Another icy morning, minute morsels of sunlight scattered like stars, a deep cold that goes right to the bones and threatens to ossify one's whole metabolism - the parts not already frozen in place by Lady Winter, that is. The situation is underwhelming to say the least, and I am not alone in my feelings. When I tried to entice Spencer into going out a few minutes ago, he peered out into the garden, gave me a filthy look, turned his back on the door and trotted back to bed.
What to do? On days like this, exotic spices and culinary offerings from faraway places go dancing through one's sconce. The quick fix for a cold day is a nice long sit, frothy cappuccino or latte in a bright mug and a stack of favorite cookbooks. So far, the morning's selection includes the tomes below, but others are bound to be added to the pile before I plunk myself down to ponder and scheme. Here is a koan of sorts.... How many cookbooks can one female read at a go? Does it matter?
Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Mangoes and Curry Leaves, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
The Seductions of Rice, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Beyond the Great Wall, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Rivers of Flavor, Naomi Duguid
Sunlight Cafe, Mollie Katzen
The Greens Cookbook, Deborah Madison
Savory Ways, Deborah Madison
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison
Full Moon Feasts, Jessica Prentice
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, Claudia Roden
Arabesque, Claudia Roden
Everyday Greens, Annie Somerville
Fields of Greens, Annie Somerville
The Vegetarian Epicure (Volumes 1 & 2) Anna Thomas
The Art of Simple Food (Volumes 1 & 2), Alice Waters
The Food of Morocco, Paula Wolfert
Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Paula Wolfert
I feel a fiery Asian concoction coming on, something filled with color and redolent of aromatic spices - whatever I batch up this morning will likely contain saffron and a little curry, perhaps an anise star or two. We cultivated autumn blooming crocuses in our garden for years, and we harvested our own saffron threads for winter culinary exercises, but squirrels cleaned out every single specimen last year. I am pondering how to protect the nursery of Crocus sativus sleeping under deep snow below the kitchen window.
Exotic culinary creations evoke sunlight and warmer climes, and they're welcome on a winter day when one can't run around outside with a camera, and even her canine soulmate refuses to go out. There is an element of ritual to this morning's activities - perhaps my saffron threads and wishful stirrings will be heard by Lady Spring, wherever she is at the moment. If not, well, the dazzling reds and oranges and yellows on my old wooden cutting board are downright sumptuous.