Little Free Pantry

Still thinking about the Little Free Pantry we’re setting up by our garage. I think I’ve talked before about how I get a little squirrelly about having lots of food on me when I’m flying? That comes directly from the one time when I got stuck on the tarmac for several hours; hunger pangs you can’t address are weirdly panic-making, even when you know you’re not actually in any real danger. Ever since, I’ve generally carried a day’s worth of power bars and such with me while traveling.

It makes me similarly crazy when I think there might be people on my block who are hungry. I mean, I spent years writing a cookbook, people. Feeding people is intensely important to me, in a way I find hard to explain.

I had one bad summer after college, where I went to job interview after job interview, and I just couldn’t find a job, not even temp. secretarial work. The economy was bad, and there were no jobs to be had. I once dodged my landlord in the street — I literally ducked into an alley when I saw him coming, because I hadn’t paid rent in two months. There was a month or so that summer when I mostly lived on 20 cent packets of ramen, because that’s all I could afford.

I was never really poor, to be clear — I could’ve called my parents, I had friends with money who would’ve loaned me a $20 to get through the week, etc. I had resources available to me, in a way the truly poor don’t. But I had credit card debt I didn’t know how I would ever pay off, and I was broke enough to be a little scared.

And it’s one thing to be a 20-something in that position; my body could handle living on cheap ramen for a month. I’m sitting here in my writing shed with a lovely garden view. But there are apartment buildings right next to our house, and I can’t stand the thought that there might be a parent in there who’s been out of work for months, and now can’t afford nutritious groceries for their kids.

Okay. The pantry is set up, we have our monthly donations to Beyond Hunger in place. Sitting here fretting isn’t helping anyone. Going back to work now.

Time Is Blurry

A journalist is writing a piece on my cookbook for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which is lovely, and she sent me a fact-checking query about how long I worked on the cookbook, so I went to go look at my blog to confirm that I spent a summer developing recipes, and wow, my memory is terrible. I started work on Feast in May 2015, finished recipe development in August 2017, and handed a final draft off to layout in October 2017.

A summer is not the same as 2+ years, Mary Anne. Time is blurry.

A Desperate Hopper Craving

Hey, so it turns out that if you are completely bewildered as to where your hopper pans might have gone (did I loan them out to someone?), but your friend gave you some hopper batter that you really want to use, you can totally make (giant) hoppers in a wok.

I mean, a single egg looks a little goofy in a vast sea of hopper, and the ratios are a little off, in terms of spongy versus crispy texture, but when you’ve got a desperate hopper craving, it will totally do.

(Enjoyed with eggplant pickle and coconut sambol.)

Serendib Kitchen Summertime Flash Sale!

Serendib Kitchen Summertime Flash Sale! Buy a cookbook, get an extra treat ($10 – $15 value).

Today only, July 15, get a free gift when you purchase any edition of A Feast of Serendib, a Sri Lankan cookbook! To claim your freebie, let us know which option you’d like in the ‘notes’ section at checkout!

Your choice of one of the following:

• 8 oz bag of homemade Sri Lankan curry powder (only in US, sorry, regulations!)
• 2 bars homemade soap
• assortment of handmade bookmarks and Serendib Kitchen recipe postcards (6×9)
• a mask sewn from my fabrics (pattern subject to availability)

Mask fabric options can be viewed at our Shopify site — for soaps, we currently have two: lilac & lilies and orange creamsicle, alternatively, bath salts in lavender or rose & passionfruit.

FINE PRINT: One small but important note that we couldn’t fit into the graphic — if you get a print edition, shipping for the treat is included in regular shipping costs. If you get a digital edition, shipping will be extra (and we might need to sort out the specifics with you via e-mail, because it gets a little complicated). Local porch pick-ups, no shipping to worry about, of course!

Order here:


• Lots of sample recipes here:
• Check out one of our cooking videos on YouTube:

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred review: “Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried); fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes); and English tea sandwiches (filled here with beets, spinach, and carrots). With Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily, with options for chicken, lamb, cuttlefish, or mackerel. A number of poriyal dishes, consisting of sautéed vegetables with a featured ingredient, such as asparagus or brussels sprouts, showcase a Tamil influence. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.”

Beet Curry with Jed

In just 7 minutes, Jed Hartman will teach you how to make Sri Lankan beet curry. Okay, actually, I do the teaching, but Jed is very cute in the video, so that’s even better. . We recorded this back at Christmastime, finally getting it up now. Funfun. Beet curry is SO GOOD.

Anniversary Sale!

It’s my parents’ 50th anniversary today, and due to coronavirus, we can’t throw them a big party. But I thought maybe a little flash sale of my cookbook would be a nice celebratory event — my mother’s fabulous cooking was the seed for these recipes, of course, and my dad is also super-proud of this book. 

I’ll do a proper anniversary celebrating post later, but for now, here, have a cookbook sale! $10 off the ebook price, so $14.99 for a beautifully formatted electronic edition, ideal for browsing on the couch or propping up on a stand in the kitchen while you cook. One day only!

Happy anniversary, Mohan and Jacintha!

Feast Amazon Sale!

SALE! It turns out that Amazon will sometimes do discounts on books, which doesn’t affect how much I make (as the amount they pay the distributor doesn’t change), and right now, Feast is discounted from $40 down to $26.49 on their site, which I have to tell you, is a heck of a bargain.

We’re probably going to be running a sale ourselves soon out of the house, but our price won’t be dropping quite that much, so unless you want a signed copy from me, and/or some homemade curry powder, I’d love it if you’d buy a discounted copy from Amazon.

Maybe one for a friend? Your parents who are getting bored cooking at home for themselves? Your best friend from college who you haven’t called in too long? So many options…spread the word!