PFB#2: Grace at the Table
I start this post by dedicating it in the memory of my grandma, she passed on peacefully Saturday morning (25/09/2010), looking as radiantly beautiful as she always was.
Muthy, my grandma, had lived to 103. Her life’s journey has been a marvelous one in all aspects. Born in a nondescript village in southern India, the eldest girl in her family, she was essentially the primary caregiver to all the siblings that arrived after her – her own mother was busy with pregnancies and deliveries year after year. She married my grandfather when she was 17 or 18, he was undoubtedly her first and only love, much older than her, once married, a handsome, blue eyed man. She married defying all conventional traditions of her family. Post marriage, life was far from easy. She and my grandfather broke away from the much in common joint family system of those days, bought a plot of land (where our family home still stands) and settled down in a small one room hut. And she became mother to a large brood of children (born and unborn). Years later, after grandpa passed away, she chose to move in with her fifth child – my mother. And the next chapter in her life started just in time for my birth. My life’s journey so far would be incomplete without her inspiration, her buoyant personality and her unabashed passion for cooking and feeding. In the last 40 years of her life that she lived with us, in our nomadic household (my parents served in the army and moved every three years or so) that travelled the length and breadth of India, my grandma carried with her the culture and cuisine of her rural home, deep in the south – nestled between the Arabian Sea and the hills and valleys of the Western Ghats.
Even with her experiences and wealth of knowledge my grandma was never proprietary or proud, she always worked her way around any situation or possibility life put forward to her. She always lived in the present moment and never moaned about what she never had, how much I still have to learn from her! I remember spending my afternoons on her lap, her glasses perched firmly on her nose as she read out to me the exploits of Unni Aarcha – a legendary warrior princess of Malabar. As she read, the scenes of Unni aarcha’s long journey would unveil, bandits, warriors, and lovers. For a girl of 12, my grandma had opened up a world were a woman could get a hold of her own life, if she chose to. I miss you… but I also know, knowing you, that you’d want me to get that meal on the table, on time!
Thanks to all those who thought my blog was worthy to make it to the round 2 of PFB. For my second challenge I am looking at the American South. I was introduced to Truman Capote’s writings when I was at university and he has by and large influenced my reading habits since. He’s also responsible for my curiosity and love for New Orleans, a place I hope to set foot on one day. I love to read travelogues and stories set in the American south, and while its kind of hard to say how a vegetarian like me is going to survive in the place, I would like to believe that love, music, and beignets, would help.
I searched a lot on the internet for what could comprise a classic southern dish, that’s also vegetarian, and something that I could conjure up with what I already have in my kitchen. And finally decided to make biscuits and gravy, and sweet potato cobbler. Quintessentially southern, no?
for the biscuit
VERDICT: My biscuits didn’t rise sky high as they should have, I probably got a couple of things wrong – an ancient bottle of baking powder, not so deft hand with the cookie cutter and I think I over kneaded the dough. I saw two tutorials here and here, but too bad that I saw them after making my biscuits. But I think I got the drift now, and if you ignore the fact that they didn’t rise and split, they were indeed very tasty combined with the gravy. The gravy is my own take of the original, totally suitable for consumption by vegetarians like me… ta dah!
mushroom and leeks gravy
for the roux:
VERDICT: Fantasmagoric! Next I handled a cobbler recipe from here.
sweet potato cobbler
for the pastry:
VERDICT: Loved it but it was way too sweet for me… and I must admit I have never used this much butter in any dish ever in my life. I think I could cut back on the sugar for this dish and make it like a crumble next time I do this.
Southern food = very comforting! I can’t say if I have got the dishes right, they did taste superb! But I daresay quite fattening… isn’t it?! Fellow foodies familiar with southern american cuisine do share your views, will really appreciate your feedback. If you like this post please vote for me by clicking on the widget on the sidebar.
Off to India in a day to be with my family. Ciao!