Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

It's been a while, na?  And it's winter, when cooking offers you the excuse to warm up in a nice cosy kitchen. So what better time to resume?  


Ravishing Red Salad

Time required:
About 10 minutes.

Keep ready (to serve 4 people):
3 plump winter carrots
One small pomegranate
One medium beetroot
Sumac, powdered
Salt & pepper

Grate the carrots, remembering to remove the woody whitish-yellow bit in the centre. Parboil and grate the beetroot. Peel and mix in the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle liberally with sumac. Add a touch of pepper and salt.

Serve at room temperature.

Why you should try this:

Simply for the sheer vividness of this dish on a dull winter's day, which is guaranteed to make your life feel just a tad brighter.  The deep almost-purpleness of the beet, mixed with the glistening ruby pearls of the pomegranate, all overlaid by the rich bright redness of the carrots, heightened by the specks of burgundy sumac.  It is truly a sight for sore eyes.

Plus, it tastes yummy (sweet, with a hint of sour) and is super-nutritious to boot.

You could try adding some red peppers, red cabbage, or watermelon.  The first two if you're adamant about having a bit of crunch, the last if you've got a Mediterranean thing going or are craving some fruit.  

They all go with the base ingredients, and they bring in a whole new colour as well.

However, I really wouldn't add red onions, red radishes, or any 'red' lettuce.  It just makes the thing get too pungent or too chewy. 


Long, long ago

... I'd written about how my personal library now expands almost entirely thanks to the existence of street-vendors and charity shops. Well, five years since then and things are pretty much the same. And yet, not.

I still almost never buy new books for myself, although I don't buy as many books anymore* either.  I still prefer thumbed-through books, but I've started leaning towards ones that not that thumbed-through. I pick up random books that seem interesting, but only if they seem really interesting, and are likely to be re-read over the years.

I've also entered what I can only term as a period of consolidation.  Which means I'm replacing copies that have become decrepit over time (if they weren't already to start with**). I still don't mind a faded cover and yellowed pages, but I no longer seem to compromise on torn corners and ink marks.

Most curiously, I've got to the point where I'm begun selecting (and discarding) books on the basis of their book covers.  So I will only pick up a Discworld book if it's one of the original Corgi prints with the Josh Kirby designs, rather than the miserably 'adult' Harper Collins ones. I used to think it was just that I wanted to standardise any series I had, but now I find myself rejecting stand-alone titles because the cover is 'meh'.

And I'm also doing this by size. I keep finding myself staring at my shelves and getting irritated because a line of books by the same author are of varying heights and disrupt the flow of the book-line. I keep comparing different formats against each other to try and figure out which one I prefer and why. And then I keep hoping I'm not getting all obsessive-compulsive.

Thankfully, I'm not yet (too) fussed about the font size and page colour, but I suspect I'm headed there.

All of which only adds more impetus to my book-hunting, and introduces a heightened element of thrill. The joy of finding that one title you don't have in the cover you prefer in the size you like, for a sum that's a bargain, after months of searching through stacks of dusty piles? As the ad says: Priceless.

At any rate, the temporary adrenaline kick at such a discovery helps me pretend a little longer that I'm not just turning into a middle-aged fussy fusspot.

* I've even had to tap my inner executioner and cull my library***. This is what happens when you greedily accept random books your friends and relatives don't want, or buy ones that are on sale for 20p, in the hope that they might be interesting. And they turn out not to be.  Also, lack of space.
** Why would I buy such books in the first place? Because - a) I just had to have them then; and b) They were a bargain.
*** I needed therapy after the act(s). I still blame my evil twin.