June 2007


Back to the food-snob issue. I love food. I try new stuff all the time. I read cookbooks like novels. I’m the neighborhood go-to girl when anyone has a question about a spice, a substitution, an ethnic cuisine, or bread, or when there’s a random ingredient someone can’t find, since I have such an odd collection of foodstuffs that are not commonly used. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of what you might find in my pantry:

1. Hazelnut oil. I used this last night on the salad of spring greens with baby sweet peppers and crumbled feta. Yummy. Speaking of oil, I also have a jar of coconut oil, some ghee that I clarified, 3 kinds of olive oil, mustard oil, sweet almond oil…

2. Trader Joe’s Marion-berry Blueberry fruit sauce. I’ve had this one for a year. It sounds yummy, but I don’t really make desserts often, so what do I do with it?

3. Sake Wasabi Mustard. Why did I buy that? If I needed sake wasabi mustard, could I not have gotten some sake, some wasabi, and some mustard, mixed them together, and not had a whole jar to deal with?

4. A bunch of spices most of my friends have never heard of: Kalonji, Aamchur, Black Salt, Asafoetida, Galanga powder, Achiote, Agar agar, Garam Masala, Tamarind pulp. I use these every so often, but I wish someone around here used them too, so I could share.

5. A bunch of more normal spices, but in quantities the average American cook has never even seen: 7 ounces of coriander – that’s the size of 4 hamburger buns, 1/2 pound of cayenne, same of ground ginger, cumin, bay leaves, black mustard seeds. I get my spices at Indian markets, where folks know what food is supposed to taste like.

6. All the weird whole grains that the health food people love to tout: Quinoa, Millet, Kamut, Rye berries, wheat berries, Spelt, Bulghur, Polenta, Steel-cut oats, whole oats, hulled barley. Not all of them are yummy. Millet, for example. Always a tiny bit crunchy. I also have flours made from all of the above.

7. A hundred kinds of rice. Mongolian red rice, Forbidden black rice, sweet rice, arborio rice, glutinous rice, basmati rice, brown basmati rice, long grain white, long grain brown, short grain brown, sushi rice. We eat a lot of rice.

8. A 25 ounce bottle of capers. I like capers, but what was I thinking?

9. Interesting varieties of sugar:  jaggery (palm sugar), honey, creamed honey, raw honey still on the comb, agave syrup, stevia (ever tried it? It’s not sugar, but it’s a weird kind of sweet that I don’t really like).

10. All the fixin’s for Halu-Halo. That’s a Filipino snack/dessert that has any combination of the following: Macapuno strings (strips of young coconut), marble sized tapioca pearls, Langka (jackfruit), Nata de Coco (sweet coconut jellies), red beans (or red mung beans or kidney beans), corn, rolled oats, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and shaved ice. Yum!

11. Oh, and don’t forget the Pig’s Feet!

Can you top me?

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Chasing. Losing. Stumbling. Wounds are festering. Kids are yelling. I’m yelling back. Plate crashes, omelet goes in the trash. I’m losing.

I’m too mad at words. (Worms, Roxanne.) People’s words. My words. God’s words. My brain doesn’t think in words. Words are not the best medium of communication. There are too many interpretations of words and combinations of words, too many languages, alive and dead.

I want God to read my thoughts, and give me something. Something.

I want to understand why people say their words, when they are clearly not the words they want to say. I want people to understand the words I’m trying to say, not the ones that come out of my mouth.

I’m chasing. I’m teaching the use of words that are elusive. I’m teaching meanings that are not pumapasok (entering). They lick the icing off, but don’t delve into the cake, never realize the whole for the sweetness of the glaze. They see what it looks like, round and tall and snow-capped, but never experience the spongy, squishy, pocketed interior. Never understand the complexity of the entire combination. They say “hate” and think they are saying “dislike” or “anger.” They say, “I just have to…” when they mean, “I am unwilling to stop for you or anyone.”

They ignore me. (They are ignorant?) They do not respond, if my words are not to their liking. I yell. Then my words are surely not to their liking. I yell, threaten. My threats are meaningless, even to me. I say things I do not intend. I think things I do not say.

I am afraid of my thoughts. They are not my friends.

I love pumpkin muffins. I make them year-round, in spurts. I buy the big can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), which will make 3 or 4 batches of muffins. These ones are sort of detox muffins. They have lots of fiber, no dairy, and they’re yummy.

Pumpkin Muffins

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plus 2 T soy milk (or regular milk)
1/2 t vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350o, and grease a muffin tin with cooking spray. Add the water to the ground flax, and mix until viscous. Add the sugar and oil, mixing well. Add the pumpkin, mix, then add soy milk and vanilla, and mix again. In a separate bowl (or just on top of the wet ingredients), milk the dry ingredients, and add to the wet. Stir just until incorporated. Quickly divide into the muffin tin and bake for 35 minutes, rotating after 20 for even baking. Let rest in the tin for a few minutes, then release onto a cooling rack.

Each muffin has about 160 calories, 6 grams of fat (omega-3 kind), 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. Two of those for breakfast and you’ve got a pretty good start for your day.

And for the bonus, here’s a picture of the blanket I made for my brother’s new baby that was born on Wednesday.

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