Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cheese Fondue, my way

This has to be the mot nontraditional cheese fondue ever- super basic. But it was a cold night, and I wanted something easy and comforting that would cook itself- and it was delicious! The dish itself is simple, but the key is to use quality ingredients that you like the taste of.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 varieties of soft cheese- I used Gruyere and a soft Cheddar, but honestly, go with any soft, easily melting cheese you like to eat- if you like the taste of the cheese, of course you will like it in the fondue! I used about a cup of each, shredded- you MUST shred- makes it easies to melt and mix with the other ingredients.
  • 1-2 varieties of white wine or light, pale cider- you can use any that you like to drink- please DO NOT use a wine with high color (pink/brown fondue??? I think not!) and DO NOT use a wine sold "for cooking"- buy a bottle of what you want to drink with your meal, use some with the fondue, and drink the rest with your meal- no waste! I used a quarter cup of a California white I had lying around, and a quarter cup of Korbel champagne- the latter was a really good idea- it tasted great in the fondue.
  • black pepper and garam masala (!!) to taste. I didn't want to add nutmeg, which would have been the usual thing to do, but you could. You could also add garlic powder, oregano or rosemary- just make sure you don't use more than 2-3 spices (the more the spices, the greater the risk of muddy flavors), and do not replace black pepper with another spice- please :)
  • Dippers- different TOASTED breads- sourdough, rye, a robust white. Also crisp apples- whatever you like!
  • Fondue pot- I just used a regular small, heavy bottomed pan, but if you are serving to your guests, you may want to get something pretty, since we are cooking and serving in the same pot.

Method:

  • Take a small, but heavy pan, and boil the 1/2 cup of wines you are using.
  • As soon as the wine mix comes to a boil, reduce to a medium heat.
  • Add your cheeses, crushed black pepper and garam masala- go easy on the latter- you want to taste the cheese at the end of this.
  • Let the cheese melt itself- it should take about 5 minutes, during which time, you should not fuss with the fondue.
  • After five minutes, give the pot a stir, to see if more melting is required- if you see that the cheese has gone grainy on you, do not worry- just leave it on the heat for another 5 minutes or so, on low heat. As soon you have the consistency you desired, its time to eat- get dipping!

Notes:

  • Sorry no photo again- was too busy eating to remember :)
  • You shouldn't need to add any salt- the cheese would have enough.
  • You could also add fresh herbs and fresh garlic- just make sure you crush them really well, and add them after the wine has boiled, but before adding the cheese- it will mix better.
  • The fondue should remain warm and edible for about 15 minutes- if you are using a fondue pot with a warming attachment, that's great, but if not, you may want to reheat every 15 minutes.
  • Leftover fondue heats up perfectly- just make sure you put the pot on gentle heat first, and slowly move to medium heat once it melts a bit. The morning after, I used it for a open-face grilled cheese sandwiches, with sun-dried tomatoes- yum!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jacket potatoes

Been really depressed lately, and don't feel like cooking. But I cant keep the husband on frozen pizza forever, so i try to do something simple that can work itself out in the oven.
Which brings us to potatoes- I usually have a stock of boiled potatoes in the fridge, as taught by an older aunt in my infancy. Thrown with spices and coupled with other vegetables/meat can get a full meal on your table in a few minutes.
But baking a potato is a different deal. There are myriad opinions on what are the best potatoes for this, but most recipes call for large, thick skinned potatoes, and all take about 2 hours to do- that's way too much time for me. Plus, I dont like their hard casings- they just dont crisp up as well.
Quite by accident, I started using the long white potato, also known as White Rose/California Long White/ American Giant and Wisconsin Pride. It is an oval shaped potato with a thin outer skin that is light tan in color and smooth overall with few, very small eyes. The inner meat of the White Rose has a medium starch level, and I find that it stands up well to most cooking processes, resulting in a firm and creamy cooked product.

photo source: www.recipetips.com

Choose potatoes that are firm and plump, avoiding those that have shriveled skins, sprouting eyes, soft spots, blemishes, and green spots. Store in a cool dry place- NEVER the refrigerator. They will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks or longer.

I figured that because of the thin skin, chances were this would cook faster as well, and it did- total cooking time- 1 hour (including prep), half of the usual time.

Ingredients:
- long white potatoes, as many as you want to do
- light olive oil, butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Optional:
- Thin cut chives, sour cream, bacon bits, salsa, tapenade, garlic salt.

Method:

  • Turn the oven on to about 425 degrees, and let it warm up.
  • Important: Wash the potatoes, and gently remove any dirt, then dry REALLY WELL on paper/cloth towels.
  • Important: Wrap up potatoes individually , and really tightly in aluminium foil pieces.
  • Throw in the potatoes in the oven, and walk away for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, take out one of your tin-foiled potatoes, gently open (so as to not tear the foil- you may need to put it back)- and insert a thin knife/chopstick through the thickest part- if it cuts through without much resistance, the potato is done.
  • In this state, the potatoes can be stored in the fridge for easily a week, without a problem, but the jacket potato is best eaten straight from the oven.

2 Ways to serve this:

1- Serve one potato per person, and let them open the foil jackets, which will keep the potato warm. I like this with lots of butter, salt and pepper, but you can of course go the traditional way, and serve with all the optional accompaniments.

2- If you want to fancy this up:

-take the potatoes out of the foil when cooked, and prick all over with a fork.
- Baste the potatoes with olive oil and butter, and sprinkle with garlic salt/seasoned salt/reg salt and pepper.
- Replace into the oven (without any foil) at 450 degrees, for 5 minutes, turning the potatoes once.
- 5 minutes later, the potatoes' would crisp up all over and go slightly red/brown. Take out , split in half, and serve with more butter and the optional accompaniments if desired.

The baked potatoes in the fridge

  • Cooking and storing these is not a good idea, but if you are doing this, unwrap from foil and reheat in a microwave for about 3 minutes on high. THEN throw into a 425-450 degree oven to crisp up for about 5 minutes (serving method 2 above).
  • Extra potatoes make great mashed potatoes/hash browns/croquettes, so there is no waste :)

PS: No photos- only remembered after they were eaten!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Khursheed Hughes, RIP

Naani (maternal grandma) finally passed away yesterday after suffering from intestinal cancer for 2 years. Its hard for me to come to terms with, since she was the binding factor for the entire family.

My best memories of her are from Christmas- every Christmas was to be spent at her two-bedroom house in Allahabad, with all of us grand kids, her 6 daughters and 1 son and their spouses cramped joyfully in our sleeping bags. Breakfast would begin with lamb kebabs and parathas, a huge biryani for lunch and at least for us kids, cakes and cookies for dinner, through the festive season. Music would blare in the street 24-7 and huge bonfires burned in the backyard at night. hristmas was fun with midnight mass and early service, when we'd visit the ancestral graves at 5am, to dress them with flowers for Christmas.

And she would mastermind the whole thing. She would begin calling her daughters about a month before Christmas, and begin preparations, from extra bedding, to the tree, to the all important cake drenched in rum. And every one would pitch in, with the madness stopping after new-year, when she would be busy arranging taxis for all of us to the train station, with memories of her lingering till the next time we met.
That wont happen this Christmas.

That will never happen again.

The family wont be the same again- this is the moment we have begun to drift apart, each in our nucleus of pain. Oh we will try for sure- we will all try to be in touch- but with her gone, so is the glue that called us all back to the same fold.
She will never whisper conspiratorially to me that I am fatter than ever and need to lose weight, while insisting that I finish the last piece of deep fried rohu.

She wont pick up the phone when I call, and ask me exactly how much money I make now, and insist that I send her our latest photos.

I don't think she was able to see the last set of photos I sent her. She would have liked those.

She wont advise my husband to tolerate my short temper (oh grandma!) and subtly inquire when we plan to have kids.

She wont be visiting here again, and demand to be taken to Vegas yet again- she loved that city, loved the lights and the din.

She wont talk gardening again with me- we wont visit Huntington Gardens, she wont attempt to cadge seedlings from the neighbors.

"Dil ko samjhane ke liye khayal accha hai" (It is easy to use this thought to placate ourselves) that she is now free from pain and close to God. We are just going to miss hearing her voice, and being babied- I hate growing up like this.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election night happy night

The exit polls look beautiful!


Weehee!

Right now I see Obama at 324, he even swept Virginia- :D

:D

:D

:D

Grumbling: Louisiana and Tenessee, which both states I have done business with for a few years went Republican- ugh- why my friends why?

Update at 8:22pm PT: Just finished watching McCain g'bye speech- finally some graceful behavior from a man who used to be a fabulous person to listen to (oh what happened to you John? why did you turn weird on us?). I am almost reassured that Palin wont be seen or heard any more- thank God.

Update at 8:25pm PT: 338!- he got Nevada too. I cant wait to see what the map looks like at the end of this :)

8:59pm PT: Obama began his speech in Chicago!!! Shhh.. lets pay attention now...
Yes OB yes- I was afraid too- I was scared it wouldn't happen. Lets hear for change now! What ever you say OB, we are GLAD Palin is out of the picture. whew. Clappings!!!!!! OK enough w/ the thank yous now- its getting Oscar-y :B "Yes we can"- oh you are so lyrical sir- clappings!!! Oprah in the crows- clappings!!! Hug Biden- go on- thunderous clappings :)

This is beyond race, beyond parties- Obama and the results of this election are the right thing to have happened. Woohoo!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random thoughts

I haven't been posting much in the past month- almost nothing here, and very little on my other blog.

Its just been a busy month. At work, I am working on issuing a set of financials tomorrow: One for a product distribution company, which is in San Diego, but idiotically has its accounting base in the UK :S That last fact is a huge problem in terms of communications- its a first year engagement, the accounting liaison isn't too bright, and I have had to define stuff like shareholder's equity in terms of US GAAP and liquidity computations till I want to scream. The other FS due out, which is worse, involves financials for a non-profit organization who has a CFO I want to brain with my laptop- a 60 year old male drama queen if you will :S

Outside of work, the home situation is kinda mad as well- one of the cars got into an accident (all by itself- I promise) and so we've been carpooling together, which leaves us both a bit cranky. Not to mention the idiotic paperwork to be done with the insurance company (GAH). Before the accident happened, I went and blew crazy money on drapes for the house (there were super ugly and old blinds earlier), which has left me short of cash in these crazy times. Oh wait- the BUYing of those drapes was the worst bit- who knew it took almost 10 hours (I counted) of running around and conducting major discussions in 5-6 stores??? Like how does someone spend that much time on drapes??? I am consoling myself with the fact that they look as calm and subtle as I wanted them to- I need a restful home to come back to after watching CFOs have shouting matches :)

So yeah, no innovative cooking happening- no time to, though we will see how the coming month goes. I have an exam right after Thanksgiving, and a brand new client to deal with starting today, so I am crossing my fingers.

Reading back on this post, things do sound as stressful as I feel they are- but as long as I can sleep well on the weekends (which I do, except for that weekend with the drapes- shudder), its all good :D

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Egg Curry

This used to be somehow a special dish I was growing up. Ma wouldn't make it ofte, since eggs=high cholesterol, and therefore, on I would find this on the table only on some cold winter afternoons, when she was short of time, but wanted a curry.

Replicating ma's flavors is always hard, but I came close, and here is what I used, to feed 3 hungry adults:
  • 5 hard boiled eggs; cooled, shelled and cut in half (lengthwise)
  • 2 medium tomatoes; crushed or minced fine
  • 1 medium red onion; diced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 small green chili- minced fine
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (my mom believes it prevents arthritis- and you can never plan too early on preventing it!)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppers
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
Optional:
  • 1 tsp flax seed meal (this has no bearing on the dish- I add this to most curries/stews since it is known to reduce cholesterol- and well, with a 5 egg curry, I guess I do need all the help possible anyways, right? :))

Method:
  • Throw in the onions in the pan (medium heat), and shower on the olive oil, to avoid burning. Once the onions brown slightly (about a minute or so), add the tomatoes and garlic paste, stir.
  • In another 2 minutes, add all the remaining ingredients, except the eggs.
  • Stir, and let sit for about 2 minutes.
  • Once the mixture in the pan is a golden brown, and has almost exuded all moisture, add one large glasses of water.
  • Stir again, and let come to boil, after which you can reduce to a simmer, but since this was going to be a quick curry, I didn't bother simmering much. (The longer you simmer, the more complex the flavors get- many times you DON'T want that).
  • At this point, the curry sauce will be pretty chunky- if that bothers you, you can always use a immersion blender and blend to desired smoothness- if you do that, the sauce turns creamy almost instantly, and also becomes a lighter shade of red.
  • While the curry cooks, add 2 tsps of olive oil to a non stick pan and lightly browned the halved eggs.
  • Add the eggs into the sauce and bring to a boil, then let simmer until ready to eat, about 5 minutes, or longer, if you have the time.
  • Serve on white rice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Culinary terms and patronisation

I was just surfing through Mumbai Mirror, and found this, which makes me really mad.

Per the author, this is a article on "tongue-twisting culinary terms" ; I am not certain how the author decided they were tongue-twisting- I think she means western or unfamiliar culinary terms.

Some of her definitions work, and some are just strange. Here is an example:

"Blind bake [noun]: Baking the crust of a pie without any filling, hence called ‘blind’. It is usually done by keeping weights such as dry lentil on the pie while baking to keep the pastry from bubbling or puffing up.
Usage: We should make a few blind bakes in advance for the party."

Dry lentil??? What exactly are you telling someone reading this thing with any seriousness??? Firstly, the definition isn't quite correct. In case you care, here is the correct definition.
Secondly, the "Usage"- where basically the author uses the term in a sentence is clearly wrong- it propagates further misuse.

I honestly think it is time Indian news media gained some level of responsibility, and would have someone review and edit the stuff they are communicating to the masses. The nation is supposedly gaining in literacy- but these are really horrible examples.

Ohh I get so angry!
[deep, calming breaths now]

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aaloo-soya-maethi

So fine, the name of this dish is a bit misleading- In Hindi, fresh dill is known popularly as "Soya"- and has nothing to do with Soy or Soy products. Other than that, there is no mystery to this quick stir fry vegetable with tons of dill, and an unusual green, fenugreek: both of these are fairly easily available in Indian and Middle-Eastern grocery stores .

This dish was pretty much a staple back home; my one quibble: my family used too much oil, frying the greens to pretty much a crisp, and killing them entirely- this is my low-"er" fat version.


What I used:
  • 3 medium potatoes, boiled and diced.
  • 2 large-ish bunches of dill, leaves only- stems discarded- about 1/2 lbs.
  • 3 medium bunches of fresh fenugreek, leaves only- stems discarded.- about 1/2 lbs.
  • 1 green chili, minced
  • 1 tbsp dhania powder (dried cilantro powder)
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
What I did:
  • Add the oil into a wok/good sized pan on medium heat.
  • when hot, add in the cumin seeds and potatoes.
  • Sprinkle in the salt, green chili and dhania and turmeric powders- keep on stirring.
  • Once the potatoes turn golden and a little crusty (it will happen- give the potatoes time to sit on each side- since we want these to crisp without adding a ton of oil), add in the dill and fenugreek- stir for a minute.
  • Reduce heat and cover the pan.
  • Uncover the pan after 5 minutes- the leaves would have exuded moisture, which you can reduce or evaporate completely- I prefer this dish pretty dry, so I stir the veggies around for another 5 minutes, till done.

Serving:
Dig in with good 'ol "Deep" brand home-style parathas and boondi raita (Spiced yogurt with boondi- fried chickpea dough dots). Parathas and boondi available at- u guessed it- your friendly neighborhood Indian grocery store :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Women seeking men

After insistence from Bollyviewer and The Bollywood Fan, I found myself researching the sequel to the Indian Matrimonials post- here is therefore the Women seeking Men :)

1. Looking for groom (separated/divorce/widow
My 1st marriage life went to wrong within 3 days. My ex-husband ran away with other girl after 3 days marriage life and spoiled my life for just to satisfy his parents wishes. Now I am looking for broad mind person who like to marry me and make me happy and care me. I am very sure that I will take care you very much.
I wish you would not look for widows to get married to. I don't believe same sex marriages are yet legal in India. Also I am a bit skeptical about the drama.

2. teenvs
whats my parameter of assessing anyone? me. not a full-proof way but what can be done?...thats the only tool available. though erroneous, but may be u too, just throw a cursory glance on the first few lines of personal ads and a fleeting glance at the pic...then...the chapter changes. no calculation or road map works here, so lay back n enjoy the show!

First of all, she titles herself a "teen," which is troubling. Secondly- wth is she trying to say???
Huh.

3. bahl81
So a bit about myself:I don't really expect much to be honest with you. Not because my standards are low, but because I'm a simple girl with simple desires. ...When I'm laughing hard enough (which is easy to get me to do), I tend to go into fits of laughter resorting to tears and a great ab workout! ... I'm very clean and tidy, have great table manners and know how to be respectable. I've been raised to hug all the aunties and make small talk with all the uncles.

Amazing. She starts by admitting she isn't being honest- therefore you have to be a real loser to respond to her ad. A tendency towards hysteria and some neurological problems also appear indicated. Note that she communicates with aunties and uncles only- all others may pose an issue.

4. Sincerely003
It's not how we live and interact with others that count but most importantly, it's how we interact with ourselves...Be Happy!!!I believe in life that you never stop learning..I am easy going, passionate, athletic, and hope to find someone with similar qualities. Hope to hear from YOU!!Always Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams!!

She scares me.

5. Wanted bride-grooms..
Rich & only Girl, very attractive, soft-spoken, God-fearing girl aged 28-yrs (MOOLAM Nakshatra) needs Bride Grooms who are in Software/Bank sectors. Bride-Grooms without father preferred.

Umm- there ARE other girls you know- you cant possibly be the only one. Also I suggest you look for 1 single man- not Bride-grooms. I am glad you appear OK with the Bride-grooms having mothers at least- but what will you do with so many?

6. Wanted
looking for my daughter 22 yrs, ,colur normal fair, good looking,smart,active,homley services,education graduate, either proffessional employes or our tradational job of who has done agama as his proffession for 4.11 inch height

Now wait a minute- why are you looking for your daughter on a matrimonial site? Should'nt she be at home? And how come your daughter is under 5 inches in height???


These last two were probably the most entertaining:

7. Wanted
I am santhosh my elder sister for seeking groom, bride name padma priya, date of birth 15.12.1976, vanniyer,D.H.S.M,D.Y.N,looking for any job or business Age 32 to 38 same caste (bride small fat).

You cant be your own elder sister. I am also glad your sister isn't bride big fat. Also, call China- you may find a eligible cousin of Chow Yun Fat.

8. Cute Tamil divorces
i got divorce recently due to misundetrstanding, cute, young call or send mail.he should be caring lovable, open, broad minded, widowers and divorcess can also contact, colour, religion caste no bar.

I can hardly believe Tamil, or any divorces are cute in any way. Divorces cannot paint, color or perform activities that you describe either.


Concluding thoughts: I almost felt bad doing this-The men had been simply quiet in their bios, not saying anything that would reflect negatively upon them in any way. The women were by and large more superfluous with words, poetic, dramatic and highly unbelievable.


Happy Dussehra- and happy birthday as well.

Today is Dussehra 2008- the celebration of Ram's victory over Ravan- symbolic of good defeating evil. So happy Dussehra everyone- I hope your year is prosperous and happy.

Today also happens to be a landmark birthday for me- I am thirty today. Strangely, I don't feel much older than when I turned 6- or any birthdays in between. Certainly I can express myself much better, but I am not certain if I feel the level of seriousness I always expected I would when I reached such a benevolent age :)

So what has really changed? Through my teens I struggled through self-doubt and lack of confidence, and searched for an identity. From a mixed-religious background, this was especially important for me, and was a journey worth taking. In my 20s, I grew stronger, and gained some sense of who I was, inner strength and discovered my desires. In my 30s, I hope to gain self-actualization and set more concrete goals for myself.

I like being 30- the insecurities of my 20s have disappeared, and I find myself an unapologetically strong person welcoming life. I feel fulfilled, energized and in happy anticipation of the future. I love my friends and my loved ones. I want more big bites of life and see where I will be in the next 10 years- when I hit 40 (yay!). And that in itself is a heck of a birthday gift, thank the Lord.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chicken-Mushroom-Jalapeno burger

I love burgers- I can have one NOW, or for any meal of the day, as well as in-between!

Here's the issue: Not only am I flat-out broke (so cant go out even to Carl's Jr.) but also my husband doesnt eat beef- so I dont cook these at home. The next option for me was chicken, which judging by the stuff at fast food restuarants, makes for pretty boring burgers.

Unless... I would invent my own burgers at home! Which is exactly what I did- it turned out fabulous as well, so I am now enthu about trying more variations of the chicken burger at home :)



Ingredients:
For the Burger:
1 lb of ground chicken- this should not be too lean, since very lean meat wont bind well.
1/2 a jalapeno, minced fine (or more than 1/2 if you are so inclined)
1 cup finely julienned mushrooms
1-2 tbsps soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

To assemble:
Whole wheat burger buns (or some thick cut sourdough bread)
Mustard
I used these add-ons, but you can pick and choose per preference:
Thinly sliced tomatoes, red onions (grilled or fresh), baby spinach leaves.

Method:

Gently mix together all the ingredients "For the Burger." At this point, it is prefereable that you leave the mixture in the fridge overnight, to let the flavors develop. If you dont have the time, the flavors will just be more subtle than you expect. The mixture may be refrigerated for about a week in a covered air-tight box without spoilage.

When ready to cook, leave the box with the mixture on your kitchen counter for an hour, to bring to room temprature. DO NOT put under hot water to hasten the process- BAD BAD idea. You may end up part cooking/boiling the meat in the process, and may encourage bacteria.

Heat your grill to 400degrees.

While the grill heats, make your patties- this mixture will yield about 3 huge or 4 medium sized patties.

Now place a saute pan on your stove, throw spray on some olive oil, and once the pan is hot, brown your patties on both sides at high heat, till golden. Yes I know we just heated a grill- that comes later. at this point, we just want to get a nice color to our patties, not cook them.

Do not, at any point of time, press down on the patties with your spatula. Turn them gently.

Once golden, shift the patties to the heated grill, reduce the temperature of the grill to about 380, cover the grill-top and walk away for 5 minutes. We had gone to the stove top to get color, and then move to the grill to get grill marks, and release excess fat.The timing is a bit iffy on this, as the cooking time is very dependent on your grill's capabilities. When in doubt, keep in mind that poultry is cooked when the internal temperature is at 175F/80C. So feel free to indulge in a food thermometer, or eyeball it, if confident.

While the burgers were on the grill, if using buns, lightly heat or toast to a golden if using sourdough- or whatever strikes your fancy.

My burgers were done in 5 minutes, and I made sure they were done by letting them rest for another 5 minutes, then piercing their centers with a very fine-bladed knife. The 5 minutes of rest help seal in the juices, keeping the patty moist and flavorful inside, but crispy outside. Piercing the patty should yield a small amount of clear juices, not pink.

Slather on your favorite mustard on your bread/bun, add the tomato, then the onion, followed by the patty and the spinach leaves on top, finishing off with a final slice of bread/bun.

Bite in!

Other suggestions:
I could have also used minced olives and hydrated sundried tomatoes to the chicken mixture- or golden-fried garlic. What would you add?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Indian Matrimonials

Indian matrimonials are really hilarious. Here are some I stumbled upon recently- so glad I never had to go this route!

Here are some Indian men looking for women:

1. Nowhere Man
I know you're out there somewhere, but you're not where you're supposed to be.

Not only is he convinced that the reader is SOMEWHERE (so smart), he also knows that the reader isn't where they should be. Brilliant. He notes that his health is "spectacular": I doubt if that is necessarily a verbatim medical opinion.

2. junnaid
I am very royal and sweet person . i await for my life partner for share my all love to her. Hello Hi Iam junnaid. Iam god fearing person. I want to become big person in my life. I live life very enjoyfully with islamic rules.I Thanks allha becouse . allha give me all things.So we remember to each and every time to allha. ok I am very straitforward person.

Junnaid- you freak me out, despite yuour claims to royalty. I shudder for the girl who responds to this.

3. teek2739
Goal oriented, confident, funny and honest 28 year old gentleman!! I'm a hard working, goal oriented professional. I just turned 28 and live in the west loop of Chicago. On the weekend's, I enjoy working out and spending time with family and friends. I believe in making the most of your free time, weather it be spending time enjoying the weather or participating in an event or playing a sport. I have been working as a sales product specialist for the past 6 years and really love my job. I just started a new career with SPSS Inc. and I’m excited about my new changelles and opportunies. Currently, my time has been consumed with night class at Roosevelt University and just completed my first two classes this past spring. I’m definitely an optimist. I always look at the good in every situation, no matter how bleak it may actually be. I’m honest, out-going and think of myself of being funny…or maybe people are just laughing at me! I’m goal oriented and believe we all have the opportunity to do what we want and archive our goals with hard work.

I've no idea what he was trying to say- this one will get a girl quick though- nerds rule!

4. ice_josh
"sweetheart!!"
- That's all this entry said- also mentioned his health was "over the top."
I am speechless with wonder.

5. vikram2006
"I have high aspirations moderate expectations and modest necessities. I am honest,committed,stable,..."

The guy's written an entire essay online, in his praise- ladies, if you are searching for a pompous ass, this is your chance!

6. strangely normal
Please adopt me. I have all my shots.

This guy's on the wrong website. He needs a kennel. He additionally concedes to wear a little black dress if needed, and also explains that he "doesn't do religion".

7. thomaskv
I am thomas.I am God fearing and my parents are from traditional christian families from central Travancore.I work in the computer division in police force in trivandrum.I am a post graduate in commerce with PGDC in computer.I am residing in trivandrum.I am a non smoker ,fair and non-alcoholic.
Good for you Thomas- you are able to rely on all your families, and are a non-alcoholic to boot!

8. double-sided
I only have 4 minutes to save the world...

He also mentions he loves his jeans, and wants interested ladies to "just drop me a message with your email." GAH.

9. praveen_sf
Laughter is the best medicine...

Insists his health is "good as new"- I am really not sure what that means- is he an alcoholic on the mend (unlike dear thomas above) or needs to be "dropped a message"?

And the best self-advertisement ever (drumroll):

10. kauraboyz
i want a NRI girl which is citizenship in abroad . WHICH HAS ANY EYE COLOR

Direct and desperate, He continues:

Profile Details
i am a sikh boy.i want to marry with a NRI girl which is citizen in abroadi work in SGPC [SHROMINI GURUDWARA PARBANDAK COMMETY]. I AM A GOOD BOY. I AM NON DRINGINGMAN . I AM NON SMOKER MAN. I AM VEGETARIAN.

Desired Match
I LOOK LIKE A GOOD BEAUTIFUL GIRLWHICH HAS GOOD MANNERS AND SETTELED IN ABROAD .AND WHICH HAS CITIZENSHIP. I WANT TO A SIKH GIRL ANY CAST . I LIKE VEGETARIAN GIRL . I LIKE NON SMOKER GIRL .I LIKE NON DRINKER GIRL.

Hobbies
GOOD HABITS

There really is nothing more that can be said. Looks like a girl, wants Western citizenship, and is ready to settle for ANY EYE COLOR- but likes non-drinking, vegetarian, Sikh girls. Maybe we can send him a American-bred female calf owned by a Sikh family.

Now to find some of the "Women seeking men"- but maybe not- I find it hard to be mean to my own kind :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Coconut luddoos

Q. What is a laddoo?
A. Essentially, laddos are a form of mithai (generic name for all Indian confectionery), inherently spherical (laddoo means round/spherical), always sweet and dry (not to be mistaken with rasgollas, which have the same shape, but are wet/sticky with sugar syrup).



As all my friends know, I don't have a sweet tooth. A bite of dark chocolate is my sweet quota for a week. But the hubby felt like dessert, and I remembered these not-too-sweet laddoos from my childhood, and so off I went cooking! I loved coconut laddoos when I was a kid- but it was so hard to get them! "Milkmaid" condensed milk laddoos w/ coconut were extremely popular in my childhood, but I never recall my mom making those ... Making my own version was especially great since I could make the laddoo as light as I wanted to!

Ingredients:
1/2 lb bag of dried grated coconut
1 small can of sweetened condensed Dulce de Leche style condensed "milk"
12 pods of green cardamom

Method:

  • Extract the black-brown seeds from the green cardamom pods, discarding the outer skins.
  • Pound the seeds to a rough powder (my very cute and little [but also very heavy- these should never be light] mortar and pestle came in handy here- you have complete control on the consistency of the powder).
  • In a big mixing bowl, add all the dried coconut, with the exception of a cupful that you should keep away for final assembly.
  • Sprinkle in the cardamom powder (bits and all) with your left hand as you mix with your right- please use your hands (wash well please!)- the mixing is just better.
  • Then dribble in the "milk" with your left hand, as you gently mix with your right. You could of course use the mixer for all this, but I just believe that the texture is better if this is all done by hand- takes 5 minutes, and you have fewer appliances to clean. Also at this point you could add more sugar/sugar substitute- the sweetness from the condensed milk is enough for me, so I didn't.
  • After gently mixing together everything for about half a minute, you should have a not-too-sticky mixture/dough.
  • Spread the reserved coconut powder on a plate. Take a small lump of the mixture, and rotate between your palms to get a dense ball- about the size of a small key lime.
  • Dredge the sticky-feeling ball with the coconut powder.
  • Repeat until the mixture/dough finishes and you are left with about 40 laddoos.

Notes:

The whole thing took me 30 minutes, from beginning to end. You want to chill these in the fridge before eating, and can store them in the fridge for about 10 days without spoilage.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vegetarian's 100!

This is kind-of getting out of hand :D- after the Omnivore's 100, comes the Vegetarian's 100, from Barbara Fisher

I did good!

Score: 99 /100

The Vegetarian Hundred:

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Creme brulee
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille3
1. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains3
6. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer6
4. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto
75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish)
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts

Now to lay my hands on some good ol' wheat gluten......

Friday, September 19, 2008

So Angry

A very dear woman, who is like a sister to my mom and was our neighbor while I was growing up, is in the 3rd stage of oral cancer. I just found out this morning, and stood stricken before my screen, trying to figure out how to process this information.

Its so unfair. She is in deep pain, having undergone surgery and weeks of chemotherapy. But she isn't the only one.

My maternal grandma is suffering from the affects of chemotherapy treatments taken 30 years ago- her digestive system has been replaced by plastic tubes.

My paternal uncle is suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis- to the point where he cannot walk anymore.

All of this has occurred in the past year.
These people, good, kind souls, have always tried to help people around them. Today, when I call them, they seem full of determination to battle on, despite being in devastating pain. And I am powerless to help.

At the same time, I know tons of people who are horrible and are flourishing like the proverbial green tree. It makes me so angry- I do believe in God- but I sometimes wonder if he just goes on vacation. And sometimes I wonder if I am just delusional and stop believing.

My paternal grandma, who was not an angel, but a pretty decent human being, died after years of illness. Two aunts died in similar circumstances.

Now, I am foreseeing these three people leaving us in the next year- if they are lucky. If they aren't, their illnesses are the type which can potentially make them linger on in devastating suffering.

Almost makes me want to turn atheist. Almost. Sure, it wont matter whether I believe or not. But it just isn't right that good people seem to suffer the most. Its just so unfair.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The-omnivores-hundred

A Very good Taste recently came up with a list of 100 things that every "good" omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. Bloggers are encouraged to copy the list and bold items they have indulged in.

I am proud to say that I have tried 70 of the 100 recommendations-how about you?

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB& J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11

This was supposed to be another post. Probably about the new recipes I've tried out since my last post, or photos of the new house, or of the last travels.

But time passed (as it will), and I didn't get much of a chance to post about any of those things.
And soon enough, it was 9/11 again.

Its been a while since it happened- 7 years- would you believe it?
I had been in the United Stated barely over a year, was rushing through community college to make up the units to go to University with a scholarship, and enduring a long commute on a daily basis, to job and school.

That morning, I left my house at 5:45am as usual, walking 10 blocks to the bus to Los Angeles (couldn't afford a train). I didn't know that three hours away, events unimaginable were beginning to unfold.

My bus arrived at 6:15am, and about 10 minutes later, one of the female passengers got a call. Her family was watching the news. She said there had been a plane crash near the WTC, and that it was on the news. One of her brothers was NYPD, and she guessed he would be near there. Neither she nor the passenger she was speaking to took it seriously. None of the other passengers bothered either- it was probably a small accident, amplified by family rumors. My complacency arose from the fact that this new country I had come to was the strongest country in the world- terrorism was for other places, I thought- you see, Timothy McVeigh was before my time, and hadn't made much of an impact in the news press back home.

But then I got to school- and the 8am class was half empty, and no one was talking very much about what had happened. Everybody was unusually quiet, and the Anthropology class (one of 2 I took for my GEs) was duller than usual.

I remember going to work for a few hours then- the rest of my classes were after 3pm, and I worked in admissions on campus. I entered the admissions office to find it deserted- no students (usually the line would be out the door), and barely any staff had come in. My Malaysian foreign-student and co-worker barely nodded at me- she was listening to the blaring radio- since there was no TV in the admissions office, someone had dragging in the ancient radio, and jacked up the volume to the point where the news was blaring through the entire building.

But the noise could not drown out the silence everywhere.

The next few hours, days and weeks helped me somewhat understand what had happened, but nothing could have warned me against the far-reaching results of the horrific events of that day. The families that suffered still suffer, and more still are suffering, in this country and in others. In time, it may be that this day could be forgotten- time heals they say. But its going to be a while, and the image of the falling towers isn't something that will easily leave the hearts and minds of our generation.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cant Wait

This home buying process is SO nerve-racking!
I've begun to really love my prospective home, and if things go bad at this late date, I will definitely break my lil heart :)

Truth to be told, apart form the fact that it is the sweetest and most spacious 4-bedroom cottage EVER, its also the things surrounding it that make me love it more and more:
1- 2 miles from Disneyland.
2- 10 from Lil India (whee!)
3- 8 from Lil Saigon (YESYESYES!!! I love pho [pronounces "phaa"] to distraction :D)

When I think of the above, I burst into little bubbles of happiness, and then I remember:
1- The crazy monthly payments.
2- The front yard and the back fruit trees (5!) that must be cared for
3- The prospective vacuuming that I detest and that is unavoidably in my near future now.

I have 1 episode a day where all the above thoughts race through my brain in about one schizo minute, and then I figure its time to sober down, and get back to work- heeh :S

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Palm Desert, San Jacinto

Finally, here are the Palm Springs photos. The main activity for us was our afternoon hike up Mt. San Jacinto, which is about 8,500 ft above sea level.

At the resort, 5:30am.


Up the Tramway- this was almost scary.
This SO reminded me of the Lord of the Rings- I could almost see Frodo and Sam Wise hiking up the side...


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hunan-style drunken chicken

Hunan-style drunken chicken is this really simple, homely dish that is hard not to love. It is so simple that a tween could do it, with supervision at the wok! I put my own spin on it, since I didn't have any rice wine handy :)

Serves: 3 if appetizer, 2 if main

Cooking and Prep: Approximately 20 minutes total.

Ingredients:
1 lb skin-less chicken, ideally boneless, cut into 2" dice/strips.
2" of ginger, julienned into matchsticks
3/4th cup of sweet white Bordeaux (which I substituted for the original rice wine that the recipe called for)
salt and pepper

Optional:
4 sticks of Green onions, cut into 1" pieces.
1 cup of mushrooms- if these are small, about 1-2", just use as as, washed. If larger, cut into a 1-2" dice.

Notes:
1- Have all your ingredients ready and prepped on hand before beginning to cook. The cooking will go super fast, and you wont have time to prep in between.
2- I used a white Bordeaux, but you can use ANY white wine you would drink. Using a red would discolor the dish, and stop it from being "Chinese"-y enough.
3- Also, as a general rule, whenever you cook with wine, always taste it first. If you don't like the taste of it as a drink, you will not like the taste of it when it flavors your food.

Method:
- Take a wok (or wok-like pot) and put it on high flame.
- Add a spoonful of oil, and swirl it around. In about 5 seconds, add in the ginger.
- Using a spatula, quickly stir fry the ginger- which looks like a lot, but trust me, it turns out to be just enough. In about 30 seconds, it will turn golden, and the fragrance should hit you. This signals the addition of the chicken.
- As soon as the chicken hits the wok, stir fry quickly, about 5 minutes, till its golden on all sides. You wont need to add more oil, since the chicken will have some of its own, even though virtually skin-less.
- Once golden, add in 1/4 cup of the wine, to deglaze the wok. After adding the wine, let it come to a boil while you scrape away any cooked bits sticking to the bottom of the pan- these become part of your sauce.
- The wine will boil away fairly quickly, and now you can add in the remaining half cup, and let it come to a boil. This is also a good time to add in the mushrooms, if usin
- As soon as the wine comes to a boil, cover the wok, and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Walk away for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, open the wok, and adjust for seasoning.
- If you are eating this over rice/noodles, you want to shut off the heat, and keep the liquid in the wok as is, for sauce. If you are having this as an appetizer, reduce the liquid by boiling it away, to a mere glaze.

- Once the heat is off, add the green onions, if using. These will cook a bit by the heat of the dish itself, but still remain nicely crunchy.


Doesn't it look v Chinese-restaurant-ey? And its fast and delicious too! :D

Friday, July 25, 2008

Terror in the South now?

Bad things are happening in Bangalore. Thank God the attacks weren't severe, and there were only 2 casualties.

This makes me so angry. I've grown up watching terror attacks in India- first Kashmir, then Punjab, then Indira Gandhi's assassination and related riots, then Babri Masjid, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination and the long drawn out terror attacks in the North East and East coast. After that point, I wasn't in India too often, but witnessed a terror attack in '05 when I had gone back for my wedding reception. And of course heard about the Bombay '06 bombings.

And now this. Bangalore isn't known to be a violent city by any means, and this is just so frustratingly dumb! The attacks are obviously meant to arouse fear and confusion, but dammit- why don't people understand that bombs are not a solution to a problem. I also realise its easy to preach when you aren't there, on the spot, experiencing what the perpetrators themselves went through. They too must have been under severe provocation to take such a step. And yet, these acts of desperation will not serve to resolve anything for them or anyone else. If anything, matters will turn for the worse, and their persecution will increase. Its a difficult world, and dealing with it via violence is not going to make it easier.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Food diary entry: #7

7:00am- Breakfast, in car, as before.
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
1/2 Goat cheese (low fat, w/ herbs) sandwich on wheat bread.
Calories: 190

10:30am- In office, sort-of hungry.
6 Baby carrots
Calories: 30

11:45am- Lunch.
Lean Cuisine Chicken Parmesan and fettuccine (honestly good! but not filling enough)
1 Diet Coke
Calories: 321

3pm: Hungry-ish. Craving chips (office vending machine has Maui onion flavor- yay!), but I successfully resisted the temptation and had 4 more baby carrots.
Calories: 20

5:30pm: Driving home, trying to keep awake. Usually I make all my phone calls to family and friends during this time (I have a hands free thank you, and I do concentrate on the road :D) But the calls take max 1 hr, and the drive is 2 hours, so out come a snack, the healthier the better.
6 Baby carrots
Calories: 30

7:00pm- Dinner.
1 Aloo ka paratha (yes I know I'm crazy- I cooked after I got home). Freshly made w/ a tsp of oil, so fairly low cal.
1 serving of spinach and tomato salad
Calories: 550

Total calories for the day: 1141
Water drunk: 2 pints

Daily analysis: A good day- need more of these.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Food diary entry: #7

I haven't been very regular in keeping my daily food diary, but these days I find that even if I skip a day in between, I have generally become more alert re: food intake.

7:00am- Breakfast, in car, driving among all the maniacs on 405 South.
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
1/2 Goat cheese (low fat, w/ herbs) sandwich on wheat bread.
Calories: 190
This is possibly the most I've ever eaten so early in the morning. However, I noticed that eating something for breakfast makes me hungry mid-morning again- so it is DEFINITELY helping my metabolism.

10:30am- In office, sort-of hungry.
2nd 1/2 of goat cheese sandwich.
Calories: 150

11:45am- Lunch.
The last of the Lean Cuisine pizzas! In retrospect, they aren't quite that awful- just need seasoning and 1/2 the cheese should be dusted off- and the pizza should be allowed to "sit" for 3-5 minutes before eating.
Calories: 290 (less due to my throwing out the cheese)

ALL day- Today was smoothie Wednesday at the office, so got a G3 energizer (Jamba Juice). I love the berries, but there is a suspicious Guava taste in there which I dislike- will read the menu properly before next week's order :D
Calories: 310

7:00pm- Dinner: super hungry as always, but had hit high on calories for the day, and therefore decided to do a spinach salad, so that I could also have the potato chips I was craving (blame it on the new Salsa I bought- its too damned addictive)
Spinach, tomato and red onion salad dressed with lime juice and apple cider vinegar.
A handful of Trader Joe's chips
Salsa
Calories: 500

Total calories for the day: 1451
Water drunk: 2 pints

Daily analysis: I really should stop eating potato chips... [sigh] its a childhood addiction I never could get over from. [deeper sigh]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Food diary entry: #6

The husband and I were in Palm Springs for my Firm's annual bash over the weekend- I shudder to remember the consumption of numerous gin and Sprites, margaritas, steaks and misc unending platters of food by me :D

But the weekend is over, and I will go back to being good :)

6:30am
Breakfast, running out the door, not hungry, but bidding to get my metabolism going:
Silk Chocolate soy milk, 1/3 cup.
Calories: 40

8:30am
In office, not hungry, but peckish. Don't have any snacks today, so begin to sip on my diet coke, which practice will continue all day :D
Calories: 1

10:30am
Hungry- want. lunch.soon.Until then, some 72% cacao Trader Joe's dark chocolate.
Calories: 100


11:45am
Hungry- enthu about this lunch, since it features pot stickers and rice, but is low cal- I hope it isn't as puke-worthy as the Lean pizzas from last week.
Lean Cuisine rice and pot sticker meal
Calories: 260
Verdict: Pretty delicious- the pot stickers held up well, and the rice was really simple and good. I am going to buy boxes of this stuff...

5:30pm
Driving home, stuck in traffic, hungry.
Trader Joe's 70% dark chocolate- 4 squares.
Calories: 200

7:30pm
Wildly ravenous.
Stewed chickpeas (chhole) w/ steamed rice.
Calories: 450

10:30pm
Not really hungry, peckish- should have just gone to bed, but binged on jalapeno chips instead (eeps)
Calories: 400

Total calories for the day: 1451
Water drunk: 1 pint

Daily analysis: I love Lean Cuisine pot stickers (hey I love ANY pot sticker, stat). I don't seem to be losing any weight despite portion control in the past week or so, but at least am not gaining any more, which is always a good thing. SHOULD NOT have binged on chips late night. SHOULD have bought snacks w/ me to work.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food diary entry: #5

Having a food-diary is turning out super helpful! I haven't gone completely low cal, but have at least learned to control my baser desires (heeh).

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
This has become a daily staple. When I get sick of it (which I will, I can never do the same thing for a long time), I'll have to figure out what else I can keep down early in the morning. Having a bite gets me awake and gets the metabolism going, which is a good thing :)
Calories: 40

Lunch,12:30pm:Lean Cuisine Chicken pizza
Yep, its #3 of the 4 packs I had. I wisely threw out almost all the cheese (they put enough to drown one, honestly) and drenched it in Soy sauce, which made it somewhat edible.
Calories: 300

All day:
Sipped a diet Mountain Dew all day.
Calories: 0

On the drive home:
12 baby carrots
Calories: 60

Dinner, 7pm:
Home-made chicken-mushroom burgers dressed with tomatoes, onions and spinach.
Trader Joe's potato chips
Same dinner as last night, but wth- it was so good!
Calories: 600

Late Night snack:
Fat free saffron yogurt (yup gotta post soon...)
Calories: 90

Water drunk during the day: approximately 2 pints.
Total calories consumed: 1090

Analysis for the day:
I wish all my days were like this. Very balanced eating, with dairy, vegetables, protein and grains- all in keeping with the caloric goals.

Life is happening to me...

Things have been pretty crazy around here lately.

Since my new job is in another county, I've been driving 3-4 hours on a daily basis- while I love to drive, sitting in traffic isn't the most fun thing in the world. Traffic is heaviest in the evening, and I usually spend the time on my hands free, putting through the daily phone calls to my family. I also seem to get really good recipe ideas when I drive (Hunan drunken chicken, Chicken-mushroom-jalapeno burger, Saffron yogurt....all turned out well, just haven't had time to post).

We are moving in 1 month's time, and while I am already in love with my new home, the monthly payments are horrifying! It pretty much means no movie-watching, shoe shopping, booze or road-trips for the next 2 years, which is a fearful idea, but what would you do....

Also working on my CPA- seriously this time. I have been so busy with work in the past few years that I haven't had time to study, but it's time to bite the bullet and get it done, and I am resolved to do this this year, before '09 happens.

Going to Palm Springs this weekend- no, I didnt suddenly strike it rich- its an annual firm event. With all the packing we have to do, I am not even sure I have the time to do this, but oh well. Pix to be posted soon......:)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Food diary entry: #4

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Lunch,12:30pm:
Lean Cusine Cheese pizza (Still horrible- but I threw out 1/2 the cheese, which actually made it more palatable)
Calories: 340


All day:
Grazed through the day on a Berry Lime Sublime from Jamba Juice, 300 calories. Wouldnt do it if left to myself, but the firm treats us to one every Wednesday, so what the heck
Calories: 300

Dinner, 8pm:
Home-made chicken-mushroom burgers dressed with tomatoes, onions and spinach. Damned good- recipe to follow soon.
Trader Joes's potato chips
Calories: 525

Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pint.
Total calories consumed: 1205

Analysis for the day:
I need to drink more water! The chicken burgers I made at home were fabulous and really low in fat & calories- I just binged on the chips, which was a bad idea, but ah well :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Food diary entry: #3

Morning, 6:30am:
1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Lunch,12:30pm:
Lean Cusine chicken pizza (HORRIBLE_ eugh! If I wasnt dying of hunger.....:S But I bought the 4-pak and have 3 more of these at home, so will be eating this for the next 4 days- aaghhh! :D)
Calories: 340


Early evening, on the drive home, 5:30pm:
1 Diet Coke
Calories: 1


Dinner, 6pm:
"Olympia" pizza- with parmesan and olives.
Calories: 500



Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pint.
Total calories consumed: 881


Analysis for the day: Great on the calorie count. Not a very healthy day however, since even though the calories in the frozen pizza are low and it is super filling, it doesnt have many nutrients. Ah well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Food diary entry: #2

Morning:
6:30am: 1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40


Lunch,12:30am:

  • 1 chocolate chip cookie, small
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 1 diet Coke
Calories: 121

Early evening, on the drive home, 5:30pm:

  • 10 baby carrots
Calories: 50

Dinner, 6pm:

  • Carl's Jr. Jalapeno Burger
  • Diet Coke

Calories: 1001

Water drunk during the day: approximately 1 pints.

Total calories consumed: 1172

Analysis for the day:
I really wanted a burger today, so I had one :D, and kept the calories to a minimal as well! I balanced out my burger binge by nibbling on carrots all day- I love 'em, so that helped! Need to keep the soda down to no more than 1 a day. This last bit is so very hard for me: I grew up having some cola on an every day basis, and at its worst, during the school summer holidays, it would go up to 4 a day! Still, we can't blame stuff on our depraved childhoods forever, so I will perserve.... :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Article

This article was in the NY Timestoday. Good read.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Food diary entry: #1

Yep, I will buckle down and do it.

I figured, if I actually sat and wrote what I apparently inhale everyday, I may stop eating so much out of shame :D

So Here goes:

Morning:
630am: 1/3rd cup Silk chocolate soy milk
Calories: 40

Mid Morning:
10:30am: 2 Hide 'n Seek Chocolate biscuits
1 diet Coke
Calories: 91

Lunch:
12:30am: About 1 cup of steamed white rice, with lentils and aaloo-gobi (cauliflower, potatoes, peas, tomatoes and green onions). Damn those green onions were good- crunchy. I seem to have become good at making aaloo-gobi- will post recipe soon. Also co-worker from the next cube came over to expressly inquire what I was eating, since he was liking the smell- would've offered him some if I hadn't begun already- ah well.
Calories: 700

Early evening, on the drive home:
I am so bored driving an HOUR to get home that I get sleepy- which is highly dangerous on ANY freeway, so I carry my fav crunchy snacks- which are highly unhealthy.
5:30pm: About 10 Trader Joe's ridge cut chips.
Calories: 200

Dinner:
7pm: chickpeas stew w/ tomato, radishes and onions.
Calories: 500

Late night:
10pm: Twining's jasmine green tea, with 1 tbs of honey- I don't think I like this green tea very much; will switch brands once I am done with this pack. I do love green tea, and therefore try to experiment with brands as often as possible.
Calories: 0

Water drunk during the day: approximately 2.5 pints.
Total calories consumed: 1531

Analysis for the day:

  • I do have a decent vegetable and cereal intake, but could amp up proteins and calcium.
  • I drastically need to cute down on food, and limit myself to 1100 calories per day.
  • Fat cals are not out of control, but could be better.
  • I always thought that I didn't have a sweet tooth, but I seem to be consuming a fair bit of sweet stuff anyways.
  • Need to keep the soda down to no more than 1 a day.

Japanese Curry

In a bid to get in some quick and fast, yet satisfying recipes, here is some Japanese Curry, originally posted at my other blog.

There was a time I was absolutely binging on this, since it is incredibly savory, very fast to cook and keeps well :) In US Supermarkets, you can normally find Vermont Style or S&B Golden Curry (Medium Hot) (See also: http://www.sbfoods.co.jp/eng/currystory.html). I prefer the S&B Japanese version, "Hot", from my local Korean store, which has more diverse options.

What it is: Japanese curry powder is a mix of various spices, many the same as that used in India Garam Masala. However, the proportions are different, the spice is pressed into blocks and is super easy to prepare- just add to your main of veggies/meat/tofu, unlike Indian curry.

Here is what I used:

  • 1 box of S&B Golden Curry paste (Medium Hot)
  • A handful of white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb of chicken, cut to 1.5"-2" cubes.
  • 1" dice 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1.5" dice 1 small red onion, julienned
  • A handful of frozen green peas
  • A bunch of green onions, cut small
This is what I did:

  • Add about a spoonful of oil to a deep skillet, and heat about a minute.
  • Add the onions to the skillet, and fry till golden.
  • Now add the chicken and brown on all sides.
  • Now add the curry paste cubes, and mix gently. This will take time, and you musnt try to blend in the spice- that'll break up your chicken. Just add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover the pot and reduce to a bare simmer.
  • After about 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and green beans.
  • In another 10 minutes, add the peas, cover the pan back and let cook for another 5 minutes.
  • After the 5 minutes are past, taste the curry for salt- the spice mix already has salt in it. If the curry is too thick, add water, and boil for the right consistency. If it is too thin, simply boil away the excess.
  • Once you are satisfied with the thickness of the curry, mix in the green onions, and serve over steamed rice!

Note: The curry keeps well for about a week in the fridge, but does not take well to freezing.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Other ingredient ideas:

1- Try using lamb/beef/tofu instead of the chicken.

2- You could also use shrimp/other seafood; just ensure that you add any vegetables that take longer to cook first, and then add in the seafood about 5 (Shrimp) - 8 (fish) minutes before finishing cooking.

3- Instead of adding spring onions in the end, try cilantro- I wouldn't recommend adding fresh basil, since that will strongly alter the curry flavor.

4- When choosing vegetables to add to the curry, make sure you add the longer cooking veggies like squashes and potatoes first, the peppers next, and lastly any herbs or frozen veggies, which will cook the fastest.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Turned in my papers!
5 day vacation!


ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh peace.

Came back with dill, jalapenos, cauliflower (gobi-aaloo anyone?), but didn't cook a thing.
Had also wisely bought cigarettes, and after a longish nap induced sainted husband to drink and smoke :D
After he had downed several beers and me several Bloody Marys, called dearest friend Steve to join the mini-party- and we are still at it as I pound out these words. Venturing on some heartening drunk driving now.....

wheeee!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Green Chili

Another recipe from the old blog, finally tranferred to the new.

I have noticed that I tend to veer towards dishes that are curry based, since I can let them simmer on the burner for a few hours and let them cook themselves. I also tend to make Indian dishes with non-Indian ingredients or vice-versa. My sister came by this past weekend, and she always looks forward to what I am going to feed her. A teenager who has grown up in the US, she loves all kind of foods, one of which is Chili.

Regular Red chili is essentially small cubed beef in a red tomato-based sauce- unfortunately, I couldn't make that, since my husband is Hindu and wont touch beef. So I opted to make a Green Chili, with American ingredients, but an Indian twist.

And this is what I used:
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (you can substitute ground chicken)
  • 4 small tomatillos (you can substitute green tomatoes)
  • 2 medium red onions (you can substitute white or yellow, but red brings an Indian-ish flavor, I believe)
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (from your friendly neighborhood Indian grocery store, or just pound together 2 garlic cloves with 1/2 inch of ginger root)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (optional) 1
  • /2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels
  • 1 bunch cilantro, cut very fine Salt & pepper to taste.
And this is what I did:
- Oil the bottom of a large pan, and brown the ground turkey, along with the ginger-garlic paste and bay leaves.
- While the meat browns, process the tomatillos and onions to a coarse, 1/2 cm x 1/2 cm size- do not puree!
- Once the turkey becomes a light brown, add the tomatillo and onions, and let cook until they begin to brown- about 15 minutes. Turn frequently, and do not let burn.
- Add all the remaining ingredients (except the cilantro), and 1/2 a pint of water. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for a good 1-2 hours.
- After about 1 hour, taste. A tomatillo is essentially a berry, and native to the Pacific South West and Central America. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatillo) Tomatillos are very sour, and you may find that your chili is sour as well. In which case, you should add another 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels or 1/2 cup of fine cut onions, and some salt.
- Another 1/2 hour of simmer, and the chili should be extremely thick, not runny in the least- add in the cilantro and if using, diced green onions. turn off the heat.
- If it looks too chunky to you- and yes, it is no more than a very chunky soup- feel free to use a immersion blender- but keep in mind that a smooth soup is not chili at all: DO NOT over process.

And this is what it looked like:


I served the chili with a salad of leafy mixed greens, shredded rotisserie chicken, and croutons, tossed with fat free ranch and garlic salt to taste. You could also serve it over white rice, toast or with crackers. Sis loved it- hubby ate it, which in itself is a victory since I got him to try turkey, which he wasnt enthusiastic about in the first place! Maybe one day he will learn to love sushi as well..... now that I know is just wishful thinking :D