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Sunday, January 29, 2012

sunday disasters at my kitchen


**Tea** I'm now indulging in: earl gray with condensed milk, saffron, rose water, & cinnamon powder (a.k.a: AMAZING! If you've never had anything like this before, you better try it or else I'll serve you plain black coffee instead of **tea** in my future posts!). What **tea** do you want me to serve you today?

Speaking of **tea**, I bumped into a recipe today from The Daily Meal which involves cooking shrimps with jasmine green tea. I had never in my life heard about the concept of using tea leaves for cooking lol but I'd love to experiment with making this! Have any of you ever cooked with **tea**? If so, what kinds of **tea** have you used and with what dishes? If not, is it something you'd like to try out?

I know I have promised to post reflections about Zeenat's article in my last blog post, but I decided to instead tell you about a recent idea I began implementing last week (in fact, it is a more suitable topic to transition to from the previous paragraph).

As some of you may know, I have been putting off teaching myself to cook proper dishes for quite a while and every time I make a commitment to cook at home more often, I just do it for a week or two and then stop. Aside from the few friends who are great cooks (in fact, one of them tends to post pictures of her, her friends, and/or her brother's cooking on Facebook that make me fume with envy and hunger! >,< (You know who you are!!)) or those who cook occasionally, many of my friends face similar dilemmas...that is why I decided to create a weekly event called "Sunday Disasters @ Reema's Kitchen" in which I invite my friends to cook at my place every Sunday.

Why are such days called "disasters"? That is because the challenge for those who come over to cook is to make something they've never done in their lives (that was the reason why I was browsing The Daily Meal to begin with...). In this way, not only are we each motivated to cook by doing it in a fun environment together, but we'll each learn something new in the process. Neither me nor the guests need to plan what we want to make beforehand; we could browse the online magazines and podcasts I have here from my laptop on the day of each event and whatever we don't have we can get from a large supermarket right across the street from my building. Furthermore, whatever tools I'm lacking to make a particular dish, we can get from another store that is also right across the street from my building (this was all meant to be! :-D).

Why Sundays? I thought that since Mondays are the first day of school and work in America, whatever food that doesn't get eaten from our event we can have for lunch on either Monday or Tuesday (it's typically best not to keep leftover meals for longer than 2 or 3 days) instead of eating out (most of my friends don't live on campus so they don't use the dining hall too often). Also, since I have told too many people (as in brother who lives with me freaked out when I told him!) about this weekly event and I don't want too many to come over in each day (*Sigh* the cost of having many friends...) I thought that making this happen on Sundays, the day when college students get homework and studies done or rest up before beginning work/school on Mondays (and even if they do go out, they don't typically do so to party and get drunk...), is a good solution.

Last week, while I was looking for recipes for the First Disaster, I bumped into an article in Endless Simmer about progressive dinners. As great an idea this sounds, most of my friends don't live near me and even if they did, it gets very cold in Boston's winters (though this winter had its unusually warm days). I shared this here as I thought that perhaps one of you **tea mates** and **tea guests** may consider doing something like this if you haven't ;-) .

Below are pictures of what we ended up making for the 1st Disaster last week in which only 3 people showed up although on Facebook 7 claimed to be attending and 4 more said that they may attend (see? Inviting 23 college students to my place on Sundays wasn't too bad an idea!). Regardless of the limited amount of people who made it, it was still so much fun! It was so fun that I even enjoyed washing the dishes (one of my most detested household chores) and cleaning the kitchen counter afterwards both of which made me reflect on all the effort we exerted and joy we shared to make and consume each dish!

Before sharing the pictures, I forgot to mention that two of my friends who made the appetizers broke the rule and made dishes they were familiar with. It was me and the third guest who made dishes completely foreign to us, both of which were part of the main course (as you will see, her dish ended in a slight "disaster" but we still enjoyed the end result!). For dessert, we just had tea and cookies. Oh and by the way, the picture at the top of this blog post is us 4 cooking together (I'm the one with the blue jallabiyya!). My brother took the pictures (with his new Canon EOS Rebel T3i) and helped a little.


French Onion Soup

Main Course

My mussels! This was the first time I've ever cooked any form of shellfish in my life! It was surprisingly easy. I'm very proud of how this one turned out though I wish I added less water while steaming the mussels and allowed the chickpeas to soak and boil longer. Here is the recipe I used (the cook in the video claims this is a Moroccan dish...can anyone confirm?). Instead of white wine, I used water, freshly squeezed lemon juice, & olive oil. For spices, I used thyme, garlic, oregano, coriander, cinnamon, chilli powder, & saffron. In boiling the chickpeas, I did it alongside two or three of the spices mentioned. Afterwards, when I mixed it with the mussels, I added more of the same along with the rest of the other spices.  Here is an article and a video about cooking and storing mussels in general.

Now this was meant to be an onion and spinach quiche....unfortunately though, my friend spilled the egg and cream mix on the counter and she ended up making what is more like a spinach and onion pizza!

I shared all these pictures in my Facebook and those who couldn't attend were envious and asked if I was doing another disaster the upcoming week or the week after! In this week (as in tomorrow), only two or three people responded to the Facebook invite as most of them are having very busy semesters or have had other plans in place I'm not sure how many of them will truly attend! Regardless of whether anyone ends up actually coming or not, I will still cook tomorrow. In fact, I plan to make this except with walnuts instead of pumpkin seeds. To conclude, I hope that this entry will inspire those of you who, like me, are either too lazy to cook or just have no time to do so but plenty of time to hang out with friends to do weekly disasters in your kitchens!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

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