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.
Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.