Monday, July 5, 2010

Stop and smell the roses

Life is so busy, days fly by so fast... I want to hold on tight and not let go to each and every moment.... let it marinate... hold my babies and let them stay young and little and in my lap forever. But time is fleeting.... and it is always night before I know it.
We have rose bushes all along our driveway. And when I am getting into the car, or coming home.. I always make it a point to stop and smell the roses.We have red, pink, white.. all beautiful.. all fragrant... I stopped to smell a yellow rose, and closed my eyes. I inhaled deeply.. fully in the present moment, lingering for some time. Then a bee reached my nostril...Whoa. I jerked back as it flew away.. whew, close one....
Lesson learned... Always stop and smell the roses... but not for too long :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let them eat cake!

Last night I baked a cake for my dad's birthday... Vegan gluten free double layer chocolate.... Don't let the description fool you... It was delicious! What is it about baking a cake that is so therapeutic? From the moment I get out the bowl, I can't help but smile.. My son always lends a hand (I know he is in it for the spoon lickin') It just feels joyful! And as the cake bakes and that sweet smell fills the air.. the praise begins! My entire family could not eat enough... or thank me enough.... And it was GOOD. And easy! I always forget how fun the entire process is, I think I will bake another one next week :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

the garden

Oh glorious garden!! It is my first ever!! I decided to do a raised bed garden because I have dogs, kids, and a hard, hard ground, and I figured it was the best plan... It was very easy, and turned out more affordable than I thought.. I just googled "How to make a raised bed garden" and set my mind to it! My lovely man helped build it for mothers day, while I cooked pizza for everyone... and I quickly planted all of the baby sprouts I had grown.... Kale, chard, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet peppers, lettuce, spinach and pumpkins. Only one chard plant survived :( But everything else is growing well! After about 2 weeks with our 8ft by 4 ft garden, we added another 4 by 4 and planted already bought herbs... parsley, oregano, rosemary and basil.... It is so nice to just run outside and grab some herbs when I am cooking dinner... I always send my 3 yr. old out to get some... and he is a happy helper. As you can see in the 2nd picture, with my little barely walking baby cruising by, the garden is becoming massive!! And I am starting to eat from it.. lettuce everyday for our sandwiches, and tomatoes! Thinking of frying green tomatoes and squash blossoms like my mom made when I was a little girl.... I have been lucky so far... no pests, no bugs, no yellow dying plants..... I am very new at gardening.. and quickly realized I planted my zucchini plants too close together.. they are all crowded, so now I know for next year... and I am tilling the garden every other day to keep the soil nice and loose. And learning as I go....

Channa Masala recipe

This Indian dish is very popular in restaurants- it is also a part of a lot of street foods in Indian. A lot of my friends ask me how to make it -and usually my response is that it is quite labor intensive and they definitely need either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Reluctantly, I decided to test a recipe with canned chickpeas, especially since I have always made the dish with dry ones.... the reactions were less than enthusiastic. The problem with using canned chickpeas and cooking the dish without a pressure cooker is that the onion mixture leaves an unpleasant raw flavor that lingers on your palate. Besides cooking the chickpeas through, the pressure cooker softens the onion, ginger and garlic really well and the rawness of the vegetables is changed to a very mild creamy flavor. I was not sure how to achieve that without cooking the heck out of the dish! Recently a friend brought to my attention a recipe for Chana Punjabi in the New York Times.

I decided to use shallots (they have a milder flavor – and so the unpleasant raw flavor of the onions was removed) instead of onions and added roasted onions in addition. Roasted onions are onions cooked or roasted down with some flavorings and flour- I found them in Ikea of all places. They are great to use in gravies and curries- essentially where ever you want to give a slow and long cooked flavor. They really did the trick! The dry spices give the dish the depth of flavor I was looking for. I used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh since they tend have the tangy flavor which is quite prevalent in the dish. Also, when served in restaurants or on Delhi streets, the chickpeas have almost a dark coffee color. Someone told me to add a bag of black tea to the dish while cooking- the tea leaves give it the dark color. The consistency can be adjusted by adding a lot of liquid or very little. I usually keep the consistency somewhere in the middle- especially since my husband likes to eat it with rice and I prefer naan.

* 2 can chickpeas
* 3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1 half inch cinnamon stick
* 4 cloves
* 1 bay leaf
* 3 medium shallots
* 3 cloves garlic
* 2 inches ginger
* 1/3 cup roasted onions (sold in Whole Foods as well as Ikea)
* ½ cup canned chopped tomatoes
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon coriander powder
* ½ teaspoon turmeric
* ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon garam masala
* 3 cups veggie broth
* 1 tea bag (black tea)
* ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Process shallots, garlic and ginger into a fine mixture. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Saute till the spices begin to sizzle. Add the shallot mixture and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the baked onions. Saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth, bring to boil and add the chickpeas. Add the salt, coriander powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and garam masala. Add the tea bag, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium low, making sure the liquid is simmering. Cook for 20 minutes. Bring the liquid to a boil and evaporate till the dish reaches wanted consistency- mash some chickpeas and mix into the rest- this makes the dish creamier. Check for seasoning. Garnish with cilantro.