Monday, December 31, 2012

Hammond house

Hammond house is one of the women's shelter in Seattle; it is run by Compass Housing Alliance. We volunteered to make and serve some food for the Christmas lunch at the shelter.
We took two side dishes - masala buns and veggie puffs - and 3 pies - 2 homemade and 1 store bought. If you click on the last link you'll see that veggie puffs is our favorite dish for such events! It's relatively easy to make in bulk and almost a sure-shot crowd pleaser. We did tone down the spices in both the side dishes to suit the residents of the shelter. For the pies we made a Chocolate Satin pie and Key lime pie; we got a pumpkin pie from Costco. It took us quite some time to make all the stuff and I didn't have enough time to get a good picture. So I got what I could. The second pan looks empty and that's because more puffs were baking in the oven!
If you like to cook, then this is a great way to volunteer. It's not just for special occasions, you can do it for any day of the week. It may not be possible to cook everything for so many people (this shelter had 20-25 women). In such a case, stores like Costco help a lot. They've large sized everything and at very reasonable prices. You can always pick some additions from there. In fact we'd some dinner rolls leftover from previous night, we took those too and they got over in a jiffy!
Being a vegetarian we were always skeptical about whether our food even gets consumed at the shelters. So it was quite eye opening to see that a lot of the residents were vegetarians - they needed vegetarian options exclusively. Oh and so many of them were to excited to try out our Indian food! This was quite reassuring!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gifts for the homeless

Recently we went to the Eastside Women's shelter to provide a meal and also took some gift bags to distribute to the women out there. While figuring out what to put in the bag, we'd a lot of questions regarding what be useful for the women. So we talked to the shelter staff and did some research on our own too. I thought that I would post the information here so that other people who want to do this can benefit.
We bought some storage Ziploc bags - it rains a lot here so they could use the bags later to keep their stuff dry. These are gallon sized storage bags. Inside every bag we put a washcloth, a pair of woolen socks, an energy bar, a soap, some candy and a handcrafted stationery item since I like to do that kind of thing.
We also made some extra ones and keep them in our car so that if we come across any needy person on the street we can hand them out. There's a grocery store gift card too inside it.
Some other ideas:
  • personal hygiene stuff like toothpaste, toothbrush comb.
  • if you're giving to women, then
    • feminine products.
    • mini manicure set
    • hand lotion tube
  • calling card
  • gloves and hat
  • first aid items
  • small flashlight
  • bus pass
  • underwear
  • little sewing kit
  • toilet paper
  • little toiletries that you get at a hotel!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PNW Pav bhaji

What is PNW Pav bhaji, you ask? Pacific Northwest Pav bhaji! I love everything Pacific Northwest - the place, the culture, the people - everything. The very fact that there's a special acronym for my region makes me feel so special :). Anywho, that's not the reason I call this PNW pav bhaji. The reason I named it so is because of its ingredients. If you looks at a typical CSA box in PNW, you will be staring at beets, brocolli, carrots and sometimes cabbage. That is not a sight that would make most people jump in excitement but pav bhaji would! Trust me this pav bhaji tastes as good if not better than the traditional version. Look at that rich red color - it's all natural thanks to these veggies!
Unlike a real chef, I can't quote exact measurements for the veggies but I can give you hand wavy numbers. So if you love experimenting then this is the recipe for you!
  • 2 heads brocolli
  • half a red cabbage
  • 2 beets
  • ~ 3 carrots
  • 1 tennis ball sized onion
  • ~1/4 cup green pepper chopped
  • ~ 1 cup tomatoes
  • 3-4 small potatoes
  • spices - kitchen king, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • 5 tsp oil
  • chopped coriander for garnish

  1. Peel the potatoes and onion. Chop all vegetables.
  2. Heat the oil on medium heat in a pressure cooker and saute onion till golden brown.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add the spices except kitchen king. Quantities depend on personal preference.
  4. Increase the heat back to medium. Add tomatoes. Saute for 3 minutes or so till the tomatoes are mushy.
  5. Add all the vegetables and pressure cook with small amount of water. Enough to boil the vegetables but not make them into a runny curry.
  6. Mash the vegetables using a masher and add kitchen king. Again according to preference.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander. Voila!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Eggless Chocolate zucchini cake

At the peak of summer, our garden was teeming with zucchini. So I was on the lookout for as many zucchini recipes as I could find when I found this Chocolate Zucchini cake recipe on King Arthur. Since I didn't have any eggs, I decided to make an eggless version of it and I'm happy to say that it turned out absolutely delicious!


  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs a few tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional but tasty
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
  3. The flaxseed meal packaging generally has the ratio for substitutions. I believe it's 1 tbsp flaxmeal in 3 tbsp water for 1 egg. In this case since there were 2 eggs, I took twice that amount. Keep it for a few minutes. Then add it to the batter/
  4. Stir in the yogurt alternately with the flour.
  5. Add the cocoa and espresso powder, mixing until smooth.
  6. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.