Sunday, May 31, 2015

Banana Milk Shake with Vanilla Ice cream Float

Smoothies, milk shakes - these are 2 things that are very popular in our house. The smoothies in the morning and the milk shakes during the hot summer months.
OK! I will confess they are not as rich or as sweet as the Chick-fil-A milkshakes. Their peach milkshakes are the best. Milk shakes also remind me of this place we used to visit when we were in college. For those of you who know Coimbatore, this place is what was called Richy Rich. I am not sure if it still around but their mango milkshakes was the best and my first introduction to milk shakes. I hardly remember the taste other than nostalgia.

But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about milkshakes that can be made in 5 minutes from the time you thought about it and the minute you start to taste it.

DD2 came back home all sweaty and thirsty and set about make this. The only thing you should already have is some ice cream. For those lucky to have mangoes on the ready go ahead and make mango milk shakes. Around our house those the mushy ripe fruits that we almost always have are bananas. So that is the shake we made. You can try them with any fruit you have on hand.

Banana Milkshake with Vanilla Ice cream float
Preparation Time:10 minutes
  1. 2 ripe bananas (or mangoes or apples)
  2. 1 cup of chilled milk
  3. 1/2 cup of ice
  4. 4 scoops vanilla ice cream

  1. Take the bananas, milk and ice in a blender and blend them till smooth.
  2. Pour them into serving glasses and add scoops of ice cream on top.
Tasty and cool milk shake is ready.
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Celebrating Nine Years of Daily Musings and a Giveaway - 2 Days Left

I have never done any one thing for this long. What started as a way to make the mundane task of cooking more enjoyable has morphed into a hobby that literally keeps me thinking about food all the time. It has been fun is saying the least.

The journey has been made even more pleasurable by the fact that there are readers for this blog. The blog is neither pretty or beautiful, nor is it one in which food is presented like art, nor is it a very popular one. But in the vast universe that is the world wide web, I would like to believe that this blog has its own nano corner.

Thanks to all of you readers who stop by read and more importantly comment and send me emails. I would like to appreciate each and every one of you.

As for this giveaway it is a small token of appreciation. There will be 2 giveaways which can be one of the three mentioned below.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet - 12 inches

Ceramic Non-Stick Fry Pan - 8 inches

Colorful Stoneware Mixing Bowls

  1. You have to be a subsriber of this blog (email,facebook or twitter) to win a prize.
  2. You can become a new member by clicking on the links on the side bar or below.
  3. Leave a comment on the blog post saying which of the 3 prizes you would like and also if you are a regular reader or just passing through.
  4. Any suggestions to improve this blog will be nice.
  5. While these prizes can be shipped to any address in the US, readers in India, Europe will get a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  6. Prizes will be announced May 31, 2015.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored giveaway.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sticky Mango Jam

I get all excited whenever I see recipes with mangoes like when I saw this one in the Washington Post Food section and then immediately enter a period of longing for all things mango that I left behind. In India of course.

Like I have mentioned before Ataulfo or Champagne mangoes seem to dull the ache a little bit. The article also says Tommy Atkins mangoes can be used but I have never seen one of those.

While the taste buds can be satiated a bit, the nose does not smell even a whiff of mango. In India you always knew that mangoes were in the house, the sweet smell is almost impossible to resist. This fantasy is pure nostalgia and we won't go there.

Those of you who are lucky to be enjoying luscious juicy mangoes choose which are not stringy. Include a partially ripe one for the best jam.

Peel the mangoes and dice them.
In a thick bottomed pan add the mangoes, lemon juice and sugar and in medium low heat melt the sugar.
Continue cooking in high heat till the foam subsides and do the plate test to see if the desired consistency has reached.

I set out to make jam but let it cook longer to get that sticky slightly thicker consistency to enjoy as a treat. They make great sandwich cookies or is great on crackers. It is up to your requirement to turn off the heat when the desired consistency has been reached.

Sticky Mango Jam
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:40-50 minutes
  1. 3 Chamgagne mangoes peeled and chopped into small dices
  2. juice from 1 lemon
  3. 1 1/4 cups of sugar

  1. In a thick bottomed pan, take the diced mangoes,sugar and 3/4ths of the lemon juice and in low heat get the sugar to melt. Keep stirring so it does not stick but gently so as to not to break the mango pieces.
  2. For the mixture not to stick to the sides is to squeeze the rest of the lemon juice on to the sides of the pot. This keeps the sugar from sticking to the sides.
  3. Bring the mixture to a slow boil and let it cook for about 30 minutes. It will be foamy and bubbling.
  4. Use a deep pot so the mixture does not boil over. Keep stirring at regular intervals. The mixture will be loose jam consistency at this point.
  5. Do the plate test - take a small plate and pour a drop of the jam, if it does not flow and is stationary in one spot. It has reached the consistency desired.
  6. To get it into sticky jam consistency I cooked for another 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool and transfer to sterilized glass jars.
  8. Note: For Sterilizing - I do not follow the long arduous process instead I put the glass jar in the microwave for 45 seconds and then fill it.
  9. The trick to avoid sugar from forming crystals on the sides of the pot I use the trick taught by my aunt. To squeeze or drizzle some of the lemon juice on the sides of the pot just about the sugar level and it mostly prevents the sugar crystals from forming.
  10. The jam is good for 3-4 weeks outside if it lasts that long.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Spicy Fish Poriyal - Spicy Flaked Fish with Bell Peppers

I was reading this article,Training for Discontent which gave me goosebumps. Just like in the article there are pockets of affluent and highly educated areas exist all over the country (here in the US) where the situation is probably exactly the same. I bet this happens in India too. Kids are pushed to the limit and in the end they are not enjoying anything they do? Anyway lets say for arguments sake that our parents did similar things. That would have been sad really and where would that have left us? As completely unadjusted morons. But lucky for us our parents were smarter. I was under the wrong impression that us Asians had the dubious distinction of treating kids like they are machines who only have to do organized and managed activities and nothing else. This article opened my eyes to the fact that people of all colors and stripes are susceptible to the disease. So kids can go back to being kids we need to take medication to cure us parents of that achievement disease.

There are several things that kids need to learn and enjoy then being trained to become automatons. Don't get me wrong DD & DD2 have have to get good grades and try their best but I will feel terribly guilty if I push them to do organized activities to the exclusion of everything else. You can read the article and decide where you stand in that scale with respect to pushing kids to become igh achievers.

We all want the best for our kids so here is an opportunity to make something that the kids actually like.

This recipe came about when I did not have a plan as what to cook for lunch on a lazy weekend. I had a couple of bell peppers, some frozen fish (halibut I think it was) and a necessity to cook lunch quickly. This recipe came about that way. Nothing special but a quick and easy way to get something tasty done. This can be had with rice or wrapped in a tortilla or even chapathi or as a side with rice and some dal perhaps.

Spicy Fish Poriyal with Bell Peppers
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:20 minutes
  1. 5-6 filets of any firm fleshed fish cut into bite sized chunks
  2. 1/2 cup of thinly sliced red onion or shallots
  3. 2 bell pepper cored and diced
  4. 1/2 tbsp of red chili powder
  5. 2 garlic cloves diced
  6. 1 tsp of ginger grated
  7. 3-4 green chilies cut really small(optional)
  8. salt to taste
  9. 2-3 tsp of oil
  10. seasonings: cumin seeds

  1. In a wide mouthed pan or cast iron pan heat the oil and when hot add the cumin seeds followed by the green chilies if using and onions and saute till they are just about turning translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add in the bell peppers and let them cook on medium high heat for about 7-8 minutes till the bell pepper starts to change color.
  3. Add the chili powder and salt and mix it in well.
  4. Add in the fish and let it cook for 3-4 minutes by which the fish should be completely cooked. Make sure to handle the fish gently.
  5. Turn the heat to high to let all the water evaporate and then give a good mix and turn off the heat.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Spring Flowers - Guess! - Revealed

Flower 1 - Thyme
Flower 2 - Sage

Some more Spring Flowers for your viewing pleasure. You are welcome to take a guess as to what plant the flowers belong to.

Beautiful aren't they? These pretty tiny light purple flowers? Flower 1:

How about these? Flower 2:

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guilty Pleasures - Quick Milk Burfi (Milk Fudge)

During the winter months I figure most people would prefer going in to work! That list certainly includes me. It is cold and dark outside mostly and who wants to be stuck in the house alone? But spring is another matter altogether. When spring come around after we push past the rainy and sometimes cold few weeks we get blessed with some nice pleasant weather where the humidity hasn't hit the roof and it is actually pleasant. Unfortunately this year we seemed to have jumped straight into summer having skipped spring altogether it seems. On days when the temperature is in the low 70s with barely a hint of humidity I feel like I am dragging myself to work envying everyone who is walking their dog, taking a jog, running or just plain hanging around.

Those are the kind of days I pick a reason, any reason to leave work early saying I will continue to work at home. Really people I do put in the required hours of work when I reach home alright :) This happens to my guilty pleasure. My song of freedom away from the cubicle to enjoy a few uninterrupted time in the gorgeous weather all by myself before everyone else gets home. Not surprisingly I hate doing this during the winter when I can't wait for everyone to get home. So what is your guilty pleasure?

Where food is considered my guilty pleasure comes in the form of small packages - burfis of any kind make my heart race a little faster. That is my guilty pleasure where food is concerned. For somebody like that a recipe like this is a nice thing to have on hand. It is versatile in its own way. Add some
cocoa powder or a few drops of chocolate syrup to make it a chocolate burfi or some coarsely chopped roasted nuts for a nut burfi.

The recipe is very simple, no slaving over the stove for hours together. This won't come close to the taste of milk cooked down but this has its own plus points. It is quick and easy. Condensed milk and milk powder are the only 2 ingredients.

If you want a more richer grainy texture try this recipe - Quick Palkova.

Quick Milk Burfi
Cooking Time:15 - 20minutes
  1. 14 oz can of condensed milk
  2. 3.2 oz of milk powder
  3. 4 tsp ghee
  4. coarsely powdered roasted pistachio (optional)
  5. 2 tsp of cocoa powder (optional)
  1. In a thick bottom pan add the condensed milk and let it get hot.
  2. Add in the milk powder (and cocoa if using) and with the whisk mix in the milk powder into the condensed milk.
  3. Once the mixture is dissolved (add the nuts if using at this stage) keep cooking in low medium heat till the mixture come together without sticking to the sides.
  4. Add ghee on the sides to avoid sticking. Keep a greased tray ready to transfer the contents.
  5. In about 15 - 20 minutes from start to finish the mixture should be a thick fudge.
  6. Transfer the contents to the greased tray and smooth with a spatula. Let cool and cut into pieces.
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mashed Kale with Moong - Fresh and Tasty - Keerai paruppu kuzhambu

Readers of this blog who are mothers, hope your offspring made you feel special on Mother's Day This is how the conversation went in our house, morning of Mother's Day.
Me: What day is today?
DD: It is Sunday.
Me: Think harder, I wouldn't be asking you otherwise.
DD: Amma, I have to study for my exams.
Me: *giving up* It is Mother's Day!
DD: (*mumbling* I did not forget) Happy Mother' Day! Amma!

DH and DD2 did much better. Got wishes from both of them and I even got a hand made craft from DD. Anyway for all the ribbing I gave DD I forgot to call my mom. Amma if you are reading this, I was thinking of you but forgot to call you. Did I hear "like mother, like daughter" by that I mean DD and myself.

Anyway we have been having some unexpected pleasure in the form of fresh Kale and Collard leaves. The Kale and Collard survived the winter the snow and were the first to sprout and bloom. One another advantage is that the bugs have not hatched yet and the leaves are blemish free. Kale is a pleasure to eat absolutely and my most favorite way to eat them is a stir fry and coconut elevates that to another level. The other recipes I normally make are
Kale Stir Fry with Coconut
Kale with pigeon peas (toor dal)
Kale with white beans - Soup

I always cook mashed spinach and then sometimes add cooked/mashed dal to the mashed spinach and they taste delicious both ways. The mashed greens by themselves can be a dish by itself but adding mashed dal give it another layer of taste which is different then adding greens to dal. Cooked with the minimal of spices but let the taste of the greens shine through.

Saute the onions and green chilies with the kale leaves. Once cooked blend to a smooth puree using a hand blender.
Add the cooked moong dal to the kale leaves puree. Prepare the seasonings and add to the kale and moong dal.

Mashed Kale and Moong - Keerai paruppu kuzhambu
Cooking Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:25 minutes
  1. 1/2 cup moong dal roasted
  2. 4 cups of packed chopped kale leaves washed and chopped roughly
  3. 4 green chilies slit (shake out the seeds)
  4. 1/2 cup onions chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic chopped
  6. 2 tsp cumin/pepper powdered
  7. salt to taste
  8. 1 tsp oil
  9. seasonings: cumin seeds, mustard seeds
  10. 2 tsp turmeric powder

  1. Cook the moong dal with plenty of water with a pinch of turmeric powder and a tiny bit of oil.
  2. While the moong is cooking, heat oil in a pan add oil and add the powdered powdered cumin and pepper powder.
  3. Add the slit green chilies and chopped onions and saute till the onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the kale leaves and let it cook till the leaves become soft. No need to sprinkle any water because the greens will leave water as it cooks.
  5. Add salt and turn off the heat after about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Using a hand blender blend the greens to a smooth puree.
  7. Now turn on the heat and add the roughly mashed dal to it.
  8. In a small pan heat 1/2 tsp of oil and season with cumin and mustard seeds.
  9. Transfer to the dal and greens mixture and turn off the heat.
Can be used as a side for idli/dosai or with rice.

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