I entered a book at work the other day called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese about how to make at home foodstuffs that are usually store-bought. Some of the stuff isn't vegan (like, um, grinding and stuffing yr own sausages...) but from a DIY and self-sufficiency standpoint, the book looked great. Plus the author has already done all the dirty work for us, meaning we don't have to buy all the ingredients and do all the work to produce something that tastes essentially similar and may cost more to make yourself.
I was particularly compelled by the book because it's now officially the holiday season and I typically like to stay anti-consumerist or support smaller, independent companies in my gifting. Plus, there is nothing more heartfelt than a nice, homemade gift. So when I stumbled upon a very interesting recipe in Make the Bread, I knew I had to run out and get some spices, obscure though they may be.
Hence, Kalustyan's! This was my first time at this amazing place, despite having heard many recommendations. It is a specialty foods store established in Manhattan in 1944 and now carries an amazing assortment of ethnic ingredients, groceries, beverages, and condiments - as well as housing a small selection of prepared foods.
There were also rows of chips and such, frozen foods, filo dough, dried fruit in bulk (I stayed away), candies, tahini, tea... and even a small section of kitchenware and little cups for Arabian coffee! Needless to say, I could have been there for a long time. My OCD loves these shelves and collections, claustrophobic though it was in there. I stuck dutifully to my list, though, (mostly) and came home with these:
Ajvar (Spicy red pepper spread), vegetarian moussaka, and dried shiitake mushrooms are in the middle there - those were impulse purchases. For the present/project are: anise seeds, cardamom seeds, vanilla beans (in the bag and DAMN are they expensive), juniper berries, allspice berries, and whole cloves.
Any guesses as to what I'm making? I'll probably tell you when I start the project but I just want to be certain that the people I'm gifting this don't read the blog. And, ah, since the recipe only calls for a bit of each of these spices...does anyone have any ideas on how to use up some of these things? Or does anyone want a little bag mailed to them? Cloves, anise seed, anyone? Anyone?
That's all for now, though I also want to show you breakfast, inspired by Shen's smoothie yesterday. Hers looks a little nicer and thicker, but this was definitely different from what I usually smoothicize and very tasty.
Spinach, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, tahini, spirulina, coconut flakes, molasses. Cinnamon on top, next to my yoga mat which I actually used this morning - but as you may notice, the end is still curled a bit because it has been far too long since I've exercised at all.