It finally happened. The season changed. There have been zero noise interruptions by the heat kicking on and as I type this, I am sweating. The only sounds I hear are neighbours mowing their lawns. This reminds me that we have a lawn too. I’m looking at it right now but my arms are more interested in getting back the Indian I locked up for the winter. She’s coming alive sons. Just like the pots on the table in front of me getting free solar therapy. Except they call it food. I know.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s spring. In more ways than one. There is never a time – not even the New Year when everybody collectively panics about their “new mes” – where I feel like I have to get my shit together. If Matt is reading this right now he’s probably saying “THIS is the only time you think about that? That’s comforting.” I rarely think about “the direction I want this blog to go in”. The best blogs I have read aren’t .coms. They are more like something.something.com. I don’t have $8 a month to spend on Squarespace. I make nothing from this. No sponsorship, no ads, no freebies. Even if I could follow the herd, I wouldn’t have the $$ for it. Still, a part of me wants to.
I would love to get rid of that bold, gigantic headline font that you see on the top there. I don’t know how and I’m still deciding if throwing money at it will make it go away. I would be the happiest if I knew what I was doing every time I brought the camera to my eye. I do sometimes but is that really even important? Nope. The privilege to purchase ingredients that nurture is. The skill to lay them flat on a table (which my sister informed me has a name: flat lays!) isn’t. Making messes is. Showing you the messes is. Like every creative process, there is so much I’d love to change. Lately it’s been the name of the blog. People never get it and I feel silly explaining it. “It’s my name. It’s me. Why don’t you get it?” This is all I can be right now.
Life isn’t perfect and it would be wrong for me to tell you that every day goes smoothly. The forever me won’t ever lie to you. I’d tell you when I was down right depressed and about all those days I wanted to run back to a life when I was 18. I was living on my own and I had one revelation after another making my own decisions and doing a mostly-okay job of it. The best of them involved McDonald’s fries. The worst of them made an Edlyn I adore. Leaving brought out the child in me. The child that wants weekend sleepovers and nights of heart-swallowing (drunk) happiness to go on forever. That child didn’t believe in phases, yet she was about to enter the biggest one yet.
“You’re always happy where you are,” Matt once said. That time I moved here, he was wrong. That time it almost took our marriage.
Even though I started this blog before I moved to Washington, it was the after that gave birth to space. A lack of friends saw me look forward to the one highlight of my week: A trip to Fred Meyer on Saturday morning. I was depressed. I hung out in the produce section and brought it all home with me. That was all that seemed familiar among the endless aisles and high ceilings. My parents used to tell people that I “loved vegetables”. I could eat green things and that would be my superpower. Unknowingly, that would lead me out of this. This: Crying-out-of-the-blue for a life I had and having conversations with Matt on the floor, laying in the foetal position. I Googled “Why am I depressed after getting married and moving away?” Or something like that. This being together, we fought for this. I’m not quite sure how. I cooked lots of eggs. It’s probably somewhere in the spaces of this blog. Everything is here. This is not just a food blog. This is my soul. This is me re-thinking the details that brought me to this junction. It was hard and shit, I never want to be back in that darkness. I can’t sugarcoat what happens to me. I can’t do it to this blog either.
This is my voice. This is the realisation that I’m doing something good for myself- for us. I’m saving my life. This is real spring. We got flowers and we got fresh peas. These are changes worth waiting for.
“The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.”
– excerpt from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Cauliflower rice with lemongrass pea chutney
This recipe is a “redo” of a cauliflower rice I made for the blog a few years ago. There are no photos in that post because I ran out of space once, panicked and deleted photos from the media folder. I thought once they were on the Internet, they didn’t need to be in a folder taking up space. I am a smarter website-owner these days. As for the recipe – loved it in theory, hated the taste even though I made it with the best intentions. What I did love was the post I wrote accompanying it. It was a “me” making peace with a new part of my life. I love that me.
Here’s to a spring-cleaning of sorts.
- Us Goans LOVE our green chutney. Even though we make it with coconut, I rarely buy it (since it never tastes the same). This green pea chutney came closest to the taste of that cilantro chutney even without the coconut.
- Fresh lemongrass is a treat to use. If you peel back the thick bruised outer layer of the stalk, you will reach this softer inside that contains the refreshing flavour for just about any dish and drink. In this recipe, I’ve used whole lemongrass and finely grated lemongrass. I will explain the process of using both.
- Using whole lemongrass: Peel back the tough layers (it should be one or 2 layers) of the stalk. Bruise the stalk that’s left with the back of a knife or a meat tenderizer. You will notice the lemongrass smell intensify as soon as you do this.
- Grating lemongrass: Peel back the tough layers of the stalk until you get to the tender part of it. Using a microplane zester, grate the lemongrass and use accordingly. Use only the powerdy part of the grated stalk. The longer lemongrass fibres that stay behind might not grind as finely in a chutney or mash.
- Frozen peas will take less time to cook than fresh peas. The fresh peas should turn tender in about 5 minutes whereas the frozen peas will take a minute or 2. I’ll explain the methods for both in the recipe instructions.
- There are so many uses for the cauliflower rice once it has been combined with the pea mash. I only thought of it all after the fact, and that to me is the beauty of cooking: You can always do more! Some of my suggestions are pot stickers, stuffed flat bread, stuffed vegetables, toast, spread it on a cream cracker…sooooo much!
For the pea chutney
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 inches of fresh lemongrass (bruised, see notes) + 1 tbsp grated lemongrass
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 Thai green chili, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want less spice)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro + more to garnish
- 1 tbsp lime juice + zest of half a lime
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- More salt to taste, if needed
In a small saucepan filled with a 1/4 cup of water, add salt and lemongrass and place over medium heat. If you’re using fresh peas, place the peas in the saucepan and let them cook for about 5 minutes until the peas are tender. If using frozen peas, bring the water to a slow boil and add the frozen peas to it. Bring the water back up to a boil and cover the saucepan. Let them cook for 1 minute or until just tender. Keep a watch over them so they don’t turn mushy. Strain the peas over a bowl and reserve the cooking liquid.
Divide the peas in half and put one half in bowl and the other half in the food processor. Add the ginger, garlic, green chili, cilantro, lime juice+zest and coconut oil to the food processor. Process the ingredients and while the blades are turning, spoon in a tablespoon of the reserved cooking liquid. If you like some “chunkiness” in the chutney, process for about 30 seconds. If you want it smoother, let the machines run for some more time. Add more salt to taste, if you require.
For the cauliflower rice
- A little more than half a head of cauliflower
Separate florets from a head of cauliflower and put in in a food processor. Pulse the florets about 20 times or until it turns into “rice”. Don’t over-process to avoid turning it all into a puree. Set aside in a bowl.
You will need 2 cups of the cauliflower rice for this recipe. If you have extra, you can save it and mix it in with rice or a salad.
For the asparagus
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 kg/1/2 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 3 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup shallot, diced fine
- Salt + pepper, to season
- Juice of 1/4 of a lime (optional)
- Dry roasted peanuts, chili flakes, to garnish (optional)
Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots to the pan. Saute until the shallots soften (about a minute). Add the cut asparagus to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes. The stalks should be just tender but still have that *snap* you get when you bite into it (it’s the best!). Take the pan off the heat. Season the stalks with a pinch or two of salt and a crack of fresh pepper. Squeeze lime juice over the asparagus, if using. Give it one big stir and leave it in the frying pan.
To assemble: Scoop the pea mash over the cauliflower and stir well. Add the cauliflower rice mixture to the frying pan with the asparagus and the other half of the whole peas that were cooked divided earlier. Mix until combined. Serve warm.
If you prefer the cauliflower rice to be cooked, a minute after the asparagus has been added to the pan, put the cauliflower and pea mixture to the pan and saute it with the asparagus for a minute more.