Celebrating Spring with Long Overdue Thanks!

At last, at last, it’s garden time! And at long last, it seems I can use WordPress again — oh, how I have missed sharing my little corner of the world with you all, dear friends! Hooray!

To celebrate, a few photos from the yard this holiday weekend…

french lilac
french lilac in bloom

female ruby-throated hummingbird
female ruby-throated hummingbird ~ taking off at an astonishing 53 wingbeats per second!

good enough to eat ~ homegrown baby lettuces…

…and baby spinach

swiss chard
…and baby swiss chard ~ soon it will be ready for ISG’s chard sambhar!

ichiban eggplants and golden jubilee tomato
a longer wait for ichiban eggplants and golden jubilee tomato


one expert told me… “looks like ash gourd…”


During this little break, I managed to fix most of my computer issues. Happily, I am finally able to properly thank two wonderful blogger friends for a bounty of goodies! These fabulous packages came to me through the Arusuvai Friendship Chain. As I am sure you know by now, Arusuvai was started by lovely Latha and Lakshmi of The Yum Blog and two more dear ladies, Bharathy of Spicy Chilly and Bhags of Crazy Curry. It was introduced in the US by still another special lady, Latha of Masala Magic. Once more I send my thanks to you all! πŸ™‚

beautiful bag full of gifts from Bhags!
beautiful Rajasthani-style handbag full of treats from Bhags!

This exquisite bag was filled with treats from all over India. Imagine my delight at this amazing assortment!

From Pune, soft and tender kokum, the likes of which I have never seen in any store. From Chennai, *real* filter coffee. And from Bhags’ own hometown of Nagpur, genuine varhadi masala. Fragrant doesn’t begin to describe this wonderful blend of spices.

Thank you so much, dear Bhags, for your kind generosity! Your package of treats from India means more than I can really say, and I can assure you each of your thoughtful gifts will be savored for a long time to come πŸ™‚

mysteries from pel
package full of surprises from Pel ~ including one ingredient that was a big mystery to me!

From dear Pel, fellow Great Lakes afficianado, came this wonderful package full of surprises. It included homemade light-as-a-feather chaklis (and just because I am late Pel, don’t think I won’t be hounding you for that recipe!); homemade metkoot, to sprinkle over hot rice with ghee; giant white fungus for a yet-to-be-discovered Chinese-inspired dish, and lastly, music to cook by and incense to relax with after the last dish is washed.

Of course I musn’t leave out the obligatory mystery. It’s the bag at the front of the photo. At first I thought it was something to do with methi. I will leave Pel’s hint to see if anyone can guess: “It’s actually a single spice…..related to cardamom……the Thais use it fresh, Indonesians use it dried and powdered, like this…”

Thank you so much, Pel, for sharing your homemade delights with me πŸ™‚


Last but certainly not least — I have three more friends to thank.

Firstly, talented Eskay of A Bon Vivant’s Chow Chronicles so very kindly sent me this “Nice Matters” award way back in February. I hope you don’t mind the late acknowledgement, Eskay, and know that it means alot to me, to have this passed on from you!

Then today came another surprise — “You Make My Day” award from Jigyasa and Pratibha, two more talented ladies I feel honored to call friends. I am sure you know them as the co-authors of Cooking At Home with Pedatha. It just so happens I made one of Pedatha’s recipes tonight — the third time I have cooked this dish, actually — and here it is, pictured in all its glorious simplicity. I was never a fan of black-eyed peas ’till I tried this recipe, and I hope Jigyasa and Pratibha won’t mind if I pass along the general idea:

Cut and cook fresh brinjal with turmeric and salt in very little water. Mash lightly. Cook some black-eyed peas until just tender but not mushy. About 2-1 ratio, brinjal to peas.

Do the tadka with urad dal, mustard seed, dried red chillies, curry leaves and a bit of hing in very little oil. Add fresh grated ginger, slit green chillies and salt. Stir in the mashed brinjal and the peas. Simmer 10 minutes or so.

Garnish with chopped cilantro, and then I dare you to wait ’till the rice is cooked before you try πŸ™‚

pedatha\'s brinjal pasty vegetable
Brinjal Pasty Vegetable (brinjal with black-eyed peas) from Cooking At Home With Pedatha. Do try this, dear Bee! — since you discovered Pedatha’s vaangi bhath, you may find you really love brinjal after all πŸ˜‰


  1. Pelicano said

    I’m honoured that you called those crunchy things chaklis…I’d call ’em: chakli wannabes! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked everything Linda. Especially grand was watching you squirm and twirl trying to figure out the mystery ingredient! πŸ™‚

    You sprouting-shooting garden looks marvelous…and you’re so green with the re-use of those containers too! I just might have a gardening project up my sleeve that’ll catch your eye if I ever get my heinie in gear and do a post.

    Those are some beautiful things from Bhags, I must say…a real coffee-filter bag; now I’m a little green.

    The mushy stuff looks good too. πŸ˜€

    Oh, but Pel, I didn’t sqirm *that* long! πŸ˜‰

    And yes, everything was a real delight, thank you again! The chaklis were super-tasty! Please post the recipe along with your garden and I’ll look forward to both πŸ™‚

  2. indosungod said

    Lilac blooms look beautiful – do they have this amazing smell like perfume?
    The pictures of the garden make me all excited! The baby lettuces looks so good and so do the swiss chard. Can’t wait to see the egg plants and tomatoes start to fruit πŸ™‚ The gourd that looks like Ash is perhaps ridge?;)
    As for the brinjal combo with Black eyed peas with Pedatha’s magic, what can go wrong there.

    I have two more mystery gourds popping up today, ISG! Yes, the lilac has an incredible fragrance. That bush is special to me cause it came from my mom’s big one. I’m on the edge of my seat for the garden-stuff now — can’t wait to see yours too! πŸ™‚

  3. indosungod said

    Forgot to comment on those lovely gifts from bhags and Pel. The bag looks beautiful – you got to make the rasam again Linda.

    As for anybody who make chaklis they got to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have never made them, still rely on grandmom and mom.

    I was really fortunate with all these goodies, for sure! I made chaklis once — in spite of a really great recipe from Shilpa, they didn’t stay very crunchy 😦

  4. Nupur said

    What an action-packed post! The French lilac is soooo pretty. And is that a hummingbird feeder? I had heard of them but it is the first time I am seeing one…it looks like quite a contraption πŸ˜€
    The baby lettuces…awww…so green and fresh! The goodies: can I have a bite πŸ˜‰
    And eggplant- black eyes peas: I am drooling!

    Hi Nupur, yes — it’s a hummingbird feeder, one of a zillion styles! I only started putting that out last year and I was so excited to get a couple of hummers πŸ™‚ Goodies and brinjal-blackeyed peas — you can have as many bites as you wish, of course! πŸ™‚

  5. Aparna said

    Its so nice to see you back, Linda. And your photographs are full of the essence of spring.
    Here its so hot, I’m eagerly awaiting the monsoon.

    Hi Aparna, and thanks! I’m happy you enjoyed the pics. Hope you get a little relief from the heat soon πŸ™‚

  6. Asha said

    WOW!! Linda, those plants look fabulous. I planted some red chard in April and I am already cooking with those yummies!:))
    Enjoy the awards and so many Arusuvais too. Brinjal dish looks wonderful, will try!:)
    Have a relaxing weekend, routine starts again tomorrow!:))

    Back to school and back to work, yep! Asha, I saw your garden pics over at ‘Home’ and everything is looking great already! Down south you can get those nice early crops! Enjoy the gardening and looking forward to your updates! πŸ™‚

  7. Happy Cook said

    You have a beautiful garden.
    Love the gifts you got.

    Thank you so much, HC! By the way, don’t know if you saw your aspagarus dish really inspired me awhile back — thanks for that! πŸ™‚

  8. bee said

    wonderful post linda. your plants are come along great. we’ve have planted bunch of stuff too. trying our luck with habanero and tomatillo in addition, this year. pel’s mystery ingredient – i am almost tempted to say ginger or turmeric as they are related to cardomom. however, knowing pel’s affinity to thai cooking – i am going to guess “Galangal”


    You win the prize, Jai! Galangal it is! I am now perusing my cookbooks to put that to good use. Tomatillo sounds like fun — mexican salsa in the garden! Good luck with your crops πŸ™‚

  9. TBC said

    The baby lettuces look so good!
    Glad to hear that your computer issues have been resolved…

    Congrats on the awards. πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much, TBC. It’s nice to be able to blog again! Hoping to let those lettuces grow a couple more days before I snip them off for lunch πŸ™‚

  10. Vani said

    Beautiful pictures! And I love the hummingbird one, flapping it’s wings. Amazing stat there! The curry looks lovely, Linda!

    Hi Vani, so glad you enjoyed the pics! I wish I could catch that hummingbird up close πŸ™‚

  11. Anusha said

    The rajasthani bags are looking very attractive.

    Thanks Anusha, I really loved that too πŸ™‚

  12. sia said

    linda, its so good to see ur post πŸ™‚ for me its like a fresh breath of air πŸ˜€

    It’s so good to see *you* Sia! Thanks for your sweet words. I will be by to visit your blog soon! πŸ™‚

  13. Happy Cook said

    Hey linda just read your asparagus post and have left a comment there πŸ™‚

  14. Happy Cook said

    Hey and don’t you just love Sia’s comment πŸ™‚

    I do, HC, I do! And thank you — I just saw your comment at the asparagus post and left you a reply πŸ™‚

  15. Trupti said

    how are you??it is so good to see your posts Linda…those gifts are special indeed. hope you are enjoying the summer….!

    the spice who loved me

    Hey Trupti, it’s great to see you here! I was a lucky gal with all those goodies, for sure πŸ™‚ I’m busy trying to get the garden going now that real warm weather has arrived — hope you’re doing well too. I’m so glad “Spice” is back online — I missed you! πŸ™‚

  16. Suganya said

    Glad to see you here, Linda. I missed your lovely posts, beautiful photos, and most importantly your cats :). Pass my love to ’em.

    Aw, thank you Suganya — I’m happy to see you here too! I will certainly pass that on. The cats are being very lazy today watching the sunny day go by πŸ™‚

  17. sandeepa said

    Your garden look awesome, the lilac bloom is so pretty. My garden is pretty sad this year 😦
    You are doing only container veggies this time?
    That bag of goodies look delighful

    Hi Sandeepa, why so sad? You have lots of time yet to plant πŸ™‚ I am doing tomatoes and one brinjal in the backyard plot, and some okra. On the deck, I am growing a jungle πŸ™‚

  18. Cynthia said

    This post is chock full of goodness! Welcome back! and thank you!!!

    Thank *you*, Cyn! πŸ™‚

  19. jayne said

    i saw your post somewhere, i have a 6 year old daughter with both asperger’s and type I diabetes. any advice? i am struggling. jayne

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