Seattle Bookstore: Book Larder

The other store I stopped in at in Seattle was Book Larder: A Community Cookbook Store, which I’d also love to do an event at for Feast. Look at this awesome space! I could teach a real Sri Lankan cooking class here. It’s so charming. I wanted to buy ALL the books, but restrained myself. Also ALL the dishtowels. Kevin asked me recently if I really needed so many dishtowels. Yes. Yes I do. Hush, love.

Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company

Seattle, Elliott Bay Book Company. I went by to drop off a copy of A Feast of Serendib, to ask whether they might want to do an event there if I came back. First of all, their cookbook section is very impressive — Seattle people must like to cook! (Long, dark winters…) And check out the big dedicated section on SE Asian cooking; that tells you where you should try eating out when you’re in town. 

But the funniest bit was that way back in 1997, twenty-two years ago, I did a reading here when I was a student at Clarion West. And amazingly, the programming guy, Rick, actually remembered me from back then! How cool is that? (What I would give for a memory that worked that well…)

Rick’s even going to Sri Lanka in a few weeks, and we had a great conversation about his travels there, and about other Sri Lankan American authors he likes, and it was just very cool. I hope I can manage to fit in a Seattle trip for the book launch this year!

Looking for a food writing class

A friend is looking for a food writing class, like the one I took with Pooja Makhijani at Catapult. Suggestions? She’d love one in Chicago, but since that seems unlikely, online? Or a local workshop of people who are working on food writing, perhaps? If the latter, in the Oak Park area would be ideal for her.

Calling in sick

I’m actually calling in sick today, which I hate to do the first week of the semester — I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But since I’m breaking into a hacking cough every three minutes or so, and I feel too woozy to drive, prudence seems the better part of valor here.

At least they have plenty of reading to do, and I just hope missing today doesn’t interrupt the bonding flow of the first few weeks too much; it’s so important to establish the right vibe and expectations with the class in those early weeks. Sigh. These mortal bodies. What can you do?

#professorsarehuman
#serendibteaching

Kavi feels bad for her sick Mommy

I am so pathetic in my sickness (it’s just a cold, but a bad one), that Kavi came to me after Anand went to bed and said, “Mommy, I still have an hour until bedtime and I’ve done all my homework; are there any chores I could help you with?”

So in the last 45 minutes, she’s swept up the needles from the Christmas tree (that Kev took out earlier), sorted a big bin of miscellaneous stuff and distributed it to various places all over the house, and emptied the dishwasher.

I just told her to go ahead and go to bed, and she asked if there really wasn’t anything else I needed her to do, and I said no, it was fine, I was going to go to bed soon too, and thanks so much for all the help, and she said, “I just feel so bad for my sick Mommy.”

Like I said, I am clearly *very* pathetic right now.

But I have a perfect child, so it’s okay.

New food books

In case it’s of interest, I had a gift certificate for $200 in books, and I decided to go all in on food memoir-ish stuff. This is what I’ve ordered:

The Language of Baklava, Diana Abu Jaber
A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain
My Life in France, Julia Child
Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin
How to Cook a Wolf, MFK Fisher
Grape, Olive, Pig, Matt Goulding
Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin
Tender at the Bone, Ruch Reichl
The Making of a Chef, Mark Ruhlman
Yes, Chef, Macus Samuelsson
Domesticity, Bob Shacochis
Toast, Nigel Slater
Give a Girl a Knife, Amy Thielen
Rhapsody in Schmaltz, Michael Wex

I imagine some reviews will be coming along at some point…

Let’s see if I can identify these meal photos

You know I’ve been too busy when I get months behind on posting photos from my phone. Let’s see if I can identify these meals:

a) I made a salad with roasted brussels sprouts — I remember that it was tasty, but don’t remember the occasion!

b) This was dinner in Greektown with George R.R. Martin and one of his fabulous assistants when he was in town — yumyum. (And did I feel very cool? Yes, yes I did.)

 

c) I think this was a poached egg in a salad with…oh, now I can’t remember. Maybe Amanda or Nara or Roshani or Kavi? Definitely at Léa up the street, I think. Good! I’m not sure if I’ve had a poached egg in a salad before; I approve.

d) Experimenting with painting edible gold dust on chocolate cookies pressed out with a fancy die-cut roller. Dust = good. Roller = good. Cookies = meh; at some point, I’d like to develop a cookie recipe I’m happier with for this kind of application. Something with a little zing to it.  Chocolate-cayenne, perhaps? Or abandon the chocolate and go for a classic lemon sugar cookie…maybe we’ll experiment for Valentine’s Day. What are V-day flavors to you, aside from chocolate? Hmm…I’m thinking passionfruit cookies are worth experimenting with!

e) This is the one that really makes my mouth water. Stringhoppers and curries. Nothing better! I can’t remember who I was eating this with, but I must have liked them a lot if I pulled out the string hoppers….

“When you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time.”

I’ve started reading this book, and while some of it isn’t so relevant to me (geared towards professional food photographers or those who would like to become them, so talking about apertures and the like), some of it is. I’d like to take better photos for you all.

And the intro was actually just rather lovely, esp. the last paragraph, and applicable to writing and many other arts / career passions:

“I tell you this not to boast about my own success, but because I am aware that many of you are looking to reinvent yourselves, and understanding that it’s possible matters. I know there never seems to be enough time in the day, but when you are pursuing a dream, you will find the time. It will not feel like work.”

#serendibkitchen

Orchid terrarium tutorial

Recently someone in our garden club asked about how you put together a terrarium. Since our house cleaner also recently knocked over and broke the small terrarium we had (sitting on an overly-tippy end table), I took that opportunity to pick up what I’d really wanted all along — a taller, free-standing terrarium, big enough to house full-size orchids (24″ high interior).

A trip to Trader Joe’s for cheap orchids, and some potting soil, little plants, pebbles, and moss from the garden store, and I was ready to go. There’s very little to instruct, really, but here goes, in case it’s helpful:

a) I started with a layer of pebbles in the bottom for drainage, followed by a layer of soil.

b) I added the orchids next, and this bit, I’m not sure I did right, but since I know orchids prefer their roots to stay mostly dry, I left them potted in their little plastic pots filled with orchid bark, and just nestled those in the soil.

c) Then I tucked in some little terrarium-type plants around them. Your nursery can advise you on what’s well suited to this, but just keep in mind that what you’re recreating is essentially a moist, jungly environment. Terrariums are related to Wardian cases, which were used to bring tropical plants back from the tropics to England, keeping them alive on the long voyage. So I wouldn’t use a terrarium for succulents!

d) I added a layer of moss, which serves the dual function of looking nice and also retaining moisture in the soil.

e) That’s it! Put the lid on, and you have a moist, mostly self-contained environment. It should need water rarely. My understanding is that usually terrarium plants want plenty of indirect light (not blasted with sun) — imagine that you’re under the tree cover of a tropical jungle. So I put mine by a window that’s near an overhanging porch roof.

Now, the next step is that eventually, these orchids will lose all their flowers (though it’ll take a few months; I try to pick orchids that are mostly buds, with just a few blooms, so the show is sure to last a long time). In theory, one can then take care of them appropriately so that they’ll come back, year after year. I haven’t actually done that yet, but I have friends that do it regularly, and swear it isn’t hard.

When these are done, I’m hoping to try that, and I’m also hoping to replace one of them with a more interesting variety, since they’re all, I think, pretty standard phalaeonopsis (or moth) orchids, and there are so many more cool varieties out there. I’m looking forward to eventually experimenting with other types.

#serendibgarden