It’s nice to see vegetables, as opposed to miles of digital footage, on my chopping board.
That too complete with foreboding, suggestive shapes, glossy red balls, and a whole load of innuendo.
or so i think it is.
When I was on holiday this time in July, my Nikon D40x never left the suitcase. Except when I went to Bath for a night and even then it’s battery turned out have one photo worth of charge. I let it go, that pressure of capturing something, feeling like a maniacally clicking factory of beauty, therefore capturing the mediocre. It’s a struggle I’ve started to experience in the kitchen of all places.
I’m sure the visuals are an important part for many people who like to produce food. I also like the flat, even lighting I get on our kitchen counters from the flood of fluorescent lights under the cabinets. It enhances the details in the surface and produces these mild, looming hovers of shadow.
i’ve totally forgotten how to write in html.
that’s how long it’s been since i last blogged.
It seemed a shame not to capture one month of soul-searching, eating, drinking, looking at bright colours, and walking, walking, walking… on london’s bridges, through alleys, round quaint corners.
but tied down by laptop i wasn’t going to be.
along with my usual pillage of art-officiale …
(ok, more like an overnighter-full)
of H&M shopping…
…one of the more easily relatable forms of baggage i brought back with me was a sampling of some alternative food.
also got organic butter beans and multi-grain flaxseed, spelt, [thingamajig] crackers.
back to quinoa.
the thing that makes a big difference in my diet picture, and makes me so happy every time i cook with it, i want to don a fifties-style kitchen glamour suit complete with sky-blue apron and matching patent later heels and kick one up behind me in delight.
i’d heard of bulgar wheat, but that was my only (imaginary) foray into serious alternatives to the all-encompassing problem of wheat. brown rice is fine, but it still felt like i was just compartmentalizing my eating life between portions of desi-home-made-dish no.1/2/3/4 + roti/brown rice.
So what makes quinoa so special? It was more just the way i rethought my relationship with food, got inspired to make it my own, while i was away in london. i once again saw the simplicity of grilling assorted vegetables, baking fish within ten minutes, and perhaps most importantly, got an inner whiff of the simple herb, spice and vinegar combinations that sort of liberate your palette.
i got a whiff, and i’ve been intoxicated every since, to buy, plan, re-use ingredients: to make the most of the the eatables i love.
Today was the third time i used quinoa.
A simple online concoction using zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes & red onion as a grilled warm salad along with chopped-basil-infused quinoa.
Before the two are united in a hearty, healthy union, the cooked quinoa is doused with the a dressing of all-essential balsamic vinegar, whisked with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. The same dressing marinates the chopped prepped vegetables before they’re grilled.
One of the things that appealed to me about this recipe is it celebrates the way balsamic vinegar can make the simplest ingredients robust and full of tangy, zesty lightness. As the author said, “repeat after me: balsamic makes everything better.” The famous balsamic vinegar / honey reduce will always make a lot of salads taste divine. If it’s an emergency and I just want some taste in a psuedo-gourmet snack, i’ve even whisked balsamic vinegar with maple syrup and its served me just fine.
I know I’ve written before about my OCD mushroom ritual, but I think I got a little closer to capturing their compelling alabaster veneer with the camera this time. Thus it had to be shared. There’s something about their squishy, rubbery softness when you slice into their sublime purity. So disarmingly whole, when they gaze (un-quartered), face upwards, like a one-dimensional collage of organic circles.
Until they’re cut.
Then, deep, velvety eggplant tinged cores bristling with fibry detail, softly blemish the inner edges of these unabashedly pristine fans of creaminess.
Whether it’s mushrooms and tomatoes sandwiched between mustard-slapped bread, or mushrooms lightly sauteed and salted along with spinach, their robust smokiness is always enhanced by a burnished garlic clove that’s literally melted into them in the pan.
Break a clove upon the edge of your knife, slide it onto the fat in the pan, and watch its flavour permeate.
Sacrifice the virginal mushrooms to this smoldering altar, till they are sullied by heat and poignancy into a completely different form.
smoky hues of brown and violet fuse together as they sizzle in a lemon zing.