Friday, July 3, 2015

Gardening update

20150607_204337854_iOS

Here’s an update on how our veggie garden is doing. As you can see it’s thriving! The sun god has been very generous this year (and so has the heat goddess!). While both are too much for me to take, I take relief in the fact that the veggies are relishing it!

Unfortunately I forgot to post photos when we’d just planted all these veggies Sad smileIn the above photo:

  • In the front square: onions on the bottom left, lavender just next to it. Red Pepper on the top right an spinach adjacent to it.
  • In the back square: tomato all along the vine and then a summer squash plant.

20150607_204343601_iOS

In this photo:

  • In the front square: Strawberry plant in the bottom left, onion on the bottom right. Beans in the rest of the area.
  • In the back square: Cucumber all along the vine and a zucchini and summer squash plant in front of it.

Can wait to harvest the veggies!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Butterscotch ice cream

butterscotch ice cream

Sorry for the terrible photo – I wanted to take a photo of the ice cream before it got over. Everyone really liked it!

This year we’ve had summer since the spring! Yes seriously the temperatures started climbing in spring and we’ve seen no end to it. I figured it’s a good year to put my ice cream maker to use and get some expertise in the art of making ice cream.

Butterscotch is a very popular flavor of ice cream in India and something that we don’t get here. So I tried to search for recipes for butterscotch ice cream. I already had a base recipe and just wanted to figure out how I could modify it for butterscotch.

My recipe is a marriage of two different recipes. I took the base recipe from KAF and the recipe for pralines from Tarla dalal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butterscotch flavor

For the pralines:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp butter

To make the pralines:

    1. Powder the cashews using a grinder. I was careful not to powder so much that it became butter and to be on the cautious let some pieces remain larger than the others.
    2. Prepare a baking sheet with a non stick mat or grease a plate.
    3. Heat the sugar in a broad non-stick pan and cook on a medium flame for 5 to7 minutes or till the sugar melts, while stirring continuously.
    4. Remove from the flame, add the cashews and butter and mix well.
    5. Spread the mixture on a greased flat surface and allow it to cool and harden.
    6. Scrape it out using a palate knife and coarsely powder it using a mortar-pestle. If you don’t have a mortar-pestle, put the pieces in a zip loc and smash them using a rolling pin.

To make the ice cream:

  1. Mix sugar, cream, butterscotch flavor and milk till the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the above mixture to your ice cream maker and make the ice cream per the directions of the ice cram maker.
  3. Half way through add the praline bits.
  4. Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours. Cover the container with saran wrap and then close the lid. This prevents ice crystals from forming on the ice cream.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty is soon becoming my favorite author! Why do I say that in continuous tense? Because this is only the second book I’ve read so I don’t want to jump the gun so soon! She has an easy style – like Sophie Kinsella. You become completely immersed in the story that’s going on. As if you’re sitting amidst all the characters. Everything is so down to earth and that’s what makes it feel so real. So next-door. No perfect families, no best-evah wife or husband.

The story is centered around three characters (and their families). Jane – a single mom who doesn’t seem to settle down. She keeps moving from one place to another. Never likes to talk about her son’s father. Madeline – a mom of three with a nice husband. With her ex married to the “ideal” woman. Always ready to stand up for her own people be it friends or family. Seems to be losing her teenage daughter to her stepmother. Every single person in the town seems to know her. Celeste – the most beautiful woman married to the most eligible husband. She has twins who are uncontrollable. Other than that her world seems perfect to all. The lives of these women cross when their kids start going to the same school. It’s the interaction between them and their interaction with the other parents of the school that spins an engrossing story. It starts with the investigation of murder. Murder of one of the parents in the school. Enuf said. Anything more I saw may spoil the thrill of the story.

It was pure joy reading this book! I would highly recommend it!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Being Mortal

Author: Atul Gawande

9780805095159

This is one of the few non-fiction books that I found to be quite interesting. Otherwise most of the times I’ve to make an effort to get through the initial pages and dive deep into it. Sometimes, even at it’s depth it’s hard to keep your interest. Not this one. Probably because of the way the author writes. He just just state statistics and make inferences from them. Sure there are statistics, and there should be for one to believe what the author is saying. However more of the book has anecdotes and stories from real people. That’s what makes the book feel so real.

So what is the book about? Most of us must’ve seen in our families that when people in the family get old and frail and start facing health problems, the immediate reaction of the next of kin is to impose certain rules and regulations for the safety of these aged members of the family. Similarly when they go to the doctor, the doctor’s only reaction is how he/she can fix/mitigate the problem so that the person can live longer. No matter at what cost – emotionally, physically or mentally. What is missing in all these reactions is the concern for the happiness of the person involved. That is the main topic being handled here – safety vs happiness of the old and frail. I must say I never thought of it that way and the book was in some sense an eye opener for me.

Whether or not you agree with what the author says, it definitely gives you a new perspective on this issue and I’m quite sure most of us have never thought of it this way. To me, what he said made a lot of sense. The author himself is a doctor.

I would highly recommend reading this book!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabins

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin

We recently stayed at a cabin in Ike Kinswa State Park and I must say we were very pleased with it as well as the overall experience! Overall the cabin way exceeded our expectations. We thought a cabin would be a one room with beds but this was like a lodge. It had a bedroom and a living room with dining table and chairs; and a futon. So awesome! This is especially useful if you go in the rainy season. You can eat the meals inside if it’s raining! The cabins are also equipped with heaters so once again the perfect place to go during wet and cold weather! Oh and the porch! Did I tell you how much I loved the porch! It was so much fun sitting on the porch!

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin

The bedroom had a bunk bed with a queen bed and a twin bed.

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin

As you can see from the photo below, there’s a view of the lake from the site. The lake shore is not accessible from the site. You need to go on a trail. Nevertheless, it just feels so good to sit out there and just look at the lake!

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin

Here are a few photos of the lake mayfield from the trail. The trail is quite short and easy. There are more than one access points from the trail to the lake shore. Basically if you think you can access the lake shore from the trail at any point, then you can!

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin, Lake Mayfield

Ike Kinswa State Park Cabin, Lake Mayfield

Oh and I must mention that the cabins have their own restroom and showers. There were two restrooms and two showers. We stayed at cabin C3 and the restrooms were pretty close from there – close enough to not be a trouble Smile. The showers were out of order but the restrooms were really fancy by camping standards (at least I thought so). Very clean and air cooled. It could be because the campground was not yet crowded.

Overall we would highly recommend staying at one of these cabins! Well of course our expectations were low and we were blown away but now that you know what to expect you may not be so. Even then I think it would be quite enjoyable!

Ike Kinswa State Park
873 Highway 122
Silver Lake, WA 98585
Ph: 360-983-3402

Camping reservations can be made online.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Quinoa enchilada bake

20150426_200501942_iOS

Do you go to costco? If you do, has it ever happened to you that you see a good deal for 5 lb quinoa and even though there are just two of you, you think “wow so much healthy food for so little”. Then you pick the bag of quinoa and put it in your cart, patting your back. Saving those few dollars made you forget that you don’t even like quinoa that much! Well it’s happened to me.

The good thing is that quinoa is has long staying power. So after sitting in our pantry for a months and months I finally decided to give this recipe a try.

20150426_200455835_iOS

Let me tell you not only does it look delicious, it is! It was yummy and healthy – there are very few dishes that we can put in this category!

20150426_200954267_iOS

I slightly adapted the recipe to what I had on hand and the quantity I had on hand. That is why for some ingredients you would not see a specific quantity just a range. I would encourage you too to use what you have on hand or what you like. We really like stir-fried green pepper, onions and serrano pepper. So that is what I added to the recipe. Use as much or as little cheese as you want.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 8-10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 10 slices serrano pepper 
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup black beans, boiled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions; set aside.
  • Stir fry onion, green pepper and serrano pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8x8 or 2 quart baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, onion-pepper mixture, black beans, 2 tbsp cilantro, cumin; season with salt to taste.
  • Stir in half of each of the cheese.
  • Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Place into oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with avocado, tomato and cilantro.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Almond Biscotti

 

Almond biscotti

Biscottis are everybody’s favorite at our home! Even my mom and dad loved biscotti when they were visiting us! So it’s an obvious choice to bake when I feel like baking any sort of cookies. This is the second time I tried this recipe. The first time I did, it got such rave reviews and was over in no time. I couldn’t even take any photos. So this time hubby took the photos as soon as they were out of the oven {he’s so cute!}.

Almond biscotti

The texture, the crispness – everything is just perfect! I wanted to dip some of them in chocolate but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Almond biscotti

The recipe is from my favorite source – King Arthur Flour.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup chopped roasted almonds (the recipe suggests using 2 cups but I found 1 cup to be plentiful. You can use raw almonds too, since I only had roasted at home I used them)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line one large (about 18" x 13") baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. If you bake often and don’t have a silpat, I would highly recommend one!
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky. Add chopped almonds and mix.
  4. Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2" x 2" logs, about 3/4" tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here.
  5. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.
  6. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  7. Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef's knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2" to 3/4" slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you're slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they'll topple over during their second bake.
  8. Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.
  9. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they'll stay good for weeks.