But what a good idea it was to chop a few shrinking pumpkin flowers into this morning's buttered scrambled eggs!
A couple of days old, they weren't vibrant enough for salad. The tired old tempura that everyone's grandmother made is one of the few matronly recipes I don't love — too heavy for the sprightly flowers, I always think, though the royal Thai version I first encountered at Bangkok's Ruen Mallika is rather more interesting and elevated.
However, without all the fuss and even minus some freshness, these flowers turned out blooming good! A lovely little bite they added to the eggs, with a very fresh flavour that whispered virtuously of eating your vegetables but did not overpower the creamy scramble.
Not the usual saltiness of sausage — though we did grate in a little Gruyere for savouriness — or the ferrous tang of spinach, nor even the more insistent spicy-sweet stride of roasted peppers. Though all of these are old favourites in our household of two.
This was a surprisingly soothing and gently sunny partnership after a difficult day-before. So we polished it off before it could pose for photographs this lazy Sunday morning.
They do say it's the runaway top trend on the summer runways; but I'm better at wolfing it down than at wearing it. I'd use them to accessorize my snack bag, but I don't think I'll be seeing any fresh ones in summer around here!
Yes, I strive to eat mostly seasonal and local (smarter for my wallet too, because I can then buy more). But occasionally, I will buy just the one piece of exotic fruit that I can't get around here — at least not in good shape. So a couple of times a year, I actually buy an orange.
Darjeeling oranges, five to a red net 'sock', are one of my favourite things about winter.
The perfect packaging-free snack to bring along when I go sit in the weak afternoon sun. The nicest prep-free, pre-portioned, no-cook, peelable dessert. They are always so sweet! Round and juicy, fragrant with that velvety oil, small wonder the Chinese use them for auspicious New Year tokens. (Yes, Gong Xi Fa Cai! Prosperous Year of the Water Dragon! to you too.)
The Chinese? What are they doing here, invading Darjeeling?!
It wasn't the most comforting of years, 2011 — no, it wasn't. It was challenging in more ways than one.
Contraptions around the house went kaput. The house itself creaked and leaked. Folks flew away. Things fell apart. Immunity and fitness wavered. Work schedules went haywire. Travel plans went awry. Wallets lost weight. The weight-loss plan piled on the pounds! The moods swung and rung like a carillon of bells. The summer was rained out; the monsoons were stormy; autumn sulked out of sight; winter was first warm, then wet...
Of course, challenges do create opportunity too. Contraptions were repaired and replaced. The house got fresh brick, mortar, plaster, paint, wiring, tiling, lighting... Folks flew in — and dropped in! Things came together, whimsically, when least expected. A fitness plan was resumed. Work got done, by the seat of the pants; concentration (to ignore the chaos) increased. Travelling took place. New work was sought — and found. The pounds finally budged. Moodiness was made room for, even enjoyed. The wardrobe rotation got a bit of a rest. The wellies came in handy. The garden was pulled up. Next year's seedlings were well-tested by the weather gods and goddesses...
But the best thing about challenges is the way they throw up surprises, pushing you to try something you never thought you'd get up to. Until it becomes a good, brave habit. Until — supermarkets refusing to stock your favourite South African pear — you bite the Chinese bullet: bring home the crunchy, sandy-fleshed Asian pear you used to abhor and let it mellow to nearly rotten. Until you find yourself at the wet market one gloomy morning, the last of 2011, delighted by the tender young spinach leaves and sunflower-bright pumpkin flowers — and come home whooping, 'Salad!'