Flash Sale

I have some goodies left over, so if you missed out on the September treat boxes and are sad, you can still pick one up for $30 if you like. It won’t have everything that was in the Patreon box, but it’ll have more of the things it does have, so it’s still nice and full.

• jasmine rose black tea (in a test tube)
• mulled apple cider, honey, and jaggery marshmallows
• banana scones with candied ginger, cranberry, and a jaggery-brown butter glaze
• chocolate cayenne sandwich cookie with mango curd

• salted caramel iced cookies

Just comment below if you want one (I think I can do 5 more with what I have on hand), and we can arrange payment via PayPal…

Spoonflower is Addicting

Happiness is shipping out lots of Patreon treat boxes + one special order. 🙂 I have to spend the morning on e-mail & teaching work, but this afternoon, more mask sewing!

And I have the most CHARMING new autumn fabrics from Spoonflower (that site, so addicting!), as well as Halloweeen fabrics (which will need to be ordered soon if you actually want them for Halloween), so watch this space.

Photos with detailed names and notes for all of those should be posted later today…but here, I’ll throw the thumbnails in here, just give you a sneak peek. So pretty!

Definitely Chocolate in December

I couldn’t figure out how to photograph the September Patreon treat boxes so you could actually see everything them, so you have to imagine the chocolate-dipped madeleines that would go on top. Not every box got exactly the same things, but most of them got most of these:

• jasmine rose black tea
• dark chocolate with coconut and goji berries
• mulled apple cider, honey, and jaggery marshmallows
• banana scones with candied ginger, cranberry, and a jaggery-brown butter glaze
• jaggery & lime bar, with coconut-cashew crust (gluten-free)
• Totoro chocolate cookie
• chocolate cayenne sandwich cookie with mango curd

• “Asclepius in the Garden” soap

The only one I’m not thrilled about sending out is J’s, which was meant to be vegan and gluten-free, and it turned out that very little of my food items were in that category this time around, so J got more soaps than they might perhaps want. I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m going to try to use the gluten-free flour for most if not all of any Patreon treats going forward.

The winter box for December will also have more of a chocolate ratio, so that should help too. I didn’t want ship a lot of chocolate this time around, because I worried it still might be warm enough that if it sat in a mail holding facility for a long time, it might melt.

December, though, definitely chocolate. I’m thinking of adding a theme this time around too — dragons & knitting. You’ll see. 🙂

Ridiculously Silly and Fun

This was ridiculously silly but also fun — I packaged my teas in test tubes. Why? I don’t know! They’re pretty that way. Hopefully the Patreon recipients will find some other use for the test tubes when the teas are done — fill them with bath salts or some such. And I have enough test tubes left for holiday gifting, so I hope my friends and family all like tea.

A Nice Weekday Meal

This was a nice weekday meal. Start with Vietnamese-seasoned-sausage from the Girl and Goatceries, wrap around skewers, grill (I did it on a stovetop grill pan), turning to brown all sides. Delicious drizzled with chili oil, accompanied by fresh veggies, pickled onion and peppers, and a little leftover rice and chicken w/ green beans.

The kids loved the sausages, and I loved the combination of different kinds of elements on the plate.

Fingers Crossed

I was a little worried that it’d be hard to wrap the cookies with the caramel drizzle on top, but thankfully, it seems to work fine with plastic wrap. Whew. Assembling Patreon treat boxes today, should be able to ship them out by end of day, fingers crossed.

This Worked Very Nicely

Sugar cookies with a bit of caramel in the royal icing, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with salt. Standard iced sugar cookies are a little too straight-up sweet for me, but these, I could eat rather steadily, esp. with a nice cup of coffee or tea. And so pretty too!

Baking a Bit

Putting together the autumn treat boxes tomorrow, to ship out to Patreon subscribers. So I’m baking a bit this weekend — made half a batch of sugar cookies yesterday and will bake the other half batch with the kids later today. I find that if I divide it into two batches, and do one batch on my own when I can be peaceful and obsessive, I have way more patience for baking some cookies with the kids. For the cookies themselves, I used the Sweetopia sugar cookie recipe, which I find perfectly reliable.

But I felt like experimenting a little bit with the icing — I’m using Alton Brown’s royal icing recipe, which is great and also reliable, but I stirred in a few spoons of caramel. (I thought about making caramel from scratch, but y’know, they had dipping caramel near the apples at the store yesterday, so I just picked up some of that, and I think it’ll be fine.) The caramel only flavors it slightly, but it does give it a lovely color.

My plan is to ice the cookies (the lazy way, just dipping them in the bowl of royal icing and lightly scraping off the excess), and then drizzle caramel over the top and sprinkle with flake salt.

That’ll have to wait a bit, though, as I need to go shower and get ready for the podcast recording session with Jed Hartman and Benjamin Rosenbaum
this morning. We’re planning to talk about editing today, and what makes a story good, if there is such a thing. 🙂 If all goes well, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter for it on October 1st, so watch this space. Would love your support.

But later, salted caramel cookies!

(I also put a spoon of the caramel in my coffee this morning, which I feel was a truly excellent life choice.)

NOTE: If you sign up for a treat box now, your next box will be in December. If you want the September box too, it’ll be an additional $20, which we can arrange via PayPal.

The Coconut Grater

It hurt. That’s what I remember
about scraping coconut as a child,
struggling with dark metal clamped
to the edge of the kitchen counter,
afraid of the sharp grating blades.
My arm, unmuscled and unaccustomed,
ached after just a few cranks round;
my mother mostly offered critique,
rather than praise for my efforts. Too often
I would scrape and scrape, ask if I had done
enough. She came to inspect, sniffed –
there is so much meat left on there still!
I’d try again, and err in the other direction –
no, no – don’t scrape it so thin, you’re getting
husk in the coconut! Amma would have
excelled in a classic French kitchen,
exacting and precise, demanding perfection,
always disappointed in my failures.
I went away, and for years subsisted
without coconut. When I started to cook,
I bought sweetened coconut by mistake
in the baking aisle, and ruined a curry.
Eventually, I found dessicated coconut,
learned to rehydrate it with a little hot milk,
or better, coconut milk – just thirty seconds
in the microwave. Ammama, my grandmother
in the old country, had no such devices.
Frozen coconut is better, found on Devon or
in Westmont, where South Asians gather,
though once you thaw it, you must use it all
quick quick; it won’t keep long in the fridge.
Ammama didn’t grate her own coconut.
Labor was cheap; every morning, their cook
rose early to grate coconut for the day,
fresh from the tree. A little pol sambol to
accompany a fresh egg hopper, and another
servant chasing me around, begging me
to eat, just one bite, please. If I ate,
they could have their own breakfast, finally.
Now, living near cold Chicago, I shop online
for a coconut grater. I peruse suspiciously,
read reviews, trying to decide whether
to go old-school or modern in design.
A part of me doesn’t trust that ergonomic
will grate correctly; a little pain is required
to create the tastiest dishes.
When it arrives, I will try to persuade
my own children to help me grate
the coconut. Not because I need the help
of their unmuscled, unaccustomed arms!
But if they grind a little sense-memory
into their bones, then someday, maybe
they will buy their own grater, knowing
fresh coconut is best. It will sustain you

down the years, across vast distances.


M.A. Mohanraj

Logo Design, Draft 2

Kavi’s and my logo design for Serendib Kitchen, draft 2. I think it’s pretty close at this point to a workable draft! We invite your critique to refine it further.

The text is in my handwriting, which is not the most beautiful, but does gives some of that homemade charm, or at least so Kavi assures me.

The first is the actual logo. The second version, with the words on the rug, I’m not sure we’ll use, but it did make me laugh because it reminds me of the Star Wars scroll, so wanted to share it.

The circle is just starting to futz around with what might make a nice small image for a sticker or a design element on a book or some such. I think we’re going to make the line weight heavier on the SK — I was getting sleepy at 11 p.m. last night, so I made her stop working…

As a side note, I’m really liking collaborating with her on art stuff — we’re working on a 2021 tea towel calendar for the next Spoonflower design contest now — and I’m now thinking that if we keep doing a lot of projects together, maybe we need our own little design studio that has a different name, not Serendib, to make clear that it’s at least half if not more her. Something to think about. 🙂