riding in taxis II



I totally judge a taxi by its fabric.

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lately



It has already been a month since I landed in Mumbai. A month! As usual, it is tricky to summarize an experience with a measurement of time alone; the everyday details are much more useful.

Instead of drinking coffee I drink tea and instead of photographing food I photograph the interiors of taxis and restaurants. I use limes instead of lemon to splash juice onto sliced apples, or into a hot cup of water. The sun sets shortly after 6pm and my use of the word 'evening' is confused and inconsistent. The month of November is nearly around the corner, and I have missed out on autumn's apples and scarves. However, I do appreciate not having to hand-wash tights, or trade in my bike for a metro-pass. And I definitely appreciate Mumbai's sweet limes, breezy tunics, and Parsi restaurants.


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riding in taxis I




The majority of taxis in Mumbai are black and yellow. The classic model is based on a 1950s Fiat and is the one that one sees the most. In addition, there is a more modern black and yellow version, as well as the blue "cool cab" with air conditioning. I prefer the classic 1950s style. Although these ones often are a bit bumpier, have outdated meters which requires paying close attention to the price and worn out door handles, they have the best fabric. The material may be cheap, but the patterns are rich and they often distract me from watching what is outside of the window.

The best part of traveling - other than eating, of course - is coming to notice new details. Through guide books one can easily become familiar with a city's most famous monuments and sites; however, it is only through physical experience that one meets a city's most memorable quirks.


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pie before leaving


I know that it is pie season in North America right now. The season starts with summer's freshest fruit and then peaks as the apples ripen and the leaves part from the trees. Autumn's pies are usually baked; whereas, the pie I ate the night before leaving for India was not. It was the end of September and the pie was frozen. It had key limes and whipped cream. It was just the type of pie one wants to eat at a good-bye dinner - its sweetness distracted me from feeling sad about saying farewell. It is impossible to feel sad when eating a slice of this frozen key lime pie. I promise.

It is also just the type of pie one wants to eat in India. There are key limes everywhere. However, I think that it would be a tad difficult for my cutting board, Swiss Army knife and I to pull this one off in my room at the guesthouse. Instead I hope that you'll make it and eat a slice (or three) for me.

This pie is also the reason why I made graham crackers. Store-bought will do just fine. However, if you find yourself with a day off and a few episodes of This American Life to catch up on I assure that making graham crackers is nearly fun as eating them.

Frozen Key Lime Pie

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

Filling

6 egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp grated key lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (about 20 key limes)


Decoration

1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of ground vanilla
lime wedges, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into a pie plate making sure that is the same thickness on the sides and on the bottom. Bake until firm and golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

While the crust is cooling, beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixture on high speed. Beat for about 5 minutes or until very thick. This step is very important. Once the mixture is thick, add the condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice. Mix on medium speed. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Wrap well with plastic wrap (at least two layers) and then place in the freezer while you make the decoration.

On high speed, whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and keep whipping until firm. Spoon the whipped cream onto the pie and then decorate with thin slices of key limes. Wrap well and then freeze overnight.

Remove from the freezer about half an hour before serving.

Guten!


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sweeter than most


I would like to introduce you to my new favourite juice. It is freshly squeezed at a juice stall just down the street and I crave it a lot. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have known it already; I wasn't, until last week. Meet sweet lime juice. I think that if you try it you'll start craving it a lot, too.

When I was first introduced to citrus limetta I thought that it was perhaps a Meyer lemon but with a different name. And I love Meyer lemons. However, a Meyer lemon is not a true lemon but a cross between a lemon and a sweet orange. Sweet lime is the real deal. So, thank you India for introducing me to sweet limes.

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a cookie that's called a cracker



It is hard for me to believe that just over a week ago I was in Munich baking graham crackers. It feels like light years away. It is even harder to believe that in addition to baking graham crackers, I was dressed in a dirndl and biking to Oktoberfest. A week later and now I wake up to the sound of honking and a loud air conditioner. Fortunately, I have always loved cities, including the sounds that they make. Instead of wearing a dirndl, I get dressed in traditional, Indian clothes each morning and instead of baking graham crackers I make salads on my desk with a Swiss Army knife and a small cutting board (more on that later, I promise).

I hadn't planned on making graham crackers. A few days before leaving Munich I walked by my local Indian grocer and noticed that between their usual piles of fruit they were selling key limes. Key limes! For a long time lemon meringue pie was my absolute favourite pie. It was the one dessert I would ask my Babchai to make after coming home from abroad. But then last year I made a frozen key lime pie. I made it for a big backyard barbecue I had in Toronto just before moving to Sweden. I will always love lemon meringue pie (a classic is a classic is a classic), but after the first bite into this frozen I couldn't get key limes off of my mind (or off of my fork).

I bought the key limes and decided to make this pie. I want to call it leaving pie because I have only made it right before a trip, or a move. I also promise to tell you more about this so called leaving pie another time. This post is about a cookie that's called a cracker. I'll just say that said pie has a graham cracker crust. Good luck finding graham crackers in Germany. Maybe you'll be lucky; I was not.

I had considered making the graham crackers myself, but it seemed silly to carefully roll out the dough and to bake it, only to then smash it into crumbs. After all, we can't do it all and Nigel Slater thinks that we are sad if we try to (nothing wrong with a store bought dessert, like ice cream with frozen smarties, he says, as long as you don't skimp out on the main). I wrote graham crackers on my grocery list and then began the search for them across Munich. I came home with some butter and brown sugar instead.

My partner had never tried graham crackers before and as we rolled out the dough together and made little holes with chop sticks, I was grateful that I did not find the pre-crumbled boxed version. Baking requires you to be present. You can't leave cookies in the oven. You have to commit to watching them go from a few ingredients to a dough to a baked good. Baking rarely requires a lot of time; however, I think that I like it so much because because it requires sometime to just be present. I'll miss Canadian Thanksgiving this year, but I am happy that I got to snack on something that tastes like home as I packed my bags to move once again.

So why are these called crackers when they clearly taste like (and are) cookies? Oh North America, you and your mysterious ways. I am thankful for you.


Graham Crackers

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose-flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
7 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp milk
a good pinch of ground vanilla bean

Topping

1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp coarse sugar

In a food processor pulse together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and add. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Alternatively, mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the butter. Use a pastry knife or two butter knives to cut the ingredients together.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse/mix just until the dough comes together. Dust a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap with some flour, then lay the dough on top and pat it into a rectangle. Wrap well and chill for about two hours (or overnight).

When you are ready to roll out the crackers, mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Take half of the dough out of the fridge and leave the other half in to continue to chill. On a well floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is about 1/8 inch thick. Use a ravioli cutter, a knife, or any other cookie cutting device to cut out the crackers. Then use chop sticks or something similar to pierce several holes into each cracker. Place the crackers on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a plate) and transfer to the freezer for 15-20 minutes. While the first batch is chilling, roll out the second. At this point also preheat the oven to 350F, 180C.

When the crackers are slightly firm, remove them from the freezer and transfer them to a cookie sheet if you used a plate, or directly into the oven if they are already on a cookie sheet. Bake until they are slightly firm to touch and evenly browned, about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your oven.

Guten!

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a jam made from peppers


The Bread Exchange was back in Munich two weeks ago and once again I knew that I wanted to make something that tastes exciting and that keeps well in a glass jar. Last time it was fig mustard. This time I decided on red pepper jelly.

I had actually forgotten about red pepper jelly. No matter how hard I try, I cannot remember the last time I ate it. It was probably years ago at some holiday party and it was probably served with cream cheese and crackers. It is strange how you can go years without eating something and then the thought of it lands in your head. The thought is so strong that it sets off a bomb that can only be stopped by giving into this craving. The truth is that I could not even remember if I particularly liked red pepper jelly the last time I had it years ago, but as soon as that thought set up camp in my mind I knew I had to make it and it turns out that I love the stuff. It is an addictive combination of spicy and sweet.

I also did not realize that red pepper jelly is a North American thing. I am not even certain that it is, but I do know that I have never seen it in a European grocery store and that the Europeans I mentioned it to had never heard of it.

Most jelly recipes call for pectin; however, I did not have luck finding it in my closest German grocery store. The country seems more into jams than into jellies. I used a jam sugar instead. This recipe is based on using this sugar, but if you can find some apple pectin use it. The technique for making it will be quite different, so you should probably consult a more traditional jelly recipe (one that adds the pectin after boiling and straining the peppers). That said, the flavour of this jelly is dreamy so I recommend using the same ingredients, but just adapting the cooking technique. In fact, my partner said it was the best thing that I made all summer. Considering how much I cook, that is quite the statement.


Red Pepper Jelly

Ingredients

4 red peppers
1 1/4 cups jam sugar
1 chili pepper, seeded if you don't want a spicy jelly
2 tbsp pineapple
a pinch of salt
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Wash the peppers (including the chili pepper) well and thinly dice them into small cubes. Seed the chili pepper if you wish (I seeded half of the pepper). Throw the peppers into a large mixing bowl with the sugar. Cut the pineapple into small chunks too and then add it. Toss with in a generous pinch of salt and let the pepper mixture sit for at least three hours, or overnight.

Once the mixture has had the opportunity to sit pour, it into a large pot and add the apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until it reaches a desired consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and place into clean jars.* The jelly will thicken as it cools.


Serve with soft cheeses and fresh bread, or Swedish flatbread.


*If you wish, sterilize the jars while you cook the jelly by boiling them in a large pot of hot water for 10 minutes. When the jelly is ready, spoon the jelly into the hot jars with a ladle and then tightly secure them with a lid. Return the jars to the boiling water and leave them in for 10 minutes. That said, this jelly is so good that you will probably eat it quite quickly so you can most likely skip this step.


Guten!

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