LiterEature 101: Anna Karenina

russian tea cakesIt’s been a long time since my last Lit entry, but I needed time to find not only an amazing book to present but also the inspiration to create something for it. As it happens, my friend and I decided to read Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina for our “Classics” book club and by the time I actually finished it (admittedly far too many months later) I knew this would be the next, as inspiration struck quickly. I admit I ought to have read this book in college, but … fine, we all have our “college” moments, and I never did; thus the added motivation to finally complete and actually talk about. Continue reading

Eid Treasures: the Cookie Edition

Eid Mubarak! The blessed month has come to an end, and I write this with a fulfilled feeling edged with longing for Ramadan to remain, strange as that may sound to those unexposed to the whole Ramadan experience.  Nevertheless, no one can deny that we look forward with bright happy hearts to the holiday that follows, Eid ul Fitr.  Islamic holidays are marked with community prayers early in the morning, quickly followed by plentiful opportunities to meet friends, hang out with family, eat splendid treats and take beautiful afternoon naps!

This was my first Eid ul Fitr away from the family, and admittedly it was a mite bit difficult in the morning—there’s nothing quite like walking out of the Eid prayer with hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of people and, like a scavenger, routing out all your relatives and friends!  The ultimate hunt for celebratory elation!  The husband and I were missing that but no matter, that’s what Facetime is for. 🙂  And I had planned a special surprise for my family—delicious treats sent overnight just for them!  I’ve never mailed food before, and I’m not sure if I overdid (or underdid, for that matter) it, but I individually wrapped homemade cookies for them, stuffed those into sealed bags, placed those in a randomly designed tin, and bubble-wrapped that in a USPS box for overnight delivery.  They arrived in edible order, that’s all that matters.wrapped and ready

I wanted to wait for them to call me in surprise, but thankfully I had the sense to ask my dad (repeatedly!!) to check the door once they came home from their own outings because otherwise they’d have left my poor cookies on the doorstep without a moment’s glance or realization.  Oy!  Families! Make it so hard to drop a simple surprise…

Anyhoo, thus arises this Special Cookie Edition of Coriander Dreams, with not one but two scrumptious recipes for your delight: My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies ever, and Sweet Coconut Sugar Cookies. Continue reading

Inaugural Butter Cookies

**HAPPY NEW YEAR!**

Christmastime sparks happiness and beauty—it’s just a festive time for all—whether you celebrate it or not, but this year I actually was surprised with a completely out-of-the-blue gift that will continue to whet my appetite for the rest of time!  On Christmas Eve I received a package at the door, entirely unexpected, only to realize that my Sister-in-law decided to give me a black KitchenAid Stand Alone Mixer!  Oh the shock! The rapture! I could distantly hear angels sing in a melodious chorus as I opened the box with delicacy reserved only for newborns I imagine.

What a treat, and I have yet to put it to full-time use, but I couldn’t resist inaugurating it somehow… eventually I’m going to make a decadent and smooth and absolutely sinful chocolate cake, but as the husband is not a huge fan of chocolate (what is wrong with men anyway?!?) I decided on a simpler task, and I fine tuned my butter cookies.  I meant to make honey butter cookies, but half way through rolling the batter onto the baking trays did I realize I forgot about honey entirely, so I did half regular, and half with honey.

I used melted milk chocolate and coconut flakes as decoration as well.

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Black & White Thumbdrop Delights (and a glimpse of mushrooms!)

Since Superduperamazingblogidea has been put on hold, scheduled to commence on Christmas weekend now (methinks Friday so the G and I can cook up a storm together) I have to entertain myself somehow.  But provided I’m still hesitant to cook anything too rich or succulent lest it wakens the sleeping dragon in G’s turbulent tummy, I kept the dinner portion of the evening very simple and light: some spicy garlic roasted mushrooms, dahl (red & yellow lentils), rice… and just because it’s one of his ridiculous comfort foods, some Maggi noodles (for the blissfully unawares, those are pretty much the Indian version of Top Ramen.  Yeah.  Fancy pants cuisine right there hehe). 

FYI The mushrooms were gloriously easy – just tossed white mushrooms in olive oil, lots of garlic, a little salt, black pepper, and chili flakes, pour entire mixture into a baking dish, top with chunks of butter (or Smart Balance haha), and roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  The garlic melts into the butter and makes this sumptuous sauce… I found this recipe online at Smitten Kitchen and just had to try it.  So simple, so soft, so savory.  Squeeze lemon juice once out of the oven and sprinkle with basil or oregano or cilantro or whatever you like. YUM!

I love simplicity, but… I have the kitchen bug in me.  In the past month or so a dormant being has been summoned to life in my bones, controlling my urges, my actions, the very tinkerings of my mind, where all I can think about for hours on end is the magic awaiting me in the kitchen (seriously, the channel I watch most on TV is Food Network). I love to create.  Love love love it.  I may not be good at it, but I love it.  I’ve never been as thrilled by cooking and baking as I am now – is it simply because I’m doing it with and for my husband now, or that I have complete reign and freedom over a kitchen (as opposed to living with parents and always worrying about what they would like)?  Whatever the case may be, I just feel so at ease here that I want to continue to drum up specialties, or at least try.  For example: Eventually I’ll start a line of a variety of crispy spring rolls, I guarantee it! Once I create a variety that is…

It always comes back to creativity.  At some point I’m going to be more focused and driven on my writing again, having already started on a few projects that are now lying wistfully by my side.  <<Don’t worry my lovelies, I’ll give you some attention soon! I promise!>> Until then I am expanding my desire to imagine up something special into different forums.  What a blessing it is, I suppose, that I have the ability and opportunity to explore different avenues.  As a child I was all about drawing and painting, so artful expression is inherent to my nature.  And honestly, cooking is an amazing outlet, the beautiful method in which we can nourish our sanity and humanity.

But I digress.  The point of all this rambling is to explain why I decided to dream up cookies too.  But oy! Don’t think that I am on the fast track to Chubbsville with all these sweets.  No, these I actually dreamed up with the intention of having G share them with his coworkers, a little holiday treat for them.

And so after a bunch of thinking and consideration, I eventually settled on black&white cookie sandwiches, little buttery drops of goodness filled with rich chocolate or various fruit spreads… But no.  That didn’t work out and I shall tell you why.

  1. No double boiler set up to melt chocolate (i.e. I have no metal bowl to melt my chocolate in)
  2. The cookie batter didn’t conform to the little teaspoon shape I wanted, so I improvised.

And thus, black & white thumbdrop delights were born, thumb-pressed to be filled with any assortment of things.

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NewlyWed Exploits

Looking back on the past two months, I can really see how much I have enjoyed cooking.  Washing the dishes, not so much (that’s supposedly what G is for) but I think I am finding a groove for myself, a discovery of new flavors, talents, mistakes, and the desire to explore.  But I haven’t written about any of it because my time has been consumed greedily by the stress of trying to adapt to this “merry land.”  However, I have taken a few photos, and thought perhaps it would be nice to give a brief photographic glimpse into our humble kitchen exploits.

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