Thursday, February 28, 2013

End of February and the beginning of yard sales

We haven't been to the best yard sale yet but we came across small ones in our new neighbor hood. Below are some finds:

A nice watering can
A cast iron pan, and a hand thrown mug
The mug
A few pots for parsley, garlic and kale
A woven basket with leather wrapped handle for the mushroom forays to come
A big bottle for red rice

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mushroom foray

Last weekend we joined a group of fabulous people on a mushroom foray. 
For some of those people, difficult fungi names are like nursery rhymes! We had so much fun in the cool, deep woods. We looked for mushrooms for a couple hours and had a potluck afterwards. I met the master mushroom dyer Dorothy Beebee. She told me that 'the beginners really "see" the mushrooms. You can spot her silk and wool dyed with mushrooms on the display table.

My harvest of the day - black trumpets!!! 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Annatto seeds

Silk fabric in annatto seed dye bath

The dye extracted from anatto seeds is a common colorant in commercial food products.  Latin American and Caribbean cuisines use annatto as both coloring and flavoring agent. In some places people call it 'lipstick tree'. It grows in several parts of Asia, and tropical or sub tropical regions of the world. When I saw jars of annatto seeds in Chinatown, I couldn't resist purchasing them to dye. The bright hues varied from yellow to dark orange.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Rasam - ரசம் - A simple remedy

Back home my mom made rasam twice a week. We must drink rasam after washing our hair and an oil bath every Saturday. And sore throat before catching a real cold was no exception. It heals, warms up the body, and nourishing in its own way. Warm, spicy liquid on trickling down the throat is quite an experience. 

A simple Rasam for cold and sore throat:

A handful of toasted coriander, cumin, Tellichery pepper all ground coarsely together 
A spoonful of tamarind paste
1/4 tsp asafoetida
A few curry leaves (optional)
Couple garlic cloves, crushed but chunky
**Adjust the salt and tamarind according to your taste buds

Mix the ground spices with two cups of water and let it boil. Once the water's bubbly, turn down the heat and simmer (covered or uncovered) for about ten minutes. A couple minutes before turning the stove off stir in the curry leaves, garlic asafoetida cover and let it sit for a few minutes. Strain the liquid and enjoy. I like to drink it with hot basmati rice and dhal curry. These three simple home remedies provide me the warmth and healing I need when I am suffering from a cold. 

Although rasa powder is available commercially, I prefer to make my own using good quality spices. There are several different ways of making rasam and this simple version is my favorite.