weird culinary things to do if you don’t have a job

I know what you’re thinking, if you’re my parents/adoring husband/other productive member of society: “I can think of a weird culinary thing to do if you don’t have a job, and it’s called look for a job!!!!”

And you would be right.  Yes.  So I will go try to apply for some jobs, right after I finish this and maybe one or two other things that are pretty important.

So, this morning I bought a slab of tamarind at the grocery for $1.49.  And I made tamarind paste.  Tamarind paste is made from the fruit of the tamarind tree, which is in the evergreen family, apparently? To quote the authors of this lovely cookbook (which every man, woman, and child should own and read and cherish forever): “tamarind tastes of dense, sour dried fruit with a strong sense of citrus and a lingering sweetness.” It is commonly used in Indian, Thai, and Caribbean cuisine.  You can use it for pad thai, curries, etc.  (And it’s full of vitamins and all sorts of things that are wonderful for your health!)

[IMPORTANT UPDATE:  tamarind and chocolate is the most wonderful combination of all time.  Put a dollop of tamarind paste on some brownies and you will be so happy.]

For most people, who have jobs and lead productive lives, making their own tamarind paste from scratch may not be worth it (though it is beyond easy and pretty fun and takes about 30 minutes and probably less if you have a better strainer than I!).  So just in case anyone wants to know here’s how you do it (I learned how from this beautiful post— worth a read, and check out what she says about her grandmother using tamarind for her skin! hooray! new weird thing to try for my skin!!):

How to make tamarind paste/pulp (better yet, read her instructions!): Put tamarind in a bowl with equal amount of water (I used oz of tamarind and 8 oz water).  Slowly twist and break off pieces of the tamarind and sort of knead/massage/pull/press it until it turns into a paste.  At first you will think you are crazy and that it will never turn into anything resembling a paste, but you are wrong. Keep working at it, and soon you will have a pulpy paste. Press through a strainer* (save pulp for a little facial scrub or mask).  And voila: tamarind paste.  It will last for maybe a week in the fridge, and you can freeze what you don’t want to use for later (freeze 2-3 T each in small ziplock bags)

* The tamarind paste wouldn’t go through the strainer very easily– I had to press for awhile and then scrape the paste from the underside of the strainer.  It would have been easier using something with slightly bigger holes! (As you can see it is a messy process.  But also satisfying, wrestling a block of tamarind into a silky paste with your bare hands.)

And I ended up with this (about a cup of tamarind paste!):

To read more about the health benefits of tamarind.  Oh, the Splendid Table ladies recommend drizzling it over whole-milk yogurt, which sounds amazing.


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