Monday, April 18, 2011

Spreading the Love - Catching Up on Awards and Tags

Wild Strawberry Jam

The small and tidy box went nearly unnoticed in the dark, nestled in a drift of a million dusty snowflakes. The deliveryman had pitched it into the doorway from the warmth of his truck. He would have been lazy except that we were all struggling under the weekly ravages of winter storms. I had come in nearly frostbitten, but every second of the bitter day behind me recessed further into foggy memories as my fingers felt around the viscera of packing material. I removed four tiny jars of jam, a thank-you gift from Lana of Bibberche, for answering her distress signal as the deadline for her photography-class final approached.

There were four exquisitely distinctive flavors: quince and walnut; fig and bay leaf; rose petal; and wild strawberry, all crafted and cured with sugar by Lana's gifted Serbian family. Once the quince and walnut disappeared directly from the jar, one teeny spoonful at a time between sips of severe black tea, I slowed my pace to savor the others over the next weeks. The strawberry was the last to go. I had been holding onto it with the tenacity of tentacles, just like I've been holding onto some community kudos that need their public acknowledgment, too.


The Versatile Blogger Award was bestowed on me by Akheela of Torview Toronto. Thank you, A! For this honor, I am to reveal 7 things about myself and pass it forward to 15 others. Do play along as your time and interest allow, and add your own twist. Memes never wind round the blogosphere in the same condition that they started.

Janet - The Taste Space
Sra - When My Soup Came Alive
Robyn - Koek!
Jaya - Desi Soccer Mom
Joanne - Eats Well with Others
Soma - eCurry
Cinzia - Cindystar
Aqua - Served with Love
Cathy - What Would Cathy Eat?
Vanessa - Sweet Artichoke
Nilam - Grow in the Kitchen
Mary Katherine - MK's Kitchen
ShuHan - Mummy, I Can Cook
Graziana - Erbe in Cucina
Lori Ann - Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

7 Things About Me ~

1) Every time I take myself out and about for groceries, I always pick up a small bouquet of flowers. When you have to drag your purchases up two flights of stairs like a pack mule, you need a little treat to keep you from savaging the box of cookies you promised yourself you weren't going to buy.

2) As much as I have loved my dark red kitchen, after three years, I feel like I am standing in a blood vessel. It is time for a dramatic change. I have my eye on a very particular ivory which will transform the space from a grotto to an airy.

3) Herbs are my very favorite fresh culinary ingredients. I've purchased a variety of mints which will be planted in my mother's garden. I expect them to be the menace of her neighborhood by July.

4) I've developed a rather odd craving for club soda -- not seltzer water, but club soda. They are not created equally, but depend on the addition or absence of minerals for their flavors. Club soda's definitely got that snap to it. At first, I thought it was the salt content I was after, but both are labeled "Sodium Free." It's puzzling, but not a murder mystery, and will probably burn out before I can figure it out.

5) Scott bought me a stand mixer for Valentine's Day. That would be Valentine's Day 2010. It's taken me over a year to figure out where to put it. Perhaps I should have asked for chocolates, after all. I would have known exactly where to put those.

6) Speaking of equipment, I probably use my whisks more than any other tools. By the end of the day, every man Jack of them is dirty in the sink.

7) Of the three major kitchen appliances, the one I am least pleased with is the refrigerator. It is not its fault, though, that I keep stuffing it with greenery. I fantasize about standing in front of one of those French-doored models all agleam in stainless steel, but who am I kidding? With the luxury of such a cavernous space, I would only have to feed the monster. It would be another jungle in there.


8 Questions were posed to me by Priya of Mharo Rajasthan's Recipes. Thanks for thinking of me, Priya! I'm to pass the same or my own questions* to 8 others. Again, participation is at your discretion and without obligation.

Kirsten - From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours

Christine - Kit's Chow
Claire - Chez Cayenne
Jasenka - Sweet Corner
Lori Lynn - Taste with the Eyes
Ivy - Gourmet Concoctions in Assini
Kelly - Eat Yourself Skinny
Sandhya - Sandhya's Kitchen

8 Questions for Me ~

1) What is your favorite thing about blogging?

The discovery of new ingredients, recipes, equipment, techniques, and rituals.

2) Who best critiques your cooking?

I am my own most strict critic, but do rely on my husband when I need a second opinion. Although our tastes vary often enough, Scott does provide some objectivity. I particularly rely on him when I am doubtful about an outcome; usually, he will confirm my suspicions.

3) What are your favorite foods?

Anything spicy, especially if complex and inscrutable, like curries.

Cakes of all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. I love all desserts, but cakes take the cake for me.

Legumes, but I think you already know this. ; )

4) What are some of the foods that you've been amazed by on others' blogs?

Soma's Cabbage and Chickpea Roulade

Haalo's Poached Donut Peaches with Wild Willow Water

Carolyn's Dandelion Fritters

Sayantani's Lentil Paste Designs

5) Who inspires you in the blog world?

I am inspired by and admire many blogs for many reasons, but Jen of Simply Breakfast is a dynamo who turns out that first meal of the day with endless variations that never get old.

6) Would you prefer a cold sandwich and salad or a hot panini and warm soup for lunch?

Hot panini and warm soup.

7) Are you obsessed about anything related to food?

Yes, that perfect cup of coffee, very smooth yet robust, the one that my local fast-food restaurant no longer sells, the one that I am very close to replicating at home. I know what beans they used and their brew method. I will be conducting my own experiments very soon. If I like the results, I will write a jubilant post to share it with you. And best of all, neither the coffee nor the equipment is excessively expensive.

8) Have you ever thought about preparing or actually prepared something for TV or a newspaper?

Not yet, but the future is the next frontier.

*8 Questions for 8 ~

1) Do you have a signature recipe which you regularly prepare for special occasions or holidays, or one that your family or friends are always clamoring for you to serve?

2) What particular blogging talent (cooking, baking, writing, photography) would you like to improve as your blog matures?

3) Who are your biggest blog supporters? Are they your family and friends, or other bloggers?

4) What one recipe, ingredient, or technique are you challenged by, but are determined to master?

5) What is your favorite way to enjoy learning about anything culinary: TV, magazines, online, cookbooks, classes, family and friends? Be as specific or general as you like.

6) What ingredients are the cornerstones of your kitchen, the ones which you must have on hand at all times?

7) How many minutes/hours a day do you spend in your kitchen?

8) Is your kitchen driven by dietary/health concerns or anything-goes indulgences? Or do you struggle trying to balance the two?



  1. congrats on ur award.. nice to know more about u..

  2. Congrats on the awards! It was great to learn more about you.



  3. Thanks for passing on the Versatile Blogger Award, Susan! I also find that I can get everything dirty when I cook - cleaning is definitely my least favourite part of cooking. :(

  4. Thank you for accepting and posting, enjoyed reading your lovely post. Looking forward on reading about your kitchen reno and your innovative recipes :)
    Congrats on the well deserved award

  5. Congratulations on the awards.
    Lovely to know a bit more about you ♥

  6. Well done with the award! Congrats :)

    I, too, am addicted to club soda.

  7. Congrats on your award dear, loved to know more about you and wow great answers and even great questions for others to pass on :)

  8. These are always such fun to read... Well done!

  9. Ah, what a nice, long post! Loved the simile ;) of the blood vessel - now I'll never think of your kitchen in any other way, even if you paint it lily white.

    Maybe I'll do the 8 questions meme because I think I've done the seven facts meme - i've to check, because it's been a long, long, time and maybe there are seven new facts! :-D

  10. Thank you Susan. And it was beautiful reading about you. Had a good laugh with the blood vessel! I have a thing about visualizing everything in my mind as I read or talk or listen (I think in pictures, not words) and you can imagine what that must have done to me:D I am such an uninteresting person compared to this.

    Can't believe u still remember the roulades. have you had a real patra ever?

  11. Congratulations on the award Susan. Very interesting read about you.

  12. Nice to get to know you better Susan.
    I am hoping you show us before and after photos of your kitchen.
    Wishing you a wonderful Easter.

  13. so nice to know more about you Susan. You are always a sweetheart :)

  14. Congrats on the award. Nice and interesting post.

  15. what a lovely post and such lovely answers - I imagine you running up the stairs with bags in one hand, flowers in the other and getting in for a glass of club soda - is that the same as soda water - I love soda water!!! And I would love a bigger fridge (a smeg in cool green) but I know I would just hide and forget more things in there!!!

  16. Congrats on the awards. This was a great to read post and I was nodding my head in unison about the flowers and the box of cookies :)

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  18. Congratulations on these awards and very belated thanks for spreading the love.
    It is great to discover a little more about you :-)

  19. Welcome, Mehjabeen! Thank you!

    Thanks, Rosa.

    Janet - Happy to. My kitchen always looks like "storm central" after I've prepared something. Not too fond of the cleaning, either. ; D

    Akheela - Thank you. I knew this post would be a long time in coming, but I never forgot your kindness. : )

    Hi, Ana! How are you? Thanks so much!

    Parsley Sage - Thanks. What is *up* with club soda!?!

    Priya - Thank you. I thought long and hard about the Q&A's.

    Thanks, Katie! They are fun to read, but not always fun to write, especially if you offer more than one-word answers.

    Sra - Yeah, it was a loooong one. Unfortunately, I can no longer view my kitchen any other way, either. : D I'm sure there are seven new facts about you, but it's up to you when you have seven hours to contemplate them. Well, that's how long it took me to write this off and on during course of a highly multi-tasking day.

    Soma - Thanks. I absolutely adored that red paint when I carefully selected it to match a clay tagine; now, it makes me claustrophobic. It's funny how tastes change sometimes. I think in pictures, too. I was always under the assumption that words provoked imagery, but maybe it's just in some, but not all, heads. : }

    I vividly remember the roulades. No, I haven't had real patra yet. I know I am missing something.

    Thanks, Champa!

    Hi, LL! Thanks. I'll make sure to take photos. Hope you have enjoyed your spring holiday/s, too.

    Anh - Look who's talking sweet!

    Nithu - Hello, how are you? Thanks so much. Good to see you.

    Johanna - Thank you. Yes, soda water is our generic for waters we add carbonation to, rather than naturally sparkling waters from wells and springs. You flatter me by imagining me "running up the stairs." I am so heavy with groceries that it is a slow trudge. : D

    Hi, Mandira! Very good to hear from you! Ah, you like those special treats, too!

    Thank you, Vanessa. There is never any rush to comment - no pressure. Please take up this up if, when, and as you like.

  20. Hi Susan. Congrats on the award and I am terribly sorry for being so late in commenting but I am relatively new to and just saw the link to your post. It was great learning more about you.

  21. I was out of the blog world for quite some time and now trying to catch up with everything. thats a beautiful post. loved knowing about you. and had a great laught about the bood vessel. was planning to bring in shades of red in my new kitchen but your blood vessel makes me think about it twice.
    thanks for mentioning my lentil paste designs...cant believe that someone is still remembering that. there is one women's organisation, more of a self help group for dejected poor women. they make all these traditional items along with spice powders, pickles and preserves. recently I have started helping them by stocking their products in my shop (I run an embroidered clothing unit). they would be happy and more enthusiastic to know that someone like you liked our traditional craft so much.