14 November 2011

Picture post: An eve at Boston Common

Some pics from our trip at the end of September to Boston Common, an awesome park in the middle of Boston city. It was heartening to see this HUGE patch of green (the park is almost 50 acres in size!!!).

The park plaque: would you believe how old this park is?
A super place to relax and get in touch with nature
One of the many views from the park
It was end of September and the fall colours were just starting to show..Gorgeous!
The sunset made it all only more beautiful
Little V enjoyed it so much!!!
More later,

13 November 2011

Take a break!

Really. Especially the mums.

I came across this touching article on cnn the other day:

Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit, recounts an ER case of Mildred, an elderly woman who let her breast cancer progress too far because she was too busy taking care of her family. Money was an additional limitation as well.  Its heart wrenching. Had to share it- PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ IT.

This was a case gone too far but I can totally identify with Mildred's case. I know two such women in life who have always placed other people's welfare before their own: my mum and mum-in-law. Both work tirelessly to this day from morning till night making sure everyone around them is well-fed and comfortable. Its unbelievable how much stuff they get done around the house, and whats more astonishing is that they do it without as much as a murmur and with no expectations whatsoever. I also know for a fact that this is true for all mums around the world- every family has one of these 'glue' mums.

If you are one such woman, take a break or if you happen to know one such woman, encourage them to take one. A well-rested and happy woman will be able to give so much more to the family. And for all the guys who work pretty hard too, you could pause and catch some breath yourself [am not a feminist, just biased towards mums, thats all :)]

After all, we each have just one life. It just not worth wasting it running too hard in the rat race. Even if we win the race, we still end up as rats.

Just not worth it. Take a break instead :)


P.S. This also explains why I didnt post for the last few weeks. I took a break myself :)

07 October 2011

Season's greetings: Phirni (Indian rice pudding)

Its festive season everywhere.

Folks back home in India just finished celebrating Navratri and Dussera. For my non-desi friends, Navratri (nav= nine, ratri=nights) is the festival of nine nights. Every year, around this time, people in different parts of India celebrate for nine nights the awesomeness thats called the 'Divine Mother'.  Traditionally, its the harvest time in India and the Goddess Mother is invoked to bless her lot with another year of bountiful crops, happniess and prosperity. As with all things Indian, the invocation & celebration is all about rituals, food, dancing, music and merriment. I cant help but shake my head each time I realise how important and integral food and music is with the Indian way life. We Indians literally live to eat, dont we?

Anywho, for nine nights in a row, people (especially the ladies) will worship the Goddess during the day & then deck in different coloured traditional clothes at night and go out and dance in huge huge groups till the wee hours of morning. The festivities end with much aplomb on the tenth day, called Dussera. On this day, many Indians worship Goddess Saraswati, the presiding deity of knowledge. Typically, books are worshipped as the source of knowledge to thank the Goddess for her blessings and with the hope for continued learning in the coming year.  This year, N did a little puja yesterday at home & here's a quick peek into the books we worshipped;.  Isnt it cuteness?

N's doctoral thesis at the bottom, followed by a reference guide I use for work & then, a book I read to little V every night before he sleeps :)) (the drawing on the top symbolises Goddess Saraswati; N made it himself)

Besides being the tenth day of Navratri, Dussera also signifies the victory of good over evil. It is believed that this was the daywhen the righteous Lord Rama killed Ravana, the demon king who abducted Rama's beautiful wife Sita. Philosphically, this could be the day when each one of us can stop and ponder over the shortcomings in our lives and perhaps, make an effort to change for the better. More about Navratri and Dussera here.

Coming back to festive treats, we visited our new friends here in Boston on Tuesday to celebrate Navratri. I decided to take along Phirni, the Indian rice pudding to mark the sweet occasion. Phirni is a creamy rice rice pudding, make with milk, ground rice (or rice flour), cardamom & other nuts of choice (pistachios, cashews, almonds, etc). Did you know that this rice pudding takes many forms and names in different parts of the world? See Soma's informative post here on phirni to know more.

For this recipe, I used both homemade and store bought rice flours. I intended to use only the homemade one initially but noticed that the pudding didnt have the consistency I wanted. So improvised with using some store bought rice flour at the last minute till I was happy with the final dessert.

Because we were going to a party, I decided to serve the pudding in individual containers and carry them in a muffin tray. I used muffin liners for serving the dessert but on hindsight, I think that using good quality, disposable aluminium tart cups would have served the purpose much better.


1/4 cup good quality, long grain rice
4.5 cups whole milk
3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp rice flour (store bought)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
10-15 strands saffron, soaked in a tsp of milk (optional)
5-6 almonds soaked, peeled & sliced (optional)
5-6 almonds, sliced for garnishing

1. Soak rice in water for about 1 hour. Grind to a *coarse* paste, using minimal water for the grinding.
2. Mix the store-bought rice flour with 2 tbsp of milk to form a thick paste and keep it ready on the side.
3. In a nonstick vessel, bring milk to a boil on medium heat.
4. Add the home-made rice paste to the milk and *stir continuously* (very important!) until you see the mixture becoming creamier. Make sure there are no lumps.
5. Once the rice has cooked (about 5 mins), add the store-based rice flour paste *little at a time, until the dessert reaches a thick consistency*. Again, keep stirring continuously.
6. When the mixture thickens, add the sugar, cardamom powder, saffron and other nuts of you choice. Mix well and cook for a minute more, until the sugar combines completely.
7. Switch off the heat and ladle into the serving containers. Garnish with more nuts of your nice.

The dish was a hit. Everyone at the party loved it; especially since it wasnt an overtly-sweet dessert.

Finally, to all my Canadian friends, a very happy Thanksgiving. I miss you a lot!!!!!


27 September 2011

Eggless baking: Orange cake

Anyone a fan of citrus? I am. I just love the C-family: the lemons, oranges, limes! Their light flavours & aroma lend themselves perfectly for baking. Besides, I get tired of the regular cake flavours quite easily- choco and vanilla don't interest me any more so orange and lemon bakes always excite me!

Also, having a set of parents who belong to the 'vegetarian-converts-but-still-enjoy-cakes' family means that I am constantly on the lookout for eggless cake recipes. Remember the yummy, eggless rawa cake I shared before? The rawa cake has become a regular feature in my kitchen, much appreciated by everyone I serve it to. Over the last one year though, when I was pregnant with little V, I was craving oranges (no one will quite believe the amount of mandarins and oranges I have consumed in those 9 months....no jokes here but I probably ate up an orange orchard. R-E-A-L-L-Y!!) Anywho, the cravings made me look for any and all possible ways to add oranges to food. And thus, was born this cake.

Well, I did not exactly come up it. In fact, its based on Shammi's recipe here. Her's is a pretty neat version but I made a few changes of mine so that the cake is more of a eat-it-with-a-cup-of-chai cake rather than  a rich dessert. I must admit both N & I love love love this cake. The recipe is an easy breeze and orangey flavour is spot on.

Today's cake is for my mum; HAPPY BIRTHDAY AAI! Now that I am a mommy myself, I have only begun to appreciate everything you have done for us. You have been an incredible mother all these years and now an even incredible-r grandmum. We are very very fortunate to have you- so here's wishing you the very best birthday today and many more in the years to come!

Eggless Orange Cake:

For the cake: (make sure all ingredients are at room temperature)
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar (see notes at the end)
1/4 cup yogurt
1 cup orange juice (I used freshly squeezed juice)
1 heaped tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp orange zest
3 tbsp sugar (optional- vary proportions as per your taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Grease a 8" round baking pan.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and baking powder)
3. In another bowl, cream together the oil, sugar and yogurt. Add to this the orange juice, orange zest and vanilla extract and mix well.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to this mix; combine well and pour into the greased pan.
5. Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins or until the cake tests done.
6. Cool completely.

1. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and mix all the ingredients (orange juice, orange zest and sugar) until sugar dissolves. Pour on the cake and let it cool for about 20 mins.

1. The cake tastes great even without the glaze. For a glaze-free cake, simply increase the sugar in the cake to 1 cup instead of 3/4 cup above.

So, dig in!!


22 September 2011

Blog Ctrl+Alt+Del!

Ctrl – Alt – Del Three Pillow Set @ Etsy.com

After more than a year, I am back on the blogging scene. Oh how I missed my blog-o-baby all this time!!

A lot has happened in the last one year:
-am now a proud mum to a 5 and half month old boy. All this time, everyone told me how much of hard work it is to raise a child and I never quite believed them. 5 months, 22 days after the little V aka 'the tiny-mator' was born, each and every sleep-deprived cell in my body knows!

-we have moved from Vancouver to Boston. Better job opportunities have made us leave the most liveable city on the planet. Our heart misses the amazing, beautiful and warm city that Vancouver is but also hopes to make new friends & memories here in Boston.

Life is in general topsy-turvy. The tiny-mator keeps me on my toes all day and whatever little free time I get is spent in settling in the new place. I must admit that though mommyhood is tons tougher than I thought, its also one of the most rewarding things ever. The first time little V smiled at me, I thought my heart was going to melt and though its been over 4 months since that happened, my heart has never really un-melted to its original state! My mummy dearest (aka granny-mummy to the little one) tells me this is a thing for lifetime now. Oh well!

Anywho, I sorely, honestly, deeply missed my blog all this time. It has been and will always be my creative outlet so something felt really amiss when I stopped posting last year. I hope to be more consistent and regular this time around.

More later. Until then, may the sun shine bright on you, wherever you are!