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!

Roses and Hibiscus Tea

If you’re growing roses and hibiscus, you can easily make yourself a lovely tea. I actually didn’t use my own hibiscus flowers for this, I should note — they aren’t blooming yet, so I used some purchased dried hibiscus, which you can buy in bulk online.

I added some citrus peel — slice thin and dry in a 200F oven for 20-25 minutes or so. Also some Ceylon cinnamon, but that, I didn’t try to grow myself.  I’m not sure I can manage cinnamon trees in Oak Park.

The little packets will be going out in the Patreon June treat boxes, though I did also pack up a nice big bag for a local friend. I like this tea with honey, lime juice, and a little candied ginger — brew a pot, and then enjoy it chilled on a hot summer day. Though it’s also tasty hot!

Lime, Rosewater, and Candied Ginger Shortbread, decorated with Pansies and Violas

When you find yourself going back into the kitchen to see if there are any crumbs left on the plate, you know you have a winning recipe; I think this is now my absolute favorite shortbread. Adding in some citric acid gives a seriously tangy punch to these buttery-rich bites.

Note: I find that a pair of kitchen shears is much easier to work with than a knife for cutting up sticky crystallized ginger.


3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 c. sugar

2 scraped vanilla beans or 2 t. pure vanilla extract

3/4 t. salt

1 lime, zest and juice

1 t. citric acid (optional)

1 T rosewater

3 1/2 cups flour

1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped fine

edible flowers, pressed flat (this can be done over a few weeks in the pages of a book, or done quickly in a microwave or with an iron — google for instructions on those processes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and salt, citric acid, lime juice, lime zest, and rosewater. Then add flour and mix on low until dough forms. Stir in ginger.

3. Turn out dough onto floured board. (If it’s not coming together into a dough, the heat of your hands will help.) Firmly pat flat (to desired cookie height, usually about 1/2 inch). If using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, place on parchment-covered baking sheet, and chill for 15 minutes (to help hold shape).

NOTE: Can be kept chilled at this point for several days, covered in plastic wrap, and then rolled, cut, and baked fresh.

Alternately, press into baking pan or shortbread mold, prick with fork. You can also cut shapes out after baking — shortbread is very forgiving that way — but then the individual cookie edges won’t be browned.

4. Remove from fridge and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown, then remove to wire rack to cool.

5. Gently press flowers into the tops of cookies while still warm; the moist heat should help it adhere. If any don’t stick, a little fondant dissolved in warm water makes an excellent edible glue.  Sprinkle with a little sugar.


(I appear to have graduated to the BIG bags of candied ginger. The Patreon treat boxes will be getting one each of the large rounds and little hearts. The elephants, it turns out, are very tricky to un-mold, so getting sixteen of them without broken trunks was quite beyond me. I’m just not that patient, I think…we’ll just have to eat those.)

Now that Roses are Blooming

Now that the roses are blooming, we can start making all the edible rose things. I used a bit of rose extract, lemon extract, and lemon oil in these lollipops, then sprinkled in dried rose petals and luster dust. Fit for a princess. 

Now, I really don’t know how you’re supposed to work fast enough to make a whole batch of lollipops before the sugar cools too much. I got about halfway through, and then I needed to reheat, which of course caramelizes the sugar more. So the second batch of lollipops is distinctly caramel in flavor, which isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the rose & lemon notes do get lost. I think I’m just not fast enough, and should work in half-batches.

I mean, not that I’m planning to make a ton of lollipops, these were just for the June treat boxes, but still, good to know. Maybe we’ll put them in a Serendib Confections cookbook someday.

Playing with Sugar Syrup

More playing with sugar syrup. Now I have to make a cake so I can use some of this to decorate it. Apparently sugar art doesn’t keep very long, tending to melt (you can store it in an airtight container with desiccant to help it last a little while longer, but still), but maybe I can manage some cake for Sunday dinner this weekend.

That third photo is all one piece. It reminds me of Gallifreyan Time Lords. 

Sugar Art

I had some sugar syrup left, so I thought I would try to do sugar art for the first time. I’m here to tell you, it’s not as simple as they make it look on GBBO!  I’m honestly not sure how you’re supposed to get the sugar traceries out of the bowls without breaking them.

The bowls are greased, but the sugar seemed to cling anyway — maybe I should’ve been more careful to grease the rim too?

The sugar also collected at the base, which is okay, but not the tracery I was hoping for. I think that might be because it was still a little too hot and liquid, though — this was at 300-degrees F (for the lollipops), and maybe sugar art should be at a slightly lower temp?

An Ode to the Pansy

Harvested pansies and violas today after doing the morning’s hour of weeding. We’re getting to the end of the season for them, though they’ll come back in the coolness of fall, so if you pull them out of planters to do summer annuals, do stick them in the ground somewhere if you can. Now is the perfect time to cut some for:

– candying (egg whites and superfine sugar, perfect for the top of a cake or cupcakes)
– pressing (to make botanical art — bookmarks, cards, etc.)
– adding them to cookies (look for pansy shortbread)
– making flower lollipops
– adding them to a Vietnamese spring roll wrap
– just tossing them into salads

I harvested all the pretty ones, cut off all the fading ones, and will probably get at least one more flush before it gets too hot, fingers crossed.

If you didn’t plant pansies or violas or violets this year, do think about them for the fall, or next spring. You can plant them very early, since they can tolerate a little frost, so they really give months and months and months of pleasure. One of the most hard-working flowers in my garden, and so cheery. Now I want to write an ode to the pansy…

Cooking Kale Sambol : Online Event

Hey, folks. You’re all cordially invited to this event. 

Cooking Kale Sambol : Online Event

Thursday, June 11, 2020
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Travel to a distant, delicious land: Sri Lanka! Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique island cuisine of Sri Lanka.

Professor and author Mary Anne Mohanraj will give a brief introduction to Sri Lankan food history, review key ingredients (including where to order them), and teach you a few recipes from her new Sri Lankan cookbook, *A Feast of Serendib*, which features her mother’s cooking and her American adaptations.

Sign up for this event and receive the Zoom meeting link [here](https://skokielibrary.zoom.us/…/tJ0rdeyvpz8tHtRYdVbBKvD08sU…). This event will be recorded. Recordings with clear sound and video will be uploaded to the library’s events channel on [YouTube](https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwzDADYru1knA0HR7HI72xA/).


Roti or Love Cake?

Roti or love cake?? Hey, bakers. So at Serendib Kitchen, we’re planning on two things coming up soon:

– a baking video created as a sort of joint demonstration / interview with Pooja Makhijani (probably no audience / participants for this one)

– a bake-a-long (up to 20 participants who sign up in advance, get the recipe and ingredients prepped, then bake together in a Zoom call)

The two options I’d like to do early on are:

a) roti

b) love cake

If you have a preference for which of those we do for the bake-a-long, let me know? Thanks!

The bake-a-long will be held at 7 p.m. CST on either a weeknight / Sunday, at the request of Gin Grahame, who is in a far away time zone.  If you have a preference for a particular weeknight / Sunday, let me know that too.

This first one will be free, but later ones may morph into paid classes. First time around, you are my guinea pigs. 

Hoping for a Quiet Night

Hope everyone reading had a quiet night. I was grieved to read of a death at the North Riverside mall yesterday; I hope we can swiftly move forward towards justice without further bloodshed.

It’s the last week of school here; I woke up before Anand for a change, and decided to exert myself a bit to make a nice breakfast — waffles and sausages. The kids have done okay with remote / unschooling during the pandemic, but they’ll be relieved when it’s over, and so will we. I thought they could use a little strengthening food as we contend with the final week.

I’ve recently discovered that waffles + seeni sambol + syrup = delicious. You don’t even need butter, as there’s enough oil / ghee in the seeni sambol. It’s so good, if I had a little cafe, I’d put it on the brunch menu. Serve with fresh mangoes if you can.

Plan for today — finish reading Sorcerer to the Crown, which continues a delightful, ridiculous romp. The next book in my queue is the graphic novel, Vanni, centered on the Sri Lankan conflict, which is rather more somber; it helps to have something light to interleave between the darker pages. A little sweetness.

Exercise soon and a walk through the garden, then by 9, I hope to be settled in my writing shed for the first day of summer writing. Minimal goal of 1000 words for the day (about an hour of writing), although I’m hoping to get quite a bit more done, as I have a story overdue to my local workshop; if I can knock that out today, or at least enough of it to be worth showing them, I will. It’s a story about riots and revolution; hoping I have the heart and mind to do it justice.

Wishing you strength and sweetness for your battles today, and rejuvenating rest when you need it.