Mustard oil dilemmas

Soon after I posted my Bengali Dal on Cooking Boulder, I was quickly taken to task for posting a Bengali dish that was not made with mustard oil. My pleas of but that's how I make it and have been making it for what seems like forever did not impress until I remembered why I don't have mustard oil as an essential pantry item. The FDA disapproves. Bottles of mustard oil have warnings that range from "Not for human consumption" to "For external use only" to "For massage only."

In the past, I have tried using mustard-flavored oil, a blend of regular cooking oil and mustard oil. No wonder my mutschgand did not taste anything like hers. I think I poured most of that oil into my used oil container, and it was eventually recycled.

Pure mustard oil can be found on the shelves of Indian grocery stores, rubbing shoulders with peanut oil, coconut oil and cooking oil. But, according to the FDA, you are not supposed to cook with it. Bengalis, however, have been cooking with it for centuries and are still some of the nicest people I know. So it's not doing anything to their charming disposition, nor is it affecting their intelligence or creativity in any way.

To Bay or Not to Bay

It's taken everything and more to get me to focus on this post. In my mind, it was due two weeks but fate decreed otherwise. I think we are all still in shock, reaching out to one another to seek solace and comfort, hugging our families as much as possible.

Charming Ellen of Helliemaes Salt Caramels put some spunk back in life by sending me a box of her new Chili Palmer Caramels. It served as more than a thoughtful pick-me-up as it ripped through my nasal and sinus congestion to remind me that I still had taste-buds. Whoa! These babies pack a punch! Of course, I promptly brewed a cup of tea to increase the burn.

Thank you, my lovely friend, these hit the spot!

The rest of this post is a PSA. Not a pet peeve, because then you would think of me as only being about pet peeves. I promise you, there is more to me than pet peeves!

Raji, I will miss you.

Raji, so gorgeous!
Rest in Peace, my beautiful friend

My beautiful friend Raji Shanker passed away early Monday morning. It was news I was hoping I wouldn't hear for a very long time. But she knew. She had told me a couple of weeks ago that it didn't look very good for her, that the prognosis was bleak. But you would never know it — not from her posts or her upbeat and witty comments on all our blogs.

Handy Tip: Storing Ginger

<pet peeve>

It's Ginger. Not Ginger Root.

Ginger is a rhizome or an underground stem.

That means that it cannot be a root.

</pet peeve>

4 weeks old

I need at least one small knob of ginger in my refrigerator at all times. Over the years, I've tried different methods of getting it to last without turning bluish-green and moldy on me. Freeze it, they said. Make a paste and store it in an air-tight container in your refrigerator, exhorted another. I tried both, even a combination of both, and rued the loss of flavor.