Month: August 2011

Brining Cucumbers

Today… we pickle!

All this lovely, fresh dill for 2 dollars at a Hungarian-run farm.

Fragrant flowers.

Many quail live in and around the neighbourhood. Here is a couple out with their babies. Very cute, but why can’t I help but think about how delicious they are as well?

Today we pickle cucumbers, which were bought from the same farm. We add dill, garlic, and peppercorn.

A simple solution of water, salt and vinegar constitutes the brine.

The sealed, sterilized bottles are then given a water bath in boiling water for 15 minutes before they are done.

Avalanches – Since I Left You (Cornelius Remix)


A Cherry Pie, Three Fires, and Many Meteors

Sweetheart cherries from the farm are perfect for a summer’s cherry pie. The cherries are pitted and mixed with sugar, lemon rind, flour and cornstarch.

A basic pie crust is rolled out and formed into a ceramic pie dish. For a lattice top, cut equal-width strips of pastry. With the horizontal strips places equidistant apart, place one vertical strip in the middle as a guideline. Flip up alternating horizontal strips to insert each vertical strip, alternating with each vertical strip. Finish one side after the other, cutting off excess pastry and crimping down the ends.

Leaf cut-outs are made by cutting basic oval shapes and using the back of the knife to score the veins.

Into the oven at 45-50 minutes at 400C after brushing a glaze (one egg plus 2 tablespoons of heavy cream). Remove from oven when crust is golden brown and juice is bubbling. Serve with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

I choose to stay up late tonight to witness the climax of the perseid meteor shower between those brief minutes between moonset and sunrise. Around two in the morning I step outside to see a fire blazing in the city center.

There are three “suspicious” fires that night, and the next morning I learn that a flooring store is completely destroyed.

With the light of the full moon filling the sky, 3:30am looks brighter than ever. Standing on the rocks in the backyard in my pajamas, I see the most luminous moonlight glistening in the lake to my right. As 4am approaches, I see a few meteors flashing in a darkening sky. Nothing short of magical.

Switchfoot – Stars

The Hospital is Depressing

Overheard conversations today:

At the clinic.

Old Man 1: Oh, hey Jim! How’s it going?

Old Man 2: Oh, not too bad.

Old Man 1: You still working on the farm?

Old Man 2: The farm? [Chuckles.] No, if I was, I’d be dead by now. [Aside] Though I wouldn’t mind that.


At the custom frame shop.

Me: Do you have something else a little darker and broader?

Saleswoman: Do you want something more Oriental?


Sarah Harmer – Trouble in the Fields  |  Old Perfume

Ogi’s Farm

Ogi’s is a local farm that my parents have been patronizing for years. Owned and operated solely by an elderly Japanese couple, Ogi’s is an all-organic enterprise with no heavy machinery on site and only the freshest produce, including fragrant dill and crunchy Japanese cucumbers.

The store front is a narrow space, with whatever fresh produce available displayed neatly on black trays.

Packing boxes are stacked up high, and flower pots are hung near the entrance.

Behind, a thriving cactus garden boasts some impressive specimens.

Only the friendliest.

And hardest working.

Adjacent to the storefront is Ogi’s Nursery. I will miss this place when I move.

That same day, we take a trip to the park, next to the tennis courts where we used to play each year, even in the waning winter months when frost would cover the ground. We fry the popiah from yesterday and pack them with some fresh vegetables and sauce, along with a flask of cold lemonade.

The park is host to these old willows that provide ample shade.

While there, a family plays with their young golden retriever in the lake. Several people swim, while others suntan.

Back home, I use the basil bought at Ogi’s. The moment I take it out from the bag, the sweet, earthy smell of the basil fills the room. I decide to make seafood pasta with pesto sauce. A simple recipe for the pesto includes pulsing lots of fresh basil with garlic and walnuts while drizzling in olive oil. I don’t have any Parmesan cheese to add. To mix with the pasta, I simmer cream with the pesto sauce, adding sauteed portobello mushrooms, prawns and codfish. Served with baked kale and red peppers.

Thank you Ogi’s…

Vusi Mahlasela – Silang Mabele

Pancakes and Popiahs

Fresh, fluffy pancakes in the morning with the leftover berries from yesterday’s baking.

My parents do not like to compromise on food, so the missing fried garlic and shallots, slivers of cucumber, and firm tofu in this popiah dish was unusual. Maybe we were just too tired to go down the hill for the ingredients. Still, the dish is popular in this house, with a variety of ingredients assembled on-the-spot: lettuce, jicama, turnip, carrots, prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, cilantro, and my parents’ popiah sauce with plenty of chili and palm sugar (gula melaka).

A light, compact meal for dinner.