31.10.07

Autumn fantasies

Crunch!
Stomp!
Graaaaaaaaaaaar!
Crackle!
Stomp!
Graaaaaaarrrrrrr!


"....and why is your son stamping on those leaves?"

"Oh, he thinks he's Godzilla."

26.10.07

Pick a colour.
Huh?
Pick a colour.
ermm....Why?
Just pick one.
Ok. No wait, but in what context? Are you asking my personal favourite, or what would look good in the bedroom, or the colour for a dress, or....
Stop.
Ok.
Pick a colour.
But how I can just pick one? Can't you tell me what I'm picking it for? I can't just make decisions like that without knowing what they're for!
...this is exactly why I stopped loving you.
Huh?
Yes. You think too much.

24.10.07

Live for today - plan for tomorrow.

19.10.07

Friday Fortnightly Food (F)post

Le riz avec le beurre
Time needed:
Preparation: 20 seconds
Cooking: 6-8 minutes

Keep ready:
1/2 cup of rice
1 cup water
Salt
Butter

Then:
Add rice to the water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down a little, add salt, and cook till well....cooked.

Serve immediately, and add a big dollop of good, high-fat butter.
Mix.
Savour.

Why you should try this:
Because it's one of the simplest, yet most wonderful dishes to eat. Because the aroma of freshly-cooked rice, mixed in with that of melted butter is just oh-so-frikkin-great. And because it reminds you of being unwell as a kid, and being fussed over by your mommy.

Focus on:
1) Butter, not ghee. Butter's not as strong, and it's got a more mellow texture.
2) No other seasoning. Avoid the temptation to add pepper or oregano, even though they go well too.
3) Butter!

18.10.07

(Warning: Idea post. Lengthy-ish. Contains lateral jumps and irritating snarky asides)


Earlier this week, Neil G points us to the fact that some person discovered that hitting Marmite for 30 minutes turns it white. Apart from the obvious "kya lukhkhe log hain duniya mein" reaction, it made one think of a favourite topic.

Namely, the evolution of food dishes.

And by that one is not referring to variations or inventions. One can understand how somebody came up with the Margherita pizza, or Peach Melba, or even Bacon-and-egg ice-cream. That's just lateral thinking, just a bit of let's-spin-the-wheels-and-try-the-combination-they-suggest*.

What one is referring to, is the origins of the basic food ingredients. The flour you use, the rice, the wheat, the grains.

Think about it. It's not the same as with fruits, which simply sprout, dress up in pretty colours, and hang around hoping to tempt someone into nibbling on them. But rice, wheat, maize, lentils - they are all cultivated crops. Which means somebody must have figured out the process from first principles. Remember those geography lessons on rice cultivation? The sowing, the watering, the transplanting, the watering, the chaffing. Now try and imagine that whole system being thought up by some nomad way back when. From no prior reference point.

No, wait. Let's go back even further.

Thinking up the process would mean that, at some point, some genius/daredevil/idiot must have thought, "Let's try this and see if it's good to eat". Right. Who thinks that way? If you were rambling through some countryside, would you eat any random plant, hoping it would not only not leave you writhing about in agony with horribly coloured goo dribbling out of your various orifices, but also turn out to be a wonderfully nutritious food? Thought not.

And besides, these are crops. They're inedible when raw. Animals don't eat them in the wild (they don't, do they?). Which means that not only would that genius/daredevil/idiot have thought of eating it, (s)he would have also had to say, "Let's cook this in a pot of boiling water, two parts water to one part unknown stuff, and let it cook for 10 minutes till all the water drains away". Again, from no prior reference point.

And forget crops. Take flour. Who would consider that if you collect this plant thus, and beat it about thus, and then took the residue and heated it sufficiently, it would turn into a lovely base in which to put all that meat that you just hunted down?

Yes, the history books say all that really took place, but from the little reading one has done, it seems they just know it took place, but not how it came to be.

But yet, we're expected to believe all that just happened. Some animal-spearing hairy brute one day just decided that those strange brown reeds would be worth eating, and then spent millennia honing the right way to cultivate them.


....And then some people wonder why some people believe in alien intelligence(s).



* Think of two touching-but-not-overlapping circles, with random ingredients listed on each. Spin them around, and make a dish with the two that line up besides each other. Isn't that just whoopittydodaa!

8.10.07

The point is, is there a point?

5.10.07

Friday Food

Chapped lips, red noses, stiff fingers - yeh baby, it's getting to winter.
Which can only mean -
Apples!
Bramleys, Cox's, Royal Gala, Pink Ladies, Russetts, Golden Delicious', Braeburns, Granny Smiths'....

Yes, you might get them through the year, but 'tis truly winter that allows apples to really show off their versatility. How so? Thus so:

Stewed apples, apple tarts, apple pies, apple crumble, Danish apple cake, apple strudel, rhubarb-and-apple strudel, apple-and-plum cake, apple-and-parsnip soup, spiced apple jam, apple-and-plum jam, apple-and-fig jam......oh yummmmmmmm. Expect some of these recipes in the months ahead.


French Apple Tart
Time Needed
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 25 minutes

Keep Ready:
2 green apples, peeled, chopped
1 green apple, unpeeled, thinly sliced semi-circles
Puff pastry
Cinnamon
Butter
Light muscovado (or nearest brown equivalent) sugar

Then:
Put the chopped apples in a small pot with some cinnamon and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cook on a low heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, till apples turn into a soft mush. Roll out the pastry into a circle, and brush all over with butter. At this point, you can choose to make a raised ridge around the edge, or just leave it flat.

Spread the apple mush on the base. Then arrange the sliced apple semi-circles over the mush, first laying them around the outside, then moving to the middle. Brush all over with butter again, sprinkle with sugar, bake at 220C
for 25 minutes (or till the apples just start to singe).

Serve hot, with thick cream, or vanilla ice-cream.


What's nice about it:
It's an apple tart! What more do you people want?

..ok fine. It's one of the easier baked apple dishes to make, because there's no making a batter and fuss (although that is much fun too). You can get ready-made puff pastries, and that cuts down half the work. And it's the simplicity of the dish that makes it wonderful - the softness of the apples, the crisp base, and the sheer prettiness of the dish.

Focus on:
1) Using green apples - Bramleys are the best (these are the huge 'cooking' apples).
2) Getting the sugar-tartness balance right. You want to let the natural taste of the Bramleys come through, but not so much that it feels like your teeth are melting.
3) Brown sugar is preferable to white. Gives more flavour.
4) If you're not using tart apples, forget the sugar.
5) Just a sprinkling of cinnamon.


Ok, enough. Go away and make some. And if you don't - suffer, because one is sure to make some for oneself. Apple tarts this weekend! Yayayayayayayayayayay!!....ahem ... done now.

4.10.07

Some day,
we will peer back
at the reflected stranger,
and wonder when we stopped looking
like the pictures in our head.

And we will find ourselves
waiting by a moving stair,
patiently hoping for a little lull
in which to take our turn
and move on to nowhere.

Some day,
we will try and understand
the things that are changing the world,
but after nodding in quiet bewilderment, slink away
to put on the songs we have always loved.

And we will make up our minds
to rise up again and match our best,
but the body we will be lugging around
will sink back for a little more rest.

Some day,
we will sit down,
just for a while,
to rest our feet as the world flows hastily by,
and when we look up,
a year will have gone by.

And we will find ourselves
pottering away,
with all the time to live our lives,
but little life left to live them in.

Some day,
we will be of an age
to know ourselves to be aged.

2.10.07

When life takes you down a slope - freewheel.