Ying Yang Kale

Sitting at my newly acquired desk, positioned alongside the window, overlooking the grounds outside the apartment building. I half expect to find a deer stoically grazing on fallen branches and shrubbery, as I have on occasion witnessed, but so far I continue to be relegated to our modern era, the roar of passing cars harnessing me to the present.  But I am in awe of the pastoral elements that encircle my life, and I feel quite ridiculously empowered to be sitting at a marvelous writing desk built for the sole purpose of siphoning and nurturing my words.

I’ve only just completed a novel, the second in a series, which I am sure I will discuss with you at some later moment.  But as part of it dove into the reverie of a French backdrop in the late 1700’s (that would be during the time of the French Revolution for non-history-minded folk), I am suffocated by a deep longing to cook and bake using obscene amounts of butter and cream.  I have to remind myself that I do not have the constitution to handle such an onslaught upon my health, but I’m unduly sore from a workout yesterday, so I presume that if I keep that up, I can dine as I wish. As long as I keep the husband just as active, I think we can venture into decadent splendor once or twice more often.  But we are not there yet, and instead I will share my other new fixation, on the completely other side of the spectrum. A healthy snack that takes such minimal amount of work, it’s almost scandalous.  I refer of course to bakes Kale.  No no, don’t scoff, it’s quite crunchy and delicious.

I won’t stop there though—nay, you get the pleasure of experiencing kale in two inspiring forms, so that you may decide for yourself which texture which bite, which swirl of flavors appeal to your sensibilities most.  Baked or Sauteed?  Not unlike the deliberation between Goobers and Raisinettes—“Ain’t that the eternal question?” (15 points to the first to identify that quote, barring my sister.  She’s as big a nerd as I and will likely squeal with nostalgic delight at reading that.)

Lest I digress further, let’s get on with it. Continue reading

Lentil-Stuffed Bell Peppers

I stared into the pantry cupboard. I turned to gaze at the open door of the fridge.  A sigh of puzzlement.  Back to the pantry. To the fridge.  Pantry. Fridge. Pantry. Fridge.  Ceiling.  Oh, that would be me rolling my eyes in aggravation at not knowing what to make.

This is how most days start for me actually, unless I had a vision the night before and plan to bring it to life.  Not for want of ingredients—definitely not stocked with all the goodies of a gourmet pantry but decently expansive most of the time—but rather I always begin the creative process this way.  Staring blankly at a white page, at a new day, at an untouched kitchen.  The directions are infinite, thus rendering my decision-making all the harder.

So anyway, one day in particular I took a gander at the plethora of lentils that G bought recently and figured it might be wise to start using some of them—but how?? Ergh… more thinking… what to do with all this stuff?? This stuff… stuff… Stuff!

And thus Stuffed bell peppers with lentils galore were born!  Yeah yeah, cheesy transition, but cheesy I am. Continue reading

Alya discovers Fennel

Here’s a quick post, because I’m trying to get a few things in order today, from the mundane (laundry) to the … less mundane (hitting the library to return some things). Ah but I’m also working on my next major novel feast, so that’s going to take a little creativity. I’m looking forward to this one actually. By the way, Ulysses by James Joyce is not the ideal book to choose to base a dinner on. If you’ve read it, you’ll know why. Suffice it to say I’m not going to be using the book, although it has been an enormous challenge, and I still plan to finish it.

Anyhoo, the title of this post gives it all away, so let’s get to it. I discovered
fennel! Not the seed, which is a common Pakistani/Indian after dinner refresher, especially in a mix with coconut shreds and sugar etc. But no, I speak not of this, I speak of the actual plant, the bulb, the big ol’ part-cabbage-part-onion-looking vegetable that shares none of the taste of either. I have come across recipes in recent past utilizing the plant, but I never saw it anywhere… until a few days ago, when I randomly noticed it at Trader Joes, and then I just had to try it out. Considering I had no clue what to do, I just kept it simple this time around. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I was pleasantly surprised that the husband enjoyed it, and we’ll be experimenting with it later… I already have plans. Sordid plans for the unassuming round bugger.
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Oh My Sweet (chick)Pea! What a Masala!

Home Sweet Home! The past week I spent in California with the folks, frolicking in warm weather. In fact, I actually extended my trip by two days in order to bypass the awful possibility of taking up residence in an airport due to winter storms and the like.  It worked out quite well, as G would truly have been unable to retrieve my beleaguered self from the airport had I been able to fly in Tuesday.  That said, a few more days with the family were nice and well spent (mainly in eating exorbitant loads of cookies, watching movies, and playing games) but I was extremely happy to be back.  And quite surprisingly (or not), I missed my kitchen (though not nearly as much as the husband, I swear!).  I realized I felt a little out of sorts in my mom’s domain—my creativity was slightly stilted and I simply just didn’t move around with as much ease as I do in my tiny box over here.  Nevertheless, I did whip up some honey-wheat pancakes—with bananas and blueberries—and fajita-style chicken and peppers, but I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t at my A game.

And thus, the return home marked a revival of spirits: utter contentment on my part to be with G again, my husband’s own spirit bouncing off the walls as well, and my desire to be spontaneous! Be free! Be wild and crazy in the kitchen!!

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