Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Xmas Wishlist

A man should not have more shoes than his wife. There should be a rule. Is it is not a rule? Then I make it a rule. This is my rule. Ha! Even if we are talking about only sports shoes. So now how do I make the rule work. There are 2 ways. Either I can throw out a few of his shoes or I can get more. Let me go with the second option to maintain domestic peace and calm.

I am not buying, this is for my list for Santa. 
Since I don't have a Christmas tree, Santa, you can leave my gifts below my neighbor's tree, clearly marking that they are for me. Don't worry I have appreciated their tree enough, they won't mind. 

Sports shoes, I obviously don't need one more, but then I have made up a rule that he can't have more than me, so please.

Anything made of crocodile skin, not the actual one, only fake, you know I am that animal loving, environment friendly type. I need to add it to my now started collection which includes green purse and tan shoes. 

A squash court, I can use a squash court only for one thing and I want it for that.

A few more strands of hair on top of my head. I know I know it is the aging thing and the hormone thing and all, but I will surely tell 'please' at the end of the list again.

A KitchenAid® stand mixer. I am planning to go to 1, M.G Road next weekend, but I thought I will just try my luck with you before that. (And see how I got that registered trademark symbol there, dang!!)

And I almost forgot, World Peace, please.

All nicely wrapped and below my neighbor's Xmas tree.
Thank you very much.

This is the tree, just in case there's any confusion!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beaded Easter Eggs

It is neither Easter nor the International Egg day (there is indeed a day like that, it is the second Friday of October every year), then why an Easter egg post? I need to complete 20 posts in 2012, that's the only reason. I am too lazy to do something new and post and the few things in my draft will take more effort to complete. One another topic I wanted to write about is just too serious for a day on which the world is supposed to end. So what is better than writing about something I have done ages back.
This must be the easiest thing you can do with beads and the final output is pretty. May be that's why I ended up making 3 otherwise it is very difficult for me to do the same thing twice. I am in a mood to assume that someone out there is actually going to do this. So I am writing this as instructions for you to do it.

How to make beaded Easter eggs
Cast of characters
You would need egg shells, seed beads, nylon thread, glue and a very thin needle.

Step 1: Do this step as and when you use the eggs, either for baking that cake or for the egg bhurji.
Make 2 holes at the 2 ends of the egg shell and get the egg out by blowing at one end. I just don't remember what I used for making the holes, but you are resourceful enough. Put the egg shell(s) in soap solution and clean thoroughly. Leave aside for drying for a couple of days.
Step 2: Create long strings of seed beads by stringing the beads into a nylon thread. I actually made a bead threader for this out of a plastic container and a broken peace of plastic rod from a hanger (see it in the cast picture). In this put the beads in the plastic container, dip the needle into it and use the plastic rod to rotate it like a top. The beads will get stringed into the needle 7-8 at a time. The only problem is if there are beads with too small a hole which doesn't go through the needle, then you have to take the beads off and discard and continue.
Step3: Apply glue on top of the dried egg shell and start pasting the bead thread. Getting the start correct is a little difficult, persevere there after that it is easy. Keep applying the glue and winding the bead thread till the whole egg is covered. Keep aside for drying for a few days.
Mine are all plain single coloured ones. Many variations are possible and your imagination is the limit.

After all the world didn't end today; I really do not know whether it is a good thing or bad.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sprinkles: yellow, white and pink

When my chocolate bar got over, I went to 'Bakers Needs' for a refill and found a bottle filled with really colourful sprinkles up in the front of the shop. I was tempted to get some and I could imagine how it would look on top a cake with snow white icing. Hm, does it really matter that I have never even once done any icing on any of the cakes I have ever baked. I can still imagine and do have plans.
After I have made my own colour from beetroot, I decided to try my hands on making some sprinkles too. I could think about 3 colours; the pink I have made, white by keeping it plain and yellow by adding some turmeric (though it turned peach instead), may be some brown too with some coffee or cocoa powder. When I did it I made the first 3 and one darker version of pink by adding a little extra beet paste. I was pretty disappointed with the pink I got from the colour I made from beetroot, it just dint match the colour I had in my head.
When I went about searching for instructions, everywhere I encountered the same 5 ingredients - powdered sugar, egg white, essence, colour and salt. The instructions looked easy like a breeze but doing it turned out to be something altogether different. First the one egg white looked too little for 1 cup of sugar powder. But when I mixed it together it was indeed enough or may be a little too much as the paste became a little runny. I was worried that the lines will run into each other after I piped them out, it did a little.

By the time I finished piping the dark pink the white was already looking dried on top, anyway I left it to dry for 24 hours as instructed. After that when I started taking the sprinkles off the paper, the only one which would come off is the peach one, none of the others would. I had to roll the whole paper and dump it inside the dust bin.

I couldn't give up on my sprinkles just like that. So after a few days I tried the beet colour again, this time it became purple. The piping bag felt so constipated, I got a wrist pain once I finished piping. Then I figured that my powdered sugar is not fine enough and made another set with glucose and kept it white. This time instead of piping them out on butter paper I piped them onto lightly greased steel plate and rubbed them off from the plate when it was dry.

The final results were not that bad, though the whole thing turned out to be an adventure I was not prepared for. I started imagining yellow, white and pink and ended up with peach, white and purple. Anyway they have gone inside the fridge in an airtight bottle till I decide on what to do with it.
The natural colours are so lame. I would have loved to get some real bright colours in there. I hope I will be able to find some non carcinogenic colours which I can trust and then I will make some real good looking sprinkles soon.
Now the next question is where am I going to do with it? May be it is time for the checkerboard cake with snow white icing and sprinkles on top.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Colour me pink

I love food, but I don't like food which looks too coloured as alarms start ringing in my head the moment I see the colour. When we go out to restaurants where they serve coloured food I make sure that I specify not to add any colour while I place the order itself. So I am too scared to use colour in my cooking as well, as I keep hearing about the carcinogenic chemicals in the colours. So when I see a recipe with colour in it, I usually skip the colour and end up with something inferior to the expected result. The colour does matter.
So I decided to make some colour of my own and the first thing came to my mind was beetroot. Next time I went out shopping, I got myself half a kg of beetroot. Then it sat in the fridge for quite some days. One day I took it out and then it sat at my kitchen counter for days enough to make them sprout.

When I showed the sprouted beets to Shyam, he wanted to plant them in the garden.

I gave him the sprouts and peeled and cut the beets into cubes which I fed into my food processor.

My ancient processor took almost 10 minutes to get a paste out of it. I filtered the paste to get the juice out. I got a cup of juice from the 3 beets.

I can't add that directly to any recipe without altering the water content in the recipe, which matters quite a bit when it comes to baking. So I heated the juice to get as much water out as possible. I reduced the juice  to 1/4th cup, but then I started seeing black marks at the back of the spoon and got a little worried that I might get all the pink pigment in the beet juice to turn black by boiling it too much.

Then I decided to dry it the way I do with certain other stuff (like sweetened ginger mush left over from making ginger lemon syrup), shove it into the fridge uncovered. There it sat for a week as I traveled for a few days and when I was back I got something I could call a paste. I decided to store that in the same vessel as moving it would mean losses and after seeing the amount of colour paste I got from my half a kg of beet I dint want to lose any.

In the meanwhile the beet sprouts which Shyam has planted have grown to a nice size.

The idea was to use this colour and make something before I write up this blog. But I don't know when I will end up doing that and I just don't feel like waiting. I have a few ideas in my head, like making some sprinkles with the colour and also a checkerboard cake. But thinking about the effort involved, I just don't feel like starting either of them. Let it be for tomorrow.

In case you feel adventurous enough to try this, do wear gloves while handling the beets especially if you are looking forward to attending that party in the evening, as they stain very badly. Wear an apron too as I do not know what will happen to beet stain on clothes. I dint wear one, but I couldn't figure out what happens to beet stain luckily and very uncharacteristically for me, as I dint stain my clothes. Use steel vessels as the staining part is true for  porcelain or plastic vessels too, not just clothes.
In case you do it let me know of the results and also what you did with the colour.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Castillian Hot Chocolate: The microwave version

I had a few people commenting on my blog telling me that either they have tried or they are planning to try my Castillian hot chocolate recipe. Those who came back after trying it, had good things to tell. So this time when I had excess milk in the fridge, I decided to make it again, but this time in the microwave. My sister came back asking for the measures in cups and spoons as she doesn't have a weighing scale. So I halved the recipe, measured with cups and spoons and weighed the ingredients.

I mixed everything in my half liter milk bowl. I knew it was going to overflow if I dint pay attention. My maid suddenly decided it was the right time to show her dismay with my overflowing cutlery drawer and wanted me to help her pick the things which I don't use regularly out of that so she could store them somewhere else. I moved from in front of the microwave for less than 30 seconds and the hot chocolate was overflowing making my microwave a mess. So make sure you use a one liter bowl or bigger for this recipe.

Castillian Hot Chocolate 
Milk                  - 2 cups
Cocoa powder - 4tbsp
Sugar              - 1/4 cup
Corn flour        - 1tbsp
water               - 1/4 cup

Mix the corn flour with water without forming lumps. Mix the cocoa powder and sugar in a deep microwave dish. Pour the cornflour mixture into this, mix well. Pour the milk to this, mixing all the time till there are no lumps remaining. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring every one minute. The mixture would thicken and look glossy and coat the back of the spoon. Serve hot.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yogurt vs Curd

Sour Curd from my kitchen
The whole discussion started with a colleague’s obsession with B12 vitamins. So while we were discussing the sources of B12, he mentioned curd has it. Seeing another colleague having a Danone yogurt cup in his hand, he told that even better is yogurt. When I asked what is the difference between yogurt and curd, he mentioned that they are different, but he doesn’t know in what way. The quintessence of curiosity that I am, I can’t settle a discussion like that and I went searching for what is the difference between yogurt and curd. I always thought they both are the same. After checking Wikipedia and few other links, I came to the conclusion that they both are indeed the same. In Wikipedia it is also mentioned in the curd page that in India the word curd always means plain yogurt and is called dahi in Hindi. I have heard people calling it as ‘curds’ also.
Actual curd is the product from the process of curdling milk in which the whey separates from the solids in milk and is usually done by mixing lime juice or vinegar into hot milk. But in India what we call curd is what in English is yogurt. The only difference I still can think of between the yogurt in India and from somewhere else could be the strains of bacteria found in them.
Even after presenting these facts to the colleague, he was not ready to consider the possibility that they could be the same. He wanted me to prove it by making curd out of yogurt. I forwarded the link for ‘Adamant in ignorance’ to him. I told him that if he can manage to get me a cup of yogurt in which there are active cultures, I will be able to make curd out of that and show. He also mentioned that the texture and consistency of both are different. The commercially available yogurt is not plain yogurt most of the time, there are thickening agents like gelatin and starch added in. It is also mentioned in the Wikihow for making yogurt. I also forwarded this link to my colleague. So after deliberating for a few days he told me that I might have a point in what I am telling. So we rested the case.
A few days later after coming back from lunch he declared that all except one agree to my view on yogurt and curd. And this new entrant thinks that it is so different that it is not even worth discussing.

NE, as long as you think it is not worth discussing let’s not discuss. But let me tell again, what most of us Indians call as curd is same as yogurt. Now it is up to you to come to me and prove it that it is not. I have stopped being adamant in my ignorance some time back, so I will not be surprised if you prove to me that they are indeed different, I am open to such a possibility.
In the meanwhile, my readers please let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mango Badam Smoothie

After I had a bout of stomach problem which didn't seem to subside even after the course of antibiotic I took, Shyam declared the next day to be a fruit diet day. We can only eat fruits and vegetables. I was a little apprehensive as I am used to eating 3-4 meals a day, stomach upset or not, and have never done any kind of dieting in which I have to skip meals. The next day after we finished eating the coconut dosa, he remembered about our fruit diet and the rest of the day was further declared as a fruit diet day. So when I got tired of eating papaya and mango, I decided to do something more than just eating cut fruits. I dint have my D90 charged, so I decided to take pictures with my mobile phone instead. I later realised how bad that idea was, you will realise too when see the pictures.  
I inaugurated my recently bought wine glasses by serving the smoothie in those. That was not a bad idea indeed.
Those cardamoms are from my garden, can you believe it :)


Mango           - 1 medium sized (400gms), peeled and cut into pieces
(I used a Banganapalli)
Low fat milk   - 1 Cup, chilled
Sugar            - 1 tbsp
Cardamom     - 3
Almonds        - 15 small, blanched
Saffron          - a few strands (optional)

Grind the cardamoms together with the sugar. Add the almonds and make a paste by adding a tablespoonful of milk. Add the mangoes and a make a smooth paste by adding the milk half cup at a time. Pour or spoon them into goblets and sprinkle the saffron on top, if using.

The smoothie was licked out of the glasses. May be next time I will make it thinner and call it mango badam milkshake, that way there is no danger of broken wine glass in anybody's mouth.