Scrambled Paneer with peas, potatoes and mushrooms

Some things are created out of necessity.

I set out to make some form of an egg dish today. Some scrambled eggs with toast would make a nice, light dinner. But then I figured I’d make something more substantial that would also make a good lunch tomorrow. That’s when I thought of egg bhurji, a wonderful masala scrambled egg that is a great way to stretch what eggs you may have.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out the way I wanted.

I started out chopping onions, musing on the fact that most Indian recipes seem to start there. Then I looked for a couple of tomatoes to chop in, but then remembered that I had used the last of them up on Sunday. No matter, I told myself, tomatoes aren’t a requirement, so get on with it. I imagined Tim Gunn in my kitchen telling me to “Make it work”. Sure I could do this. There was nothing to it.

I made short work of the mandatory potatoes for this dish. Mandatory for me, that is. I like the one-skillet egg and potato combination. I proceeded to pull out the carton of eggs from the fridge and found it to be much lighter than I’d hoped. Opening it up, I found it to be as empty as Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare. My absent-minded husband had struck again, using up the eggs and sticking the empty box in the refrigerator.

Since I already had the onion base in the pan, I checked for alternatives. I located a block of paneer, some leftover mushrooms, frozen peas and not much else. Since by this point I had my heart set on the one thing I couldn’t have, the eggs, I decided to make the dish I wanted but with paneer instead, turning back to my pantry for help.


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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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Caramelized Brown Rice (Vagharela Chawal)

It puzzled me to no end.

My best friend was a good student, good athlete, loved the arts, and was crazy about Neil Patrick Harris in Doogie Howser M.D. In short, she was a completely normal young teenage girl. But the way she ate her lunch was far from ordinary.

My sister and I lived close enough to school to go home at lunch-time. Most days mom would have a hot meal ready for us. There were some days though, when she was going to be out, she would let us take a packed lunch to school. I looked forward to those rare days because it meant I could spend more time with my friends. It also meant we could share lunches if we wanted to.

Some days I’d sit with a friend whose grandma brought her lunch to school for her everyday. I marvelled at the energy of that wonderful lady who was one of the spriest grannies I knew. (God bless her soul) She brought a hot lunch for both her grand-daughters and made me adore her even more when she let me share their little fried papads.

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Outside

Sometimes the best laid plans are led astray. I meant to write a recipe post today. But as I’ve mentioned before, these past few days have been spectacular in terms of weather. There were any number of reasons to go out, visiting friends, running errands, but most importantly, it was just an entirely too beautiful day for us to spend indoors.

So step out we did, first stopping to check the backyard garden on the way. Last week’s ample rain had allowed us to neglect it a bit. Looks like most of the plants are doing just fine without our help.

There are brand new lavender blooms that had us puzzled. The unseasonably warm weather must be confusing the plants too.

The lavender had amethyst rose blooms to compete with. Look at this beauty. So gorgeous!
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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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