Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Happy 2012! Sorry for the long radio silence. I began teaching at the local community college last August and it absolutely consumed me. I knew it would be quite a bit of work since it was my first time teaching and I only got officially hired a few days before the semester began. Between learning the administrative side of things, refreshing my knowledge of the subject matter (veterinary medical technology), and adapting the existing course materials, I had a lot of preparing to do. And with a group of 48 students, the core classroom activities and grading were a logistical nightmare throughout the term. It shouldn't be so bad the next time around but for the past few months I've done only the bare minimum on anything other than school stuff.

After I submitted final grades in mid-December, I began to look forward to once again spending time on the farm (outside--not chained to my computer), hanging with the buffs, cooking, and blogging. Of course, there was the small matter of the holidays to contend with first. We kept it mostly simple and quiet, catching up with friends here and family by phone. In the coming days, I'll be posting about some of what we've been up to on the farm since last August. For now, let's begin at the end: our New Year's feast.

We stuck with old favorite recipes from Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij . This has to be our all-time favorite cookbook. It is stuffed with delicious recipes from multiple countries/cultures (from China to the Mediterranean and everything in between)--not one of which feels like it comes from a "vegetarian" cookbook. I never notice the absence of meat in these dishes and none of the recipes feels like a poor imitation of or substitution for something else. A few of the ingredients are hard to find but nothing that can't be ordered on the intertubes with a little advance planning.

Our menu for New Year's (half prepared on the Eve and half prepared on the Day) included:

Tashkent Daikon and Pomegranate Salad
Kermani Pistachio Soup with Pomegranate Seeds
Aremenian Bulgur and Pomegranate Stuffed Grapevine Leaves
Levantine Pilaf in Pastry

The latter is something that I've been craving for a long time--the mix of rice, almonds, apricots, raisins, and carrots with spices and a hint of rosewater all baked together in phyllo is the most addictive and attractive side dish. I love to make pies be they for the main course or dessert and this is the only side-dish pie in my repertoire.

Mmmmm.....pie. Maybe someday I'll do a theme dinner where every course is some sort of pie. Yeah, I think I'm being unduly influenced by the daily Facebook postings from my favorite pie shop The Right Slice.....

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