request was made for mac and cheese, and boy oh boy, did my eyes light up! I knew exactly what to make:
Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese
OMG, Someone Call 911 RIGHT NOW Mac N’ Cheeeeeeeeeeeese!

So this little artery-clogging treasure came from my sister…who makes this exactly 3 times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter). Any more than that and…well, the consequences would be dire, indeed. I have changed nary a word on this recipe, and I follow it to the letter. I do have one hint, though, use a deep pan if you like gooey, sticky mac and cheese. If you like yours a little more brown, use a casserole dish. (I prefer gooey, my sister prefers brown, so it really is a matter of taste.)

BTW, I tried to take a picture, but the horde (shout out to my World of Warcraft buddies) descended and gobbled it up so quick there as nothing left behind but bones.  See…

They ate it all gone!!!!Over-the-Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta , cut into small cubes
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

Bake until it’s bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

A little Taste: Fall Chili


As fall begins to creep up on us, my cooking turns to warmer things with which to nourish the soul. This week, in the midst of my recovery (and one day I promise to tell you the story of what happened while I was away), I was driven to do one thing…cook chili.
And now I am driven to share.

Yummy chili!!!

2lbs of very lean ground turkey (go for more rather than less)
2 large onions chopped
3 cans of diced tomatoes (I usually do one can of no salt added)
1 can of dark red kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans (or whatever chili bean you like)
2 packages of McCormick’s chili seasoning (I usually mix hot and original)
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic

Brown the meat and onions together, draining off the fat when done.

In a stew pot dump all the ingredients together, stirring well.  Cook over medium heat until you can’t resist the smell any longer!  Top with your favorites, I’ve included a list below.


Shredded cheese

Sour Cream

Tortilla Chips or Crackers



(Thanks to my woman for sending me the photo!!!)

A Little Taste: Maman Brigitte’s 21 Pepper Rum

So this weekend at Balticon, I unveiled a little surprise I’d been working on to celebrate my story appearing in ChiZine this month: Maman Brigtte’s Sacred 21 Pepper Rum.

It is said that when being ridden by Maman Brigitte, (a hard drinking, hard talking woman) one will develop a taste for this fiery infusion. It is also said, that those accused of pretending to host this very powerful spirit are tested in a very specific and painful way…hot pepper juice is spread on sensitive body parts.


Let’s just say I’ve never felt the need to pretend to be ridden by her…but if you’d like to take a taste of the powerful drink she prefers you can make your own like I did. Granted, I only used jalapeno peppers…and I did not use 21…but still it was likened to drinking pepper spray.

I think Brigitte would be proud.

1 bottle of cheap rum
21 of the hottest little peppers you can find

Pour a little rum to keep you company.
Push 21 peppers (stem and all) into the bottle of rum.
Replace the cap on the rum, tightly, and let it sit for 7 days in a cool place.
It will start to take on a red tint, that is a warning, not an invitation folks.

Oh, and for Loa’s sake, don’t rub your eyes until you have washed your hands multiple times with soap and hot water!