Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good progress. This new sleeve is an improvement in several respects – simple purl sts are better than sand- or moss-stitch for the underarm increases, for one thing. The shaping seems to be working.

Side view. I did add the simple cable from EZ’s Aran as soon as there was room for it. It looks a bit odd, but I think will look less so as it and the sleeve get longer.

Front view. The mistake at the beginning of the plaited cable is pretty obvious, but doesn’t bother me. It will continue as the shoulder strap, eventually. So far, I’ve been getting EZ’s folded ribbons right. It’s perfectly simple – that little triangle of purl stitches is first on one side, then on the other, as the ribbon folds. That’s what I get wrong.

Counting is rather demanding, but only enough so to be fun: I am increasing every third round; there is movement in the plaited cables every other round; in the folded ribbons, every round; and in the new pattern at the edges, every 6th round.

Good King Henry

I’ve now got the bit between my teeth, on this one.

To try the recipes I have chosen, I need heeng and amchur. I am sure there are places I could buy them over the counter in Edinburgh, but it is not easy, these days, for me to wander about ad lib. My husband needs exercise, and won’t go out without me. He scarcely has the puff to get to an art exhibition – certainly no breath (or inclination) to spare for oriental grocers. We went to the degree show at the College of Art yesterday. It was an effort.

But of course, there’s good old Google. It wasn’t absolutely straightforward. The first place I tried didn’t seem to have heeng. The spelling is a bit fluid; that may have been the trouble. What it is, is asafoetida. I am sure someone advised me once – Mrs. Hussain? Alexander? – that asafoetida tastes so dreadful that the best thing to do with any recipe in which it appears, is leave it out. But that may be the very ingredient which will counteract the awfulness of Good King Henry, so I had to have it.

The second place had it all right, but wouldn’t let me check out until I had spent £15.

All went well at the Asian Cookshop. I think I’ll be back. Amchur is mango powder. I am looking forward to that.

Totally irrelevant

I'm sure you all saw this one when you found it the other day in Helen C.K.S.'s blog. You'll enjoy watching it again.


  1. oohh... asafoetida..

    I'm Canadian, but currently half-way through a two year stint in India. There is a lot to get used to, and things that are horrifying, or just odd, get easier over time. Lot's of things just become normal.

    Asafoetida kind of falls into both categories for me. When we first arrived, there was often an odour in grocery stores that, depending on the state of my gut (which often was not good anyway), I could barely tolerate or not at all. I managed over time, to narrow it down to something in the spice and dry goods sections of the stores, but wasn't able to narrow it down further. I don't know how to describe the odour itself, but the physical effect on me was an uncomfortable clenching of the stomach (the organ), and I dared not take deep breaths.

    When we'd finally moved into our house and set up staff (still strange after a year), one day I came home and opened my front door, only to be confronted by The Odour. I had no trouble following my nose and finding the offender: a small package of asafoetida. I quickly wrapped it in a plastic bag. Nope. Two bags. In the end, it ended up inside two bags, stuffed into a tightly-sealed jar.

    My cook uses it all the time. And there is no offending flavour to match the odour. I don't know which dishes have it and which don't, as you cannot smell it in food. And the odour has become much more tolerable for me over time. Now, I smell it, am aware of it, can identify it, but it doesn't bother me. it is just one of those smells that is part of 'home'. I don't love it, but it's there and not a bother. I have had a similar olfactory journey with the smell of the incense burnt to repel mosquitoes, though I am significantly less far along that journey, as the odour of the incense still makes me feel rather unwell, but less so than in the beginning.

    So, I'm afraid I can't even tell you what asafoetida does for the flavour of food. My cook cooks. I eat. It's like an extended holiday in that regard. But, I think you might not want it in your house. I am not alone in my reaction to the spice; a few expats never really get used to it.

  2. Alison (in Australia)11:24 AM

    I wonder if there's a difference between 'pure' (ie sold in India) and 'refined' (ie sold in developed countries) asafoetida? I've bought, and happily used, asafoetida powder in Australia. It's been slightly difficult to get, but not excessively so - any decent specialty grocer's seems to carry it. The smell and flavour, pre-cooking, hasn't been overly remarkable - certainly not offensively so. After cooking it just seems to meld into the general flavour of the dish, and is unnoticeable. Perhaps the asafoetida sold here has been westernised somewhat?

    I look forward to hearing more about your adventures with Good King Henry!

  3. I checked Moro East for Good King Henry but he appeared to be absent. There was every other "allotment herb" known to humankind in there though, so if you fancy a dandelion and nettle salad, that's your cookbook!
    Hing is not an essential - it jsut adds a bit of a "pop" and you can substitute lemon juice for amchur - though saying that one of our favourite things is potato wedges baaked in the oven with pomegranate seeds, chilli and amchur - mmmm!

  4. Jean, I do a fair amount of Indian cooking and I love asafoetida! It does have a strong flavor and odor, but it's one I enjoy. You don't need very much of it, though, and I can see how it would be too much for some people.

    When my mother first got me some asafoetida in an Indian grocer in Chicago, they sold her a solid block of a resinous substance. I spent a lot of time hacking it into bits to use in recipes which called for an eighth of a teaspoon or similar amounts... Then I visited another grocer and got the powder, which I've been using ever since.

    I'll be interested to hear how your Good King Henry experiments go. I had considered growing it myself until I read about how awful you found it to be.

  5. I must say I learn an amazing number of things from your blog, Jean. Now it's Indian cooking!

  6. I liked that clip of the cat ruining the video.