April 27, 2012

My Baby is 3

Kalki turned three today! Its so hard to believe that he is already 3 and he has been enriching our lives for the last 2 and 1/2 years. We celebrated yesterday with a big non-fat frozen vanilla yogurt. He also got  hardy balls that he can't really chew on to play with now. And a new rope toy. He is a very happy baby and he makes us happy :)


April 25, 2012

Another Sweet Treat

Breakfast from a couple of days ago: Challah bread with raisins from Whole Foods made into a French Toast with leftover 2 tsps of sweetened condensed milk, one egg, a tsbp of coconut and a tbsp of chopped walnuts :) A hearty one for sure!

April 23, 2012

Plantains with Peas

Inspired by a recipe on Global Table Adventures, I made this as a side for last night's dinner. I didn't have corn and hence substituted peas. I made this spicy by adding berbere spice mix. I also sprinkled a tsp of coconut on this before turing off the heat. Checking Cameroon off my list!

Ingredients: Plantain - 1; chopped into small pieces; 1/2 Red Bell pepper - diced; Peas - 1/2 cup (I used frozen);  Salt & Pepper to taste; Berbere - 1 tsp (use any spice mix). 
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the plantain & red bell pepper. Season with salt & pepper & spice mix.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes, add about 1/4 cup of water.
  • Cover & simmer for about 5 minutes till the plantain is tender
  • Uncover and cook for a couple more minutes to slightly roast the veggies.

April 22, 2012

Happy Baby

Nothing makes my baby more happy than going for a long swim in a lake & playing with sticks :)


April 21, 2012

Isthmus Green Day 2012

Volunteering for the Isthmus Green day, 4 of us managed to stuff 1000 bags with about 11 different things in a span of 3 hours yesterday. And today is the big day happening at Monona Terrace in Madison.  The keynote speaker is Mark Bittman and I am so excited to see him and hear his presentation this afternoon. Moreover I will be volunteering again at the main stage during his talk. I don't own any of his books, so hoping to come home with may be a picture with him. To top off the excitement - Dane County  outdoor farmers market starts today at the capitol! yay!

April 17, 2012

Green Eggplant & Lentils stew

When S brought home amazing Thai green eggplants, I knew I had make mualle again. This time I made it without pressure cooking and also with a Caribbean spice blend that one of my friends gave me. And I got to use more of the pomegranate molasses too! Served it with rice, ven pongal and fried papads!


April 16, 2012

Sweet Plantain Treat

When we were in India, we never used ripe plantains for anything and I feel like I missed out on the deliciousness of the ripe plantain all those years! Even when we moved to the US for the most part when I didn't get a chance to cook the plantains and they get ripe, we have thrown them out. Oh my! Now I look for the ripe with darkening skin plantains in the grocery store. 

Here is a simple yet rich sweet treat made with ripe plantains. Simply slice the plantains, pan fry them in a little oil or if feeling adventurous - in ghee or butter. Arrange on a plate, drizzle some sweetened condensed milk on top and enjoy. I had left over sweetened condensed milk and it came in handy to use up a ripe plantain! If not, simply boil a little milk with sugar and pour on top. Super rich & yummy!

April 12, 2012

Painting & a Show

When I started this week, my goal was to finish two paintings and I did it! This is the last Mandala Painting (acrylic on canvas) for a show that starts tomorrow. I can't believe I am already starting my third show - all in the span of 2-3 months and this month is super awesome because I am having two concurrent shows. I will be putting up my paintings at BC Hair on the east side of Madison tonight, and this show will go on till the end of May. Check out my website Art by Bala for more. 

I am also planning to stop by the one at Froth House later tonight and see if any of the pieces sold this week. The opening last Friday was really good with about 20 or so friends stopping by. I have also sold three paintings so far at Froth House and a couple of necklaces.

Though I am not working at the University anymore, I am still continuing my research and things are busy. Too many things going on and my table is so full. Both exciting & exhausting!

April 11, 2012

Semolina Cake for Valentine's Day

Unlike last year's Valentine's day time consuming Biscuit Joconde Imprime, this year I made a sweet semolina recipe (Rava kesari) and molded it to a heart-shape and topped with rose petal spread. We took this to a friend's house for lunch. Simple, but delish! 

Ingredients: Semolina (rava / sooji) - 1 cup, milk - 1/2 cup, water - 1 1/2 cups; Sugar - 1 1/2 cups; Ghee - 2-4 tbsp; Cashews - 4-5 tbsp broken pieces; Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp; Food Coloring - orange - few drops; Saffron - 5-6 strands.
  • Heat the pan and add semolina and toast till golden
  • Remove from heat & transfer. Reheat the pan and add 1/2 the ghee
  • Add the cashews and roast till brown
  • Add water and milk, bring to a slight boil
  • Add the semolina back, stirring to break any lumps
  • Add sugar, saffron, cardamom and let cook till the semolina is completely cooked
  • Add a few drops of the food coloring. If using powder, mix with a little water & add
  • Add the rest of the ghee
  • Cool and mold to desired shape!

April 8, 2012

Healthy Medley

These days I hardly take the time to plan and execute a wonderful slow cooked meal. Its mostly make do with what I have on hand. Here is a medley that turned out to be a lot more tastier than what I expected. I shredded carrots & brussel sprouts in the food processor, sauteed them for a few minutes with seasoning till the sprouts were cooked but still crunchy, added a handful of walnut pieces and whisked the saute in a bowl of yogurt. Creamy & crunchy at the same time with the added texture of walnuts. We were wishing the dish would never get over - it was that good :)


April 6, 2012

Art Show Opening & Reception

A few months back, I wasn't even dreaming of this, but today I am very excited for my second art show happening at The Froth House in Madison, WI. The paintings went up on April 1 and today is the reception. I am happy I will get to see friends I havent seen in a while and a few are coming from far away places (not just for this, but definitely a bonus :)). Will post more pictures after the event, but here is a sample -- an festive elephant & an Om Ganesh. My paintings are generally very colorful and they seem to pop out really well against the red wall of the Froth House! To add to all this excitement - my next show starts in a week! In the meantime, check out www.artbybala.com to see more of my works.

April 4, 2012

Bamiya from Iraq

Bamiya is a delicious okra stew common in Iraq, Iran, Armenia. It is very easy to make and I can't wait to make it again with home grown okras this summer. I think I made this stew when visiting S in St. Louis - almost a couple of years back!

Ingredients: 2 cups okra - chopped into 1 inch pieces; 1 small onion - sliced; 2 ripe tomatoes - chopped;  Vegetable stock - 2 cups; Salt & Pepper to taste; Lemon juice - 2 tbsp. 
  • In a pot, add olive oil and once hot, add the sliced onions and saute till translucent
  • Add the tomatoes & let it cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the okra, let it cook for about 5 minutes
  • Add the stock, bring to a boil and simmer
  • Season with salt & pepper and cook for about 10 minutes
  • Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice before serving.

April 3, 2012

Shakshouka - Version 2.0

This is another variation of the Shakshouka I posted earlier from the middle east. This recipe was adapted from Create TV.

Ingredients: Spinach - 1 cup, cream - 1/2 cup, onions - 1/2 diced; Eggs - 4; Cheese - 1/4 cup (I used Fontina & pepperjack ; Green Chilies - 1; Salt & Pepper - to taste. 
  • In a small pan (I used my 6 inch cast iron), add olive oil 
  • Once hot, add diced green chilies and let the flavor infuse in the oil for a few minutes.
  • Add the sliced onions and saute till translucent.
  • Add the spinach let it cook for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add cream and season with salt & pepper.
  • Add the egg whites first and fold them in.
  • Add the yolks and cook for desired consistency.
  • Add the cheese around the yolks, let it melt.
  • Serve hot with toast!
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