Now We’re Cooking!

We went on a family field trip today to a vegan Indian cooking class hosted by the Vegetarians of Washington at the Upper Crust in Greenwood. It was taught by Sunita Shastri, who demonstrated Cucumber Coconut Salad and Lemon Rice from a southern Indian style, and the northern Indian specialty Chole, a spicy chickpea gravy curry. It was a successful experience. Not only was Lake an amazingly well behaved baby, eating and sleeping like a champion, but we each learned a few helpful things about cooking with Indian spices and we able to sample a few new dishes. For example, in Indian cooking the spices are nearly always sautéed into the oil base as a starting point to enhance their flavor and soften the texture of the seeds eg cumin and mustard. Furthermore Sunita follows the principle that vegetables will also be tastier and cook faster if also sautéed in oil. Not all spices, however, have the same temperature heartiness. Therefore, sauté the cumin and mustard seeds first, then add turmeric with the onion and garlic phase, and garam masala even later when adding the moist vegetables like tomato. Note the layering of spices in her recipe methods below.

We couldn’t help but also enjoy the unexpectedly rich comments of the other guests. We couldn’t stop chortling to ourselves, really! One woman had the audacity to ask Sunita what the secret is to not have your house smell like Indian cooking. She replied, “there is no secret.” The woman asked the question again. Sunita repeated herself. My husband retorted under his breath, “don’t cook Indian food!” Another, perhaps even the same woman, asked if she ever substitutes for ghee. This is directly after Sunita was explaining her background included starting a company to produce fresh locally made ghee after experiencing difficulties procuring good tasting fresh ghee here in the U.S. The guest continued on, that she often substituted truffle oil or cashew butter, or… She lost Sunita’s attention before she even finished her comment. Another participant asked if one could make gluten free naan, and Sunita laughted and said that then it wouldn’t be naan, it would be something else! Someone asked about the 3-4 cloves in the Chole: cloves of what, it didn’t say? After demonstrating the cucumber coconut salad preparation, a thin gentleman in the front row asked what the calorie and protein content of a serving of of the salad contained. Sunita gave him a blank look.

How many calories? I guess 30 kcal, 1g protein

Cloves of what?

If peas aren’t available, one can substitute peanuts, but the quantity would be reduced.

We made the most of out excursion to Greenwood by stopping in for lavender hot chocolate with hemp milk at Chocolati. 

What a fun afternoon! Thank you for joining us on our Sunday outing. Let us know if you try any of the recipes!

Out on the Town

My husband invited me out on a date today: to go outside, view the water and take in some sunshine. I was hesitant, it would be my first walk postpartum and I’m technically on bed red still until Monday. Ultimately my love for my husband and my confidence that he knows me better than myself sometimes won out, and we set out from the flat for an inaugural walk. The sun was shining, and it felt good on my aching back. 

The blocks were longer than I remembered. We stopped frequently to rest, to breathe in the fresh air. Michael joked that we were getting a maximum amount of fresh air per foot: a dense walk. I vividly recalled walking meditation at Spirit Rock in Marin County a decade ago when I was on a mindfulness retreat. I relished the simplicity of walking very slowly, aware of each footstep as it interfaced with the earth. We made it to the University Bridge at 40th and Eastlake. We walked out onto the bridge, intending to stand over the water. The bridge was vast. It has always been such a short bridge in my mind. I’m usually running across, nimbly. Maybe I’ve never walked across it before. Pretty view. Nice clouds. Sailboats, and kayaks, and boat boats going by. Friendly joggers. Let’s head back. That’s enough walk for today.

Lake was a champion. He’s not new to this; he’s been walking daily with Nana since he was two days old. 

After a light lunch and a nice nap, we felt re-energized, and we set out for Columbia City to Lake’s first real party! Boy, if you ever want to get a party started, set a two week old down in the center of the room.

We had come to wish our friend Sarah Rawlins (a friend I’d met at my new employee orientation at Harborview Medical Center two years ago) a good send off for her nine months in South Sudan. She will be doing mission work as a training nurse in a large field hospital there. She’s a courageous woman with a heart of gold. There were flat Sarah dolls as party favors, so expect to see Sarah joining us on a few adventures around town, and maybe some hikes. I suspect in the next nine months, both of us will need a friend in our back pocket from time to time. We are here for you, too! Bon voyage et bonne chance Sarah.

Good night friends!