Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

I got in from Cairo two days ago. It was a good trip, although it feels now a little too brief. I left Seattle cold, but unfrozen, and return to find it transformed - my first experience with snow. Walking outside yesterday morning - carefully armored in thermal, wool, boots, and a duvet-like coat - felt like an acid trip.

My plans to glean cooking tips while away mostly fell flat, but I did procure some regional goodies, orange blossom water and rose water, which are meant to impart a subtle flavor to desserts.

I also bought an Egyptian cookbook, "My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen: Traditional Dishes Sweet and Savory," originally in Arabic but translated into English. I haven't tried any of it's recipes yet, but I have enjoyed leafing through it, especially since it has full-color photographs for every double page spread. For an idea of what a big chunk of Egyptian cooking is about, there is an entire chapter in the book dedicated to stuffed vegetables. Dolmas, potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, and cabbage rolls are but some of the contenders for stufffing.

Yesterday I cooked, which I did precious little of back in Cairo. A quinoa salad with grape tomatoes and romaine lettuce dressed with a watered-down soy mayonaise I made two weeks ago from Hot Damn & Hell Yeah. The quinoa made it more filling, and the mayo made it creamy. So it tasted good and looked aesthetically pleasing too what with the contrasting colors, but my photos weren't so hot.

I also tried a mushroom-barley soup from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I succumbed and bought it before I left, and I have to say it's a pretty good investment so far, a nice basic guide to all kinds of things you might want to do in the kitchen (soups, salads, bread, and charts with information on vinegars, nuts, etc), with simple, fast recipes. I was looking for a book to tell me how to deal with any vegetable the CSA box might throw my way, and it seems to fit the bill. The soup was good, it was my first use of pearl barley, and it was nice and toothsome. I used cremini mushrooms mixed with dried shittake, and there were carrots and potatoes thrown in too.


Bethany said...

your first snow, very cool. I'll bet the amount of snow was a surprize. typically we don't get that much up here.

Andy & I still have some left, but we're in the middle of nowhere - sort of :)

Rosiecat said...

Ooh, orange blossom water! Rose water! I'm so jealous ;-) Any ideas on where to find these items in the States?

I hope you post any desserts you make with your new fancy waters.

yasmin said...

hey Rose-anne, i'll be sure to put any up when i get around to using it, i'm planning to make baklava at some point but am kind of intimidated by the gigantic amount of margarine it calls for... the recipe i looked at said 1 cup! i guess when you consider individual servings it's not so bad?

btw, i checked my "classic vegetarian cooking from the middle east & north africa cookbook," and the resource section at the back says there's a "holy land grocery" where you can get middle eastern goodies in chicago at 4806 north kedzie ave. so maybe you could check them out, or any other middle eastern grocery.

if you want to go the online route, there's a list of online middle eastern groceries here, none of which i've tried:

hope that helps!

Rosiecat said...

Yasmin, that was so nice of you to look up shopping resources for me! This Holy Land Grocery sounds very cool. I do love Middle Eastern food, so it would be a fun shopping excursion. I'm making it a New Year's goal to check this place out.

And 1 cup of margarine? Eek! But if most of it is used for coating the pastry with fat, maybe you can do it by feel and see how much you actually use?

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