I know! All of you have been wondering what happened! To the Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece, of course! Well, wonder no more.
It's not done yet. Far from it! Almost all the Boulder/Denver bloggers have added their touch. Jen showed her love for the mountains and drew them right onto the canvas. Kitt added some lovely squiggly line art to the canvas and handed it to Amy, who did her thing and added bling. Once Amy was done, Danette drew a gorgeous palm tree on it and we're not surprised, given her love for Key West! We lost a couple of bloggers along the way but now it's on its way to Seriously Wonderful in Boulder. That will be the last stop in Colorado! It's taken much longer than anticipated but there's something called life that gets in the way from time to time.
The same thing happened to me! Nirmala is, of course, so right when she says that I shouldn't blog just for NaBloWriMo. Believe me, I considered doing NaBloPoMo again but it was time to acknowledge that I was in over my head with my commitments already. I did a quiet NaBloSiMo sans any announcements. (Enough with the links already? OK!)
November was a truly crazy month. I haven't met or entertained as many people in such a short period. And I cooked. A lot. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures to show for it so I am just going to have to re-create those dishes one by one. But it's great when another food blogger is there for the meal because she takes all the pictures! And, honestly, when it's someone as talented as Jen, there's really no need to bother taking any as she makes everything look really good! A fun time was had by all at the Girls' Lunch I hosted. We missed Kitt as she had to bee elsewhere. She made up for it by taking herMom and I out to lunch at Louisville's The Huckleberry, a tea house and café.
I know it doesn't look very appetizing but this is the best burger in town. It's a veggie garden burger with all kinds of seeds, melted jack cheese, and slices of avocado. And, yes, I ate all those fries. Again, because Huckleberry's fries are the best thin fries I have ever eaten!
The horrific events in Bombay wiped me out as I watched my stomping grounds attacked, and innocent people killed and injured senselessly. Luckily, all my family and friends were safe but many others were not so lucky.
I feel guilty when life goes on like normal when others' world in what used to be my world has been turned upside down. When you no longer feel safe in your hometown.
Moments like this - a man wearing skis on wheels on a major arterial road - make me smile.
I look in my (dirty) rear view mirror and see the mountains in the distance, standing tall as if to say that all will be well. No matter how much I want to believe that, it is not all well, is it? The economy is spiraling downward - it has been for over a year now. A record number of jobs are lost on a daily basis and it has hit home with several friends being laid off. I pulled myself out of the general despair I was feeling to write an article for The Daily Tiffin called Nail Those Invisible Expenses. We survived the dotcom bust but this is worse as it is not restricted to just one industry. Being frugal and living a simple life seems to be the answer in these trying times.
I have been finding peace in working with my hands. My yard could have done with a good dose of that but I sprained my back a couple of weeks ago and that became the perfect excuse for not doing anything to prepare my poor neglected plants and trees for this brutal winter that is upon us now. I finally finished the lacy scarf I was knitting. Yes, I frogged it and started over with US #11 needles. I made a ton of mistakes along the way but the net result is a beautiful airy scarf that is going to my friend, Gabi.
I also made her a beaded bracelet that I am quite thrilled about.
The Holidays are almost here and my friend Dhana will be here with her family for a week. I am looking forward to her visit, and perhaps some snowshoeing in the mountains. I have a great excuse for not skiing - my back, you know!
I'm sorry I've been away for so long but there were too many things all happening at the same time and something had to give, along with my back. It's good to be posting again and I hope to be back with recipes, beginning with the yummies I cooked for the Girls' Lunch with four other fabulous women!
I know! All of you have been wondering what happened! To the Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece, of course! Well, wonder no more.
I can't bear the tension. I wish I could go back to binting my nails all over again. (And, yes, that is deliberate misspelling on my part. It's the only way that I can protest against the gross violation of the word pundit or pandit, to which I have more than just a casual attachment. Pranked Palin said pundints and then Cindy McCain also did. Why? How difficult is it to say pundit. But apparently, it is a common error.) Since binting my nails is out as is sleeping - despite the call of the cosy comforters - I did the next best thing and made extra spicy shrimp that my brother-in-law had made for us when we visited them last summer. Mine are even spicier! I might need more than over-the-counter Zantac by tonight.
Recipe from Prashad by J Inder Singh Kalra
- 1 lb medium shrimp, uncooked
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
- 7-8 dried red chillies
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 7-8 cloves
- 1 stick of cinnamon, 1 inch in size
- 3 tbsp vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- Heat oil in a kadhai.
- Add onions and sweat over medium heat until golden brown.
- While the onions are cooking down, blend red chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, cloves, cinnamon and vinegar into a paste. Add only as much water as needed to help your blender along.
- Add this paste and salt to the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the oil separates from the masala.
- Add shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp turn a lovely pink and are cooked just right.
- Serve with your favorite bread or on toothpicks as appetizers.
- This is like a quick pickle.
- I used only 4 dried red chillies of the Byadgi variety as I can't handle more than that.
- Soak the dried red chillies in warm water for at least 10-15 minutes so that it blends well into a paste.
- I used frozen tail-on shrimp because I don't have the patience to buy fresh shrimp.
- I cook them tail-on as I like to crunch through the tail. Discard the tail or buy shrimp that have been cleaned for you.
If you can vote and haven't yet voted, please get out there NOW!
$5.00 for the gothic cheerleader wig
$3.50 for the goth makeup (eyelashes, black nail polish, black lipgloss)
$4.00 skull tee-shirt
Handmade skull earrings and skull necklace, purchased using a gift certificate.
Fishnet tights, should have been returned as they had a hole in them but oops! her mother lost the receipt and then forgot and before she knew it, it was over 90 days.
Total cost was more than the ten dollars I was willing to pay but she rocked the costume.
Best Hallowe'en ever.
The Hallowe'en party was a day earlier this year as the kids have tomorrow off from school. I did not make monster and ghost cupcakes this year; instead I was asked to bring 2 peeled grapes. I bought a whole box of the best grapes I have ever bought in a rush from Safeway and drove like the wind to school, only to find that they were needed for the parade and not the party. The parade always precedes the party and the kids in one corner of the building stand up and file through each class. As the line ends, the last class that they paraded through joins the line. When the kids reach their own classroom again, they sit down so every class gets to see everyone else in the school.
The fifth graders moved their desks out of the way, made a path using room dividers and darkened the room as they awaited the first of the Hallowe'en ghouls. They scared the daylights out of the kindergartners who exited crying or saying they were not feeling very happy. Needless to say, the fifth graders were mighty thrilled that their ploy worked!
You want to know about the grapes? Well, I was supposed to take a box, too, and the kids who walked in were going to be dared to put their hands into the box. What would they feel? Tch! Not grapes; stay with the theme, please! Eyeballs! It didn't exactly work that way for several reasons: I was late, I had no box and the other kids were too scared already to even want to look at a fifth grader. I messed up but it didn't really matter or at least that is what I am telling myself.
Medha's costume this year was not as innovative as her shower costume was last year. She didn't plan ahead and put together this Funky Cat costume the night before with the accessories we had at home. She forgot to make a tail and I had to quickly cut off the sleeve of one of her black tees, stuff it with paper and take it with me to the party. One of the reasons I was late.
I thought this costume was pretty cool. But everyone else thought it was lame although they were polite enough not to say anything. There were Sumo wrestlers, boys dressed as girls in strappy dresses and high-heeled shoes, Darth Vaders, peanut butter and grape jelly cans - some homemade, others mostly store-bought. That was when she decided that she needed another costume for tomorrow. And, I shouldn't have but I played along.
Beading is what we're busy with right now. She had bought these skull beads a couple of weeks ago but was just so busy that she didn't have a chance to do anything with them. The picture's not that great but if you peer at thenecklace, you might find something interesting going on there. (Note to Pel: unless you want another RMT slammed on you, you might want to let the others take a shot at figuring it out. Cos this one I know you know!) We bought some leftover Hallowe'en stuff at 30% off from Target and the new costume is being put together. Keep your fingers crossed for her (and me) that this one works!
Tomorrow, we meet at a neighbor's for soup, after which the kids hit the streets begging for candy. It's going to be a warm Hallowe'en with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Yay! We will see costumes this year instead of outerwear!
The Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah is said to be the size of three schoolbuses. Bee confirmed that today, too. My family says: Phooey!
Now go to Bee's and check out some really great pictures of the three schoolbus-size rock that is not only awe-inspiring but is a statement of how Mother Nature Rules.
The universe does not want me to make chivda. Not yet, anyway. On Sunday, the big packet of pohe turned out to be the wrong kind - thick instead of thin. The Indian store is closed on Monday and the news of Bri's passing came as such a shock that I was paralyzed into inaction. I lit a candle for Bri yesterday. I didn't light any diyas.
On Sunday night, I couldn't understand what was going on until I realized that the din in my head was cranberries calling out to me from the deep recesses of my refrigerator. A recipe for Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars in the latest issue of Cooking Light had caught my eye. However, the use of sour cream did not appeal to me. Also, I had fresh cranberries and I had no clue what rule of thumb to use for substitution. I figured if I left out sour cream, 2 cups of fresh berries would provide the moisture. I really don't know if my reasoning made sense but the bars turned out to be just right for us: tart and not too sweet. The original bars are meant to be not too sweet and not too tart.
Apparently, sour cream makes these bars almost cheesecake-like so I might give the original recipe a try some time later when I have recovered from the current overdose of sour cream. Many of my friends use it in everything: from sauces to raitas and frankly, I am sick of it. I also wanted to use my brown molasses but I didn't know quite how well the flavor would work with cranberries. I thought it worked well and might use only brown molasses in the filling the next time.
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp pomegranate juice
- Cooking spray
For the Filling:
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecan bits
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tbsp brown molasses
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- Preheat your oven to 325F.
- Grease a 9x9in baking tray using cooking spray.
- Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon.
- Drizzle melted butter and juice over this mixture, stirring until it is completely moistened. The mixture will be crumbly.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture and press the rest into the bottom of your baking tray.
- In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pecans, granulated sugar, brown molasses, if using, all-purpose flour, vanilla extract and the beaten egg white. Stir until the cranberries are well coated and the brown molasses has been mixed well.
- Spread this cranberry mixture over your crust.
- Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over this filling.
- Bake at 325F for 40 minutes or until edges are golden.
- If you can wait, cool on a wire rack.
- I used pomegranate juice because that's what I had. I did not have orange juice or oranges at home. Therefore I did not use orange rind in the cranberry filling and quite frankly, I missed neither.
- Since I used fresh cranberries, I stored these bars in the refrigerator. These bars have lasted a little longer because they are on a shelf higher than some people can reach. Unlike the cranberry-apple crisp.
- If you try this recipe with my variations, then remember that my version is tart and less sweet. Ideal for us but not necessarily palatable for those with a sweet tooth. The bars taste less tart the next day.
Yesterday was Narak Chaturthi, the second day of Diwali.
Today is Laxmi Pujan, the third day of Diwali. This coming Sunday, we will be participating in a mass Laxmi Pujan at Balvihar, just like we did last year.
I think it is high time I made nankatai again.
Happy Diwali to you all!
Pahila diva aaj lage dari
Sukhache kiran yei ghari
Purna howot tumchya sarva ichha
Tumha sarvanna deepavali chya hardik shubhechya!
Today is Dhanatroyadashi and as I look back, nothing much has changed since this day last year. I did eventually make sanzori but it took me almost a whole year to get to it. We lit a diya by the door and all the lights in the house were turned on. It is getting close to the time to turn them off again and then make chivda, which I had perfected last year.
I hope your Diwali is as wonderful as mine has been and will be! Happy Diwali to you, your friends and your families!
Thank you all very much!
I am totally overwhelmed and absolutely speechless because there were 108 amazing entries in all. I feel honored. The hour I spent in the middle of the night with a worker's light focused on this whistling kettle was well worth it! My husband wrote me off as a total nutcase while the next morning, Medha wondered why she had had persistent dreams of a train on a railroad track.
Join me, once again, in saying: Woo hoo!
You know the drill...
I knew I should have banned him from attempting an answer but I didn't. And answer it correctly, he did. These are buckwheat berries.
And I think all of you will agree that there should be a prize! Right? There's just one problem: the prize or award always goes to the blogger. Not my prize. In this case, the real prize goes to all of you, readers of Elaichi et Cetera because I am actually passing the buck with the buckwheat! Pel is going to have to
- find something stranger than strange and,
- post it on his blog within the
- The quiz remains open for at least 1 day and at the most 2 days.
- The person who guesses it correctly gets the torch and is the next host for Riddle Me This.
- If the person who guesses correctly is the previous host, then that person will get to pick someone to pass the buck to from all those who made a guess. (The lucky person can be a previous host, just not the host who passed it on to you.)
- And so on.
- Please use the fabulous logo, designed by yours truly:
and link back to the host who passed the baton on to you.
- Please do your best to keep this alive. Just think of how much fun it will be!
I haven't forgotten you, Anita. Since the triangular seeds were such a dead giveaway, you too, my dear, have been awarded with the same prize.
Now, dear readers, do you see why this is really a prize for you? Two of
Yes, it has come to that. A quiz. But it should be easy for you know-it-alls and you smart image searchers since I cannot confuse you with tricks like these.
So, who am I?
Here's another view of me and my clan.
Is there a prize? Not for you there isn't. But remember my steaming kettle?
Cenk, Lara, Sabra, Nika and Nina seem to like it steamy, too! My pic won the first place in SUPERCLICK 2008: Spectra. Thanks to all the judges! Needless to say, I think you have excellent taste!
Join me in saying: Woo hoo!
Now go on over to Jugalbandi - but don't forget to come back here, we're in the middle of a quiz - and see who else made the top 10 for Spectra and rocked the first year of CLICK. Kudos to Bee and Jai for making CLICK such a fun event and also for putting up with my rubbish in general!
There are some days when you wake up knowing that it's going to be a good day.
The sun is shining in a blue sky and the rural landscape seems to come alive. When the ramshackle barns that dot the farmland seem to beckon, almost like they will finally tell you all they have seen.
A day when the horses frolic in the grasslands slowly turning to hay.
This is one of those days that I wish I could ride. With the sun shining down on me and the wind in my hair, I would be the one flying. Instead, I stood there and dreamed.
You also know that just as you want to bathe in the colors of the changing season, you also want to do your best to bring it home.
Granny Smith apples and fresh cranberries. The warm comforting smell of buttery goodness of a crumble.
We could quibble about crumble versus crisp and crisp might claim victory but the real winner is you; for you captured the essence of fall.
Cranberry-apple crisp à la mode. Just perfect.
So perfect that I thought I would have at least two smiling neighbors. But only one family was that lucky.
And you should be so lucky, too. The recipe is over at Jen's. Make it.
I am - actually, all three of us are - recovering from a case of food poisoning. This was the first time that all three of us were sick at the same time. It was also the first time that we were sick with a hoard of other people who shared the same symptoms: gripes, followed by diarrhea.
It wasn't until we had made it through a particularly bad night that we found out what had caused it. Until then, we wondered whether it could have been the lemonade we bought from those adorable little girls on our ride home. No! It must have been the bakarvadi that we demolished in one sitting. Or was it the mock bhel I made by mixing chopped onions doused in lemon juice, with Khatta Meetha, Bhujia Sev and Dal Biji. That Dal Biji is potent enough to give us acid reflux if we eat more than a couple of spoonfuls. Or was it the dinner we were eating - kababs and saag paneer - when it struck? It couldn't have been dinner as we were still in the process of ingesting it. When the "me too" emails started trickling in the next morning, we found out that misery does indeed have a lot of company.
We still don't know which particular dish at the community gathering caused so many of us to take ill. Some people have suggested that perhaps it was some of the store-bought dairy products that were used that may have been contaminated. Others pointed fingers at the wheat tortillas from the Mexican store. Usually when such things occur, meat is under most suspicion but this was a completely vegetarian meal.
A series of phone calls to friends around the country led me to a horrifying discovery: food safety is taken with a pinch of salt. One word for those who do: DON'T.
Do not store food in your garage.
When people cook for potlucks or for large community gatherings, they find that they don't have enough room in their refrigerator to store the food. Many times the quantity is so large that the food is cooked the day before. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is refrigerated promptly. A garage is not a refrigerator, especially not in fall. Food must be refrigerated in a controlled environment at 40F or below.
Do not handle cooked food with your bare hands.
It is a common practice to scoop the last of the rice or pulao from a pot with bare hands when transferring to a container or even to a serving dish. Please! Even if you wash your hands, you run the risk of transferring bacteria and germs to cooked food which will not be heated to a high enough temperature again. Use a spoon. The same holds for the grains of rice that remain stuck to the serving spoon. Use another spoon. When it comes to the last of dals and curries, too, don't use your bare hands. If you must scrape off every last bit, use a spatula.
Chutneys, especially the cilantro-ginger-lemon kind, are not cooked after they have their fun in the blender. Use a spoon or spatula.
Handling food is the easiest way to transfer illnesses to others. You may be a carrier of a self-limiting GI virus and you may, unknowingly, give it as a parting gift to everyone who eats the food you bring to the party. Just don't do it.
Do not leave food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
In summer or on hot days, the outer limit is one hour.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
If you are going to be carrying hot food to where the large gathering is at, invest in an insulated carrier to keep the food hot. Otherwise, carry it in a cooler on ice or frozen gel ice packs. When you reheat it, bring dals and curries to a boil.
Wash your hands and sanitize them before serving food at a gathering.
Use serving spoons or other serving utensils.
Do not serve with your bare hands even if you followed the previous tip! Use food service gloves, if possible.
Ensure that the food, plates, cutlery and cups are covered until they are used.
Keep food covered and watch for flies. Ensure that the serving tables are far from open trash cans. If you must touch the unused plates, cups or cutlery, do so in an area where no food will be placed.
Other good stuff:
- Do not cross-contaminate.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and in hot water.
- If you're sick, opt out of cooking for your gathering. Believe me, your friends would rather go hungry than contract your illness.
- Tie your hair back or wear those goofy hair nets.
- Wash your ingredients well. Even fruits that have a thick outer skin like bananas, lemons and oranges.
- Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, in the microwave or under cold running water.
- Do not use a damp smelly sponge to wash your dishes. Wash your sponge and your dish scrub in the upper rack of your dishwasher every couple of days. Or sanitize your sponge - taking the required precaution - in your microwave.
More food safety tips from:
Consumers Union Food Safety Tips
Safety tips for meat, poultry and fish
Gateway to Food Safety Info from the US Government
US FDA's Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays
Remaining hydrated is the key to recovery from food poisoning. If diarrhea does not stop, consider taking over-the-counter medication like Imodium or calling your doctor. Never take a chance with young children - always call your doctor if diarrhea persists. If vomitting is one of the symptoms, then that makes hydration even more difficult. In such cases, it makes more sense to suck on ice chips or to drink only a couple of spoonfuls, at a time, of fluids like Gatorade or apple juice or even plain water. I am not a doctor so always call your physician or follow your instincts and go to the ER if you have to.
Do not take food safety lightly. The consequences of your negligence or lack of awareness could send someone to hospital.
This is Louisville to me. Clear skies, mountains, outdoor activity, and a deep sense of calm and peace.
I'm entering this in Aimee's October Greeblepix Contest where she's giving away $250 in Photo Rentals to a lucky winner!
Aimee is yet another cool blogger from Denver. The deadline for the October contest is 10pm MT October 21, 2008. Go do it!
Today we rode our bikes to the biweekly cultural gathering for Indian kids at the Boulder Balvihar, based loosely on the principles of Chinmaya Mission's Bala Vihar. Currently the kids are busy preparing for their Diwali plays and Medha told me that in one part of her play, the kids are going to rap. I'm not really sure what that is all about but I guess I will find out in another two weeks!
It was yet another perfect fall day, sunny and lightly breezy. The breeze always seemed to blow along with me, bringing with it a tide of leaves as company. The ride to the elementary school where Balvihar is held was far more beautiful than the ride back. Funny how the same trail can unleash its magic depending on which direction you travel. It didn't occur to me until I was about halfway through on the ride back that I could record the ride.
It's a little bumpy and a little too long and now very pixelated - thank you, Google Video - but won't you join me anyway?!
How many of you watched the debate on Wednesday and rolled your eyes at this?
See Flickrite d.rex's take on this same pic. And the wave that has been unleashed!
Maybe it's high time it was put away from such flagrant public display!
I am no artist. That is for sure. I must also admit that the blank canvas was very intimidating. If someone else had put paint to it before me, I think I would have been fine. I walked around it, I touched it, I pondered on it but I just could not bring myself to pick up a paintbrush. After a few hours of this, I decided to skip the paintbrush and use my fingers instead. I have never done finger-painting before and it is very liberating! I was not necessarily impressed or convinced with the results but my worst and best critic gave me a thumbs up, so this is it!
I met Jen and Kitt, two totally awesome women, for lunch today and to hand over the Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece to one of them. They dueled with swords and words while I referreed and Jen must have won because she went home with it. The masterpiece is now up in the mountains - in Nederland, Colorado, also home to the Frozen Dead Guy. Seriously, it is.
So yeah, we ate at The Kitchen. If you missed Jen's post on the Community Night at The Kitchen, you missed a great deal more than a review of a truly green restaurant in downtown Boulder. Go read Jen's post as she explains how she takes pictures in a restaurant.
Once our food arrived, we each pulled out our cameras and moved our plates to the center of the table because after all, that is the most natural thing to do. The light was not great even though we chose the better of the two tables that were offered to us. You will, no doubt, see better pictures from Jen but here are some of my attempts. I forgot to adjust my WB and I can't shoot RAW because my computer has been freezing up when I try to import pics in the RAW format. And my hand was not particularly steady today.
The Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece will wend its way to Denver from Nederland, with a brief stop at Seriously Wonderful, once we figure out the logistics. I am still waiting for a couple more bloggers to respond, after which I will try to map out the best possible route to send the canvas on its way.
So woohoo! It's on its way!
This is probably the last of the fall colors we will get to see around here. The gorgeous warming sunshine and the Colorado blue skies begged to be enjoyed in their full fall glory.
The response to The Traveling NaBloWriMo Masterpiece has been phenomenal! You folks are a grand set of people!
To all those who want to play with paint on the traveling canvas, please send me your mailing address if you haven't already. My email address is polarmate at gmail dot com. The first hand-off is tomorrow when I meet Jen and Kitt for lunch in downtown Boulder! Woo hoo!!