Archive for Great Lakes

Weather With You ~ Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans

spicy brinjal with shelly beans
spicy brinjal with shelly beans

More lyrics, tonight :)

This time it’s an old favorite by Crowded House.

Listen here or just read, here :)

“Walking ’round the room singing Stormy Weather
At 57 Mount Pleasant Street
Well it’s the same room but everything’s different
You can fight the sleep but not the dream

Things ain’t cooking in my kitchen
Strange affliction wash over me
Julius Ceasar and the Roman Empire
Couldn’t conquer the blue sky

Well there’s a small boat made of china
It’s going nowhere on the mantlepiece
Well do I lie like a lounge room lizard
Or do I sing like a bird released

Everywhere you go
Always take the weather with you…”

— excerpt from Weather With You
(Neil Finn / Tim Finn)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Given that choice, this bird will sing, thank you :)

If only Nupur had time for another series; let’s say: The A-Z of Weather and Veggies!

I am prepared with “S is for Snow and Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans” ;)

wall 'o beans oct 4
wall ‘o beans ~ beginning of october

wall o'beans oct 23
wall o’beans ~ this morning

A heavy, wet snow fell overnight and the sun rose feebly over a winter wonderland complete with frosted trees and garden. Sadly, the weight of the snow was such that the sweet old apple tree out front was nearly toppled. Time will tell whether it recovers.

apple tree snowed under
the poor apple tree ~ nearly touching the ground

With snow covering the plants, and more lurking on the horizon, we hurried to finish harvesting the last of the garden. A few days ago we got in the last of the tomatoes and brinjals, a lot of peppers and a few other goodies. It had been unusually warm so we let the garden grow…

late harvest in northern michigan
late harvest in the north woods ~ few days ago

Today, in the fickle in-and-out sunshine of late afternoon, we picked all of the shelly beans and *another* big mess of papdi beans. I have no doubt these papdi would keep growing and growing. They are flowering yet. Perhaps next year I will plant them where they don’t have to be taken down with the fence! ;)

fresh papdi beans ~ variety priya
latest, greatest, and probably last mess of papdi beans ~ these will be prepared simply so DG can get a taste of them :)

OK, but what on earth are shelly beans? Good question!

Shelly beans are described nicely here in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and also here at BBB Seeds.

I have grown them in the past, but I didn’t know them as shelly beans. I knew them as horticultural or cranberry beans, and cooked them in succotash only.

Mom sent a few seeds of those cranberry beans for the Michigan garden. Planted in July alongside the Priya papdi beans and the long beans (of mixed variety), they flourished as did the others. When I mentioned the pods were turning cream-and-red, Mom told me to hurry and pick them for shellies.

Shellies. Who knew? I think we picked nearly two quarts of them today.

It may be a little late for them in stores or farm markets. It’s certainly late for them here.

shelly beans in the pod
shelly beans in the pod ~ greener pods yield plain beans, while the ripe cream-colored pod yields speckled beans

After learning about them, I knew what I had to do. I shelled those lovely beans. And then…

I thought of my great kitchen buddy, ISG — and how she always pairs brinjal with beans to such great effect. I know a good dish when I taste one; after years of tasting ISG’s recipes, I had no hesitation. Shamelessly taking my cue from her, (and mostly from her recipe), I dove under the bed to dig through my stash of spices. Armed with fresh coriander seeds (is that an oxymoron??), I headed for the kitchen.

Thus was born…

Spicy Brinjal with Shelly Beans

for the curry

a mess of brinjals (I had about 20 in all, small and medium)
one large red onion, diced, divided
4-5 medium fresh tomatoes, pureed (about 2 cups)
1 c shelly beans, shelled and boiled 30 min in salted water, drained
thick tamarind water from a large piece (about 1/2 cup)
jaggery to taste
salt to taste

for the paste

dry roast:
1/4 c coriander seeds
2 TB cumin seeds
a few methi seeds
a few curry leaves
3-4 red chiles, seeded (I used fresh from the garden chiles!)

Saute half the diced onion until lightly browned, then grind with the above to a paste.
Set aside.

for the seasoning

1-2 TB canola oil
curry leaves
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
half the diced onion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To prepare:

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. When the oil is ready, add urad dal, curry leaves, hing, and mustard seeds. When the seasonings are hot, add half the onion and saute for a few minutes while you prepare the brinjals.*

Add brinjals and saute over med heat until they begin to brown and wilt. Clear a space in the center and add the ground paste. Cook this over medium heat, stirring, until the paste is fragrant. Keep stirring to coat the brinjals.

After five minutes or so, add tamarind water and pureed tomatoes. Mix well. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook about ten minutes. Now taste and add jaggery depending on the sourness. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and simmer until brinjals are tender.

Uncover, stir in the cooked shelly beans and additional salt to taste.

Serve with hot rice to soak up the spicy gravy, and pass the ghee, please!

spicy brinjal and shelly beans curry
oh so spicy brinjal and shelly beans curry ~ thanks for the great idea, ISG!

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*Slit long brinjals in four pieces, leaving tops intact. Make four cuts in smaller round brinjals. Cut any large brinjals into pieces to match the size of small brinjals. I even had some really tiny ones which I just slit in half as above. I did this while frying the seasonings, so I did not have to worry about discoloration.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are now five cats in the house…

lemur and gibby
the golden boys ~ lemur and gibby

pinksdaisy
pinks and daisy

Little 22 yo Squeaker is out in her cozy bed by the furnace…

All the kitties are safe and warm. All is well, and winter is coming…

I love it here :)

the kitties are in :)
the kitties are all snug inside

Comments (7)

Up North Rocks

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan rocks — literally and figuratively!

Just back from a glorious mini-break, I am happily faced with two hundred-plus pics to go through (not bad for three days!) and a garden full of produce to preserve.

I promised pickles for dear sra and pickles I shall post soon.

For tonight, just a quick few photos from the lovely autumn days in the UP. The river shots are just for my dear friend ISG — we all know she is a river girl at heart! :)

muskallonge lake
muskallonge lake ~ view from the eastern shore

lake superior
lake superior shoreline

a tiny agate
a tiny agate… (lake superior rock!)

tahquamenon river
the tahquamenon river

cut river
the cut river where it flows into Lake Michigan

lake michigan ~ view from US2
looking west from US 2 ~ Lake Michigan in the UP

More UP fun to come — but next up — pickles, chutney and perhaps tomato jam :)

Comments (1)

Going “Up North”

beanstalks grow on this huge sunflower...
beans are climbing up this huge sunflower…

Now that I live in the “northern lower”, a trip “up north” to the Upper Peninsula isn’t such an undertaking — all I need is a few days off and a car as opposed to a few weeks off and a plane ticket!

Here is where I am headed…

When I get back I hope to have some great new photos — perhaps even some foodie stuff too! (such as pickles, sra?) :)

lake superior ~ yum!
lake superior

Comments (2)

It’s A Long Way To Tipperary, OOPS I Mean Toledo! Moving Home Part Four

Warning warning! Long post, not much food either. I’d best hurry along with this ‘moving home’ story before I’ve been home a whole year!

Do you ever make up your own lyrics? I did :)

I was playing with words when I put this title down — I was thinking (and singing in my mind) “it’s a long way to tipperary, it’s a long way to go… it’s a long way to tipperary, with the sweetest guy I know…”

Then I came to google the song and found it is an old WWI song, which has been translated into Kannada as something of a parody — how cool is that :)

If you care to hear the song, in English or Kannada or instrumental — here are a few links — I don’t pretend to have done thorough or proper research ;)

version one ~ mitch miller big band

version two ~ TP Kailasam Eternal Song ~ kannada

version three ~ dixieland

the lobby at erie

gallery of fossils
gallery of fossils embedded in a rock wall ~ outside the motel lobby at Erie

what was this...?
I wonder what creature this was in its long-ago life…

From Erie, with its fascinating fossils in the rock outside the motel, we drove down past the harbor where we saw one lone tug-barge combo, similar to this.

No time to stop for photos of the harbor, nor of the gracious homes lining the waterfront road — we were Toledo-bound and the temperature was rising fast. I was excited however, for today! Because we like the beautiful freighters that ply the Great Lakes (some might call us boatnerds), I planned this leg of the journey to take us along the shores of Lake Erie. Erie was the only one of the five Great Lakes I had yet to see, and it’s home to several port cities I had read about for years.

We set off early, in order to take the scenic route and avoid highway driving as long as possible. Traveling west on US20, we crossed the state line into Ohio.

ohio welcomes us!
requisite state welcome sign for the scrapbook

My first glimpse of the real Lake Erie was just a few miles ahead, at Conneaut (I didn’t count the harbor at Erie PA!). There, the dormant grasses waved in the morning sunshine and I was able to walk down onto the sand and bask in the beauty of the wide open water. Something about the Great Lakes speaks to me; Lake Erie on this hot blustery day did not disappoint.

wild grass at conneaut
grasses at conneaut

lake erie at conneaut
lake erie at Conneaut ~ hot and hazy day

lighthouse on lake erie
west breakwater light at Conneaut ~ loads of gulls on the jetty, and loads of ducks in the water ~ probably mergansers

From Conneaut, we meandered along Lake Road to the next stop, Ashtabula — home to an active Coast Guard Station, interesting bridges, and a rich maritime heritage. Ashtabula County itself is evidently home to many covered bridges as well. I wish there had been time to visit the Hulett unloader at Point Park. A vacation to Ohio may be in order!

ashtabula lift bridge
lift bridge at Ashtabula ~ every flag along the way was at half-mast for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing…

coal conveyor at ashtabula
interesting coal conveyor at Ashtabula

closeup of the conveyor
close up of the operation ~ complete with old coast guard house and fish tug tied up to the dock

vinca
vinca in bloom at the Ashtabula CGS

Leaving Ashtabula, we continued along the back roads through Geneva-on-the-Lake, a little tourist town which was still boarded up for the winter. You could envision it humming with summertime activity; like so many places on Cape Cod, the shuttered shops seemed to call out “come back on Memorial Day!” as we passed by.

By now it was nearly 100F in the car; concerned for the cats, we headed onto the highway to skirt around the crowded metropolis of Cleveland. Exiting west of the big city, we made one final sightseeing stop at the port of Lorain. The wind had really picked up and the water was a little choppy. A complex of purple martin houses stood at the shore — a surprise perk!

lakeview park
lakeview park at Lorain

lighthouse at lorain
lighthouse at Lorain

purple martin in flight
purple martin takes flight on the edge of Lake Erie

here's lookin' at you, kid!
purple martin on his front doorstep ~ here’s lookin’ at you kid!

Taking leave of Lorain, it was back onto the freeway to be blown — and I do mean *blown* — directly into Toledo. Never have I known such a strong crosswind while driving. Across the farmland of western Ohio, it was all I could do to hang onto the steering wheel! What a relief it was to unload our weary selves, along with two weary, hot little kitties, at the motel in Toledo. It was raining hard — severe thunderstorms had passed shortly before our arrival. In the aftermath of the downpour, I ventured out for our only takeout meal of the entire trip — the famous Tony Packo’s (apologies to any non-meat eaters)!

Notes on our travel through Ohio:

By this time, we were wise to Miss Daisy’s ways and let her ride in her cat carrier. There, she was somewhat shaded from the sun and content to be in her own little house. The carrier has mesh sides, so she always had a view of big brother Pinks riding along beside her in his bed. It was an unseasonably warm day for mid-April. In the car, the thermometer quickly reached 90F, then 100F.

Worried about the cats in such heat, we made frequent stops to be sure they were hydrated. For me, it was like having babies again.
We soaked paper toweling with cold water and squeezed it into their little mouths to be sure they were getting a drink — like it or not. Both cats got sponge baths at every stop, too. I can never thank dear G enough for being so diligent and helpful in caring for the kitties on that trip — and ever since.

They are truly now *our* kitties :)

ohio kitties
kitties in the hot ohio sunshine

dgtoledo
a weary dear G, leaning on the steadfast Subby ~ Toledo after the storm

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Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, we are swimming in cucumbers and more. Coming soon: pickles!

a million pickles!
pickles!

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Cleaning The Fridge and Shrimp with Bamboo Shoots in Spicy Coconut Curry

celebrity tomatoes
here come the tomatoes ~ if only they have time to ripen!

In the new home, I find myself sharing kitchen space. It’s a most delightful experience for me. Who wouldn’t love to have another interested cook in the kitchen — especially one who is willing to chop all the onions I desire, and even asks, “how finely chopped do you want them?”!!

That is none other than dear G, a whiz with onions, pizza crust, and much more.

When I arrived with my assortment of must-haves, a full fridge swelled to overflowing. I knew it could be transformed into a more functional space, but I couldn’t just swoop in and take over. The situation called for tact and timing. Fortunately, what I may lack in the former, I often make up for in the latter.

That, or I am just lucky ;)

The other day I discovered the Chill Out and Clean Out over at
One Hot Stove. Talk about great timing! Here was the perfect opportunity to pitch my plan. Thanks Nupur!

Given the green light from G, I set out in earnest to fix the fridge.

I thought about how I cook — I am constantly bending and stooping and digging to find something hidden way at the back of the bottom shelf, simply because the jar is big and heavy. Why not have easy access to the things I use most often?

I also wanted to open up the space to make it easier to find *anything*.

One hurdle was the sheer number of bottles and jars. Mustards, relishes, homemade pickles, and numerous ingredients for my cooking passions, Indian, Korean and beyond — many of which require refrigeration — are in residence.

The first idea, which allowed me to free up plenty of shelf space, was to store the smaller bottles of less frequently used condiments (Chinese mustard, for example, or Jamaican jerk paste) in one of the crisper drawers.

Then I removed a middle shelf which made a narrow space, perfect for hiding cans of cat food, sliced turkey, bits of cheese, half an onion, and the like. I found a suitable plastic box to act as deli drawer, and placed it on the bottom shelf. Take that, scraps of cheese and onion! Another box on the top shelf holds condiments that won’t fit in the door, but would tip easily on a wire shelf.

In the door itself, I placed the condiments we use most often — now they’re at our fingertips. The giant bottle of ketchup has been relegated to the back of the top shelf — but at least it’s easy to find! ;)

G is not so sure about having a drawer full of condiments instead of veggies. I hope those veggies sitting out on the bottom shelf — always in sight and easy to grab — will translate to fewer forlorn, forgotten bunches of green onions melting away into green goo in the corner of the ‘crisper’. You know what I mean :)

One result of the reorganization is this: I have resolved to stop buying giant bottles of anything unless I know it will be used quickly (jars of ginger and garlic paste would be an exception, for example). When my evil penny-pinching twin whispers in my ear that I will save 3 cents per ounce if I just get that gigantic bottle, I am going to remember just how long it took to use up the gigantic bottle — not to mention the contents aren’t so fresh at the end of year four ;)
A savings of pennies per ounce may seem wise at time of purchase, but if I have to pitch out that bottle months down the road, I will have wasted more than I saved to begin with.

I have also resolved to redouble my effort to cook with what’s on hand rather than giving in to my frequent I-feel-like-chicken-tonight whims. In that spirit, I made a coconut curry based partly on a favorite of mine: Goan Shrimp a la Bong Mom, and partly on
this delicious looking recipe which I found showcased at
Divya’s Recipes. Thanks ladies!!

I had shrimp in the freezer. I added bamboo shoots that I picked up at Asian Delight Marketplace when the kids flew home. Hooray for Grand Rapids — the closest ethnic markets are just hours away! ;)

Shrimp and Bamboo Shoots in Spicy Coconut Curry

For the paste:

4-6 dried red chiles
6 cloves garlic
6 peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2″ cinnamon
a few cloves

Toast the above until fragrant.

Grind to a paste with:

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Keep aside in the grinder.

For the curry:

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (sprinkle the shrimp with turmeric and a little salt and leave to rest while cooking the following)

2 tsp canola oil
1 big onion, chopped
2 green chiles, seeded if desired, and chopped
curry leaves to taste
2 TB dried coconut (optional but adds great aroma!)
1 tomato, chopped
the reserved paste
3 medium fresh bamboo shoots, diced **see note below**
1 can coconut milk

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot, add the onion and chiles, and cook for a few minutes. Add the curry leaves and optional dried coconut. Saute over medium heat until the onion turns color and the coconut aroma fills the kitchen :) Add the chopped tomato and cook a few minutes longer.

Add the reserved paste. Rinse out the grinder with a little fresh water and add this to the pot too. Cook a few minutes, to bring out the flavor of the paste.

Now add the diced bamboo shoots and mix well. Let this simmer for 20-30 min over med-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the dish is nearly dry and very fragrant, add the coconut milk. Raise the heat to medium high and watch carefully, stirring often. When the curry is just below the boil, add the shrimp and mix well.

Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for about 6-8 minutes or until the shrimp are just pink. Time will vary depending on size of shrimp.

When the shrimp are pink, remove from the heat and cover. Let it sit for an additional 5-10 minutes to be sure the shrimp are cooked through. They will continue to cook from the residual heat, and in doing so should not become tough.

This is a very interesting and rich, flavorful dish, which I served with soft barley rice (1 c rice, 1/2 c barley, 3 c water — soak for 30 min then cook per your usual rice rule).

As usual, it was even better as leftovers the next day.

**note on bamboo shoots — I purchased water packed shoots that looked something like the photo here. I wish I had those on top when I took the ‘before pics’ of the fridge, but I did get a shot of some narrower shoots packed in similar fashion. Bamboo tends to be very bitter tasting to me — I cut these puppies up and brought them to a boil in lightly salted water, then drained them, covered in fresh water and let them sit a good 30 minutes before using.

Let me add that it’s well worth the effort/expense to try these fresh(er) shoots as opposed to the garden variety canned version. Even after all that boiling/soaking/further cooking, they are so crunchy and tasty!

~~~~~~~~~

I am too late for Nupur’s deadline, but I thought it would be fun to fill out the virtual survey regardless!

before pics of fridge

eek! what a mess!
yikes, what a mess!

disarray
good grief! :)

and more...
and the drawers…

The most unusual/exotic/interesting item in your fridge: homemade kimchi

Three items you always have in your fridge: ginger and garlic pastes, tamarind, sesame oil (only three!??) :)

The oldest item in your fridge: strawberry jam from the Keweenaw Peninsula, purchased in 2006!

Item(s) from the fridge that needed to be used and how you used it/them up in meals or recipes: ate up the aforementioned jam on toast :) made milk into yogurt, didn’t cook for a week eating leftovers, consolidated all store-bought horseradish and spicy brown mustard and ghee into one jar each, and so forth.

after pics of fridge
easier to find things!
lighter and brighter ~ complete with homemade yogurt in mason jars, yum!

look mom ~ nothing falling over!
much better!

my favorite!
and my favorite part ~ the condiment drawer!

And that’s all folks… I can’t believe how long this post is. If you made it this far, you deserve a medal — or at least a serving of shrimp and bamboo shoots! ;)

shrimp and bamboo shoots in coconut curry
shrimp and bamboo shoots bathed in rich coconut curry

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Out Of The Michigan Garden!

Hello dear friends!

Much water has flowed under the bridge since I was last able to write a real post. Probably enough to fill Lake Superior! Well, maybe not quite ;) The kitties and I have finally landed in Michigan — the beautiful north woods — and I am busy in a very good way. Would you believe me if I told you that most of my old house is packed up in storage, but my prized boxes and bags of spices and dals and all things yummy are sitting in the new home as I type!?

Here in the cool of the north is a patch of sunlight in which the new garden luxuriates under the hardwoods.

I wish you all as much happiness and contentment as the last few months have brought me… and now without further ado, the Michigan garden!

the little garden in the north woods
pea vines and corn patch

garden
lots of tomatoes and cucumbers ~ herb patch in the back

amish paste tomato
amish paste tomato ~ an heirloom variety

sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
cherry tomatoes ~ sweet 100s

corn patch, sunflowers and peppers
corn patch, with myriad hot and sweet peppers to the fore

yummy brinjals
ichiban (rear) and fairytale (front) eggplants ~ hooray for brinjal!

herb patch
the herb patch ~ sweet and thai basil, sage, oregano, dill, fennel (we hope!), cilantro, and methi methi methi!

lebanese squash plants
lebanese squash from seeds of india ~ the seeds were three years old and germinated like a dream

methi methi methi
that lovely methi!

chanchal okra
more older seeds popping up ~ the ever-reliable chanchal okra

sunflowers
the little patch of sunflowers lives behind the corn patch

tomatillos
something new to try ~ tomatillos! this variety supposedly ripens yellow

tomatillo husk tomato
tomatillos are also called husk tomatoes; the husk grows first, then the fruit forms inside!

cukes and beans
straight eight cukes and a variety of pole beans ~ including horticultural beans of succotash fame, and some long beans from seeds of india

It’s so exciting to try a garden in the *ground* as opposed to on the deck. Old habits die hard, however — I still have some eggplants in pots, as well as one golden jubilee tomato ~ we’ll see how they fare up here!

A few last scenes from the new homeplace…

front yard
the front yard complete with bird feeder, bird pond, and woodpile ready to be stacked properly for winter use

country road in northern michigan
the view from the mailbox down a country road ~ how happy could I be!

daisy in a woodbox
daisy in a woodbox

welcome!
welcome to my new little home in the north woods!

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Kohlrabi Sambhar — The Joke’s On Me!

fresh kohlrabi
fresh and tasty kohlrabi bulbs and greens

Before the New Year I promised to post kohlrabi sambhar, inspired by Anita’s delicious haak. Looking back in my archives I saw that the joke was on me —

I’ve already posted the very same, way back in 2009!

Well, it didn’t spoil by keeping — this is still far and away my favorite sambhar, aside from Suganya’s spicy sambhar, or Padma’s udipi sambhar, or roasted eggplant sambhar or oh, yum, jackfruit chips sambhar… ok, I admit it, there is no such thing as favorite sambhar. Happily there are endless varieties to try!

This is quite a lame excuse for a post, using all these old links, but it’s fun to delve into the past, and next time I promise something more original. At least I’ve kept my promise to myself — get back here and post *something* before another week flies by. This weekend, perhaps a field trip to the new Wegman’s is in order! Now that would be something to get excited about :)

To redeem myself, here are a few belated photos from late summer in Michigan’s glorious Upper Peninsula…

birch trees in late afternoon
birch trees on the shores of a small lake ~ late afternoon in the upper peninsula

lone loon in the upper peninsula of michigan
a lone loon glides along…

great blue heron stalking
in the distance, a great blue heron stalks the shores of that little lake

great blue heron upper peninsula
contemplating supper…

northern lake huron landscape
landscape of northern lake huron shore near les cheneaux islands

northern lake huron fauna
flora of northern lake huron

a small island in northern lake huron
a small island in northern lake huron

a small island in northern lake huron
a closer look

monarch on northern lake huron
monarch on goldenrod ~ north shore of lake huron

monarch on northern lake huron
monarch on goldenrod ~ north shore of lake huron again

SS Herbert Jackson
one of my favorite boats ~ the classic laker Herbert C. Jackson! just managed to catch her upbound to the Soo; here she is in Lake Munuscong, the area where the St. Mary’s River empties into Lake Huron

No trip to the Upper Peninsula would be complete without an agate foray!

unusual green and white agate from lake superior
an unusual agate from lake superior ~ it looks blackish but it’s actually green and white

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is it global warming, or just cyclical oddity? My daffodils are coming up in the backyard; it’s been an unseasonably warm fall and early winter.

Yesterday the weather finally turned cold — not just here but up and down the east coast — strawberry farmers in Florida were setting ice film on their fields to save the fruit, and it was 11 F on my way to work this morning.

Now it feels good to recall those lazy, hazy days of summer, melding into golden autumn.

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It’s The Little Things ~ Samba Rice

munson downbound soo
john g. munson, heading down to the soo locks

juvenile golden eagle
fairly sure this is a juvenile golden eagle with either a raven or a crow chasing it ~ hard to tell from a photo so far away but check out the size of
this amazing raptor!
mission point, soo, mich.

lee tregurtha
lee a. tregurtha, upbound mission point

eastern bluebird
gorgeous male eastern bluebird enjoying the sunny new hampshire spring

When I feel a bit disjointed and out of my comfort zone, it’s the little things in life that appeal. It could be an unexpected song on the radio, an unexpected bird in the tree, an unexpected boat at the Soo, or an unexpected surprise in the kitchen.

I don’t deny that I often retreat to the kitchen.

While I can’t always control what’s going on around me, I can control what’s going onto my supper plate! Sometimes I should control that a bit more ;)

muthu samba rice
muthu samba rice

For the longest time, I looked for seeraga samba rice that ISG talks about
with her delicious chicken biryani at Daily Musings.

Like many of my questions, it garnered me strange looks every time I asked:

“Pardon me, do you have seeraga samba rice”?

“What’s that madam, some nice basmati rice today”?

“No, I’m looking for Seeraga Samba rice, it’s very small, from the south of India, smaller than sona masuri”, I tried in vain to explain.

“Oh, yes”! (a little startled) “we have sona masuri rice, come right this way”!

At which point I smiled and gave up.

I forget where I finally stumbled upon a 5 kg bag of not seeraga, but at least samba rice. Of course I brought it home, but it had to wait until my open rice was finished before I tried it. While waiting, I checked through my cookbooks and googled, finding very little about this Muthu Samba rice I had purchased.

muthu samba
muthu samba rice

Interestingly, I found a large source of information right around the blog-corner at Food In The Main.

I came across Shammi’s first post — uh oh, now I’m a little nervous to cook this rice…

Then I read the follow-up post — sounding better, but I’m still a bit timid…

So the samba rice sat and I busied myself with other things… things that didn’t require rice. I was procrastinating, one of my true strengths! ;)

Then came tonight, eve of the long weekend!
Both the kids are away. There’s nobody to cook for but me, and I wanted some comfort food — what else but sambhar!
That meant rice, so out came the muthu samba at last.

I opened the bag and oh, so gingerly, stuck my nose inside. Whew — nothing to worry about, smells like rice. I poured most of the contents into a lovely new container purchased just for that purpose. The tiny little grains looked for all the world like raw sugar, sparkling in the light. I tried to capture that with the camera but I did not do it justice.

sugar or samba
is it sugar, or samba?

That was all it took for me — trepidation disappeared and I was excited to cook the baby grains.

I googled the manufacturer and basically followed their recipe to cook the rice.

I rinsed one scant cup of muthu samba and drained it for 30 minutes. Rinsed again and drained a little longer. Placed in a large saucepan with about 1 2/3 c water, brought to a boil, lowered the heat to lowest setting and cooked, covered, ten minutes. I turned off the heat and, steeling myself for the moment of truth, carefully opened the lid..

moment of truth
hmm… it looks like rice…

Ok, there was a new aroma, but I would definitely not call it unpleasant. I waved off that steam, fluffed the rice up with a fork, and recovered. Let it sit another 10 minutes or so, uncovered and waved off that steam. This time I tasted and honestly, I found it delicious. Almost like silk, those tiny pearls of ricey goodness. Hooray!

I chose a strong veg for the sambhar, just in case — fresh collard greens (next best thing to kohlrabi greens), chopped well and cooked right in the dal. I tossed in a few dried jackfruit chips for good measure. Of course this cooked up so green that it was more like dal saag, but with the usual treatment of tamrarind and sambhar powder, it tasted good enough. Something about it reminded me a little of gongura dal. Since I’ve been reading about Ethiopian cooking and the classic dish gomen (collard greens stew), I added a wee bit of korarima (Ethiopian cardamom) at the last. We’ll see what that tastes like tomorrow!

muthu samba with green sambhar
muthu samba rice with very green sambhar

Here is an interesting and seemingly thorough treatment of many rice varieties.
I can’t vouch for the veracity of the info, but scroll down to the samba entry and find a reference to aforementioned Shayamala ;)

So there you have it, one humble opinion. Muthu Samba will definitely be eaten with relish here, and I don’t mean the hot dog variety (though I can’t wait to have this rice with pickle!).

In the words of my darling daughter, “peace out”!

eastern bluebird
eastern bluebird again

Comments (6)

I Heart H Mart, Gaji Namul (yummy Korean eggplant), and Of Course, Michigan

a peach colored agate
a peach colored agate from the shores of lake superior

I have discovered H Mart, practically in my backyard. Just down the road,
so to speak; a hop skip and a jump from my favorite Indian grocery haunts.
Oh joy!

ingredients for gaji namul

ingredients for gaji namul ~ check out the one *pound* bottle of roasted, crushed sesame seed ~
on sale at H Mart for the paltry sum of $5

Shopping at H Mart is an experience in itself. To quote one Yelp reviewer
from last year: “There are Zip cars in the parking lot, that should tell you alot.
A trip to H Mart is not an errand, it’s an event”!

A giant produce section with every vegetable imaginable — on Saturday I saw actual fresh jackfruit, whole, as big as two footballs!
Oh, how I wished I had a knife big enough to handle one of those.
Oh, how I wished I had brought my camera!

Fresh bamboo shoots are available halved, sliced, cut into cubes or strips.
A myriad of mushrooms awaits; if you’ve ever wanted to cook with hon shimeji, beech, maitake — here they are.

The world is your king oyster mushroom at H Mart.

Usually they have brinjal, long Asian as well as smaller Indian; ridge gourd, silk squash, ash gourd, pumpkin, etc. Fresh peppers, hot and sweet, every Asian green you can think of, herbs, and tofu — oh, the tofu!

Meat and fish of every variety is sold as well — marinated, sliced in specialty cuts for what I can only assume are some of the hallmarks of Korean cuisine, and there is an entire section of prepared Korean side dishes — bracken, spinach, mushroom, you name it — and of course kimchi of all sorts… I could go on and on. Noodles, frozen dumplings of great quality without MSG, oils and vinegars and sauces, shelf upon shelf of seaweeds, even a small section with dals and various spices — although for dry spices I’ll take my Indian markets any day.

At any rate H Mart is a great place for retail therapy — not to mention lunch, with a food court and bakery right there in the store. Next time, I’m going to bring my camera.

Last weekend I was out hunting agates.

me
outfitted for the (agate) hunt against the elements at whitefish point ~ yes, it’s always windy and cold up there!

This weekend I was hunting for an authentic Korean recipe — a side dish in which quick-cooked spinach is seasoned simply with fresh garlic, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame. I stumbled upon Maangchi, whose infectious cooking videos — complete with eclectic music — reeled me right in. In addition to the spinach, I was enticed to make this eggplant dish, called gaji namul. I changed it up a little by adding fresh ginger and cilantro, as well as some fresh chopped bamboo shoot; but mostly I followed Maangchi’s recipe. It’s amazing on rice!

gaji namul with bamboo shoot

gaji namul ~ korean seasoned eggplant
it was so late, I had no time for a pretty presentation but trust me, it’s delicious!

Check out the original recipe here and the video here. Thanks Maangchi!

Requisite Michigan pics :)

majestic mighty mac
the majestic Mackinac Bridge in waning sun

ice bridge
and a bridge of ice on the old pilings at whitefish point

72 million rocks at lake superior
millions of rocks, with maybe a few agates mixed in ~ storm front passing over lake superior

yellow rumped myrtle warbler
a yellow rumped (myrtle) warbler at paradise

brick red agate
a brick-red agate full of fine banding

Comments (5)

Autumn Agates

Q: What could be better than hunting for agates on Lake Superior?

unusual agates
unusual autumn agates

A: Hunting for agates on Lake Superior for two glorious, warm autumn days!

Lucky me, I got to go.


lake superior in autumn


late afternoon sunshine bathes the landscape…


…with a magical glow

is this an agate?
what am I?

pink agate
a beautiful pale pink agate… looks good enough to eat!

perhaps amethyst agate
unusual, cylindrical agate with… perhaps an amethyst center?


another pale pink agate ~ finely banded

Happy November indeed! But I’m missing it already… :)

Comments (2)

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