There is a poem by Robert Frost that we were introduced to as Standard VII students by the Goa Board of Education and I could be getting the class or age I was at completely wrong. Mending Walls, as I recall, was the title. The customary Q and A “discuss this poem” that came at the end was what we were conditioned to believe as the real learning. As long as we got the answers right, agreed on them and spewed the same thing at exam time there was no need to know more…to crave more ideas and writers and worlds to get lost in. That was what hobbies were for. You could do that in your free time at home, silly! As much as I – and certainly 99% of my class – was a product of this environment, I was still taught to dream; to believe….
It seems like it’s finally raining in Goa! We’ve all got the summer talk covered in America blog-o-land so why not veer a bit off track? Allow me to switch to Indian weather. Right now, it’s “Thank God it’s not summer any more” season, our own season of plenty.
The old soul that I am, I feel sad about the way children had to go back to school last month. They had no need for a raincoat, or a brightly coloured umbrella. No new cheap rain shoes that bite the heck out of their tiny feet that grew 10 times over since school closed for the sweat bath that is West/ South Indian summer. Oh you kids, you don’t know what you missed. Those awkward first few days were the best. You wrapped your books in that brown paper and stuck a label on it because that’s what everybody did. You used to buy the non-plasticky kind, but then you saw this monsoon approaching and you still didn’t care. Your school bag would inevitably have a corner for water to seep in and water would inevitably seep in.
It was the best. Those rebel years.
It would rain and rain and rain and at some point, (meaning 10 minutes after they rang the “begin school” bell) they’d said, “Okay, go home.” To all those kids that took one for the team by coming to school drenched and giving us a wonderful Goan version of a “snow day”, thank you. I have no idea why we didn’t plan these things more often. Wet uniforms with kids in them are apparently dangerous to have around in a school building.
To my parents: I have no idea how we reached home on days of rain-cancelled school but I will never forget this one particular day. I think you dropped us home, mama and went back to work. You told us to change of our wet uniforms and you didn’t wait around too much to see if we did. But we did. We changed into dry home clothes (I love saying home clothes!!!).
And then we went right back out in the rain to play. We made paper boats and put them in the gushing water right outside the compound. Apart from the tragedy of your bicycle brakes failing (sorry, Jane), living on a slopey slope was the best. We jumped around, blocked the drain on the terrace and kicked water on each other. A little before we knew you were coming back home, we changed into other dry clothes and it was as if nothing ever happened.
At that moment in time, it was the best day ever. I’ve collected more than a few of those days since then.
Here in Washington, we complain about the rain. Rain means winter. Rain means “no sun”. Nobody really likes cold rain. As for me, some days I need that weather. Amidst slushy feet and frozen fingertips, I need it to remind me that seasons change. I need it for the introspection, the warm beverages, the comfort foods that feel extra comforting, but mostly I need it to begin again.
I won’t jinx it or rush it. Let these seasons be. Flourish you crazy things.
Simple summer vegetable salad with amaranth
The best thing you can do with fresh ingredients is let them be. A little salt, pepper, lemon juice here. Olive oil there. Why complicate such beautiful things? I learn this all the time I feel overwhelmed while looking in my vegetable drawer. This recipe is a non-recipe. It’s mellow, it’s easy and it can be your best friend every time you feel stumped. The best part is you can easily add more flavours as you feel your way around the dressing. If you’re unsure about cooking with amaranth, substitute with any grain that you’re familiar with.
For the salad
Chop the first 3 ingredients in 1/8 to 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 cup radish (Use a mandoline if you’d like since radishes are slightly trickier to cut by hand)
- 1.5 cups zucchini and summer squash mix
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, cut in thin strips
- 1/4 cup red onion, chopped fine
For the dressing
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp garlic, chopped fine
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- A healthy crack of fresh black pepper
For the cooked grain
- 1/2 cup amaranth (rajgira), soaked overnight or for up to 8 hours and drained
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or lightly salted water
Cut the carrots, radishes, zucchini and summer squash and place in a collander. Mix in some salt to drain out the excess water from the vegetables. Let them sit in the collander for about 15 minutes. You can prepare the dressing in the meantime. Shake the collander and let the water drip out, then pat the vegetables dry with a paper towel. Move them to a medium-sized bowl.
Chop up the mint and the onions and add to the other vegetables. A quick tip (if you need it) to chopping the mint: Roll it up like a joi… just roll it up. and then chop horizontally.
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl or a glass jar (like I usually do). Taste for salt and then add more if required.
To cook the amaranth. bring vegetable stock or water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the amaranth to the water and cover the saucepan, turning down the heat till the water is simmering. Let it cook for 20 minutes. If you see that there’s still a lot of water in the pot, don’t fret. Use a strainer to get rid of the excess water. Carefully taste a bit of the grain (Caution: hot food..or something). It’s salad-ready when it’s in between soft and firm. Too mushy and you can turn it into porridge. But, it’s a matter of taste so make it work the way you like it.
Let it cool.
In a large bowl or serving dish, add the cooled amaranth on the bottom. Spread the salad over it and pour the dressing on top. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until they’re combined well. Serve with thin shaving of parmesan cheese. This as always, is optional.
Summer has been incredibly kind to the soil here; encouraging some of the most amazing produce I’ve seen with my own eyes. I can brag 18,000 times over about the markets in Goa. Try me. This is different. There is something very special about food that belongs. Straight from the source and right to your heart. In hippie speak, it’s very groovy. I haven’t been able to share as much of it here in this blog but you can be sure that the food is being well taken care of. There is no other way.
(I will be away from my second favourite home this week and I already miss this place. Can you see me?! I’m a crying fool. Not really but just a little bit on the inside. I’ll be back with a tale or two.)
There’s a reason why I haven’t posted anything new (which in my case means food) since Thursday, is it? That’s okay. I’ve never understood the functioning of a blog and watching some of my favourites teaches me that I’m nothing if not myself. So if I haven’t mapped this thing out yet, that’s fine. I’m doing this as a treat to myself; to keep loving this creativity I’ve been bestowed and to always be amazed.
Did you know that digital photography is not my thing? It isn’t. I’m shocked I can even manage to shoot pictures of food but I do it anyway and feel like chump a lot of the times. You should know this because if ever you compliment the photographs and I forget to thank you it’s because the chumpiness is very overwhelming. If I don’t forget, it means I’ve momentarily forgotten what a chump I am. It all comes down to the truth. I’m a Nokia 3310 in a world of smartphones.
Speaking of digital photography, I tried this past Saturday.
Who knows what the future will bring.
(All photos taken in Fremont, Seattle. Oh and one in Wallingford.)
Purple? Why purple?!
Purple. Like the colour. Why? Just because it’s the story of my life. Ask me how any girl-stuff related (MAKEUP) conversation with dudeface goes and my answer will forever be “purple”. I feel like I’ve got this Coldplay vibe all of a sudden. Allow me to elaborate a little more and if you don’t allow me, I’ll do it anyway. See that tiny little bar up there with “egeedee” in it? That’s me. Hello, thank you for stopping by and letting me elaborate.
I’m a girl. Right. In a world of high-heels, going to the bathroom in one large cloud of perfume, saying “soooo adorbs” to non-animal things and noticing the difference between red lipsticks and clump-proof mascara, I fall way, way, way behind. Do you see me? You don’t because, you know…I’m WAY behind. Pay attention. For example, getting married. I still have out-of-body experiences looking at pictures from my wedding. Nothing was more difficult for me than getting married. The whole princess aspect had me on edge all day and I wish that I could be the ideal bride but nyeahhh. It’s okay. I was never into that sort of stuff.
Maybe that’s why I wore a yellow wedding dress. Coming to that decision was easy. I knew I didn’t want to wear white. Apart from underwear, it never went with my personality. I checked with the groom since he was going to be standing next to me. Also, I knew there would be every possibility that he might have to explain this breakaway fashion statement (i.e. me) to his family. So I asked: “I’m wearing yellow.”
“You should wear lavender!” he said.
And right there, a template for a conversation we would have many times, was born.
Me: “Should I wear red lipstick?”
Not me: “I think you’d look better in some shade of purple.”
Me: “Do you like my orange nail polish?”
Again, not me: “Why don’t you get something purple?”
Purple. Purple. Purple.
Me: “I like your pink shirt”
(: “It’s purple.”
So are these potatoes, boy. So are these potatoes.
Roasted purple rosemary potatoes
When I was just a wee lass working at my job, there were a lot of times I had to pretend to be busy. Shaheen’s blog fit those work fart voids very well. She had those tiny graphics (I loved!) for each section and her potato recipes were something I dreaded looking through at work. *hunger*. I went back to her webspace after last week while looking for potato recipes and gosh, she’s living the dream isn’t she? Purplefoodie, you’re pretty great and that’s why I re-made this recipe of yours as is. I just eliminated the pink peppercorns and hence, I’ll list my own set of quantities. They are all very adjustable. Thank you Purple Foodie, as always, for your purple inspiration.
- 370 gm/about 4 small purple potatoes
- 2 tbsp rosemary
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon juice to squeeze over while serving
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, which in my kitchen takes 2 decades, by which time I’ve decided that I don’t ever want to wear red (or purple) lipstick. Prepare a baking sheet lined with foil and lightly greased with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil.
Boil the potatoes in salted water. Once they’re tender and you can pass a butter knife through them easily, take them off the stove and put them on the baking sheet. Mash them with a fork once or twice till they’re flat but still have their chunkiness in parts. Warm the garlic with the olive oil on the stove until it gets fragrant and then pour this over the potatoes. Sprinkle the rosemary over them next along with the sea salt and pepper.
Bake for 15 minutes and halfway through, turn over the potatoes. Continue baking until brown and crispy along the edges. Serve as a side with lemon juice squeeze all over the deliciousness. Okay then. Cook like a champ!
For Turkey and especially for my father, both of which/whom have a lot to do with my dreams.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the main streets of Istanbul were empty on Sunday mornings, and as we drove through neighbourhoods I’d never seen before, we’d listen to “light Western music” (the Beatles, Sylvie Vartan, Tom Jones and suchlike) and my father would tell me that the best thing a person could do was to live by his own lights, that money could never be the object, but if happiness depended on it, it could be a means to that end; or he would tell me how once when he left us and gone to Paris he had written poems in his hotel room, and had also translated Valery’s poems into Turkish, but years late while travelling in America, the suitcase in which he kept all his poems and translations had been stolen. As the music rose and fell in rhythm with the city streets, he would adjust his stories to the beat and I knew that everything he told me – of having seen Jean-Paul Satre many times in the streets of Paris during the 1950s or how the Pamuk Apartments in Nsantasi had come to be built, of the failure of one of his first businesses – I would never forget. From time to time he would pause to admire the view, or the beautiful women on the pavement, and while I listened to his offerings of gentle and understated wisdom and advice, I would gaze at the scenes of the leaden winter mornings as the flashed across the windshield. As I watched the cars crossing the Galata Bridge, the back neighbourhoods where a few wooden houses stood, the narrow streets, the crowds heading to a football match, or the thin funnelled tugboat pulling coal barges down the Bosphorus, I’d listen to my father’s wise voice telling me how important it was that people followed their own instincts and passions; that actually, life was very short and that, also, it was a good thing if a person knew what he wanted to do in life, that, in fact, a person who spent his life writing, drawing and painting could enjoy a deeper, richer life, and as I drank in his words, they would blend in with the things I was seeing. And before long, the music, the views rushing past the window, my father’s voice (“Shall we turn in here?” he’d ask) and the narrow cobblestone streets all merged into one, and it seemed to me that while we would never find answers to these fundamental questions, it was good for us to ask them anyway; that true happiness and meaning resided in places we would never find and perhaps did not wish to find, but – whether we were pursuing the answers or merely pleasure and emotional depth – the pursuit mattered no less than the attainment, the asking as important as the views we saw through the windows of the car, the house, the ferry. With time, life – like music, art and stories – would rise and fall, eventually to end, but even years later, those lives are with us still in the city views that flow before out eyes, like memories plucked from dreams.
– (a very large) Excerpt from Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk
Broccoli and paneer omelette
This Sunday, my main aim is to gross my husband out by showing him broccoli in an omelette. We’re told so much through American TV and its picky children that broccoli is “ewwwww” (another term we learn from the Americans in the TV). Mr Stretchy Pants embodies this spirit and I still don’t understand why (“the smell, the smell!!”). It tastes normal to me, which is why I went ahead and made this breakfast…TWICE.
Muwhahahahaha….*ahem*. Must have a sore throat or something.
I like coming up with omelette combinations and this is a definite winner.
You will need two eggs, a handful of broccoli florettes, green onions and some paneer, sesame seeds, chilli-garlic sauce, salt and pepper.
Beat the eggs into a bowl and then head for the broccoli. First, run cold water over it. Separate the broccoli head from the tougher part of the stem and then peel what’s remaining of it. This will tenderise the it and make it easy to cook. If you don’t want to use it at all, chop off the whole stem and save the broccoli florettes. Break them apart randomly. Roughly run a knife through the broken florettes until they are broken up into smaller sections (like in the picture). Put these pieces into the bowl with the beaten egg. The paneer part is easy. Just chop the block into small 1/2 inch cubes and put them into the bowl as well, along with the chopped green onions. At this point it’s going to look like there are more add-ons than eggs. To that I say, great work team!
Heat up a pan and coat it with oil. Let the oil heat up and then add the egg mix to it. Spread out the broccoli and paneer around the omellete-to-be and then put a lid on the pan. Let the bottom of the omelette cook for about 4 minutes. It should be well-cooked and golden brown on the underside. This makes it so much easier to flip-over without turning it into a scramble. Which brings us to the next step: Flip it over, very carefully. It’s going to be heavy. Let it cook for a minute more on the other side. Slowlyyy slide it onto your plate. Season with salt, pepper, sesame seeds and drops of chilli-garlic sauce.
Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s and father figures, in the stars and on Earth. And to my own, thank you for Sunday breakfasts, loving Bidli, my mother and your spawns.
The title of this post was going to be something so pretentious. I am so glad I cannot be such a fluffy pie snobby penguin sometimes. I would have no idea what to do with myself. One side of me would say things written by the Queen of England herself and then the other would jump out of a tree like Robin Hood and roll her eyes in sloooowwww-motion. Everybody would need to see this. The eye roll, I mean. It would be a spectacle. As for me, I’d contend with being somewhat of an enigma.
What I’m trying to say right now is also an enigma. Pretentious. YES. It’s all coming back to me now. Made you think of the Celine Dion song.
This past Sunday I made a grown-up decision to finally walk through a (here it comes) farmer’s market in Seattle. The walking through required prior bus-hopping and subsequent hill climbing. Such is this pretty city that was once full of shit. ATTENTION: THIS IS NOT A GRIPE. It was a good choice considering marital life partner numero 1 was going to be doing taxes and I was happy to stand back and give him breathing room. “Take as much room as you need marital life partner numero 1. I just need to go over here for jusssst a sec…BYE.”
Seattle has seven..count it…seven such markets and in the course of my wandering/walking/getting stranded this past year, I’ve slowly learnt what goes where. Cities are totally my thing. I love how you can never look lost because people mostly don’t give a crap. You can wear the strangest clothes, smell like a sewer, not comb your hair, forget your umbrella and before somebody realises how “unfit for consumption” you are, you’re just another face. Maybe they’ll go home and tell their cat about it or you’ll just fade away in another “let’s meet for Happy Hour”. Magical words.
I found the Broadway market through various connections I made in my head about where it could be. It was perfect! Lots of summer manifested itself into food from the earth, making me nod my head in approval. Something about a piece of land enveloped by concrete, with its inhabitants fawning over squash and strawberries on the streets makes me wonder why it’s not always this way. Let’s tear it all down and only take what we deserve. We could all be happy everyday of the week and not just on *insert odd day of the week and time I’m never going to remember here*. Food would be free. Nothing fancy. We would never have to say “farmer’s market” or memorise the schedule ever again!
That and I won’t have to feel like I’m being snooty pants. I’m really not. Local plants are just delicious.
Summer squash soup with parsley pesto
I have a recipe for vegetable stock on this blog but I didn’t use it in this recipe. Reason? Convenience mostly. What I did was put 1 onion, 1 tomato, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 potato and 3 stalks of rosemary along with salt and pepper in 3 cups of water. My take on a vegetable stock, if you want to call it that. I really wanted to make this soup and these were the ingredients that I had with me. Might as well, right?
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups summer squash, cut into cubes
- 1 cup wild onions, trim most of the green part. Just use about 1/2 and inch of it with the bulb. Red or white onions will work just as well.
- 1 cup potatoes, cubed. I used Yukon Gold
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley pesto to garnish (In the recipe from last Thursday)
- Olive oil
Dial your stove to medium heat and put a soup pot on it. To the pot, add some olive oil. You will need enough to saute the onions. Swirl the oil around and once it’s hot, add the onions and garlic to it. Cook till the onions are soft. Add the potato and squash and coat them well with the onions, stirring for just a minute. Next add the stock and bring it to a boil. Once it hits the boiling point, reduce the heat and let it simmer with the lid closed. Make sure it’s constantly simmering until the squash and potato turn soft. Once this happens, take off the heat and let it cool.
Bring out the food processor and in 2 batches, blend the squash till it turns into a smooth puree. You can also leave it slightly chunky if you prefer it that way. Once it’s all done, pour the soup back into the pot and heat it up to simmer. Taste for salt and add more or less or nothing accordingly. As soon as you notice the soup starting to bubble, take it off the stove. It’s ready.
Serve it up into a bowl and stir in some parsley pesto and croutons. Season with pepper and enjoy the summer in a bowl.
Thought for your Thursday:
If it’s not my party, can I still cry if I want to?
Also, why was she crying at her party? WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO HER?
I want to know, okay?
Quinoa with pesto and balsamic-roasted asparagus
Did you see what I did there? I made up a fancy name for this run-of-the-mill food thing and now you get to eat it. Cool, right? I wish I could write a fancy inspired story about where this came from but I can’t. All I know is that sometimes, you just gotta eat what you have and when we flew back from southern town, this is all we had. Well, minus the asparagus. That’s a different layer of the made-up-ed-ness.
Now set your oven to 350 degrees F and close them eyes.
For the pesto
- 25 gms parsley leaves (this is about err…1 1/2 cup, I think)
- 10 gms/2 large clove garlic, chopped roughly or not at all (you can use a little more if you want. I am the one that goes overboard. This is me restraining myself.)
- 90 gms almonds (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the roasted asparagus
- 20 asparagus spears (120 gms), with the tougher bottom 1/4 of it erased from the face of the earth. Sort of.
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 green onions
- Crack or two of fresh ground black pepper (what. a. snob)
For the quinoa
- 1 cup of the mixed bag of quinoa, rinsed and drained
- Sesame seeds and lemon
Assuming your oven is at 350 degrees right now, which mine is definitely not, place the almonds on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven for about 5-7 minutes. This should get em roasted and fragrant and a lot more snack-worthy than usual. This may or may not be a good thing while recipe-testing. If you don’t want to roast them almonds, don’t. Un-roasted almonds work fine too. I tried. I survived.
Once the almonds have worked on their tan, roughly chop them up. Your eardrums will thank you. Toss all the pesto ingredients and half of the olive oil into a food processor. This kitchen appliance thing is not my favouritest of parts but I do it for the fans. The whole two of them. Kitchen fairies, I call them. Turn on the food processor and give it a long whirl. While the stuff is spinning, pour in the remaining olive oil in a thin stream. Little by little, the pesto will start coming together. You might need a leeeeetle more olive oil to help this. Just remember, we’re not perfect. There’s no need to pretend.
Meanwhile, in another part of the world, scoop the quinoa into 2 cups of water or stock (your choice) and bring to a simmer on medium heat. As soon as it get to simmering, cover it and let it cook for about 15 minutes with the heat turned down slightly. It’s done when all the water is soaked up. Kind of like rice.
While the quinoa is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces and spread them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with balsamic vinegar, olive, oil and pepper and put it in the oven for 15 minutes. While the asparagus roasts, chop up the green onions finely. At the 10-minute roasting mark, pull out the asparagus tray and sprinkle the green onions on the top. Put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes and it’s done.
To assemble, mix the quinoa with pesto and top with asaparagus and sesame seeds. Squeeze lemon juice over and eat. Should serve 4. If it doesn’t, check your pockets.
Now ask me what’s for lunch.
Ask me what I did yesterday. Go ahead do it. I have a great answer.
What did you do yesterday, Edlyn?
I watched videos of dumpster diving. I then proceeded to imagine how I would carry away wasted (and perfect!) food in my bag. I don’t have a car or a bicycle so I would have to take the bus. I would like to do in the morning preferably even though it’s best to look around in the night. Less chance of being asked unecessary questions like “Why are you trespassing?” To which I’d reply, “I’m here to make a citizen’s arrest.” (I’ve watched TOO much Michael Moore.)
My friend (can I call you that?) Natalia is completely responsible for this. Everything she says makes me want to be friends with her and yes, she can drive a point straight to your heart. Apples and Anarchy, I like everything you say. You make me look at food as more than just food. You started me right at the beginning, from a tiny seed and mostly, you’re just very cool.
I also hadn’t heard of My New Roots until Natalia gushed about her. I looked her up and I agree, Sarah Britton is quite a classy lady. I also love that she lives in Denmark. With that, I’m allowing two Internet corners to collide (as they should) and dedicating this recipe to a friend (I’m calling you that) who perfectly described dumpster diving as “an edgier version of Christmas”.
(Though I feel it’s a lot closer to Easter that way…)
I followed this recipe I urge you to leave me enough nasty comments saying I should stop putting walnuts on everything. I didn’t even realise I did this until I looked at the picture. It must’ve been good though because I ate two whole servings.
Adapted from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots
- 210 gms baby bok choy, washed and sliced into strips
- 100 gms/20 small crimini mushroom, dirt brushed off and quartered
- 10 gms/3 cloves garlic, cut fine
- Peanut oil
- 1 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- Cooked brown rice noodles
- Sesame seeds and walnuts (yes), to garnish
Cook the brown rice noodles or any Asian noodles or grains of your choice and keep aside.
Cut and have all your ingredients ready since stir-fry recipes require you to move a bit faster that usual. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat and throw in the garlic. Stir it for about a minute of until it begins to brown slightly.
To this add the mushrooms, honey and half the soy sauce. Make sure the mushrooms are coated well and cook until the liquid ingredients have been soaked into the fungi (fungi being the mushrooms). Not all of the liquid will disappear but a lot of it will.
As soon as the mushrooms are ready, add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce and bok choy. Give it about 2-3 quick stirs. Immediately take the skillet off the stove and let the bok choy wilt, stirring as it gets there. About 3-4 minutes later, the bok choy will have gotten limp and that means, it’s done.
Which means you get to mix it with the noodles.
Which also means you get to garnish it with sesame seeds.
Yes, yes, I know!