FOOD MATTERS

Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.

 
                        

As Black as Brown can be

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie

Have you seen black chocolate? Even the darkest of chocolates is a deep, very deep brown, the color of my eyes. Yet, when you bake it, it can come close to a blackness unsuspected. And, that is the deep richness that I can fall in love with again and again.

But, even more than that, I have an amorous desire for brownies. My knees go weak at the sight of them. It is pure lust, unadulterated. I love the melty, fudginess of it and the sheer decadence and naughtiness they represent.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie

Whenever, I make brownies, I tweak things to enhance just those qualities, without adding more butter or fat. I have found that using nut flours intensifies the density and hence the allure of the brownie. Recently, I have been cohorting with them a little more than usual with the excuse of concocting recipes to use the almond pulp that I get as a consequence of making almond milk. One of the best ways, I have found is using it in granola. I will put up a recipe for that later. Another is making these brownies!

You may wonder what the hoopla is about. Not only are these intensely rich, chocolately and fudge like, they are also insanely moist and stay that way for at least 3 days. I don't know if they stay longer because they don't last longer here. Typical brownies start becoming crusty and stale losing that soft dense center as early as the second day. That makes it a bit hard to make in bulk. These on the other hand, you can make in bulk and freeze for later, whenever the urge strikes!

The secret to the moistness is almond pulp.

GF Double Chocolate BrownieDSC_0586-1

Pot Pies + Friday Links

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We are here again, aren't we. Yet another week flew past and I am amazed it's the WEEKEND tomorrow! WOOT! Woot! I am going to have to tell myself to take it slow and not work this weekend. But, hey when is the job is about food, it is really hard to want to take a break :).

Yet, it is SPRING!!! Finally! Yay! So happy to be wearing skirts again, without thick leggings. I mean just sweet tans ticking out. Ok, yeah, I am brown and always tanned. Well, perks of being a tropican! {Ok, I made up that word, but, doesn't it sound cool? Tropican! Love how it rolls ;-)} Anyway, I looking forward to taking a stroll and waiting for the cherry blossoms to bloom, lazing in the sun and watch the dogs run carefree, run a bit and maybe shop for short, flowing dresses...

Right, so, what do I have for you today? These pot pies, of course. A bunch of links for you that I hope you enjoy. And, and, that I have been working feverishly on a couple of projects. Here is a sneak peak to one of them. More on that next week! I am super kicked to share it with you. Plus, it is only a small part of a big project I will be unveiling this month. #starsineyes

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Honestly, working for myself is more fun than I had expected. Ok, really, I wasn't expecting much. I have never worked for myself, before now. I am not always an easy person to work for; I always knew that. I put a lot of pressure on myself. But, guess what, it works. I am loving it. Also, it is great to have a proper work and studio space in my new space. Oh, and I love Brooklyn. The vibe, the jauntiness, that I have the park by me and a coffee shop that I simply cocoon into.

Let me nip in a quick note about the pot pies here. I have always loved the idea of pot pies. There is something very appealingly noble about them. Rustic yet elegant, very British and I always had a crush on all things British since my Enid Blyton reading days. Besides, my mindless go-to meal is making a tart. So this is smack in the comfort food zone for me.

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I made these with homemade bacon. I owe you a post on that. Never thought I would make bacon at home, but the taste is a world of difference. Loved it. But, the gist of it is that it is super easy, needs little work, a lot of patience as it cures for a few days and make all that "work" very worth it. Other than that, just a bunch vegetables from the market and some frozen peas from Summer last. I have kept the seasoning to just salt and pepper, so the flavors of the bacon and the vegetables come through without clutter. For the same reason, this pie is best made with the best produce you can find.

Each pie is a one person portion and is great with a light salad and perfect packed as lunch or for picnics. Because they are fully encased in a crust, they are super easy eaten without utensils, ergo good for kids.

Now, for some things I am loving ..

A Break in Time

Orange Pound Cake

This was not the cake I wanted. But it happened. I am glad in retrospect.

These days, I find time giving me the slip all too often. While I sit glued to my work, tweaking here and tuning there, the sun rose high to midday, and, seemingly dipped behind the horizon, without my noticing any of it. I turn around and I am surprised to see the moon is hanging full and radiant where I fully expected the sun to be; The lightness of day given away entirely to the sticky inkiness of night.

Suddenly, I realize I forgot to breathe all day. In a striking moment of clarity, it dawns on me that I have not been particularly been productive for the last few hours, yet, have been mulishly pushing myself. It all seems laughable. Except I am not. I am annoyed. For the unconscious passage of time. For the lapsed focus. For the absence of awareness of my slipping efficiency. For the stubbornness that is me. For the annoyance I feel right now, this instant! ;-)

Orange Pound Cake - Arranged

I am fuming. I push back my chair in disgust, not resolution. I pace. I take a sip of water. I stare. And, staring back at me, is the inviting oasis of my open-spaced kitchen. The moment of tension breaks. Only to be replaced by the urgency of wanting to make something. Feverishly, I scout the web, standing. I want to get to the kitchen instantly. Sitting may just threaten that.

I find this recipe. Chocolate. Yes. Endorphins. Needed. Yes, yes! The blood pounds to my brain. I run to the pantry. No chocolate. I deflate. Even as I slowly close the pantry drawer in disappointment, I realize I need to breathe, slowly.

I take a tentative step. I steady my mind and tell it to be patient. Slow down. Take time. Stay in the space of the moment.

Orange Pound Cake Sliced Horizontal

I reach for my cookbook bibles. Julia Child. In the absence of chocolate, I want butter; lots of it. It helps that I have freshly churned butter sitting in my fridge. Standing by my kitchen counter, I flip through the pages, surprisingly, in leisure. My mind seems assuaged by the thought that some thing will get baked. And, it will be sweet, very likely, very good.

I find a recipe for a pound cake. As many cakes and other sweet stuff as I have baked, the pound cake never quite made that list. Until now. The abject simplicity of the recipe spoke to me. If you are looking for a completely unprocessed recipe, this is it. In its humbleness, lies its strength. 4 ingredients. All of the same weight. Folded together. Gently, respectfully. Baked slowly.

Sliced in warmth. Melted into hot tea. Savored deeply. Recaptured time. A pace behind and happy for it.

DSC_0161-1Orange Pound Cake Sliced


Nothing Fancy + Friday Links

Egg Sandwich with Ham, Broccoli Rabe and Dubliner cheese

Just a sandwich. Not a lot going on there. Some ham, greens, and oh that egg!

This is perhaps not a very typical FSK post in as much as there is no real recipe, but this dish is rather close to me. Or, I should put it as, several meals similar to this one have been my sustenance for the last few weeks.

Needless to say, I am a very good customer for eggs. I honestly eat at least one a day. These ones are pasture laid and delivered to me from a farm upstate along with my raw milk (I am not getting into that debate. It works for me, thats all).

If you followed my Instagram, you would have seen my confessions of my struggles with not being distracted from feeding myself well. Eggs were my trump card. At the very least, I would have an egg. On top of whatever I could easily rummage. Until, I realized that an egg a day on its own, does not keep the doctor away.

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So, I started doing a few basic things to help myself -

1. Plan ahead - Captain Obvious. But, one that easily slips by unnoticed. I make shopping lists over the weekend, for the week's groceries and produce to be picked up from the Farmers market. I have started adding a couple more places to stop at bakery and butcher, for bread, crackers, and cured meats.

2. Eat fruit - Notwithstanding the lack of whole portions for lunch, I typically eat small portions. That means, I need to eat every 3 to 4 hours. That is a pinch, if I cooked properly for lunch. But, the 3 pm slump made me crave a walk outside, a cup of coffee and something to nibble, which, usually ended being something sweet and too much of it. To break that cycle, I stock up on fruit and cottage cheese. Slicing fruit is not much activity, dollop of cottage cheese and something else or nothing at all and I am good to go now. Also, I end up eating a lot of fruit, which, is great!

Croissant Sandwich

3. Take a walk or run outside - Here is the thing. When you focus deeply on something, one becomes oblivious to a lot of the other senses. Mental or physical labor have a way of dulling hunger and thwarting motivation to shift focus. Forcing yourself to step away breaks that solitary mode. Also, a breath of fresh air is good for stimulating the appetite. For most of us leading sedentary work lives, it also becomes hard to justify full size meals when you aren't working it off physically. A run solves that!

4. Join a group - Peer pressure, group therapy, challenge, whatever! It works :) Meeta and I are starting an Instagram series, with the hashtag #cookingfor1. We are going to be posting the meals that we cook for ourselves. I will tell you, this already has me thinking and smiling about the meals I want to make for myself. Of course, the motivation stems from posting it online. Nevertheless, it helps me tactically and strategically, I am sure, it will become more incorporated in my life without the necessity of a push.

So, come and have a look at our food. We are roping in a few of our friends for added visual stimulation.

Sandwiched

In other news,

- I am loving this new magazine in that photo, Mordern Farmer. A touch hippie and launching off a lot on Mr. Pollan but its the concise version with updated information on things we relate to today.

- The Saveur Best Food Blog award nominations are out. No, I am not on the list yet. But there is a ton of talent on it. Get some food porn into your system.

- I have smoking on mind this weekend. Fish. What were you thinking? This book is great for DIY deli items.

- On my nightstand now is Jamie's magazine latest issue + historic cuisine of Britain.

- This is a beautiful read on enjoying food.

- What an idea and love her recipes!

- I have to restock my chocolate to make this ASAP.

- Love this imagery

- Her sketches

- The lightbox kickstarter project. Rather cool.

So, have a great weekend and don't forget to make your lists! :)

As to this sandwich, go on, you know you want it. Get a bit of olive mustard in there for some punch. Smack!

Where there are flowers...

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Good Morning! Happy Monday! :)

So what is on my plate today. Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies there are AMAZING! If I say so myself, this one is a keeper.

Chewy, dense, salty and sweet, lots of raisins, nuts and chocolate, really thick oats. On the oats, I just switched from the regular Quaker rolled oats to Bob's Red Mill organic thick oats and I am loving the latter. They stand up so much better in baking and make for satisfying crunch in granola. I suspect they are the reason for the elevation of the humble oatmeal cookie achieved in this recipe. Instead of melting away and making for a wistful presence, the thick oats stand bold and proud. There is no way you can ignore them. And, once you have noticed their existence, you suddenly realize that you respect them and then, it is all over.

You reach for the second cookie, unconsciously and are surprised to see it in your hand.

I also wanted to share some surprising facts I dug up about flowers, post a conversation with a New York flower farmer at the market last week. If you are not interested in this part and just want the recipe, scroll down to the end of the post (or click on recipe link below)

Organic roses from New York

Last Friday, I made a visit to the Union Square Green Market after, oh, several months. Most of my favorite stands were there and I stopped by them to have a chat and pick some of their finest and freshest. I stopped to say hello to my favorite flower farmer, Mike, who sells the most gorgeous roses year round. Mike was in a mood alright, and, as farmers are apt to do when they find an empathetic ear, he vented about the unfairness of corporate powers. I agree with him in principle. So, I was also sympathetic.

Rant aside, I did learn something. That North East New York used to be a bed of organic flower farms, especially roses. That this region's land is incredibly fertile and supports the growth of astonishingly beautiful flowers. That all but his farm have now closed down because they could not compete with the cheap roses flown all the way from South America. That after him, his farm will close too, as the inheritance taxes combined with declining flower sales do not make farming sustainable for his sons. It is saddening!

"To limit coca farming and expand job opportunities in Colombia, the U.S. government in 1991 suspended import duties on Colombian flowers. The results were dramatic, though disastrous for U.S. growers. In 1971, the United States produced 1.2 billion blooms of the major flowers (roses, carnations and chrysanthemums) and imported only 100 million. By 2003, the trade balance had reversed; the United States imported two billion major blooms and grew only 200 million." - Smithsonian

Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Chocolate Cookies

Literally every corner shop near me has flowers to sell. Until now, I never quite questioned where they came from. My assumption all along being such delicate beings cannot possibly be airlifted and flown across several thousand miles to reach my corner deli. Oh! How I was wrong! Much like food, these delicate creations of nature which for the large periods of human civilization remained a gardner's pride and relish is now a multi-BILLION dollar industry!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), consumers in the U.S. consumed $34.3 billion in floral products in 2012. SAF estimates that value of cut flower sales to be around $7.5 Bn. 64% of the sales are of imported flowers with 95% of the imports coming from South and Central America (Columbia, Equador and Mexico). California accounts for 76% of domestic flower production. And, New York ranks nowhere of consequence.

Note that I say "production" and not farming or growing. That is because this is an industry of enormous scale. California alone accounted for $7.6 Bn of sales in 2012!

Stealing a cookieTaking a bite out of the cookie

One has to wonder how is it possible to ship flowers across such long distances without bruising them? Well, Mike gave me a clue and I did some further research. Roses cut from the plant have a life span of 5 to 10 days. Once cut from the plant, the inability to photosynthesize nutrients needed for life rapidly depletes the stored food in the stem and leaves, and, the flower wilts. Water can arrest this process but only cold temperatures can keep them going for weeks. To keep them fresh for longer and for long distance travel, “cold chains”—refrigerated warehouses and trucks every point along transit keep the flowers in suspended animation; flash frozen and sprayed with pesticides and inert gases. In this way, floral life is extended by several days.

I am simply boggled. While there is a push on being a locavore for food, the other industries linked to farming also seem to be suffering a similar fate and demise from industrialized processes.

Oatmeal Cookies to coolOatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal Cookies Cooling

Give me words and I will give you my heart

Park Central Hotel

Sometimes words fail me. Spectacularly.

I think of myself as a writer.

Words have always had an enchantment for me. More than images, I grew up with words. They have the power to transport me, transfer my being, and transcend the everyday.

I have a way with words.

Words speak to me. This may seem vapid, but, it isn't. They tug at my heart. They build visions in my mind. They make me swoon. They lift me up.

Yet, I am an intermittent wordsmith.

The Book - The Dead RabbitJack - Dead Rabbit mixing

I have been enraptured for hours by authors who are able to capture the beauty, in something even as prosaic as the English language. Books were my solace for most of my childhood and young adult. I have certainly read for learning but I always gravitate to the form that allows creativity and expression without bounds, that of fiction.

When inspired, I have been known to hold forth in evocative prose, and sometimes, even poetry. An image, a feeling, a thought so strong that it ties a deep connection between heart and mind. Then, I sing, eloquently.

Yet, there are vast expanses of time, when I sit vacuously in front of my screen, willing, pleading, coaxing my brain to come in aid. While the neurons stubbornly refuse to oblige, I plod along with insipid writing in the hope that an abysmal representation of my potential will stir patriotic feelings within the synapses. Reverse psychology, some call it. It has mixed results is all I can say.

For the chunk of my life that I had to use my brain, the left half was always in command and it remained lit up like a harbor pretty much round the clock. On such occasions as when the right was emboldened enough to make a stand, the left obliged, albeit superciliously, to what it considered, artistic deviances. I as a person reveled in this ability to switch without having to quite take sides.

I am told that writing, much like any other profession, is a work of practice and patience. Lacking in both, I hold on to the fantasy of it being a rush of divinity captured hurriedly on paper. The more abrupt the stroke, the more lucid the message. That is to say, I continue to defy the advice of the likes of any other established author, in not discipling my mind into a routine. Mostly, I think this is because I have simply never had to buckle down to learn something.

Cocktail - Park Central HotelSpicy Sweet Chicken Drumsticks - Park Central Hotel

Often times, when words fail me, I have simply diverted to fill my pen with light rather than ink and to speak visually than metaphorically. As I embark on the next stage, where, I envision using both towards the common goal of expression, I realize the need to engage with words, ever more. To express what I see in fictionalized eloquence that makes the reader stop, think and comprehend.

The beauty of fiction is not in its diction but in the mastery of prose. We, as food writers/bloggers/commentators inherently create fiction and attempt to, with varying degrees of success, to ground, the notion of what we fabricate, with the reality of our lives. I am always drawn to those successful attempts and am inspired by those who can harness the powerful sensuality of words. There are several examples of beautiful writing that offer a glimmer of shine but there are some, who make it a beacon of their lives, one that shines that deep and luminous.

Some of my favorite blogs to read for their writing -

Jamie Schler - Plated Stories & Life is a Feast
Beth Kirby - Local Milk
Sarah - The Yellow House
Jeanne - Cooksister
Melissa - The Traveler's Lunchbox
Tara - Seven Spoons

Dead Rabbit Cocktail

Today's photos are simply a celebration of life and laughter! They were shot in Park Central Hotel and The Dead Rabbit. The former is a newly renovated hotel in the heart of New York's midtown bustle, yet separated from the madness of Times Square. I am usually not a fan of hotel restaurant but this one proves me wrong. Under executive Chef Nathaniel Eckhaus, The Park Kitchen, prospers from the chef former experiences at Eleven Madison Park, Bar and Beouf.

The Dead Rabbit needs no introduction. New York's hottest cocktail lounge is creating waves across the industry and doing wonders in shifting the mindset on the Irish. Classy cocktails served in an user-friendly and approachable atmosphere with food that matches the quality of the beverage is not something associated with your average Irish pub. But, then the Rabbit is anything but average. Manned by beguilingly young mixologists from Belfast, the lounge upstairs is a pride for the nation!

Staying in the NOW

It is still Winter in the North East and ergo, more root vegetables, roasted!

Mung Dal Salad with Rosemary Roasted Parsnips & Carrots
Last week I was in Utah. A state that I have never been to before, and, now, I wonder exactly what was wrong with me to have been so egregiously blind! Oh yes, one small teensy problem. I can't drive! Hmm.. That is being worked on in the immediate future.

Anyway, it was shorts weather there. Really. Ok, fine I had to do a last minute pants purchase. Thanks to the generosity and large heartedness of my fellow hikers (I forgot my wallet!), I managed to stay thawed in the near zero temperatures of the early mornings. Yet, it really warms up quickly through the day. Two days of hiking and biking and a lot of sunning and warmth. Plus, some very intangible experiences. I will write about that another time, when I have collected my feelings sufficiently.

Until then, I'll lead you on with a couple of snaps that also serve as my excuse reason for the absence here in the last week. I mean, it would be sacrilegious to look for wireless amongst these red rocks, don't you agree?!

Snow Canyon Park, UT
Zion National Park, UT

Meanwhile, back to the reality of the North East. It is chilling. Bone Chilling. It's March. No respite.

Eating seasonal is becoming a bit of a challenge. I am rising to it. It's time to dust off that red sand and get the creativity going. There is a limit to the number of ways you can consume root vegetables. No, there isn't. There is always another cuisine I have not yet experimented with. Mongolian for starters. Em, what is their cuisine. Hmm. Homework!

This time, I bring you a dish that is a collage of Indian nostalgia and Western cooking. Winter root vegetables roasted in woody rosemary. Not so new. Tossed in a salad of boiled green mung beans, a lot pungent red onions and a generous squeeze of lime. Despite the lack of garlic, this is a punchy dish, I promise. The nostalgia bit is the beans and the onion.

Mung Dal Salad with Rosemary Roasted Parsnips + Carrots

My Hometown Guide - Brooklyn

This post is in collaboration with Honest Cooking Magazine and Fiji Water as part of their My HomeTown campaign. For this post, I am going different and using only photos taken with my iPhone. Today, I am sharing a few of my favorite foodie spots in Brooklyn, New York

New York is synonymous with the best, especially in the arena of food. Where Manahattan has glory, Brooklyn has heart. I am always amazed to find such dedication and persistence to food beliefs here. Food business owners here, I find are very social and willing to engage in conversation about what they stand for rather than simply peddling their wares.

Fiji Water Hometown Guide

Some say, there is a bit of elitism in this borough and a touch of uppityness. Like the French that is a misconception. Brooklynites are passionate but open-minded, they are not lofty just very assured of their beliefs. There is indeed the hipster in here, but, bear in mind a hippie is one who is unconventional and one who follows his/her own path in life. And, that is what being in Brooklyn stands for - the freedom to be yourself in spirit and not care about the material.

With that introduction, I am going to dive into some of the places in my ‘hood where I spend oodles of time in for the food, atmosphere, interesting people and overall fabulous experiences every time!


Coffee & Breakfast - Gorilla Coffee and Kos Kaffe

Gorilla CoffeeKos Kaffe
Brooklyn is the veritable coffee drinkers haven to the point of being rather snotty about it. Yes, you may have your ear chewed off by coffee maniacs, but, really if you want good coffee, this botough provides a lot of access to it. Dotted across Park Slope and Williamsburg are several coffee shops each serving their unique blends and characters. I talk here about two that are my favorites in Park Slope.

Gorilla is of the first real coffee places in Brooklyn. By that I mean, cafes that cared about coffee and understood the bean for more than just its caffeine. The complexities of flavor, the earth the beans come from, the effects of the roasting and brewing processes both chemically as well as on the palate.

The espresso creations (my favorite being the cortado or piccolo or gibraltor as it is variedly called) are punchy not from the acidic, weakness characteristic of Starbucks but rather the rich, heady indulgence of a relaxing drink. Stop by here for just a cuppa or come sit here and enjoy the view on to 5th avenue.

Kos Kaffe Roasting House is my neighborhood haunt. You’ll find me there atleast 3 days a week and every weekend! They roast their beans on location in small batches and the weekly offering varies. While their latte art is very simplistic, the depth of flavors in each cup is immense.

What makes this place especially conducive to repeat visits is the staff’s friendliness and a very welcoming ambience. There is a lot of space, and free wifi. At any time, there are a dozen people sipping, eating and working away. A small but well executed food menu entirely helps the experience. The menu focuses on locally soured and made. The pastries are fantastic. My favorite breakfast here is the granola with yogurt, local honey and apple compote, and, an any time of the day meal is the grilled cheese sandwich. Simply amazing!

A sip of something - Wythe Hotel and Brooklyn Brewery

Wythe HotelBrooklyn Brewery

On a cool Spring day or a hot Summer one Williamsburg offers you several choices to spend your day in leisure with your friends. The Wythe hotel has both a restaurant and bar downstairs with retro ambiance and a much more conversational rooftop lounge. The cocktails are well punched and the view from the balcony is spectacular. On a clear day, one can catch a sprawling view of the borough into the city.

My other favorite watering hole is the Brooklyn Brewery. Sometimes, the wait to get in can be a test of patience but it is well worth it. The beers are brewed here and there are always crafty blends available on tap.

Brooklyn Brine and Pickle Shack

Braids of Time

Last week, I stopped time.

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I mark the passing time in weird ways. In the seconds that the milk goes from simmer to boil, in minutes I bested my own running speed, in hours it takes for bread to rise, in days it has been since I saw my friends, in months that slipped by without the smell of bread rising on the kitchen counter.

It is the last that has me here talking to you today. It has been a good 10 months since the last dough rose to that tactile stretchiness that I so love running my fingers through. I had reasons.

Sometime last year, I suddenly realized that eating bread often times left me feeling discomfited after. It was an sad appalling realization that I was intolerant to something in bread. You see, not only did I love making bread, I love eating it. And, since I came to the US, I had been consuming it, rather freely. The soft, cake like texture of store bread here is so different, more alluring than the harder, crustier ones I was used to in India. In fact, the only time, bread was soft was when it was a fresh loaf straight out of the oven in the bakery. That was luxury.

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For two-thirds of my life now, my diet had about 1% yeast. I ate mostly unleavened flat bread, rotis. I used these rotis, merely as a necessary vehicle to scoop up cup fulls of vegetables that were sides {I am not a huge carb person and I love vegetables}. The rotis I grew up with were made of whole wheat flour that we milled from whole wheat we purchased from the state grain store. You read that right. That is how things worked almost until i left the country 9 years ago.

We would buy a few kgs of wheat each month that was taken to the small scale miller who ground it into flour and we brought it back home in plastic buckets. The flour came out hot from the miller's huge iron machine that I was always in awe of. Once the flour cooled (if you covered the hot flour, it was invitation for grain worms to thrive in the humidity), it was packed into tin containers for use.

Nine years ago, when I came across the version sold here, I was super thrilled. Oh, the texture was so indulgent, it felt sinful. The irony I see now, plain as day. Never having been exposed to the extent of processing that a simple item like bread could undergo, I consumed it with relish, in sandwiches, as a hunger restraint slathered with butter. I gauged restaurants by the quality of bread they served, little realizing that no matter what, it was still being made from not-so-great flour. To put that in context, if you are using real, stone ground flour without preservatives or other chemicals, then you genuinely cannot afford to give unlimited amounts of it away for free! But, beware of those simply charging for bread. Ask what they make it with and if it is the real food.

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Nevertheless, years of abuse and exposure to a component that was not a eating habit, yeast, left me vulnerable to its inevitable long term effects. I became mildly intolerant to it. I am thankful that I am sufficiently tuned to my body to have caught it. I quit bread for the most part and yeast entirely. I stuck to sourdough, made with natural levain, and that worked brilliantly. Even that, I ate only from places I trusted to not have any additives. Whenever I strayed and gave in to impulsive desires and attraction of unestablished place, my body sent immediate signals that worked really well in training my mind. LOL.

Anyway, eventually, I realized that I was getting back my normal self. I missed bread. And, the joy of making it. So, I decided to slowly introduce it back in a controlled way. That is, I am sourcing the yeast from where the packet's list of ingredients simply reads 'yeast'. Thats all. The same goes for flour. Not enriched, fortified, blah blah. Fortunately, that shift I had made a couple of years ago. To your unasked question, yes, it costs more. So, I cherish it and use only as much as I need.

Last week, I dialed back time. I made bread. It felt great. I loved every bite and my system did too. I had halted the deleterious effect of several years of processed ingestion.

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ME(al) Time - Asian Inspired Meatball, Shiitake and Red Bean Broth

This is second installment of the cooking and eating well for one series.

Asian inspired meatball, shiitake and red bean broth

Or, put another way, how can you create an awesome meal with about a quarter pound of leftover mince meat that translates into a whole meal and more. You are probably wondering, how I had that little left over. Simple. I had bought a pound, or as he measured it, two fistfuls, of ground beef from the butcher. I wanted to make chili for two to last 2 meals (dinner and next day lunch). So, obviously I didn't need a pound of meat for that. I could use it all, of course, but as I make a case here, I would rather make more dishes than give into the momentary desire of gluttony.

So, anyway, the chili was fantastic and all that, and I put away the remaining uncooked meat back in the fridge with the intention of making something off it when inspired. I won't lie. I already had meatballs in my head. I just had not decided meatballs and what.

Couple of days later, while standing at my fridge door and contemplating lunch, meatballs danced in front of my eyes. I also had a bag of shiitake mushrooms that I had picked up at the weekend farmers' market. Sadly, they were not wild picked but farmed. Atleast I had the solace that they were not wrapped in plastic. Ok, tree killing paper bags, I know. I am sorry. Next time, I'll carry a small bag just for such delicate items so they don't have to juggle with the potatoes and brussel sprouts in the bag.

Shitake Mushrooms

The idea of making dumplings stared at me. But well, I was not about to be convinced into the process of making the dough. Hence, nixed. Yet, the idea of Asian was stuck. I decided to do something more Japanese influenced. Befitting the weather, it was particularly cold couple of days back, I chose to do a light flavorful broth with meatballs, mushrooms and something else. Noodles were trying valiantly to get my attention. I had some, but not buckwheat. Uninspired. They beat a sad retreat. Dry red beans. I always have them. Eureka! They rounded out the soup.