I promised a Serendib tea party sampler cookbook

Did a little writing work today, in between family commitments. This was fulfilling commitments too — way back when, I did the Vegan Serendib kickstarter, and I promised a Serendib tea party sampler cookbook. I’m finally working on that. It’s a blend of Sri Lankan and traditional British afternoon tea, which is what I usually do for my tea parties.

This isn’t final — a few of these are completely theoretical recipes, and I’m going to have to actually make them and make sure they’re delicious before I list them. And I think I want to include a non-tea beverage for each season as well. But it’s going to look something like this. 🙂

We’ll have a pre-order page up soon for the ebook (and of course, if you backed the Kickstarter, you shouldn’t buy another copy!). If you’re interested in being tagged into the pre-order page, comment below. It’ll be $1.99, I think, just like the cocktail party sampler book.

At some point, I’d love to expand this into a proper full cookbook, with about three times as many recipes — the plan would be to do it month by month, rather than season by season. Which should get us close to 120 recipes total, I think.

But one step at a time. We put this together, and then I can set up the Kickstarter for Gluten-Free Serendib, which is the next cookbook I promised to work on. I’m expecting that to go pretty fast, because most of the recipes in Feast and Vegan are already gluten-free — I just need to work on a few of them (and decide whether to use Feast or Vegan as the base — hmm…)

Anyway, nice to be making some progress after too long not writing anything.

Lilac & lime simple syrup

Lilac & lime simple syrup. Delicate sweet + citrus floral flavor, nice with gin and tonic (got to keep that malaria away), would also be nice with seltzer water. I’ll have 9 little bottles at the art fair Saturday.

I meant to make this earlier — by the time I got around to it, most of my purple lilac petals had fallen, so I ended up with mostly pink petals, which made a sort of brown syrup.

Usually, if you add citrus to lilac syrup, it’ll turn purple, but I think the pink is just not strong enough color for that, so I ended up with a sort of melon-y color? Still pretty, though it doesn’t particularly shout ‘lilac’ when you look at it. 🙂

Some recipes recommend adding a few blueberries to get a purple color — I didn’t have any on hand, but maybe I’ll try that next year. This recipe suggests that, for example: https://www.havocinthekitchen.com/lilac-syrup/

They also suggest uses: “Think of fancy cocktails, refreshing lemonades, or over your ice cream. Enjoy with pancakes, crepes, and French toasts. Besides, it would be great as a part of desserts, soak cake, topping for your oatmeal, and a dressing for your fruit salads.”

Kavi helped me collect and prep some edible flowers

Kavi helped me collect and prep some edible flowers — I’m going to make some little jars of flower confetti to sell at What’s Blooming on Harrison. So far, we have cornflower, pansies, peonies, dianthus, and even a few early roses. Tomorrow, planning to add fuchsia, dahlia, hibiscus, and maybe nasturtiums — have to check if any of mine are blooming yet. Usually these would just take a few days to air-dry, but I’ll likely pop them in the dehydrator tomorrow to speed up the process. Some of the tasty things you can use dried edible flowers for: herbal teas, cocktail garnish mixes, infused oils, infused vinegar, cake decorating, garnishing your meals, botanical salts, and infused spirits. And then of course there’s arts and crafts, bath bombs, hand scrubs, body balms, etc.

Cabbage Varai / Muttaikoss Varai

Like most everyone lately, we’ve been a little startled by how grocery prices have gone up.

Cabbage is still pretty cheap, though! This is cabbage varai — delicious and healthy, just the thing to round out a plate of rice and curry.

And did I mention that it’s both easy and fast? 🙂

Cabbage Varai / Muttaikoss Varai

(15-20 minutes, serves 8.)

Sweet, firm, rich with coconut.

8 oz. cabbage 1 medium onion, minced 2 fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped ¼ rounded tsp. ground turmeric ¼ rounded tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 rounded tsp. salt ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

    1. Shred cabbage finely. Wash well, drain, and put into a large saucepan. Don’t worry about drying the water clinging to the cabbage—you actually want that water to help steam the cabbage.
    1. Add all the other ingredients except the coconut. Cover and cook gently until cabbage is tender, stirring periodically.
    1. Uncover, add coconut, stir well, and when the liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the coconut, remove from heat. Allow to cool before serving.

(This recipe and many more can be found in my cookbooks, A Feast of Serendib and Vegan Serendib.)

Mas Paan: Perfection

One of my favorite snacks is mas paan (buns stuffed with beef and potato curry) and malu paan (buns stuffed with fish curry). It is very comforting, having a few dozen in the freezer, knowing that you can pull one out whenever you’re having a curry craving, and just toast it up in the toaster oven and enjoy with a nice hot cup of sweet milky tea. Perfection. I did develop a dough recipe for the cookbooks, but the truth is that I never actually make it from scratch. I just buy frozen bake-and-serve dinner rolls at the grocery store and use those. I recently had both beef curry and cabbage varai on hand, and I thought they might go well together — Dear Reader, they are DELICIOUS in a roll, and now you’ve got entire meal in there, with a veg. as well as the bread and meat. Perfection. I also tried cooking some carrot in with the beef and potato, and that worked great too. (I recommend at least two rolls for lunch. Three or four if you have a hearty appetite. If using the frozen rolls, follow the instructions on the package to let them thaw and rise. Then tear them open and stuff them with curry and shape it into a ball again, with the seam on the bottom. It’ll look lumpy, but don’t worry about it, and don’t feel like you need to let it rise again — just pop those in the oven for 15-20 minutes, and they’re good Hmm…I think I need some breakfast.

“Apple of My Heart” serving board

Okay, I’m not sure this is the most practical serving board — I wanted to experiment with dried apple slices, and they are definitely somewhat bumpy. I don’t think I’d try to put three or four different kinds of cheese on here, because there’s not that much flat space for them! But it works reasonably well for a wedge of brie and some crackers — you could probably fit some grapes too. A wee little snack for you and yours. As we head into summer, we’re also heading into the season where a lot of my meals are as simple as possible. You could also just hang it for kitchen decor. It is so cute, I named this one — “Apple of My Heart.” With pressed chionodoxa flowers (early spring ephemerals) and ferns. Will drop off at the store (Berwyn’s Sprout) sometime soon, probably Thursday, unless someone buys it first. 🙂 NOTE: This is food-safe resin, and you can cut on it, but like any cutting board, it will gather cut marks over time. I wouldn’t recommend using it for heavy daily chopping!

Finishing up the spring treat boxes

Finishing up the spring treat boxes — I think I want to make one more batch of chocolates, and one more batch of baked goods (I’m thinking orange & black pepper madeleines, dipped in chocolate, possibly), and then I’ll be ready to pack up and ship them, hopefully early this week. No treat boxes in the summer, because shipping has proven unreliable for me even with ice packs, so if you sign up (see comments), the next one goes out in early autumn. Pictured here, little Neapolitan chocolates (Callebaut white, ruby, and dark chocolate), and squares of Neapolitan chocolate with an array of mixed dried fruit.