Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eggplant Curry with Garum Masala

Garum masala is such an interesting spice blend that I keep experimenting with it.

To the right, you can see the before and after photos. And this time, I even have a recipe, which I loosely adapted from here.

Eggplant with Garum Masala

1 medium eggplant sliced, salted, and brushed with oil
2 tablespoons whole cumin
½ large red onion, chopped
2 Tb finely chopped fresh ginger
4 tomatoes, chopped & salted
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground coriander (or fresh chopped coriander as a garnish)
2 tablespoons Canola oil
Salt to taste

Bake the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet at 350ยบ for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the cumin seeds in a small amount of oil until brown – around 30 seconds to a minute. Add ginger and onion, and cook until onion begins to soften. Add tomatoes, and garlic; simmer for around 10 minutes. When eggplant slices are soft, add to tomato mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add the other spices. Add salt, hot pepper, or fresh peppers to boost heat & saltiness to your taste (I wanted it mild, so no peppers). Simmer for a few minutes.

I served it at room temperature with lettuce leaves and Trader Joe's mango chutney.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fruit Crisp with Garum Masala

Fruit season is here, and we've been eating peaches and plums at almost every meal. Tonight I made peach-plum crisp. I did not use very much topping, but I spiced it in an unusual and appealing way: with garum masala from my friend/relative Kappu in Toronto. She uses 20 spices in her blend. I don't know what most of them are, but it's delicious with fruit.

The left photo is before baking, the right one when it was ready to eat. You can probably see that the topping is made from uncooked rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, pecans, and the spice mixture. This was very juicy fruit, so we ate with spoons. No problem!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday Cake

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Alice, beginning to make frosting for her cake...

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... and adding the moulded chocolate letters and decorations.

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Miriam adding decorations to the cake she baked.

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The cake table with 4 of the 5 cakes, including one of Tom's two roulade cakes, our friend Elaine's lemon-poppyseed cake, and Miriam and Alice's decorated cakes.

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After the party: cakes almost entirely gone!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Art as Food

From the L.A.Times: Affordable art is the new reality.

According to the article, people in these impoverished times love to buy inexpensive -- but original -- prints and paintings. Their cravings are being addressed by warehouse-style galleries in L.A. (or online). If you like to treat your purchases as commodities like groceries, they will even let you pile them into a shopping cart.

Eggs, $8 a dozen

Are organically grown foods too expensive to be a normal alternate to industrially produced foods? I think most people accept that there's some premium, often high, to be paid for organic food. And a little research tells us that a portion of that increase in price is due to government subsidies to the large-scale, environmentally unfriendly agriculture -- and no subsidies at all to the small-scale farmers who can behave more responsibly.

A farmer in New York -- written up in the Atlantic -- charges $8 per dozen for eggs: "each morning, the chickens are fed organic grain, then moved to fresh pasture in a specially made chicken mobile ... the process is so labor-intensive that bringing down the price would be near impossible." Further, bringing food into New York is itself a costly process.

The big question: will organic food ever be affordable to a reasonable percent of the population? The author of the article lists some possible reforms that could at least make the choice more plausible, but I wonder if any of those ideas are viable. The government is really out to lunch, and their lunch is not environmentally friendly or free of toxins and antibiotic resistant organisms. The industrial farmers and food processors don't bear the burden for the costs that result from their irresponsibility. And they have the money to influence the legislators. Alas!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Food Paintings at the Norton Simon Museum

The curator of the Norton Simon museum offers tours of food-themed paintings, as documented by the L.A.Times. This is a fascinating collection of images. I remarked on the large number of food paintings when I was at the museum earlier this summer: Food in Art: the Norton Simon Museum. However, I chose mainly different pictures, like this one:

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Time for a New Mona Lisa



Love that M&M character!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Two-fisted Taste Test

Trader Joe now sells "Bistro Biscuits" very similar to the Biscoff cookies served on some Delta Airlines flights, and available randomly at some stores. These are justifiably popular cookies, maybe even a cult item, and I'm really glad that TJ has come through.

We did the two-fisted cookie challenge, taking bites from a TJ cookie and one of the two Delta Lotus Biscoff cookies that a friend thoughtfully saved for me from a flight she was on. The TJ version might be just a tiny bit sweeter, but the taste is almost identical. The TJ cookies are slightly smaller, measuring approximately 3 inches. I ate the Delta cookie before I thought of measuring it.

Above are the Lotus Biscoff cookies that I bought from amazon.com a few months ago (eaten up long ago of course -- see Delta Cookies -- Hard to find on Delta flights). As it happens, amazon.com now sells two kinds of Biscoff cookies, one from Lotus and another from "Gourmet Center" and the cost of the Lotus original has nearly doubled since I bought them. Lucky thing I can now get Trader Joe's Bistro Biscuits!