A Christmas Experience in India

In Bangalore, India, at the beautiful Oberoi hotel, my husband and I had a perfect Christmas experience. First we stopped at their real! gingerbread "chalet" just outside their lobby and ordered some spiced rolls for Christmas breakfast, and stollen for Christmas dessert. Next we shopped at their gift shop -- small but packed with goodies -- and found a nutrition book I'm going to love for Christmas.

Then of course we stuffed ourselves! At their restaurant Le Jardin, which offers a buffet as well as a-la-carte. Delicacies included (there were zillions!)
Breads with Hummus, and also that Middle Eastern yogurt dip
Shrimp and Coconut Milk Soup
Shiitake Mushrooms and Watercress and Ginger with a Japanese sauce
Yogurt Vada (Indian savory doughnuts with a sweet yogurt sauce with delicate spices)
Chicken Tikka (grilled marinated Indian chicken) served with Mint Sauce
Grilled Eggplant and Mozzarella Salad
Shrimp and Cucumber in a French dressing
Oberoi's Own Smoked Meats, Sausages, served with Salads
Oberoi's Own Mineral Water
A made-to-order plate of swiss cheese, walnuts, and dried fruit
Tenderloin served with a bean ragout and polenta
Bay of Bengal Fish
Basil Mashed Potatoes
and for dessert amazing beauties like...
Peach and Ginger Parfait
Chocolate Pie
Berry and Chocolate Cake
Rasmalli (Indian milk sweet in a milky sauce topped with pistachios)
A northern South Asian dessert made of carmelized sugar and dried apricots
And of course we lingered over their own blends of Indian coffee for him, and tea for moi.

(Note that though this is a re-post from 2011, my husband recently had reason to visit India and found that the Oberoi is as marvelously perfect as ever!)

Shopping with kids and other people who eat your cooking; Or, A team approach to grocery shopping

This is related to the post where I wondered how we could best gather food for a temporary apartment, http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/12/eating-real-food-in-temporary-apartment.html , because this approach would also work for that. But it's also helpful for week-to-week or whatever grocery shopping.

I thought of it when my kids were in their late teens and said, ever so kindly (I really do have perfect kids, I'm serious) that they were not totally crazy about all the dinners I served. (Breakfasts and lunches, as I've done "forever," were always a matter of just keeping ingredients on hand for people to make themselves when they were ready.)  I right away came up with this idea, and they were very happy with it: We'd all share meal planning and cooking, with me doing at most every other day's dinner; there was always the option to order in if The In-Charge-of-Dinner Person of the Day were too busy or tired (this was in New York where we had a gazillion inexpensive delicious options of real food to be delivered piping hot to our apartment door pretty much more quickly than I could cook it myself).

Actually, it's no surprise I thought of that, because even when they were quite little I'd say in say the cereal aisle, "We're low on cereal -- each of you choose your own favorite, though remember someone else might eat some of it," or similar in the cheese section....

One could use this team approach when shopping for that temporary apartment too, or any home when you were really low on groceries, as long as you indeed had at least most of your "eaters" with you. Here's a basic idea for such an approach -- it would probably best be divided up before you get to the grocery store:

Each person gathers their own favorite breakfast ingredients, though if you need a lot of, say, milk and coffee, assign them to one person so you don't end up with 4x more milk and coffee than you could ever use.

Assign someone to gather very general items for lunches, like cheese, beans, tuna, bread, fruit, salad, or just the right number of decent TV dinners.

Each person gathers the ingredients for [a fair fraction] of the dinners they will plan and make. 

Assign someone else for your [other] basics, eg olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. 

Assign someone to get non-food basics, such as paper towels, dish soap...

Set a time to meet near the check-out counter to check out on the same bill, with the understanding if someone says there that they need more time you'll re-meet at a later time -- or of course if there aren't a million people to coordinate, just call each other on your cell phones if they work in that store.

Eating real food in a temporary apartment...

...We're going to be traveling sometime next year for a preliminary discovering of neighborhoods, in prep for buying a house in that wonderful city with so very many of Our Favorite People in the Whole Universe nearby. We'll be staying in a temporary furnished apartment...me for a week or so, my husband and the rest of the family for a month or so.

And of course we're going to have to eat.

But all our meticulously gathered spices and other basic ingredients will be sitting back in our current house, and I'm not in the position to replace all of them, especially since they won't stay fresh long enough if I have twice as many of them as I usually have. We also will have a very limited number of pots and pans and other cooking paraphernalia.

So, here's a preliminary grocery list for ourselves, to get say the morning after arriving in town, that does not involve long recipes with lots of doubling-up-in-two-homes-temporarily ingredients. I got inspired from http://www.thekitchn.com/eating-well-on-the-road-how-to-avoid-incessant-snacking-while-traveling-190907 and from a magazine article I saw in oh 2003ish. It has tasty food that's easy to prepare and -- very importantly -- easy to be inspired by, that will spark many nice dishes and often go well together. It also includes foods that just make us feel fabulous, though that's different for everybody.

a total of enough fruit and vegetables for us for x # of days, including:
fresh washed greens
any other crudités you see and like, eg cucumber
cleaned sliced mushrooms
fresh herbs (remembering you don't have a lot of spices etc sitting at your present home)
tomato if they're good
fresh fruit

nice bread
a treat or two, especially if this is a stressful time

olive oil
pepper in one of those disposable grinders
canned beans
canned tomatoes if fresh are not good right now
favorite cereal
cooked rice or polenta or other favorite grain(s)
favorite Italian appetizers such as caponata (be sure they're easy-open or you have a can opener)
olives, pickles, whatever you like
teas, coffee
  and anything you need for them such as sugar
dried fruits
a nice wine (be sure you have an opener or get a twist-top)
nuts, nut butters
your favorite chocolate
anything especially helpful for your favorite dish and/or way to use up leftovers (eg broth) thanks to Julie for this idea!

favorite cheese(s)
favorite juice(s)
(eggs if you have a good pan for them and use them enough)

broccoli, corn, other favorite frozen vegetables
real-food TV dinners if you see them
other real-food fabulous prepared food you might see
already-cooked or just prepared non-veg eg fish

total convenience
restaurant reservations/plans for at least 2x/week -- it would be a shame not to enjoy one of the biggest reasons we're moving there!

Any more ideas are very welcome! In fact, I'll update my own list and possibly this post with any I really want to try first...

Note: There's a different, looser appraoch I just posted at http://favoritefoodthisweek.blogspot.com/2014/12/shopping-with-kids-and-other-people-who.html .

This Week's (Not) Cookbooks

As I mention at my short-ish-term site http://walkingtocivilization.blogspot.com/2014/12/making-holidays-brightand-easy.html , because of the many things going on in our lives, including prep for a long move sometime next year! to a place with REAL RESTAURANTS and REAL FOOD SHOPS!!!!!! -- because we're just so busy with that, I've decided to order in lots of not convenience foods really, but lots of pre-chopped vegetables, ingredients already gathered for things like a sausage-roasted vegetable dinner, and well these are super convenient: amazing little cherry pies from a company called Tiny Pies that delivers your pies frozen, ready to pop into the oven when you're ready; they deliver at least here, I'm not sure where else: http://www.tinypies.com/ . Oh, what a darling storefront they have!

Happy days to everyone. Here's a retro holiday ad for you...

Légumes anciens de France

"Old-fashioned" vegetables as defined in a French ladies' magazine (Femme actuelle) from last year:
Jerusalem artichokes
heirloom carrots
and similar

They put them into a closed pastry along with, bien sûr, foie gras and truffles! and parsley and butter.

Has anyone seen this 1931 French movie?

This Week's Cookbooks

Several selections from the series from Weldon Owen Publishers' "of the Day" /"365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year" series (http://www.weldonowen.com/food-drink )...a clipping...another one of Jamie's miraculous meals as I call them, where for 30 or so minutes you follow his ideas and voilà you have a delicious meal complete with dessert!...a free meal plan I got from Clean Eating for my breakfast and lunch inspiration (I've given in and just finally bought a subscription which I hope starts to arrive real soon)...and a 1973ish cookbook Creative Cooking that taught me there's some truth in "all good things come to she who waits" -- the restaurant manager of a gorgeous Victorian seaside resort where I worked a bit during my undergrad days got this very book and brought it to show us at the front desk and I wanted it so bad but couldn't dream of paying its price -- but nowadays you can get it for a song....The cute "this week" printout is from some very talented artists over at etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkyGoodies -- oh wow, they actually have a discount code there at least today, and some new calendars!

Dreaming and philosophizing while you cook

From this month in Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow Daybook, after a discussion of ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, Keats, etc.:

Well, I think, as I carefully press two leaves of bay on the top of the meatloaf, who could ever say [cooking] is dull? It is packed with excitement. I have been to Athens, to Rome, and to...the mountains, all while stirring up a meatloaf.

This Week's Cookbooks

So many recipes looked easy as well as tasty in this month's eat in magazine from the UK that we'll be trying many of them this week/in the next 10ish days actually, as I'm still finding it works to plan for more than just a week of food for us, leaving me more time for other projects.

Also planning on a couple meals from Jamie's amazing 30-Minute Meals. 

And for retro inspiration for breakfasts and lunches, the very cool Chicago Record Cookbook from 1896. 

Various Approaches to Easier Meal Planning, Part Four: Fun Gimmicks

Sometimes all it takes is taking a break from one's normal meal plans and taking a more fun approach. My favorite gimmick is food dice, like these that I own from a great company, http://www.leafcutterdesigns.com/shop/recipedice.html :

These food dice also look very fun, and I love that the ideas are actually put into the wood rather than on stickers, and that they are all about seasons, http://www.foodiedice.com/ :

FYI, I've seen a few images of food dice online that you can just print out and use for free, and also have seen lists of what is on the dice, in case you wisely want to make your own featuring your own favorite foods! Hmm, perhaps you'd like to make custom sets for your friends, if you're looking for gift ideas!

There are fun digital gimmicks too. I just discovered this site, which also looks very promising for giving one fun ideas based on a taste quiz you take (fyi I think I made a mistake the first time I took the quiz -- it asked if I liked chocolate chip cookies, which I do, but I said no because I only eat them like once every three years, but they were looking more for if I liked the taste): http://www.mccormick.com/FlavorPrint