Toni Leland's News for April

April was filled with not only flowers and showers, but many interesting and fun experiences.

Kangaroo Paws at the botanical center
Early in the month, with thin sunshine and a stiff breeze, I boarded the RiverQuest and sailed the Connecticut River watching for the Ospreys and Bald Eagles that are nesting at this time of year. Great trip. Read more about it at Connecticut Lifestyles. A week later, the weather warmed up perfectly for a visit to the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. Wow. So refreshing to see all the tropicals and plants bursting with spring energy. The staff were just setting up the Fairy Gardens exhibit, so we got a little sneak peek. With family, I participated in the 10th Annual Walk to End Homelessness in New London, Connecticut. It was a beautiful day and a worthwhile cause.

I had the pleasure of teaching a large group of Master Gardeners what they wanted to know about becoming a garden writer. It was exciting to hear all the great story ideas and see the enthusiasm for sharing a love of gardening. My own education continued later in the month at a Master Gardener class on Ethnobotany, but more about that in a future post.

April's story assignments included a feature article on Treasure Hill Farm in Salem for Connecticut Horse; stories about art shows, family festivals, and the Connecticut Author Trail for The Day publications and, of course, my garden column and feature for Norwich Magazine.

As the weather settles and the garden beckons, I'll be juggling assignments, deadlines, and dandelions!

Spring has sprung!

Book Review: Vibrant India - Fresh Vegetarian Recipes by Chitra Agrawal

book Vibrant India
The cookbook Vibrant India is as stunning as the country and cuisine documented inside. Chitra Agrawal, chef and owner of Brooklyn Delhi, has captured the heart and essence of  South India with the foods, cultures, and history which fill every page. Featuring fresh vegetarian recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn, this book is an entertaining and fascinating exploration.

The author opens the book with her own family history, and defines the differences between North and South Indian cooking. “South Indian cooking relies heavily on rice and lentils,” she says, “as opposed to the breads and curry preparations of the North.”

As any culinary instructor would do, Agrawal starts with the basic pantry of the Indian kitchen and the time-honored techniques that produce the dishes. She describes how to temper or fry spices in hot oil, a practice she states is “at the heart of Indian cooking.”

Through 216 pages, recipes and techniques cover breakfast and light meals; salads and yogurts; stir-fries and curries; rice and bread; soups, stews, and lentils; festive bites and snacks; sweets and drinks; and chutneys and pickles. Preparing several ingredients from scratch is outlined, as well as meal-planning and sample menus, a resource list for ingredients and equipment, and a complete index.

The photography in this book is beautiful, and the design is well thought-out with a simple typeface that is a reasonable size. Being a large hard-cover book, it’s a little unwieldy for a kitchen counter.

I loved this book and plan to try some of the intriguing dishes set forth, beginning with Cardamom Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Golden Raisins!

For anyone wishing to explore exceptional vegetarian cuisine, Vibrant India is the journey.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.