Monthly Archives: March 2009



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More Jam. More Foam. More Sorbet.

Directions: Make jam. Skim foam off top. Put in container. Freeze. Eat. For best results, photograph in natural light with flash off.

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Strawberry Jams: Strawberry Basil & Strawberry Vanilla Bean

In Pennsylvania the strawberries came in end of April/beginning of May and hung around just long enough for the June sun to shed a little sunlight on them. Florida, on the other hand, has months of strawberries, which makes the jam making process more enjoyable. If Pennsylvania was a strawberry jam sprint, Florida is a a meandering stroll. One week jam, one week off, another week more berries to boil. No hurries. No worries. Plenty of time to linger.

This weekend I lingered over a few pots of strawberry jam. All of the jam I made was super low in sugar–only 15%. And due to the size of my business (very very small) and difficulties getting natural evaporated cane juice, Sabjimata has officially switched to organic evaporated cane juice.

My favorite batches this weekend were the pots of Strawberry Basil Conserve. Because these jams are officially too low in sugar to legally be labeled as jam, you have my guarantee that this stuff is full of the sweetness of fresh strawberries and the earthy herbal warmth of basil. And yes, this combination may strike some as odd. And yes, it may remind you a bit of strawberry pizza. But if you have an Italian bone in your body (or an attraction to Italian bones) this jam will certainly put the ba-da in your bing.

That’s not to say that the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Conserve lacks any attention. Again, low sugar and high fruit equals big yum in a jam jar. Madagascar vanilla bean added in abundance gives this jam strong accents of pure vanilla flavor. Extra-long Madagascar vanilla beans, which have been on the vine the longest–allowing for the deepest vanilla flavor to develop, were scraped and the pods and beans added to the boiling berries. Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, right behind saffron (Sabjimata’s favorite flavor). There is no skimping on this jam. Fresh Florida berries, organic evaporated cane juice and lots and lots of real natural vanilla beans speckle this jam.

Both flavors are available in 9.5 ounce and 4 ounce jars from the Sabjimata Store. More strawberry fun is on its way. The season ends in June so please check the store or blog regularly to see what new combinations manifest from the pots of Sabjimata.

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Yuan Fu!

A few days ago my husband went up to DC…and returned with a cooler full of Yuan Fu–my favorite kosher vegan food from the DC metro area (the restaurant is actually located in Rockville, Maryland). Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t just move to DC so that we could eat regularly at this onion and garlic free Chinese place. Having grown up Jewish, I can say without hesitation that (American ) Chinese food is definitely my favorite cuisine! And then I go on and see that despite the dip in real estate prices, we would still only be able to buy a place 2 hours away–minimum. Turns out its cheaper to drive up to DC and get take out once in a while.

Steamed dumplings. We got a lot of these. The kids and I cannot eat enough of them. We have gone to Yuan Fu in the afternoon, between the lunch and the dinner rush, and have seen the women making the dumplings fresh.

Vegan roast duck…or as my son calls it, “the red tofu.” The red tofu comes with a sauce, not pictured. I used to think it was gluten but now I think maybe it is tofu skins. Vegan mystery meat but we love it.

Vegan Szechuan Chicken and Kung Pao Tofu. The Szechuan is a fave of mine. This time the kids got into it, too, besides the abundance of red chili.

Ahhh. Tuna steak made of taro root and seaweed. 

Inside the dumplings–very green and fresh!

We are all Yuan-Fu’ed out. Unfortunately it is all gone–we’ve been feasting on it for a few days now. But thankfully we will have another go at it come May when we drive north to attend the graduation of my 73 year old mother from Rutgers University. Go mom!


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The Pursuit of (Pizza) Happiness

2 Plain Pies were made for the kids. 

Ever since Radharadhya came and wowed us with his real life Neapolitan pie back in February my son has been asking me to whip up some pizza “like Radhyaradhya makes.” After a bribe of 50lbs of King Arthur Special Flour shipped to his door, the recipe was mine. RR even threw in his sauce recipe as a bonus. In exchange for the recipe (apparently the flour wasn’t enough) I had to swear to secrecy. I cannot even give you a hint of the recipes.  RR means business. Pizzeria business.

Venumadhava has asked me numerous times to get the recipe. Even though I had it, I didn’t feel prepared to venture forth into the world of really good pizza making. It takes effort. And forethought. The dough needs to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time to ferment (this is not a new hint…I’ve mentioned it before in my blog posts).
But I love my kid and cannot refuse his big brown eyes, which remind me of my own. Ahhh, vanity.
I had the recipe but not the technique. So many ways my crust fell short. There were thin spots. And holes. And an utter lack of bubbles. I made 5 pies and my kids ate one and a half. No complaints from them. Still, I hope to improve.

I agree with Radharadhya that plain is best (that is, when white pie is not available). But still, toppings are always amusing. Kalamata olives, spicy Italian sausage and green bell pepper were all I had on hand.

Pizza with the works.

Just olives…for my daughter (if you listen carefully at the start of this video, you will understand that she forced me to make this one… willful little elf!).


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The Best Strawberry Jam

Lately I have been a one woman chopping show. With so many berries, my time has mostly been spent cutting rather than cooking. But thankfully that is coming to an end (for now). Much Strawberry Conserve has been made and I have to say, this is really good stuff.
Very low in sugar with a super jammy consistency, you won’t be disappointed spreading this stuff on your toast or filling your homemade danish with it. Hit the Sabjimata Online Store and fill up your shopping cart with all the new arrivals. Since I only use fresh fruit, there is limited production of these jams. All jammies are hot packed and vacuum sealed with a shelf life up to two years. Better  get your jam on now and have it sit on your shelf because there is no telling how long these jars will be on mine!

Me smiling at the sound of popping jars cooling on my countertop in my kitchen so ugly I can’t stand to photograph it in anything other than black and white.


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Phool Makhana

Today is Ekadasi, a bi-monthly fast day observed by Hindus and Jains throughout the world. There are different degrees of observance, the most basic being fasting from grains and beans. A simple Ekadasi snack that I prepare for my kids every Ekadasi is toasted lotus puffies, or phool makhana. 

Reminiscent of popcorn or styrofoam packing, lotus puffies–as we affectionately call them–appeal to my kids for their salty crunch factor. To make, I simply heat a cast iron skillet, add a little olive oil or ghee, and pour in the puffies. Stirring as I toast them, I shake in a good amount of salt which never really seems to adhere very well to the puffies. After just a few minutes they crisp up and are ready to serve.
Phool makhana is available for purchase at Indian stores.


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