Monthly Archives: September 2008
Mondays are my days to recover from Sunday. I like to scrub my kitchens and get everything in order. Since I wasn’t personal cheffing today (client out of town until Wednesday), I thought it would also be a good day to do a little housework.
Because so many people have written to me concerned about my cancer inducing sleep schedule, and because I am so tired all the time, I have been trying to go to bed earlier. This, of course, is cramping my style big time. More time sleeping means less time cooking for the mere tuppence it earns me. Today I had a lot of daytime cooking to do in preparation for the Sunday feast.
Today my husband worked. I woke the kids up to bring them to the temple, despite the fact that it is Saturday. It is good to go see Krishna, plus I had my too thick kheer (oops…will do better next time, I promise!) to drop off for the Deities. I am feeling very fortunate to have moved to a ready made Krishna conscious community, where kirtan and class and aroti are going independent of our attendance at the temple. I feel, however, that I need to take greater advantage of this reservoir of nectar. I need to remind myself not to take the availability of association for granted.
After class my kids hung out with Indrani’s boys, wrestling and throwing our stuffed monkey up into a tree. Madhumati surely attracted Srimati Radharani’s attention this morning in her purple sari, pink dupatta and leopard print cardigan.
This afternoon we attended a birthday party. We got there on time, which basically meant early. My son and the boys passed the time wrestling. Venumadhava is really into wrestling ever since he saw the South American gurukulis wrestle the Vrindavan gurukulis on Youtube.
Can I tell you how awesome I think the Rico clan is? The party literally got started once Premananda Goura Prabhu arrived. “Who wants cake???!!!” All the kids were like “YAAAY!!!!” Prabhu clapped his hands together and said, “Okay, so first we are going to have a kirtan and all the kids have to chant….LOUDLY…and then you can have cake!!!!!” I don’t even think I can communicate his enthusiasm with exclamation marks so I will sort of give up now.
Vishnu and his cake, which Mayapur Malini made from the Eggless Cakes book and it tasted super good–light and rich. While having prasadam I was just overwhelmed by my good fortune; I have a really full life. It has been 7 weeks since we moved to Alachua and already I feel settled and at home. I have met some really nice women and my kids are in with a nice bunch of little ones.
Well, that pretty much says it all. American jam makers like myself need your support during these tough times. I need your money! To see what a great deal you are getting on my jam while the U.S. economy tanks out, visit the currency exchange calculator. After just a few clicks foreign readers are bound to feel superior. You think you’re so great, huh, not living in the U.S.? Prove it! Buy my jam and show the world that you deserve the good stuff.
Tonite I made a teeny tiny batch of Muscadine Grape Jelly. For those of you not familiar with the muscadine grape, it is about the size of a small plum and grows abundantly in the Southeast United States. Muscadines are sweet with a slightly earthy taste, which some people say makes them taste more like wine straight off the vine than other grapes. This reporter can offer no comment on that since the last time she had wine was at Friday night Sabbath: Manischevitz in a dixie cup.
I only had a small amount of muscadines, but went for it anyway because I just need to be making jam. And super small batches (in this case I yielded only 4 jars) are fine now that I don’t rely solely on online sales. I can sell the jars at my table on Sundays.
Some people are jelly adverse. I’m not. Actually, I am feeling separation from my ornamental crabapples in Pennsylvania. They made the best jelly–full of tartness and deep red in color. The heirloom crabapple tree at the Gita Nagari farm was also a great jelly maker–rosey brownish in color–completely traditional.
The color of this Muscadine Jelly is more red than purple. Honestly speaking, I think it tastes closer to mulberry than concord grape. It’s so fun to make these tiny little jams out of unusual fruit. I know that the blog readers get excited about these little expansions of our gastronomical world. So if you are eager to taste a new kind of grape, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I make some more, I will list it in the Sabjimata Store. Muscadine Jelly is only $6.
Yes, I know I referred to myself in third person in the title of this blog post. That just sets the stage for what a psychotic day I had! Not really, but it was tiring.
I began the day finishing off a saffron cheesecake for my cooking client’s Friday nite soiree. Caramel yum yum. Everyone wants a piece of this action!
Then I drove very very far away to Jacksonville, to a very very hoighty toighty outdoor mall populated with the kind of people you think of when you think of Florida. The experience made me feel very farm and very not blonde. Oh, and very short and very flat. And pale. And badly dressed. Oh, and very disinclined towards shopping as an activity in and of itself.
But I wasn’t there for shopping; I was there to get my flat, non-blonde Macbook fixed. It was broken. Sean Carolan/Sudama suggested uninstalling Office (which was giving me problems) and re-installing, but instead of listening to him, I took it to the Apple Store. But guess what? That is exactly what needed to be done. Apparently Office was so corrupt that I would not have been able to uninstall it myself. I needed a “Genius.” Thankfully, the Apple Store was well staffed with Geniuses.
After my Apple repair, I stopped by YogaBerry for a frozen treat. I was really excited when I saw the shop. When I read about these frozen yogurt spots opening in New York, I vowed I would visit one before moving south. But as fate (and packing) had it, we never made it to Manhattan, much less out of Juniata County.
The appeal of this yogurt is that it is sour–like real yogurt. It is not flavored with vanilla or berry or banana or whatever. It is just unadorned, frozen yogurt. When I was little my mother regularly shopped at Saks (how the hell did she afford that?) and we ate lunch at the Saks restaurant. Always for dessert we ordered the frozen yogurt, which was pleasingly sour.
My yogurt fantasy was topped with honey, banana and wheat germ. However, YogaBerry pretty much only had crap toppings. Like Fruity Pebbles. Ick. So I got my 8 oz. yogurt (which, by the way, was too too big) topped with banana, blueberries and strawberries. This was, sadly, a mistake. The banana was okay but the blueberry and especially the strawberry were too overpowering; once I had a taste of those fruits I could no longer taste the yogurt.
The other problem with the yogurt (and yes I am acutely aware of how asinine it is for me to be going on and on about yogurt…but I don’t get out much and really, I take dairy products very seriously) was (ugh..it sounds so foodie of me to say this but…here it goes…) the mouthfeel. The yogurt, which is frozen in a soft serve machine, was too cold and icy. It was not smooth. It did not melt in my mouth (or in the cup for that matter). I don’t know what kind of stabilizers YogaBerry uses for its yogurt (which is organic), but I feel they could definitely use a master recipe make-over. Maybe adding some fat to their yogurt would help!
By the time I got done with this part of my Jacksonville tour, it was already past 2pm. I brought directions with me for the Jacksonville Farmers Market, and even though I was already out later than I planned to be, headed across town with hopes of scoring some locally grown fruit.
Right away I was struck by the fact that most of the people selling produce were, in fact, not farmers. It seemed like they just bought produce wholesale and were reselling it at the market *cheap*. There were many vendors and most had none or little of their teeth in their mouth. Bare bones and raw, there was no illusion that one just stumbled upon a fresh air market in a cobble stoned paved European city center. No. This was not an experience to be savored. Just a place to pick up some fresh produce at discount prices.
Most of the vendors were very nice and honest, I have to say. Here is a photo of a woman I bought chilies from. These chilies were grown in Starke, which is closer to Alachua than to Jacksonville. I asked one vendor where some fruit was from and she answered “Miami.” “No, not where did you get it from, where was it grown?” She didn’t like this question and just clicked her gums at me. Dissed and dismissed.
I have no desire to return to the Jacksonville Farmers Market, which is located by the fine dining establishment of Tian’s Kitchen Chinese Food. But I appreciate that people are able to get fresh produce at cut rate prices in the middle of the worse part of town. The farmers market may not exactly be the epitome of “green pathways out of poverty“, but it is a definite plus for the local community.