Falling

I love fall.  Mainly because of football, despite the fact that the Cowboys can’t seem to snap the damn ball without having a false start and the Longhorns have similarly broken my heart.  Although I love the sunshine and 100+ degree days, there comes a time when I absolutely relish that crisp fireplace aroma that seems to pervade the entire neighborhood.  It’s lovely on Sundays to spend all day watching football with the dog, especially since I’m taking a grad school class on Saturdays because apparently I am a moron.

What I also like about fall is the lovely seasonal veggies that yield delicious recipes.  I love cooking.  I don’t do it enough, mainly because my kitchen is absurdly small and I live alone, so often my treats go unappreciated by anyone but me and Ollie.  However, when stressed, and too lazy to go for a run, cooking is the next best thing.

This is the best recipe for pumpkin muffins I’ve found.  Two notes before sharing: a) they are way more delicious when you use a huge-sized muffin tin, as there is much more of that soft, delectable center.  I love making these for coworkers, but I mainly end up eating most of them myself.  B) As the recipe calls for eggs, I always make sure I have local, humane-raised eggs- preferably from someone’s backyard.

I was super excited to bake this this evening, but apparently September brings out the pumpkinphiles, as Central Market’s pumpkin supply was completely exhausted.  Alas, another time.

Enjoy.

Image

Not the best picture. But they are the best muffins.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Ingredients
3 1/3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients and add:
1 c. oil
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
2 c. pumpkin

Prepare muffin tins by greasing with vegetable oil or butter (I use Pam).

Fill muffin tins three-quarters full and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Indian Redux

It’s been awhile.

I know it has, and it’s not that I think that the few friends and family have been wringing their hands, wondering when I’ll post again, but I’ve missed writing.

I started working again, and going back to a full-time job after a summer resplendent with liquor and sunshine was a bit of an adjustment.  I am at a new school this year and, all though I adore it, my coworkers are incredible, and the kids are (for the most part) sweethearts, it is always difficult learning the ropes at a new place.  Couple that with my brilliant fucking plan to take two grad school courses this semester (one from 8:30-4:30 on Saturdays), and when I get home there is little left for me to do but pick up whatever detritus Ollie has spewed all over my carpet and watch Simpsons reruns.

I am slightly stressed, although there are nothing but good things going on in my life.  However, I have lately been feeling that intoxicating blend of angry and depressed.  And since lists are easy to read, here’s why:

1) Work.  Not because of the coworkers, and not really because of my kids.  More… what my kids have gone through, where they’ve come from, and the total fucking lack of support that most of them have.  If you’re going to have a kid, get your shit together.  Special ed kids’ problems are heinously exacerbated by the fact that for many of them (seemingly to a higher degree than in the general population), their parents are totally absent/don’t give a fuck/add to the problem.  Of course, some of my kids have lovely, supportive, encouraging parents who are invested in their kids’ education.  But it’s not many.  And it pisses me the fuck off, because the kids I teach need that support more than anyone else.

2) I realize that following #1 with the fact that my skin has gone completely haywire comes off as extremely narcissistic and superficial, but I don’t fucking care.  Maybe stress, maybe just bad luck, but my formerly spot-free, radiant skin has been besieged with dry spots, red, angry welts on my face that oh-so-charmingly resemble spider bites.  What. The. Fuck.

3) Friends being dicks.  My friends have all moved away.  This is not an exaggeration and I honestly didn’t think it would affect me as much as it has.  Two have defected to San Francisco, that bastion of bush men and Ghiradelli chocolates.  One to Florida, although I don’t know how, because Florida is even more chock full of crazy, inbred assholes than Texas.  Two schlepped away to Houston, at least within a short car trip, but still far enough to miss.  And then, best of all, my sister decided to abandon her neurotic yet lovable baby sibling and jet off to France, where she posts pictures all day of picturesque bridges and rivers and tulips and says shit like, “I just had a picnic on the banks of the Loire!” without any trace of sarcasm.  So she’s probably the biggest dick of all.

Ugh. Whatever.

4) Politics.  Too much to get into.  There’s still a month and a half to go until the election and every day some new bit of information comes out to thoroughly depress me.  If it’s not low-minded barbs or awe-inspiring gaffes, it’s middle east riots and starving children.  It makes me want to watch Sandra Bullock rom-coms until my brain turns to mush and I am no longer angry.  But, as some wise old bird once said and then plastered on millions of bumper stickers, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

Transport me to a world of quick quips and handsome admirers, Sandy.

So basically, the state of the world is getting me down a bit more often these days.  And I realize that this is a food post and the reason I bring all of this up is the fact that there are probably three things in my life right now that never fail to cheer me up: 1) My patient, calm, mother who occasionally visits and drinks cocktails with me, 2) My lovely rabid canine, who, despite his penchant for destroying anything and everything he can get his mangy little paws on, is incapable of bringing me anything but joy, and 3) a good, solid, tasty meal.  If for one moment I can escape the world of vitriolic politics and ignore my skin and ever-increasing weight and mental stressors, it’s sitting down in front of a full, steaming, succulent plate of heavenly goodness.  This is what I did today instead of my first plan, which involved copious amounts of alcohol.  And since Indian food was what sated my hunger and calmed my nerves tonight, Indian food is what I shall, at long last, discuss.

There are 3 Indian food restaurants of any merit that are in Austin proper.  Clay Pit is probably the most popular, and it’s a chain restaurant, which should tell you everything you need to know.  Even though it’s a small chain, the only franchised restaurant I will ever sit down to eat at within Austin city limits is P. Terry’s, because it’s Austin-owned and so damned delicious.  Clay Pit is very standard, run-of-the-mill Indian food- the kind you take your grandma to eat.  I’ve been there once, and once was enough.

It doesn’t make sense to go to Clay Pit when there are two other solid options for Indian food in the city.

Garaj Mahal is the restaurant run out of a trailer on Rainey Street.   The ambience makes the place worth it; there’s nothing else like it.  It has the casual comfort of a trailer eatery with the added bonus of waiters, tables, a crazy long installation of bicycle art, and BYOB.  There are lights strung everywhere and since it’s in the heart of Rainey, it’s easy to follow up food with some cocktails or corn hole.  Since it’s open til midnight, it’s also a great place to go after you’ve been to the mezcal bar next door and have an acute case of the drunchies.

It’s dog-friendly, too

That being said, the food is nothing special.  The samosas are good: thick, fried, fluffy, artery-clogging goodness, and the pakore is decent as well.  However, the main dishes lack the seasoning and flavor that is a staple (and to me, the best part) of Indian cuisine.  That being said, it’s the perfect date spot, or a perfect place to take a visitor.  You can’t beat the atmosphere.

If you’re looking for the best Indian food in Austin, look no farther than Taj Palace. Located on Middle Fiskville near Airport and 2222, it’s on the north central side of town in a run-down strip mall.  Don’t let the surroundings fool you.  Once you walk in, you are greeted with white tablecloths, Indian music, and a great view of the big Tandoori oven.  It’s very traditional Indian, in both the atmosphere and the food.

Dicey location. Delicious food.

And the food is amazing.  The naan is thick, buttery, and fluffy, and the dishes are made with that lovely, intoxicating blend of spices that clears your nasal passages.  They’ll tone down the spice if you want, and the flavors are still perfectly melded together to create a wonderful mouthgasm of magnificence.

If you find yourself way, way up north, there’s one more good bet, and it’s another strip-mall staple, unassuming and slightly ghetto: Teji’s, across from Round Rock High School.  Teji’s is actually half grocery store, half restaurant.  The restaurant used to be nothing but paper plates and rickety tables, but they’ve since remodeled it to be bigger and slightly more visually appealing.  The food is incredible and the prices fantastic.  To be warned- last time I was there I couldn’t shake the aroma of a vet clinic.  I have no idea what that was about, but honestly, it didn’t throw me off one bit.  And if you’re curious, you can always window-shop lentils and saris while waiting for your food.

Paper tableware FTW!

Garaj Mahal

Hours: T/W/Th/Su: 5pm-midnight

Friday and Saturday: 5pm-2am

Call ahead during extreme weather

512-480-2255

91 Red River, Austin, TX

Taj Palace Indian Restaurant
6700 Middle Fiskville Road
Austin, Texas-78752 USA
Tel: (512) 452-9959

Teji’s

1205 Round Rock Ave #115

Round Rock, Texas 78681

http://www.tejifoods.com