ingredients all together

I had planned to share a recipe today, but in the midst of holiday weekend chaos and revelry, I came to the conclusion that it required another go round before we gave it our attention.

Nonetheless, on this sunny Tuesday, with a sky that's a clear, true blue, I came to say hello. It's a day for company, don't you think? One made for visits and a chat.

lucky spring rice

The latest UPPERCASE, the spring edition, has just come out; it's issue 13 and is packed from beginning to end with good things. You can preview it here, if you'd like.

My contribution to its lineup is a story on how we can conjure up good weather and good luck through food. How a gloomy day can be made spritely with citrus, or the smell of cinnamon brings us to fruitful September. I touch upon superstition, too, like pomegranate seeds and their mythical ties to fertility. In many ways, the story is a lot about hope, the bolstering effect of positive thinking, and the small measures we take in good faith.

The recipe is for Lucky Spring Rice, and that's what you see in the photos up top, a dish with much in common with Lebanese Mujaddara, Persian Jewelled Rice, Egyptian Kushari and the Indian Pilaus I grew up with. There's lentils, and nuts, a mix of rice and fried pasta bits. Here's how I describe it there:

[This is] a rice that’s balanced. There’s the weighty, chewy comfort of starch that suits the spring days that still run cool. Then there’s the bright sweetness of fruit both fresh and dried, against the musky fragrance of cinnamon, coriander, cumin and clove. There’s the spark of pepper mollified by the cool of mint and grassy cilantro. There’s a twang of sharpness, as life must have some to offset everything else, and there’s a richness too, which rounds out the flavours.

It's hearty and satisfying, and a meal that can be eaten out in the yard with plates balanced on laps. No fuss, spring evening food, which is to say pretty much what I'd like for lunch today.

In other (read: fun, amazing, oh-my-gosh-really) news, I have been nominated for two awards over at the Saveur 3rd Annual Food Blog Awards, which explains that big banner over there. I am a finalist for Best Cooking Blog and Best Food Photography, and I cannot come up with sufficient thanks for those who nominated me. It is a true, jaw-dropping honour to be in such brilliant company. For those who'd like to vote, the polls are now open and run until April 26. As always, I am grateful for all the support.

Well then, I'm off. I wish you both fair weather and fine fortune, and we'll meet back here soon. 'Til then, pals. 

UPPERCASE magazine issue 13 can be purchased online, or visit their site to find your local stockist.

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uppercase issue eleven

Years ago my maternal grandmother, Gigi as we call her, asked me what I'd like for a present. My answer was quick and decisive: a pot. A sturdy one, like those from her kitchen and that of my parents, the kind of pot that ends up with a job in its title - the Rice Pot, the Dal Pot, the Jam Pot - a workhorse kind of pot. We settled on one in cast iron with a substantial lid. Her choice was perfect.

As our family has grown, so has my collection of iron pots. There's the medium round, which is the favourite for baking bread, the large enameled round in which I make soups, and then the burly original oval - it's got presence; all shiny deep green outside, like a forest in darkness, with matte black interior. Empty, the pot has heft, full it's downright heavy, landing with a muffled thud when heaved from the oven to the table.

And, in a way that feels fitting, a vessel which requires such athleticism in its transport is rarely used for sprightly fare. That's the one preferred come colder months, for braising shanks and roasts, for stews and the heartiest of our meals.

In UPPERCASE magazine this season I wrote about a braised beef blade roast, and it's a workhorse too. Immensely adaptable, the recipe owes some lineage to Boeuf Bourguignon; its gravy is rich and deep with red wine, heady with herbs and sweet with root vegetables. To finish, it gets some pointers from Osso Bucco, as I've borrowed its gremolata - an ending garnish of parsley, garlic and lemon zest - to accent the mellow flavours of this slow-cooked stew. 

There's a family secret in the story as well, as you'll find Gigi's influence in the ingredients. She's a smart one, in matters of both cookware and recipes, so I'm particularly excited to share her coveted wisdom with you. 

Happy reading. 

UPPERCASE magazine issue 11 can be purchased online, or visit their site to find your local stockist.

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