When I originally sat down to write this post, I was not going to make a big deal that The Sophisticated Gourmet has turned 2 on this very day, but after speaking with friends and realizing that I was being foolish for not making a big deal about it, I had to scrap my old post and hold off on pressing the “Publish” button. Dear readers friends- TSG is 2-years-old today! Can you believe it?!
It was just two years ago when I sat down, wrote a few paragraphs, and posted a few recipes on TSG’s old home at Blogger.com. I didn’t expect the posts to be read, but after making an account with an online food community, FoodBuzz, my life changed that very week. I friended random strangers on the web. The first person I spoke with was my friend, Rachael from Tokyo Terrace. After literally 15 seconds of requesting her as a friend on FoodBuzz, she sent me a message welcoming me to the community; we briefly conversed. I can’t remember what the conversation was about, but I did think it was a little weird that some stranger was being so nice to me on the web. I also crossed my fingers that she was not some crazy old lady using a photo she found on Google Images. At the time, I had known the web to be a place of crazy people, pedophiles, teens constantly changing their MySpace and Facebook profile photos on an hourly basis, and parents making fake social networking accounts to “protect” their children.
It’s not quite strawberry season yet, at least not around these parts, but there are times when I find myself food shopping and I can’t help but stare at the joyous, organic, red berries that constantly summon my attention with several winks and a price tag that reads “On SALE!” Sales are my weakness. And so are gorgeous-looking strawberries.
Strawberries are possibly one of my most favorite fruit. Although they are available practically all-year-long in supermarkets and grocery stores across the country, when they’re not in season–usually–they’re practically good for nothing. They’re sometimes vile- both crunchy and sour, and lack in any strawberry flavor. Some will disagree about my last statement but I did say usually; there are a handful of companies that do have great tasting organic strawberries year-round.
When I do find myself picking up a package or two of these glorious red berries that are lacking in the taste department, I most-often find myself baking them. During strawberry season, rarely am I every interested in baking the marvelously sweet strawberries that I pick up from the farmers’ market– I’d much rather munch on them, toss them into a summery salad, or make jam to preserve their magnificent taste for when I need a burst of strawberry goodness during the dreary winter months.
Last week, I stared at a five-pound bag of Chickpea flour sitting in my baking cabinet. It cried to be opened. I immediately closed the cabinet, walked away, and within seconds, I ran back into our kitchen, opened the cabinet door, and grabbed the bag of flour off its shelf. I refused to ignore its cry. The first thing that came to my mind was Onion Pakoras with a two-second Ketchup Chutney.
Pakoras are something I grew up on. I love how how imperfect and rustic they are once out of the hot oil. And I love that they bring brightness to a dreary day. I also adore the sweet and spicy ketchup chutney served with them.
Often, on rainy days, I seek comfort food. I crave savory and sweet. And I adore quick and simple. Although I’ve held back on this onion pakora recipe for a week, when these were made, I was absolutely sure that it was Spring. With the small duvet of snow that blanketed the New Jersey area yesterday morning, I am now unsure of what season it is, but I am praying that the snow and rain are not a teaser to something worse. Imagine: snow in May. That’d be interesting. Wouldn’t it?
This morning, I walked outside to experience the magic of Spring. I looked up to see a sky nearly uninhabited by clouds. I heard birds sing an encouraging song to the trees they now call home. I closed my eyes to wallow in the gentle warmth of the sun and to feel the ever-so-slight breeze brush it’s cool hand against my face. Mother Nature, we welcome your magical season of rebirth, inspiration, and hope, with very open arms.
The cool warmth of spring inspired me to share a Middle Eastern-Inspired Couscous recipe with you on Tuesday. Nothing goes better with the couscous than than this recipe for Pistachio, Mint, and Spice Crusted Lamb Chops.
In my last post, I failed to mention that this entire meal took me only about half-an-hour to prepare. Although this meal requires quite a few ingredients, don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the ingredients list- this recipe is very easy to put together. You’ll find yourself doing more chopping and mixing than anything else, which I think is quite therapeutic after a hectic day.
As I write this post, I am distracted by a beauteous scenery outside. There are patches of fluffed pillows scattered across an azzurro sky. The weather is slightly warmer; its soft voice is encouraging plants to sprout, birds to sing, and people to bask in the afternoon sun.
Mother Nature’s “perhaps hand”, as E.E. Cummings once wrote, “is arranging a window while people stare arranging and changing placing.” This time of the year reminds me of times spent walking through the farmers’ market to see what the season has to share. It reminds me of a perfect warmth found in foods we love. It, most of all, reminds me of this couscous.