May 19, 2006

Good GOD, how old is this jar?

Thank you for the nice thoughts yesterday. I am feeling a little better. The nice part about this stage of my life is that I have absolutely no Outside Influences to blame when I am Battling the Blues. My parents? Nope, getting along with them now. An Asshole? Nope, have a great guy now. Crappy job? Nope, I LOVE my job now. Uterus withering away? Nope, already utilized it. In short, I had to look the Blues in the eye and take action. So far, it seems to be helping. I am making an effort to exercise, to get out of the house into nature, and to do more “little” things for myself - like taking the time to knit a little more and read a little more. However, I do need to find a creative outlet. Unfortunately, since I quit doing Raku, I haven’t found something to take its place. Knitting is simply NOT a creative process for me - it is what I like to call “productive meditation”, but I am not actually CREATING something. I don’t have the mindset to ever make up my own patterns from scratch, so I do need to find something that is creatively fulfilling like Raku was for me. I have a box of oil pastels, so perhaps I should be digging those out.......

Last night was our first pick-up from the Fair Share Farm - there is a tiny farmer’s market at 39th and Genessee. This was our Partial Share of this week's take:
Our Fair Share of Fair Share
1 bunch of leeks
1 bunch of Apple Mint
1 bunch of Green Onions
1 head of Butter Lettuce
1 bag o’ spinach

Pretty cool! And I have NO freakin’ clue what I will do with it. Have I mentioned that I am fucking clueless when it comes to American cooking?? So, I see some spinach pachadi, mint chutney, and a nice butter lettuce salad in our future, but I am not sure what to do with leeks except make a soup. So, um, this is a spot where if you happen to have a good recipe for leek soup (say, your grandma’s uber-secret blue ribbon recipe) - feel free to pass it along my way. Anyway, for the 1st week, I am pretty happy with our haul. The bonus of this is that in addition to the Fair Share stall, I checked out the other stalls and picked up some pesticide-free strawberries, banana bread, wheat bread, and jam. The strawberries were a particular treat because I rarely buy them in the supermarket. Did you know that strawberries are the WORST for you regarding pesticides? It is virtually impossible to clean them properly. So, as a rule, I avoid them. Even though I LOVE strawberries and grew up with a patch in which I had free rein....sniff .........Anyway, as a bonus, the entire farmer’s market is in the parking lot of the Crave Cafe which has GREAT espresso. Did you see how I capitalized "great"? Like, I did that for emphasis. Because, that was one killer cup o' joe. It had a very satisfying smoky finish. YUM. Sorry, still thinking about it.....Where was I?........After the farmer’s market, I continued onto Urban Arts and Crafts in the Rivermarket for the Wednesday night knitter’s group I attend. Last night's activities will be a trend for most of my Wednesdays throughout the summer and frankly, it couldn't have come at a better time for me.

A few months back, I had several of X’s business associate’s over for Indian food. One of the wives wanted to learn how to make a few dishes after having attempted to do so on her own with not so positive results. So, tonight, she came over and we made some basic dishes such as chicken masala, chole and dhal. I wanted to teach her a few dishes that she would actually cook again, on her own, and I think I succeeded. I gave her a "tour" of my spice cabinets and at one point, she said "how old is this jar?" when she noticed the label on the lid. Honestly? I remember the apartment, so it was 1992. You see, my #1 cooking tip is to take old GLASS jars, clean them well and keep your spices in them. Never, EVER keep spices in a PLASTIC jar - they will go lose their flavor or even worse, simply go bad. So, yes, I have been keeping my garam masala in the same jar since 1992 - although, obviously, I replenish the spice itself. Anyway, it was a very nice evening. We started cooking around 4:30 and the "guys" came home around 6:30 to eat. It was beautiful evening so we ate on the deck while Arun faked his version of crawling - enough to get him off the blanket at least. Very nice. Very relaxing.

The great thing about having company over is that it necessitates cleaning the house. Which isn’t a bad thing because I suspect having a clean house will make me feel better, too. When my life becomes disorganized, it gets me down.

I feel I am on an upswing and I hope it continues.


Rozanne said...

I just made a goat cheese and leek quiche and it was darn tasty. And super simple.

Mix 1/2 cup half and half with 2 oz of goat cheese. Beat two eggs and mix that in too. Add salt and herbs such as thyme or chives if you wish. Set aside (briefly).

Slice up three leeks (including a little of the green part) and saute them for five minutes in a little butter. Remove from heat and toss with a tablespoon of flour.

Put the leeks in a pie shell (store bought or homemade), pour in egg/goat cheese mixture and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

Also, I fried up some pancetta and added that when I added the leeks, so you could do that if you like a little meat in your quiche.

It was very tasty and insanely easy.

Min-tea said...

It sounds like you had fun. I wish I knew how to cook wonderful Indian dishes. The only one that I could do passably well is curry but even that, it's th local version of the dish.

alimomof2 said...

OMG, I did not know strawberries held pesticides so well. My kids eat them all the time. Thanks for the info (on the spice jars too). See? Reading blogs is educational!

I know what you mean about the house. I hosted book club last night, and this morning I woke up to a very clean and beautiful house. Put me in an instant good mood.

Glad to hear you are feeling better. Exercise is my mood elevation drug of choice (although PLEASE do not put me in the same class as Tom Cruise!).

P.S. Can I sign up for your cooking class?

Anna said...

Any chance you could post some of your Indian recipes? I make some basic Bengali recipes, as learned from my father-in-law, but anything else I've tried comes out tasting like what my huband calls "white people cooking".

Cagey said...

That quiche sounds GREAT - will have to run that by X. He's picky when it comes to non-Indian stuff.

Min-Tea and Anna,
I really recommend both of Maya Kaimal's books (they can be found on Amazon). She does an excellent job of sorting out the ingredients so it's not confusing. Her father is from Kerala, so she is a demi-desi like my son will be - which probably explains why I am partial to her. :-) I am trying not to post too much of her stuff because I wonder about the copyrights, but I DO have some "home" recipes I have collected over the years from friends and their mothers that I can post.

I live for my book clubs - I am in two and those were held in high priority when I had to whack away at my hobbies after having Arun. This morning WAS nice, waking up to a clean house. Yes, I am sad to report that strawberries are very hard to clean of pesticides. Also, the locally-grown ones you get at the farmer's market are allowed to ripen naturally which makes a boatload of difference. Did you know that most store strawberries are picked just before they are ripened, then are exposed to gas in the trucks during shipment so that they arrive at the store ready to go? I can report that the naturally ripened strawberries melt in your mouth. In fact, am I here typing away when I could be eating some RIGHT NOW.

Also, one more "produce" tip - many local farmers don't designate their stuff "organic" because it is becoming very political and expensive to get that official designation. However, you can ask the farmer about their growing techniques and if they use pesticides or not.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Ummm, pachadi.

I'm happy you're feeling better Cagey. Exercise is the one that always starts getting my happy chemicals flowing too.

What on earth is apple mint? Hey, you know what my mom does? She dries some of her mint cache in the sun in the backyard, then when it's completely dry she makes it into a powder (just crumbles the leaves) and uses it as her base for north indian raita for the rest of the year.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

That's YUM, not me questioning your pachadi.

Anna said...

Thanks for the cookbook recommendations, it looks like I can get those on some Canadian websites as well, though they don't list them as being in stock in my local bookstores. Typical!

FYI, I grew up in a farming community, on an organic farm back in the days before they had organic certification. You would not believe the cancer rate among orchard and strawberry growers...

Have a great weekend!

DeAnn said...

I have been amid the blues lately, too. And I also chose to get out and exercise AND enjoy nature. Great minds, huh?!

Modern Day Hermit said...

It is so funny that you mention that you have a hard time with American food, but can cook up an Indian meal...I didn't learn to cook American food until I met my fiance Richard.

Sometimes I think my ex-husband (from India) married me BECAUSE I cooked such good Indian food and the entire 7 years we were together all I cooked was Indian, Southeast Asian, Lebanese, Italian...ok, anything but your standard American grub (except Thanksgiving).

But, my American food does rock now, due to my previous culinary adventures.

I just think it is funny that I've never made a roast, but I can throw down on some Punjabi delights like kala channa and make parathas like my ex's dear Mama on Sunday mornings - but putting together an American meal would be a labor intense task.

Now I'm hungary for Indian food, North, South, East or West - anything!