Friday, June 5, 2009


When I was a child
I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother's piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked
Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music
At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I've never understood
Why this is so

Bur there's an ancient legend
From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries
We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us
With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields
Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it
Is the longed-for beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us
And wanders where we wander.

by Anne Porter from Living Things: Collected Poems

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Coriander Carrot Cake

Makes one 13 by 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or canola oil

2 vanilla beans
8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position if making a cake or to the two middle positions if baking cupcakes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray if making a cake; line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment. If making cupcakes, line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk together flour, coriander, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, Chinese five spice, salt, pepper, and cloves in large bowl; set aside.
3. In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (should yield about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. If making cupcakes, fill each cup to about 3/4 full and bake for 32 to 36 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cool cake or cupcakes to room temperature in pan or pans on wire rack, about 2 hours for cake or 1 hour for cupcakes.
4. For the frosting: Halve and scrape seeds from 2 vanilla beans. When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and coriander in clean food processor workbowl until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
5.Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. For cupcakes, simply frost each cupcake. Leftovers may be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

** Coriander is known as cilantro in the Americas. It is native to southwestern Asia and west to North Africa
*Coriander has been used to relieve anxiety and insomnia in Iranian folk medicine. Experiments in mice support its use for the preventions of anxiety. I’m just wondering how anxiety is measured in mice???? Coriander seeds are also used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid. I’m sure you’re already running towards the kettle now in hopes of testing out the diuretic properties of coriander for yourself.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to love it more and more

- Jules Renard