Yanni chi, bedoon-e gusht?? (What do you mean, no meat??)
Well, it can't have any meat in it.
Morgh chi? (How about chicken?)
No. No beef, chicken, lamb, fish; no eggs; no wheat.
Nemishe! (Can't be done!) Ye zarre gusht. (Just a little bit of meat.)
Alas (or aakhe, as one says in Farsi), most Persian food doesn't translate well to vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Some dishes are vegetarian, like kashk-e bademjoon, or some simple rice dishes like adas polo (though people usually add chicken to the rice dishes). Most of the delicious khoreshes (sauces) -- fesenjoon, ghorme sabzi, and others -- they're just not the same. Must work on vegetarianizing those!
Unfortunately another one of those pesky, persistent little "craving seeds" was planted during that last foodie conversation and I had in my mind that I must come up with a vegetarian, gluten-free version of keik-e yazdi, little rosewater and cardamom-scented (really, what other scent is there in Persian desserts??) cakes. So I got right on it.
I soaked some flax seeds, mixed up some Pamela's flour, melted butter, added some rose water, freshly ground cardamom, a little this and a little that, nary a trace of eggs, or wheat, and popped them into the oven and waited. Not in vain either, mind you.
Mage mishe?? (Is it possible??)
Khob, bokhor yedune. (Well, taste one.)
Che aali!!! Dasturesh-o barayam benevis. (How wonderful!!! Write the recipe for me.)
These little gems are lovely with hot tea, coffee, or chocolate. Perfect after spicy food or whenever you need an exotic little pick-me-up.
Noosh-e jaan. (Enjoy).
Well, I got one for....drumroll please.....doughnuts. Uhuh, doughnuts.
I'm not a doughnut person -- except, maybe those hubcap-sized midnight snack Moroccan ones we had in Paris back in the 70's -- but not too long ago I read about a recipe for some "killer" gluten-free doughnuts and I must admit they looked and sounded pretty good. And J is always raving about some maple doughnuts that his favorite doughnut baker lady never makes enough of and why can't she make more of them and fewer of those multicolor-sprinkles ones that sit in the case till the store closes?!? Ah, but that's another story.
So yesterday I'm shopping at Whole Foods and because it's so crowded, the checkout line I'm in snakes into the frozen food cases and there I am eye to doughnut hole. Gluten-free doughnuts, no less. I was tempted, but for some reason never opened the case to get a box. Instead, I came home and made one.
One single, solitary, all by it's lonesome doughnut.
Meanwhile, there was a great trip to California and a wonderful visit with best old friends…old best friends? Best older friends? Older best friends? How to word it without sounding “odd,” (oh my, that sounds wrong, too)?? Hm, maybe I should say long-time best friends. Yeah, that’s it!! Anyway, so fun to catch up on “deep into the night” conversations, good food, lots of laughter, some tears, and promises to make it all happen again soon. The plan is for Austin in the spring! Nothing like the Texas Hill Country in springtime!! Miles of yellow flowers, poppies, Indian paintbrush, bluebonnets....and lots of sunshine.
What are the girls waiting on, you ask? Homemade raw organic almond butter. I’ve been making little batches, spiked with a touch of himmy, and eating it on my breakfast toast in the mornings. By the way, Food for Life makes a most wonderful Bhutanese red rice bread that is so delicious toasted & spread with almond butter and a drop of raw honey. I love it because, not only is it gluten-free, it’s egg-free, too – woohoo!! The girls obviously like it, as well, and are passively "vulturing" around the table, hoping it will inspire my generosity. Don’t count on it, girls.
And now, one last item…… J and the girls ran a 10k last weekend, while I supportively cheered them on from the warmth of the car….knitting away on a lace moebius wrap. It was too windy and chilly to sit at the amphitheater and listen to the band, so I got in some knitting and could watch them as they started the first round of the run………..and welcome them back. I made a short video; will work on getting it posted, as well as some pics from SoCal.
Two things are for sure -- it's hot and it's a record.....again! Whew!!
Besides the movement of automated things like cars, buses, and 18-wheelers, it's quite still outside. Sort of like a science fiction, nuclear winter movie where all life has been decimated. Trees are dropping leaves like it's fall. Lawns are crunchy brown. Flowers are wilting, hanging on for dear life only with double-doses of hand watering. Nobody's out walking, running, biking. Nobody's walking their pets. It's too hot to swim.
You've heard of brain-freeze?? How 'bout brain-fry!!
But never too hot for dessert. Especially one you can pull from the fridge :)
Today's polka-dot-plate-special is raw vanilla-lavender and chocolate macaroons, served with some juicy raspberries. I got the recipe from Nutiva's Facebook posts, but had to change them up since they obviously left out some very key ingredients -- like a binding agent. They're delish and keep in the fridge so
If you're interested in my version, comment below and I'll post
Anyway........for this kind of weather, it's important to stay cool as possible, to stay hydrated, and make sure we get a nice balance of salts, minerals, and sugars. Besides eating tons of salads and other fresh, raw foods, it's nice to be able to sip (or slurp) on something that meets all the above criteria:
Paloodeh fits the bill. Paloodeh??
If you know anything about Persian cuisine, you've probably had or heard of faloodeh, a yummy dessert of frozen rice vermicelli in cherry-rose syrup, usually served along with bastani Akbar Mashti, saffron-rosewater ice cream. If you don't know anything about Persian cuisine, now aren't faloodeh ba bastani Akbar Mashti a great incentive to give Iranian food a try?!?!
Of course, one does not live on rosewater and saffron-scented desserts alone. And that's where paloodeh, frozen cantaloupe slush, comes in. Iranians love their melons (of course, always bigger, better, and sweeter in Iran) and have found that these frozen drinks area a wonderful way to keep cool, keep hydrated, and keep fed. So simple, it's made of cantaloupe (طالبي) whirred to a slush with ice cubes -- ah, so good!!
Paloodeh پالوده (Frozen Canteloupe Slush)
If the cantaloupe is not totally ripe, ie sweet, you can add some sweetener. Also, a little spoon of rosewater or lemon juice changes the flavor. Just don't do the East Texas thing, and season with salt and pepper!! Nah, go ahead if it floats your boat :)
I usually figure on 2 measures of cantaloupe to 1 measure of ice, but it all depends on how fragrant the fruit is and how icy you want it.
1 cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
the tiniest pinch of himmy (Himalayan salt)
sugar, to taste
Drop the cantaloupe into the blender container with the salt and pulse a few times. Add the ice and blend till smooth. Makes 2 tall glasses of nutritious, cooling refreshment.
Makes me think of Annette-Kolb Gymnasium Traunstein. We had to memorize a poem in 1. Klasse, das alizarinblaue Zwergenkind by Freiherr Börries von Münchhausen, about a tiny little fairy creature who decides to take a dip in an inkwell. When he comes up from the ink, he's all blue; he crawls out of the well, and plops his hinie onto a sheet of blotting paper, leaving behind a stamp, described like this:
Ha ha!! You'd have to understand German and know about German breads to get this one, but it's too cute!!
We had to memorize lots of poetry in Deutschklasse in the late 60's. That's when school was school: lot of memorization, correct spelling and grammar, respect for authority, etc etc etc. All about academics. But it was lots of fun, too. Like when we sang buranko buranko (a Japanese swing song - another memory) for our class and the principal in our embroidered Chinese pajamas that Mama brought us back from Singapore while Daddy was in Viet Name. Has that really been more than 40 years ago??
Mensch, die Zeit vergeht......
Just pulled up the last of the fruitless tomato plants. The only thing left now is the basil (with morning and evening watering) and the jalapenos. So they go into everything we're cooking, or uncooking, now. Into the salads, the sandwiches, the scrambled eggs, you name it. Thinking of making some ice cream or sorbet with basil & pineapple. See, you name it, and basil or jalapenos are in it.
But the crowning achievement for basil is pesto -- ah, homemade pesto. Green summery goodness to slather on al dente pasta or a sandwich or to dip with chips.
So easy to make and it keeps for a good while, as long as you keep it sott'olio - covered with olive oil. Pick the basil in the morning before the sun hits it, wash it well and let it dry. Drop a couple of cloves of garlic into the food processor, followed by a good handful of nuts (I know pine nuts are de rigeur, but I like walnuts). Pulse a few times, just to chop them a bit. Cube the best cheese you can afford, either parmiggiano or pecorino romano, and drop it into the processor and pulse 4 or 5 times. When the basil is dry, put it in the machine and run while adding enough olive oil to make it saucey -- not too runny, but not too dry and pasty either. Stop and check it occasionally and when it's the consistency you like, presto it's finished.
A, che buono.......and it's only available in summer :)
A blizzardy, ice-cicly 15 degrees, with a windchill hovering around the big "O" certainly makes North Texas feel more like Siberia than...well, than North Texas. And when I think of Siberia, I think of a feast I got to share in one evening...
Twenty-some winters ago, I took Z to a supermarket and watched as she wandered from aisle to aisle like a slowmo pinball, staring in absolute awe at the quantities of groceries available. The fresh veggies, the canned and frozen ones; bread on the bakery shelves and frozen dough in the cases; beef, pork, lamb, fish, chicken; boxes of mixes for this and for that. And plenty of all of it. No queues of grumpy, elbowing, "hey, the back of the line is back there"-pointing shoppers.
Behesht e! Behesht e, Dana joon!
"It's paradise!" she exclaimed in her Farsi-by-way-of-Uzbekistan accent. Z had insisted on cooking dinner for us all that evening and wanted to buy some meat and vegetables to make soup and mantu, Uzbeki dumplings. So we went to the supermarket, she picked up a small package of meat, a handful of veggies and potatoes, and since I was sure we had flour at home, we left to get started on the feast.
As she cooked, she told stories of how she and B had met after he'd gotten stranded in Uzbekistan; how happy they were to have long-lost relatives in Amyerika; how life was in Uzbekistan (according to her, not the worst since B was a doctor); how pearls, furs and diamonds were inexpensive and how food was a luxury there; and on and on while she cut up the meat and veggies for the soup, and rolled and stuffed the mantu dough.
All the while, I was wondering how she was going to feed about 20 of us with the groceries we'd purchased. Like matryoshka, Russian nesting dolls?? Somehow we'd be surprised by the contents of the soup pot?
Each guest's bowl was lovingly and proudly filled with broth and tiny pieces of meat and vegetables. In the spirit of true Uzbeki hospitality, our hosts dished out the "best" to their guests.
I've never had a more watery "soup" than that evening. But I don't think I've ever heard two people "savor" and "mm and yumm" over their food more than Z and B did that night. This "paradisaic" soup was the richest food that they'd had in a very long time, and it was a splurge for them to use enough meat to make the soup taste just slightly more appetizing than the dishwater they were used to. The potato mantu, on the other hand, were delicious.
As the years passed, her soups got thicker and thicker, to where you could actually taste the ingredients, the chicken, the vegetables, the cilantro, the spices.
One time Z came over for lunch. I'd made a good warm soup out of beets and red cabbage, kind of a non-traditional vegetarian borscht. "Vyeri, vyeri good...almost lyike Russian." I took it as a compliment.
So as I'm rummaging through my fridge today looking for something "warming" to make while this Arctic front blasts through the region, I see a beet, some red cabbage, onions, and start thinking about throwing together a big pot of borscht. Well, something borscht-like, anyway. Even J has pronounced it vyeri, vyeri good....almost lyike Russian :)
Let me know what you think and if you've got any good "Siberia" stories :)
Banana's "Vyeri, Vyeri Good...Almost Like Russian" Borscht
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups red lentils 1 beet, shredded (I did this in the processor)
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup ruby quinoa, washed
1/4 cup dried dill (or 1 cup fresh)
2 veggie soup cubes
1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
1 tablespoon powdered limu omani (dried lime)
or 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
fresh ground pepper
Heat a large soup pot over medium high and add the onions. When they're fragrant and starting to color, add the garlic. Stir for about a minute, then add the lentils, along with enough water to cover. Cook till the lentils are soft.
Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer till everything is soft. Season with lemon juice, pepper, and salt. If desired, serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek-style yogurt.
It’s winter and I’m cold.
It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May.
It’s winter and I’m cold, and I won’t warm up until May so I’ll be making hot soup till then.
Learning a new language is tough and it seems there are nearly as many suggestions for learning one as there are languages themselves. I’m so fortunate to have grown up speaking more than one language because that ensured that I could think in another language. If I want to say something in German, I don’t have to first say it in English, then translate it into German. If I want to say something in German, I just say it. Same thing with Italian. Or French. Or Italian. Or Farsi.
Not that I speak all, or any, of them perfectly. Far from it! But I think in phrases in those languages and get stuck only when it comes to a particular word, or an idiomatic expression. And when I learn a little of a new language, I learn it in phrases.
Aap ka kiya hale hey?
Kak vi pozhivayetye?
That’s “How are you?” in Urdu, Arabic, and Russian respectively.
Kids learn in building blocks of phrases, always adding to their foundation.
I want milk, please.
I want chocolate milk, please.
I want chocolate milk and cookies, please.
I’m having some milk and cookies, and yes watching TV helps me concentrate while I do my homework.
The one big “advantage” little kids have over adults learning a new language is that they are by default immersed in their “new” language. That eliminates the one big impediment for most people who are learning a new language – conjugation. Immersion means you’re going to be speaking, hearing, and most likely reading and writing, your new language. Little kids learn conjugation via mother’s milk. But most of us aren’t learning a new language via immersion. So, guess what? We’re going to have to buckle down and conjugate some verbs, the regular and irregular ones. You simply cannot learn a language well without doing that. Is it fun? Oh sure!! Pull another tooth while you’re at it!
To: New Language Learner
FROM: The Language Fairy
It does not come by osmosis!!!
You can get by without conjugating verbs. People will understand you when you speak. You’ll understand people when they speak, and you’ll be able to read and understand the language. But you won’t be able to say you speak the language. Maybe that you’re learning the language, but not that you speak it. So do yourself the small favor of conjugating the main verbs (to be, have, do, go, give, take, see, feel, and so forth) and a few not so common ones….amazing how your grasp of the language
Whew! Got that off my chest. Feel tons better :)
I do two things when it’s cold:
1) I drink hot tea. I drink lots and lots of hot tea. I drink lots and lots of hot tea all day long.
And 2) I cook and eat lots of hot soup. Spicy tomato soup. Potato leek soup. Lentil soup. Quer durch den Kuehlschrank soup (literally translated as diagonally through the fridge soup). Miso soup. Just about any kind of fresh homemade soup or veggie stew you can imagine.
Tonight it was Sweet Potato Soup with Thai flavors, va in soup-ra intori dorost kardam (Farsi for this is how I made the soup)
1 cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 vegan soup bouillon cube
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes
2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
handful of green peas
In a large pot, heat the coconut cream over medium high heat; stir in the curry paste and cook for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk, soup cube, onions, sweet potatoes, and lime leaves.
Lower heat and cook, covered and occasionally stirring, until the potatoes are soft. You may need to add some water if it gets too thick. Puree and return to the stove; season with salt.
Add the green peas and cook for a few more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with fresh lime juice.
Nushe jaan va be salaamati. In other words, bon apetit (I know, I know; it should have an accent mark, but I can’t figure out how to insert one with this program) and be well :)