Tagged: autumn

Pea, Corn and Shiso Soup

A peak season ingredient such as a tomato is a thing of beauty, exquisite to behold and taste. To be sure, it doesn’t hold a candle to the highly travelled shadows of their former selves that you can find in the dead of winter. That, however, matters less if you were going to add it to other ingredients, or make a sauce or a soup. With perhaps a little spice, or some well-placed sauces, even the most out-of-season ingredients become delicious elements of an ensemble dish, creating a sum of parts far more enjoyable than individual ingredients. Either on merit of pure addition, or on how it is cooked, an ingredient can go far in adding flavour to a dish of ingredients.

Indian cooks know this to be true better than most, as can be seen by the many Indian recipes that ask for a combination of ingredients. Can one reduce that list of ingredients and still make a tasty dish? Of course, but when it comes to the traditional ones, it is the combination of those exact ingredients that makes a dish taste the way you remember it. Anything else could leave you yearning for what is in your memory.

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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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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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Pumpkin & Brinjal (Eggplant) Stew

It started out so well. The city enjoyed a bright and sunny weekend. Blue skies; gorgeous golden light. Away from home, the SF Giants swept the World series last evening.

Then came the night. It all went to hell pretty quickly.

Reports started to emerge of “Celebration rioting” across various neighbourhoods in the city. People tweeting about fires and getting hit in the face with beer cans. Rabid fans trashing cars and dumpsters and public transport. People aggressively searching for fights in the street, looking to trash anyone who didn’t look as jazzed about the win as they were.

I come from a country where rioting expresses public outrage. The frustrations of living in a country with many races, vast economic differences smoulder just beneath the surface. It takes but one unhappy spark to ignite the tinderbox. Riots occur as an outlet, when the common man is past endurance, out of fear and unhappiness. They stem from anger and long-seeded frustrations. When one is unhappy, one lashes out at anything for any reason. You want the world to feel your pain.

Why would anyone riot as an act of celebration? Wouldn’t happiness want to spread with acts of kindness and generosity? Why should happiness be so destructive? I can find no explanation.

The next morning dawned cold and grey. Gone was the sunshine of the weekend. The city seemed moody, as if confused by the conflict. The news of the East Coast hunkering down for one of the biggest storms possible did nothing to alleviate the nameless fears that had held me captive in my nightmares the previous night. As the day wore on, the storm began wrecking havoc along the coast. I prayed for friends and family on there, wishing them cover and warmth. I looked to Twitter for updates, hoping all was well. That was a mistake.

As great as social networks are, misinformation abounds. At times like this, for someone who is already terrified and powerless to help, too much information just feeds the fear. Then there are those clueless or callous few who just don’t know when to keep away from social networks. And there are others who are just waiting to heap scathing vitriol on such pitiable fools. Retweet after retweet, cursing each other out.

Few take the high road anymore. Few focus their abundant energies mainly on prayer and faith that those they care about will pull through. Precious few are concerned about curbing their negativity instead of putting it out there in the world in a time of crisis. In the real world, people were irritated and tense today. It is like the fog has taken a grip on our collective psyche.

My mind, it had had enough. I left work when the day was done and took a few long, deep calming breaths. I focused my thoughts on the few good interactions of the day, on good advice from a trusted colleague, on smiling compliments from another, forcing myself to forget all other unworthy exchanges. As I stepped off the bus and walked home, the mist hung low and clung to me like a cloak, threatening to wrap the dread around me once more.

Then I heard it. A joyous sound. The uninhibited laughter of a gaggle of children.

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