Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Eleanor and Park

I recently read this book and after a long time I found a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

It’s a love story between two high school students and is a delight to read! What makes it so different – it feels real. The hero and heroine are far from perfect or handsome or ideal and so are their families; but they’re lovable characters.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pita and falafel sandwich



Hubby and I love falafel sandwich! Now that we were experimenting with international cuisine, we decided to try our favorite – falafels. It seemed somewhat easier because it is similar to the vadas that we make.

We used the recipe from here; we didn’t really stick to the recipe to a T. Just used what we had on hand. Parsely and cilantro were missing in our kitchen so they got dropped from our recipe. However I’m happy to report that these were the most delicious falafels we’ve ever had! So much so that we think we’re spoilt now and will not be able to eat falafels made by others Winking smile. For the sandwich, we used readymade hummus (next time we intend to make that too!), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, onion and sesame seed paste (tahini). For tahini, I did a very home made version. Just ground some toasted sesame seeds to a paste and added some olive oil and lemon.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Not all is hunky dory in the Kitchen Land!


If you thought that blogs were always about bragging about your beautiful house, delicious food and the perfect family, you’re so wrong Smile I thought I would post a not so successful attempt at making Ethiopian food. What you see above is Injera (the ethiopian bread), the cabbage and potato veggie and I forget what they call the lentils. This may not be the authentic Ethiopian food at a restaurant, but it certainly tasted delicious to our taste buds. I guess because we worked hard at it! Not to forget all the fun we had trying to cook a new cuisine. We’ll probably get a more reliable source for the recipes when we try again.

Trying to cook this food, reminded us once again that not everything is so easy that you would get it right the first time. So it is more important to enjoy the process than be hung up on the end results!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quick and Easy appetizer: Muffin/cupcake pizza


I’d bookmarked this recipe on Pinterest. So when I needed to make an appetizer for a big gathering I figured that this would be it! It’s really easy, hardly takes any time and was a crowd pleaser!! I know how many recipes can claim all three of those!


  • Pillsbury Grands Jr Golden Layers – 3 cans
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – around 1/2 cup
  • finely chopped onions – according to taste
  • finely chopped chillies – according to taste
  • tomato kethcup
  • chopped basil for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Mix cheese, onion and chillies. I say onion and chillies according to taste because I just winged it. So go by your instincts. I used approximately 1/4 cup onion and 1-2 tbsp chillies.
  3. Separate the layers of Grands. Line the bottom of each cupcake liner with a layer. I didn’t have enough muffin/cupcake pans to accommodate all. So I’d use the pan to line the cupcake liners and then put them on a baking sheet. It helped while lining that the liners were in the cupcake pan.
  4. Spread ketchup on each muffin using a spoon.
  5. Spread the mixture on the top.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes. Every oven is different so you should keep an eye.
  7. Garnish each muffin with chopped basil and you’re done!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shortbread cookies with jam


I was on the hunt for some simple butter cookies when I found these. They came out quite good; although a little more buttery than I would like. I liked the simplicity of recipe!


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling: jam of your choice (I’d some home-made mixed berry jam)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour.
  2. Beat until well mixed.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb (edges may crack slightly).
  5. Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon jam.
  6. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire cooling rack.

Note: I’d to bake much longer than 18 minutes, I would say close to 30 minutes. To get the correct timing, keep looking at the bottom of the cookies. It needs to be light brownish. Otherwise it may remain under-baked. Thanks to my DH we made sure they were baked properly!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Peanut butter


Peanut butter is a staple in our pantry and so when I read in my food processor’s manual that I could make nut butters I thought why not try making peanut butter! It’s funny that I’d my old FP for more than years and all I did was chopped vegetables and knead dough. Now that I got a new bigger one, I’d to read the manual to make sure that I was utilizing my appliance to the fullest extent! And what do you know – it can solve all problems (except world hunger!). It can make nut butters, it can cut (french-style) beans, knead pizza dough and you name it.

Coming back to the point, you need peanuts and a food processor. If your peanuts are not salted then some salt too. You need roasted peanuts for this, I didn’t have dry roasted ones – which seem to be the recommended thing – so I just used what I had. I used the full bag and it gave me one jar of butter.


This is how it looked in the FP


and finally…


It’s fun, easy and so satisfying to make your own peanut butter!

P.S. Hubby noticed that this peanut butter was easy to spread as compared to the one that we get from the store. I’m guessing this could be because of the oil used to roast the peanuts. I’ll let you know how it goes when I use the dry roasted peanuts.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What’s growing in our garden

I wanted to share what our garden is giving us. It’s such a source of joy! This year most of our vegetables are heirloom varieties and of course they’re grown organically. In fact I’m waiting for next year when (hopefully) we’ll have our own compost from vermicomposting! That’s another post I want to do sometime.

The joy cooking doubles when you go to the garden, pick the vegetables and then decide what to cook. The aroma of fresh oregano, the juicy homegrown tomatoes, soft and tender summer squash – sounds like a recipe for pasta :) Without much ado, here are the photos.


Marigold… lots of it!


Some basil


Little bit of green peppers


Bountiful summer squash and zucchini


Aromatic oregano


Loads of tangy tomatoes!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

When God Made Moms

When the good Lord was creating mothers He was into His sixth day of overtime when the angel appeared and said, "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one." The Lord said, "have you read the specs on this order?
  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic.
  • Have 180 moveable parts... all replaceable.
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers.
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up, a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair, and six pairs of hands."
The angel shook her head slowly and said, "six pairs of hands...no way." "It is not the hands that are causing me problems," said the Lord, "it's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have." "That's on the standard model?" asked the angel. The Lord nodded. One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks "what are you kids doing in there?", when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't, but what she has to know; and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say "I understand and I love you", without so much as uttering a word."

"Lord", said the angel touching his sleeve gently, "go to bed, tomorrow....". "I can't", said the Lord, "I'm so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick, can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger, and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower." The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft", she sighed. "But tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure." "Can it think?" "Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise", said the Creator. Finally the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. "There's a leak", she pronounced. "I told you, you were trying to put too much into this model." "It's not a leak", said the Lord. "It's a tear". "What's it for?" "It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride." "You're a genius", said the angel. The Lord looked somber. "But I didn't put it there".
-By Erma Bombeck

I read this somewhere and decided to post it on Mother's day. I think it's so close to describing a mother - at least I would describe mine in the same way! Happy Mother's day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Perfect Peanut Chiki (peanut brittle)

Sometime back I posted a recipe for peanut brittle and emphasized on what place the chiki holds in our house. Given that it should come as no surprise that we’ve finally mastered the recipe for peanut chiki!
At home, we’ve always made chiki with just jaggery and peanuts. The problem with jaggery is that it doesn’t has the crunch that professionally made chiki does. After making the peanut brittle I realized that if I were to merge the traditional recipe with the one for the brittle, I might end up with what I’m looking for.
The credit for this recipe really goes to my DH because he was the executioner and the decision-maker. I just planted the seed Smile for the recipe. I wish I could post an audio of the crunch when you bite into the chiki – it’s drool worthy!
  • 1/2 cup jaggery
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cups 1.5 cups crushed peanuts
  1. Roast the peanuts: You can use the oven or do it the microwave way as I did here. Since my oven was already preheated I piggy-backed on it.
    • Preheat the oven to 500F. Then turn it off.
    • Spread the raw peanuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.
    • Keep checking after every 5 minutes.
  2. Shell the peanuts. We just did it by hand by rubbing them against each other.
  3. Crush the peanuts in a food processor. Lightly crush them, as you can see in the photo, most of the peanuts are almost halved.
  4. Heat the oven to 200F and keep a parchment paper lined baking sheet inside.
  5. Add everything except the peanuts to a utensil and heat it at medium heat.
  6. Stir often and heat till the mixture comes to a rolling bowl.
  7. Let it boil a few seconds. Do the candy test (look at Note below for how to do the candy test) and then add the peanuts.
  8. CAUTION: the moment you mix the peanuts in, the mixture will come together. So you’ve to be quick.
  9. Get your baking sheet out and spread the mixture on it.
  10. Grease the bottom of a flat-bottomed bowl with ghee and use it to thump down the mixture into a layer.
  11. Make indentations using a knife so that once the chiki hardens it would be easier to break it up.
  12. Let it cool around 10-20 minutes.
  13. The most delicious chiki is ready!!
Candy test: Take cold water (from the fridge) in a small bowl and add a drop of the boiling liquid to it. Wait 20-30 seconds. If the drop of liquid forms a hard candy after that then you're ready. Otherwise keep stirring and boiling.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Update on the seedlings

Remember the seedlings? Well they've grown!
Those are the beans at the lower level. The upper level mostly had marigold.

Those two plants with the big leaves - they're summer squash! Don't they look handsome?!?! All the others are marigolds.
The plants seem to be doing fine. We do wish we'd planted them earlier but given that this is our first year from seeds I think it's ok.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Where'd you go Bernadette?

I don't know how I came upon this book. Probably I searched books similar to Sex Lives of the Cannibals and this was one of the suggestions. Whatever it was, I'm so glad that I got to know about it! It is such a pleasure to read this book!!! The story, the author's writing style, her humor - everything is just awesome! Oh and not to mention that the story is set in Seattle! Brownie points for that :)

The story is about a family - Bernadette the mother, her husband and her daughter. Bernadette is shown to be socially awkward and her husband with his position and his bank account - the envy of all the women. The book abounds in Bernadette's antics which keep you entertained. Her behavior is strange to the extent that her husband thinks that she should be sent to a caring facility! However before he can do that, Bernadette disappears! What ensues is engrossing and adds an element of mystery!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! The way the author writes makes you feel that you're right there with the characters of the book and her sense of humor is just amazing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Timekeeper

I've been quite a fan of Mitch Albom's since Tuesdays with Morrie and then Five people you meet in heaven. So it was no surprise that when I came to know about this new book from him I tried to get my hands on it!

It's a nice book - not up there with the other two but it's ok. Using a fable the author illustrates the importance of time. The story begins with the person who invented measurement of time and that was like opening Pandora's box! Once people could measure time everybody was complaining something or the other about time - either there wasn't enough time in the day or that it wasn't the right time, so on and so forth. Little did the inventor realize the hazards nor the implications. To make teach him a lesson he's sent to Earth amidst two diametrically opposite people. One who thinks there isn't enough time and another who thinks there's too much of it.

My summary probably sounds a little confusing but I'm trying to divulge as much as I can without telling everything. The story is more like a fable or fantasy.

My favorite quote from the book:
It's never too early nor too late. It is when it is supposed to be.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Seeds springing into seedlings

This year we're trying to plant our vegetable garden right from seeds - yes that's a big risk we're taking and I'm keeping my fingers crossed! To add to our experiments all our seeds are heirloom seeds - good luck to us!

Like the vegetable garden, for germinating the seeds too we followed the instructions given by Mel in his SFG book. For the containers, as you can see, we used some disposable bowls and yogurt containers. DH drilled some holes in all of these. It took at  least a week for the first sprouts. Since NW is on the colder side, we kept them inside the house.

Spinach seeds

Cherry tomato, stupice tomato, summer squash, zucchini, basil and oregano


Bush beans

When waiting for these seeds to germinate, I realized that it's not only the investment of money that worries you. When you invest your time and energy in something it's equally important to you. I read somewhere:

Don't read a child about miracles, plant a garden.
That is so true. One day you see a seed. Another day you've leaves coming out of it. It's like magic.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coconut cookies

DH and I both like coconut cookies. When I was a child, my dad used to coconut cookies from the bakery. They were the most delicious coconut cookies I've ever had; and now I keep searching recipes for coconut cookies that would recreate the magic. Recently I found one that looked quite like what I wanted so I gave it a try. I
Here's the original recipe. I halved the recipe.

  • 1.5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened (I could only find the sweetened one so I used that) shredded coconut
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add the coconut. Mix well so the coconut is well-coated with the butter.
  3. Beat the eggs with a mixer on medium speed just until blended. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high until the mixture is light-colored and fluffy. Combine the butter-covered coconut gently with the egg mixture and mix well.
  4. Drop the batter onto the parchment-covered baking sheets and press down gently on the mound until it is relatively flat. A teaspoon of batter works well but you can make them smaller or larger adjusting the baking time accordingly. Keep about an inch (2.5cm) of space between each cookie, more if you aren’t flattening them. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the tops of each cookie with a pinch of the fleur de sel. If the cookies sit and cool too much the fleur de sel won’t stick. You could apply the salt before baking but since it dissolves so quickly you will lost the visual effect of the beautiful crystals and the pleasant crunch when you bite into one.  Slide the entire sheet of parchment with the cookies intact onto a wire cooling rack. As soon as they are cool, put them in an air-tight container otherwise they will lose their crispness.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Peanut brittle

In India we've something very similar to Peanut brittle, called peanut chiki. This is a popular sweet in our house and always in demand. Unfortunately the chiki that we get at indian stores is not that great so I was motivated to make some at home. Back home, the chiki that you get in stores is crisp but the ones we make at home is soft in texture; and I've never figured out how to get it to be crispy. So this time I decided to try the American version - peanut brittle. Was it a breeze to make?!?!
  • 1 cup peanuts, if you've roasted ones then that's good otherwise follow the directions below to roast them
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 200 F and put a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in it. This helps the baking sheet keep warm so that when you spread the brittle on it in the end, the mixture doesn't cool immediately; and gives you more time to spread.
  2. Put the sugar and corn syrup in a pan and heat using medium high heat.
  3. If you need to roast the peanuts, then put them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute. If it's roasted to your satisfaction then stop otherwise continue roasting in 30 second intervals.
  4. Remove the coverings of the peanut and split them in half. If you want you can also coarsely chop them in food processor.
  5. After the sugar syrups has come to a boil, add the peanuts. Stir often.
  6. Put a drop of the sugar syrup in cold water (I used refrigerated water). If the drop hardens to a hard candy, then turn off the heat.
  7. Mix in the baking soda and butter. This needs to be done quickly so that the mixture doesn't cool down.
  8. Take out the baking sheet from the oven and spread the mixture on the lined sheet. The mixture cools very quickly so this needs to be done fast.
  9. Let the mixture cool.
  10. Break the brittle into pieces.
  11. This brittle is certified delicious! :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Private by James Patterson

It was after a long time that I read a James Patterson novel and I was expecting to be totally thrilled and immersed in it. Sadly that did not happen. In fact a third into the novel and I felt like I was watching Criminal Minds where some psycho killers had gone ahead and committed some murders. The only difference here was that there were a couple of other stories going alongside which made more sense.It did get a little more interesting after half way.

There are a couple of mysteries being solved in parallel in this novel: a match fixing which could blow away careers if confirmed, the murder of a wife and the only suspect is her husband who happens to be the investigator's best friend (yes that's his only claim to fame!), the trouble that the investigator's brother is in and the threat calls to the investigator. I don't know why people have highly rated this novel. To me the only thing that made it worth reading was having so many stories together.

It's a light read and would be good if you've nothing else to read or do.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Marble cake

What do you do when one of you likes vanilla and the other likes chocolate? Well marry the two and make marble cake, of course!
This was mostly made by DH but I did find the recipe - so I can take credit for that :). The cake was very tasty - nice and moist; and a good balance of vanilla and chocolate. Here's the recipe. I halved the recipe.
  • 4oz butter , softened
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4oz self-raising flour
  • 1.5 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder


  1. Heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. The recipe suggested that once could go the easy route and put everything in a food processor and blend. There are very things in life that have an easy route. So when you get one jump on it! That's what we did - blend everything except the cocoa powder.
  3. Divide the mixture into two.
  4. Add cocoa powder to one part.
  5. Put globs of vanilla mixture into the loaf pan and intersperse them with the chocolate layer. Continue to layer in this manner till all batter is used up.
  6. Using a skewer to make swirls - you could draw vertical lines from one end of the pan to the other to make the swirls. Don't go overboard with the swirls or you'll end up mixing the vanilla and chocolate.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes and you've a yummy marble cake ready!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tiramisu pudding

I found this recipe on the Kraft website and it turned out yummy! Everybody loved it! Plus it was so easy to make! Here's the original recipe. I didn't have a few ingredients so I made some substitutions.

  • 1/8 cup Instant Coffee + Starbucks Hot cocoa
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1/4 pkg. (3 oz.) ladyfingers, split
  • 1.5 cups cold milk
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1.5 oz.  JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding


  1. Dissolve 1/2 Tbsp. coffee+cocoa in hot water; drizzle over ladyfingers.
  2. Line bottom and side of shallow 1-1/2-qt. bowl with ladyfingers.
  3. Blend 1/2 cup milk, cream cheese and remaining undissolved flavored instant coffee in blender until smooth.
  4. Add dry pudding mixes and remaining milk; blend well.
  5. Carefully pour into lined bowl.
  6. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or until set.
Note: I got t he ladyfingers in the frozen section of my grocery store. There are 24 in a package.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Sex lives of cannibals

Author: J Maarten Troost

That’s an interesting title for a book, isn’t it? It’s sure to fire up your curiosity about the contents. Well let me put out the curiosity by saying that the book doesn’t have much to do with the title. Like my friend, who recommended it said, not sure why the author chose that title.

It’s a true account by the author of his life in one of the south pacific islands called Tarawa. That doesn’t sound interesting at all; but let me tell you the author has a great sense of humor. His narration is hilarious! Of course there are times when a few pages are serious and that’s expected because it’s a real life story and it’s about an island that doesn’t have much. I loved reading the book and would highly recommend it! There were times when I just couldn’t control my laughter!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana pie


I’ve been trying out a lot of pies lately. Nothing fancy or elaborate – just simple, quick and easy pies. Since this is the first time I’m meddling with pies I wanted to try simple first, understand them and then go to the more complex ones. My experience with the simpler ones has been absolutely great! Not only are they easy to make but they’re so tasty! The only catch – don’t look at the calories when you bite into them!

The recipe for this pie came from here. There are a few things I adapted based on what I had in my pantry.

  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1-1/2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, divided
  • 1 OREO Pie Crust (6 oz.)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 cup nutella
  • Some chopped roasted almonds
  1. Whisk chocolate and 1/2 cup COOL WHIP until well blended. Spread onto bottom of crust; top with bananas.
  2. Beat dry pudding mix, milk and chocolate-hazelnut spread in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in remaining COOL WHIP; spread over bananas.
  3. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rebatch soap

Here's another of my trysts with natural cosmetics. Soap making has always had it's draw for me but given all the equipment I would need to try it out, I was holding back. Then I read about re-batch soap and it seemed the perfect fit for me. It gives you a feel of making soap without all the equipment and if you like it, you could go for the real stuff!
I bought the luxury re-batch soap from Brambleberry. If you're in WA and happen to go to Bellingham then you can buy it from their brick and mortar store, OTION. I love browsing that store!
I've put together a step-by-step tutorial of what I did.
1. Setup a double boiler. You can read about how I setup mine here. Add the grated soap to the upper pan. Add 1 tbsp boiling water to 1 lb of rebatch soap. I found that without the water it was taking the soap forever to come together. Keep mixing in the double boiler till the grated soap forms a mashed potato consistency.
2. Take the soap off the double boiler and add your essential oils. I added around 1/2 a tsp of rosemary EO to one batch (DH wanted a lightly scented soap) and 1 tsp lavender EO to another batch. Each batch was 1 lb.
3. I put one batch in a loaf pan and another in a muffin pan. The loaf pan is lined with wax paper and the muffin pan has cupcake liners. The wax paper and the cupcake liners made it very easy to take out the soap once molded. I oressed the soap well in both the molds so  that there were no air pockets.
4. I let the soaps set for a day and then took them out from their molds. Here are the cupcake soaps.
5. The loaf pan soap came out as a big bar, which I then cut into smaller bars.
6. Since I added a tbsp of water, I'm letting the soaps dry a few extra days. The more it dries the longer it'll last. The room where it dries has such a wonderful aroma of lavender and rosemary! I wonder how good my bathroom will smell once I start using these!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013