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Cooking

jacaranda

Spring on the Other Side of the World

Today I got out my recipe for Sausage and Fennel Stuffing: a classic fall dish from Epicurious that I first adopted for a Thanksgiving dinner back in Boston in 2004. It uses lots of butter and sausage and fennel in two different forms and it is delicious. It’s not exactly “light” and doesn’t quite go with what is happening outside my window: a hot wind to start off a day in the ’80s which will grow to ’90s before noon and over 100 shortly after that. This is spring in Botswana.

From left to right: me, my cousin Michael, my mom, my dad, my grandpa, my aunt & uncle, my Grandma Jerry.

Strawberries & Lemons

My mother died twenty-eight years ago today, in her sleep peacefully at home, after a three-year struggle with cancer. It was a Monday morning, just like today, and I was eleven years old, having hosted a birthday party with balloons, games and all my grade-school friends less than two weeks earlier. When my mom’s birthday comes around in December I like to get a colorful bouquet of flowers and display it in my house, picking out an assortment that I think she would have liked. Mother’s Day used to be a day I faced with dread, but it was reclaimed when I became a mother myself and it turned into a day of celebration again. But a death anniversary is different. It marks a terrible day: a day you don’t really want to remember.

Photo from abcnews.com

Cooking from the Couch–Southern Africa Style

A few days ago salon.com ran an article explaining why Guy Fieri has ruined the Food Network. It is true that Guy’s most famous show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” isn’t exactly an icon of culinary artistry. This is the show where the loud blond guy with spiky hair drives around the country in a red convertible visiting local restaurants and heading back into stainless steel kitchens to watch the cook make vats of chili or mounds of carne asada or enough pulled pork to feed the invading hordes of Rome. The Salon article complains about how Guy yells at the viewers, “ranting like an imbecile on fire,” while stuffing food into his face. I can’t argue with any of that. But I actually like watching recipes come together with things like 1/2 cup of garlic powder, five pounds of beef, a dozen onions and an entire bottle of ketchup stirred in a pot the size of a hot tub with a paddle you could use to spank sumo wrestlers. The whole concoction usually gets slid into the oven for two hours, no matter what is being made: this seems to be the magical time frame. Whatever comes out usually looks pretty tasty, and Guy always takes a big drippy, greasy bite, smacks his lips and says something like “That’s killer!”

blood-2Boranges

Blood Orange

I hosted a bloody brunch over the holiday weekend a few weeks back. That sounds gruesome and terrible, but actually it was social and pleasant. Along with waffles and eggs, guests could take their pick of breakfast beverage from a Bloody Mary or a Blood Orange Mimosa. (Only the hardcore chose the Bloody Mary at 11 am on a Monday and you know who you are.) This is the kind of thing you can do in Pakistan, where you can buy an entire bag of blood oranges for $5. And by entire bag, I mean, a hoist-it-over-your-head, have-it-ride-sidesaddle-on-your-motorbike bag of 100 oranges. My housekeeper was bound and determined to go all the way to Khanpur, an hour away, to buy our bag of 100 oranges because in Khanpur a bag of 100 oranges is only $3. I told him we were going to let that $2 go. At Whole Foods in the U.S., at least last I checked, one blood orange was $3. On the rare occasion I would buy one, I would carefully select the best, plumpest, most perfect-looking specimen, take it home, and carefully slice it paper thin to use as a garnish for a fancy cocktail or to float on top of simmering cider. Now I could gargle with the stuff, but it is still a thrill to (have my housekeeper) juice 100 oranges so we can all slosh back pitcher after pitcher of sticky red juice while downing homemade chocolate donuts and handfuls of pomegranate seeds (another perk of the season). Yesterday it was sunny as usual but the air felt warm, like winter was ending, which means blood oranges and pomegranates are […] Read More

Summer-2010-070

Detox

I am one week into a three-week detox. That’s 21 days of no caffeine, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no wheat. And a few other random no-no’s, like tomatoes, citrus, and soy sauce. No, I have not gone insane and no, I am not hungry all the time, to answer 99% of the questions you will immediately be asking about this process. I got inspired to do the cleanse after months of feeling tired, stressed out, heavy, and headache-y. Would surviving on a liquid meal for breakfast and dinner and a small, wheat, dairy, and sugar-free lunch do the trick? That was the experiment. I have to say so far it has been fantastic. I miss coming home to a yummy dinner (cold carrot ginger soup, anyone?), but I have twice the energy, none of the headaches, and am almost completely relaxed even though work continues to be hectic, stressful, and speed-of-light fast. So it may not be crazy to do a detox, but what about doing one in a country without salad bars, health food, or the concept of eating dinner before 9pm? A breakdown: HURDLE: My detox book (“Clean” by Alejandro Junger) includes 21 recipes at the end for all the smoothies, cold soups, and healthy lunches you will need to make on the cleanse. The recipes are full of ingredients like quinoa, buckwheat noodles, sprouted chia seeds, and blueberries. Yeah, right. ADVANTAGE: The recipes are also full of ingredients like mango, coconut water, and nut milk. Instead of spending lots of cash on packaged, stale versions of the last two, I turn the bounty and resources of Pakistan to […] Read More