Snuggle up with a good (local) book

From cooking to wilderness, local authors bring good things to read

Daksha Narsing began cooking with her mother before she was a teen.

“My mom was an amazing cook. She learned from my grandmother who taught us how to clean the spices as well as how to grind them. I could make full meals by the time I was 10, my sister could as well,” she says.

Now a mother herself, Narsing has been sharing her secret spice mixes since the early 1990s when she and her family lived in Williams Lake.

“It started when my neighbours came over, they said, ‘We can’t stand it anymore, what smells so good? What are you cooking?’” she laughs.

From then on she began to teach Indian cooking and share her spices and recipes, and in 1996, stapled some together in Ziploc bags and sold them at a neighbourhood craft fair.

“That’s where it all began. People loved it.”

She brings in whole spices, cleans and grinds them together which blends the oils, creating the unique taste in Daksha’s Gourmet Spices.

Daksha and her husband Bhaskar were both born in Africa but are of Indian descent. The pair met in England where they married, and settled in Canada to raise their family.

All three children attended the University of Victoria, and Narsing said with each visit, she and her husband were drawn to the area. “Every single time it felt like home.”

So when the time came to take their business to the next level, they had to choose a life in Calgary or Victoria, although the business opportunity seemed brighter in the east, Victoria had won their hearts.

Over the years, the pair have created a variety of delicious spice mixes. They also make chai spice – a recipe that has been in their family for more than 300 hundred years.

Recently Narsing released her fourth cook book, Daksha’s Gourmet Kitchen: Indian Fusion Cuisine. She says it’s the best of traditional recipies along with new creations. “My daughter mixed vegetables with dahl and created a dahl strew, it’s nice for cold, fall weather … comfort food,” she says. “My son and his girlfriend created a butter chicken pizza – it’s really good. We are really pleased with the recipe.”

With beautiful colourful photography to go along with the nearly 100 recipes, this is a cookbook that won’t just sit on the shelf. Meet Narsing at the Last Chance Christmas Craft Sale in Sidney, Dec. 12. Narsing’s spices and books are available at Save-On-Foods. spicesgourmet.com

•••

To thumb through Lorna Crozier and Ian McAllister’s new book The Wild In You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea, is to take a journey to the heart of the coastal rainforest and feel its call.

Crozier, professor of poetry in the University of Victoria’s department of writing, and an Officer of the Order of Canada, has written 16 books, The Wild in You: Voices from the Forest and the Sea, is her first collaboration.

“I’ve had my poetry set to music, everything from classical and jazz to honky-tonk and I’ve had various artists use my poetry for inspiration in painting or pottery but this is my first time collaborating on a book,” she says.

It began with a trip to the Great Bear Rainforest where she met McAllister, his wife and mother. “Ian is a very busy guy but his wife and mom are big fans of my poetry and my husband Patrick Lane – the fact that he would give up time to see me was remarkable – and we hit it off.”

Crozier was “blown away” by the beauty and majesty of the area. “I’ve taken a couple of trips to Africa to read my poetry, while I was there I went on the typical safari and saw elephants, lions, cheetahs, wild buffalo and I thought that would probably be the most thrilling natural setting – but this is better,” she says.

She was eager to collaborate with McAllister and to call attention to the area. “To know that this is one of the last, large, pristine rainforests left on the planet makes the place even more special.”

Crozier’s poetry accompanies McAllister’s 32 full-size photographs, capturing the raw emotion of the coastline including many rare and endangered species.

 

 

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