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August 2003 Issue
Creative Cooking
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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Sometimes the column for the month just flows. And other times it’s more like pulling teeth. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, just that, like everything else, sometimes it comes easier than others.

And then there’s the times when I write it, or at least get it part done, then re-think it and write it all over again. That’s what happened this time. I had part of it written, told Ronda I’d miss the deadline and then when I sat down to finish it, started from scratch. Life’s like that. At least mine is.

So, first things first. As an update to the Walk to end Breast Cancer, I’ve got bad news. A few weeks ago I twisted my knee at work and, because my knees are also arthritic, I’m having a time getting back into the swing. It swells up something fierce and every time I think I’m close to being ok, another small twist and I’m in pain again. So, to make a long story short, I won’t be participating in the walk after all. It’s just far too much of a chance to take with both my knees now having been injured and just not recovering properly. For those of you who sponsored me, please know that your donation will still go to the cause, as will the fee I paid upon registration. I’ll let you know, once it’s done, how well the fund raising efforts went.

My daughter is home for the summer. We’ve made a few trips back and forth to Montreal getting things settled and bringing stuff home, but she’s here now and will stay put till September. She does plan to go back to Montreal, it’s where she lives now after all, but it’ll be AFTER we’ve done our canning. (More about that next month.)

The thing about having Marina home is that she cooks. She is so creative in the kitchen that at times I’m in awe myself. And because she’s the one doing it, her brothers are always willing to at least try what she comes up with (not that she gives them much choice). See, you need to understand that Marina is a vegetarian, not a vegan, but still strict enough as far as her brothers are concerned. My eldest son is vegetarian-almost, that means he’ll eat chicken but no other meat. That’s because he’s not a big vegetable fan so while he tried to be entirely meatless, I found he wasn’t getting that much by way of nutrition, so thankfully, he decided to go back to having chicken. Now mom feels better, and he has a bit more to choose from.

We eat a lot more pasta these days, which we all love. Also we’ve been eating lots of rice too, just plain steamed, which I love (I have a wonderful Japanese rice steamer that I really wonder how I ever managed without), or this wonderful Persian rice dish Marina introduced us to. It’s from her friend Sonja and though it is a bit labour intensive, it’s well worth the effort, trust me.

 

Sonja’s Persian Rice (aka Crunchy Persian Rice)

Sonja Kokorsky, who gave Marina the recipe for this, used dill but my daughter doesn’t like dill much so changed it to saffron.
    Rinse basmati rice under running water until the water runs clear. Pour fresh water over the rice so that the water comes up to about an inch higher than the rice and let soak for four to eight hours. Change the water, add salt and boil the rice for five minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the drained rice with salt and pepper and saffron.

    In a pot with a thick bottom, pour a good quarter to half inch of olive oil, pile the rice and make it into a pyramid shape. Pour more olive oil over the top. Cover the pot with paper towel, put the lid on top and do not open again till the rest of the cooking is done. Put back on stove over max heat for five minutes then reduce to minimum for forty minutes more.

 

The other day she made us a curry dish that she says she makes often. Now I’m not a great fan of curry … so in my house, we almost never have it. But she managed to get us all to try it and you know what?? It was great!!

 

Curried Chick Peas and Potatoes

    Mix four tablespoons of curry with one teaspoon of turmeric and half cup of water. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a thick bottomed pot, and sauté half a yellow onion which you’ve diced with a couple of cloves of minced garlic. Add the curry mixture and a pinch of dried chili flakes and stir to combine and continue cooking for about three to five minutes, till the curry is bubbling and yummy. Add three potatoes which you’ve diced and one teaspoon of salt, then add four cups of cooked chick peas, two cups of water and simmer ten to fifteen minutes. Uncover and simmer another ten minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Serve over steamed rice.
 

One of the other things she always makes with great success is a tofu version of her brothers’ favourite, Veal parmesan.

 

Tofu Parmesan

    She slices extra firm tofu as thinly as she can without the slices breaking apart and then marinates it in soy sauce for a short time. She lays the slices on a tray that has a bit of a rim and covers them in soy sauce, turning them over once, for ten minutes on each side. She then dips them in a seasoned egg mixture, dredges them in flour, back into the egg and then in seasoned bread crumbs. She allows them to sit a bit then shallow fries them as you would for breaded veal cutlets. From this point we eat them as is with steamed rice, but we’ve also made them into a kind of tofu parmesan. Basically coat the slices in tomato sauce, sprinkle a generous amount of cheese over all and bake till cheese is melted and bubbly. It’s pretty close to the real veal.
 

So . . . that’s it for yet another month.

Have a great August and see you all next time!!

TTFN!!!



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