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archive for indian

spring things

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Recipe: baingan bharta (indian mashed eggplant)

Year after year, I look forward to those wonderful events that reliably happen in spring. This wackadoo teeter totter between snow storms and sunny days. The planters full of daffodils and tulips on Pearl Street in Boulder. A chorus of red-winged blackbirds by the lake that fills your ears when you run (or walk) by. Just this morning, we watched a yearling moose (following his mama) pass through the neighborhood, stopping to nibble on the young aspens in our yard.

a double daffodil on the flats

snowing and moosing

Spring is also when I have various medical appointments. It’s been seven and a half years since my breast cancer diagnosis. After all of the surgeries, scans, chemo, radiation, blood draws, ER visits, and more surgeries, the aftermath seemed pretty tame. Managing lingering side effects – some temporary, some permanent – and getting on with my life, I felt that returning to normal was like winning the jackpot. And for the most part, life is normal and good. The further in time I drift from my diagnosis, the less cancer nags at the back of my mind. Dad always touts the power of positive thinking, but truth be told, that constant fear hovering over my shoulder for the first few years after treatment made me feel like I had failed. I couldn’t distinguish between my scar tissue and a possible tumor. Was that cough indicative of metastasized cancer? What caused that sharp pain in my side? While the intensity of my worries has faded considerably, it is always there like a low-level noise creeping in the corner of the room, growing louder when the night is still and dark.

the waiting room

I check in with oncology on a regular basis. It used to be every 6 months and has now transitioned to once a year. It’s bittersweet. When I walk in, I’m greeted by familiar smiles – all of the wonderful staff and nurses who cared for me during the infusions, gave me advice over the phone when emergencies arose, and continue to put in orders for my annual mammograms and MRIs. These are some of the nicest people you will ever encounter. This last time – yesterday – I exchanged hugs with each of them. While one asked how long it has been since I finished chemo, another was smiling and touching my ponytail. I typically ask local businesses if things have been busy, because busy is good for business. But it’s sad when oncology says they’ve been busy. They’re always busy. Cancer sucks. Eventually my oncologist bustles into the exam room like Santa Claus on Christmas doling out handshakes and hugs. He is the very best. Behind the closed door, Jeremy and I can update him with observations and questions interspersed with genuinely friendly conversation and laughs. He allays most of my concerns and follows up on the rest.

MRI in a week. Let’s get an X-ray while you’re here for the MRI and do blood labs after you’re done here today. How was that colonoscopy?

The colonoscopy was fine because I don’t remember any of it. The prep beforehand was unpleasant, but nothing compared to chemo. My instruction sheet said to stop eating all seeds, nuts, whole grains, and beans five days prior to the procedure. I thought that would be easy, but it was harder than I had anticipated. Everything in our kitchen seemed to have nuts, seeds, whole grains, or beans. The bummer was that I had made baingan bharta, a lovely Indian mashed eggplant dish, the day before. I could only stare at the leftovers in the refrigerator since the tomatoes and eggplants had loads of seeds.

onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, eggplant, lime, cilantro, vegetable oil, turmeric, salt, garlic, garam masala

prick the eggplants with a sharp knife

char the eggplants

let cool

**Jump for more butter**

my senior citizen

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Recipe: chana masala

Today, my baby puppy Kaweah turns 14 years old. And even though I call her my puppy, even though she acts like a puppy, even though so many people think she’s a puppy… she’s pretty old. So when she turns off her ears and doesn’t come when called (her hearing is perfectly fine, she can hear me open the closet door to her dog treats from across the house) or when she stumbles because her back legs are weak, we are extra patient and understanding with her the way we would be with our grandmas if they were still alive. I don’t generally make a big deal of birthdays, but this one is special, because it may be her last one.

a little salad, puppy biscuits on cheddar, and raw flank steak

kaweah started with her veggies first (good girl)

apples, peanut butter sauce, unsweetened whipped cream

such a patient pup

jeremy blew the candle out

birthday girl!!

We actually celebrated on Thursday, one day early, because our schedules are completely bonkers. The holidays really make me want to do the opposite of what is considered de rigueur. I can get away with some of it, but not the baking. Our local post office ladies ask Jeremy every November if I’ll be bringing cookies for the holidays. And I can’t not give cookies to my vet, because we love him so much. My ace #1 oncologist – he gets cookies for sure. We always gift cookies to the administrative staff in Jeremy’s department. I don’t mind the baking because this is an expression of gratitude. What I do mind is having heaps of sweets around me. Gah! Get them away! To balance out the craziness of holiday baking, I’ve been gravitating toward simple, but awesome savory dishes.

cayenne, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cumin seeds

spices, salt, garlic, onion, lemon, tomatoes, ginger, jalapeño pepper, and chickpeas

This is a recipe that has been eating away at me for a few years – chana masala. My friend, Nicole, brought it to a potluck party in Seattle two summers ago and I loved it. It was a big party, and I never got around to asking for the recipe. By the time I remembered again (months later) I hit the interwebs which 80% of the time lead me to Deb.

grind the toasted cumin seeds

everything chopped, diced, grated, minced, ground, or juiced

**Jump for more butter**

head spinning fun

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Recipe: indian dal

I hope you all had a good weekend. I think I had a good one, assuming I can remember everything that’s been happening. Perhaps that is why I take so many photographs – to jog my crappy memory? Our lecture/workshop at Denver Botanic Gardens was great. We had a lively and fun crew at the cooking workshop on Friday – really engaging and wonderful people. Todd and Diane taught how to make their signature amazing Viet spring rolls, Manisha demoed onion fritters with two chutneys and chai, and I made Chinese scallion pancakes.

sarah of dbg welcomes everyone

sniffing herbs that todd and diane brought from their garden

introduction to more herbs

There was plenty of nibbling and sampling of the goodies as well as laughs. I love workshops that have great participants because I think they are the other (very important) half of the equation. First, you need a great team running the show and then you need enthusiastic, friendly, and hard working people on the receiving end. They give back too. It’s all a give and take. That’s what makes it so special and ultimately rewarding for me.

diane schools us on nuoc cham while todd crushes garlic

mmmm, spring rolls!

manisha mixes the onions to make fritters

just pick up a small amount and drop it in the hot oil

After a jam-packed exhausting 24 hours, Todd and Diane came to our place (after we dined at The Pinyon – AMAZING dinner) to spend some time with Kaweah. We have a lot of visitors lined up this month, so Kaweah is getting pretty spoiled. But I think she especially loves Todd and Diane, which makes sense because they are two of my most favorite people on this good planet.

she’s not even supposed to be on the couch

who me?


definitely spoiled

I had signed up for a canning class at Escoffier Boulder (formerly Culinary School of the Rockies) almost two months ago. I’ve been wanting to learn to can properly at my altitude for several months now – always looking longingly at 1) all of the great produce coming out of friends’ gardens and 2) all of the canning my friends did with their bounties. At long last I could learn how to do it safely. The home cook classes at Escoffier are awesome. My fellow students were all spunky and eager to learn which made it doubly terrific.

my partner prepping beets

cutting pears for the pear and vanilla bean jam

tomatoes to be turned into basil garlic tomato sauce

into the hot water bath

pickled beets, ftw!!

Before I embark on my next trip (in less than 7 hours), I have to talk about a recent addition to my soup repertoire. They are predicting a snowstorm this week at home while I’ll be turning back the clock on fall and shooting colors elsewhere. There is nothing I love more in winter than to curl up with a hot bowl of soup after a good ski. I really dig on salads in summer, soups in winter. Sandwiches are a year-round affair (and I do mean affair as in love affair). One soup that I’ve been craving of late is dal.

red lentils (dal)

shake them out on a baking sheet to pick out imposters

**Jump for more butter**