Category: Vegetables

Vegetables as star ingredient

Mushrooms with Parsley and Garlic

It was back to work after a five-day break over Thanksgiving. Time off like that can really mess with your everyday routine. I found it hard to galvanize into any kind of action this morning. Of course, the fact that I ended yesterday with a raging attack of sinusitis didn’t help. I woke up this morning wanting to shy completely away from any sort of light. The fact that most of my job keeps me in front of a computer screen made most of today agonizing.

With the aid of alternating applications of soothing cups of hot herbal tea and medication, I managed to make it through a good part of the day. Then I had to get home, draw the curtains and tumble into bed. When I woke up, the light had already faded and the impending threat of an exploding head had receded slightly into the background. My stomach reminded me that I had missed lunch. I was ravenous, but disinclined to set foot in the kitchen. Luckily, that was when Amey got home.

The long but fairly busy weekend kept us from doing some critical grocery shopping, so all we had little in the fridge, aside from some mushrooms and a bunch of curly leaf parsley. It is days like this when I am very thankful for my obsession with spices and flavoured salts. They are more than worth their weight in gold.

With just those ingredients, Amey put together a dinner that we often have on other rushed or lean supply nights. It involved roughly chopping the aforementioned mushrooms, then massacring the whole bunch of parsley. He then minced a few cloves of garlic and was ready to cook.

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Broccoli romanesco & Broccoli stir-fry

This year was the first time we enrolled for a CSA box every two weeks. Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to get a selection of fresh, local produce straight from the farm. The consumer has the benefit of saving some grocery shopping time yet getting as-fresh-as-can-be produce from the source. The money you pay upfront helps the farmer have a buyer before having things to sell, money he can put straight into his farm, enabling him to get the best out of his land.

Since we began living in California and learned of the concept, we have been fully supportive of it and all it stood for, at least in theory. We didn’t think it would work for us and our two person household. A CSA box holds a plethora of wonderful and exciting things, most of which are fresh and/or ripe. That also means that not everything in the box will hold up for too long. With our erratic work schedules, we were certain that we couldn’t get through a box before we started to lose them to spoilage. We were safer heading out to the Farmer’s Market when we needed to shop, so we thought. Also, there are great Asian markets in the city that have beautiful, fresh produce at very reasonable prices. Having lived close to Chinatown in the past, and with Clement Street fairly accessible now, we figured we had the voracious need for vegetables in this household covered.

One of our favourite farm stands at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is Eatwell Farm. It’s one that has been part of the market for a long time and is one we assiduously seek out when we visit. Aside from some amazing produce, they also have great products like flavoured oils, sugars & salts for sale (including the world’s best smoked chilli salt that I’ve been infatuated with since its introduction). No visit to the Farmer’s Market is complete for us without stopping by to see what Eatwell has on offer.
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Lotus Stem (nadroo) chips

Bombay is a vibrant, exciting city but I’m certain that even its most ardent supporters would agree that it isn’t the prettiest one out there. Yet, it had these particular settings, these spots which were serene and sublime. Most of these were by the sea – Worli Seaface, or Marine Drive. One of my favourites was the view from the Mahalaxmi temple. Situated on top of a cliff, the view of the Arabian sea behind the temple is a beautiful one.

One of the other things I loved about that temple was that it was the only one at the time that offered lotus flowers for worship. These lovely pastel-hued blossoms are some of the most graceful flowers there are. I thought of them as a thing of beauty. It was when I got invited to dinner one time at Amey’s house that I learnt that the lotus plant is also delicious.

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Stir-fried bhindi (okra) & potato

Up to about the age of six, I was a super picky eater. I’ve chronicled my hatred of fish before but that was just the tip of the food-berg. As far as I was concerned there was an embargo on radish, squash, pumpkin, any kind of gourd, string beans, even okra. Even back then, my little mind could not fathom my distaste for okra. I thought it was the cutest vegetable ever (in India we call them lady’s fingers how cute is that?). I loved the flavour of the vegetable my mother made. I mean it had potatoes. I’ll eat pretty much anything with potatoes. And yet, I couldn’t stand to eat it. I’d separate out the potatoes from the okra. My younger sister was easily distracted and excelled at slipping the pieces of okra into her plate when she wasn’t looking.

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Roasted Broccoli & Fennel with spices

Do you find yourself talking back to your television? Amey does when he’s yelling at sports team for fouling a pitch or making an awesome catch. (Two different games. He’s all over the map with sports love.) I used to find it cute in a you’re-so-dorky-and-I-love-you-but-you-will-never-see-me-do-that kind of way. I would laugh and then carry on with the reading a book, Twitter feed, whatever was at hand. (He watches sports. I sit next to him and pretend to care because I love him. That’s our deal. Also, the rocking chair in the living room is the comfy-est seat in the house.)

They say couples take on each others personalities eventually. This was brought home to me in stark reality when I found myself doing exactly what he does. I was watching this cooking show on TV. The chef/host made a meatloaf and gravy with lavish attention, then added a vegetable side. It all looked real pretty when it landed in that platter. But the veggies? They had just been boiled in salted water and were then given the mandatory grinding of black pepper when they were served up. I found myself jumping up out of that rocking chair and yelling, “What the heck is up with that?!”

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