On Staples of All Kinds

This year I have done the incredible: I have bought just one book. If this were my normal rate of acquiring books, my living space would be less dusty and cluttered and dangerous. (Yes, safety would increase because there would be no danger of accidentally knocking over a stack of books and having them fall on your feet.) Said book is Vegane Köstlichkeiten – libanesisch (Lebanese Vegan Delights) by Abla Maalouf-Tarner. Since it was welcomed into the fold at the end of April, I have been discovering its charms, one by one. Since TC and I had a guest for dinner last night, it was a good opportunity to try out some new recipes. Our guest voted for the dessert pictured above as the tastiest of all: namura, a semolina cake flavored with orange juice and sesame.

The staples of Lebanese cooking are olive oil, chickpeas, lentils, bulgur, and rice. Garlic, onions, tahini, lemon juice, and pomegranate syrup flavor dishes showcasing spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, dandelion greens, and eggplant. I enjoy eating all of these foods, and so far there are no duds among the recipes. About the only change I have made is to radically reduce the amount of olive oil in some cases. You really don’t need 100 ml olive oil to sauté one or two onions, do you?

Speaking of olive oil, the sour cherry birthday pie above from earlier this month had an olive oil crust. The wonder of cooking and baking is you can’t predict when something you’ve made many times will turn out beautifully – or just so-so. The crust above – my standard crust – was just incredible. In contrast, the lentil dish laced with pomegranate syrup TC and I inhaled last weekend that I tried to recreate last night was a bit lackluster. The more I cook, the more I agree with the Ayurvedic notion that the state of mind of the cook has an influence on the meal. I was very relaxed earlier in the day when I prepared the dessert; there still was lots of time before our guest arrived. The lentils, however, were prepared in tandem with potato-tomato turnovers – which tasted good but whose dough was…how should I put it…not very aesthetic in its presentation as I used my hands instead of a rolling pin to prepare the rounds and didn’t let the filling cool off adequately before putting it all together. Multitasking is extremely distracting.

It would be good to be in the right state of mind when I finally get around to hand felting this bag, which is destined to hold library books and notebooks and other staples. In dread of blue fuzz getting stuck in the washing machine, I have decided to do it long hand, so to speak, but am still hunting for the right method. One interesting one I found online requires a plastic bucket and a plunger, but since I have spent many an hour decluttering and getting rid of excess objects this year, I find it decadent to buy a second plunger just to use for felting. Have you ever felted anything by hand and if so, do you have any tips for this novice?

The faithful reader will note that the bag matches a jacket I finished knitting this spring. Since my last post, I have not only come to terms with the approaching autumn but look forward to the return of woolen wardrobe staples. On the needles now are a pullover with cables for TC and a thin cardigan for myself. Enjoy the waning summer and good luck with your preparations for fall!