Jihva for Love and Happy Birthday, Daily Musings!

asparagus with creamy yogurt sauce
asparagus with creamy yogurt sauce

Look mom… photos upload again!! At least from my work computer… hmm. πŸ™‚

I was so happy to see the announcement of Jihva for Love at Jigyasa and Pratibha’s new blog, whose food we eat, their song we sing. I knew in an instant that I would make something from my grandmother’s kitchen.

My youthful palate was raised on plenty of tuna noodle casserole and dry, overcooked chicken, in a house where dad concocted scary-looking meals for himself from things like eggs mixed with cottage cheese and sour cream
(he baked this in a big black spider and called it an omelette!). There were other, tastier things of course, but the memories I have of my mother’s kitchen don’t involve her special cooking as much as they do her special caring. My mother is a nurse and her gifts and talent lie in a different realm. I could never muster the combination of patience, compassion and steel stomach necessary in her job — one she still performs with great aptitude at 72 years of age. I mention this so that you don’t mistake my less-than-enthusiatic remarks regarding the kitchen of ‘home’ for lack of pride, respect, and love for my dear mom! She still makes the best potato salad ever πŸ™‚

So while my mother’s kitchen held, and still holds, warm conversation and hot tea late at night, the best food of my childhood was mostly to be had ‘down the cape’ at nana’s. Bluefish fresh from the sound, wrapped in newsprint and left on the front lawn by the neighbors to be grilled with mustard on the old charcoal grill out back. Portugese sweet bread, hot and fresh from the bakery uptown and munched in the old Ford Falcon on the way home. Spicy stuffed quahogs and fresh corn on the cob rolled in melted butter, dripping off the paper plates onto the weathered picnic table… and always at the last, rhubarb dipped in sugar! But those were summertime treats.

For Jihva, I wanted to make nana’s white sauce. This most basic of recipes, the first real sauce I learned to make, consists of flour cooked in butter — a roux — which acts as a thickener for hot milk poured over. Oh yes, I can hear the chorus of “ah ha! That’s just bechamel sauce!” swimming faintly through the ether. And bechamel sauce it was. But Nana sauteed green onions in her butter, before adding the flour, and that made it special. She served it over hot boiled potatoes. How perfect in its simplicity!

In the chill of winter, nana’s simple dish of potatoes in white sauce, cooked together with her guiding hand holding mine, was a gourmet delight. Served unpretentiously (as the best food is!) on her everyday stoneware with the green band around the rim, with a little dish of boiled cabbage in vinegar on the side, this homely meal seemed the stuff that dreams were made of.

Indeed, that dream of yesteryear is still fresh in my mind, taking me back to nana’s kitchen where we sat playing gin-rummy into the night, often over a glass of wine when I was older, talking of her childhood in Canada and the days when papa was alive, mom and my aunt and uncles were young, and their huge garden stretched all the way to where the church now sits two doors down.

Back to the slightly smaller yard where we spent our summers, where nana sat in the shade of an old crab-apple tree on a hot sunny day and watched us kids, chasing a wayward volleyball or badminton birdie into the vegetable patches, and called out in her trademark sing-song way … “out of the garden!!”

I can hear her now.

Thank you, dear Jigyasa and Pratibha, for this wonderful opportunity to relive some sweet memories πŸ™‚

~~~~~

Asparagus is a spring-time treat I can’t resist. When I saw Happy Cook’s recipe for Asperges op z’n Vlaams, I immediately thought of my grandmother. She loved spring asparagus, and something in this simple recipe made me think of her. I thought to spice up nana’s white sauce in Indian fashion, and serve it over asparagus and eggs a la Happy Cook. What started out as bechamel ended up almost a kadhi, I think.

Since Jihva for Love is featuring vegan dishes, you may of course omit the eggs πŸ™‚

Asparagus and Eggs with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

8-10 spears fresh asparagus
1-2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (use only the whites, if you prefer)

For the sauce:

2 TB butter or ghee
1 small onion, finely diced
2 TB besan
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp tsp kashmiri chile powder
pinch turmeric

1 c yogurt, beaten smooth with 1/4 c water

salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to garnish

~~~

Cook the asparagus: snap off the tough ends where they break naturally and save to use in vegetable stock — drop the tender spears into boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes. Rinse immediately in cold water to retain lovely green color. Drain well and hold aside.

In a saucepan, heat the butter or ghee over medium heat and add the chopped onion. Fry slowly until turning golden, then add the besan and cumin, chile powder and turmeric. Saute a moment to cook the besan, then remove from the heat and whisk in the beaten yogurt. Return to low heat and cook until slightly thickened. Do not boil. Add salt to taste and adjust the chile powder if needed.

Place the asparagus on a warm plate and sprinkle the chopped egg over. Cover with the warm yogurt sauce. Garnish with fresh ground black pepper, if desired, and for a spot of beautiful color and flavor, sprinkle some of ISG’s onion pickle over all.

~~~

And speaking of tributes — I want to wish Happy Blog-birthday to Daily Musings, that marvelous creation from which I have learned so much! There are few places I manage to visit daily, and Daily Musings is one. With her characteristic intelligence and dry wit, IndoSunGod keeps us informed and amused, not to mention swimming in spicy gravy when we’re not swimming virtually in the Cauvery River! Wishing you many more happy blogging days, dearest ISG πŸ™‚

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28 Comments »

  1. Suganya said

    Photos or no photos. its a treat to be here, Linda. Although I love to see your kitties πŸ™‚

    Thank you dear Suganya, you made me feel lots better πŸ™‚ Kitties would love to see you too I know πŸ™‚

  2. Srivalli said

    Hey Linda..thats one lovely post!…so glad you did this…

    Hi Sri dear, and thank you — I’m glad I could, too. I wish I had made it to your dosa fest! I will get something in late one of these days πŸ™‚

  3. DK said

    No photos was sure a bummer but your write up made up for it all. Good one Linda πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much D πŸ™‚

  4. arundathi said

    “he baked this in a big black spider and called it an omelette!” loved your post! and you are right, the best food is often served without a hint of pretense.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Arundathi — thank you! πŸ™‚

  5. masalamagic said

    Beautiful memories! Loved u’re description of those Linda! And even without the pictures the recipes sound delicious, just reading about them makes my mouth water…..slurp….i’m hungry!

    Latha, you’re always so generous with your kind words, thanks! Hope all’s going well with the move! πŸ™‚

  6. Nupur said

    What a sweet post, Linda. And the asparagus “kadhi” sounds delicious πŸ™‚

    Thank you Nupur — when are you starting another “A-Z”? I will save “asparagus” πŸ˜‰

  7. Brian said

    Try using Firefox as your browser. IE browser certain versions are not working with WordPress very well.

    You’ve made me very hungry. πŸ™‚

    I’m a little afraid of Firefox, Brian, but thanks for the suggestion! Have a bite πŸ™‚

  8. indosungod said

    Linda, warm and beautiful! pictures or no pictures (how about photobucket)) “eggs mixed with cottage cheese and sour cream” – I might actually love this. What is a black spider? Is that the scary part πŸ™‚ Nanas are the best aren’t they and love the way you write about her.

    We have just recently taken to asparagus and eat it grilled with sambhar powder ofcourse, but would soon try this recipe.

    Oh and thanks for the birthday wishes Linda, I am so happy, now I understand why Srivalli wished me. I had completely forgotten about it 😦 Blogging has its own sweet treats and your friendship is one I value most.

    Hi ISG, thanks so much for your kind words… you’re always so generous and I treasure your friendship πŸ™‚

    I’m sure asparagus with magic sambhar powder is fabulous! The black spider is a larger version of the pan down the page here — I guess in pioneer days they had legs to cook over a campfire — hence the name ‘spider’ πŸ˜‰

  9. bee said

    what a beautiful tribute to your nana. so that’s where your blog’s name comes from!!! these wordpress upgrades are getting on our nerves too.

    Thanks so much Bee πŸ™‚ And yes, that’s the origin of OOTG πŸ˜‰

    I begin to believe WP upgrade is an oxymoron…

  10. Mansi said

    The endearing words on your posts compensate for the lack of photos..so don’t worry Linda! that’s a lovely post for your nana! I too posted something for my mom today:)

    Aw, thanks so much Mansi! I’ll have to run see your post too πŸ™‚

  11. Pel said

    What a nice post to honor your nana! It makes me think of my own- sadly, no longer with us; if only time could be made to stop for awhile. But your asparagus dish sounds lovely- a true harbinger of spring it is indeed!

    Oh yes and spring really brings out the asparagus up at the lakes, Pel! You might find quite a bit from Michigan soon, if you don’t have it in WI already πŸ™‚ My nana is not alive anymore either, but we have the great memories don’t we πŸ™‚ Watch this space for fungus amungus soon! πŸ˜‰

  12. vanamala said

    Lovely …nice to read πŸ™‚

    Thank you Vanmala πŸ™‚

  13. Nice post..

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

  14. Sandeepa said

    That was such a sweet tribute to your Nana, I am loving this edition of JFI for all the lovely reads

    Thanks Sandeepa πŸ™‚ I love to read all the tributes too πŸ™‚

  15. Cynthia said

    Those memories were a treat! Thanks for sharing them.

    Sorry about your photo-uploading frustrations.

    Thanks so much Cynthia, I’m glad you enjoyed. I hope this is straightened out soon too — I am losing my patience hehe πŸ˜‰

    Postman coming closer, btw! πŸ™‚

  16. Vani said

    Lovely post, Linda! Eggs with cottage cheese & sour cream does not sound too bad, actually! πŸ™‚ Nursing is a tough prefession! Kudos to your mom for going strong at 72! And what a nice post for your Nana!

    Vani dear, I shall bring you here to cook with my dad! πŸ˜‰

    Mom is Nana’s daughter, so I hope a little of that longevity and energy rubs off on me too! Hope all the kiddies and kitties are well! πŸ™‚

  17. revathi said

    Hi linda

    That is a beautiful writeup about Nana – Invariably all the JFI-Love posts I read are about grandmothers – Shoud have been JFI-Grandmas. If I did a post for JFI-Love it would be about my grandma too.

    I hope ur picture upload woes are over soon –

    Hey Revathi good to hear from you! Grandmothers are special indeed πŸ™‚ Thanks πŸ™‚

  18. Asha said

    Hello Linda, how are you? Me back today but will blog just 3 days a week. Great post btw, lwe all seems to have great relationships with grand parents!:))

    Hello Asha! I’ve missed you, my friend! I will be by FH and Aroma for a long visit on the weekend — WP is giving me such problems that I am not blogging much lately but trying to make the rounds πŸ™‚ Really great to see you — hugs to you and the family πŸ™‚

  19. Siri said

    Lovely post Linda. Sorry about the photo-uploading-problems of new WordPress. But, your words said it all.:D

    take care,
    Siri

    Aw, thank you so much Siri πŸ™‚

  20. richa said

    lovely post, Linda!
    isn’t it always just more than ‘a recipe’ when it comes to our dear ones πŸ™‚ it feels so special to be cooking their signature dishes!

    You said it Richa — so much more than just ‘a recipe’ πŸ™‚ Thanks for your kind words πŸ™‚

  21. bhags said

    photos or no photos, shud not be a problem when the post is dedicated to someone as dear as nana……….lovely post and hope u r at peace with wordpress soon

    Thank you Bhags, dear! WP and I will muddle through I hope! Watch for some Arusuvai postings soon! πŸ˜‰

  22. Jyothsna said

    Lovely post Linda! Food always remids us of a loved one, right?

    Thanks Jyothsna — and yes indeed! Food and aromas, scents and sounds of home πŸ™‚

  23. Manasi said

    Lovely post!!
    ur posts are wonderful with or without pics! but I sure hope u can upload pics soon…. guess other wordpress blogs are having these problems too :((

    And thank U so much for all the suggestions on Tofu! HUGS!!!

    Hi Manasi — yes, I think alot of WP bloggers are suffering — I just couldn’t suffer in silence anymore πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your kind words — and I am so glad if you can use some of the tofu tips! Hugs to you πŸ™‚

  24. […] Linda of Out of the Garden about her Nana’s Potatoes in white sauce …where nana sat in the shade of an old crab-apple tree on a hot sunny day and watched us kids, chasing a wayward volleyball or badminton birdie into the vegetable patches, and called out in her trademark sing-song way … β€œout of the garden!!” […]

  25. shyam said

    Linda, you’re back! And with a lovely, lovely post about your Nana, too. πŸ™‚ You’re lucky to have had a grandma like her – I didnt know my dad’s mom well (we lived away from India for many years) and my mom’s mom was… well, let’s just say, not the kindliest of people. 😐 Anyway, it’s always heartwarming to read other people’s (beautifully written) posts. I’m going to pretend that your nana was mine too πŸ™‚

    I’m happy to share Nana with you Shammi, any day πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for the warm words πŸ™‚

  26. shubha said

    Lovely memories and an amazing recipe…. I have never tried asparagus but the way u have put down he recipes…. I think Iam surely gonna try it…:)

  27. Happy Cook said

    Linda I missed this post as i was on a break for a month as my sister was visiting me. I am so happy my simple recipie reminded you of you lovely granmother.

    Thanks so much HC — I really loved that asparagus! Hope you had a wonderful time with your sister! πŸ™‚

  28. […] Linda of Out of the Garden about her Nana’s Potatoes in white sauce …where nana sat in the shade of an old crab-apple tree on a hot sunny day and watched us kids, chasing a wayward volleyball or badminton birdie into the vegetable patches, and called out in her trademark sing-song way … β€œout of the garden!!” […]

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