I haven’t cooked anything in a while.
After the Avurudu chaos, the darned flu and the packing off of hubster on his work trip abroad, I literally have had no strength left. I also kinda-sorta semi-shifted back to my place (yeey!) since my workplace is also shifting to Colombo and daily travelling from hubster’s place is not a possibility when this happens.
So right now, I have my own room all to myself, mother’s cooking, daddy’s spoiling and doggy’s slobbery love. I miss the hubster and all his nonsense heaps (for he is a very nonsensical child) and cannot wish enough for him to be here. But I also cannot deny that I am actually enjoying this *Eeek!*
Alright, I’ll just come out and say it. I sometimes also feel like I’m on vacation. There. That’s the truth. Am I a bad person for feeling this way?
Anyways, today I am counting my blessings.
We’ve always been growers, and while my area of specialty has been herbs and veggies, hubster’s had been fruits. And right now in the summer tropical heat, our gardens are thriving with fruits, flowers and veggies.
The mangoes gleam green on the trees waiting to be plucked. We pluck most of our mangoes with our hands these days. The fruits are golden on the inside and syrupy sweet with a delightful tartness that runs right through. I sit on the veranda with a heap of these pulpy fruits and a knife and eat through the heap one by delicious one.
When fruits are in such abundance, I also sometimes whip myself this delicious mango smoothie.
This here is the Barbados cherry. A sweet-tart berry that grows in abundance, we have a bushfull of these at the homefront these days.
When fully ripe, the Barbados cherry turns a blood red, and is swollen almost black. Because I did not know what to do with all these tiny rubies just bursting at the seams with flavor, I tried this oatmeal bake with Barbados cherries and it has become a favorite dish ever since!
Just over 4 feet tall, the star fruit trees are heavy with all the fruits. I like to bite into them plucked right from the tree as I take a stroll down the garden or make this starfruit ginger cleanser that is an instant hit in this unbearable heat. I also like to bake it into the gorgeous star fruit upside down cake that is light as a cloud and flavorsome like a dream.
The Sri Lankan Pani Dodam (Sri Lankan orange) is nothing like the imported orange that you get on supermarket shelves. With a tartness and sweetness that is very much refreshing, here is a citrus that you just cannot get enough of.
You’ve not had proper anoda (soursop) until you’ve tasted one that has been ripened in the tree. Here are just a few fruits that we plucked off the other day. I like to split them in half, peel off the skin and dive into the sweet, white flesh with my bare hands scooping finger-fuls of the syrup-dribbling stuff into my mouth while the hubster likes the juice, a much “civilized” (but not as fun) way of tasting this miraculous fruit.
We had our first crop of these tiny guavas, fondly known as “cheena pera”. I am not quite sure what they are called in English though. These are best when ripe and take on a beautiful pastel pink when ready to eat.
Speaking of citruses, we also have this rather feisty citrus, I would say much more like a mandarin. Sweet and tart, we like to juice it as it is perfect for these hot and humid days.
We also have quite a few of these perfect little globules of deliciousness on the trees this time. This is the regular Sri Lankan guava, best eaten when it is somewhat between green and ripe.
Walking into the garden, gooseberries are strewn all over the ground that we can hardly walk.
When time allows, I like to make this amazing Gooseberry jam just so that I can stop it all going to waste.
We also have this rather strange looking fruit that some call apricots. It is also called the butternut fruit. I really don’t like the taste of it but it is supposed to have a number of benefits for your health including being great for diabetes.
The rose apple tree didn’t do very well this year. Okay, I’m being unfair. It’s only barely 3ft tall and already it has produced several bunches of these polished ruby red beauties. They were delicious.
The eggplant trees that I planted are in flower.
We already ate a few curries. There is this amazing feeling of satisfaction when cooking with and eating what you’ve planted with your own two hands :)
Same with this abundant harvest of winged bean aka dambala. I like my winged bean prepared like this recipe here.
These tomatoes yet to ripen on the tree has my heart and soul. They are so packed with flavor that its crazy!
Know what these are? This is mustard. Those little pods are what contains the seeds. Mustard plants bear tiny yellow flowers that are so fragrant that they attract bees. As a result, we now have a bee hive built on the inside of our roof that the house is always abuzz, pun intended.
One of my favorite vegetables to eat is Wetakolu or ribbed gourd, an unassuming local vegetable commonly found all over Sri Lanka. Cooked in thick coconut milk and spices, I could eat plates and plates of rice with just this curry.
So I planted several of these crop bearing vines but only a few remained in the harsh dry weather of the past months. And suddenly I see this little fella standing tall and proud despite the hardships and my heart swelled with happiness. And then we ate it.
Sri Lanka is amazing in its ability to produce miracles out of simple soil. The possibilities here are endless and the witch in me itches to plant, to sow, to simply team up with nature and just conjure. Things being as such, it just breaks my heart that we, ordinary individuals with full time jobs going about trying to make a living, putting on our collars as corporate slaves have no time for nature, to experience the simple joy of digging up the earth, planting the seeds and sit and enjoy seeing things just sprout out of the earth. But one day I will. One day I will leave the corporate world behind, leave all these materialistic goals behind and simply, create.
I am simply waiting for the right time.