July 15, 2014

Berry Pie

July 15, 2014
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In order to cut and serve a wet pie neatly, bake it in a shallow dish. Learn from my mistakes and don’t use a tall spring form – it’s a bad, bad idea! When lifting the side piece up, I pierced the crust and trickled the juices; when removing the bottom part, I tore off the entire base of the pie. What a mess! Maroon berry compote splattered around the kitchen and my dress.
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Luckily I had photographed the pie when it was still hot and intact. These pictures would give me a narrative license to create a visual illusion and you would never have to know about the mishap! Or, so I thought before realizing I had accidentally – and very permanently – deleted the pictures from the camera. All of them.
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I was unfocused. It was a hot day: I wanted to finish baking and photographing as soon as possible. I sweated, had heartburn and a headache. Funny, when the mind becomes distracted it storms all over the place although it should pause and re-evaluate. But, in the heat of the moment, it is too engrossed and ignores the little cues that forecast trouble. How many times have you neglected the flash of premonition that strikes the thought process just seconds before cutting a finger or dropping a glass? Often only a shock will halt a passionate mind. Breaking the pie and loosing the pictures did it for me.
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Instead of baking and photographing again, I decided to deal with the mind. Interestingly, when it was calm, the failure no longer bothered me and I could happily share the crumbles with my husband. It seemed like a natural thing to do, and reminded me that cooking and eating are irreplaceable mediums of affection. The rest – in what form the recipes are presented in social media and how artful the images are – is less important.
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Thank you.




July 3, 2014

Berry Cake

July 3, 2014
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Paper-thin oat cookies, cream and fresh berries stacked into a cake – can the summer get better than this?
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Never mind the cold, rainy weather that keeps us wrapped in wool. I hope your heart is warm.
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Thank you.




June 23, 2014

After dinner mints

June 23, 2014
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There is a person sitting slightly apart from others, observing. Let’s say he is a modestly but well dressed gentleman who sparsely shares his thoughts, but when he does, everyone halts to listen. Even if he is a young boy, he appears elderly. His wealth is sealed in his manner of speaking and grave voice. He seems to shine silently – like a background canvas – in the company of bright characters, remaining somewhat of an enigma to others. If you know the type, you know dark chocolate.
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Peppermint, on the other hand, is the one who doesn’t only initiate a conversation but suddenly changes its direction and fearlessly lifts a controversy on the table. He entertains with radical ideas (and sometimes utopias). He is witty and quick. In fact, he commands attention by engaging others in interesting topics.
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When you bring two (or more) contrasting humors with some commonality together, there is a rapport that endures time and trends. This principle is applicable to any kind of relationship, whether between people or inanimate objects. Confectionary industry has successfully utilized it by creating classics, like After Eight, in which distinct but complementary flavors embrace each others.
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Instead of fondant made of saccharose, water and enzyme invertase, I have filled these after dinner mints with cream cheese.
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Thank you.




June 9, 2014

Nettle, mint & paneer

June 9, 2014
I will keep it short today because it isn’t wise to write a food post on Nirjala Ekadasi, during which we fast, ideally, even from water. Unfortunately, I broke my vow already in the morning because I couldn’t move due to a lower back pain. It’s an ailment that has bothered me for some time, but which I've kept at bay by drinking two cups of warm water upon waking up. I suspect kidney stones but will hear a professional opinion later this week. Despite the drawback, I’m still determined to refrain from food until tomorrow and use the opportunity for increased yoga practice. In the afternoon I will be fortunate to hear sadhu or a saintly person speak on devotional identity, field, purpose and activity.

This nettle, mint and cheese recipe is a version of classic palak paneer. I’ve prepared it once a week since the first wild herbs appeared this spring. It turns out differently each time according to the cooking method and ingredients. Although I wasn’t hundred per cent satisfied with the result, I haven’t had time to redo this particular combination of strong mint and sweet nettle in order to test and improve the recipe. Therefore, please don’t take it literarily but as an inspiration for your own adaptation. Remember, freshly harvested mint is such a dominating flavoring agent that if you omit it, you will have to adjust the spices accordingly. Instead of nettle, you may use any other wild vegetable. For a richer dish, fry paneer.

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Nettles sting: use gloves when picking and handling them! They are best eaten before they blossom; after that they tend to become bitter. You can cut the plant several times and it will grow back again. When young, the stems are tender and usable in the kitchen, too.

If you substitute spinach with nettles, take into consideration that they don’t release as much water as spinach leaves.

Nettles are one of the nature’s most valuable sources of iron. They also contain calcium, folic acid, potassium, manganese, carotenoids and vitamin C. Because of concentrated amounts of nitrates, they should be shortly blanched. Use the water in which you boil the nettles to fertilize your houseplants or garden. Fermented nettle-water increases the pH-value of the soil and, thus, improves the health of plants. To make a fertilizer, fill a bucket with nettles and add enough water to cover them; then, let the mixture stand for two weeks, sieve out the water and compost the plants. The dilution ratio of the fertilizer is 1:10.