Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the quest for a fantastic future

Author: Ashlee Vance

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Tesla and SpaceX and Solar City and the Hyperloop – have all been in the headlines at different times! And they’ve been in the headlines for good reason – they’re one of the first in their industry and have helped their industry grow! What they have in common – Elon Musk.

Sure enough when I saw that his biography has been published, I was very curious to read it. I try to be very environment friendly and am in total support of everybody who is contributing to the world of eco-friendly products. In this case – Tesla the 100% electric car which made electric cars a fashion statement and Solar City – which is a popular company for solar panels. So I was very much interested in reading how he came to investing in these. And then of course SpaceX and Hyperloop – seem to be ahead of their times.

I think I had my expectations set rocket high because when I started reading the book I fell down with a thud. I was expecting to learn about some traits of Elon Musk, or some famous words to live by. However what I got was a never ending story of his day to day rigor. How he spent his day at Tesla and then commuted to SpaceX, what color the walls are at his factories, how many wives/kids he has and so on. Not a single piece of writing that felt motivating/inspiring.

I never finished the book. Didn’t see any point in spending my time reading about the daily grind. Yes he talked about the work culture at these offices, what is the working style of Elon Musk, etc. I feel that the author has not done the job of squeezing out the crux of the story. When you say what is the one take away from this story? Author seems to have narrated the events and left that exercise to the reader. If it was in the last few pages then of course I never got to them.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chocolate balls– simple. easy. vegan. and gluten free.

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It’s hard for me to pass up anything that’s chocolate flavored. Chocolate donuts? Yes please! Brownie? Always! As a result, I’m always looking for healthier options to satisfy my chocolate and sweet tooth cravings. When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, it seemed easy enough that I should at least give it a try. Worst case – I don’t like it and never make it again. Best case – I’ve found a healthier substitute and made my contribution to the chocolate and sweet lovers world! I think they’re going to thank me. What’s even better – these are vegan and gluten free. I know a lot of people out there who belong to one of these categories for some reason or the other. So yes they’re going to thank me too!

After all this cost-benefit analysis I bought all the ingredients – actually just two. Almond butter and hazelnuts. Dates we always keep in our pantry. Then these two ingredients sat in my home for almost a month or so. Getting familiar with each other while I was busy with my life. Every day I would see the almond butter sitting at the back of the refrigerator and think to myself “Oh! I need to make the brownie bites”. Then finally I decided I need to make them before the ingredients expired.

Let me tell you – they’re so delicious! It’s hard to stop at one! It makes me feel good that there’s no added sugar. Only wholesome ingredients. Nutrition information: Protein: 3g; Fiber: 3g; Carbohydrates: 12g; Sugars: 9g; Fat: 7g. Calories: 111.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 12 whole medjool dates, pitted
  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicon mat. Add the hazelnuts to it in a single layer. Roast them for 10 minutes. Let cool. Rub them with your fingers to remove the skins. Don’t worry if some of them still have the skins.
  3. Reserve 20 hazelnuts. Pulse the rest in the food processor till they’re finely chopped. Keep aside.
  4. Pulse the dates in the food processor till it forms a paste. Add the almond butter, water, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Pulse till well combined.
  5. Divide the mixture into 20 portions.
  6. Roll each portion around 1 whole hazelnut (reserved in step 3). Roll the ball in your hands to smoothen the surface. Roll it next into the finely chopped hazelnuts.
  7. Chill until firm, around 30 minutes.

Note: Store in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The girl on the train

Author: Paula Hawkins

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Given how popular this book is it was a pleasant surprise when I was notified that the book was waiting for me in the library! I further surprised myself by finishing the book in just a few days! Typically it takes me at least a month to finish reading a book and in most of the cases, much more than a month. However I happened to be lucky that after I got this book some free time in the form of a long weekend came upon me. And of course the novel was so engrossing that I just didn’t feel like putting it down till I’d read the end.

The book is about – well as the name suggests – a girl on the train! She takes the train every day in the morning as well as the evening as if she’s going for work. Just to fool her room-mate into thinking that she has a job. She doesn’t have one. She’s an alcoholic and can’t stop drinking – she can drink any time of the day. Having gone through a divorce some time back, she is not in the best of mental state. While in the train, she often spots a couple in the balcony of their home. Given how wretched her life is, she likes to fantasize about how wonderful their life is. How perfect the wife is and how caring the husband is. One day she sees the wife’s photo in the newspaper and finds out that the wife has disappeared. This is when the adventure begins. Since she used to see the couple every other day, she feels she has valuable information that she can provide to the police and feels very involved in the case. Slowly and gradually she takes it upon herself to find out what happened to the wife – this gives a purpose to her life. The whole journey of how she unearths what happened to the wife is very engrossing! I don’t want to reveal too many details lest I spoil somebody’s fun.

Loved reading this book! Highly recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sticky buns

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Hubby and I both are fond of cinnamon rolls/buns or any other sticky sweet buns SmileI gave this recipe from my go-to-baking-site King Arthur Flour, sticky buns, and as always they came out delicious. The only thing that didn’t seem to necessary was the blobs of brown sugar that you see in the picture. Other than that just perfect – yummy!

I did halve the recipe because otherwise it makes just too many for two people!

DOUGH
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cups lukewarm water* (may need additional 1 tbsp of water)
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5/8 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • *Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
GLAZE
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, light or dark, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup diced pecans
CINNAMON FILLING*

Instructions

  1. First, make the dough. If you're using active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of sugar in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
  2. Combine the dissolved yeast (or instant yeast) with the remainder of the dough ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—I used my food processor here—till you've made a smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise, at room temperature, for 1 to 2 hours, or until it's nearly doubled in bulk. Rising may take longer, especially if you've kneaded by hand. Give it enough time to become quite puffy. I kept it in the oven (since it was winter here and house is probably a little cold).
  4. While the dough is rising, lightly grease a 9" round cake pans.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk together the syrup, and melted butter.
  6. Spread the glaze in the pan. Sprinkle the sugar and pecans atop the glaze.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 8" x 12" rectangle. It's a nice, soft dough, and pats out easily.
  8. To make the filling, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.
  9. Sprinkle filling evenly over the dough, leaving an uncovered strip about 1" wide along one short end of the rectangle.
  10. Starting with the sugar-covered edge, roll the dough into a log the long way.
  11. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 8 slices. In order to cut down on drag, it helps to rinse the blade in hot water, and wipe it off, between slices.
  12. Space the buns in the prepared pan. Cover the pan, and let the buns rise till they spread out and touch one another, about 60 to 90 minutes. Again I put them in my (cold) oven.
  13. Once the buns had risen, I took them out of the oven and then preheated the oven to 350°F.
  14. Bake the sticky buns for 15 minutes. Tent them lightly with aluminum foil, and bake till they're a light golden brown, about 10 more minutes.
  15. Remove the buns from the oven, and loosen their edges with a knife. Carefully—the sugar is hot!—turn them out onto a rack or parchment-covered sheet pan to cool, scraping any glaze that may have stuck to the pan onto the warm buns.
  16. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A man called Ove

Author: Frederick Backman

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Wish you all a very happy new year! Every time a new year begins, I always wonder how one year had passed. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday that that year had started. Then I start counting on my fingers what all happened during the year – the good and the bad but mostly it’s only fun to count the good – and I fall short of fingers. That’s when I realize no matter what all happens in a year it always feels like yesterday… And I want it to be like that! So I enticed you with the book cover, laying bait that there was a book review to be read and rambled on with my philosophies…

With a new year, I’m so happy to start with a great book review! After a long, no a really really long time, I read a book that I just didn’t want to put down. And that was not because the author was withholding some suspense – simply because it was such a pleasure reading it. I absolutely loved the author’s style of writing and his humor! There were some sentences that were so funny that I read them aloud to my husband (poor thing they were totally out of context but he listened!).

Like I tell everyone when I give them a summary of this book, that a summary will not do it justice. It’s all about the way the store is written. Anywho, so the story is about an old man who has lost his wife and been laid off by his employer. With both these events happening in succession he suddenly find a lot of time on his hand and doesn’t know what to do with it. He decides that life is not worth living without his wife so he must take his own life too. The story weaves around his failed suicide attempts, how he annoys every one by being a purist and at the same time helps every body around him – even the cat! Every action of his is guarded by what his late wife would’ve wanted him to do. And that is just so sweet! Smile

All in all – I had a ball reading this book! In the last few months this is one of the few books (if not the only one) that I’ve completed and completed at such a fast pace!