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September 22, 2002
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Spices, Herbs, and Other Food Stuff

Today was mostly a cooking day.

It started, though, with listening to a Muslim speak about her religion and the situation in America as she sees it. It was very interesting. She's been speaking in our church all of yesterday and this morning with the education classes, and she's pretty impressed that we're trying so hard to learn what we can. I was glad of that. She made some very telling points, was mildly humorous, and got a lot of people thinking. It's a good thing.

We also did hit the Belgium bakery in the morning and while I think we've found an interesting place for desserts, it's not anything like Pacific Desserts. They did, however, have pleasant mochas, good pastries, and Jet loved the Javanese cake. He wouldn't eat the plain brioche the lady recommended, he went right for the tiny, rich butter cake with half a dozen tiny layers between mocha buttercream with a ganache topping. "Ahhh!" as soon as he saw it.

After church, we hit a new Indian grocery store on Main Street, right in Longmont. They are going to be a restaurant as well, but for now they're just a grocery and I was looking for some very specific Indian spices for the recipe that Sudipto's wife had given me. They didn't have one of them, but they did have another of them. They also had powdered coconut, hot mango chutney, and frozen samosas. I'm going to have to think through the samosas, sometime. A whole dozen seems to be a bit much for us, especially when I don't know how well they've made theirs.

I will be glad when they're restaurant is open. The lady that was there was very friendly and helpful and she said that the spice they didn't have was something they had ordered for their next shipment. So I should look here again in a few weeks. I have plenty of the spice for a few iterations of the dish, so I'm set, but I wanted to see what they might have in the long run.

Then again, when I do buy the stuff, I might take some of it and give the rest to Sudipto's wife, as I certainly won't use it quickly enough to be sure it doesn't fade before I finish with it.

Jet did great there, and in the parking lot he ran around after his shadow. He loves chasing his shadow and he liked stepping on John's shadow or mine. He had done well at church, and guest speaker had said, "Wow. This one is all here. You can see it in the eyes, he knows what's going on..." Jet was watching her closely and then gave her his thousand watt smile. Hee.

She also said that while she's had a bunch of kids and everyone says that she's good with them, she doesn't like kids. They don't have rules, and they don't behave like everyone else. Kids make you adjust to them. She doesn't like that. That struck me as far more honest than the folks that never examine that fact.

From there we headed home. Jet nursed and went down for a nap of exactly ten minutes. By the time my lunch was heated he was up again, and nibbling out of my bao. John had lunch while I was nursing Jet. He and Jet went outside to do stuff to the yard while I made some yeast dough for char shao bao. It was the yeast and baking powder dough from the Chinese Snacks book of Chinese cookbooks my mom and sister got for me. They have both Chinese and English instructions, which is nice.

When the dough was made, I made the thick, gooey coating for the meat, and then chopped up the char shao that I'd bought at Pacific Ocean. It wasn't quite as caramelized or fragrant as I was used to, but it would do. Better than what I could get from the local Safeway. Which might not be saying too much.

I was thinking of transplanting my rosemary and parsley today, but the herbs were looking so healthy and happy from being outside in the coolness of the last few weeks, that I didn't have the heart to dig them up. A little frost probably won't kill the rosemary off, as it's pretty hardy; but I'll have to watch the weather forecasts pretty closely. It's getting far too close to the point where we're getting tipped over into freezes.

I got to let Jet water the herbs. He was very glad and very cute hauling around a full sized rake for John. He had his baseball hat on and was just walking around like a little man just doing stuff. He liked being given the watering can to haul over to the box and he used both hands to haul up on the back end of it to get the water to come out. It's fun to encourage him to do stuff.

By the time we were done with that, with swinging, and with some playing on the patio, the yeast dough had tripled in bulk. I wrapped a dozen bao and steamed them.

Then I started on the steamed roll, since I had the garlic chives from Pacific Ocean. The rolls have eggs, smashed dried shrimp, transparent noodles, garlic chives, dehydrated shitaki, spinach, and cooked ground pork. It takes a while just to prep all the stuff. Then it's a hot water dough, and it's just all rolled up jellyroll style. Then steamed for half an hour, so it was past eight when I finished. We enjoyed everything a lot. The bao were an appetizer, and then we ate a third of a roll each. Jet got a few inches for himself, which he tucked into very happily. I was impressed that he ate the spinach, pork and everything together. He liked all the little bits of stuff, and ate lots of stuff.

I'm glad.

We'll have to see how he does tonight after not napping at all. He seems to build up a huge sleep deficit and then he sleeps well for several days and nights in a row. Sometimes the sleepless lights light up with teeth, sometimes it seems to be with the moon, but he usually gets better after he gets worse for a while. I can hope.

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