Hardcovers of Feast!

Hardcovers!!! This is what 100 hardcover cookbooks look like. And yes, I pored over it obsessively tonight until I finally found both a typo and a word choice I’d like to edit, but that just means God won’t smite me down for hubris, because otherwise, this cookbook is pretty close to perfect. 

I think I started seriously working on this book in the summer of 2017, so more than two years ago.

A long (but tasty) road.

(Side notes: Jeremy John Parker, I was setting up a book event today, and the cafe owner asked who had done the book design, because it was really, really good. I agree. Thank you for making this labor of love so beautiful.

Pamudu Tennakoon, every time the book falls open to one of your illustrations, it makes me smile (and for the paperback, which has no photos, your illos absolutely make the book). Paul Goyette, it’s a privilege having one of your photos on my cover, and so many of them in the book.)

***

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/

If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

And here’s all the foodie social media:

Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/

Thanks for your support!

#serendibkitchen

Just jotting down a few notes…

I am NOT working on the Wilding memoir right now. There’s so much else in the queue ahead of it. Let me just jot down a few notes on things that came into my head in the car on the way back from the doctor…

Five minutes later:

– incident — buying house, destroyed by construction, plants coming up, reported to village by trustee who walked by regularly (so we heard), tried to resist, had to go to court, cried, was fined the smallest fine, had to cut it all down. Gave up and started over, rather than wait another year to figure out what I had (knowing it’d look like weeds in the process)
– cut down tree of heaven (mistake)
– massive tendency to fail to water, cost so many plants!
– layering in hardscape, trees, shrubs, perennials, edibles, annuals, groundcover (correct order?)
– how much grass to leave in front (aesthetics) and back (children playing)
– plan for an organic garden, mostly because of small children and edibles — almost no fertilizer (and only organic), no pesticides or herbicides for seven years
– natives outperforming and crowding out ornamentals
– collecter versus designer (design effects: limit number of plants in garden, plant in odd numbers (3,5,70, plant in paisley
– layered bulbs
– Martha Stewart digs out a massive trench and throws down daffodil bulbs willy nilly
– early spring bulbs and hellebores
– spring garden first, then filling in summer and autumn
– Kirsten’s gift of autumn book (British gardening vs.)
– frustration with garden magazines
– Garden Club question about burdock (paint poison with a paintbrush)
– attempts to espalier fruit trees
– difficulty of planting vegetables when you keep giving over all the sun to flowers
– beneficial non-native versus invasive
– planting the hellstrip instead of green grass
– heavy pollen plants / bees in hellstrip

*****

I may be in some trouble here.

Milkweed pods

As I’m pausing in the alley to take a photo of the milkweed pods by my garage, a passing neighbor — “Your garden is so beautiful. Next year, you should plant vegetables too, so we can all get fat.”

(I’m actually really bad at vegetables. Working on it. My cherry tomatoes are okay this year — I think I’m going to try some on ornamental trellises in the front parkway strip next year. Maybe Atomic Grape, since it’s so pretty.)

Bay Area plans finalized for this weekend

Bay Area plans finalized for this weekend. We’re doing potluck dinner at Jed’s house in Mountain View this Friday night, 9/10 — friends, if you didn’t get an invite, let me know — just sent them out!

I should have the Kickstarter editions of my new cookbook Feast of Serendib on hand (definitely the paperback, and hopefully the hardcover, if they arrive on schedule tomorrow), so if you’ve preordered, you can pick them up! If you haven’t pre-ordered yet and want to, you can do so here at the Kickstarter rate: http://serendibkitchen.com/shop/ — but you can also just come hang out with me. No purchase required. 

Hope you can make it — if not, I’ll also be stopping by Writers with Drinks in S.F. on Saturday evening, possibly at the tail end, so we could coordinate a book handoff there. Note that it tends to sell out, so if you’re coming to see the show, you may want to get there early to queue. (http://www.writerswithdrinks.com)

But we could also meet afterwards — I’m planning to stop at Curry Up Now a few blocks away when the show is over, before driving back to Mountain View to stay at Jed’s that night. Probably not out for too long, though! Let me know if you want to meet up there.

(And oh, if you want copies of any of the other recent books — The Stars Change (SF) or Perennial (cancer/garden romance with poetry) — let me know; I can bring some of those too, if I know how many are wanted. Those are $10 each.)

***

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/

If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

And here’s all the foodie social media:

Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/

Thanks for your support!

#serendibkitchen

Meal prep for sous vide egg bites

I’m trying to get better about prepping on the weekend, to make the week easier. I’ve become a big fan of sous vide egg bites, and have three variations I keep in rotation now. Eggs with onion, green chili and cream cheese (Sri Lankan style!); eggs with broccoli and cheddar (vegetables at breakfast, mmm….), and eggs with onions, mushrooms, and swiss. All yum.

Pictured here is an egg scramble I made on a Sunday, after sauteeing a big batch of onions and mushrooms; the rest went into the canning jars, along with beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, plus a nice slice of swiss cheese, making breakfasts for the rest of the week.

So satisfying to pull an egg bite out of the fridge, microwave for 30 seconds, and eat with a spoon. I’ve been trying to find more easy savory low-carb breakfasts; thank goodness for eggs. .

The only downside is that I don’t find that they freeze well; the consistency changes in ways I don’t like, moisture separating out from the eggs. So next plan is to try some of these flavor combos in a baked frittata; I think those freeze better. Will report back…

*****

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/

If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

And here’s all the foodie social media:

Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/

Thanks for your support!

#serendibkitchen

Apple cheddar crescent rolls

This cold is kicking my butt. I completely forgot about Anand’s IEP meeting that I was supposed to go to at 3, and had to call and reschedule, sigh. Bad mom. On the other hand, he’s mostly doing okay in school so far this semester (knock wood), and I did bake the apple cheddar crescent rolls the kids particularly like to surprise him with when he gets home from school today. Good mom! So possibly even‘d out on the kid-happiness scale today? Hard to measure!

#serendibkitchen

Fast, cheap Sri Lankan comfort food

Kevin kindly chopped an onion for me when I first came down with this cold, so I could make myself some comfort food. With hard-boiled eggs, pol sambol and mango spears already in the fridge, this took maybe 10 minutes to cook.

Set onions sautéing with spices; in a separate pan, start boiling water with butter for uppuma; add can of mackerel and rest of ingredients to spiced onions and simmer; add rava to boiling water and stir. Uppuma and spicy mackerel curry. (Normally, I’d simmer it for longer, let the spices really meld with the fish, but when I’m this tired, fast is just fine.

This makes about four meals for me, for maybe $4 of ingredients, so about $1 / meal? Fast, cheap Sri Lankan comfort food. It got me through being a broke grad student, and works pretty well for sick mama too. Good omega-3 fish oils, calcium in the soft bones, healthy protein.

What’s your favorite easy comfort food? Bonus points if it’s good for you and/or cheap. 

*****

Mackerel and Egg Curry
(40 minutes, serves 4-6)

People get scared of this dish because they think mackerel is overly fishy—and food snobs may put their noses in the air when they realize I’m using canned fish. All I can say in response is that this is one of my all-time favorite dishes. When served with uppuma, it’s complete comfort food, but it’s also good with rice or bread, and it reheats well for several meals of yummy goodness. It’s also cheap, while still packed full of healthy protein and fish oil—I practically lived on this in grad school.

3 medium onions, chopped
3 TBL vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
2 TBL (less or more to taste) cayenne
1 TBL Sri Lankan curry powder
1/3 cup ketchup
1 heaping tsp salt
1-2 cups water
1 flat tsp tamarind paste (or more to taste)
1 15 oz. can mackerel, drained and rinsed
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half

1. Sauté onions in oil on high with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown). Add cayenne and cook 1 minute. Immediately add curry powder, ketchup, and salt. Stir well.

2. Add water and bring to a boil. Add tamarind paste and dissolve. Lower heat to medium and add mackerel. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally (and carefully, so as to not break up the fish too much). Cook until sauce thickens, 20-30 minutes. Add eggs gently to dish and spoon sauce over. Serve hot.

*****

Stir-Fried Semolina / Uppuma
(20 minutes, serves 4-6)

When I was harried in grad school, I made a very fast, very simple version of this often — five minutes to boil water, add semolina with some butter and salt, stir, and serve. Served with spicy egg and mackerel curry, it’s a wonderful breakfast or dinner; the soft uppuma blends beautifully with the fish — my ultimate comfort food.

This version, which is a little more time-consuming, offers more vegetables, more interesting seasonings, and a fluffier texture — it’s tasty on its own, or with a vegetable or meat curry. Both versions are great!

2 TBL butter
1 onion, chopped fine
3 dried red chili pods
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1 stalk curry leaves
1 rounded tsp salt
2 carrots chopped small
1/2 cup peas (or chopped green beans)
3 cups water
2 cups coarse semolina

1. Roast semolina in a dry pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for about five minutes, until it’s darkened slightly. This will give the end result a fluffier texture, with less clumping. Remove to a plate and set aside.

2. Sauté onions with seasonings in butter on medium-high for a few minutes.

3. Add carrots and continue to cook until carrots are softened and onions are golden-translucent. Add peas and cook a few minutes longer.

4. Add water; bring to a boil.

5. Turn down to a simmer and quickly pour in the semolina, stirring constantly, making sure all the wheat is moistened. Remove from heat and allow dish to sit for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Note: You can use farina (sold as Cream o’Wheat) instead of semolina for an almost identical result. Semolina comes from durum wheat (high in protein, produces more gluten). Farina comes from any hard wheat but durum.

*****

My new Sri Lankan cookbook, A Feast of Serendib, launches on March 6, 2020, but we’re doing a long, slow pre-launch of the special Kickstarter edition in the interim. Right now, we still have discounted Kickstarter pricing available for pre-orders, along with Kickstarter goodies — you can pre-order here: http://serendibkitchen.com/a-feast-of-serendib/

If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: https://www.patreon.com/mohanraj

And here’s all the foodie social media:

Serendib Kitchen blog: http://serendibkitchen.com
Serendib Kitchen Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/serendib_kitchen/
Serendib FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/132029834135500/
Serendib FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mohanrajserendib/

Thanks for your support!

#serendibkitchen

Turning the word Feast into a 3D napkin ring

Look what we did! Mary Rodes Dell came by this afternoon and I plied her with curry and she worked strange magics and turned my scribbling into a 3D thingie!

It took Mary maybe 30 minutes to do this? Even with her talking me through it, it would have taken me days, and at the end of those days, it still wouldn’t have looked this good. That’s expertise, people.

I was proud of myself that when the 3D printer stopped actually printing, I did not panic, or make Kevin come help me, but calmly googled and tried things until I figured out what was wrong (dried filament in the feed tube had cracked after months of disuse, so it wasn’t feeding properly), AND fixed it. Go, me.

It’s going to take some more iterating before we get a workable prototype — for one, the letters in feast are too far apart, especially the a and s, and I think I’d like the f to not go quite as high. And the whole structure is fragile enough that it was super-hard breaking off the support pieces and base, enough so that I gave up after 10 minutes of poking it at it with a knife (can the support pieces tilt out more? Be thinner? Can we skip the base?).

We may or may not get a functional napkin ring out of this. But regardless, super-satisfying designing something unique (it says feast in both English and Tamil — Mary’s brilliant idea to do a bilingual version) and watching it come to life so quickly. And I learned a ton! Thanks, Mary!

Now, any recommendations for something I can download from thingiverse and print for Kevin? It’s his birthday…

Lovely lunch with Roshani

Lovely lunch with Roshani at the new restaurant at Crate and Barrel in Oakbrook. Smart addition, though a bit pricier than I’d like. Lovely combination of creamy white corn grits with mushrooms in a buttery broth, with steamed Brussels sprouts for a fall note — light and tasty. And the Asian-spiced sweet potatoes with withered green beans, drizzled with maple…mmmm.

#serendibkitchen

Copies of Feast for my mother and her siblings

Heh. I was just thinking that I need to set aside 9 copies of Feast to send to my mother and her siblings (Amma is the oldest of 9), and then I realized that as soon as my aunties get their copies, they’ll start looking through the recipes and likely scribbling in the book to mark their own changes and amendments and variations…and that is exactly how a family immigrant cookbook should be treated. 

“What, she used *how* much vinegar in this? Aiyo!”
“Well, I like things tangy, Aunty. You know that…”