Sunny centerpiece

I had a sink full of dirty dishes and half a box of clementines, left over from snaking and making Nigella's awesome Clementine Cake, but I didn't have a centerpiece. With guests about to arrive for our Sunday supper, there wasn't time to walk to the deli to scrounge around for flowers and I wasn't in the mood for rocks or shells or just candles. I wanted something lively, sunny, fresh and fragrant. Hopefully, something that would complement the food.

Then it hit me -- literally. The dark metal pedestal I found at Moon River Chattel fell on the floor when I was digging through the hall closet, looking for placemats. I stacked the clementines on the pedestal.

Did you know that Clementines have been available in Europe for many years, but the market for them in the United States didn’t take off until a devastating freeze in Florida in 1989 made domestic oranges scarce and expensive? I'd never thought about it until I read this article, but clementines are the only fruit that retailers sell primarily in bulk – shipped and sold in miniature balsam-wood crates covered with orange plastic netting. This sets them apart from other fruits and guarantees that the customer will buy from 28 to 35 clementines at one time. Smart marketing!

I realized today that I'm far from the first person to think of decorating with clementines. Just look at the cover of Martha's Entertaining from 1982.

Martha and Madhur Live!

R* and I took a morning off work today to go to a live taping of the Martha Show. The most interesting thing I learned (okay, besides watching a soap star learn how to propagate begonias) was that mustard seeds are the "Jekyll and Hyde" of the spice word, according to Madhur Jaffrey. She quickly explained that when ground mustard seeds are very pungent, but if the seeds are dropped into hot oil and left to pop they taste nutty and sweet. Black mustard seeds popped in hot oil are the foundation for the Green Lentils with Lemon Slices that they cooked on the show.

Madhur Jaffrey is considered the "Martha Stewart of Europe for Indian Food" plus she's acting in an upcoming Law and Order episode. Everyone in the audience got a copy of Madhur's Simple Indian Cookery. The concept for this BBC cookbook is that Indian food can be simplified while still remaining true to the India's traditions and flavors. I loved the luxurious amount of spices they used in the broiled fish. If I had tumeric in my spice drawer, I'd make this tonight with some cod I have in the freezer. I'll stock up on spices and report back.


Lunchboxes for Grown Ups

I'd really like to bring my lunch to work, but seems like there's no elegant way to do it. I have this dream of bringing soups, salads, maybe some left overs from dinner the night before. Food from home would sure beat the nasty Au Bon Pain chicken noodle I'm slurping down and it would likely be healthier too.

So far, the best I've found is this workplaceTM dish set from Vessel, but it doesn't seem like it comes with any lids? How would I carry the food in? And as much as I love Vessel's stuff, I don't think aqua melamine is very appetizing.