zeekraal & ijskruid.

Since, as far as I can tell, this site is solely for my personal documentation/research (and occasional communication with my dear mother), one liberty I like to take here is the posting of entries before they're complete. Should the former condition change, I'll do something about the latter. But until then...we have entries like the following.

To wit: I'm dismayed by my continuing surprise over the number of things that I haven't expected since I've moved here. What I'm saying is that I should at least be used to being surprised. For example, why am I surprised that there are completely foreign edible plants sold in supermarkets here? Not "foreign" as in "not domestic", "foreign" as in "alien and unfamiliar". I mean, some cities you'd expect it: Penang, sure--strange fruit, so to speak. Bogota? Yes. Huge, mutant bananas. Amsterdam? Not unless you mean alien tubers.

But lo: this summer I peeped for the first time (more than peeped, actually...I bit them, repeatedly and without mercy) two alluring "water vegetables" that have been eaten here for ages. The first, listed in my neighborhood organic winkel as ijskruid, is proving difficult to research, in terms of its edible history. Indeed, when I bought it, I asked the girl behind the counter how you normally prepare it (if i can find a picture of it, you'll see why it wasn't immediately obvious), and she said she'd never eaten it or (rather necessarily) cooked it, and asked her bosslady to weigh in on the matter. She told me "you can eat it as a salad item or lightly saute it."

I, being me, did neither. What I did do was interesting, quite nearly good, and I will one day reveal what transpired in the kitchen that day if I ever come back to finish this post. We took pictures of it before it was dismantled and et: it looks vaguely like something Scotty would put in the Enterprise's engine to make it run. I say this as a "non-Trekkie".

I know I always say this: part two to follow. What I don't always say is: right now, bitch!!! Take that. I'm kidding. Part two is a myth.


returnimator ii: ha kao soup.

2005-06 holidays are proving tenacious, I can't seem to return to action. Mostly, I'se just been real biddy. And since the parentals left after xmas, I haven't really done too much crafty cooking, it's mostly been serious comfort food: Roughly 86% of January dinners have involved soup, and 75% (not statistically accurate) of those have revolved around an initially improvised and totally inauthentic and non-vegetarian ha kauw soup (ha kauw being a european spelling of ha kao I imagine, which are chinese shrimp dumplings): saute equal measures finely chopped leeks, scallions, red bell pepper, onion, and perhaps a fresh green bean or two in a tbsp or two of light sesame oil for a couple minutes until nicely browned, and then add equal parts chicken broth and clam broth (maybe a half-cup or so of each) until you've got enough broth to cover your sauteed vegetables plus eight shrimp dumplings (ha kauw). Bring to a simmer, add dumplings and a handful of bean sprouts. Let simmer while you mince as many fresh chives as you can stand, a good handful is where our tolerance is. When the dumplings are cooked through, 7-10 minutes, add the minced chives and serve. I've made it five times in the last two weeks. I'm certain you could add chiles, garlic, and/or ginger to spice it up, but we've been enjoying this version's simple, straightforward mellowness very much, a bit like an additive-free won ton soup minus the pork element. Plus shrimp dumplings! It's also good with a drop of truffle oil on top (for extra mystery!), TOTALLY turning this into a wanky fusion recipe, but....what can I say.

Anyway, since we're "moving house" over the next couple weeks, new posts will be few and far betwixt, but I'll see what I can do.