My mom works for local grocer New Seasons Market and frequently brings me free produce that no longer meets the New Season’s standard. Thankfully, their standards are quite high. After one such delivery, I found myself with approximately 4 pounds of carrots and a few days in which to use them. Lacking the motivation and the hunger to risk jaundice by mass consuming them in their raw form, I sought alternatives. Stubbornly refusing to make copious amounts of carrot cake or carrot muffins (mostly because I don’t need all of the cream cheese frosting that they would inevitably be covered in), I endeavored to find a recipe for carrot burfi, my favorite childhood treat from the Indian bakery. While searching for instructions and guidance, I found videos on Youtube of a woman cooking all manner of tasty Indian treats. Though there were no posts in which she prepared carrot burfi, I continued watching. As she prepared spinach paratha, I fell in love.

Ah, how I have come to further love Manjula’s Kitchen, the San Diego based website of (surprise, surprise) Manjula Jain. According to the website, Manjula was born and raised in North India and moved to the United States as an adult. A strict adherent of the Jain religion, her recipes and instructions are all vegetarian and include appetizers, beverages, breads, chaat, chutneys / pickles, dal (lentils), desserts, paneer (indian cheese, rice, soups, salads, and subji (vegetables). There is even a section of vegan recipes. In addition to the written recipes are videos in which she walks the audience through a cooking demonstration, narrating each step of preparation in, what appears to be, her home kitchen.

From the accent to the sari to the food she prepares, Manjula maintains an charming authenticity. However, avoiding post-colonial stereotyping, she is clearly an entrepreneur in the traditional mythology of the United States. Using the internet, she is creating a small empire. I anticipate that a clever publisher or producer will engage her at some point to capitalize upon her fan base and knowledge. Seemingly, she could be the next Madhur Jaffrey. Currently, Manjula’s kitchen boasts an active forum, in which visitors are invited to ask questions and seek advice. Manjula always responds. Additionally, the site features a FAQ section a well as pages regarding stocking the pantry, presentation, planning a menu, and cookware. This woman has it all (I told you already, I am deep in spinach paratha love). She even gives personal cooking lessons in the San Diego area. Perhaps, one of the few good things about living in southern California.

The aforementioned Spinach Paratha:

The equally love inducing Toor Dal:

My mom’s favorite Indian dessert, Ras Malai:

All courtesy of Majula:

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I was searching wordpress for blogs about Matlock (I know, shut up) and I found this:

16 January 2008 by behrns on ExtraOrdinary
Matlock has had a profound impact on my life, whether I like it or not. He’s … met for a blind date and I’ll be sure to raise a toast to Matlock . Is there any one who was key in introducing you to your better …
I was terrified by this person’s allegiance to Matlock. But, I read the post and Matlock is her pastor’s last name. I don’t know if that makes it better. But, I now know what my threshold is for Andy Griffith worship. It’s low.

First of all, how annoyingly cutesy is my title? That’s right, only sooo cutesy.

I thought it may be time to start talking about the sites that I have listed as links. And, since I have become an appreciator of Etsy, why not start with my current favorite artist? For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it is a highly successful website, likened to Ebay, where the only stipulation is that products posted on the site must be either handmade or a materials used to make a handmade item. Brainchild of Robert Kalin, Chris Maguire, Haim Schoppick, and Jared Tarbell; this e-commerce dream come true can be searched by material, category, color, geographic location, or the time that the item was posted. In addition to its innovative methods of transacting business, Etsy allows for a connection between producer and consumer that is hard to capture outside of art fairs and farmer’s markets. In an age when we ought to be returning to sustainable practices, what better way than by promoting handmade goods and an open dialog that allows for a shopper to channel their funds into items they believe in?

I believe in John Clark. I began searching for noir prints with which to decorate my tiny apartment. Clark was one of the first artists whose work I found appealing. After more searching, I couldn’t stop thinking about his work. He draws the faces and bodies of seductive modern women (I think possible suicide girl when I see them) across pages removed from mystery novels. Two of the three prints I bought were originally rendered across pages from Rebbecca, Daphne Du Maurier’s Gothic tale of Manderley. Riveting book, riveting art. He is also more than happy to do custom work. Just think, your favorite Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet prose coupled with the stark highlight and shadow of a beautiful woman’s face or form. Prints run 10.00 and originals are 100.00. both prices are more than reasonable given the quality of the work. I wish, simply, that I wasn’t living on student loans.

Now, I have mounted the prints (using mats custom ordered from Q Branch Ltd. on Etsy) and am trying to decide where I should put them. If I had the time and the space, I would hang them on the wall across from my desk. Then, while daydreaming, I would take a bottle of rye out of my desk’s bottom drawer, take a swig, put my feet on the desk, lean back, and stare into the face of the beautiful dame who needs my help clearing up a little family problem.

This was my birthday card from Heidi:

I suppose it’s potential hurtfulness was mitigated by the fact that I do put the ass in asstastic. I put lots of things in lots of tastic situations. I’m both special and ass-y that way. Well, so overjoyed was I by this card that I :

  1. Have kept it sitting in my room for the better part of a month despite all my frenzied cleaning to the contrary.
  2. Researched the company that made it. This involved watching a video of greeting cards.
  3. Sent that video to Andy and Taylor.
  4. Decided that anyone who happened across my blog should know about this company.

The cards are produced by Junkmail Greetings, a fine young company of arty, smart asses. You can check the artist, Carol Lee out on Etsy, as well. It is the sort of company that makes you ask yourself why you didn’t think of it first. Sadly, I did think of this, not necessarily first, but I was too lazy to get off of my aforementioned ass and do something about it. In reality, they are go-getter, arty, smart asses. And, of course, they’re Canadian. I’ve thought about doing that, too. But, again, sloth overcame me.

Now, you may have noticed that in my list of fan behavior, I did not include buying any of the cards. I want to. But, I decided that the effort it would take to make new friends that I could, then, alienate with these greeting cards was a bit much. But, should I find myself with energy to burn and a room full of potential short term friends, I’ll be sending these (or you can just resign yourselves, my current friends, to receiving them):

This is the video I mentioned. Snark meets paper meets Mika!

Only watch this video if you’re ready for Beyonce’s jelly. Just so you know: she doesn’t think you’re ready for this jelly. Prove her wrong. And, pay close attention to my faves: Congratulations on your Mediocrity, What Were You Thinking?, I’m a Little Bit Better Than You, Maybe You Should Try Birth Control, and Do You Really Need That Slice of Pie?.

I found myself in Target spending money that I don’t have on things that I don’t need. You know how you do. I have, honestly, been trying to avoid being a rampant consumer. This is due in part to my quickly disappearing financial aid and my desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint. However, when I saw this staring at me from the shelf, all reason swiftly fled:

That’s right, it’s Season 1 of “Matlock. ” I have often wondered why I can find 11 seasons of “Murder She Wrote” on DVD, but no “Matlock.” Surely, they must have had the same core audience: the elderly, insomniacs, the sickly, or some combination thereof. And though I acknowledge the likelihood that “Matlock” fans (sickly, old, and tired that we be) must be dropping like flies, the few of us that remain need our fix.

Jessica Fletcher is a poor substitute at best. Ben Matlock should be surrounded by dead bodies; he’s a criminal defense lawyer. Jessica is a writer/English teacher from Cabot Cove. Fishy. But, none of this matters now, as I have 24 episodes of “Matlock” at my ready disposal. Given the rate at which an episode makes me comatose, these episodes should last for six years, at least.

Western Alia

Looking through a box of family photos, I came across this gem. OH MY! I appear to have spent my youth as a truculent midget saloon whore. How many people can say that?