Photo: Our cooking instructor in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
She is holding two small but potent peppers.
The Internet tells me Spring is still three days away, but already I am planning ways to celebrate its arrival. Unlike New Years, which pitches me into deep contemplations about humanity and my life path, Spring is a much more manageable transition. For the same reason, it is also more joyful. No high expectations to live up to, no austere, self-imposed rules to live by. Just a few pleasurable moments punctuating long spells of Microsoft Word.
This year, I'm thinking-with the exception of work-small goals, low expectations, and immediate gratification. I don't mean clothing or exotic trips. I mean food. Here's the list I brainstormed this morning. My stomach is now grumbling. Off to the market!
- Something Sweet | How does someone with a slight aversion to sugary treats have such a penchant for baking? I don't know. Maybe I like predictable results and precision-the measured cups, the nested bowls, the precisely timed bake. So what to make? I tire of cookies. Maybe a pie? Ah, but who will eat it? You're looking at the person who took a week to finish a Ritter's chocolate bar.
- Preserved Lemons | I've heard whispers of these lemons from friends and food blogs. Now, thanks to NYT's easy DIY method, I feel it is doable.
- Asparagus | I'm trying to think of a spring-worthy dish. Asparagus would be the perfect vegetable, and risotto is the first dish that comes to mind. But what else?
- Salmon Cakes | My old roommate introduced me to these cakes. Seafood isn't something I exactly crave, so I was unfamiliar with the seafood counter at Whole Foods. But these cakes are addicting*. And now, thanks to a boyfriend who loves seafood so much he has regular dreams about fishing, I do stop by the seafood counter. Out of habit.
* My only gripe is that the recipe calls for canned salmon, and I have some misgivings about canned foods (despite the fact that I still use canned products).
- Tomatoes | I don't relish tomatoes straight up the way some people do, and the last word you will hear from my mouth is "heirloom." But I remember a sauce cooking class from several years back, and how much I like bolognese, and how tomatoes can be worked into so many dishes, and...yeah, I like tomatoes.
- Prik khi nu (Thai chili pepper) | My first attempt at growing these failed, but lucky for me, there is an entire packet of seeds left. These small peppers are not readily available at your neighborhood grocery store, but their intense spiciness is essential to many a Thai curry or sauce.