Archive for February, 2008

In Memory of Pedatha


“The water is wide, I cannot get o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat, that will carry two
And both shall row, my love and I … ”

~ originally an old Scots song


Beauty lingers long after the sun has set…


In memory of Pedatha.

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Sunny Side Up

palappam, sunny side up
a spot of springtime in February~ palappam ~ sunny side up
served on a canary-yellow twisted optic plate by Imperial Glass, circa 1927

The photo above is my entry for Click ~ Flour over at Jugalbandi,
home of multi-talented and sweet souls Bee and Jai.


It’s been a lonnnnnng winter.

Today the thermometer stretched its weary wings and nearly touched 60F.

And the skies opened.

No time to feel dreary due to rain, thanks to holidays from work and school. Instead, there was time to play at whatever we chose. For me of course, it was in the kitchen. Yes, this warm spring-like day was a welcome respite, however brief, however soggy; a happy reminder of more good things to come in the spring sunshine. The sun even made an appearance while I was taking pics — surely a good omen 😉

sunny-side palappam, reversed
the flip side

Long ago while blog-hopping, I came across a plate of beautiful palappams at Memories and Meals. In her post, Nav told of the sun making a long-awaited appearance, inspiring her to hop up and make the soft cakes.
Then she asked “Do you want to make them too”?.

“Of course I want to make them! But I hardly dare…” I said.

Nav replied so kindly, encouraging me. And oh, how I wanted to make them! Somehow I could never get up the courage to attempt it. I always remembered her kind words, and every so often I went back to gaze at the beautiful palappams — wishing I didn’t feel so intimidated by a bowl full of ground rice and coconut.

Oh, I had all the excuses. I didn’t have a mixie to grind rice. I didn’t have a chatti. Blah, blah. Let’s face it — I was a palappam dropout before I began! I got so worked up about it, I couldn’t bring myself to try. It seemed the fluffy snow-white palappams were destined to remain a delicacy untasted.

Now, year and a half later, I am not so timid (read: I have learned to actually *follow* a recipe, at least the first time!). I have a new mixie.
A few weeks ago I found a bag of roasted rice flour from Kerala, and an ‘appam chatti’ — a small, deep, non-stick frying pan I spotted at Home Goods. The rice flour saved me tackling the soaking and grinding that I tend to fear (not having made a decent dosa yet, when beginning from scratch like that!).

Having the flour on hand, I followed Gini’s super-easy palappam recipe. The only change I made was to use ‘lite’ coconut milk. I don’t have basis for comparison, but the batter rose like a charm.

I was so excited!

The ‘chatti’ worked perfectly ~ a quick swipe with an oiled paper towel and the palappams literally slid out onto the plate.

Did I mention I was so excited about these!

ta daa ~ a bright day indeed, with palappam!

creamy and rich, perfect with palappams ~ shn’s eshtu

Shn’s eshtu ~ perfect with palappams

To go with the palappams, I made Shn’s creamy-rich potato stew.
Again, I followed her recipe almost to the letter — the only change I made was to add a healthy measure of freshly cracked black pepper just before I turned off the stove. The combination was out-of-this-world fantastic — thanks so much Gini and Shn! And thanks to you dear Nav, wherever you are — I never would have tried palappams without you! 🙂

palappams and eshtu
palappams with eshtu ~ for sunshine on a rainy day


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Misal Supper ~ The Real Thing!

warm and inviting ~ misal supper on a chilly winter evening

Before Nupur showcased The A-Z of Indian Vegetables, she did a fascinating series entitled The A-Z of Marathi Food. When I happened upon that series long ago, one of the many delights that intrigued me was her fabulous Usal/Misal.

I always wanted to try it. Now as a most fortunate caretaker of genuine Kolhapuri Masala, I finally got that chance.

I have to mention that this was a very difficult dish to photograph. The aroma was so beguiling… every time I took a shot I had to stop and take a bite. Just imagine:

Aim, shoot, dip spoon, munch, smooth out spooned spot… aim, shoot, dip, munch, rearrange… you get the picture 😉

misal again
how could I resist tasting this!

I followed Nupur’s recipe exactly, using the updated masala paste method recommended by her mom (and thanks to secret santa, mixie makes such short work of that grinding!). I skipped onion in the actual sprouts mixture, since the paste had plenty of onion. The sprouts, with potatoes and peanuts swimming in their fragrant broth, were delicious enough on their own. With the simple accompaniments of onion and cilantro, yogurt and lemon, the entire dish took on a whole new dimension. This is something about Indian food that never ceases to amaze me: how the addition of a few simple complementary flavors transforms a dish.

For me with this misal, the squeeze of fresh lemon provided the “perfect harmony”!

Needless to say I didn’t waste much time with the camera. Just took a couple quick pics and then gobbled up the subject! Thank you again for the wonderful masala, Nupur. I know I’ll be making this often 🙂

even more misal
the whole spread, redolent with the rich aroma of kolhapuri masala

I’m not much of a Coke fan, but the kids tug at my heartstrings ~ are you old enough to remember this? 😉

Last but not least, a little something for you ISG — get well soon! 🙂

kollu rasam and chutney
what goes around comes around ~ sending ISG’s healing
kollu rasam and chutney
back to her!

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Spring Fever

a lighthouse stands watch over an isolated shore of Lake Superior ~
where the only footprints in the sand are yours…

Some people get winter blues — I call it spring fever, and because of it I’ve had a few weeks of ‘everything block’.

For some reason spring fever hit hard this year. Perhaps it’s lack of sunshine, or Michigan-time, or perhaps it’s only me, growing old — my baby girl turned sixteen just a few days ago!

sweet 16
happy birthday, sweet sixteen!

I can’t begin to say how much I have missed my little blogging hobby; tossing things around in the kitchen and taking a few quick snaps to toss up here online. Then hurrying around to visit you all and marvel at the creations I want to try next!

But enough of that — age is a state of mind and I’m not ready to be old yet 😉

To rescue me from my pity-party, a lovely package arrived on Friday.
Dear Nupur, I can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful, beautiful gifts!
Just look at the treats that came my way… am I lucky or what 🙂

treats from near and far
treats from near and far ~ fragrant homemade dry peanut chutney and kolhapuri masala from Nupur’s kitchen, and beautiful little shell toothpicks from Goa!

This was just the nudge I needed to get back into the kitchen.
Needless to say, I am sprouting some matki for an authentic usal/misal dinner, complete with authentic Kolhapuri masala!

While waiting for the sprouts, I tried my hand at rice bread — the only homemade bread I remember from my mother’s kitchen. Mom herself provided the recipe, and the bread came out great. I had to adapt a little to make it work for me — so proportions are not law:

Mom’s Old-Fashioned Rice Bread
Makes one big sandwich loaf or a smaller loaf and rolls

3 c cooked rice, warm
3 TB margarine
3 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c milk, scalded and cooled to warm
2 pkgs yeast (or 5 TB dry bulk yeast)

3-5 c flour

Vegetable oil for rising and greasing pans

Margarine or butter for brushing


Dissolve yeast in cooled milk. Stir well and let sit 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix margarine, sugar and salt into warm rice. Add yeast/milk mixture and stir well to combine. Knead in flour one cup at a time. You may require more or less flour. It is important to mix in one cup at a time.

Knead until dough is moderately stiff. This is a difficult dough to knead. The cooked rice provides some moisture but don’t be afraid to add more liquid if necessary. The rice will break up in the kneading.

Once the dough is workable, remove to a bread board or counter and knead vigorously for 8-10 minutes, until smooth. It will take some muscle, and you will still see bits of rice poking out.

rice bread dough
rice bread dough before first rise

Place kneaded dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let rise about one hour. Punch down and form into loaf or loaves, and/or rolls. Place in oiled baking pans and cover with clean cloth. Let rise another hour.

rice bread dough 2
rice bread dough after first rise

Bake at 400 F for 30-40 minutes.

rice bread
rice bread and rolls ~ warm from the oven


A day of birdwatching…

little daisy takes in the scene from the sofa at the picture window

goldie in flight
goldfinch taking off…

goldies sparring
sparring for position…

goldie landing
coming in for a landing…

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