LiterEature 101: The Scorpions of Zahir

coverThis particular book has been on my agenda for months. I’ve read tons of books in the past few months, but I desired to craft this one into something tasty simply because it takes place in Morocco. Hence a chance to delve into Moroccan flavors! Something new for everyone. And yet, upon completing The Scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones, I had a deflated sense of excitement. I couldn’t quite pin it down; certainly there was mention of the aromatic marketplaces, and phyllo-wrapped chicken with almonds and spicy roasted plums. But, the title should indicate there were some unpleasantries as well. Like a plethora of scorpions. And an abandoned soul in the desert feasting on fried purple locusts. *sigh* Nevertheless,I fought against the insects to bring you this new post. Please enjoy. With a side of spotted lizard if you desire (I assure you, I do not). (FYI scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipes) Continue reading

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Sundried Tomato Hummus

The mission: empty out the pantry.  The challenge: don’t buy anything else to fuel the possible recipes gallivanting through your head. The struggle: but what the hecks do I do with cream of wheat, curry leaves, and light brown sugar? (answer: nothing… yet).

While certain combinations won’t see the light of existence, some other medleys worked out far better. Although every minute that I spend inside my apartment is overlaid with the mantra, I need to pack I need to pack I MUST NEEDS PACK, I find myself cooking instead.  Call it stress relief. Or denial.  Whatever. I need to get rid of my groceries too, okay? (technically it’s not that big of a deal, as we are moving into his sister’s place close by first, and then the ALL IMPORTANT MYSTERIOUS SHIFT SHALL OCCUR IN THE MIDST OF RAMADAN AND FASTING. Nevertheless, would rather clear it all out now.) Continue reading

Shrimp Scampi

Did you know I love Italian food? As a child my favorite food was ravioli… then lasagna… then ravioli and lasagna. Since then I’ve graduated to adore other cuisines (I don’t think I can live without Indian/Pakistani or Thai food) but I have a secret longing for it sometimes that I cannot normally satiate. All that pasta, all that glorious carbohydrate-rich pasta… no, I can’t go there. My round and pudgy inner-child may be bouncing in pure joy at the thought but that’s as far as I can go. Of course every once in a while we all have a fine Italian meal but not nearly as often as was my lifestyle long ago. This may of course be in part because the husband has a distinct lack of fondness for tomato sauce. I know. It hurts me just to write that (please have mercy on him, supreme marinara lords of the Tuscan sun). Continue reading

Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus

I feel I’ve been a little unfair and mysterious about the reason behind my hiatus.  I did of course allude to an injury of sorts, but let me shed light on that before moving further—namely so you may refrain from being as stupid as I am.  Essentially I was trying to open the binding ties of a sealed box with a knife.  *Long pause* Yeah I don’t think I need to say much else, except I passed out at the sight of blood (yes I admit I am a pansy when it comes to blood, but Pottermore recently dubbed me a Gryffindor, so I’m brave too! Or just stubborn!  No matter!) and needed 8 stitches on my poor thumb.  In case you are wondering, it is still slightly numb (as if it never fully woke up) but after so many months it now has a 98% performance rating, the 2% comprising numbness and a slight inflexibility compared to my left thumb.  Such is life.  But kiddos, DO NOT USE SHARP SMALL PARING KNIVES TO OPEN BOXES.

So unfortunately this post lacks a photo right now because although I’ve been developing my skills at cooking with both good and not-so-good experiences, I had become waylaid concerning the use of the camera. For shame!  But isn’t it enough just to jot down recipes?? Trust me.  My laziness evidently knows no bounds, but I am relying on this blog to keep me steadfast in my goals. (I promise all my other posts will have photos, I just totally missed this one.)

So, tiny back story: We have the habit of trying to avoid the café at work – something about the sweat pouring off of the head chef while he sautés veggies and cooks up bacon on the same flat iron grill churns my stomach with relentless gremlin hands – so on occasion I’ll pull together some sandwiches for lunch.  This is hardly necessary while we’re fasting, but hummus is useful on its own too, obviously.  Continue reading

The easiest chicken kabob EVER

Since I have started working, it would behoove me to concoct or search for recipes that are not as labor-inducing. Granted, if I have the inspiration and the inclination I will do whatever I want, though I have relegated myself to the truth that such magnificent enterprises will most likely take a hit and come around on the occasional weekend. But it’s okay. Now G has begun to cook more (he made the most delicious Pepper Chettinad Chicken the other day, and I can only hope he will write about it, because you all deserve to know what he has been up to) and I am learning to share my marked domain with him with more ease.

Because as much as I like to bother him that I do most of the cooking and he should take a bigger part in it, especially for someone who has such a flair for it, the truth is that cooking is not just a means of feeding our grumbly tummies for me. And recent discoveries have revealed that many of the authors I admire to the furthest reaches of my literary toes have also found peace, solace, inspiration, and fluidity of mind through cooking. Should I be worried that quite a few of these women also committed suicide? Well… perhaps I should be glad I’m not a genius published author like Virginia Woolf then.

Anyhoo, the kitchen has been my inner sanctum of control, but opening up more with my husband has blossomed into some really sensational new opportunities. For example, the first sampling of G’s Magical Masala Blends! He personally created his own spice blend, roasting cumin and coriander and some other stuff, in very specific quantities, to create this spice mixture that would knock Muhammad Ali out. It smells like a desert rose saturating the sunset air of a remote oasis. Tantalizing.

So I used it in these super quick kabobs. And we regaled in the glory of the perfect mini patty. Continue reading

Double Chocolate Maple Cookies

I haven’t baked in a while.  It feels rather wrong, but I have been trying in vain to control my insatiable sweet tooth.  I did make a quick berry puff with whipped cream for G and I once, but that doesn’t count because I used those packaged puff shells, and just simmered some berries in sugar and water to make a glaze to fill the shells.  That’s not baking. That’s EASY.

Nevertheless, I have been on a mission to get my exercise regimen back in shape (pun intended) so the sweets have to take a back seat.  Except when I mistakenly switch on the Food Network during what appears to be Comfort Food Weekend.  Except when I see the beauty that is a rich chocolately delicious cookie. Except when I can’t handle the withdrawal any longer and need to satisfy that stereotypical-for-a-reason female obsession for chocolate.

So I fiddled a bit and came up with this recipe for Double Chocolate Maple Cookies (with White Chocolate Chips), and then promptly made G take nearly all of them to work with him so I wouldn’t be unconscionably tempted by their alluring presence.  BTW the “double” comes from using both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the recipe.  Delish! Continue reading

Lemony Garlic Chicken Noodles for the Soul

It’s a combination that is hailed and heralded in almost every culture (that I am familiar with at least)—lemon, garlic, pepper.  The Tang, the Flavor, the Bite. Sour, Savory, Spicy.  Triple S.  Ah, good times indeed.

Even far back in those decadent days of cooking all pasta all the time in college, just with varying kinds of chicken (yeah I wasn’t breaking any boundaries back then, let me tell ya), I do recall my friend Tehniat’s fixation with lemon pepper chicken.  I was fairly decent at it back then, and I’ve improved on it now.  Using thinly sliced breast meat is key for these kinds of dishes, where I want to have diced chicken floating in a whirlpool of marinated (wheat!) pasta.  It’s been fun and easy to try different marinade ideas in the morning, and just cook it up rapidly at night.  Gives me a sense of calmness to have figured out dinner plans early in the day, so I can just sit and write and write and write and exercise and clean and write or try to write and read and read and clean some more and read and… yeah those are my days lately.  Writing, or searching for jobs actually.  Can be stressful.  So a simple dish like this will do a lot to help ones brain out. Continue reading