Some old, some new

The old

We often go out to buy a dozen eggs, or a pair of socks, and come back with books instead. So now, there are books oozing out of the cracks in the walls, and out of the floorboards. The end of the year is a particularly bad month – Santa Claus brings us a lot of books. And then comes D’s birthday, which was yesterday. This is what I got for him.

Chotto-ma has her own burgeoning collection, which can no longer be contained in the bookshelves that we have downstairs, and have been demanding a space of their own. We had a battered old bookshelf lying in the shed, which I had bought from a thrift store last year. It was standing there, relegated to a dark corner of the shop. Old and scratched, and with nails rustier than my French. But it was £5, so it came home with me.

D dug out the bookshelf from the musty, murky depths of our shed, while I went to look for the right shade of paint. I have a shelf  under the kitchen sink where I keep my collection of paint cans. I am known to buy acrylics, emulsions and eggshells on a whim, just like one might a pair of Muji shoes. And now own a healthy collection of cans – some Farrow and Balls, a few from the Little Greene Paint Co. and some from Fired Earth.

I chose a rich, foresty green for the shelf. Painted it, then distressed the paint till patches of the wood showed through. I wallpapered the inside of the top shelf, and sewed a curtain to cover the lower shelf.

 Here’s what is looks like now.

Chotto-ma loves it – her very own bookshelf. And seems to have found many uses for the curtains – sometimes it makes a theatre, sometimes a kennel, a room, a hidey-hole.


The new

And I discovered a new vegetable this week. When I first saw these knobbly brown lumps in the market, I thought I was looking at a kind of yam. Wrong. They were called Jerusalem artichokes. Apart from my need to try most things unfamiliar, I would’ve bought it just for its name. And I did.

An hour later, I was standing in the kitchen staring at my purchase, without a clue about what to do with it. So, instead of opening my spice cupboard, I open Wikipedia. A bit of reading tells me that Jerusalem Artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem. Neither were they a kind of artichoke.  

A root vegetable with an identity crisis – I loved them even before I cooked them.

Cumin-spiced Jerusalem artichokes with chorizo, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns

As it turns out, Jerusalem artichokes have a wonderfully earthy and nutty flavour, and a sweetness that combined beautifully with the salty, spicy kick of the chorizo. This recipe is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver. He doesn’t use chorizo, so for a vegetarian version, that’s a lovely option.


5-6 Jerusalem artichokes, sliced round
3-4 inches chorizo, sliced round
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 bay leaves (I used dried bay leaves)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
A pinch of cumin
1 tbs olive oil

Heat olive oil in a pan, and add all the ingredients, except chorizo. Chorizo can become quite tough when sauteed too long. Cook the Jerusalem artichokes for about 20 minutes, lifting the lid once in between to give them a stir. Uncover, add the chorizo, and stir for a 3-4 minutes will the chorizo is done. Serve hot.

Serves 2

15 thoughts on “Some old, some new

  1. I love the bookshelf!!! and i love mini me's style…crossed legs, holding up the book…the works…simply awesome!!

  2. I love the curtains. So utterly cute. I am sure chhottu-ma must be doing a lot of serious reading now that she has her bookshelf in place.

    Jerusalem artichokes make wonderful soup, I have heard.

    This stir fry sounds very delightful.

  3. huli, i knew you'd love the shelf 🙂

    i have to try the soup, anita. apparently, they also make make lovely purees to go with fish or meat.

  4. The book case is fantastic! I love the colour, and there's nothing wrong at all with having too many books! 🙂

    The Jerusalum artichoke recipe looks wonderful! I have only ever made soup with them before!

    Emma 🙂

  5. Jerusalem artichokes are one of my favourite vegetables. I like to eat them raw when they are very fresh, they have a unique sweetness and crunch.
    The picture of Chotto-ma with the raised book is sooo cute! I love painting furntiture as well (I adore colours) but to be honest the results are always disgusting. Yours are much better.

  6. You are so creative! The green is lovely and that curtain … ! Love your daughter's socks too.

    (Have you seen the YouTube video titled “The Joy of Books”? The magic of the printed word…)

    Thank you for introducing me to Jerusalem artichokes. Your dish looks delicious!

  7. you're right emma, there's nothing wrong with having too many books :))

    @lacaffettierarosa: you know, a friend asked me if you could eat jerusalem arichokes raw. she seemed to remember having them crunchy, and uncooked, when she was young. well, now i know 🙂 thanks!

    thanks grace, for the youtube tip-off. what a lovely video! anyone with more books than shelves will be nodding as they watch! loved the music too 🙂

  8. Happy Happy New Year.. a bit late, so please pardon me. Books are the heart beat of life; one cannot have too many. I LOVE the color of the bookshelf and the way the pretty curtains work. And I love Choto ma's layered skirt, her mismatched socks and the way she sits and reads. Can I sit like that steady and read a book? i wonder.I have the same striped rug:)

    and I never had jerusalem artichokes.

  9. A very happy new year to you too, Soma! The year just started off in a rush, didn't it?! So glad you liked the bookshelf – I feel nice looking at it every time I walk into her room 🙂 And I could never sit up straight and read – I SLOUCH!

  10. Great great choice of color for the shelf and that curtain so cute! Very creative Pia. Love the new part too .. looks delicious and must give a try.

  11. Oh, I love Chotto-ma's bookshelf…and her socks. I was definitely thinking “theater” when I saw the beautiful curtains!

    Santa gave me a sewing machine, and I have yet to play with it.

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