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A whiff of wine November 24, 2012

Posted by Jeena in Food.
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It looks like the printer at work is possessed – among other problems including paper jams. It seemes to think that the user wants about 6 copies of everything he/she prints. That’s how 6 copies of a colleague’s compilation of home-made wine recipes were churned out and I got one copy. Funny, how she hasn’t made a start on it. 😛

Last Saturday, I bottled about 4 litres of beetroot wine. I’ve got another week to go before it’s ready though. Today, I was checking up on the bottles stored in a ‘cool, dark’ place. The daily help saw me moving the storage bins of atta and rice. She asked me what’s the smell and I tried explaining. Apparently, every morning she comes in, she gets this smell. So she attempts to follow the smell and hunts in unlikely places for any ‘bottles’ we may have forgotten. She’s quite happy to find out that there isn’t anything decaying under her nose 😀

Funny how we don’t get any smells. Hmmmm

The ginger is chopped and ready for some home-made ginger wine. I just need to get either the citric acid crystals or some juice & zest of lime. Do I need to boil the ginger for 5 mins or 20 mins or 1 hour? Everyone’s got a different opinion on the ‘world wide web’ (Transformers style). When I diligently followed the beetroot wine recipe, they lied about the prep & cooking time. It took about 3 – 4 hours! 2 litres of water gave me 4 litres because I squeezed the pulp after boiling for 20 mins. 😦

All about calories August 21, 2010

Posted by Jeena in Food, People.
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I decided to hit the gym today morning. The short walk between home and work is not going to burn much calories. Especially when dinner is what I put together. Besides, I swear the fat in my thighs have just solidified in this weather. Newer additions to the frozen cellulite will be welcomed and taught to solidify more!

I met the lovely trainer Sarah (Yes, she’s good looking, tall and slim!), who pointed me in the direction of the treadmill, (more…)

Weekend laziness June 22, 2010

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I finally finished a project I started about two years ago. ‘Rural Haven’ reached completion with a combined effort of needle, thread and patience.

I watched the movies X-Men, (more…)

Road trip – Part 1 February 6, 2010

Posted by Jeena in Bangalore, Behaviors, Food, People, Songs, Travel.
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Don’t be discouraged by the part 1 in the title, this is not like Mitzy’s Friends. The road trip is not a figment of my imagination unlike Mitzy’s Friends. This will be quite a long post and will  need a long time to complete reading it (if you plan to do that).

When a long weekend looms, DH and I get all excited and try to go somewhere or do a road trip. Events unfurl that prevent us from seeing those trips through. Goa has been beckoning for a few years now but that’s not the road trip I’ll be narrating below.

Time to travel to Kerala from Bangalore varies on one’s mode of transportation. It’s easily over 13 hours including an overnighter on a train, if one’s destination is Trivandrum. So when a long weekend loomed recently, we arranged with another friend so that we’d be three of us on the journey.

On the night before, we dumped clothes and shoes in a huge suitcase for a short journey of four days out of which two whole days would be on the road; one day for the journey in one direction alone. Why the big suitcase? We couldn’t be bothered to fold and squeeze them into a smaller bag. Breakfast was kept ready and the alarm was set to go off at 4 am so that we’d set out at 4.30 am. We did get up that early but I dozed a good 10 minutes in the WC before I really woke up.

Meanwhile, DH is up (surprising, since he’s not a morning person) and by the time I’ve brushed my teeth, he’s made wonderful tea for the both of us. Special mention here coz DH making tea is a rare event.

So all I had to do was pack the breakfast in a casserole aka hotbox then get ready. Suitcase loaded, appliances switched off, doors locked and made as secure as possible against burglars and we were ready to be off about 30 minutes behind schedule. We arrived at our friend’s house 8km away and picked him up 10 minutes later at 5.10 am. Some time is spend waiting while his wife affectionately kicks him out. Our friend places his very tiny travel bag in the car boot/dikky and taken aback by the huge suitcase. His comment sets the tone for the rest of the journey. Hilarious humor is his forte; those punchlines cannot be reproduced by anyone else.

We get to use the 9km long elevated highway (inaugurated the previous day) connecting to Electronics City (called that coz it’s like California’s SiliconValley). At regular intervals, a board says 80 km/h but on the deserted highway corridor we easily do 110 km/h. The early morning sunrise was a sight to behold as it came up from behind the huge boulders dotting the skyline.

Around 6.30 am we reach the first toll gate of many and by this time, my stomach is growling away in fury. So I quickly fall in with DH’s plan to have breakfast only to realize that we hadn’t brought drinking water. Seeing what was on the breakfast menu, our friend had another shock.  Mathi aka Chala aka sardines fried, sandwich bread, chappatis and aloo mutter (potato and green peas curry). I guess, we are the only couple who have non-veg three times a day. Our friend nibbled chappatis and then insisted that it was too early in the morning to have breakfast. He insisted that he wasn’t hungry!

Breakfast done, we are on our way once again. The carpeted highway is a pleasure to drive on. The only issue is that on the stretch till Salem, certain parts are still under construction. Suddenly we will see a two-wheeler laden with plastic multicolored pots or huge stacks of hay or a tractor coming in the opposite direction. These locals also glared right back at us even though we were on the right side of the two-lane road. Then there were those strolling across the dual lane without knowing that they were escaping vehicles like ours doing 100 km/hr just coz we’d slow down or brake suddenly.

When we reached Salem, we finally got a bottle of water, a glass of tea and some km later, a pit stop. There were so many pit stops courtesy of me and I’ve got to say, the restrooms in the petrol bunks were quite decent. So around 11 am we cross the Kerala border. And think about lunch. So if in Kerala, and a pure Mallu, where do you go for lunch? Kallu shaap aka toddy shop of course! When we’d set out from Bangalore, we’d decided on Karumbinkala shaap. But a call by our friend to his friend confirmed that Karumbinkala is definitely not in Thrissur like he’d originally thought. Of course, an alternative shaap is suggested. It’s 10 km detour from the main highway to Trivandrum, but hey, we need good food and we’re thirsty hungry 😉

Thrissur is still 2 hours away and kallu food is ready only after 1pm; we’ll have a fresh juice for now we decided. That’s when we hear shrill honking from behind. Kerala police is making way for a VIP and clearing the traffic ahead. A white Skoda Octavia with registration plate Kerala State 22 overtakes us and then begins a very very fast race! Because of the Kerala Police pilot, autos, buses, cars all gave way. And our Sophia galloped right behind! This continued for a while and we did overtake the VIP cavalcade but without the police clearing the way, we were forced to slow down; and the VIP’s just overtook again.

Finally, we remembered our parched throats and gave up the chase when we saw a tender coconut seller. After a short relieving break, we remembered the shaap. We asked for directions after passing Thrissur and finally reached Mapranam, where the shaap is quite popular. In Kerala, it’s not in good taste for women to be inside the shaap premises, DH delivered the specials of the day: kappa aka Tapioca, paninjeel thoran (Fish eggs with coconut) and fiery beef fried. If any Mallus (or anyone else) wants good food (and local toddy) check out Mapranam near Thrissur.

DH and our friend shared the driving on the trip. If there was a hint of anyone falling asleep, I’d ask to take over the wheel – that was a sure means to keep both of them WIDE awake! We reached home after getting stuck in Saturday traffic in Cochin, a traffic diversion courtesy of St. Sebastian’s feast at 10.30 pm. That was a very long trip – 760 km covered with good roads, road rage, 2 fuel stops and can’t not credit the PJ’s from Radio Mango FM station!

Yumm smells November 16, 2009

Posted by Jeena in People.
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I will go backwards.

Monday evening: ground coconut and tamarind fried in oil to make a fish curry

Sunday evening: Chicken/other meat kababs

Sunday afternoon: Biriyani (Chicken or mutton).

Probably Sunday morning is Dosas or something but I never wake up that early to find out. I promise to update it when I find out.

Saturday evening: Fried prawns (probably the tiger variety)

The days we are at home are a torture for my family and a blow to my culinary confidence. Let me give you a background of what I am talking about here. We rent out the ground floor of an independent house. There is just over 1 foot between the neighbour’s kitchen and ours which face each other. The window of their kitchen is level with our door and thereby, the menu mentioned above. So probably my crab curry and pork curry flavors don’t waft into her kitchen. I just pity the family that stays upstairs and gets attacked by the yumm smells from both kitchens.

When we came to stay here initially, I naively thought the output from my kitchen would fight against and defeat the neighbour’s (we were warned by the house owner). Alas, not to be.

Here’s a conversation from the chap upstairs when he couldn’t stand the smells anymore:

“Dude, what did you guys prepare last night? Chicken or mutton? My mouth was watering”.

“Both man,” replies my husband.

What did we prepare for dinner? Masala Noodles – Maggi!

Gluttonous musings November 3, 2009

Posted by Jeena in Behaviors, People.
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If I belong to a culture where ants (roasted, fried, manjurian, etc.) are a part of our diet, am I a non-vegetarian? I bet ants taste more like the crusty coating one gets on peanuts (aka groundnuts) – all crunchy munchy. It’s definitely not something that one tears into like a chicken leg or a mutton rib. So I ask you, how can I be a non-vegetarian?

I have met folks who are vegetarian by choice. Their parents and siblings would be diehard non-vegetarians but this particular son or daughter is an outsider. One of them is understandable – he once saw the chickens slaughtered mercilessly and started abstaining meat products. But what a dilemma for his mother-in-law who anticipated fattening up the new family member with all superior non-veg dishes of a typical Christian family.

Another gal I know has parents hailing from the backwaters of Kerala where there is ample supply of fish (both river and sea). But she doesn’t eat nor does she prepare it. What gene makes a person different? I have watched poultry being killed to populate the dining table, but I do not find meat abhorrent. Seafood was a regular dish on our table.

Consider the son of a family who never ate beef or pork but prior to becoming my husband, started enjoying these dishes? Initially, I wasn’t into pork – but that soon gave way to gluttony. (Slurrp!) I know some who never developed a taste bud for these non-vegetarian items not for lack of availability.

We live in a world where when a couple falls in love, their food habits don’t become a big deal until the meals start arriving. If the wife is a Brahmin who doesn’t touch meat, how does the hard core non-vegetarian spouse survive other than defecting to their side? Voila – mama to the rescue.

But what if mama doesn’t eat it either? For the son she loves she prepares a non-veg dish. I have heard this spouted: “My mom adds all the masala and prepares the curry before adding the meat. She tastes the curry and then adds the meat”

Every accomplished cook knows that juices from the meat or seafood maketh the non-veg dish. How the heck does one decide based on just the spices boiling in water/oil? Of course, over a period, one can hone this tactic. But who eats the dishes that fell flat during the initial stages?

Ponder this: are the chefs in popular non-vegetarian restaurants vegetarian? Does the owner of the restaurant Sinbad know something we don’t? Is that why she stuck to carrots while we were hogging away on the non-carroty items?