Sugar Beet Food Co-op Was Fun

Fun cooking class yesterday for Sugar Beet Food Co-op. We’d originally planned to do a spice grinding demo there in spring of 2020, but had to cancel due to the pandemic; I’m glad they’ve found an alternative approach for now. They have a whole series of Zoom food and beverage classes going, so locals, check them out!

SugarBeet picked two vegan recipes out of Feast of Serendib, devilled potatoes and green bean varai, and put together recipe ingredient kits for the participants — $20 each, which is a pretty fabulous deal for a one-hour class + enough food to feed at least two people.

I like this format a lot, it’s great for the participants! And I’m very happy to support our local grocery store co-op; Kevin and I are members. 🙂 Lovely to be able to stop by on our way back from work and pick up some yummy farm fresh goodies for dinner.

Several people didn’t see the announcement in time, or had a conflict yesterday, so I’ll reach to Sugar Beet to see if they want to do another one at some point. If you’re a local and interested, drop your name in the comments here, and I’ll let you know if it happens again.

Delicious Duck Eggs

Roshani came by with a plan to make uppuma for lunch — she had brought over some shrimp curry too, along with some delectably sweet cherry tomatoes from her garden. That would have been plenty, but I had these fabulous duck eggs that a local gardener brought me in thanks for letting her dig up some goldenrod and morningstar sedge. So this seemed like the perfect occasion to use them.

I’ve never had duck eggs before — these were very pretty, and on researching, I learned that they’re basically like chicken eggs, but a little larger and yummier. Well, yummier if you like rich and creamy egg yolks, which I absolutely do. They’re often pickled in Asian cuisine, and I’m curious about that, but I was too impatient to wait three weeks for pickling. So curry it was.

I hard-boiled the duck eggs first, then just made my standard salmon curry (pulling out some wild salmon from the freezer and thawing enough to cut it), and then slipped in the hard-boiled duck eggs. Reader, they were so yummy. I’m honestly a little cranky now that they’re not easily available in grocery stores around here. Quail eggs, I know where to find. Duck eggs, not so much (unless I want to go to the Asian market and get them pickled…).

I am *not* starting a duck pond in the backyard. Not this year, anyway. Get thee behind me, Satan. I haven’t had time to keep up with the garden I do have, much less adding more living creatures to it.

But oh, they were DELICIOUS.

An Intro for Vegan Serendib

Hey, so I needed to write an intro for Vegan Serendib — this would go *before* the basic intro that I wrote for Feast, which goes into a lot more detail about what Sri Lankan food is like, meal structure, etc. Here’s something I just drafted — what do you think?

Vegans in particular, how is this for you? I’d like to avoid writing anything off-putting, but I do also want to be up front about the fact that I’m not vegan myself!

*****

I must begin this with a confession; I am not actually vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. Which begs the question – why would I write a vegan cookbook?

Really, it’s because of Karina. A long time ago, I dated a girl who was vegetarian, leaning pretty close to vegan. We dated for three years, and in that time, we ate together a lot. She was vegetarian for moral reasons, and so to avoid causing her distress, I ate vegetarian during that time as well. And it was just fine – at least while I was cooking for us at home, because I was mostly cooking Sri Lankan food, and there are lots of delicious vegetarian/vegan options in our cuisine.

It was a little harder – sometimes a lot harder – when we went out to restaurants together, or to parties at friends’ homes. Often, the only vegetarian option was a salad, and a pretty boring salad at that – some leafy green, probably a little wilted from sitting around, and a few shreds of carrot and slices of tomato. We’d go home still hungry, and sad about not getting to enjoy deliciousness.

It gave Karina so much pleasure when we found a restaurant that had tasty vegetarian options, especially foods she hadn’t tried before. She’s an adventurous eater, and when I took her to visit Sri Lanka for the first time, she researched and had a whole list of restaurants and foods she wanted to try there. We were able to eat very well on our trip!

Flash forward to now – twenty years later, restaurants are generally better with their vegetarian options, with more substantial offerings, and a greater variety of them. But Sri Lankan cuisine is still hard to find in the U.S. – there are a few restaurants here and there, especially in New York, and if you go up to Toronto, you’ll find plenty. But where I live, in Chicago, you pretty much have to drive eight hours up to St. Paul to find a Sri Lankan restaurant.

So this book is for everyone who wants to explore Sri Lankan vegan cuisine, whether you’re vegan or not. Maybe you’re doing Meatless Mondays, or you’re exploring a more plant-based diet generally. Maybe you’re looking for more sustainable ways to eat and exist on this planet, or maybe you’re aiming towards a healthier diet. Maybe, like Karina, veganism is a moral choice for you.

Whatever the reason, what you’ll find in these pages is an exciting and wildly varied cuisine, with a host of different preparations for vegetables, fruits, even flowers. You’ll learn how to make a master recipe for roasted curry powder, and how to prepare seasoned onions to infuse your dishes with added flavor. You’ll be invited to try a host of traditional preparations, and also a few newer dishes, using ingredients that wouldn’t have been available on the island in the old days.

Hopefully, this book will help make cooking and eating vegan cuisine easier, more adventurous, fun, and most of all, fabulously delicious!

*****

Pasta with Tandoori Chicken in Sauce

Pasta with Tandoori Chicken in Sauce

We ordered Indian for dinner last night (hey, locals, did Khyber Pass get a new chef? Everything tastes different…), and Kavi requested pasta with tandoori chicken in sauce for dinner tonight. I think I’ve written this up here before, but just in case, it’s a useful recipe:

– set water boiling for pasta
– when boiling, add pasta, set timer appropriately (this one was 11 minutes)
– shred leftover tandoori chicken
– sauté raw red onion that came with the chicken in some vegetable oil (or ghee, or butter) until golden
– add chicken and sauté a minute or two
– push chicken and onions to the side, add 1 T flour and fry briefly, until flour is cooked, aromatic and light brown; stir flour into chicken and onions
– add 1 c. chicken broth and simmer a few minutes
– add 1/2 – 1 c. milk and simmer down to a sauce; taste and add salt / pepper if needed, but usually I don’t need to season it further

– if you want a veg in here, now is a nice time to add some frozen peas and cook a few minutes more

– drain pasta when timer goes off, add it to the pan with the sauce

– serve hot!

Treat boxes

Um, I feel like I end up stuffing more and more in the treat boxes every time I do them. I just want people to feel VERY SATISFIED that they’re getting value for their money. Is that so wrong? 🙂

Happy with the decision to move to doing them three times a year instead of four, though — they do take time. Stephanie and I took about three hours working together just to pack up the higher tier boxes on Monday.

Every time I have to reassess whether it’s worth my time to do them, but I really enjoy the process of coming up with the theme, figuring out what I’ll include, coming up with new recipes and home items. And it also gives my business some steadiness of income, which makes it easier to make sure I can make payroll. Writing pays me better, but it comes in fits and starts. Patreon is nice and steady.

Also happy that we’ve shifted everyone to larger boxes, so we can include ice packs in all of them going forward. Maybe not necessary for the winter box, but the rest of the year, I think it’ll make it much less likely that chocolate or marshmallows or lollipops will melt while sitting in a warehouse while shipping. We’ve had some disasters in the past. Live and learn!

*****

I *think* this is everything that went in this time around:

EARTH TIER ($10 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• Cardamom & Honey Snickerdoodles: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162385722949616

• Chocolate-Tamarind Pinwheels: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162460018314616

• Jaggery & Treacle Gingersnaps: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162460018314616

• Lime & Rosewater Shortbread (with Ocean Creatures):

Picture: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162380511444616

Recipe: https://serendibkitchen.com/…/lime-rosewater-and…/

• Milk Toffee with Raisins: https://serendibkitchen.com/2017/12/12/milk-toffee/

• Pistachio & Pandan Elephant Shortbread: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162431047744616

• Salted Honey & Lavender Shortbread: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162444017369616

– Salted Cherry Cookies: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162447261339616

• Honeybee soap (lavender, mint, & basil): https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162446500464616

• Sunlight on the Water bookmarks: https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj/posts/10162446506084616

SOL SYSTEM TIER ($15 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• all of the above, plus:

• Chive and Cheddar Scones

• Honey Pull Apart Bread

• Orange Spice Tea

• Lavender Wall o’Plants sachet

• Bee & Flower soap (sweet orange & lemongrass)

• a Serendib card and envelope

MILKY WAY TIER ($20 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• all of the above, plus:

• more of various sweets

• Morningstar Sedge Tea Towel

INTERSTELLAR TIER ($30 / month, shipped 3 times / year):• all of the above, plus:• Sri Lankan Butter Cake (an entire cake!)• Fruit & Flower Tea (cornflower, calendula, mango, passionfruit, etc.)• Morningstar Sedge Scarf• homemade Sri Lankan curry powder & A Taste of Serendib

Summer treat tea blends

Two tea blends for the summer treat boxes (both caffeinated):

• orange spice (black tea, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, orange and clove oil)

• fruit and flower (black tea, calendula, rose petals, cornflowers, mango and passion fruit)

It’s fun making up tea blends. 🙂

Looking for test cooks

Quick note — we could use some more test cooks for Vegan Serendib. If you test 5 recipes, we will send you a digital copy of either Feast or Vegan Serendib, and if you test 10 recipes, we will send your choice of hardcover, too! If you’re interested, drop your preferred e-mail in the comments. Thanks!