Friday, May 22, 2015

Jerusalem, an education as well as a cookbook

The Bite Club this week introduced us to Ottolenghi and Tamimi, whose cookbook Jerusalem I've started on, with two others on reserve at the library.

What a contrast to the boredom of the last cookbook.  This one is full of life and history and the sort of food I really want to make, many spices, wonderful history of the culture and conflicts in both the city and the food.  Written by an Arab and a Jew, both of whom grew up in Jerusalem, in different quarters, could be different planets, but both of whom have a great interest in the cultural and historical significance of food, not to mention its politics. And the book has a kind of padded cover, which lends an air of friendliness and importance, at the same time.

This morning, I used my early morning hour (had to be up and about to take one med, then wait half an hour to take the other, then another half hour before I can eat anything, this is a real hardship! only once a week, so I try to use the time in some way) anyway, I used that hour to do something interesting other than feel hungry and sorry for myself.

So I made Baharat, a spice mixture, for use over the next few weeks in whatever strikes my fancy.  

The smells as I ground all the spices together in my trusty coffee grinder, and the resulting warm and amazing blend, now in a jar in the fridge, were just exciting. I didn't have cardamom, but I think it's still great anyway. If I get some, haven't had it in the house in years, since my serious curry making days, I'll just grind and add it in, I think.

And I already have plans for a roasted sweet potato and fruit dish, which I think I'll do today.  And a kohlrabi salad.  I was introduced to kohlrabi decades ago, in student days in northwestern England, when I rented a room at the top of an old house with a big back yard. 
Another tenant had arranged to garden a section of it and Alan was always trying out new and exotic vegetables, including kohlrabi, which looks like it landed from outer space, but is crisp and very good in salads. You can cook it too, but I think I'd keep it raw.  And the Asian store routinely stocks it. So this is literally a return to my green and salad days, as well as a new recipe to me.

I had no idea that the history of food was so interesting before Diane, the doughty leader of the Bite Club and reference librarian as well as great cook, introduced a lot of ideas, beyond just making meals, to us all.  One of the nicest things I've done for myself in some time was to join.


  1. I have a recipe -- quick and easy saucepan kind of recipe -- for that rice that begins with a B, French cut green beans, and cardamom. An acquaintance years back told it to me. I had never heard of cardamom before that. Now I love it. I didn't discover most spices until I was an adult. The Murphey side of the family had salt and pepper shakers and a little container of paprika -- gosh knows how old -- that was solely for using to add color to the top of deviled eggs. The Mexican side used cayenne and comino (cumin), but there's a world of more richly layered Mexican cooking than they didn't do. Anyway, just wanted to say that spices fascinate me, too. And Happy Friday. And today is Buddha's 9th birthday.

  2. This sounds interesting, I am looking forward to your further food adventures.

  3. Yes, it has been quite enjoyable with Dee as the leader for the Bite Club,introducing us to the range of cookbook authors, tastes, and enthusiastic ladies cooking up and sharing such fun food; we are quite chatty group in a happy way.


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