January 31, 2010

Chasing Light

So, it is not only Kalki who loves to chase the reflection off of my laptop and cell phone. When the reflection gets near the cage, Pepper also wants to catch it. But not to play with it though. For her, everything is a pepper-eating monster, including the light that bounces around on the wall, her cage and on Nikko :)

January 29, 2010

The Complaints Continue...

And this week, Pepper also joined in with Nikko on his weekly rants when dad gets back home. And he didnt care what time it was and continued his weekly news at 11.55 PM!!!

Pa Jun ~ Korean scallion pancake

Nupur from One Hot Stove started her post on Korean Pancakes that it will take just minutes to whip them up. How true! I made these pancakes for the first time last week, for lunch with a couple of friends, along with the Thai Green Papaya salad. My first thought when I tasted these was - I have been missing out all along!

For the pancakes, I whisked together - 1/2 cup rice flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, one egg, few splashes of tamari soy sauce, salt and cold water. To this batter, In added chopped scallions and julienned carrots. Proceed to cook on a girdle, like regular pancakes or dosas. I diluted my batter to be more like a dosa and less like a pancake.

For the sauce to top the pancakes, I used the Maggi chili masala sauce, mixed with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and a sorghum bourbon syrup. Hearty lunch!

January 28, 2010

Something to Chase

One of our friends in Kansas had a dog that would get pretty excited and chase the tiny red light from a laser pointer. We tried that with Amy, but she didn't care about it. But now Kalki is super excited about spots of light that can move. I discovered this when I was working from my couch and he started jumping around, after the reflection from my laptop screen on the ceiling. Now anytime I sit down to work, he gets excited about the reflection from the laptop or the phone. Its actually quite funny to see him riled up about the reflection!

January 26, 2010

Kolam on Canvas

Here is the latest I have tried art-wise. I was thinking about doing Rangoli on glass, but since I started experimenting with acrylic on canvas, Kolam on canvas seemed like a pretty good idea. As many of us don't put kolams in front of the house as we do back in India, I thought hanging them on the wall could be a nice touch. And I love how they are turning out! The bigger one is with Brooke Stansberry, Grand Island. I do know I have to work a lot to improve my brush strokes, but this is not bad for a rookie, right?

Kalki @ Indian Lake

I think every pet parent has a moment when they realize how naughty their kids are. My moment with Kalki was when I took him hiking with a couple of friends to Indian Lake last fall, soon after we had brought him home. He managed to chew the retractable leash between the house and the park and I had to knot the two pieces together into a workable leash. When I was looking at a map, in a gap of a few seconds he managed to chew it again, without any cord left for a knot. I was able to barely attach the handle on his harness and he was happy to be running around by himself. I think grabbing the handle in his mouth made him feel proud, like he is doing my work for me! Doesn't he look like he has accomplished something?

January 24, 2010

Green Papaya salad from Thailand

For today's lunch, I made salad - the first one I have ever made. I do eat salads, but I have never been a fan. I am usually picky about eating 'raw' leaves - carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados are cool, but no-no to raw spinach and lettuce! Anyways, Shankar bought a green papaya from St. Louis this week, and inspired by my friend Carolyn, I decided to give this salad a try and it turned out yummy!

I shredded the green papaya and a couple of carrots in my food processor, transferred them to a bowl. Again in the processor, I blended together a clove of garlic, some scallions, mint leaves, red chili in oil, two tablespoons of peanut sauce, soy sauce, a little salt, a little brown sugar and a lot of lime juice. I tossed the dressing with the papaya & carrots and let it sit for an hour for the flavors to blend. Chopped some peanuts to garnish and it was good.

January 23, 2010

Gozinaki from the Republic of Georgia

Our friend Emilie had a Georgian themed dinner tonight, and for my part, I made dessert. Gozinaki (Gozinaqi), is a simple walnut based sweet, much like the peanut burfi from India. Traditional recipes include only walnuts and honey!
I adapted this basic recipe and added more ingredients for a slightly more complex taste. Basically toast the walnuts, hull them (which was a lengthier process than I thought it was), coarsely chop them. I used a little bit of jaggery, that I boiled with a spoonful of water, and ginger honey. When the mixture is frothy, add the walnuts and cook for a few minutes stirring continuously. Pour on parchment paper over a dish, let cool and slice. As they cooled, I topped them with a toasted coconut spread and sprinkled lemon-ginger dark chocolate. One of the guests took a bite and went "Wow" :)

January 22, 2010

Methi Rice with Fried plantains

One of the 'special' comfort foods at my home was a sauté of methi (fenugreek leaves), onions and garlic in ghee, seasoned with salt and black pepper, finished with asafoetida. I made this sauté last week, mixed with rice and accompanied by fried plantains. Nostalgic!

Random: Panama City (Panama) Skyline

Picture taken June 2005

January 21, 2010

Jollof Rice from Ghana

The African Jollof rice is a one pot meal and I love one pot meals. This was a pretty simple dish to make, and I used seitan in it which I have not used before. The recipe below was inspired by Chef in You.

In the pan, sauté a small chopped onion, with cumin, ginger, garlic and green chilies. To this I added few small eggplants (brinjals) and a couple of potatoes (both diced), a handful of frozen peas, seasoned with salt and curry powder. After the vegetables softened, I added one can of diced tomatoes, and the seitan and let it cook for a few minutes. I used brown rice instead of white rice - about 1.5 cups with enough water, and covered the pressure cooker, and let it cook for about 7 whistles (brown rice takes longer to cook). Once sprinkled with some nutmeg and garnished with chopped mint, the dish was awesome!

January 20, 2010

New Toy for the Birdies

I picked up this small wooden pallet from the Goodwill for the birdies. Given their previous record with cardboard boxes and a few wooden toys (including a birdhouse), I am curious as to how long this will last. So far, Pepper, our Nanday Conure, is not interested in it, and Nikko wants to check it out for the tiny bit of peanut butter I rubbed on the edge. Once Pepper decides to go after it, I will giver her a week or two. She recently worked her way through a huge shoe box in about 3 days! My cute shredding machines :)

January 19, 2010

Sea Nettles

These beautiful Sea Nettles can be seen at the New England Aquarium in Boston. I love watching jelly fishes at the aquarium! This picture makes me think about how they communicate (they only have a nerve net and not a brain).

Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Here is my easy version of a spicy yogurt sauce, for dipping or as a side dish. I whisk together yogurt, sour cream (if I have any), and Indian pickle, without the vegetable (just the chili oil). A great flavored sauce in a minute!

January 18, 2010

Land of Enchantment

I took this picture when Shankar and I were driving through the Jemez Mountains, on our first road trip ~ way back in 2004! On that trip we drove from Kansas and spent a week in New Mexico - few days in the Enchanted Circle, a couple of days in Albuquerque and an afternoon in Santa Fe. This was the trip we fell in love with the colors and the beautiful history of the land. May be one day we will get to live there!

Someone's gotta do it!

Someone has to fill daddy in on all the things that happened since he left on Tuesday! Here is Nikko (our Jenday Conure) with his list of rants and complaints (including mom being stingy with seeds) to Shankar as soon as he stepped inside the house. Nikko doesn't even give him time to take off his jacket :)

January 17, 2010

Falafel and yogurt sauce

For my cooking the world challenge, I made Falafel (Egypt) last night with a minty yogurt sauce. Instead of deep frying, I baked the falafel. The recipe was adapted from Librari(d)an, through Hungry Girl. The modifications I did were to use mint, instead of cilantro, a mixture of cumin and coriander powder, and instead of tahini, I added some toasted sesame seeds. My whole wheat flour was a little old, but other than that, the falafel turned out pretty good. However, next time, I want to increase the spiciness up a notch, as it was a little bland for Shankar's tastebuds. For the yogurt sauce, I whisked together 1/2 cup of labna, 1/2 cup sour cream, a little milk, lemon juice, finely chopped mint leaves, salt, and black pepper.

January 15, 2010

Don't do this mom!

Kalki, our 8 month old puppy is actually such a baby - he hasn't yet developed hard paddings on his feet, and has tender 'baby skin'. During our vacation, we were playing in a parking lot and the skin n all his feet got torn off, and he had to be taken to the emergency vet. And no, he didnt stop playing when he got hurt. And he seems to get hurt randomly so many times when he is simply playing outside. Anyways, I didn't want to see his feet bleed again, especially when it is so hard to keep him confined. I got him some nice doggy boots and his face tells how much he doesn't like them!

January 11, 2010

New Year and New Challenge: Cooking the World

I was recently trying to find some local Madison food bloggers, when I cam across the blog Eating the World. Two graduate students are planning on eating a dish from the all countries of the world. When I saw this, I was reminded of a conversation with my friend Prasadh who wants to see if it is possible for a vegetarian like me, to go anywhere in the world and find good / decent food, and he wants to make a show of it.

Anyways, here is my new challenge for the year - I want to COOK at least one vegetarian dish from each of the 193 sovereign countries. I will use this list for reference. I hope to finish the project by the end of 2010. Instead of starting from scratch, I am also going to tag my previous recipes, for the countries they are from. I will link to the original recipes and highlight any changes I have made.

Hope this will be a fun-filled foodie journey of 2010!

January 5, 2010

Simple Sunday Brunch

Here is a recipe that is just in time for Pongal - the Harvest Festival celebrated in various parts of India. In my home back in Chennai, it is a day for new clothes, eating raw sugar cane fresh from the market, and a feast with family and friends. The star of this festival is the "sakara pongal" - the sweet version, made with jaggery. Also is this "venpongal" which is the spicy version. This is also a standard breakfast dish in my household. One of the simplest recipes to make, it is generally served with coconut chutney and sambar. I made this dish a few weeks back for brunch on Sunday.

Equal portions of rice and toor dal are pressure cooked, with some salt. In a separate pan, heat ghee (clarified butter), brown some cashew nuts, add either whole black peppers or as I have in this version, coarse ground pepper, and mix this with the cooked rice & dal. That's it! I have also played around with this dish with different kinds of lentils, other spices. But the classic & simple version will always be a comfort food for us.
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