Monday, January 30, 2012

Rice pudding

Last night, frustrated with my limited kitchen space and the many containers of rice hanging out with nothing to do, I cooked a batch of rice pudding. I found it so appealing to make something delicious, portable (take it to work! eat it warm or cold!), high in protein and fibre AND cupboard-space-freeing that I have resolved to cook more batches in the weeks ahead.

I found a recipe on the Canadian Living web site and used the modification that replaces milk with a combination of coconut milk and cow’s milk. It didn’t require much sugar at all – just a scant 2 tbsp – but there is sweetness galore, probably from the golden raisins which swelled into fat golden grublets, haha.

My sole deviation from CL’s tried and true path (those cooks perform a massive amount of testing in their kitchen labs) was to replace white rice with a rice mix I bought at TNT – a risky move, given that it’s a diverse combo of grains, including short and long lengths and lentils and oats, all needing their own cooking times and liquid ratios. But hey, I’m comfortable with risk when cooking only for myself.

It worked out pretty well, all things considered. Most of the grains are well cooked while a few retain a bit of resistance to the teeth. Yes, it’s al dente rice pudding!

For variety I think I’ll use just one type of rice next time, probably brown, and regular milk. I found a recipe for a rice pudding that is baked in the oven instead of cooked on the stovetop, and another that calls for dried apricot pieces. I will probably make a vanilla short-grain-white-rice-with-cow’s-milk just to see what all the fuss is about (jasmine would probably work well). I have a lot of rice; I should have enough time and rice resources to perfect a tasty and healthy recipe by the time spring rolls around and I can leave my cramped kitchen for the wilderness outdoors.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If it's not Scottish....

"If you're looking for haggis," the chef of the vegetarian restaurant snapped, "you can find it out there." She pointed behind us, towards the door.

Ha ha.

She didn't realize it was Robbie Burns Day. And that my irreverent request had been a holiday-appropriate joke.

I wasn't looking to smell, let alone munch on any food containing sheep's stomach.

That's when she told me about vegetarian haggis. Now, I can find the thrill in tofu-flavoured meats as much as the next veghead. Duck and shrimp and sometimes even beef can be fun to compare to the original.

Which is why it'd be pointless to try the veggie haggis.

 Somehow I don't feel an emptiness from closing that door.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spicy dahl

Eaket's dahl with pakoras and tamarind sauce.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Diner tale

The diner was pretty full, and in the thirty minutes since placing their order, their stained china mugs had been refilled twice and they'd managed to divide most of the big household items. Shan had brought a list, and they'd discussed the list items reasonably. The maple dining room set would go to Laura, since it'd been her grandmother's. Shan would take the queen sized bed, practically new. No one had gotten upset or raised their voice. Laura figured things were going well.

The wool rug from Turkey was next on the list when the food arrived.

"Fried egg sandwich on rye?" The waitress glared at them expectantly. Shadowed eyes, rounded baby bump jutting out several inches above her low-slung, ketchup-streaked apron. At least, Laura hoped it was ketchup.

"Here," said Laura, waving one hand a bit, and two plates clattered down on the tabletop. Clouds of steam rose from mounds of glistening fried potatoes.

Shan picked at the omelette on his plate, its belly bloated with filling ingredients. Laura could make out bits of spinach and tomato, and something dark.

"Are those mushrooms?" Laura asked.

She didn't recall Shan liking mushrooms. It'd been only four weeks since he had packed a few things, his clothes and their good frying plan, the one they'd used for Sunday eggs, into his Volvo and moved across town, and she didn't think four weeks was nearly long enough to turn a person into an eater of a food they had previously avoided at all costs.

"Yeah." He put down his fork and reached for his mug. "So, we were talking about the rug."

Laura continued at stare at the semi-translucent omelette. "I loved Turkey," she said.

Uncalled images flashed before her. Tiny glasses of tea and plates of pilaf. Watching Shan make friends with locals fishing along a bridge in Istanbul. She and Shan laughing with the rug seller as they bantered goodnaturedly over the price. Laura handing the man her credit card, unsure of the security of this decision. Turned out okay.

Loud laughter filled the restaurant, and a few heads turned. A woman carrying a large cardboard box in her arms was trying to get through the door. The doorway was narrow and a corner of the box bumped it a few times. Laura watched the woman's blonde curls bounce as she was pushed back again and again.

Shan watched her too, and when the woman finally squeezed through the doorway with more wide-mouth laughter, Laura read the logo printed on the box. Michelle's Mushrooms. She watched the woman glance in their direction. And wink.

Suddenly Laura got it. The whole damn thing.

"That rug is mine," she said, and left him with the bill, the cardboard box, the mushroom lady, and nothing else.

Friday, January 13, 2012


"Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails 
of your seafaring soul."

                                                              - The Prophet, Khalil Gabril

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I need you like...

Delicious dinner by D.
New bowls and chop stix!

... eyeballs need a fingernail.

... a knife needs an all-season.

... a housecoat needs a sash.

... a drum needs a rhythm.

... a tongue needs a snowflake.

... a swallow needs a pill.

... glitter needs an envelope.

... a cat needs a scratch between the ears.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Writer's meal

When I'm doing time in the chair, finger foods are the best - nay, the only snacks.

The first food I reach for will usually be an unhealthy choice. The second - the rebound - will contain some measure of nutrition. How much nutrition depends on the depth of depravity of the first food and what's edible in the icebox.

To be truly authentic, this exhibit would include a full pot of strong coffee.

:: Still life with popcorn and grapes ::

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pad Nat

Like a hysterical house cat on catnip, we continue to go gaga over Southeast Asian meals around here. Tonight I fried up rice noodles, eggs, carrots, baby bokchoy and broccoli in a vegetarian oyster sauce, and at the table, threw a handful of dried mini shrimp and some chopped cashews on top and baptized the whole lot with squirts of lime.

The tiny shrimp had a monstrously large scent in the jar, but after their release to my plate of noodles I could barely taste them or feel any crunch even after adding a second handful! Maybe they are incognito experts.

Not pad thai but a reasonable facsimile and reasonably tasty. 

Gonna be eating similar dinners this week, I think. Hope my meager stock of limes holds up!

Oh yeah. I ran today! A delicious long run. Admired pristine patches of snow that glittered in the bright sunlight. Smiled at dogs walking their humans. Thought about stuff.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Buddha and the last supper

Once upon a time on a Friday night a quartet of friends who lived in a small to medium sized city decided to meet at a new downtown restaurant. One friend was excited to try this new place because he regularly painted Buddha images and Buddha was in the name of the restaurant. Another friend was hopeful that the menu would feature Indian food like idli because she continued to obsess over her long-ago days as a traveller in India, although she sometimes had trouble recalling details of the cities she'd visited (that's how long it had been). The third friend was itching for something litchi flavoured, and the fourth was on a viscous rampage for a rose lassi served with a tiny paper umbrella and would accept nothing less.

The quartet entered the resto, were seated at a square table covered by a tablecloth of a most unusual design, and devoured many uncommon and brilliantly delicious foods such as idlis, pakoras, grilled shrimp and curries.

Cocktail idlis


Grilled tamarind shrimp

Cauliflower and potato curry

The food arrived and was devoured instantly on account of its irresistible deliciousness, and the quartet was forced to relocate to another venue to continue talking, which they did, well into the night. 

*   *   *
Safe and happy travels, Gazzies! 
Along the way, may you discover the litchi and lassi of your dreams. 

The Buddha and we eagerly anticipate your return. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tom yum yum

Spicy tom yum paste.
Cold water brought to a rolling boil.
Udon noodles.
Baby bokchoy.
Broccoli pieces.
A dozen raw shrimp.
One mushroom.
Half a lime.

A bowl, chipped.
A pair of wooden chopsticks, smooth from use.
Napkins from my mom.

How to soothe a heart shattered by the disappointments of the world.