2012 Wrap Up (and yes, I’m Still Here)

Oh my! How many months have gone by! Ay, I really did begin a few posts in October… and November… but fine, perhaps not in December. I just suppose my follow-through hinges were a tad rusty (*sigh* my old tennis coaches would be ashamed to hear that). I also had a bit of a balancing act to contend with. Oh but guess who survived her first semester of graduate school?? Sweet bubbly goblets of Martinelli’s! Oh wait, that’s my new year’s treat. Still, I did manage to trespass into the academic world once more and not only emerge unscathed, but with a banner of flying colors undulating behind me. Another time I’ll share details about some of my most interesting projects, but for now let’s just raise our voices in a collective “Huzzah!” that 2012 culminated in good vibes, despite all the heaviness of personal and national calamities that may and have befallen many. A new year emerges, not that I really buy into the “new year” mantra of resolutions and whatnot. I don’t deny that it’s an astronomical miracle of science to behold the world completing another revolution around the Sun, but… well, if it lends a sense of motivation and control over the limitless track of time and circularity for the greater population, then so be it. How about we all endeavor to make 2013 a wee bit more consistent in all our pursuits then? I for one have epic visions of “litereature” posts galore (since I basically read nonstop now, much to my glorious delight). Let’s see if I can maintain an evenly scheduled serving of these posts for you in general, sprinkled with recipes, stories, and reviews.

Now that 2013 is well upon us, I do want to move forward afresh and new, focusing on upcoming recipes and exploits, but I would also like to recap the last few months with a sampling of the goings on down here in San Diego. Admittedly I fell off the virtual map because of academic commitments and personal events that elicited monumental distraction and required a steely grasp on focus–occasionally the hand does slip from sweaty beads of nerves and anxiety, but so it goes. Amidst all that, I did remind myself to cook well, eat well, and try to live well. I wonder why that has to be such a struggle; for something that brings so much harmony, it is painfully difficult to maintain isn’t it?? Don’t digress, Alya! The point is, I did some fun little concoctions, culminating in a swirly cake of fruitastic proportions. So for now, let me hearken back to those simpler times, when the raw pulse of 2013 did not beat upon my weathered head with demands for more work, more stress, more pursuits, more projects, and hopefully more accomplishments! Continue reading

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Jamaican Stir Fried Eggplant

Oh my friends. Where do we begin? I promised myself I would get this out to you within the next hour so I could return to that most beloved of acts, reading. But the word and all its magic has taken quite the toll on me this past week, as I have never been so overwhelmed with such a deluge in recent years! the short of it: grad school is demanding! It dares to challenge my love affair with words (second only to that for my husband though it does fluctuate spots with food. Words or food? Food or words? I love them equally!). Of course, I am thoroughly enjoying myself, but at the same time I have never imbibed so much theoretical text coupled with philosophical writing along with a Thomas Hardy novel in so short a period of time! My brain, she hurts a wee bit.

So I purposely set myself to write this up for you, because my lovely little eggplant dish which I may have raved about at an earlier time has been pouting at me with forlorn eyes, wishing to be shared, desperate for worldwide web attention. I do have a Litereature post brewing in the works (Oh if I had a cauldron! I could actually brew something! Halloween approacheth, and there are plenty of awesome witchy stories…. alas, another lifetime perhaps. Unless you want to buy me a cauldron?). It helps that I am now working, at least for the semester, within the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at school, and will be limitlessly exposed to all sorts of kids/Young Adult books! I dream of all the food/book connections I could come up with… Continue reading

Thai Basil Eggplant

Guys! I’m stressed! I have been secretly munching on chocolate all week at work, thanks to the stash displayed on my coworker’s desk. It’s true magic how my hand can reach 3 desks away and come back with limitless sugar and consequential sugar crashes all under a cloak of invisibility. Oh, and the magic happens a lot more when barbaric tons of stress weigh down my mind. Should I feel special? Or just disgusted with my lack of self control?

The fact is we are moving. And BOY what an eventful move it is going to be, considering we don’t actually have a home lined up yet. Heck, not even a clue what area we should move to. Yup, we like to do things backwards out in these parts. In my experience that’s where adventure, excitement, and overwhelming bouts of anxiety can sneak up behind you and knock your knucklebrain around until the fuzzy yellow birdies come dancing gleefully in your vision. Fun for everyone!

In all seriousness, we are cutting out of the apartment a bit early and staying with my sister-in-law for a few weeks. I’m telling you this now because: a) I AM OVERWHELMED and it is likely to come out in my posts, and b) the posts themselves may become few and far between for a tiny portion of the great expanse of time that encompasses the universe’s existence (that’s my way of saying a few weeks isn’t that long, right?). Fortunately, Beena has a brightly-lit, cheerful and spacious kitchen, so hopefully I can settle in there comfortably enough.  I’m not keen on being out of my own space so grant me my adjustment period please. Continue reading

Tamarind and Garlic Eggplant Fry

This week was not the most delightful as the kitchen arena was rendered out of commission for nearly the entire length of time. As a result of some stupid pest issues, eating healthy became a trying task as we were forced to eat out while trying not to eat expensively all the time. Food is one of those most beloved subjects that nigh on always has a carte blanche; frugality does not trump healthy and fresh nine times out of ten… unless you are really really reaaaaaaaaally trying to keep all spending down.  No we are not exorbitant spenders. Yes we have very legitimate reasons to want to save some moolah. No I will not be discussing that at the moment. All in good time—trust me, good times are just around the corner—but for now, let’s just leave it at my growing irritation of mounting receipts spent on dining out.

But huzzah! Summon the trumpets and adorn the skies with confetti! We can use our wonderful tiny kitchen once more! And to inaugurate that blissful fact, Mr. G himself decided to cook me up a special treat, incorporating three of my supremely favorite ingredients: Tamarind, Garlic, and Eggplant. Continue reading

French Onion Eggplant

Does this happen to you? Do you stare into the fridge thinking you’ll make some simply fun dish—Spanish rice maybe, or shrimp curry, maybe a sweet and spicy dressing for salad even—only to discover one key ingredient is missing? Just one! Not even two or three, but the one single item that means everything. You figure, Ok fine! I’ll just run to the store get that single item (and maybe a few other things, since of course I’m making the trip). And just as it happened before and will happen for the rest of time, you walk into the market with 4 things in mind and walk out with 40. There must be some law of physics for this type of phenomenon. You may happily name it after me, if you so choose, as I’ve lived it for years now.

I’m trying to rein in my spending habits, though I’m no frenzied shopper to be sure. I don’t care about shoes, I don’t get carried away with clothes, I have a decent amount of self discipline with accessories. I’m working on the books addiction I have, but aside from that I’m a good girl. Except for food. New spices, fresh veggies, yummy breads breads breads galore! I love food! But like I said, trying to quell the spending. We needs to be savin’ some money yo, we gots plans, big plans! If such plans come to fruition, then you get to hear about it. For now, we continue to dream our illustrious dreams (I mean, this is Coriander Dreams, so that’s fitting). Continue reading

Returning with a hunger!

The first blessed meal of RamadanI never meant to abandon you. Every day that has passed since that fateful Saturday evening (thumb still flaunts an irritating scar) I have longed to return here in hopes of concocting such sorcery with words that even the driest of tongues and most satiated of hungers will be left smacking their lips and reaching out to the screen for a taste.

Ok, creepy.  Rein it in, Alya.

This unintended break has allowed a lot of breathing room though, and most importantly has reinforced a truth: this site is a beacon of sanity for me.  I can sit and dream up edible possibilities and suddenly the world makes sense again…  Ah, but I’ll spare you any rambling discourse and just get straight into it.  It’s certainly unexpected that I would reboot this blog during Ramadan of all times, but anyone going through this blessed month of fasting will tell you that dishes demand the spotlight.  Whether that’s because a certain variety of dishes only make their presence known traditionally during this month (fruit chaat anyone) or because we become exceedingly more appreciative and aware of what we eat and how much we take in, at the end of the day I have felt increasingly inspired and cajoled into baking, cooking, and desiring to share and reflect upon it.

So just as a reintroduction into my little world of eating, I’d like to share the first dinner of Ramadan this year, an exceptionally special occasion because it was my first one here in MD with the husband.  For the unawares, we fast during daylight hours for a month, and at sunset we break our fast – a special meal called iftar.  Traditionally one has a date first, and from there the food expands into the realm of individual cultures. 

Continue reading

Beyond the Blog: February 2011

Because I haven’t had time (or the longevity of a properly functioning memory) to write up posts for every single dish I have made, or at least the ones I photographed, I thought I might make a habit of sharing, every month, the missed opportunities that befell the four prior weeks.  In doing so, I get to share some of my other exploits with you simply for the joy of loving food.  And perhaps you may find inspiration in my simple endeavors.  Feel free to ask for recipes on any of them; I may or may not remember exactly, but I can share broadly my experiences at the very least.  And at the very most, you might hit the jackpot on a stellar super feasting idea.  Probably not though, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Soooooo… off we go into the Smoky tendrils of Alya’s kitchen…. Continue reading