Tagged: vegetarian

Chocolate Brandy Truffles & Smitten Kitchen’s Homemade Marshmallows

In the new movie Valentine’s Day, there is a scene toward the end between Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher, who play long-time best friends in the movie. It is one to which Amey and I can relate. Being married to your best friend means there is almost nothing that you cannot discuss with your other half, whether it be the dissection of a ‘moment’ or an irrational obsession with all things marshmallow.

It’s pre-Valentine’s day and a gorgeous, sunny February day in NorCal. I should be outside, revelling in the light and soaking up the sunshine. Instead I’m sitting here, glued to my computer and feverishly tapping away on the keyboard. Why? Because the marshmallow made me do it. It was aided and abetted by the chocolate.

That is how intensely good these homemade marshmallows are. If you are a sucker for these soft white melting pillows, and I am, you will be riotously giddy about how easy this recipe is and how entertaining they are to make. I haven’t had this much serious fun cooking since I made plasticine pies when I was five. There is the same sort of creative discovery and satisfaction to be found here. An intensely childlike glee takes root in you as you watch the alpine white fluff come together around a whirring whisk, which is weaving meandering furrows through it.

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Annie Somerville’s New Mexican Border Stew

There is grating sanctimony in the general intent that you must eat something because it is good for you. Taking this quite rigourously to heart, well-meaning yet hapless parents have urged scores of chilidren over millenia to tuck into things that they have no natural affinity for. Unfortunately, the things children do make a beeline for, like sugar and chips, are quite bad for them. This makes for the eternal tussle between harried parents and their stubborn progeny who firmly refuse to open their mouths when they see suspicious and unknown things on their plate. Most children must feel that there is an inescapable, unseen plot to ensure their gastronomical suffering. As a child, I know I often did.

Eating a thing just because it is good for you makes little sense to me, though it is a sentiment with which I’ve made peace with some difficulty. I’ve been taken in by needing to eat purely for health, forcing myself at one point to try to eat fish. It was an experiment that ended in disaster, as it was doomed to from the start. We refuse to eat lots of things as children, sometimes growing to like them as adults. Yet grown-up children all around tell me that they do not like something because they were force-fed it as children. I suspect this is only half true, as I had to admit after my tryst with “chicken of the sea”. The moment you step out into the world on your own, you take the reins of your life into your own hands. This includes what you will or won’t eat, and honestly, how long are you going to blame your palate on the actions of a well-intentioned parent?

‘Calvin & Hobbes’ comic strip by Bill Watterson

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Nigel Slater’s White Chocolate Cardamom Mousse

I have hopes for getting a few things done this year. There are aspirations to be travelling more, cooking more, writing more, learning more. I aim to get my architectural license before the year is through. I aspire to meet up with my friends more and call my mom more often. Well, I’ll have to watch that last one carefully. She might begin to suspect I’m terminally ill if I don’t ease her into it. Don’t want to ping her sonar for no reason. Nothing good has ever come of that.


Time has soared by quickly. We are already at the end of January.  The cold winter means no long walks on the beach, my primary place for random thought. Without them, thoughts have no focus or room. They crowd into my head and push everything else out. Amey has caught me staring into space more often than usual this month. Only two things have really kept my attention. Architecture and cooking.

Taken together, they aren’t quite all that diverse. Here’s how the charge sheet would look if you tried to compare.
☕ Both respond to basic human needs, cooking is to food what architecture is to shelter.
☕ Both aspire to do so much more than just fulfilling a need.
☕ Architecture is both an art and a science. So is cooking.
☕ Either one of them revels in experimentation, often with fantastic results.
☕ Both have a long history and have evolved in response to period and place (Up to a point in time. Both have felt the effects of globalization.)
☕ Never were there two art forms that, as a whole, focus on the person who creates them as much as on those for whom they are created.
☕ A good example of either will satisfy you to your very soul. You may not recognize it immediately but your day will be so much the better for it.

My friend once mentioned that he has never seen a more contented lot than architects. Before all the unhappy ones out there rush to argue this, allow me to explain what he meant. Architecture pales in comparison to the initial monetary compensation of investment bankers, or those in technological fields (the aforementioned friend’s profession). This results in tons of frustration for some, and those who are conflicted about this, leave. This is not a profession you stay in lightly. It is your life.
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James Beard’s Garlic Soup

The new year has brought with it a need for cleaning. And organizing. A lot of organizing, coupled with the putting away of childish things. Well, not quite all things re-eally. That PS2 is going nowhere until it gets replaced with a PS3 someday. (Where else can you learn about Greek Mythology and hack Medusa to bits at the same time?). The problem with having a multitude of interests is that they have a way of taking over precious space and multiplying. Books seem to settle down onto available surfaces and proceed to invite their friends and relatives over to join them, then begin masquerading as surfaces themselves. Magazines try to outmatch them by throwing raucous parties that have them flopping all over everything. Guitars and cameras start showing signs of aspiring to world domination, upon the imminent conquest of our home. Then there is our music collection. We find there was a downside to being able to carry 10,000 songs in your pocket. You end up having 10,000 songs in your pocket. Finding anything in there takes a while. A possible upside? If you want your cooking of soup to be accompanied by a (fairly unhealthy to some) dose of Nirvana, you can easily do so without looking for CDs under those towering stacks of books.

Soup seems to be the obvious choice to counteract the excesses of the holiday season. The weekend that saw some fog-ridden grey days appeared to corroborate this. On the Ipod, Cobain rambled on about the friends he found in his head. Meanwhile, I moved some websites around on my screen and toppled some book towers over before I chanced upon a quaint recipe for garlic soup, requiring very little effort on my part and just as few ingredients. Entirely too prim a soup for Nirvana, but sometimes the most unlikely things work in pairing.
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Orange-Chocolate Pot au Creme

2009 is limping towards its ineluctable exit and very few people, I’m guessing, are going to be sorry to see it go. As years go in the psyche of the human collective, this one has been rather truculent and petty. To put it plainly, it mostly blew for most people. But you know what? While it wasn’t the best, there were parts of it I liked. Like the fact that this country swore in its first African-American president, the same year that I get to be a permanent resident of it. The part where I took six architectural exams in six months was pretty cool, especially when I passed all of them. The fact that all of my  result letters have a stamp on a top corner that says “Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor” is spectacular. (I get my results from the Terminator y’all! Affirmative.)  Then there’s the part where Amey and I actually managed to stay on and benefit from a fitness regimen with results. That last bit while I did my favourite new thing this year, cooking all kinds of new stuff and starting this blog.

My little piece of the virtual world has been a fabulous place to be in. I’ve gotten to combine my love of writing with my love of cooking and experimentation. I’ve been able to enjoy new things and tackle some of the tougher ones and live to talk about it. It hasn’t been easy but the work has been its own reward. When I began, I thought that’s all it would be. But what’s been amazing is that I met some great new people and reconnected with some wonderful old friends. Combine this with the talented people I interact with on a daily basis in the real world, I’d say that I’m surrounded online and offline with some fabulous, fantastic people. Quite frankly, I can think of few things that are as exciting as doing something you love around people you like. I get to do this and share it with you. The readership to this blog has grown exponentially since I started in early 2009. For all the support and camaraderie, I am thankful to you, dear readers. At the close of the year, this calls for a celebration of some sort. With sweets for all. I wish there was a way I could send you real cake virtually. But they haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet. Also, I find myself without flour and sugar. Essential components to cake. Never fear though, in my home there are always options. I think you’ll find this one very welcome.

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