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.