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Culturally, Brazilian wedding festivities are akin to Indian weddings. There was a ton of family, even more food, and lots of music and dancing. I can’t say enough about how warm and welcoming Margaret’s family was, despite the fact that we couldn’t really communicate with them. They didn’t speak English, and remember what I said about Brazilian Portuguese? We set them off into fits of laughter with our attempts to speak a few words.

On our first night in Mimoso, I thought I had learned the word for bread: pão. When Margaret’s Uncle, having been notified we didn’t eat meat, wanted to know what we could eat, I trotted out this word proudly (pão), only to be met with a look of total surprise. One of Margaret’s sisters managed to clear up the confusion. The way I pronounced the word, he thought I was saying “pau,” which is the Portuguese word for…stick. Yup, he asked what we could eat, and I asked for…a stick. Pão/Pau–try it for yourself!

And then her cousins asked our names. Turns out, Anusha is easy to pronounce in just about any language. Rohit, on the other hand, is almost unpronounceable. The cousins couldn’t understand even Margaret and her sisters when they said the name. This was because the letters R, H and T aren’t really pronounced in Brazilian Portuguese. R is pronounced as H is in English (Rio sounds like Hey-o), H is silent altogether, and T is pronounced more like Ch, like in Chair. They just don’t hear the other sounds, which happened to be ALL the consonants in Rohit’s name. In their heads, his name sounded like “Oh-ee.” Finally, we spelled it, and their faces lit up with understanding, as they pronounced the letters the correct way: “Ho’ichi!” And that’s how we introduced him the rest of the time.

What a great rest of the time it was. The night before the wedding, we ended up taking the party to the streets of the town. During many Indian weddings, there is often a singing/dancing night–the Sangeet, where family and friends strut their stuff. It turned out to be much the same in Brazil, and Margaret’s family had talent to spare!

It started with singing, and they had their own music system. On wheels. Margaret has perfect pitch, so she got in on the action too, as Rohit and I watched, awestruck. Then the drumming started. There is simply no way to describe it. Rohit plays the drums himself, and seeing his interest, some of Margaret’s cousins gave him a quick lesson. He enjoyed himself a lot, and I enjoyed the look of intense concentration on his face.

What we found the most amazing about the drumming was that even the kids knew how to keep a count with one hand–beating 1-2-3-4, while with the other hand, they beat double or triple time! One hand beat down steadily on the drum, while the other rippled quickly across the surface, like skipping stones across a lake. How do you have your left hand and your right hand playing different, but coordinating beats? It was incredible! I’ll leave you for now with a few more images from the pre-wedding procession, and follow up next time with the big day itself!

 

 

 

After a few days in Rio, we were off to Mimoso do Sul for the actual wedding festivities. At the bus station, the Rodoviária Novo Rio, we had delicious açaí bowls. We got a little addicted to açaí while in Brazil. It’s an addiction that proved too expensive to keep up once we returned to the US. But for the duration of our stay there, açaí and granola was our go to snack. For those who haven’t heard of açaí, it’s the fruit of a Brazilian palm tree, mashed to pulp and mixed with granola. It’s rich in flavor and nutrients, naturally vegan, and just plain tasty.

The bus was more comfortable than our seats on Delta. I managed to sleep almost the entire way to Mimoso. Rohit doesn’t have the magic power of sleeping anywhere he wants, whenever he wants, so he turned to technology instead. The iPod is an insomniac traveler’s best friend.

We arrived in Mimoso shortly before dawn, but Margaret’s uncle was already there to greet us. We loaded all our suitcases into his truck and walked the short distance to the house.

The only hotel in town was full of wedding guests for the rest of the week. An international army descended on Mimoso, since our bride and groom, Margaret and Mike, are so well travelled that they had friends in many many different countries. Margaret’s Brazilian family hosted all of us for meals at their house on the Rua Crispim Braga. We spent the rest of the week eating together and making new friends.

Brazilian culture is incredibly friendly and hospitable. Especially if you happened to be Indians. Rohit and I had noticed even when we arrived in Rio that people turned and looked at us a lot. We assumed this was because they couldn’t quite decide how to categorize us. Maybe we looked like native Brazilians, but walked and talked like Americans. We thought that might be confusing.

Once we got to a small town, however, and people actually came up and talked to us, we realized that Brazilians were fascinated with us because we were Indian. Not natives, but from India. All of Brazil was hooked on a telenovela called Caminho das Índias. Essentially it’s like watching a giant multi-generational mini-series. In Brazil in 2009, Caminho das Índias was bringing the whole country to a stand still every night, with everyone stopping whatever else they were doing to watch the intertwined saga of two Brazilian and Indian families. Inter-caste romance, silk saris and gold jewelry, Bollywood music and classical dance–Caminho das Índias had it all, and Brazilians couldn’t get enough!

What was most fascinating to me was how clearly they could tell we were Indian (in fact that was pretty much everyone’s first question; the second was whether I could teach them Indian dance, but more on that later). Why was this fascinating? Because every Indian character in the telenovela was actually played by a Brazilian! So how did they know? It’ll always be a mystery.

Rohit took great delight in informing everyone that I was a classically trained dancer. That’s pretty much all it took for me to become a celebrity. For the rest of the week in Mimoso, Rohit and I got our 15 minutes of fame 🙂 Even Mimoso’s mayor wanted to have his picture taken with us. Here I am with all my littlest fans, and the Mayor!

 

 

A trip to Brasil would not be complete without attending a football game! Here we are outside Maracana stadium, getting ready to cheer on the local team, the Flamengo. Rohit’s very excited, as you can tell by the size of his smile!

To be honest, I can’t remember too much about the game, except that the stadium is lovely, the Flamengo won, and the mood was electric. If this is how just a regular game is here, I can’t imagine how it will be during the World Cup in 2014! We might be planning a trip back for it.

We also unexpectedly came across some fun urban graffiti right outside the stadium. It’s just as nice to randomly see street art like this in cities we visit, as it is to turn the corner and discover a cool building or a pretty view. Here are a few of our favorites. Rohit decided that he needed to pose next to the one that said “Thug,” in case there was any doubt as to how he views himself.

 

 

Enough about us! On to the wedding. Congratulations to Margaret aka Maggie, (here with Rohit) and Mike! They met in Afghanistan/Pakistan and got married in Brazil, in Maggie’s mother’s hometown, Mimoso do Sul. Over 40 of their friends flew in from all over the world to celebrate with them.

Many of us first spent a few days together in Rio, where we stayed at the Orla Copacabana. It was a decent hotel, reasonably priced for Rio (our standard room was $119/night + taxes), and as close as to the beach as possible! Since we didn’t spend much time in our room, it worked out great. This is pretty much the whole room, except for a small bathroom to my left.

Maggie and her two sisters became our tour guides for the rest of our trip. On our first night we all went out to a samba club. It was a combined bachelor/bachelorette party, and Margaret and Mike were such good sports, they wore the “gifts” her sisters bought them.

on the bus

trains weren't running

sisters in the van

Day 2 in Rio, we all trekked to see Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), who watches over all of Rio. We took a bus to the base of the mountain, and then hired a van to take us the rest of the way. There should have been train service to the top, but it wasn’t running that day.

(a) pirate captain and crew (b) brazilian family or (c) all of the above?

see if you can spot rohit following the pirate

rohit's delighted to have his picture taken with his pirate!

Rohit also became fascinated with a family of pirates that were on our van. He guessed they were pirates because the dad wore a bright red shirt, gold hoops, a ponytail and a general pirate-y look. We ended up taking almost as many pictures of the pirate as we did of the Reedemer!

After soaking up all the views of Rio, we headed back to the city, tired and ready to eat. But, it was siesta time everywhere.

Just as we resigned ourselves to going hungry, we came upon this small alley, paved with cobblestones and softly aglow with early evening light. There was just one restaurant open, and it was a Middle Eastern place. So vegans, vegetarians, omnivores and carnivores all had a perfect meal, to end a perfectly lovely day.

 It was raining when we first arrived in Rio. But that didn’t deter us from seeking out some lunch. Brazil is generally NOT a vegetarian/vegan friendly country. They love them some meat over there. From the way it smelled, roasting on spits, we could understand why!

Luckily, during our Rio research, we had discovered the existence of a small vegan restaurant in the fashionable area of Leblon, which was not too far from where we were staying in Copacabana. With a name like Vegetariano Social Clube, how could we resist?

Since it was raining, and we were starving, we decided against walking there. Instead, armed with my Brazilian Portuguese phrase book, we tried out the local bus system. We discovered immediately that (1) most people in Rio do not speak or understand English, and (2) Brazilian Portuguese is one tough language to pronounce correctly!

The bus driver and the conductor (who administers the tickets) were both very sweet and managed to understand that we were clearly asking something about where the bus was going. Esta onibus vai para Leblon? Unfortunately, the Vegetariano Social Clube is located on the Rua Conde Bernadotte, which years of high school French made me consistently pronounce with a French accent (roo conda bear-nah-doht). So many blank looks later, we had to write it down and show them. Of course it turned out that we had just passed the stop!

The rain had stopped by then, so we walked the short distance to the restaurant. The Vegetariano Social Clube had an extensive buffet, and amazing fresh juice drinks. Since it was a Sunday, we also got to have vegan feijoada (a delicious stew of beans and pork, or in our case, tofu), accompanied by farofa, a condiment that is a mix of toasted flour and spices. This is pretty much the Brazilian national dish!
So on our very first day in Rio, we discovered that our travels together would encompass these three things:
  1. My interest in learning at least a few phrases in the local language, which I would pronounce with a French accent;
  2. Rohit’s fascination with trying out the local public transportation; and
  3. Our mutual obsession with not just finding vegan food, but vegan versions of the food the locals eat!

I’ve been working and reworking this chapter. I imagine Francis walking, his heart beating loud in his ears, each step bringing back a rush of images from the past.

But romance novel contests I have submitted these chapters to have not really taken to them. Some judges got too confused. Some thought they sounded like literature rather than a romance novel! I was an English major, and I read a LOT of literature. This is definitely NOT literature.

But this is Version 4, which has a lot of pruning done to it. Many flashbacks have been taken out. I may post Version 3 later, just so you can see how much has been cut, and whether it is more powerful, or less powerful, from the omissions.

            Chapter Two           

The Third Cross Street of Wallajah High Road was wide enough for his carriage but Francis decided to enter on foot. He thought it might attract less attention. Or perhaps he wanted to buy himself a little more time before he saw her again.

Anjuli. Even from a distance, there was something both valiant and vulnerable about her. Valiant in the way she sat very straight with her head held high and her gaze steady. Vulnerable in how tightly her hands gripped the arms of her chair.

He walked forward with deliberate steps, determined to remain calm. Truth be told, she had disarmed him from his first sight of her, months ago. He was not sure what he had expected, but it had not been the tall, slim girl who looked up from her father’s deathbed with such cool poise.

*      *      *      *

Francis leaned against the doorway and watched the girl. She sat straight and still on an armless wooden chair. Mohan, her father, tossed and turned on the narrow cot next to her. His rapid, shallow breaths rattled against his chest as if each one cost a great deal of pain.

The surgeon had worked for hours but Mohan had lost a great deal of blood. He moved in and out of consciousness and was surely slipping away. If Francis had not known it from the surgeon’s grim pronouncement, he would have realized it from the stricken look in the daughter’s eyes.

He had noticed only her outward composure at first. As he looked longer, he could see her dark eyes were bright with suppressed tears. The soft lines of her chin and mouth trembled and smoothed out. She had a dent in her chin. Not a true cleft or a dimple. Just a slight dent, as if her creator had tapped a finger against it in appreciation.

She spoke first, in an unexpectedly warm and velvet voice. A voice distinctly at odds with her reserved demeanor. “Viscount Skye? You are Lord Skye?”

“And you are Mohan’s daughter. Anjuli.” The words came out colder than he intended. He did not want to punish the daughter for the sins of her father.

That dented chin went up a fraction but her manners remained faultless. A rebuke to his own.

“Yes, my lord.  I—I thank you for sending for me. And for all you have done tonight for my father. Please, won’t you come in and sit? And tell me what happened?”

There was neither irony nor fear in her face or voice. Either she was an astonishing actress or she was innocent of her father’s activities. Francis pushed himself off the doorway and took the seat across from her. The open door and her father between them would provide sufficient propriety.

“Your father was taking me to see account books he kept in another part of the Fort. We were—intercepted—on our way. A gun went off, meant for me. Your father—he—he stepped in front of me. He saved my life.”

It was mostly true. He only left out the part where Mohan lured him into the ambush. He did not know why Mohan had abruptly shoved him out of the assassin’s way at the last minute. But he would never forget the look of mild astonishment on the man’s face as he crumpled to the ground. He looked more like a scholar making a curious new discovery than a man who had just received a fatal wound.

“Appa saved your life.” Anjuli sounded equally surprised. “He’s always been just Appa to me, you know. Just this quiet man who never laughed, who barely smiled. Who seemed like he just wanted to—to fade away. I can’t imagine him—”

She broke off. Her head came up swiftly. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I am telling you any of this. It’s just—isn’t it strange how little you can truly know about your own parents, even though you’ve been with them your whole life?”

Francis watched her face carefully. “It is very strange. We are often unable to see our parents as fellow people, aren’t we? With theirs own pasts, their own thoughts, regrets, mistakes. Their own loyalties.”

Anjuli showed no sign of whether his words held any meaning for her. She laid her hand on her father’s forehead. There was a certain shy hesitation about the gesture that revealed they were not a family given to shows of affection. And a fierce tenderness that revealed her feelings ran deep even if rarely expressed.

“Why would anyone wish to harm you, my lord?”

Only Mohan could provide him with that answer. They had not found the gunman. “I am curious about it myself. But it’s something I should discuss first with your father.”

Anjuli pulled her hand back. “Appa keeps asking for you, you know,” she stammered out.

“What?” Francis forced his eyes up, to meet hers. “What has he been saying?”

Her gaze was direct and simple, devoid of self-pity. “Just your name and that he must speak with you. He also asks for my brother. I am not sure whether he realizes I am here.”

“I am sure he must. You were the first person he asked for. He insisted we send for you right away. His agitation was so great the doctor could not attend your father until we assured him you had been summoned.”

He was not sure what compelled him to offer her some measure of comfort. Perhaps it was the sliver of pain lacing her words. Or the way she strove to hide it with such dignity. If he had not been observing her so closely, her matter of fact manner might have fooled him.

And he only watched her so closely, Francis told himself, because needed to determine the extent of her knowledge about her father’s activities. If he offered her some kindness, perhaps it would help win her trust and affection. It was, after all, his duty to England to discover as much as he could.

“Do you know why it was so important to your father you get here so quickly?” Francis continued. “Perhaps you—did you—bring anything with you?”

Anjuli shook her head. “Should I have? Are you looking for something?”

He had overplayed his hand. She was an intelligent girl. The events of the day must be making him sloppy.

“I have sent for your brother as well, though I understand he may be difficult to locate. He is with Skinner’s Horse? I have heard much of them. A most formidable cavalry of irregulars.”

Anjuli pressed her palms against the seat of her chair and leaned forward. “You’re changing the subject. Why?”

A very intelligent girl. He summoned his most charming smile. “Because I keep telling you things I should not. Strange how we have this effect on each other, isn’t it?”

She stiffened. “You do not have any effect on me.”

Francis raised an eyebrow and deliberately stretched out his legs. He decided at the last minute against linking his hands behind his head and tilting the chair back. He did not want to overplay his hand again. He just wanted make her uncomfortable enough about his intentions to stop her questions. So he deliberately hooded his eyes and lowered his voice to a soft drawl.

“No effect at all, my dear? That delightful flush on your cheeks says otherwise. Is it true crimson anger, I wonder? Or a coy rose red? Whichever it is, it is quite becoming.”

She startled him by responding with a genuine smile. A full, dazzling smile that exposed dimples at each end and pulled all the light in the room to her face.

“It’s quite unfortunate you don’t have a mustache.” Her eyes danced a double duet with her dimples. “This would have been the perfect opportunity to twirl it while leering menacingly. Like so.” And she twisted her thumb and forefinger together next to her lush mouth to illustrate the action.

A burst of laughter escaped Francis before he could contain it. “A clean hit! I’ll have to do better next time I try to play the lecherous villain.”

They grinned at each other for a moment with the sudden shared camaraderie of two clever people pleased with themselves. Francis was almost certain afterwards he never looked directly at her. Yet somehow he always remembered the color of her sari: dark green like the heart of the forest, embroidered with golden pinwheels. And he never forgot the color of her eyes: a deep brown mixed with burgundy, as bright as his father’s prized port wine in its crystal decanter. As soft as the dark purple interior of the pansies in his mother’s garden.

How long had he sat there, his eyes locked with hers? Two minutes may have passed. Or twenty. Somewhere during that time, her smile faded. His smile faded too.

He ought to say something. Or better yet, he should get up and leave. He was here on a commission from Whitehall to uncover a massive financial fraud committed at the highest levels of the East India Company. He would not risk his mission by softening towards the daughter of a traitor. The daughter of a man who had conspired to kill him. Who may have sacrificed his life to save him.

He could not leave. She looked innocent and brave and good. But he would not leave her alone with her father. Of course not. It would be stupid of him to allow them an opportunity for private conversation. Until he could be certain she posed no threat, he needed to keep both father and daughter under observation. That was all. It was his duty to stay.

And as he continued to sit there, two surprising things happened. First, unlike most people, Anjuli made no attempt to fill the silence with useless chatter. Her gaze did not waver, her head did not droop, but she spoke not a single word. Second, and even more surprisingly, the awkward, slightly hostile silence between them dissolved slowly back into a companionable one. They might have sat thus all night, unsmiling but unselfconscious, quiet but comfortable, if her father had not finally regained consciousness. Francis could never have imagined how thoroughly and irrevocably a dying man would change his life, in the space between one night’s darkness and the next day’s dawn.

*      *      *      *

From that night to this morning, his decision had haunted him. She had haunted him. Anjuli. She sat outside on her verandah, waiting in full view of her neighbors. She was one and twenty, only four years younger than himself, but she looked very fragile. Her ink black hair hung down to her waist in a braid as thick as his wrist. The rising sun flashed blue highlights from the silken mass of it and struck sparks from the jewels at her wrists and ears.

He was close enough now to see the edge of unhappiness and defiance in her posture. And to grow aware of the sudden tension in the bent figures of the women around him. They all seemed absorbed in their morning rituals. But he could feel their collective gaze along the edge of his throat like a knife.

Had they somehow sensed who he was? Higgins, the government agent who traveled as his valet, had reported that Anjuli had told no one in the neighborhood of her marriage. She had never returned to the Fort to take advantage of her new status. She lived the same quite life she had lived before.           

Francis lifted the latch and pushed open the iron gate. She would fight him. She had found it harder to accept their situation than he had. After all, he had known what was stake. But he doubted she did.

And yet, no matter how she felt, she could not stay where she was. It was not just that a beautiful young woman living alone could prove a tempting target for all sorts of unsavory elements. India was no longer safe for her, just as Mohan had predicted. Her father’s actions had condemned her.

Already, she was being watched. Higgins was certain there were others watching Anjuli’s house and movements. And Higgins was a man of almost supernatural instincts.

Francis stepped across the threshold, taking care not to disturb the rice powder design on the ground. Circumstances denied him the ability to respect her wishes. He could at least respect her customs.

Coconut palms framed the edges of the courtyard. He circled clockwise, the auspicious direction, around the holy basil plant in its raised brick pedestal in the center of the yard. Its spicy tang mingled in the air with the scent of—roses.

His head snapped around and he paused for a moment at the sight of a single rose bush tucked between two mango trees. Tall wooden posts shaded it on three sides from both the sun and the sea air. English roses. It was like suddenly coming across an old friend. He brushed his fingertips across the mass of scarlet blooms and then touched his hand to his eyes.

She sat there as regal as a queen. Her eyes remained cool and distant, fixed just over his shoulder. Maybe she had not believed he would return for her. After all, she did not know he had left Higgins to watch over her. She might have thought he had abandoned her.

He was close enough now to smell the faint fragrance of jasmine from the flowers in her hair. He was unable to stop his heart from giving a quick thud. She had haunted his dreams for weeks, sometimes weeping, at other times a temptress. He had planned for days what he would say to her, how charmingly and politely he would greet her. He had considered with great care how to convince her of his good intentions and her danger. But his brain and his tongue failed him at the last moment.

He spoke her name without thinking. “Anjuli.” And was startled to discover how much of his emotions it revealed.

She stood. The delicate folds of the sari slithered down around her. It was as blue as the sky above them and the sea beyond. The curves of her throat, arms and waist gleamed against it like pale gold.

“Francis.”

The sound of his given name snapped his eyes up to her face. She had used his name.  Not his title or the even colder Sir, but his own name. She thought of him as Francis. It gave him hope.

He smiled as he put out his hand. She hesitated a moment, but clasped it. He felt a strange temptation to tug her close and laugh. Then she stopped all his foolish thoughts with a single word.

The very first thing I learned about cooking is that it’s all about the spices. Spices make food flavorful. And almost everywhere other than South India, onion and garlic are the main flavorants added to food. Think about it. From pasta to salsa, Thanksgiving to Chinese New Year, where would we be without onions or garlic?

Tamil Brahmins though, like to do everything the hard way. For my orthodox grandmothers, onions and garlic were on the no-no list, along with meat. Many contradictory theories abound as to the reason for this traditional ban on onions and garlic. Some say it’s because onions and garlic are smelly. Some say that they are potent aphrodisiacs that those on spiritual paths should avoid. Whatever the reason, many Indians avoid onions and garlic on holy days, and the orthodox avoid them all the time.

So the grandmothers had to find some other way to flavor their food. Here’s their secret–the basic building blocks of an Indian pantry. These aren’t just for making Indian food–many of these spices can be used to boost the flavor of any food, especially vegetables.

Parents, take note: if you want to get your kids to eat vegetables, mustard seeds and urad dal are your new best friends.

MUSTARD SEED

Scientific Name: Brassica Nigra/ B. Juncea

Health Benefits: omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, protein, niacin and dietary fiber. Seriously! Check out the amazing nutritional profile of these little seeds.

How to Use: Heat a tablespoon of oil for 1 to 2 minutes, then add 1-2 teaspoons of mustard seeds. When they splutter and start popping, add urad dal.

URAD DAL (BLACK GRAM, unhusked and split, aka WHITE GRAM)

Scientific Name: Vigna mungo

Health Benefits: protein, fiber, calcium, iron.

How to Use: There are many, many ways to use this lentil. For now, add a teaspoon or two to your oil after the mustard seeds have stopped popping. It’s a quick shot of protein into your dish, and provides some nice texture to soft vegetables.

ASAFOETIDA/ HING

Scientific NameFerula assafoetida

Health Benefits: Wikipedia says that it helps with digestion, asthma, bronchitis and maybe even the flu! I’ve mainly thought of it as Indian MSG. While it has a strong pungent smell in its raw form, it loses that smell when toasted in oil, and seems to just boost the natural flavor of food.

How to Use: Add a very small amount (start with a 1/4 tsp) to oil, either before or after adding mustard seeds and urad dal. This was the grandmothers’ substitute for onion and garlic, an all natural flavor enhancer. The Wikipedia article confirmed my observations!

RED CHILI (dried), whole and powdered

Scientific Name: Capsicum

Health Benefits: beta-carotene/pro-vitamin A, vitamin C, anti-inflammatory. I was surprised to discover that chilis heat up all sorts of goodness in our bodies, from soothing inflammation in the joints to slowing down the effects of cholesterol.

How to Use: Start with adding one or two dried red chilis to oil, either before or after adding mustard seeds and urad dal. Don’t actually eat them, unless you like the thrill of it! They will release their oils as they roast, and you can discard the husks at the end.

The whole red chilis, roasted in oil, will only add a very delicate and mild amount of heat to food. Beginners can start just with those. More advanced lovers of heat can also add red chili powder directly to the food while it is cooking. Do NOT confuse this with paprika, which has a beautiful red color, but no real heat. Different chili powders will have different levels of heat, so use sparingly according to your taste.

TURMERIC

Scientific NameCurcuma longa

Health Benefits: Last, but by no means least, turmeric is an all around superstar. If you pick just one spice to use daily, let this be the one! First of all, it is a natural preservative. That means that anything you add turmeric to, will last a lot longer in the fridge. The more turmeric you add, the longer it will last. In India, it’s also used as a poultice to heal cuts, as an anti-aging beauty aid on skin, and is present at every auspicious occasion, from births to weddings. The NIH currently has over 60 clinical trials underway studying the various benefits of curcumin (the substance responsible for the biological activity of turmeric) on diseases such as pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, psoriasis and Alzheimer’s.

How to Use: Add a few teaspoons of turmeric to anything you are cooking. Don’t add too much, or you will be able to taste its distinct, slightly bitter flavor. In small quantities, it will disappear into your food, give it a golden glow, keep it fresh, and provide a whole host of health benefits that scientists are just starting to study.

We’ll stop here for today. In addition to all their other benefits, spices also make kitchen cabinets look organized and pretty! I bought a dozen Libbey 4.5 oz glass jars on Amazon.com to use for our wedding. They turned out to be perfect spice jars. They hold a surprising amount, are completely airtight, and wide enough for spoons. Amazon looks to be out of stock right now, but Target has them online. They’re a great value, and good looking as well.

Next up: a Summer Pasta Salad with veggies sauteed in the above spices!