I was spoiled this week.
Wednesday - I twirled to First Aid Kit, a two-girl Americana band hailing from Sweden. A string quarter joined them, and as they sang the The Lion's Roar, massive headbanging ensued.
Thursday - Cathy gave me a set of baby balsamic vinegars for tiny tastes and samples! For no reason! I also went into Williams and Sonoma for the first time this holiday season and while I'm trying not to be so much of a consumer, oh my goodness did I want everything. There were dutch ovens and emersion blenders and stand-mixers of the palest blue. As I get older, this is what I envision Santa's workshop to look like. With the addition peppermint white russians.
Friday - I ate Indian food.
Correction, I learned how to make Indian food, straight from food and travel writer Simon Majumdar. One of the subtitles on Simon's website says, "Go everywhere. Eat everything." He's a judge on Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, and The Next Iron Chef, and a poet when it comes to detailing the nourishment of food and exploration.
Simon (the sweet guy!) agreed to do some videos for Salted, one of the companies I'm currently freelancing for. Mostly my work has me A) curled up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa, researching the history of the pomegranate, or B) in the office, this time likely with chai, and writing out Thanksgiving Day recipes. However, Friday was spent in the best possible way: setting up camp in the airy loft of littlemeatsLA for a day of filming Simon serving up some classic Indian dishes.
Over the course of nine hours, we learned how to temper oil, to roast and grind spices, to make garam masala, to make naan, and to make paneer. We also learned the recipes for chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, a lime/garlic/ginger/chile yogurt sauce, and saag paneer. Cardamom, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves danced in the air as we moved through the shoots, pausing to change refill water bottles and sample some of Simon's brilliant creations.
"Look how sexy that is," Simon said, gesturing to the spice pods, dried chiles, and cinnamon sticks laying seductively in a white bowl. He was right. They WERE sexy. Like, man-bun level of sexy.
Now, I know I was technically working. Simon in particular was moving with a super-human level of endurance. But there was something about this process that felt so utterly cozy. The lofty kitchen of littlemeatsLA provided our day's nest and offered all of the kitchen supplies we could possibly need (someone did their Williams and Sonoma shopping). There was a sense of community as we navigated across the counters, refilling jars with kashmir chili and cream so that Simon could continue onto the next recipe. Even washing dishes triggered the memory of Thanksgiving Day back in my home of Northern Virginia. I had that same feeling that I should be overwhelmed with the amount of dishes, but instead I felt lucky to even be in the kitchen in the first place. It's a good place to be.
By the time the sun dipped beyond the horizon, Simon had prepared his final dishes, and we were sampling his homemade naan. There was a warm lick of butter across the top of the surface, and the pillowy interior rocked me in a gentle massage. Light fell from the high bulbs of the loft onto the wooden tables, and the remaining warmth from the burner echoed throughout the room.
Every time I practice yoga, I set a small mission for myself to keep through the day. Most recently I've been focusing on awareness and gratitude, because there's really no point for me not to feel either. As I scooped up my remaining saag paneer with a wedge of the naan, I felt a wave of both sensations. The naan offered more than a jolt of energy; it gave me gratitude for the moment, awareness of every sensation, and tremendous appreciation for the flavor of life.
Some more of Simon's recipes can be found here. I certainly recommend trying the saag paneer. In addition to being sexy, it's also downright delicious.
Saturday morning links!
// littlemeatsLA is where we filmed Simon's shoot. It's a sweet little creative space that allows for artists and chefs to collaborate with one another, and is on a mission to bring back the Sunday Supper vibe.
// how famous artists would plate Thanksgiving Day meals
Remember chugging the leftover chocolate milk from Cocoa Pebbles? Megan turned it into a grown-up dessert. //
// I want to live in a cake terrarium
Mama makes beautiful lunchbag art for the littles one //
// Aphrodite's Kitchen is now one of my go-to blogs for beautiful pictures and collages. Her stories of Cyprus read like fairy tales.