|At least I don't have to crack and grate them by hand.|
If I want fancy stuff like, I don't know, melons, prosciutto, dark chocolate, or French cheese, I go to Whole Foods and buy everything else on my list there, although if we need paper towels, I decide we can go another week without them. I can't bring myself to buy paper towels at Whole Foods when they are so much cheaper at Safeway.
Thursday was a Whole Foods day. I had filled my cart and was looking for sweetened coconut because I was making a Lane cake from my new copy of Southern Cakes and it calls for coconut. There was no coconut in the baking aisle, so I asked a clerk where they kept their sweetened shredded coconut.
He said, "Actually, we only have unsweetened coconut. You should probably know we're not really into sweetened products here."
Gosh. So foolish to assume that a store devoting half its shelf space to gluten-free Oreo knockoffs, chocolate-coated energy bars, organic toaster pastries, grape Vitamin Water, and soy ice cream would sell something as gross as sweetened shredded coconut.
Why can't one of the supermarkets in this town sell both good fish and sweetened coconut? Bulk beans and affordable dishwasher soap? Camembert and Snickers bars?
My life is very hard.
Lots and lots of cashews in Suriani cooking, and The Suriani Kitchen includes a recipe for a fresh cashew saute. Thursday night I made cashew chicken which involves cubed chicken breast, onion, yogurt, spices, and cashew paste. Lathika George makes clear that no component can be allowed to brown "as this will add color to the creamy whiteness of the dish." I allowed nothing to brown and the dish was indeed very white, almost scarily white. Tasty, though. There were the usual timing/quantity glitches I have come to expect from The Suriani Kitchen, but I can usually work around them. She calls for 8 chicken breasts to serve 4 people, which is way too much chicken. You need 4 chicken breasts (actually, chicken breast halves) to serve 4 people. Not a big deal.
This was not my experience of parotta. What I made was more like stiff pita and useless for soaking up the delicious cashew gravy. My fault? The recipe? I'm fascinated by George's roster of rice-based breads and pancakes, but they almost all call for "roasted rice flour" which I have yet to track down.
For dessert we had the Lane cake. It was fantastic, a vanilla layer cake filled with a rich, supersweet custard of egg yolk, sugar, butter, chopped raisins, pecans, coconut and bourbon, and topped with fluffy white icing. I didn't take any pictures, but this is how a proper Lane cake looks.
On another subject, I reviewed T. Coraghessan Boyle's San Miguel for NPR's web site. It's a terrific book. The heroines would probably give their eye teeth for any supermarket at all.
Today, we resumed work on our oven. The brick arch is giving me a lot of heartache.