It's another icy morning, minute morsels of sunlight scattering like stars in the air and deep cold, an icy wind that goes right to the bones and threatens to ossify one's whole metabolism, the parts not already frozen in place, that is. The situation is underwhelming to say the least, and I am not alone in my disgruntlement. When I tried to entice Spencer into going outside a few minutes ago, he peered out into the garden, gave me a filthy look, turned his back on the door (and me) and trotted back to bed. Crossing the parking lot at the cancer clinic was downright unpleasant this morning.
What to do? At times like these, exotic spices and culinary offerings from faraway places go dancing through one's sconce and clattering about in the pantry. The quick fix for such a day is frothy cappuccino or latte in a bright mug and a stack of favorite cookbooks. This morning's selection includes the works below, but others will certainly be added to the pile before I plunk myself down in the Morris chair to ponder and scheme. How many cookbooks can one female read at a go?
Beyond the Great Wall, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Rivers of Flavor, Naomi Duguid
The Heart of the Plate, Mollie Katzen
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, Claudia Roden
Arabesque, Claudia Roden
Everyday Greens, Annie Somerville
The Vegetarian Epicure (Vols 1 and 2) Anna Thomas
The Art of Simple Food (Vols 1 and 2), Alice Waters
The Food of Morocco, Paula Wolfert
Mediterranean Grains and Greens, Paula Wolfert
Rebecca Katz's gorgeous cookbooks are in a stack of their own - I am reading them from from cover to cover and savoring every mouthwatering recipe and vibrant image. The five volumes are a treasure trove of knowledge about using good food to battle cancer and get through chemotherapy, to maintain a healthy mind and live a long and robust life. They are also a feast for body and soul. On days when I can't stand even looking at food, Rebecca's recipes delight the eyes and nudge my taste buds back to life. I can't praise her work enough, and there is a link to her online presence in my sidebar.
I feel an Asian concoction coming on today, something improvised and redolent of aromatic spices, and whatever I stir up will likely contain saffron or turmeric, perhaps pomegranate seeds, an anise star or two. We have cultivated autumn blooming crocuses in our garden for years and try to harvest our own saffron threads for winter culinary exercises, but squirrels love the stuff as much as we do and are always making off with the corms. Here I am again, pondering how to protect the colony of Crocus sativus sleeping under the deep snow in our garden. If I can just protect the little dears until they bloom in September...
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 to be sure - perhaps my saffron threads and wishful stirrings will be heard by Lady Spring, wherever she is hiding at the moment. If not, well, the dazzling reds and oranges and yellows on my old wooden cutting board are almost indecently sumptuous, and they make my heart glad.