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click whirr nuzzle

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Lisa's photos from the first Love Registry are (back) up, in attractive alphabetical form!

I made my first uppama yesterday morning, and despite a lot of last-second ingredient substitutions, it came out so well that we'd demolished the whole thing by mid-afternoon. Maybe a little too heavy on the stirring to make often, but I'm glad I did it. Here's how I made it, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey:

Put 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil in a big heavy nonstick pan over medium heat. When it's hot enough to pop mustard seeds, add a little asafoetida, then a teaspoon of brown mustard seeds. When they start popping, add a dried red chile and a couple of teaspoons of chana dal or yellow split peas; stir the whole thing until the peas turn reddish, which won't be long (the mustard seeds that haven't popped yet will stick, so keep 'em in motion so they don't burn). Add some curry leaves, if you've got them, stir once, and then add three tablespoons of very finely chopped red onion. Hisssss. Fry until the onion starts to brown at the edges. Add a teaspoon each of finely grated fresh ginger and, if you like it, finely chopped fresh green chile. Stir a few seconds more and add a packed cup of green cabbage shreds and a quarter-cup of peas (frozen & defrosted is fine). Hisssss. Stir for a couple of minutes, add 3 tablespoons of water, cover it, and turn it down to low for 3 or 4 minutes.

Now comes the labor-intensive part. Have 1 3/4 cups of water boiling in a kettle. Uncover the pan, turn the heat back up to medium, and add a cup of non-instant semolina or Cream of Wheat. Stir and fry it for about five minutes, until it turns golden. Turn the heat back down to low and add 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Then, over the course of five minutes, dribble in the boiling water a little at a time, and stir it until it's absorbed before adding the next dribble. After it's all been absorbed, keep stirring it & breaking up lumps until the whole thing is light and fluffy--could be as much as 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro, stir for another minute, turn the heat off, rest your weary arm and eat.

root vegetable gratin

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And, since Liz asked nicely:

ROOT VEGETABLE GRATIN WITH BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
Proof that gratins don't have to include cheese. Made this for dinner last night (along with reheated soybeans 'n' hijiki and some collards and kale with asafoetida), and it was the undisputed champion. Adapted from Deborah Madison.

First, the béchamel. Slowly heat 2 cups milk with a couple of slices of onion, a crushed garlic clove, a couple of bay leaves, and some parsley and thyme if you've got them. As soon as it reaches a boil, take it off the heat. In another pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter, stir in 3 tablespoons flour, and cook for one minute. Immediately add the hot milk with stuff in it. Cook it until it's gotten thick; transfer it to a double boiler, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.

You're going to be doing most of the rest while the sauce is in the double boiler, so you might want to peel & cut a bit in advance. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole or gratin dish. Peel a mediumish rutabaga, chop it into strips, and boil them in salted water for two minutes, then drain them and dump them into the casserole. Chop up a small onion finely, and fry it in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat for about 8 minutes, then into the casserole it goes. Peel and cut up a bag of carrots, three smallish turnips, and a medium-size parsnip into whatever shapes you like, and add them to the casserole too. Add salt and pepper and mix it up.

By this point, your béchamel should be ready. Squish it through a strainer onto the top of the casserole--it'll be very thick. Sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper. Cover the whole thing with a cup of fresh bread crumbs--I just grated a loaf of day-old herb bread I'd made in the bread machine. Stick it in the oven for 45 minutes or so; it'll become golden and bubbly, and the root vegetables will retain some of their original texture but not quite their crunchiness.

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