Monday, April 20, 2009

cabbage with hot sauce

spicy cabbage

I feel like spring is toying with my emotions. It’s playing tricks on me giving me sunshine and warmth for a few days, and then turning cold and wet. We’re not having a fine romance I imagined it to be this year – and I feel led on by the season. I keep saying it’s my favorite season, but I’m beginning to question why? It’s never quite as warm as I remember it – perhaps my memory paints past events in better light.

To all of you who wrote lovely comments to me in my last entry and those of you who reached out personally – thank you. I’m so grateful for your thoughts and wishes and so moved by them. I’m hoping for the best – and time will tell.

spicy cabbage

With everything that’s been swirling around me recently, I’ve been a bit lackluster in the kitchen. Just not the same energy after a long day of work and a challenging run in the park. I get home with barely enough time to repack my gym bag, make a few calls and read a few pages. I’m still waiting on some news and it makes following most directions a bit of a challenge. With such lazy approach to cooking as of late, my kitchen has seen quite a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches pass through. I cannot think of a better make-shift meal that comes together in mere seconds, nourishes, fills, and delights. Yes, delights. In fact, I’m pretty much okay having peanut butter sandwiches just about every day. I’m a bit of a peanut butter fanatic, if you must know.

spicy cabbage

Strangely, however, a food blog where I regale you with tales of my peanut butter consumption doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as a food blog where you see various dishes across your screen. The latter seems more appealing and this is where I need to pick up slack. Despite my resistance to pick up a knife and turn on the stove, not all dishes come with pages of instructions and some cook themselves in mere minute resulting in glorious, comforting and wholesome meals. Like this spicy cabbage. Like peanut butter, I’m afraid I could eat this every day (and have eaten it for many days now).

Ever since attending Molly’s wonderful reading of her beautiful book “A Homemade Life”, I’ve been kind of obsessed with this cabbage. She mentioned it during Q&A and I couldn’t get it out of my head. When I made it, I was floored with how easy and delicious it was. I made more the next night. And the next. And… you get the idea. In fact, as I write this, a gourmet dinner a few hours away, I kind of want to just ditch dinner, go home and make a heaping bowl if this, plop a fried egg on top and eat it with a thick slice of crusty bread. Oh and while I’m being so hedonistic, I’d pour myself a glass of red wine and away we go! And since it’s raining and cold outside, this is the perfect meal for a night like this one. If I am feeling particularly decadent, I would even put some Sasha Dobson on to complete the experience. But, sigh, dinner out awaits me (I should be ashamed to even complain!) and so the cabbage must until tomorrow to be made again.

Continue reading cabbage with hot sauce.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

no-knead bread

no-knead bread

Oh hi, I know I’ve all but vanished into the void. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been wanting to write for over two weeks now, but somehow the words fail me. You see, dear reader, I found myself in a perfect storm, where too many pieces of my life came to a head all at once. And still yet, around me, so much uncertainty still swirls that when I sit down and want to write about bread and cabbage and biscotti, all of which I owe you belatedly, I just stare at an empty page with no so much as a single sentence that can be squeezed out.

Certainly, there are some lovely, shimmery things going on. Things that bring me to smile, and keep me grounded and sane – like running, and my upcoming half marathon on April 26, for instance. I ran a 10K in the pouring rain on Saturday in the park and felt so elated and overjoyed, I wanted to bottle up that feeling and send it to everyone I love. My friends have been unbelievably supportive and nurturing, reaching out, checking up on me, keeping up my spirits. I want to hug them all at once – a girl can get so lucky sometimes.

amazing things are to come from this... floured surface - up-close

Without going into much detail, there are some possibly dark uncertainties insofar as family health is concerned. There is much left to be learned and we’ll wait patiently on the results, but until then, it’s a lot of worrying and waking up in the middle of the night and just sitting quietly in the dark listening to a wind chime somewhere outside. That wind chime, I tell you, has been a sore spot for me ever since I moved into this apartment, which in every other way, has been idyllic. But in the last few weeks, when I have found myself piercing the inky darkness of the room, that wind chime with its infrequent sounds, made me feel a little less alone. I hope, I pray, for good news in the meantime. This is all I have – hope.

bubbles!!! cornmeal coating -- a bit much?

Quite frankly, there’s a small maelstrom of worrysome activity that all kind of came down all at once. Within days, really. And all I could do was just go for long runs, alphabetize my books, reorganize my kitchen. Little areas of control. They ground me.

ready for the oven

And it’s so easy, at a time like this, to feel very much not in control of anything – it gets quite overwhelming. My mind feels a bit scattered, like pieces of a puzzle that need to be put together to form one coherent thought, one complete picture. And it’s at times like these that I turn to my kitchen for guidance and comfort. For me, the kitchen has always been a place of clarity and sorting out my thoughts – it’s my equivalent of a yoga studio, except for head stands and downward-facing dogs and warrior poses, I have doughs and soups and roasts and cookies to make. I control the outcome and the results bring comfort.

no-knead bread

So when I found myself, two weeks back, so completely defeated I was at a loss for words. My parents were on the other end of the phone and I just stayed quiet – no words came to me, my mind drew a complete blank. When we finally hung up, I went to my pantry and took out the flour.

I had meant to make no-knead bread for so long, I am embarrassed to even say. I think I am the last person in the blogosphere to do it. And perhaps I was saving this recipe for just the kind of moment when you just have to bake bread. All else has failed – and you bake bread instead. You mix the flour and the yeast and water and somehow dough comes together and then rises and permeates your house with that sweet, fermented smell – the kind that makes your home smell comforting and cozy.

warm bread is pretty much the most amazing thing

I must say though that I wasn’t floored with it. I wanted more from my bread, and that, I suppose, comes from kneading and working with the dough. I loved eating the warm bread, loved it with eggs and cabbage, loved spreading ricotta over it and eating it with figs, drizzled honey and black pepper (oh yes, that’s coming!). But I wanted something more from it – what it is, I can’t quite put my finger on. Still, the satisfaction of having made my own bread brought great comfort and desire to make more. I’m curious to experiment with different flours and recipes. And I long for that smell to fill my apartment once more.

Continue reading no-knead bread.