Sunday, December 06, 2009

The sago sage



These are some of the things you might learn when you set out to make a batch of melon sago dessert for the monthly after-service lunch at church.

First, you might learn that three and a half hours is about three hours too long to soak dried sago pearls. If you had planned to "save time" by putting them to soak before you leave the house for an appointment, don't. Just... don't.

Next, maybe you will find that it's best to cook the pearls in a pot with as large a base as possible. This will enable you to stir the whole pot evenly, reaching all of the pearls at the bottom. This way, you won't have them overcook and stick to the bottom, leaving you with a steadily growing lump of starch. You might come to this conclusion by having first tried to cook one cup of sago in a 6" saucepan.

Third, it's possible that you will find you urgently need to think of a way to rinse cooked sago when you are alone and have nobody to help you spoon the sticky grains out of the pot and into the strainer. The solution will need to be reached quickly, before the sago cooks itself into unsalvageable starchiness like the batch before.

Fourth, you might learn to pray like never before.

Fifth, you may discover that it can take a very long time to prepare two melons. This is especially true if you choose, instead of simply cutting the melon into cubes, to use a flower-shaped vegetable cutter, and you insist that only perfectly formed flowers get to escape the pulp pile.

Sixth, there is a possibility, ever so slight, that you will have first-hand experience of the ugliest and most orange kitchen encounter ever: Ripe Melon Meets Stab Mixer in a Not-Too-Shallow Bowl That Still Just Isn't Deep Enough.

Seventh, you might learn that a small test bowl of the dessert is not only a good way to gauge the result and make sure that you won't be presenting any nasty surprises to your church members; it's also a good supper for someone who gave up eating dinner in favour of boiling sago and pulverising melons.

Finally, you might see the broad grins and hear the chatter of a church that you almost walked out on because it was too painful... and maybe you'll figure that staying through the pain was worth the joy of being here now. Just as all of that soaking (okay, some of the soaking), boiling, rinsing, straining, cutting, chopping and blending was worth the sight of those happy smiles.

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