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Monday, June 18, 2007


The bug and Mr. Chalmers and I spread out on the front walkway and did fingerpainting yesterday. Here's a painting the bug made—with lots of help—as a card for me:

"Birthday" didn't fit.

That's a Father's Day card she's working on. The bathwater afterwards was dark brown.

She and I had played with sidewalk chalk the night before. She was up unusually late, and she saw fireflies for the first time and pointed at them and laughed. She tried to catch them. I handed her one, and she carried it around for a while.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fun Foods

We had another fun trip to Your Dekalb Farmer's Market last weekend, spending most of our time in the fish section—Mr. Chalmers showed the bug the big tanks of live catfish and carp, and they watched the workers catch them in nets for customers. We came home with a couple of Florida mullet and a bunch of butterfish. Mr. Chalmers smoked the mullet that day, with cherry wood chunks. So far it's the bug's favorite food, smoked mullet. The next day I took one of the mullets and made a spread, like they do in the bug's home state.

Smoked mullet spread: Mince 1/2 small Vidalia onion in a mini food processor. Add flesh from 1 medium-sized smoked mullet and process until finely chopped but not pureed. Stir in some mayonnaise and hot pepper sauce (a vinegary cayenne one is good, like Crystal), and season with salt to taste. Add black pepper, too, if you like. There are other, more complex recipes out there, but this one really let the smoked mullet come through.
The bug licks the spread off the cracker, then waits, thinking it'll be refilled, then finally breaks down and eats the cracker.

We also got some neat vegetables. One was tindora, which I'd never seen before—they look like finger-sized cucumbers. I just got a few, then came home and looked up what to do with them.


Curry leaves I got here in Athens, at the place on Baxter Street, Taj Mahal. So wonderfully fragrant!

Here's what I did, very approximately, with no amounts; it's a combination of several recipes I found online:
Sautéed tindora: Cut tindora in half lengthwise. Heat a little ghee in a saucepan or sauté pan over high heat and add some black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and plenty of fresh curry leaves; cook, stirring, until the seeds are fragrant and start to pop out of the pan. Add a little thinly sliced onion, some minced garlic and ginger, the tindora, and a few good pinches of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft but the tindora is still crunchy and crisp. Add a very small dash of asafoetida, if you have it, at the end. Try not to burn the spices or the garlic and ginger; cover the pan during part of the cooking to keep the vegetables from scorching.

In progress.
Also that day for supper I for some reason decided to make stuffed brinjal, or Thai eggplant, based loosely on a couple recipes, including one I can't link to for some reason on Mahanandi. I toasted a bunch of stuff:

Salted pistachios, dried chiles, sesame seeds, a few peanuts, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. Cinnamon sticks also went in after I took this picture.

Then I ground it all up, adding a few curry leaves just because, and some ground cloves; it didn't seem like a "paste" to me, so I added a tablespoon of peanut butter (whatever . . . turns out I'd forgotton to add the tamarind, which would've made it more pastelike).

Tiny Thai eggplant or brinjal.

I cut a cross shape in the bottom of each eggplant, leaving the stem ends intact, and stuffed the paste inside.

Then I heated some ghee and a little vegetable oil in a skillet with the usual mustard seeds and cumin seeds, added the rest of the paste (a bit less than half of what I used for stuffing) and a couple cups of water, a glob of tamarind concentrate, having remembered it, and about a tablespoon of palm sugar. Then just set the stuffed eggplant in the sauce, covered the skillet, and let them cook, turning them over about halfway through.

The sauce gets much darker and thicker once it's cooked for a while.

It was a good supper, with some leftover dal (with lentils, bulghur, yellow split peas, and wheatberries, plus cauliflower), paratha (frozen ones from the Indian market), and broiled chicken tikka masala skewers.

Addendum: Not only did Stringer Bell die in the "Wire" episode we watched last night (sniff), but a neighbor dog running loose through our yard got our chicken, also running loose but not as fast. Our own dogs were going nuts, and I went to see what was happening, and just caught a glimpse of the big black dog sprinting away with the bird in its mouth. As Mr. Chalmers said, chicken had a better, longer life than most of his kind here in Madison County in the heart (or maybe just at the edge) of the poultry belt. I don't know if I'll ever get over it—"The Wire" without Stringer Bell, that is.