Our meals for the past few months have been pretty simple; rice, a salad or a few veggies sautéed quickly with some garlic and ginger, a bit of roast chicken, maybe an egg that I boiled in it’s shell along with the rice, or a few slices of tofu fried until golden. A splash of soya sauce, a drizzle of spiced cane vinegar, a smattering of fresh chilies and a squeeze of calamansi.
There might be a few nights where I cook noodles in lieu of rice or I fry the leftover rice from the night before with whatever veggies are left in the fridge. I’ve made spaghetti twice this year, once using a store-bought sauce, we’ve eaten maybe 6 potatoes between us. Meals have been about hunger, not so much about enjoyment. After a long, hot, frustrating day that’s all I can muster, and quite frankly all I want.
That is until this past week or so.
I haven’t wanted to cook, so much as bake, something I haven’t done since I was back in Canada. I want to make cookies and cakes and elaborate desserts. And I could care less about eating them, I could easily give all my hard work away. (OK maybe a bite of cake, or a couple slices of fresh bread…just for quality control purposes, of course.)
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When Steve returns from a stint away working he always brings me a few special things. This time it was some fancy hand cream, a couple chocolate bars from duty-free (chocolate is expensive in this part of the world), a can of ready-to-eat hummus, a small bottle of perfume and a bottle of hazelnut butter. An eclectic mix, but he knows me oh too well.
Also tucked into his one small piece of checked luggage was a present to me from a friend, fellow sailor and chef; a box of Spanish saffron. Small, useful, exotic and a little too extravagant to buy for myself, it was a lovely surprise and very thoughtful boat gift. Even before I unwrapped the plastic I could smell the unique perfume wafting through the boat.
Saffron is actually the stigma of crocus flower, crocus sativus. This particular crocus will not produce seeds needed to reproduce naturally and is particularly fussy about the conditions it grows in, so the whole process of producing saffron requires time consuming human intervention. Not to mention that the harvesting of the tiny, fragrant stigma is still done by hand. Continue reading →