Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Coconut Rice

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Our flat mate Lally left for England this morning so last night was our last meal the three of us shared. Aneeta outdid herself and made coconut rice, which was extra delicious. We took this photo of the four of us using the 10 second timer, which Aneeta couldn’t seem to wrap her brain around.

We all like it so much I went to the photo place down the road to get a print so Aneeta could have a copy. It is one of these places that is a single garage door size wide and maybe just a single car garage (maybe smaller) deep. The woman behind the counter and I had a conversation that consisted of one word sentences/questions and that sideways head bob, that is so prevalent here, that means “yes”. And, after me getting behind the counter and sitting at her desk to download the photo from my camera to her computer, we were in business. Five minutes and 50 rupes later, success!

The Five Senses – Smell

Monday, October 16th, 2017

I thought I would write some of my general impressions of India through the lens of the senses. There are so many differences between this country and mine. It is hard to know where to start. I will start with smells.

When there are as many people in one place as there are here, it takes some doing to move them from place to place. When in the auto rickshaw it is the overwhelming smell of exhaust that I notice. Busses, cars, motorcycles, auto rickshaws all spew fumes. Many, I suspect, would not pass emissions testing elsewhere.

The heat and humidity, of course, is a major component of living here. My towels and washed clothes don’t dry as quickly and that leads to a stinkiness. On the flip side, our cleaning lady, Nanda, comes almost everyday and our apartment will have that pleasant scent of lemon cleaning solution after she is done, particularly after cleaning the floors. Alternately, our place fills with the aroma of food cooking when our cook, Aneeta, comes.

When people are in the heat so much, they sweat. That in and of itself leads to a certain kind of smell. One day I went to the “Western” shopping mall to look for a bra. I brought a couple of very old ones with me with the intent of tossing them at the end of the trip. Several days I put it off, feeling to sweaty and stinky to even step foot into a fitting room. Last week, feeling less hot and sticky than other days, I popped over to take a look. I think it was Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon and there were at least eight young women working in the lingerie section. The stores tend to employ way more people than we do in the states. All eight of them were gathered in a circle, chatting. Two approached me, one saying “Yes, Mum”. It must be a leftover thing from when the British were here because this greeting happens frequently. She kindly helped me find a couple to try on and while letting me in the fitting room I could smell her body odor. This has not been the only time this has happened. It is just the way it is.

Across the “busy road” is the School of Agriculture and we have taken some walks in there. The trees grow tall in most spots on the campus with open fields behind the buildings where the crops grow. There is one spot the first couple of weeks that was filled with the sweet smell of flowers. There aren’t many gardens or flowers here. At least not visible from the streets and sidewalks.

Our apartment building is next to another, which is next to a wall. One day we took a walk on the other side of that wall by mistake and found small huts, with lots of people living there with dogs and goats. It was the only time I have felt like I was in the wrong place since I have been here. A good number of mornings I wake to the smell of fire, which I am guessing is the way those folks are making their morning chai or breakfast. The first couple of mornings I though the apartment was on fire and woke with a start.

Like every drain I the apartment, my attached bathroom drains have small moth balls in them “for the bugs” I have no idea what kind of bugs or why they would be in the drain, but the bathroom has a hint of mothball smell.

While in class, particularly in pranayama or in savasana it is a surprise to me that something will noodle it’s way to my sense of smell: incense, the smell of DEET, or some baked good just out of the oven. Or maybe the baked good smell is in my imagination.

German Bakery

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

After a shopping trip this afternoon we stopped at the German Bakery. I’ve heard and read about this place and it did not disappoint. I love baked goods, love to bake (how do people LIVE WITHOUT AN OVEN?!) so it was such a pleasure to savor the Apple Spice Muffin. It did not disappoint! Yum!!

Our cook, Anita

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Yesterday we met the woman who will come in and cook for us. Her name is Anita and for 1,000 rupes each for the month she will come to our flat and cook whatever vegetables we buy. She’ll also make bread and chai and more. Tonight will be our first meal cooked by her.

Anita took stock of what we already had in the kitchen (5 Kgs of rice, flour and lentils) and suggested a list. After she left we walked to the grocery store and bought the spices and something called “jaggery” and after class this morning bought the fresh veggies from the guy who has the veggie cart just down the road.

Right before Anita left she indicated that she scraps from cooking she would like to take home for her goat (indicating “goat” by bleating)!

Dinner at Rip Jack

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The food at Rip Jack is delicious. I went back in the evening after watching the sunset, for dinner. I had the mahi mahi with some sort of mango and wine sauce that was terrific. I think I need to add “sauces” as my next cooking goal.

I splurged and got a flour less chocolate cake for dessert that was in the running for the best on the planet. It might be a tie between Barbara Wilson’s Mindo chocolate brownie, Zingerman’s brownie and Rip Jack’s chocolate cake. Holy sugar coma, Amiga!

The Power of Brownies

Friday, February 26th, 2010

It’s been snowy this week here in Ann Arbor … it’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Fargo. Monday’s snow was heavy and deep – 10 inches worth. I shoveled a little, took a break, shoveled some more, took a break. Howard, my next door neighbor has a snow blower. He did about 15 feet of my sidewalk for me and quit. Maybe the snow was too heavy for the snow blower … or maybe he ran out of time … even so, I appreciate his kindness and the fact that there’s just that much less for me to have to shovel.

Monday night I made a pan of brownies and put four of them on a plate for Howard and his wife, Jane, and six of them on a plate for Kim, Phil and Jon, the across the street neighbors. I’ve wanted to do this kind of thing since I visited my mom and dad in September. They are always cooking up something (usually baking) and distributing it to the neighbors. Howard answered the door and his face just lit up when I said “I baked some brownies and just wanted to say thanks for being a good neighbor”. After more snow on Wednesday night I tromped out to shovel Thursday morning and found that my ENTIRE sidewalk was clear. Howard got his snowblower out and did the whole thing for me. Now that is the Power or Brownies! I’m going to make Apple Cake (new recipe) this weekend and take him some.

Just Desserts

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

The Ann Arbor Library does a terrific job at having programs. Tonight I went to the Multi-Purpose Room in the basement of the downtown library for Just Desserts with Chef Isabella Nicoletti. Chef Isabella cooks at Paesano’s on Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor. She is Italian and has been in the USA for about 14 years. When she came to the US she “no speaka da English”.

Tonight she did a great job, speaking in front of about 100 people, taking questions and feeding all of us three different desserts. First was a chocolate mousse. I think I liked the brownie part of it better than the actual mousse. It was delicious. Next was a Ginger Ricotta Semifreddo. The first serving was made a couple of days ago and served to the audience while she demonstrated making it. She invited us all up for a second serving. I liked her fresh made much better. The ginger was non-existent in the first one. Her fresh made was much better with a stronger ginger flavor. The last was a Zaletti Cookie – a biscotti kind of treat that was like most biscotti you’ve had.

The other thing I liked was that the recipes were on the chairs when we walked in. So, we got to taste test and have the recipe, which is a bonus. Out of the three, the Ginger Ricotta Semifreddo has the least amount of work for the payoff, and it’s something I would actually make.

Chef Isabella has just come out with a cookbook and there were obviously some of her fans in the audience. The cookbook is something she’s proud of – a major accomplishment for her – with recipes from Italy, her childhood, and Paesano’s. She has a seasonal menu at Paesano’s, changing four times of the year with the seasons, using local ingredients when she can. She likes to cook rustic, peasant food that reminds her of her childhood.

It was a fun evening … and a tasty one too!

Stephanie Izard

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef Season Four, gave a cooking demonstration at the Ann Arbor Library. The room was packed with over 150 people and there were 170 up on the third floor viewing the demo via live feed. She has a winning smile, was very personable, and answered questions the crowd asked. Although she shared what she made, only one tasting got back to us (we were the second to the back row). It was, of course, yummy.

Although I say I don’t like to cook, but I like to eat, little by little I enjoy cooking more. Or, maybe it’s the eating better food I like. Anyway, it was fun to take part in a Womens History Month event with Chef Stephanie!


Gypsy Stew

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Suzanne’s Vegetarian Gypsy Stew
(Based on Moosewood’s Gypsy Soup)

Serves 6


3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 cloves of crushed garlic
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups peeled/cubed sweet potatoes or winter squash

2 Tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tablespoon tumeric
1 Tablespoon basil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 bay leaf
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of cayenne

2 cups chopped fresh (or canned) tomoatoes
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 cups stock or water


1. Sauté onions, garlic, sweet potatoes/winter squash and celery in olive oil for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add seasonings and the stock/water. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

3. Add remaining vegetables. Simmer another 10-15 minutes, until all of the veggies are tender to your liking.

Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken with Almonds

Monday, August 25th, 2008

This summer I’ve tried a few new recipes in the slow cooker. I like cooking in the crock pot for a couple of reasons: there’s not much fuss and it doesn’t heat up the house. Plus, it smells pretty good as the spices and flavors cook over time. This past weekend I made Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken with Almonds from the “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two” that I checked out of the library. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken
“Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two” Cookbook

Setting and cook time: Low for 2 or 2.5 hours

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 clove garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup tomato salsa (Salsa de Luna or Newman’s Mild Chunky are recommended)
2 tablespoons dried currants
4 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Spray the inside of the crock with nonstick cooking spray. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 minute. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels. When cool, coarsely shop.

2. Add garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the slow cooker.

3. Combine the salsa, currants, honey, cumin and cinnamon and pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 2.5 hours, until the chicken is for-tender and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot over couscous, topped with toasted almonds.