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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Veggie garden update

One of the most wonderful things I have experienced with being a SAHM is to have time for things like cooking and now gardening - both activities that I never could get enough enthusiasm for while I was working full-time. At the end of a long working day, the thought of entering the kitchen at 8 o'clock to try and make something for dinner used to be such a drag, that I never got around to figuring out much about cooking except for the basic recipes. It is only now that I have the time, I have come to realize that, in reality I don't dislike this activity :). Trying out interesting new recipes in baking and cooking has become an enjoyable part of my life.

The other activity that is now occupying me is my kitchen garden. I used to have a fascination for flowering and ornamental plants, but growing vegetables has brought me closer to the hands-on act of gardening. For the first time, I literally got my hands dirty and did a lot of the potting/repotting myself, and I feel so much more connected to the whole process than getting someone else to do it all for me.

I started with brinjals and tomatoes a few months ago. And now after attending a workshop about Organic Kitchen Gardening, I am all geared up for really scaling up on my veggies. Last week I planted some radish seeds, some broad beans(avarakkai) seeds and some greens like thyme, mint and coriander. The radish seeds were a bit old so I was sceptical if they would be viable but imagine my thrill to see the sprouts coming up yesterday :). I can now understand a little about the sense of pride a farmer must feel when I feel so thrilled at hopefully being able to provide a small percentage of my family's food intake!

This post is also a way for me to record the progress of the seeds I have sown, so here goes:
Updated photo of radish as on 29th Jan :)

19th Jan:
Planted seeds of Radish, Avarakkai(Hyacinth Beans - that sounds so much more interesting than our humble tamizh name ;)), Thyme, Mint, Coriander

22nd Jan:
Radish sprouted

Mandarin Orange

24th Jan:
- Squash(trying to germinate first in seed tray), Karamani(Long beans), Bitter Gourd, Cucumber and Palak.
- Chilly seedling, Strawberry, Aloe Vera and Mandarin Orange plants that I picked up from Lalbagh the previous day have been transplanted into pots.
- Broad Beans have just started sprouting

Note: Thanks Shruthi for name clarifications!

I am still hoping to procure some okra seeds as that is one of my favourite vegetables, who doesn't like vendekkai ;) ? Also making some valiant attempts to get my own seeds out of lemons given from my mom-in-law's plants. Have just set them to dry, will be very surprized if I actually get any seedlings out of them, especially for a first attempt.

Another interesting part of this exercise has been trying to figure out what the plants are going to look like i.e. vines/creepers or just bushy plants because they need to be planted according to their nature. As of now I am hoping the squash is not a creeper like pumpkin since the photos online seem to look like a bushy plant. For the rest of it, my bets are made and fingers crossed ;).

Meanwhile the composting goes on, 5th cycle currently. I had a slight setback because my first cycle compost that I used for the plants didn't seem to do them very well. So I am being extra careful with my 2nd set - going to check for maturity (as given at Daily Dump) before I use it for just one pot and see how it goes. This is the 2nd lot after sieving and (hopefully) ready to use!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whole wheat pancakes

This was such a thrill! Have been wanting to make pancakes for a while now, but was lazy to check out the actual recipe and try out something completely new. But this morning I found myself without my staple back-up options of bread or muesli and did not at all feel like making a mix for the rava dosa and wait for it to "oorify" ;). So at last looked up the recipe - I used this one. Tweaked it a bit, and here's what I came up with!

I always have to try to use whole wheat flour wherever I see maida, but was worried about the consistency if I use it completely so decided to try a mix for the first time:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup maida
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups milk (I needed to use about 2 tbsp extra maybe because of using ww flour as I found the dough consistency to be not be spreadable until I added some more milk)
1 egg
3 tbsp olive oil (this is the substitution I'm most thrilled about of course :) - I generally use Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil for most of my cooking so the same for this)

Rest of the stuff as in the linked recipe - though I have never understood why I have to make a "well" :). I just mixed it all together in the usual way. I had to spread it a little with the ladle while putting it on the tava, so maybe even a little more milk will make it spread beautifully into a circle while ladling out.

I served it with honey and also tried it with a jaggery solution that is always ready at our place as we use it as a sugar substitute for some things. Both were super :). Thinking of trying maple syrup next, someone please let me know what a good one is - I've usually seen American Garden or something like that in stores I think.

Aparna, Uma - you're going to regret asking me to write more at this rate ;). I'm having ideas and ideas and ideas it seems! A couple more germinating still ;).

I tomas you :)

S, who's generally very clear with his speech, he has been from a very young age, still has just those few mis-pronounciations which always melt my heart, like
"I tomas you I will do that" :).
When asked "Tomas?" he'll immediately correct to "No, no, I said pr-omise only!"

Another one is "prop-el" when he's trying to say "proper" :). This one even D hits me with sometimes - the r ending stuff sounding like l !!

Some of those little pieces of childhood which let us know our children are not yet all that grown up :).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you Thank you Aparna (No, I did not give it to myself!) - this is her of Adventures in Mommyland :). I'm very humbled and feeling a bit hypocritical at the moment, because as of now, forget about versatile blogging, any sort of blogging seems to be far from my reach :(.
But having 2 blog posts before this one in this new year, and both being different topics atleast, makes me feel somewhat better :). A big thank you to my dear mommy blogger friends Aparna and Uma who make me feel missed and made me build up my enthusiasm to write!
The rules are:

1. Nominate 15 fellow Bloggers. No hope for me here, as I'm sure EVERYONE I know has already been nominated for this one, but in case they haven't am putting down a few.
Kiran who just brought out a book "The Reluctant Detective" that I'm dying to get my hands on
Forever Mother whose posts I enjoy thorougly and hasn't written in a long time, I miss your posts!
Rohini who has been on a loooong break from blogging, but just saw a post from you about Kiran's book so I hope you'll take this up.
Obsessive Mom whom I love to read and versatile so describes the range of your posts !

2. Inform the Bloggers of their nomination. Will do soon after posting this!

3. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your Blog Post - It's up there.

4. Share 7 random facts about yourself. Hmmmm....

1. I sing. Pretty decently I've been told. Used to sing on stage in college which was the first time I got over my stage fright! 

2. I hate clearing up! I am always leaving things around the place, and only the thought of trying to teach cleanliness to my children makes me clean up the little that I do. Of course also understanding the logistics of not being able to live among the large piles of stuff that would form in a few days ;).

3. I have recently discovered the joys of eating out of my own garden, even with just the 2 types of vegetables I've grown, it has been an awe inspiring experience. Many more coming up in 2012 hopefully.

4. I hate being interrupted when I'm reading a book. Some people seem to think that I am capable of reading while also having a conversation - No!

5. I love to bake! Something about the exactness of the measures and temperatures and timings of baking recipes appeals to my soul :). Not to mention the sweet results of labour.

6. I am very particular about needing my own space once in a while. If I feel I need a nap, or just some down time on my own to recharge my batteries I'll go ahead and do it without feeling guilty about it :).

7. Mmm... this is getting so tough! Oh yes, I learnt/realized this fact about myself quite recently while giving a medical history - I am more fond of fried foods than of sweets :O !! Can control sweet intake with some talking to myself, but show me a batch of bajjis or french fries or masala vadai and I've put on 2 kilos already ! 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My first brownie :)

I just realized that I have never written about my all time favourite brownie recipe, and for want of something to write about at the moment I thought I might as well throw this one in :). This one makes no attempt at sounding healthy - has a nice amount of butter, sugar, only the maida/flour is low which makes it all the more rich. Don't have more than 1 in a day if you, like me, are forever trying to control your diet!

I started making these when I had just started baking. At that point I was always wondering if I had mixed the baking powder with the flour well enough or if I should have sifted it and so on, so when the recipe said no baking powder I knew I had to try it! It has completely become my no-fail brownie recipe and very good for putting me in a good mood after any other baking mishaps I might have ;).

For some reason I am unable to find the original recipe since I haven't referred to it for a while now(I wrote it down in my little green recipe book long back), so can't link to it. I have the measures in metric as I did not have a cup measure then (Note: this makes my present self who now owns cup measures and spoon measures feel very accomplished ;)).

My lovely new cup and saucer planter from My Sunny Balcony in the background

113 g butter (1/2 cup)
120 g chocolate (think this is equal to 1 cup if using cocoa powder, I've always used the choco slab)
    I used the Morde bar for the first time and wow it looks super
190 g powdered sugar (1 cup)
70 g flour (2/3 cup is the closest I can get - maybe I made a mistake originally)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
2-3 eggs (depending on size)

Edit: Cup measures added

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees C. If you have an oven that seems to overheat, try 180. Prepare the pan (I use a square one) and keep ready.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan on low heat, then keep aside. Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla together for 10 mins on high speed (This is to make up for the baking powder, supposed to add all the air that you need :)). Then add the chocolate mixture and the flour with salt until just mixed (don't remove too much air!).

Pour into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Wait until cooled and cut into squares. Don't try to invert like a cake (I did that the first time!), just cut and scoop out the pieces. This amount makes about 16 one inch squares which don't last too long ;).

Saturday, January 07, 2012

And 2012 is here already!

I must be one of the last but here I am at last - Haaappy Neewww Year !! :). I've been thinking over the year and how it has gone for us, so here's a round-up!

Damita joined a "big" school and has adapted so nicely. I was worried about so many things - the early start, the school bus travel, and so on and so forth. But I can honestly say I am the one moaning more about the early mornings than she is ;) - I am so proud! She does her homework with just a bit of reminding ;) and mostly by herself, she gets ready nearly all by herself in the morning, overall she's well on the way to becoming a big girl! She goes for Karate classes as well as Carnatic Vocal ones and is enjoying both so I'm quite happy with the choices. And she's making a big effort to speak more in Tamizh - I feel so thrilled when she wakes up in the morning and says "Time enna?" :). We have our wars and battles, but I try to remember that I'm about 30 years older than she is, and that usually calms me down ;).

Shehan is enjoying his Montessori school as much as ever - he has started writing at school this year which was a big milestone! Even if one child has already gone through it, the process can be a revelation all over again :). Some stuff that I don't remember Damita having problems with, he struggles with, and then others that I'm expecting him to take time with, he just breezes through ! He had his second stage performance at his school Parents Day and did a wonderful job, considering how sad I was about it the previous year :). Other than that he's a big-time socializer which is a surprize to me as he definitely doesn't get it from me ;). The terrible threes for him have been mainly to do with stubbornness, which he mostly gets away with because of his charm (He knows to come and give you a hug and kiss when you are angry!), but we are trying to be stricter atleast most of the time :).

They both learn the good and the bad from each other so sometimes I don't know which traits came from whom :).

On my side, 2011 has been a big revelation for me about the Green scene in Bangalore. It started with trying to get tips on gardening through Facebook groups, and it went so much beyond. I've been composting since September, and also have the beginnings of a kitchen garden. It's all going to get bigger and better in 2012 :). Other than that the tussle of "If" I should think of finding a flexi-time job continues (as in the minds of most SAHMs I think!), but I am just too content with my life as it is to think more than fleetingly about this :). It's only the thought of having worked for 7 years, and now my break nearly going to be 7 years long which gnaws at me sometimes! Let's see if 2012 brings any new revelations on this front.

P.S.: I found that most of my resolutions had nothing much to do with mommyhood so those coming up on my other blog soon for those who read it ;).