It’s Okay to be Selfish


There are people who give and just give. They do not expect anything in return. Those people belong to the category of saints.  This article is not about them. It is about the other kind of people. People who are worldly, who give but also expect something in return. Some express their expectations others do not. We as normal human beings have the right to think about ourselves.

grusskarte_sorry

A feeling that you get when the wrong has been done.

I look around and feel sorry for the older generation who spent their life being someone but just not themselves. Especially the people from Indian sub continent.  My parents and grand parents for example, spent  their entire life for their loved ones. They forgot to consider their own needs. Now, in their final stage of life they realize that they missed out so much. Just because they  were not able to find a little time for themselves. Some decades from now you don’t  want to be among that group, repenting about this little fact of life.  At times, we should stop and think about our own happiness. Sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish.

Is it okay to be selfish? How many times did this thought occur to you? Here I am, calling out for the people who are caretakers; responsible for taking care of someone you love. You are responsible for making someone happy and content and you are doing a great job. Now, take a deep breath and look way from computer screen and compliment yourself for the wonderful job you are doing. Take thirty or so seconds to thank yourself on behalf of the people you taking care of. You might be anyone, a mom, a dad, a childcare provider, a teacher or a volunteer helping out seniors. And believe it you deserve this.

tea-cups

A simple cup of tea can be very refreshing

Last thirty seconds that you were with yourself, don’t make you a bad or irresponsible person. Morally you have not done anything wrong. Therefore, thinking or doing a little deed of happiness for oneself will not be wrong either. Some simple things like, preparing a cup of tea; sitting back and thinking about nothing; reading few lines from Byron; listening to your favorite song or music; working out or deep breathing, can be effective. Just ten minutes a day but do something that is only for you. It’s a time out for yourself when you do not have to make any compromises or adjustments or impressions.

A realization that you spent your life being a mom, a dad, a husband or a wife but just not yourself might be heartbreaking.  It is your life and you deserve a fraction of it to yourself. To give happiness you have to have some for yourself. If you are not happy and content you cannot make others happy. Sometimes do a little thing for yourselves and feel the happiness that’s  inside you and then try spreading it among others.

Cooking Terminology


Food and drinks are one of the favorite topic in any party. Be on top of a situation when you are in a group of fairly good cooks. You don’t have to give up or recoil in your shell just because they are using terms like julienning, blanching or crumbing. Here’s a crash course in cooking terms and terminology. This is a collection of terms and techniques I’ve collected over a period of time from various sources. I have pasted the pictures so that you can relate to them and remember them. Include these terms in your vocabulary. Don’t take the back seat; be a part of the fiesta, enjoy and have fun.

ALLUMETTE- An allumette is a matchstick-sized cut, 3 mm x 3 mm x 5 to 6 cm (1/8 in. x 1/8 in. x 2 to 2½ in.) long, used for potatoes

Allumette Potato

Allumette Potato


BLANCHING or BLENCHING is a cooking term that describes a process of food preparation wherein the food substance, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief, timed interval, and finally plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water (shocked) to halt the cooking process.

Blanching helps to improve the color, taste, texture and shelf life of the vegetable in use. For example Broccoli looks fresher and greener if its blanched.

Boiling & Shocking are the two steps involved in Blanching

Blanching

BUTTERFLYING is a cutting technique used by butchers to transform a thick, compact piece of meat into a thinner, larger one. The piece of meat to be cut is laid out flat on a cutting board and cut in half parallel to the board from one side almost all the way to the other. A small “hinge” is left at the one side, which is used to fold the meat out like a book. The resemblance of this unfolding motion to the wings of a butterfly is what gives this cut its name.

Butterflying Steak

Butterflying

CHIFFONADE– is a cooking technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons

Chiffonade like Chiffon clothing material

Chiffonade

CRINKLE CUTTING- It means cutting so the result is corrugated (forms regular waves). One can do this with specialized knives or mandoline. It is frequently used for potato chips, and (in that context especially) is also referred to as ruffled

Crinkle Cutting like in  ruffles

Crinkle cutting

BREADING (also known as crumbing) is a dry grain-derived coating for a piece of food such as meat, vegetable, poultry, fish,shellfish, crustacean, seitan, or textured soy, etc., made from breadcrumbs or a breading mixture with seasonings. Breading can also refer to the process of applying a bread coating to a food. Breading is well suited for frying because it lends itself to creating a crispy coating around the food. Breading mixtures can be made of breadcrumb, flour, cornmeal, and seasoning that the item to be breaded is dredged in before cooking.

Breading chicken

breading

DREDGING is a cooking technique used to coat wet or moist foods with a dry ingredient prior to cooking. Put most simply, dredging involves little more than pulling/rolling the wet food through the dry material to provide an even coating. The technique is particularly common with breaded foods, such as fried fish.

Dredged Meat

Dredging

JULIENNING- It is a method of food preparation in which the food item is cut into long thin strips. Common items to be julienned are carrots and celery.

Julienned carrots

Julienning

MARINATING, also known as marinating, is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origins of the word allude to the use of brine (aqua marina) in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the ‘marinade’ can be acidic with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or savory with soy sauce, brine or other prepared sauces. Along with these liquids, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items.

Marinated chicken

marinate

If you have any suggestion, please let me know and help to make this list better and more helpful.

Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist


Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist

Paneer Pakoda- A cultural union

This dish is a “Matrimonio Mixto,” Spanish for Mixed marriage. Serve it hot and it’s something that you can definitely use to impress people with your culinary skills. The appetizer, I am talking about can be categorized as fritter, which are made of cheese, but it’s not just another Paneer Pakora. It is the scrumptious union of two amazing cultures. I bring to you “Queso Frito de la India” (The fried cheese from India;) or simply Paneer Pakoda with Mexican Twist. It’s a marriage of Mexican cheese (Queso Fresco) with special Indian ingredient Gram flour (or Besan.)

El Mexicano Queso fresco Casero

El Mexicano Queso fresco Casero

Now, you know these Paneer Pakoda (Cheese Fritters) is a combination of Queso fresco and gram flour and some other ingredients. Queso fresco, means fresh cheese and we will be using “Casero,” which stands for homemade. Homemade fresh cheese is our main ingredient, but this time not made in our homes. For now buy it from some local grocery outlet like Safeway or Costco.

The Hispanic Cheeses are in and there are many kinds with some differences. Interested in finding more about these Cheeses; Go to the links given;  http://www.specialcheese.com/queso.htm

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/mexicancheeses.htm

Chickpea flour/Chickpea flour/ Besan

Chickpea flour/Chickpea flour/ Besan

The other main ingredient is Gram flour or Chickpea flour. It is frequently used in cooking in India and Bangladesh. It is also a good facial exfoliant. One can easily buy it in an Indian market. Now comes all the other ingredients and procedure for this dish.

INGREDIENTS

1 Block Fresh Cheese “Casero” (Cut into 1 inch rectangular pieces)

For Crumbing

  • ½ Cup gram/ Chickpea flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ salt
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano seeds (Ajwain)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs (seasoned)

For Frying

Oil

PROCEDURE
• Sift Gram flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. To this crumbing mixture add chili powder and both oregano leaves and salt. Make sure that the mixture remains dry at all times.
• For coating, dip the cheese pieces in milk and then put in the gram flour mixture. Move the piece around so that a thin layer of gram flour is formed all around the cheese. Do not drip milk in the crumbing mixture. Coat all the cheese pieces and let them dry for about 30 mins.

Cheese left for drying

Cheese left for drying

• Once dry, Dip each piece in milk and apply breadcrumbs to it and put it in the hot oil for frying. Fry until brown. Serve hot with green cilantro chutney. And Enjoy!!!

Creme Caramel


Crème Caramel

“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” — Ernestine Ulmer

If we are talking about a dessert like Crème Caramel, alternately known as Caramel Custard or Caramel Pudding or Flan then I won’t even regret skipping the main course. Crème Caramel is a heavenly sweet dish; one that guarantees to win you a lot of admirers. Believe me, it is easier to prepare this dish than repeating its name five times. Further down you’ll find an easy way of preparing this elegant dish.

I’m going to share with you the recipe of Caramel pudding as my dear dear friend Renju shared with me. She has helped me to make so many of my parties special. Her recipe has earned me respect and increased my worth in my Mother-in-law’s eyes. It will be unfair if do not stress on the fact that Renju and her recipe play a very important role in my life. Thanks again my friend. Oh! no, no, no… I am not getting over sentimental but you know what it is like to be appreciated by your mother-in-law. Okay, without further ado, I giveth you:

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. — Ernestine Ulmer

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." — Ernestine Ulmer

INGREDIENTS-

Custard-

  • 2 Whole green cardamoms
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla essence
  • 1 Can Condensed Milk

Caramel-

  • 2 Tbs. Sugar
  • 3-4 tsp water

PREPARATION

1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.
2. Boil milk with cardamoms, keep stirring the milk to avoid scorching or burning. Once boiled, (bubbles start coming of its side) strain the milk and let it cool.
3. In a separate container beat the eggs and add vanilla essence to it.
4. Add condensed milk to the boiled (cooled down) milk. Keep stirring.
5. Finally add the egg mixture to the milk, slowly whisking the whole thing. (Optional) Add a tsp of orange zest to this mixture.
6. To Prepare the caramel, put sugar in a saucepan and keep it on fire. Keep stirring the sugar until it starts to melt and color changes to light brown. Once the color changes, take it off the stove and put water. Keep stirring it without stopping. If it get crusty add some more water and stir. If sugar burns, do it again.
7. Pour this caramel, spreading it evenly in the baking dish and then slowly pour the custard.
8. Prepare a water bath in dish bigger that the one in which you are going to bake your custard. To read more about water bath click or go to, http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/what-is-a-water-bath.htm
9. Bake it in the water bath for 40- 45mins.
10. Once baked, cool it in the refrigerator and just before serving run an knife along outside of the custard; put the serving dish on top; and invert. Let it stand for few minutes then remove the baking dish. Garnish it with few mint leaves or orange slices or strawberry and serve.
11. Relax and Enjoy the sweetness of your effort!!! (Or may be impress your mother-in-law.)

Foccacia (foh-KAH-chyah)


Answers.com describes Foccacia as a flat Italian bread traditionally flavored with olive oil and salt and often topped with herbs, onions, or other items.

.

Not only is this bread yummy and versatile, it is easy to prepare at home. I baked Onion Foccacia at home without even using a blender.  One can follow any recipe that one feels comfortable with, I followed the one from the amazing book called “The Around the World Cookbook” published by Hermes House. This book has great recipes from some exciting cuisines. I also looked for the recipes on allrecipes.com.  Whatever recipe  you follow but make sure that you keep following things in mind.

  • If possible mix the dough in a mixer, so that it is smooth and elastic. Recipes do not specify the use of a mixer. I kneaded the dough by hand and bread was harder than I would like it to be.
  • When keeping the dough to rise, cover it properly to avoid the hardening of the outer layer. To protect the moisture of the dough, cover it with wet  cloth, do not use a paper towel instead:-)
  • Finally use olive liberally before putting it in the oven for baking. The bread will come out nice and shiny.

Here are some ideas to prove the versatility of this bread;

  • Top it of Basil pesto, fresh diced tomato and olive oil, its yummy even my 14 months old loved it.
  • Use it for a sandwich.
  • As pizza base, you can top it of with whatever toppings you like.
  • Be creative and share your ideas.

My First Story


Have you ever experienced the joy of getting your creation published? If yes, consider yourself among the lucky ones and share your joy with me. I was on the verge experiencing that joy in the year 2007 (or I thought so.) On my 29 birthday, I once again promised myself to accomplish my dream of becoming a writer. I started thinking on the lines of writing something that is close to my heart; something that is close to reality; something that someone has experienced and something that is about India. I got an idea.

My story was about Runjhun a young girl from an upper-middle class family from the industrial city of Kanpur in India. She was in her sixteen when she first went out alone with her friend. Runjhun always wanted to go for higher education unaware of her parent’s plan about her future.

A month later, after going out with Sheenu, her friend, Runjhun got married. Then, she was playing a role of a wife, a bahu, a bhabhi in a joint family of twenty two members. What happened about her plans of education? Was she able to achieve any of her dreams?

My story was about it. I finished my story and titled it as “First Few Steps.” I liked it and therefore I submitted it to a website, which publishes unpublished works and started waiting for some positive feedback. This was the closest I reached to getting my work published.

“The Right Time”


Is there a right time to do anything? If so when and what are the signs to recognize those signs and know that the time is right?  I wanted to be a good writer through out my life. I think of writing stories, articles and poetry and be good at the same time.  Who knew it will be so hard to set a balance  between being interesting and grammatically correct too. Will I be able to achieve the said goals and be a writer someday?  When will my time be right ?