Monthly Archives: December 2009

My, My Meyer Lemon!

In preparation for the new year and my vow to live in the now (damn, I rhymed), I went ahead with a little jam making despite wanting to wait for my new kitchen. New  kitchen? At this rate, it does not look likely anytime in my 30’s. However, the local Florida Meyer lemons are here *now* and once they’re gone, well, they’ll just be silly expensive at the market.

Last nite I got out my paring knife and enjoyed the clean smell of fresh lemons. Bifurcating the peel, I scooped out the lemon innards, de-pitted and then looked at my lemon halves in awe. Meyers are a beautiful lemon.

Meyer lemon: halved and defleshed.

At this point in the evening, I didn’t have big plans for the peel. So I zested the peel, wrapped it up nicely and deposited it in the Sabjimata freezer section, keeping in mind the vegan pound cake recipe in Veganomicon.

Meyer Lemon Zest

Six lemons equalled four cups of juicy lemon stuff. Perfect for one recipe of jam.

Meyer Lemon Jam Prep

I had the seeds on the counter when my husband walked in, admiring their bigness. We (he) planted some Meyer lemon seeds a few weeks back, but he said they were way lest virile looking than these babies. We (he) will plant some new trees from these juicy seeds, which will hopefully yield a nice citrus grove for me to frolic about with a sheer dupatta lip-syncing Bollywood songs.

From these seeds a grove shall grow forth.

Originally I bought the lemons to make jam from, yes. But I had a greater vision. I wanted to serve a rich Italian-style rice pudding in the empty lemon halves, topped with a spot of lemon jam and dark chocolate shavings. Yum. But my husband dashed that fantasy when he called rice pudding the step-child of desserts?  Or was it orphan? Anyway, his point was that after eating a big meal, rice pudding was an unwanted burden to gulp down.

Really?

I don’t know. But I don’t want any bastard desserts at my birthday so my cutesy pudding boats went the way of the compost.

Not after a little decorating experimentation, though.

The near perfectness of the Meyer's shape lends itself easily as a natural candle holder.

Be honest. They do make a totally cute tea light holder! Don’t know if I will be using this idea, however, since putting my peels to much tastier use. Candied Meyer lemon peel!

STEP ONE:

Score the lemon with paring knife into sixths.

Meyer lemon prepped and ready to peel.

STEP TWO:

Peel back rind.

Peeling back the layers...

STEP THREE:

Cut into strips about 1/4″ wide. With paring knife, remove white pith.

Sixths and then eighteenths.

Excess pith removed. Blanched twice, cooked once.

STEP FOUR:

Boil water and blanche peels then drain. Repeat.

STEP FIVE:

I used 3 Meyer lemons, which are about the size of a navel orange. For step five, I brought 4 cups of water to a boil and then added 3 cups of sugar. Stir and dissolve. Add sliced peel. Stir, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

Meyer lemon, sugar, water, cook, candy.

STEP SIX:

Remove peels with slotted spoon and put in sieve to strain. Within a few seconds transfer to bowl and toss with sugar. You may also add some citric acid if you like the taste of Sour Patch Kids. Coat evenly in sugar and then let candied peels cool on parchment paper.

Sugar Volcano

Ideally, you will have a lovely lemon infused syrup left behind. I, of course, had a volcanic eruption which hardened into a tasty, yet difficult to mine, sweet pumice.

Candied Delight

The resulting candy tasted all too pleasing. Candied Meyer lemon peel definitely takes some time to prepare. The slicing, the de-pithing, the slow cooking. And my kitchen and my skin are coated in a sweet sticky mess. But the candy. The candy! It’s so good! Too good. Good like you want to keep popping it into your mouth good. But when you know how much time it took to make, then it truly helps temper the voraciousness of the tongue and appreciate, slowly, the treatiness of this treat.

And did I mention I made some jam? I think I did at the beginning of this post.

You guessed it...Meyer Lemon Jam!

Délicieuse.

I made some croissants today for my kids and our neighbor friends. It wasn’t until the evening that I tasted one *with* the lemon jam. So good. But you know what would have been better? If I baked a square of dark chocolate into the croissant. The sour sweetness of this jam is just begging to be paired with the bitter flavor of dark chocolate. Minimum 70% cocoa.

I can imagine this jam in between the layers of a rich chocolate cake or filling a chocolately iced eclair.  Sounds good, no? Hopefully this is the perfect evening post to help you have sweet dreams. I am headed off to the bedroom, avoiding the kitchen along the way. I have a batch of candied satsuma orange peels cooling on the counter and if I get too close, I just might burn my tongue.

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Around the Web, Around the Way

In case you didn’t know, I spend a lot of time online. I love the internet. It is my best friend who rarely gives me any lip and only sometimes needs an ass whooping.

Let me share with you some fun finds I’ve encountered thus far this week. Don’t be mistaken; the really really good stuff I keep to my self.

Alicia Silverstone. I would rather go naked than not love her. She has that new cookbook out, The Kind Diet, which actually looks kinda good. Oh how I would love to buy me some cookbooks, but, you know, the economy.

alicia silverstone vegetarian

Here is a recipe from Alicia’s cookbook for Kind Brownies. No eggs. No dairy. No worries. Alicia’s got you covered. If anyone out there tries this recipe before I get to it, please let me know how much or how little you love-like it.

Despite the meatiness of this blog, I really want to try out these decadent vegan bars now that I have a killjoy friend who no longer walks on the dairy dark side with me. I’ve tried, but I am a total vegan failure. At least these bars will get me through the dessert course.

Reposting from The Way the Cookie Crumbles:

Cookie Crumble's Shot

Vegan Chocolate-layered Bars
Bottom layer : 1/2 cup earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp flax meal
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups crushed graham crackers or crumbs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Middle layer: 1/4 cup earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (or instant vanilla pudding powder)

3 tbsp plain soy milk (I used coconut milk)

Top layer: 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp earth balance (or other vegan margarine)


Directions

To make bottom layer: Grease a 9-inch square cake pan. (Marika recommends lining the bottom with parchment that stuck out the top so you can lift everything out after). In a small bowl, beat flax meal and water together until frothy, set aside.In a sauce pan over low heat, combine 1/2 cup earth balance, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla . Add flax mixture and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Add graham crackers crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts, stirring to combine. Press the mixture into the greased pan.

To make middle layer: In a large bowl, beat together 1/4 cup earth balance, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla custard powder, and soy milk until creamy. Spread custard mixture over graham cracker base in pan. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

To make top layer: Melt semi-sweet chocolate and 1 tbsp earth balance. Pour over chilled bars and spread over top. Return to refrigerator to chill until firm (at least 1 hour).

Thank you to Cookie for this tempting treat!

Other news around the internet town: Apartment Therapy has 25 Vegetarian and Vegan Meals up as part of their “Best of 2009” re-cap. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the recipes.

Jonathan Safran Foer continues to baffle me. For one, he looks too much like my friend, Jayadeva. Just see:

J S Foer

Jayadeva

The resemblance is ridiculous, isn’t it? So, does this mean that I think my friend Jayadeva is hot since I think Jonathan is hot? And why do both their names begin with the letter ‘J.’ Maybe they are….the same person! See, freaking me out.

Oh, but I think Jon Jon is hot because of his BRAINS, despite the stupid liberal vegetarian crap he pulls like saying his son will one day come home having eaten a hot dog at a birthday party because hot dogs are so tempting and delicious. And now goes public about how politically correct he is in his choice of restaurants. He is a media darling, the Naomi Wolf of vegetarians. Instead of putting his money in the register of strictly veg establishments, Foer likes to nosh his way around Brooklyn eating vegetarian selections at meat restaurants!!! So sayeth the Vegetarian Star.

Oh, Jonathan, say it isn’t so!  Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan. What am I going to do with you? I voted you into office because I thought you were really going to make some radical changes. You represented youthfulness. Your wife sometimes wears J.Crew, which is still out of my price range but is remarkably plebeian.

Oh wait, that’s a different disappointing public figure who I can’t stop but loving, despite the disappointment of his true moderate stance. These men just seem to have a hold on me…

In more local and personal news, I am getting ready to turn 35. Saturday I will have a small birthday party (yes, I am throwing my own party) and went out shopping today for stuff. As part of my New Year’s resolution, I am striving to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. No, just joking, although that isn’t a bad thing to do. I just can’t have a rhyme as my New Year’s resolution.

I want to be satisfied; to be happy in the present. So what if my kitchen sucks and my dining room looks worse than a school cafeteria. I am having my birthday party and I am having it with chairs (many of which will be of the folding variety) and tables and tablecloths.

Despite the fact the everyone I invited has kids and that we are not the most formal of folk, my desire for my birthday is to feed the kids, send them away to destroy the nether regions of my house and then sit with some friends at tables (as opposed to grabbing a spot on the floor) and eating in relative peace.

Will I be able to pull it off? Probably not completely. But as long as I endeavor to have all the pieces in place, I am resigned to whatever manifests in actuality. Well, everything except friends showing up without RSVP’ing. That just won’t work.

I hit Urban Threads on 13th today, hoping to find a tablecloth or two for the party. The actual tablecloths were well out of my price range, however, I did score a window panel and a cloth shower curtain which are sized within reason for my tables.

Here’s my finds:

Urban Outfitters window panel-cum-tablecloth

Urban Outfitters cloth shower curtain repurposed as table cloth.

Now to start working on getting my house in order to cook. See you soon!

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Sanctuary Guest Suites For Sale: Vegan B & B in NYC

This just blogged: Sanctuary Guest Suites, the vegan b & B situated in the lower east side of New York is up for sale. The asking price is $15 million, as reported by EV Grieve.

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Everything And The Kitchen Sink

As you know from a few posts back (don’t you love my newfound self-confidence),  my faucet totally bit it in my hand. But I kept cooking. But come on. How long could I really go on like that?

I was secretly hoping that my husband would take out a $50,000 loan or possibly even donate some sperm multiple times and my new and vastly improved kitchen would no longer be the stuff of late night fantasies but all day long cooking marathon reality.

Well, needless to say it is rather hard to get a loan these days and our children have no worries about accidentally marrying someone from the same gene pool. Oh! And my kitchen continues to crumble.

I knew the sperm donation thing was out of the question when my husband decided to do a little DIY switch out of the old faucet for the lowest priced name brand faucet at Lowe’s. Mind you, we are not a DIY family. We grew up with Jewish parents. As far as I know, Jesus was the last Jewish handy man and he didn’t have any offspring to pass those skills on to.

My Jesus.

This isn't what I had in mind when I was thinking "minimalism."

While I was uber-impressed that the husband not only switched out the kitchen faucet but also the two bathroom faucets and repaired some pipes which appeared to be made of sloughed snake skin, it made me a little nervous. Like, okay. He got the cheapest name brand faucets so it’s not like he expects these to be my dream spouts. But, like, okay. If he changed these out and they are functional and I am more or less okay with them because, yeah, they are a great improvement over the crappo broken crap that was previously there then maybe I will have to settle for mediocrity as everything gets gradually switched out in place of bottom line but better than what was previously there crap.

Did I mention my New Year’s resolution? I will try my hardest to live in the present instead of the past and future. So, starting January 1st, I will embrace the functionality of my kitchen and be grateful for all that I have *now.* Heck, I might even try doing that *before* the new year.

My other New Year’s resolution will be to change my earrings a few times a month, thus totally rocking my ear adornment world. Yup, I know. For over a decade I wore the same style earrings day in and day out: big, chunky 22 karat Indian gold jhumka hoops. And it looked chakachak. But I haven’t been to India in years (7 to be exact) and my gold collection needed updating since some pieces are broken and or lost. Gold is expensive and I simply cannot afford to have heavy pieces falling from my ears, reuniting with the earth it was mined from.

So earlier this year I made the economical switch to ss hoops, which cost about a dollar a piece. But, damn, that’s boring. So now, after years of deep, spiritual soul searching and awakening of my spirit, I have decided to concentrate on trivial, maniacal details which have thus been ignored. In light of my rapidly aging body, I need to definitely pay more attention to my earwear.

Lately I’ve been modeling the viking knit earrings gifted to me a few years back by my sister-in-law, jewelry goddess and social worker extraordinaire, Helen Reiss.

Modeling my viking knit icicle earrings.

Of coarse, all this attention to my personal withering beauty means that I will have to do some shopping in the new year. No time for that today, despite passing by the bevy of haute couture boutiques situated along the avenue in Gainesville.

I really wanted to go shopping for my birthday, but we were in a rush.

My husband is not one for shopping, so instead of visiting Gainesville’s finer stores, we headed to Hawthorne Trail for a little bike ride with the kiddos. Bike rides at Hawthorne Trail are, perhaps, my most favoritest thing to do in Gainesville.

Babu @ Hawthorne Trail

Today’s adventure was a little painful. My son rode his bike into me. Normally, I would try to maneuver out of the way, but the Tug-a-Bug does not make me the most spritely of bicycle enthusiasts. We crashed. My daughter (the bug I was tugging) was okay but my son was kind of pinned between our two bikes. This was within the first 3 minutes of our outing.

Around mile three a foreign man on rollerblades surprised my son and, in his distraction, he road off the trail and wiped out. I was surprised that the man was Russian and not *French.*

Of course, a mother is always pained when her children are hurting. But no pain compares to the ache of my ear caused by my daughter’s constant whining. If it wasn’t too cold, I was pedaling too slowly. If it wasn’t that I rode too fast, I caused her great boredom. Her hands were cold. Her butt hurt. She was hungry. She hates carrots.

Poor boy wiped out twice. Dasvidanya!

Family Whino

Old Lady

As a reward for my daughter’s intolerable behavior, we decided to stop off for some ice cream. Right near the park is this place:

We wanted to get the kids ice cream....but not here.

which you know I wasn’t going to. I’m not even sure if it is open.

After some debate over frozen yogurt vs. vegan ice cream (my husband gave me a look like, “Why did you have to brink that up”…a look I know because I hold the trademark for it), we headed to Yogaberry on West University. We parked. We locked out bikes. We went inside.

The place was deserted (note: 1 ‘s’ not 2). Yogaberry is closed until January 2nd. Ha! Vegan ice cream won.

We headed over to East University. We parked. We put money in the meter. We walked over to the shop.

Vegan Ice Cream...Open 24-7!!!

No lights were on and there was a sign posted on the door.

Bad Karma

My husband and I read the sign. We shook our heads. We burst out laughing. This was the craziest, most honest sign we have ever seen posted on the door of an independent food business. I cook. I know that for a food business, profit margins run small and the effort that one has to put into is is huge. Karma Cream is such a cutesy shop and I love it and envy it and hope it works out. But these crazy people who run it keep it open 24-7…which is totally freaking whacked.

We got back in the car, listened to the kids squabble all the way to Alachua and went home to cook dinner. Which just was weird. It was so weird. I should have taken a picture because I don’t think you could even comprehend what a mess I could make of a meal. Call it a casserole and be done, was what I said to the craziness on my stovetop. Into the oven it went, fat baking into fat. The only salvation for this meal.

My poor husband. I am encouraging him to keep a counter-blog to what I do over here. A behind the scenes, real life assessment of my cooking. Photo documentation of all my spot on misses in the kitchen. I hope he does it. I need the laugh.

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Hating the Desperate

Alright. So you may know I am not the most computer savvy. But this does not justify people’s uncreative desperate snaking my domain names. Sabjimatajam.blogspot.com got nabbed by some pottery freak. Okay. Whatever. I don’t care.

But I have been trying to renew my sabjimata.com domain name for months and that hasn’t worked out because the freaking host wouldn’t let me log in EVER! I couldn’t figure out the complications. Well, someone freaking took it for their freaking blog. BITCHES. I left a nasty comment filled with profanity and a reference to an Italian vegetable penetrating the new address owner. Uncouth? You bet you. But I am from New Jersey and will seek my revenge.

Feel free to leave hate comments for the unoriginal @ sabjimata.com

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12/26

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Figgy Pudding Christmas

For the first time in years, my family actually had a place to go for Christmas, thanks to a family of righteous gentiles. It was a lovely evening spent with friends and friends’ family. My husband even made an appearance at the end of his 12 hour shift. Unfortunately, he left his Santa costume at the hospital.

Speaking of costumes, I have been enjoying any opportunity to get a little dressed up lately, even if it means a little pre-party angst in front of my very poorly stocked closet trying to figure out what they hay I can make an outfit out of.

Aging Italian Woman on Christmas

35 is the New 70!

I was told that all I needed to complete my outfit were glasses on a chain. This necklace would have made my geriatric look complete.

There was tons of good stuff to eat, 99% of which was vegan. Surprisingly, the menu at Chez Padi & Braja’s was strikingly similar to this menu served up on the left coast. They obviously have a much better camera than I do, so feel free to check out that blog and imagine very similar things going into the mouths of me and my friends last nite.

I did manage to snap a few pics from our very special Christmas. Here we go…

Chef Padi and Braj in the kitchen getting the last minute preparations on as guests arrive.

Battle of the Marmites

Padi is from England. Her husband, Braj, is from New Zealand. Both countries have their own Marmite. And both Padi and Braj are very loyal to their own motherland’s yeasty spread. However, I have to say, that my own personal online research shows that England’s Marmite stands supreme, despite the Kiwi resistance to such claims. Feel free to dispute this in the “Comments” section below.

Roasted New Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Beets, Pears, *Parsnips*!

The parsnips in the melange of roasted vegetables was surely a favorite of the Hayton clan. Everyone was going for the parsnips. Luckily, I was able to snag a few for my plate. I don’t think there were any left when my husband came, however. Poor husband.

Radhe's Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

The brussels sprouts were exceptionally delicious, winning over the taste buds of fans and frenemies alike.

Michelle's Vegan Christmas Cookies

Sweets. Dude, there were a lot of sweets. Sweets sweeter than the preceding sweets. Just a granite peninsula of sweets. Cookies. Puddings. Custard. Pies. Fudge. And probably other stuff that I can’t remember while awakening from my sugar coma.

Vegan Figgy Freaking Christmas Pudding!

Okay. How freaking British is this! Christmas pudding. Figgy Christmas pudding. So what if it was from a box mix. And so what if that box mix rated 8th in England in 2003. What the hell other Christmas puddings do I have to compare it to? None. Nothing. Zilcho.

Not everyone was a fan of the Christmas pudding.

Understood. Raisins. People just couldn’t handle them. But I really really really liked the figgy pudding. I appreciated it on many levels.

First level: it’s figgy pudding which totally gets mentioned in We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Charles Dickens even set it upon Bob Cratchit’s table. So it’s totally Christmasy. Oh and…it’s totally….

Second level: British! Totally freaking British. British pudding. Which is not like any kind of pudding I have ever experienced. Because it is like a cake. But dense. And weird. And kind of…

Third Level: Alcohol-y. That’s right. There was BOOZE in the pudding. I haven’t eaten anything with alcohol in it for years, unless you count vinegar and vanilla extract. If you’ve seen my Minor Threat vid a few posts back, you will be made highly aware of how I really don’t need any foreign substances in my system to bring about holiday cheer. I am assuming all the alcohol evaporated out of the pudding during the cooking but it did have a rather musty, liquory taste to it. I guess thats fun. As Braj said, “It’s Christmas.”

Fourth Level: It’s Christmas! I totally enjoy event specific preps, especially if they are family traditions. Like matzoh brei and my mom’s kugel, you kind of have to grow up eating it and have a reason for making it. It’s comfort food, but needs to be served within context.

Fifth Level: Did I mention my name at birth was Rose Smith? It’s a rather long story, but to cut it short, I am one of them. That’s right…a good fraction of me is of British descent, so I saw it as a test of my Britishness whether I liked the pudding or not. And dammit, I wasn’t going to be stripped of my British dignity over some pudding.

See. It's not a pudding at all. Just a dense, steamed cake.

Christmas pudding paired with custard

I could keep typing away here, rambling on about the lovely Christmas evening I had with my neighbor friends, but my daughter is making me repeat the names of the continents with her while I am typing this, so I will just sign off here and leave you with a few parting shots.

Season’s greetings!

It wouldn't be Christmas without a baby.

RTFM!

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