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 :)

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)
I used these add-ons, but you can pick and choose per preference:
Thinly sliced tomatoes, red onions (grilled or fresh), baby spinach leaves.


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
- 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


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!

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


  • 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.


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


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


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.