Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 2012

The month is gone

Leaf peeping is one of the things I started doing

Helped an awesome friend to cook for an event

Dyed fibers with natural dyes

Sky gazing through the kitchen window

Made meyer lemon almond cake 

Bought a bottle of flax seed oil

Ate gazillions of tomatoes and berries

Joan Didion's Blue Nights (very depressing to read)

Watched Delhi 6

Ate lots of stone fruits

Finished a sketchbook 

I enjoy reading Angela's posts

This pinterest 

This astrological prediction is crazy!!!

Sent snail mails with little packages 

Discovered Czeslaw Milosz

Started reading American Craft Magazine and Pure Green

Made YES to Prop 37 signs and took photos with friends for SAAPISA

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Juicy, sweet heirloom tomatoes. My mom used to make tomato jam from scratch using pink roman tomatoes. We bought the bread from a near by bakery owned by a Sinhalese man who gave free cup cakes if he knew it was a kid's birthday. It was always white loaf but freshly baked, soft and warm. It was not like the balloon bread that people eat here. We ate that bread for breakfast, dinner (when we didn't feel like having a big dinner or my mom was sick) and also had it with afternoon tea as well. Anchor butter was the only butter available in the market. We would buy a stick and let it sit in water to keep it cool as we didn't have a fridge. Back to the jam, we would spread generous amount of butter and jam on sliced bread, then press the slices together and eat it. 

Very sweet cherry tomatoes

In a few weeks the weather will change into a cold one and we won't be eating these tasty, flavorful organic tomatoes. It's shocking to find the difference between store bought tomatoes and the ones grown locally. My favorite ones are heirloom tomatoes. I like to make salsa and add slices on pizza.

The Hat

There she was, this young girl on College Avenue. She was very friendly and advocating for plant justice. She wanted my hat. The hat had been with me for a few months. The wide brim protects one's face from getting exposed to sun. I wore this hat in Rebecca's indigo field when we helped her to harvest. 

I said it's hers. 'For real?' she inquired. I nodded, and told her that she needs to stitch the string. We were both happy, the receiver and the giver. I finished my errands and walked back the same way and she was sitting on the pavement and looking at her binder. She asked me what was I up to for the day.  I told her that I went to a Yoga class, had lunch and wanted to take a nap. But it was so beautiful and warm out so I decided to go out to show off my hat. She laughed. I asked if I could take a picture of her. She posed elegantly. She's a beautiful girl with such liveliness and openness. I'm glad that she's the new owner of that hat which had the privilege to be in the indigo field. But the door knob would be missing it for a while until it gets a new one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Snail mails and packages

When I was a kid I had a few pen pals. We continued to write to each other until the conflict got serious. I love writing letters - and sending packages. But sadly in this digital era not that many people send snail mails. But I have to say that I do receive nice things in the mail. Sending mails and packages make the sender and the receiver happy. Below are a few items that came in the mail recently.

These are some pieces of fabric woven by textile artist Karina Nielson I responded to her invitation for a textile letters and received a nice snail mail from her which had the remnants pictured above. 

Neem flowers
The little things in the picture above are called 'veppam poo vadakam' (வேப்பம் பூ வடகம்) meaning dried neem flower delicacy. Neem tree - Azadirachta Indica grwos in tropical and semi tropical regions. Neem valued for its medicinal properties in Sri Lanka and India. All parts of the tree are used. People use neem twigs to brush teeth - the twigs kill the bacteria and strengthen the gums. Bark is boiled and the dark brown liquid is drank in an empty stomach to defecate worms. Powdered neem fruit skins, seeds and leaves keep the mosquitoes away when smoked. A bouquet of fresh neem twigs is hung at the doorway to ward off the evil spirits. Sitting under a neem tree in the hot summer is a bliss while inhaling the sweet smell of the flowers.

This dried delicacy/condiment is made with dried neem flowers added to ground black dhal batter with sesame and fennel seeds, chilies, curry leaves and salt. Then the batter is divided into small balls are dried for days in the sun to be stored until the next season. We eat thee sparingly with rice and curry or puttu. 

My friend didn't forget to include 
string hopper press in the package. It's wooden and handmade. It lasts for years. I haven't eaten string hoppers for a while so I'm excited. 

The inside of the press

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Color and texture

Happy yolk(s)

Lately I've been eating these non-runny, bright yolked, pasture raised  eggs from the Riverdog farm. Eat them poached over kale or other greens, soft boiled with toast, fried with half a bagel and scrambled over a multigrain tortilla with pico de gallo and avocado. Those are the best eggs.

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Cabo Pulmo

Last year during Christmas we rented a house near the ocean with breathtaking views. We sat on the porch and watched the sun sink in the ocean and saw whales. The morning sun rays dramatically change and peep through the curtainless rustic windows.

At some point we decided that we should collect the plastic liter. We brought one sac and a small bag -and collected plastic in its every form. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Tea time

Tea is one of my favorite drinks. Back home we drink tea all day long. When you pay a visit to a household you'd be asked 'would you like some tea?' The tea is usually milky and sugary. Hot tea and snacks such as warm vadais (lentil doughnuts/fritters), Marie biscuit, mixture (a spicy mix of fried lentil flour thins, and nuts) or cake. In my home we drank coffee in the morning. Everything from roasting the beans to grinding is done by hand. No one had coffee grinders like in the US and the beans are pounded in a pounding stone.  We roasted small batches and made coffee powder.

Tea grows in abundance in Sri Lanka and it is where the world's largest tea auction takes place. We drank pure black tea - decaf tea was unheard of. We boiled the milk before adding it into the tea. The milk came from a farmer in the neighbor hood. We would then add a spoonful of sugar and enjoy the tea on the steps of our courtyard or in the kitchen depending our mood. Amma would make the tea less hot and frothy by pouring it back and forth from a great height between two cups. 

Currently I am addicted to the sweet spiciness of masala chai which I make from scratch. Straus milk and good aromatic spices are the two key things for making good chai. Hot and spicy vadais are must with a good cuppa chai. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

Dyeing with mint leaves

Wool roving dyed with mint leaves. 

A silk tank top dyed with mint leaves after a long soak in alum water. The white cotton thread I used to sew the top didn't pick up the dye.

An organic cotton jersey tunic dyed with mint leaves and dip dyed in iron water.

Through the woods

On the second day in Deming, we went to the river. Walking through the woods was another highlight of the trip.

On the path

Green, shady and cool 
Fallen leaves, twigs and shdows


A bridge!

White and yellow

Pink and green