This is my first gatherer posts so please oblige me as I take you on this tiny adventure….
(I wrote this three weeks ago. One can hope it’s still relevant.)
Earlier today morning on my walk I was trying to think about the one moment I could say was definitive of my 20s. With all of this nostalgia I’ve been feeling for a decade, nothing popped up right until now. Rather than “now” I mean last year. I was at the airport waiting to catch my flight back to Goa. I had just finished a memorable trip in Mumbai catching up with my friends and former work family and I was sitting in the departure lounge contemplating whether I should buy an overpriced stale samosa with watered down chutney. I felt…happy. Happy because for a brief moment in transit I could pretend I lived where my heart belongs and go home again. I was only a little meh about not getting to meet one of my work friends. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and after he moved abroad like me, there would be few chances where we would be in the same city at the same time. He was the favourite work child whom I loved to hate. Everyone we worked with read that as “domestic squabbles”, but in my mind it was more like a sibling rivalry. Maybe I was blind.
I dug out my foreign smart phone – which was dead for all phone-like purposes – to see if I could get it to connect to the airport wi-fi. I needed to have a local phone number which I had thanks to my mother’s extra phone and number she keeps around for when people like me visit. I entered my information into an electronic form and it sent me a code, which I then used to sign in and get my mind off samosas and onto WhatsApp. I sent him my first message that day using a usual “zinger” that we would send each other frequently over GChat. I typed something like “fail”, just like the good old days (but I didn’t mean it) and proceeded to tell him that he could have just been honest that he didn’t want to see me. Self-deprecation, my style. I went on to my next chat group to read the flood of messages that I hadn’t caught up on in a day or two. They were from my college friends’ group. My friend and his wife had twin girls. Nothing unusual except that the entire time they were pregnant he kept it a secret that it was going to be two babies. I said WHAT THE FUCK as quietly as one could in an airport. My fingers began to frantically type “CONGRATULATIONS” and “I could have come and seen you…why didn’t you tell me…now I’m at the airport on my way back to Goa”. As I was piecing together this surprise news I got a reply from my other friend. His mother had passed very suddenly. All of a sudden I was in the middle of a highway, traffic rushing by on either side of me. Good, bad, happy, sad, I retreated into my head and watched everything happen…being there but also being lost in a sea of emotion. Nobody around me knew the gravity of what was happening in these parallel universes except me and even I didn’t really know. All I knew is that for two people that day, everything changed.
Being 20-years-old was the start of adulthood for me. It was a time where I took big decisions on my own and saw overwhelming support from my family. I went on some of the best adventures of my life with some of my best friends, people I barely knew and my sisters. I got married(!) and a few months earlier, my grandma had died as a result of a mental illness and her medication. I got myself lots of anxiety, which I can manage most days but on others it’s the usual jaw-clenching, hair-pulling, nail-biting adventure. A lot of things I was when I was younger have started to get fine-tuned as I get older. I get excited when I am able to pinpoint how I’m still the same me even though I’ve flipped over the calendar. Life is complex. It’s bits and parts of the happy, sad overwhelming shit coming together and sweeping you over and under when you least expect it. It’s hard. It’s not going to be without a fight and on days when I can’t see beyond what I’m feeling in the present, I tell myself like the song grandma used to sing to keep our young attention, “que sera sera, whatever will be, will be”.
I prefer using homemade chicken or vegetable stock here because because because. I’m not fancy. I hoard ballooned bags of chicken stock in the freezer, that’s why. You can buy chicken stock parts at your meat vendor or grocery shop and it takes an onion, some garlic and herbs to make a stock. Same for vegetable stock; I save scraps and add it to water in a slow-cooking pot.
This is salt-as-you-go recipe. I add a little pinch each time I taste what I’m cooking. The final major salt balancing happens at the end.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 leeks, cut in half and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 3 cups)
- 1 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp garlic, grated
- 10 fingerling or baby potatoes, rinsed and cut into 1/8 inch rounds (about 2 cups)
- A large handful of kale, ribs removes and torn into smaller pieces
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (2 32oz cartons, if you’re using those)
- A bouquet garni* made up of 2 stalks of parsley, 1 stalk of thyme, 1 stalk of basil
- 1 cup cooked navy beans
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- Pecorino Romano, lemon wedges, bread and chopped parsley, to serve
*fancy word for bouquet of herbs. You can also add the herbs to a cheesecloth and tie up the pouch (like a tea bag). It’s easier to discard.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the leeks to it. Cook them down to a jammy state of being, about 7 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, potatoes, kale and turmeric and stir it all around for 2 minutes allowing the flavours to meld. About a tsp of salt here Pour in the chicken or vegetable stock and drop in the bouquet garni. Leave the soup pot a little over medium heat and let it come to a simmer. Leave it at that simmer for 25 minutes and then add the navy beans. Cook for 5 more minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bouquet of herbs. They have done their part for the soup.
Serve with plenty of Pecorino Romano, lemon wedges, parsley and bread.
I took a bunch – assuming that the collective noun for photographs is “bunch” – of photos for this post and then I spent another pot (I am winning at this grammar, right?) of time trying to make what I felt were the most *perfect* beetroot chips. Are they? Listen to this:
Not even close. So you know, I think it’s okay if the photos are true to the true nature of oven-almost-burnt-but-not-quite beet chips.
The last time or the time before I was here typing words into a blog post, I wrote about light. It’s this thing that takes up a lot of space on my phone’s memory. Every morning, I’ll try to walk through the house and open up all the blinds. Observing how the day looks out the window when I wake up is a ritual for me that has somehow become a comforting part of my morning. It’s just light but it’s moving and I can’t for the life of me seem to figure out why.
I’m going to say the word “spring” now and tell you that I’ve never enjoyed this season more now that I know I can grow things and not kill them. It’s true. It also happens to be the time when the light is at its most life-affirming (“I exist for a reason” “We are all stardust”….really). Most of my Instagram is just photos of be being SO EXCITED about all these light hours and especially so when it’s mellow and turns all the details on food into what can only be described as food seduction. Or leaf seduction…moss seduction? All of it.
I’m not sure who we have to thank for all this (wait for it) spring beauty. It’s there. I notice it and I just can’t help but feel giddy when it rains. None of what I do here is perfect. The real beauty is outside. It’s the only reason I can think of for spending the least possible amount of time EDITING PHOTOS (gahd) and eating more chips while looking outside at some silly dogs who find the best shady spots to watch the backyard and Matt’s lawn obsession come to life.
Beet chip toasts
Notes: When I make recipes like this, the goal is to be as easy on myself as possible by using what I have on hand. Actually, that’s how I always cook. Your biggest task in this recipe is roasting the beets to a crisp. So take your time doing it. Everything else can be prepped in advance. If you want to be an even smarter woman (or guy, hi!), buy some packaged vegetable chips and put everything else together in a snap. Another thing you could substitute: The bread for crackers.
For the balsamic reduction in this recipe, I simmered down 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp honey till it reduced by half. I have linked the recipe in the ingredients list. Make more if you’d like because it won’t go to waste. Think roasted strawberries over vanilla ice-cream and the honey balsamic on top.
- 1/2 kg or 1 lb beets
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 oz pack goat cheese, softened at room temperature
- Zest of 1/2 lemon, (LOL)
- Pinch of salt
- This recipe for honey balsamic reduction
- A loaf of crusty bread or a baguette, cut in slices and toasted (or crackers)
- Fresh thyme or your favourite fresh herbs, to garnish
Place two racks in the oven: One in the middle and one at the bottom. Heat the oven to a temperature of 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
Slice the beets to a thickness of 1/8 inches on a mandoline slicer and toss with the salt. Let them sit for 10 minutes and then drain them in a colander. Dab lightly with a paper towel and toss them to coat with olive oil.
Line the beet slices on the baking sheet (some overlap is okay) and place them in the middle rack of the oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Pull out the baking sheet and quickly flip the beet slices over. I recommend using tongs, or two forks. I just use my clean fingers because I live on the edge. Place the baking sheet back on the lower rack in the oven and cook for 7-10 minutes more. Keep and eye on the beets because they go from crisp to burnt very quickly. They are ready when they change colour from their usual deep purple to an almost pinkish-orangeish colour (see photos). Let them cool for them to crisp up. Store in an air-tight container if not using immediately. You may have to do this in batches depending on how big your baking sheet is.
Mix the goat cheese, lemon zest and salt in a small bowl and set aside. If making a day ahead, let it soften at room temperature before using.
Make the balsamic reduction according to the recipe instructions in the ingredients list.
Spread the goat cheese on the toasted bread and cover with beet chips. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and top with fresh thyme and pepper.
I remember chancing upon Lindsey’s blog very clearly. It was wayyyyyy back when I had first started blogging about food (before that it was so much silly; please go look) and sometime prior to that, she was gifted her new blog on WordPress by her them fiance and now husband. I kept going back to her “about” page each time I wanted to comment on her posts (or reply to ones on mine), to double check if she was Lindsey with an “a” or an “e”. I remember a post about basil oil and almond flour (right?) Irish soda bread and generally being so charmed by her style even though it was visually different from the Dolly and Oatmeal you see today. I commented on her work and she wrote back. She had the exact same voice then and it’s one that has only gotten clearer with time. Those early days – what seems like not very long ago – laid the foundation for this work of artistic and technical beauty that lies in the pages of her new and first book “Chickpea Flour Does it All”.
I’ve always wanted to write a book. One of my cousins always says “You want to write a book? You should write a book.” It sounds so simple but it takes that kind of work you know will make you want to do a million other things except WRITE THAT BOOK. In the same vein, I know it’s something that’s worth putting everything aside to work towards and I’m so proud that she has come this far and was able to make all the sacrifices that have led to her making something that’s going to be treasured for years to come.
It’s amazing. I’m not just saying this because she sent me a copy. PS: First cookbook I’ve EVER received from the author with a note inside. I’m saying it because I know she has always and will always truly take the time to craft recipes you will enjoy making on the daily at home. This one is all about chickpea flour/what us Indians called besan or gram flour. A pantry staple in India, this flour is used in all my favourite savoury and sweet dishes. However, I’ve never ever seen it used in American/inspired food which is where this book makes a grand entrance. Divided into the four seasons, Lindsey has taken chickpea flour and used it in recipes she has grown up with or cooked in her own kitchen to cater to her current dietary needs. So there are waffles, LAYER CAKES, pizza, salads, bowls of hearty deliciousness, vegetarian sandwiches, pasta – all using the versatile and bomb.com – chickpea flour. All the recipes are gluten-free and vegetarian or vegan and from the ones I’ve made already, I guarantee they are 100% delicious. I can’t wait for more MORE summer days so I can eat that cherry Dutch baby outside. If you have the book already, make this a priority come cherry season (SO SOON). If you don’t, this is your cue to go treat yo’self. It’s the day after hump day. It will get you through the week.
Congratulations, Lindsey. This is SO COOL.
I chose this recipe because in the early Dolly and Oatmeal days, I wrote in the comment section of her WordPress blog that I would make her then Irish soda bread. I never did.
Until now 🙂
I enjoy playing with colours a lot and I don’t stop even when I’m in the kitchen. I used pink peppercorns and Himalayan pink salt in this recipe because I love how they look (SOO MUCH). If you don’t have access to these ingredients, just use any flaky salt and crushed black pepper. It will taste just as good, I promise.
For the strawberry-basil butter
- 1/2 lb (8 oz) strawberries, tops removed and cut into halves
- 1 tbsp cane sugar
- 22g gms (8 oz) /2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 1 tbsp lightly crushed pink peppercorns + more to top the bread
- Crushed Himalayan pink salt, to top
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the strawberries with sugar and place them in a baking dish. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let the strawberries cool completely.
Put the cooled strawberries, butter, milk, basil and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and have a creamy consistency.
Using a rubber spatula, scoop out the butter and pat it down length-wise on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll the sheet of parchment paper so that the butter resembles a tube and place the roll into the fridge to set. Bring to room temperature before serving.
This can be made a day or two ahead. Keep refrigerated and use it within 2 weeks. (This butter has been in my fridge for 2 weeks now and still tastes like it did when I made it.)
For the Irish soda bread
Recipe from Chickpea Flour Does it All by Lindsey Love
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 120 gms (1 cup) chickpea flour
- 114 gms (1 cup) oat flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 1 tsp psyllium husk powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed caraway seeds
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup dried currants (I omitted these because I didn’t have any)
- Oil, for your hands
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk and vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes until the top is bubbly.
While the mixture is sitting, whisk together the flours, sugar, psyllium husk powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and caraway seeds. When the milk and vinegar mixture is ready, add the egg, whisking until combines. Using a rubber spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold the ingredients together. Then fold in the currants. Lightly oil your hands and gather the dough into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and flatten into a disk, about 1 inch thick.
Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through for even baking. Bake until golden.
Let the bread cool completely before slicing. Bread can be stored at room temperature, covered with parchment paper. It will continue to dry out each day it’s left out and should last about 3 days.
Spread the strawberry butter on top of the bread and top with pink pepper and pink salt. OMG. WHO AM I?!
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.