Today we begin this blog anew. And to mark the occasion, I am thinking of another time in my life when I made a clean break and started afresh. In the summer of 2006, I grew desperate. The husband had moved to California and I longed for the California sunshine. I mean we saw just as much sunshine in the summer in Columbus, but there is something about the California sunshine. It is fresh and cool. I had visited once before, also during the summer and the memories stuck with me. So at the end of the summer I just upped and left.
As I look through my recipe folder at the recipes from that time, I see the same desperation. That’s when I really started writing recipes down. I have a set of pages with four recipes to a page, my initial compilation of all the recipes I had been cooking with for the past few years and which were written in small scraps of paper. It was the first acknowledgment of taking this food thing seriously. Because when something is important, I write it down. I have at least ten folders, each more than an inch thick filled with sheets of paper containing my research work. And I never throw away anything that I have written, because who knows when that random thought that I had at 2:30 one afternoon is going to mean something?
I was cooking and baking something new several times a week. Sometimes I would write the recipe down from the Internet and then cook. But often I would “create” a dish and then if it came out well I would write the recipe down along with notes on the recipe; masoor dal needed more hing, pumpkin was too ripe and forgot to use 5 phoron. You get the idea. There is also a list of all the vegetables in my fridge that I need to use before they go bad. It is – I kid you not – 29 long and includes 3 kinds of potatoes! For two people. Don’t blame me, blame milk pail market. And on the next page a list of recipes to use up all the vegetables includes such outlandish recipes such as watercress in toor dal, mooli (radish) bhurji, cabbage with green onions, things which I have never made again. I was just playing with my food.
Oh and the dough fascination. After the gujia/karanji experiment, I was so excited I made a list of all the fillings I could pair with store bought doughs and make different kinds of snacks and sweets ranging from baked samosas using pie crust to baked apple dumplings using egg roll wrappers. That list is a whole page long and honestly, to this day I have never made anything from that list. I was just really excited about this food thing. Or may be it was merely an excuse to avoid thinking about what I should have been thinking about – research, which I was supposed to still be working on. It was also a way to avoid planning where my life and career were going. I don’t know; although I suspect that it was a mix of all of these. I was beginning anew. I was desperate to leave the old folders behind and make new ones. And I did. After spending five years in grad school, I have now spent five years being a foodie. I am thankful that even though the other ten are in a box somewhere, I still open this folder everyday. Perhaps I made the right choice.