Little Bits of Cooking

Little bits of cooking from the last few weeks. Seasoned onions, breakfast of mackerel & egg curry on toast, salad with apricots and blue cheese, breakfast of scrambled eggs, naan, and seeni sambol, Vietnamese-style spicy-sweet shrimp on rice.

Summer means I have more time to actually cook. It’s nice.

Another Box of Books

It’s always satisfying when I have to order another box of books because I’ve sold out. 🙂 The paperbacks are smaller than the hardcover, because we left the photos out to help keep the price down — $30, instead of $40 (currently on sale for $25). I include a card linking to an online archive of all the photos; I don’t know if anyone actually uses that, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

We do these print-on-demand, and we really weren’t sure how interested people would be, but despite the pandemic crashing straight into our March 2020 launch, we did have a burst of initial interest in the paperbacks, and had to re-order a few times early on:

September 2019: 50 copies
October 2019: 125 copies
December 2019: 112 copies

Now’s the first time I’ve had to order since then, though — we’ve sold through what, 287 copies so far? Make that 275, since there were some freebies that went to staff and reviewers. We are not setting the world on fire with this cookbook, but I’m still happy that people are buying it.

We got two boxes, another 56 books, in this order. Maybe we’ll break 300 before the end of the summer…

Two of the orders I’m shipping out today are birthday presents, which is particularly nice; there’s something very pleasing about my book being given as a birthday present. I hope it brings the recipient a lot of happy cooking moments…

(Also shipping out some of my homemade curry powder. I just roasted a new batch; my kitchen smells amazing.)

Spice Blending With Mary Anne

You can’t read this article unless you’re a Tribune subscriber, but among other things, it’s telling you that I’m teaching a spice-mixing class next week for the Naperville public library.

(If there are any librarians reading this, please consider me for your programming needs. 🙂 I love doing both in-person and Zoom events, and am delighted to have you archive Zoom events on your site. I will happily work with your budget. Book me for events here: https://maryannemohanraj.com/book-mary-anne/)

The Naperville library site is not behind a paywall:

“Learn how to roast, grind, and mix your own spice blends! Mary Anne Mohanraj, author of the Sri Lankan cookbook, “A Feast of Serendib,” will walk you through the process of creating a dark-roasted Sri Lankan spice blend, using your stovetop, a pan, and a dedicated spice (or coffee) grinder. (You can also use a mortar & pestle, but it’ll be a lot of work!) She’ll talk about the cultural history of Sri Lankan cuisine, what kinds of dishes you’d typically use such a spice mix for (both vegetarian and non-veg. options), and how you can adapt this process to your own tastes (altering the heat level, for example, or skipping a spice you don’t like). By the end, you’ll be able to create your own South Asian spice blends! *Registration required.”

Register here: https://napervillepl.librarycalendar.com/…/south-asian…

Tribune article: https://www.chicagotribune.com/…/ct-nvs-one-for-the…

Books To Finish

One of the things I’m hoping to do in this coming year is get real help with my e-mail. It’s tricky, because e-mail is so varied, and it’s not easy for people to know what to answer for mine. Emmanuel Henderson and I have a plan — we’re going to spend an hour a few days / week for the next month just doing it together, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to figure out how he can at least handle some of it, so I’m not so behind all the time.

I was reading an article recently about productivity and e-mail, and one thing they pointed out that e-mail is TERRIBLE in terms of switching cost — you’re bouncing from one project to another with each new e-mail, and you can’t go deep, so it ends up taking much more time and mental energy than it would if it were bunched.

I want to get back to using Boomerang for Gmail more efficiently. I’m not quite sure the right approach, but maybe something like this:

– I already have Serendib House work concentrated on Tuesdays, SLF work on Thursdays this semester. Teaching MWF.

– Given that, I could have Emmanuel go through the last hundred messages and simply boomerang everything academic to come back on Monday, everything Serendib to come back on Tuesday, and everything SLF to come back on Thursday.

I feel a little nervous about doing that, because what if there’s something urgent that needs a quicker response? But he’s smart, I should just trust him to flag things that are urgent, right? He should just boomerang away things that can wait a week.

Given that once you get past the last 50 or so messages in my inbox, you’re looking at things that have generally been waiting a lot more than a week, I probably should just accept that almost anything would be an improvement. (I have close to 900 needs-response messages in my e-mail currently. Sigh.)

Thinking out loud, mostly. But hey, while I’m here, I’ll note that the cayenne & dark chocolate roses for the treat boxes look very pretty with edible red paint (which also signals danger! beautiful danger! useful for cayenne!), and thanks to Emmanuel for the suggestion!

Stephanie Bailey, can you add these “Spicy Red Rose Dark Chocolates” to the Serendib confection listings? Same pricing as the dragonfruit nebulae chocolates.

Gosh, see, my mind just goes in every direction at once. Dealing with e-mail exacerbates the issue. Squirrel!

Must keep focus on goal — hand off / restructure as much as possible, so there is more focused time for Mary Anne to write. Books to finish! So many books!

Fresh Strawberry & Ginger Scones

(30 minutes, plus cooling time, makes 16 mini scones) In Sri Lanka, strawberries are an introduced horticultural crop, very popular in the hill country. I have fond memories of eating fabulous strawberries from roadside stands near Nuwara Eliya. Sri Lankans enjoy strawberries fresh, in milkshakes, cooked down into jam, whipped into a refreshing fool, or …

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Caramel Loves Passionfruit

“Caramel Loves Passionfruit” — I liked these enough I thought they deserved a name. Passionfruit marshmallows are, I have to say, perfection all on their own. But I wanted to try dressing them up a bit for Valentine’s Day and the winter Patreon treat boxes (details in comments), and I thought the tang of passionfruit …

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Luscious Dreams

I made a decadent Valentine’s rose tea for the winter treat boxes: decaf English breakfast, Guittard cocoa rouge, Penzey’s vanilla (beans for steeping AND double-strength extract), rose petals. Delicious, and since it’s decaf, you can indulge in the evening and still slip into sleep filled with luscious dreams…  

Valentines for the Kids

We are thankfully past the age of needing to find / create Valentines for an entire class of elementary age students at this point, hoorah, but we do still try to do something for the kids on the holiday, when we remember. Kevin made the brownie breakfast bars; I dipped some strawberry marshmallows in milk …

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