In Buddha’s Table, Chat Mingkwan suggests a krok hin (stone mortar) be used to make the foundational pastes for Thai curries.  A heavy ancient tool I can use to make yummy food and which provides a work out?  Sold!  I lurked around eBay for a couple of days and found quite a few granite numbers, but sellers were asking  quite a lot for old ones and not much less for small new ones.  Then I found a nice collection of granite sets on  I ordered the 8″ model and it arrived yesterday.   It is a very impressive

Weighing 18 pounds, it was expertly carved in Thailand.  The instructions directed me to give it a scrub with an abrasive pad and then make a paste from one quartered lemon (to practice, further clean it and season it), so I did.  It was fun.  I learned to start slowly (doing otherwise gave me a nice lemon juice spritz–glad to be wearing glasses).  With patience, the rind broke down, a thick paste resulted and I could pick up the pace.

If you are in the market for a granite mortar and pestle for home use, consider the 7 incher.  I am not unhappy with the 8 incher, but I am pretty sure it is larger than I will need and I can tell the weight will not be immaterial when moving it around during use, cleaning and storage.  I picked the 8 incher because it wasn’t much more expensive (how many times have I ended up with super-sized popcorn tubs for the same reason) and the description said it was for “serious chefs.”  I know I am not a serious chef, but in the privacy of home, shopping online, I was unable to resist the conceit.  Be more enlightened–get the 7 incher.

I need to use up my last third cup of massamun paste, made previously on my krok din (clay mortar with wood pestle), before I can give the krok hin a proper test.   Last night I made the second batch of massamun curry with the paste.  I went off recipe and added to the paste and coconut milk a little stock to increase the volume and thin it some.  Then I added potatoes, carrots, green beans, pineapple, peanuts, tofu, sugar, tamarind juice, light soy sauce, a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick and cardamom. So good!  Lacey wants green curry next and I am happy to oblige.

Frida is still chugging.  She puked once Sunday afternoon (while we were out catching a movie (The Grand Budapest Hotel–highly recommended) and a black bean burger (The Olde English Pub & Pantry–highly recommended).  Oh the guilt for leaving her!  Scary, too, in light of her diagnosis.  She hasn’t since so we’ll attribute this one to the incredibly moldy bagel we couldn’t wrench from her mouth during her Sunday morning walk.  It is nearly impossible to take found food from her.  She bucks madly and locks her jaw like a safe.  This time she nearly pulled out of her collar while thrashing backwards toward the traffic so we gave up and let her swallow it.  With her, prevention is the only cure.  I need to be more vigilant.fiy

Most of the seedlings are up in the basement.  Pretty quick.  They’ll get 45 days inside under lights and then a couple of weeks outside in pots to harden off before they are moved to the gardens (if my patience holds and the soil warms).  This morning it was twenty degrees as Frida and I finished our walk.  Cold enough that the light breeze stung my uncovered face but Frida thought it was swell and refused to come in when we returned home.  Bless her.

I’m still missing Stacy’s Organic tortillas.  So much better than anything at Honest Weight.  I’ve given up on my special order of Stacy’s through Honest Weight.  I never got a clear answer as to why they didn’t arrive.  They’d just say “we’re still trying” and now the guy avoids eye contact with me.  This after I spoke to a guy at Albert’s New England, the regional distributor, who said they’d be happy to get them from Albert’s East in New Jersey and then forward them along if only Honest Weight would place the order.  Time to try a new tactic, so yesterday I went to Dean’s Natural Foods to see if they would place an order.  I spoke with Dean himself and he said he’d give it a go.  I think I made enough of a sales pitch that he’ll order a second case for his store (in addition to their superior taste and texture, I highlighted how well they freeze, that when unfrozen they remain perfectly pliable and that they never mold in my fridge).  I’ll let you know if he gets them in.  These tortillas are definitely worth the trip.  If Dean can’t get them, I’ll buy a case in New Paltz next time I am down there.

Even if Dean can’t get the tortillas, I am going to shop there more regularly.  I can’t give up on Honest Weight (they have so much I’ve come to feel I need), but the size and constant bustle of the new Honest Weight is off-putting.  Dean’s reminds me of the small co-op we enjoyed in Omaha (the one crushed in two months time after Wild Oats came to town) and seems to offer quite a few items not offered by Honest Weight.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Dean’s has better prices, too.  You’d think Honest Weight would use their scale to undersell a little shop, but unless you work enough hours to get their highest discount, their prices are shocking.  Stay tuned for Stacy’s at Dean’s and stop by there even sooner.

Take care and have fun.


4 responses to “Pastes

  1. Just a quick note, not to make you feel worse, but an honest warning – moldy food can be very toxic to dogs! I work in the veterinary field, and have been enjoying your blog for years,. I seldom comment, but follow along , especially about Frida’s health. I have seen first hand the results of moldy bread ingestion, and the following uncontrollable seizures it can cause, and I would feel awful if I didn’t say anything.


    • Thank you. You are kind and your information is much appreciated. So far, so good, but there will be other times we can try harder to prevent it and to stop it in progress. Or maybe someone else will benefit. So, all good! I hope you are well.

  2. The Low Beat is serving up a fantastic veggie burger!

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