this evening i saw the house is black, a 1963 documentary about life on a leper colony, by the legendary iranian poet forugh farrokhzad. poetically narrated, it was extremely sad and moving. both mohsen makhmalbaf and abbas kiarostami consider this short documentary to be a major influence on their work. the dvd also included an interview with pooran farrokhzad (forugh’s sister), as well as two short films by mohsen makhmalbaf – the school that was blown away (1996) and images from the qajar dynasty (1992).
i’ve been cooking a lot these past few days (suprise suprise):
thursday night: cucumber shrimp rolls with spicy peanut sauce and wonton noodle soup
friday night: artichoke and spinach phyllo swirls and roasted chicken with orange-brandy glaze
saturday night: green salad with citrus vinaigrette and eggplant parmigiana
spaghettini with garlic and olive oil, and sherried mushroom chicken scallopine.
here’s the recipe for the chicken:
to compensate, here is the recipe for the last update’s dish – sherried mushroom chicken scallopine:
4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves
1/2 cup flour
4 tbsp olive oil
6 oz mushrooms, quartered
2 tbsp minced shallots
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1. sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper. place halves between sheets of plastic wrap; with a mallet pound chicken to an even 1/4 inch thick. peel off wrap.
2. put flour in a shallow container. turn each piece of chicken in flour to coat.
3. set a nonstick pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil. lay chicken in pan; cook, turning once, until no longer pink in the center, about five minutes on each side.
4. add 2 tbsp olive oil, mushrooms, shallots, and thyme to hot pan used to cook chicken and stir often over high heat until mushrooms are browned, about five minutes. spoon over chicken.
5. add sherry, chicken broth, and cream to pan; stir until mixture is boiling. boil, stirring occasionally, until juices are slightly reduced, about 1 minute. spoon sauce over chicken. sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. serve with a simple spaghettini tossed with sauteed garlic, hot pepper flakes, parsley, parmesan and olive oil.
it appears my post-grad school life is consisting of three things so far: reading whatever i can get my hands on, cooking like a 1950’s sitcom housewife, and researching jobs.
i’m halfway through palace of desire, part two of naguib mahfouz’s celebrated cairo trilogy.
i spent some time yesterday cooking up dinner:
stacked ceasar salad with parmesan rafts (homemade dressing makes all the difference) | wild rice with shallots | oven-roasted steak with bernaise sauce
chocolate mousse (i learned the hard way that only cream and not a mixture of cream and milk will foam into nice thick clouds.)
the presidential elections in iran are getting underway right about now. at this point the presidency could go to any party; its hard to tell what the outcome will be. its a close race. it’ll be interesting to see what happens if no one garners over fifty percent of the votes and the elections face off to a second round in the next couple of weeks.
i miss hawaii. the trip was so short but ever since i got back everything reminds me of it. i already want to go back.
i suppose i should start from the beginning:
the view from my hotel room. can you see why i miss it so?
my hotel, or resort i should say (why anyone would want to stay within the confines of their hotel/resort instead of venturing beyond touristy waikiki is beyond me) was home to many animals which probably would not have found their way there naturally.
flamingoes, for example.
and african penguins.
and finally, koi.
on the first afternoon, i had to attend an international relations conference panel presentation, but afterwards i was able to go to the beach to catch the sunset and go for a little swim.
can you believe the water was warm enough to swim in the evening? try doing that in san francisco.
a partial view of the hotel from the beach.
for dinner, i decided on thai with my conference group. one unfortunate thing about the neighborhood was that all the restaurants were upscale chains (benihana, todai, etc.) that we have in california too. why would people come to hawaii and not want to try regional cuisine? we were hard-pressed to find any hawaiian restaurants, let alone find fresh local fruits. (no coconut! no mango! no starfruit! i had a slice of pineapple but it tasted like nothing!) i imagine the non-touristy areas were much different. regardless, the thai was delicious.
we shared the duck-filled spring rolls with mango salsa for dessert. too much cilantro, but otherwise perfect. i had a seafood and vegetable green curry over somen noodles.
the next morning, i woke up early so i could hike up diamond head crater before my panel presentation that afternoon. what was to be a fifteen-minute walk (according to the map) turned out to be two and a half hours.
by the time i reached the foot of diamond head, i was too exhausted to climb it. i got a cab and went back to the hotel, where i spent a couple hours at the beach until my panel presentation.
later on that evening i got my first taste of hawaiian homestyle. i highly approved of the garlic chicken strips.
the next morning marked the beginning of my one day in hawaii where i didn’t have to attend any panels. i went with my university’s panel group to hanauma bay, also known as paradise. also known as The Best Place In The World. also known as Where I Would Love To Be Right Now.
we ate breakfast while we waited for the bus. i love the abc stores in hawaii, for they provide me with the best breakfasts ever, a breakfast i am unable to attain in san francisco:
spam musubi (contrary to what i expected, it was good!), salmon rice ball and island mocha iced coffee. delicious.
we had a little mix up with the bus lines and on our way there we had to transfer to another line. we decided to walk towards the bay until we came across the bus stop.
hanauma bay is gorgeous. i went snorkeling and saw lots and lots of bright colorful fish in the coral reef. it was like swimming through a pbs nature special. it wasn’t until over five hours later when we were leaving we realized that the gift shop sold underwater cameras. hopefully next time i’ll get underwater photos. we all got sunburned pretty bad but it was very much worth it.
all the dark grey-ish areas in the water are coral reef. we saw fish of every color and pattern imaginable.
this must be the happiest flower in the world, for it lives in hanauma bay.
that evening our group went to sam choy’s for dinner. if any of you lovely readers who have an affinity for cooking follow pacific rim cuisine, you know that sam choy is the hawaii’s most famous chef. the food was wonderful.
i love poke.
i had the seared shrimp and scallops.
the next morning was my final few hours in hawaii.
this is what i woke up to every morning.
i really do miss hawaii.
happy new year
i’m back in california. even the incessant rain can’t dampen my contentment from being back in the bay area.
now for what we’ve all been waiting for – pictures from the trip. we shall go in order:
bye bye oakland.
bye bye bay area.
near mount vernon.
in alexandria, virginia, which struck me as being similar to corte madera, but more touristy.
my cousin aryana.
you can’t tell by the picture, but this stick of “butter” at the smithsonian in washington, dc, is about the size of a dining room table.
poetic calligraphy from the persian empire’s savafid dynasty at the smithsonian. i was suprised to see that the art and poetry from india’s mughal dynasty was also in farsi.
Quranic calligraphy from the savafid dynasty in tabriz.
from iran’s sassanian dynasty.
those sassanian eyerainians sure knew how to get down.
at the smithsonian.
i made chinese food for dinner one evening.
aryana enjoying her amish lunch in amish country.
there’s lots of barns in amish country, pennsylvania.
a view of dc from the masonic lodge in alexandria.
duckies in maryland.
my sister and i were entralled by ducks walking on the frozen lake.
aryana having a blast at the “lake” (psst – its really a faux lake built near an upscale mall).
chelo kabab at moby dick – the dc area’s favorite iranian restaurant chain.