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February 13, 2007

Chinese five-spice powder (Recipe: vegetable medley with five-spice dip) {vegan}

Fivespice

Can you name:

The five W's? (who, what, where, when, why)

The five senses? (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste)

The five elements? (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water)

The five flavors? (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty)

The five spices in Chinese five-spice powder?

Er....uh.....um....

Stumped?

Star anise, clove, fennel, cinnamon (or cassia), and Szechuan pepper comprise the only common spice blend in Chinese cookery. India has its masalas; the Mideast and Africa give us berbere and baharat, harissa and ras el hanout. From France comes the incomparable quatre-epices. And America offers barbecue dry rubs of infinite variation, and crab boil.

Continue reading "Chinese five-spice powder (Recipe: vegetable medley with five-spice dip) {vegan}" »

September 26, 2006

Coconut milk (Recipe: Thai tofu and winter squash stew) {vegetarian}

Coconutmilk

A few years ago, Ted and I visited Trinidad, where we stayed with a family in the town of Arima, a lively Afro-Caribbean community in the center of the country.

Each day we'd set off on explorations, to the Asa Wright Bird Sanctuary, a steel pan competition, the tar pits in the south, or the capital city, Port-of-Spain. And everywhere we went, we passed open-back trucks parked along the side of the road, with hand-lettered signs:

ICE COLD NUTS

Sometimes,

COLD NUTS

and, occasionally,

$1 NUTS.

The nuts were ripe green giant coconuts, and when you purchased one, the seller would hack off the top with a machete. He'd stick a straw in it and hand it to you, like an oversized tropical drink at a tiki bar, and you could sip the very cold liquid inside — entirely refreshing in the hot Caribbean climate.

I was expecting coconut milk, the stuff that comes in a can. Instead, out came coconut water, also referred to as coconut juice or milk, though it's not milk at all.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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