We really liked beans at home: lentils, adzuki, garbanzo, split pea, kidney, black eye, these are just a few that come to mind. Though the bean dish varied, I think we mostly ate them with brown rice and a handful of chopped parsley. There were big pots of dal with spices, or the black, lava-like bowls of creamy adzuki, or the split pea soup with vegetable broth in the winter. But ever since I started to cook for myself, I’ve abandoned beans, aside from the canned chickpeas that I rinse and stir into salads or pasta from time to time. I was always admonished by my mother to soak beans overnight before cooking, better for your digestion, she says, but then again she likes to soak everything. It’s not for nothing that we are obsessed with taking baths in our family. Anyway, because it is difficult to plan when you are seventeen, eighteen, nineteen years old, especially to plan a meal a day in advance, I was always too afraid to cook beans without soaking. I thought something terrible might happen. The same way I always peel tomatoes for tomato sauce, and even red peppers if I have the time –childhood habits are hard to shed.
 

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09/09/2013 Chicken & Prunes by WK

By Sarah Souli
 

 
The supermarket lights were fluorescent, but this is always the case. The milk was unrefrigerated, stacked in blue boxes. Too many potatoes. The dried fruit came in tiny packages, 3.50 euros for a handful of plastic wrapped prunes. Bienvenue en France.
 
Four days earlier, my uncle had killed himself. He left his breakfast – a still steaming bowl of coffee, a piece of buttered toast- and hung himself in the garage. My aunt found him there. She hadn’t eaten yet and wouldn’t for days.
 
It took me two subways, one plane, one train and a forty minute car ride to get to my aunt’s house in Brittany. My boyfriend at the time took me as far as the plane. On his way back to our home he texted me: “Guess who I just met on the C train? Norman Finkelstein, and we shook hands!” I turned off my phone.
 
I could only stay for three days. It was my first death, and my first time cooking for my family. There was nothing to eat in the house that wasn’t pre-packaged. My aunt is not known for her cooking, and my uncle was not known for his palette. Couscous in a can, saussison sec, cheese still cold from the refrigerator- this was most often their dinner.
 

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Whenever I spot a cooking scene in a book or a movie I pay extra attention. The characters are being fed! The last one I saw was magical: it happens right in the middle of the three-hour long epic love story, Laurence, Anyways, by the young and talented Xavier Dolan. He was only twenty-two when he wrote and directed this film. The scene is simple: Fred, short for Frédérique, has just received a book of poetry published by her former love, Laurence. She reads it in the kitchen as she stirs a pot of something that resembles crème anglaise. She stirs, she reads, she stirs, she reads, she forgets the crème anglaise, and I won’t tell you what happens next. But the moment is heartbreaking. Mostly because Dolan has an eye for visual poetry. Fred never cooks and we rarely see her eat (in one restaurant scene she slams her fist on a plate, shattering the dish, in another she leaves before ordering food), and yet here she is, one hand on a wooden spoon, the other holding love poems. It comes as no surprise that she leaves the kitchen shortly thereafter.
 
I almost made a crème anglaise, just for the sake of it, but then I would have had to make a chocolate cake, or îles flottantes. Instead, I leafed through French cookbooks, and fell upon ratatouille.
 

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(crust from Vegetarian Everyday, filling inspired by the same recipe)
 
Although there are many possible fillings for quiches (it’s the perfect repository for haphazard leftovers), I’ve never thought of playing with the crust and custard base. Then I came across a recipe in Vegetarian Everyday that called for no dairy and no flour. The main substitute was coconut, and I was entirely skeptical but intrigued. I tried. The result is magnificent. In fact, the quiche is resting in my kitchen at this very moment and I keep cutting myself another slice. It is light and crisp, so a third helping does not feel decadent.
 

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07/29/2013 VEGGIES by Sanae


 
Why vegetables?
 
When we lived in Australia we drove to a spiritual retreat five hours away from Melbourne. The last stretch was on a narrow and sinuous road along a cliff that without fail made me nauseous. Some years we stopped on the side while I hung my head out the door and gulped for air. The retreat was a meditation and yoga center with a beautiful farm where young men and women farmed for a month or two before moving on. There were wooden bungalows with no private bathrooms or one-floor apartments lined side by side resembling a flat motel. My mother and I were early risers. She wandered off to meditate while I sat in the large kitchen where the cooks prepared breakfast. The kitchen was located in a gigantic roundish building with a domed ceiling. On one side there was a lounge area with tables and chairs and sofas for reading. On the other side was the communal eating space with long wooden tables. The kitchen bordered one side of dining room with a counter upon which pots and plates of food were displayed. I would sit on a table inside the kitchen and watch the cook quietly at work for the 8 a.m. meal. He was an amateur astronomer and owned a telescope. At night he showed me planets and stars. The owners, a married couple, founded the retreat after sharing the same dream one night. They liked to recount the story of this mysterious energy. The husband told us about his travels and of healers in the Philippines who removed cysts without touching bodies.
 

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06/10/2013 Dumpling Party by Kira


 

 
Yesterday, we hosted a homemade dumpling party in our garden to fundraise for our new nonprofit, China Residencies. The process of wrapping dumplings by hand is one of the most interactive and delicious forms of cultural exchange, aligning perfectly with our mission to help more artists experience China firsthand.
 

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