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Wednesday, November 28, 2012


A bunch of us bloggers have noticed that you have listed our blogs and have been copying our entire posts on to your site for which we neither signed up nor gave explicit permission. Hence would appreciate if you could stop doing that and take our blogs off your site ASAP.
Consider this a gentle reminder from our end..for now.
We may not be so gentle the next time, for this is a serious issue of copyright violation..
Thank you.
All of us

Bread Blogathon contd - Healthy Bread in 5

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is by the authors Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, who also wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minute a Day. The concept of this book is to use a lot more of whole grains in the recipes, and as my quest has been to figure out that perfect whole wheat bread, I had to pick this one up!

After a weeks of dilly dallying, I tried the first recipe at last during the last week. What makes these recipes even more doable for me is the fact that these are no-knead recipes! I have a few issues with my neck, which make it really tough to do the usual "knead to window" kind of recipes :(. Well the results of my first trial were pretty pretty decent, so I thought I should put it down here. I will put down the basic proportions and details, but not the complete recipe as-is from the book, as I'm not sure if that would involve any violations. In case anyone reading has any specific doubts that I might have missed out, do ask away and I'll try to clarify.

This is from what they call the Master Recipe, which makes enough for 4 free form loaves, or 2 loaves of Sandwich bread.

Whole Wheat Flour - 5 1/2 cups

All purpose flour - 2 cups

Granulated yeast - 1 1/2 tbsp (I used instant yeast, so reduced the quantity to 75%)

Salt - 1 tbsp

Vital Wheat Gluten - 1/4 cup

Lukewarm water - 4 cups

Cornflour or parchment paper for the pizza peel

1 - 2 tbsp of whole seed mixture like sesame for sprinkling on top

The 5 minutes that is a part of the title of the book refers to the preparation time that you actually need to spend before baking a loaf. It really is an accurate claim, much to my surprise!

Mix all ingredients mentioned up to the water, using a wooden stick, no kneading required at all. Only mix until everything comes together well. Use the mixing bowl itself, or a large container with enough space for the rise, and leave it out for 2 hours until the mixture has doubled in size and nearly started to collapse or flatten on top. Now put it in the refrigerator and leave it to "develop flavour". This dough can be refrigerated for up to 14 days, and it is recommended to at least leave it overnight before your first loaf. For the first 48 hours in the fridge, leave the lid open a crack, so that any gases formed can escape easily.

I was most satisfied with my sandwich loaf, so that is what I will be describing here. The book recommends using only non-stick pans but I used a normal metal/aluminium one with no problems at all. The shaping involved for this loaf is also supposed to be a very quick exercise not involving more than 20-30 seconds of work else the dough will get overworked. For the "Hearty Whole Wheat Sandwich loaf" remove 2 pounds of dough and quickly shape into an oval shape. Stretch it out a bit and put it into the prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour 45 minutes.

For most other recipes, a baking stone is recommended but it is not strictly necessary when you are using a loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (for at least a half hour if using the baking stone). Put in a broiler tray at any level that would not interfere with the rising bread - this is used for forming that great crust with the steam that is generated. Just before baking, paint the top with water and make diagonal cuts on the top. Sprinkle the seeds if required and bake for 40-45 minutes. Pour 1 cup of water in the broiler tray if using that method just before closing the oven door.

Phew!! Hope that all made sense, let me know if I missed out any details. In my oven I also use an aluminium foil over the top after the halfway mark as the loaves get blackened/burnt on top otherwise.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How to teach your kids to be independent ;)

Does anyone out there feel like kids nowadays seem to get coddled and protected a whole lot more than we used to? I know I am guilty of this behaviour too, for example, I refuse to let my kids go "out" on the road in front of home - I have no trust in their road sense, and especially no trust in the driving sense of those on the road (Ok that's a whole new post, in fact I wrote one a while back about road rules)!!

In wondering about what all we can do to make our kids more confident and independent, I realized I'm already doing a little bit, here goes:
  1. D has been having her own bath since she was less than 5 years old. Started out not so efficient of course, but in a few months she started doing a very good job of it! My present task at 7 years, is to see if that shampoo wash can also be shifted off my shoulders ;).
  2. S insisted on having his bath nearly from the time he was 4, thanks to seeing his older sis do it. I protested initially, but then decided to try it out. So this means that some patches don't get washed on a daily basis, and I also get a call of "Amma! Has the soap gone from my back?" everyday, but I can live with that.
  3. I refuse to "do" any of my kid's homework, definitely not writing anything for them and even to the extent of not telling them any answers that they can work out for themselves. The occasional distress call for Hindi homework by D has to be answered though I try to push it to the limit by making her come up with as many words as possible before helping out.
  4. In the hope of teaching them to clean up, I will remind them 10 times(10th at the top of my voice of course!) but not put away their stuff myself. Of course hubby says I don't set a very good example as I don't put away even my own stuff, but that's a whole different story ;).
  5. D & S both started wearing their own clothes as early as they were able to, and now D's clothes are at her level so she can choose them herself. The part about not pulling out the one at the bottom of the pile to lead to an avalanche, she is yet to learn :). And I learnt how difficult it was to try to teach kids to wear underwear that doesn't have a design on the front of it - S holds it up and checks with me every time I give him one of these - "Is this correct?" - before putting it on.
  6. The eating category is a bit more of a challenge, with D starting to eat on her own around 4 years - she used to spend hours at it, but now she's quite a pro! S is definitely leading us more of a dance, with his response to "Let's see who finishes first!" being "I can't eat SO fast!" and opting out of the competition in the first place ;).
Hehehe.. so you see the trend - more independent kids -> More "ME" time ;). Any more "how to make them independent" ideas out there, do leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The rest of the Goa Holiday

Yes, I titled it before starting, am determined to finish it off in this one ;).

Day 3 started with a visit to the Pascoale Spice Village. It is not really a plantation, more a tourist attraction of organically grown spices as a demonstration. We also had an organic meal here.

Here's a feni making arrangement:

This gentleman very smilingly climbed the trees to demonstrate, he actually leaped from one tree to the next amidst our holding our breaths :).

The famed peri-peri chilly which is supposed to a be a super-spicy variety. We had a papad made with this chilly for lunch and boy, was it hot!! I couldn't even finish a half papad.

I also visited their nursery (of course!) and picked up a couple of plants there.

Drove around a bit in the afternoon, and decided to try an early dinner with some relaxed beers at Martin's Corner, but found that the place opened only by 6:30. So instead of twiddling our thumbs, we got the car washed at this quaintly situated car wash in the middle of nowhere, who did a very efficient job at Rs. 150!

Some lovely tilework outside Martin's Corner
Day 4 started with a visit to Ancestral Goa also known as BigFoot at Loutolim, Goa. It is a museum that has illustrations of life in Goa in the early days, and is very well organized with recorded audio guides for each exhibit. Here's D  posing pretty:

Lunch was at a well recommended restaurant called Fernando's Nostalgia that was also in Loutolim, and then back to the resort for our last evening in Goa.

Signing off with a photo at our resort beach on our last evening at Goa:

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Goa Holiday - Part II

So it was Day 2 at Goa, and I found to my surprise that most things we wanted to see were faaar away! Yes my research wasn't perfect it seems, I had looked for places to see, but left the google maps part for later so that was a bit of a bummer. We were in the Club Mahindra Varca Beach resort which is nearly as south as it goes in Goa, and a lot of the sightseeing and beaches were in North Goa.

We set out with Apple maps for support (not much help!) but finally managed to be on our way to the Basilica of Bom Jesus that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Very picturesque and lovely architecture, it is also famous as it holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier.

Candles lit with wishes and prayers and thanksgiving

The lovely view of the outside of the basilica

Lunch was at a restaurant called O Coqueiro which is famous as the place the notorious Charles Sobhraj used to frequent and got arrested at! We tried a couple of Goan specialties, but it was the kid's sizzler that was the best of the lot :)!

Fascinated by the ceiling fixtures once more ;)

Next stop was the Fort Aguada, of Dil Chahta Hai fame, which was every bit as picturesque as I remembered. Going up the steep (though short flight of) steps reminded me of how much I needed exercise, but the view after climbing was totally worth it!

We quickly touched upon a couple of North Goa beaches as I was getting very doubtful of heading back in that direction in the next couple of days. The first was Anjuna, which was a rocky beach (unless we missed some part of it). We missed the famous Anjuna flea market though I had been looking forward to it, as when I was browsing around I found that it was only on Wednesday evenings (and to expect to drive that additional 40+ kms when we had just arrived in Goa was definitely overkill). D was not happy with the climbing over rocks bit, and complaining about "why we had to go to a rocky beach, why not a normal beach?!" :).

And then she was happy to reach Calangute! Picturesque all right, though quite crowded as expected in holiday season.

And that was the end of a long Day 2 :).