Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Things I learnt today - 2

Let me not cheat, these are not exactly things I learned today, but happened over the last few days. But when I saw the blue butterfly's life cycle, I just couldn't stop myself from writing about my kids also.

1. This is the butterfly story. If you ever thought the whole birthing process in human beings is complicated, read this. 
Large Blue
The below is an extract from Wikipedia on Large Blue (butterfly)
Large Blue caterpillars feed on wild thyme or marjoram flowers for the first few days of development. Once well fed, the caterpillar secretes sweet fluids to attract red ants of the species Myrmica sabuleti. The ants then take the caterpillar back to their nest and proceed to feed from these secretions. The caterpillar then hibernates inside the ants' tunnels. On emerging from hibernation, the caterpillars will then begin to eat the red ant's eggs and larvae for up to 3 weeks. It will then hang itself by its legs on the nest's roof and build a chrysalis around itself. The caterpillar will spend a further 3 weeks transforming into the Large Blue butterfly adult. After its change from caterpillar to butterfly, the insect emerges from its chrysalis and leaves the red ant nest to find a mate. Usually, red ants will escort the newly emerged butterfly to the surface, taking it to a low plant or shrub nearby. The red ants will encircle the butterfly and ward off any predators that attempt to attack the butterfly as it dries out. After the butterfly is ready to fly away, the ants will retreat back into their nest.
(Picture and text are from Wikipedia)

I thought the whole process of egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly itself is a complicated process for a life-cycle. But this mutual association as a part of the life-cycle makes it so much more complex.  No wonder this butterfly is almost extinct. 

My kids on stage
2. Children never forget; at least not for a year. I keep getting that odd call from my kids still, telling me some story or other from their current class or their marks and ranks when they think it is good enough to make me happy. Few days back I got a call from my last year's 7th standard boys on their annual day. They were not part of anything and they were pretty upset about that. They were remembering the  drama I taught them and their performance and all the fun we had. I could feel their disappointment in not doing something similar this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pumpkin flowers for lunch

female and male flowers of pumpkin
It is just one vine of pumpkin, but it is like an obsessive thought, it totally takes over one side of the garden. Then the flowers started blooming and I was waiting for a female flower. It came much later than I thought and by then the thought of cutting off the vine also passed my mind (who needs a male pumpkin vine). So when I saw the first female bud I was happy and felt a little guilty too. Then everyday I saw many male and female flowers blooming and wilting. Then on a Sunday morning while deliberating on what is for lunch today, I caught sight of those flowers and said 'let's eat them'.
I have never eaten pumpkin flowers earlier though I have heard that all parts of a pumpkin plant is edible, may be except the roots. So I started searching for a recipe for pumpkin flowers and came up with a lot of deep fried ones. The flower petals looked so delicate deep frying them sounded so brutal. So I went in for my own simple recipe.
I collected 16 flowers and they were quite a handful. I chopped them up and then the quantity looked even more. But it went inside the pan and started heating up and started shrinking and leaving water. By the time I managed to evaporate all the water and get it into the consistency I wanted, it was just a very small bowlful. Since it was only Shyam and I for lunch that day, we each had enough to taste the flowers properly.
When I started cooking I was expecting the taste of the rest of the ingredients to make up the taste of the dish. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious flavour added by the pumpkin flower to the dish.

Pumpkin flower recipe

Coconut oil             - 1tsp
Mustard seeds         - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaf                - 1 sprig
Red Chilly               - 4 to 5
Onion                      - 1 medium sized
Ginger                     - 1/2 inch piece, made to paste or finely chopped
Turmeric powder    - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder          - 1 tsp
Coriander powder   - 1tsp
Pumpkin flower      - 16* (only petals, cut into to 1cm wide strips)
Salt                          - 1/2 tsp or to taste
Grated coconut        - 1tbsp (optional)

Heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. Once it finish spluttering, add the curry leaf and then the red chillies. Fry till the red chillies are starting to brown, add ginger. Add the onion, fry till the they turn translucent. Add all the powders and fry for a minute. Add the pumpkin flowers, it will turn very watery once the flowers start cooking. Stir to mix and leave it in low flame for the water to evaporate, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches the required dryness add the salt. This is important since the volume reduces tremendously, if you add the salt earlier it could turn to be more than needed. Sprinkle the grated coconut over and serve hot with steaming hot rice. I sprinkled the coconut only for my photography session, but that gave a nice crunch to the dish.

*The female flowers are bigger than the male flowers. I had 14 male and 2 female flowers. If you have many female flowers you count extra 2 female flower for 3 male flowers.
No pumpkin flowers? What the heck, call me up and come over on a weekend. If the pumpkin flowers are still there, I will make it for you :)