Archive for July, 2013

Vani’s Eating Better Challenge and Garden Update

Last week I passed by Mysoorean and saw that Vani had been reading my mind; she had embarked upon an Eating Better Challenge.

Here I am to join you Vani, and wishing you a Happy Blog Birthday! πŸ™‚

Today, my breakfast was sabudana khichdi based on Nupur’s recipe. My lunch was the leftover palya from the Fasting Dosa Experiment (and seriously, no dosa from my kitchen need apply, the filling was better than the wrap!). I had both while manning the front desk of a lovely little hotel — the first day I was not tempted by the bagels and cream cheese served up for b’fast there! πŸ˜‰

Tonight I am making ISG’s kollu paruppu chutney and rasam. This is so delicious that I routinely keep a quantity of the special rasam powder in my freezer πŸ™‚

No photos of the above, as I worked late last night only to return first thing this morning. No rest for the weary in my new life! Tomorrow is a coveted day off so I can photograph at leisure; hopefully I will get some things prepared ahead to carry with me the rest of the week.

The little garden in the north woods is coming along in spite of cooler temps last week.

chard tomatillos 72713
chard and yellow tomatillos finally taking off ~ those are little carrot seedlings to the left!

little corn patch
the little corn patch towers over various pepper plants, with cherry tomatoes growing tall on the near side

cukes growing on teepees
cucumber vines climbing homemade teepees ~ poles beans to the right

lebanese zucchini
these lovely lebanese squash plants are among my favorite things in the garden ~ already bearing fruit but too small to pick…maybe tomorrow?! hopefully these are similar to the korean grey squash I grew so fond of ~ dear h-mart, please build a store in the north woods! πŸ™‚

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Along The Mohawk Trail ~ Moving Home Part Two (plus Upvas Fasting Mix Dosa)

Continuing this little story, we set off from New Hampshire on a rainy morning, and drove south into Massachusetts. Turning west, we picked up the historic Mohawk Trail. Avoiding the highway was best for kitties and driver alike; we made several stops along the way. The first was Erving, a small town in western Mass. Like many such towns, it lives alongside the railroad.

small town america
small town in western massachusetts

cute little stop on day one
cute little antique and lunch spot in erving

cargo piles
various piles of cargo along the railway at erving

We ventured off the Trail to visit the hamlet of Shelburne Falls, home of glacial potholes. Here, the Deerfield River tumbles over a dam at Salmon Falls. As it was early spring, there was plenty of runoff. My photos did not capture a pothole. Still, it was a sight to see, all that water — and a pretty little town in the foothills of the Berkshires to boot.

salmon falls viewing platform
salmon falls and glacial potholes at shelburne falls

salmon falls plaque
history of the spot

salmon falls tumbling over dam
the deerfield river tumbling down to the potholes creates plenty of white water

deerfield river runs on
deerfield river racing out of the potholes to join the connecticut river, then onward to the atlantic

Continuing from that small detour, we arrived at the famous hairpin turn coming down into North Adams. Of course there are myriad hairpin turns in the world — the thing about this one is that you don’t expect it unless you have heard of it, and if you haven’t traveled in the western part of Massachusetts, you probably wouldn’t have. This turn seems to spring up out of nowhere and affords some lovely views!

hairpin turn at north adams ~ rainy day
hairpin turn at north adams ~ rainy road

view from siding at hairpin turn
view from the side of the hairpin turn

view into the valley at the hairpin turn
view into the valley at the hairpin turn

in the clouds at the hairpin turn
*in* the clouds at the hairpin turn

The rest of the drive was too rainy to stop for photos. We continued off the beaten path, until NY Route 7 carried us across the Hudson River via the Collar City Bridge. Faced with the outskirts of Albany, we stopped for the night. Kitties were mighty perplexed, as you can see.

miss daisy pretending to hide
miss daisy trying to hide under a bed, only there was no ‘under’ — just a platform base

mr pinks ventures forth for supper
pinkie ventures forth from the closet — supper is of utmost importance to pinks πŸ˜‰

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Upvas Fasting Mix Dosa ~ An Experiment

One thing I knew I would miss in moving away from a major metropolitan area was the *shopping* — food shopping to be more precise — my favorite haunts for Indian and other Asian groceries, to be exact! To comfort myself, I stocked up on numerous items. For example, I am probably good on methi seeds and Korean chili powder for the next oh, 20 years or so πŸ˜‰

upvas fasting mix
fasting mix ~ has anyone used this??

I purchased this Upvas Fasting Mix by Deep Foods. I had NO idea what to do with it, but it was inexpensive, came in a small package, and looked too good to pass up (yep, I am a sucker for marketing — and I know it). Just look at that green, serene figure meditating on the lovely light-colored flour, bathed in yellow sunlight. You just *know* something good will happen to you if you cook with this, right? Right! Maybe you’ll find inner peace — maybe you will create WORLD peace! Yep, that’s me… a dreamer to the end.

Shortly prior to moving, I visited King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT with my good friend A. There, I purchased a sourdough starter and carried it to Michigan in the cooler. When I landed, I fed the starter and made two batches — one for me and one for dear G. Now that I am here in the new little home, there is no need for two starters — today we combined them into one and freshened it up.

The fascinating fasting mix moved with me amongst the other goodies, all the way to the north woods. I searched and searched for a way to use it. This morning I found a recipe on Deep’s website. Rather than fried bread (that would negate all that good stuff that fasting is supposed to do, right?), I decided to try dosai with the freshened sourdough.

potato masala for dosai

To make dosai, a cupful of starter went into a bowl, along with a cup of that Upvas Fasting Mix and about 1 1/2 cups of water. Happily, after an hour or so, the neglected starter came to life and the dosa batter bubbled. I added only a pinch of salt before cooking. The dosai came out as mine usually do — looking like a mess!

fasting mix dosa
looks iffy ~ tastes great!

I added a bit more water to the very last of the batter for a ‘paper dosa’…

paper dosa with fasting mix
crispy super-thin paper dosa from fasting mix

They all tasted properly dosai-ish nonetheless, and I am happy to know the sourdough is working yet. A simple potato palya (modeled after this lovely recipe of Prema’s) with plenty of onion was the filling, and that was my supper for work tonight.

And whew, the work day is over and so is this post πŸ™‚

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Beggie Subzi and Moving Home ~ Part One

backyard wildlife sanctuary
not so uncommon in the new home ~ a doe wanders into the back yard in search of supper…

Some of you may know that I dreamed of moving to Michigan for a long time. There was a long period during which much of my and the kids’ immediate futures were out of our control (nobody was hurt physically; suffice to say that a few missteps made by another person affected one and all).

The house was sold last fall. Kids, kitties and I spent quite a few months in a period of transition.

Here then, is the serialised synopsis of the story!

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Packing up the house was quite a little job πŸ˜‰

kitchen chaos

the kitchen halfway through packing

If my favorite place in the old house was the kitchen; my favorite part of the kitchen was the ‘wall of fame’. From the time the kids were small, I would periodically stand them against the wall next to the cellar door and measure their height. This grew to include the heights of random friends and family who happened to pass by.

A quirky bit to be sure, but then, I have always let the kids write on the walls πŸ˜‰

wall of fame

wall of fame

Once the last box was packed and on the moving van, the m’n m’s and kitties and I relocated to the hometel. We made it a merry Christmas in spite of generic surroundings. Home is where the heart is, indeed! We had alot of fun with the luggage cart, which m dubbed the ‘awkward turtle’ when we used it to haul groceries upstairs!

awkward turtle grocery cart
m and the awkward turtle full of propel and other groceries ~ hallway of the hometel

hometel xmas

Christmas at the hometel ~ note kitties and decorations ~ random cooking show on HGTV! πŸ˜‰

After the new year, we celebrated m’s 21st birthday with the usual popcorn fanfare…

smartfood surprise

note car full of smartfood popcorn and laughing kids ~ hooray for birthday surprises!

In late winter, with M successfully installed in his first very own apartment (!!) and m settled back at college after winter break, the kitties and I moved up to NH to stay with my dear friend S.

You may recall S from my New Year’s Feast a while back πŸ™‚

kitties at dear S's home
kitties relaxing at dear S’s place

We enjoyed S’s incredible hospitality until mid-April; when the uncertainty of the past two years was finally resolved and it was time to take a leap of faith! Dear G flew out to drive home with the kitties and me. Before leaving New England, we took a little trip to the White Mountains.

Franconia Notch State Park
beautiful Franconia Notch State Park

Here, the Pemigewasset River tumbles through the woods to a magical place called The Basin.

basin
the basin ~ a natural wonder!

Continuing north, we passed by Sugar Hill, home of some locally renowned cheddar cheese. If you visit, you will be greeted by friendly folks offering up samples galore… yum!

harmanscheese
country store and post office in sugar hill, nh

From Sugar Hill, the road winds down before turning up again towards the White Mountains.

view of white mtns from sugar hill
view of the white mountains from the road out of sugar hill

bretton woods
the historic Mount Washington Hotel (now an Omni property… kind of sad)

high wind haven!
close up of the Mount Washington Observatory ~ some of the highest wind gusts in the world have been recorded here!

Snow was still on the ground when we arrived back to dear S’s place in the early morning. Bags were packed and waiting; we loaded my most precious earthly treasures (can’t even count the kids in here — they are just *out of this world*!!) into the little Subaru.

The kitties went in last, not entirely pleased with me…

much meowling
the kitties doth protest!

… and that very day we wound our way south from New Hampshire to northern Massachusetts, to pick up the Mohawk Trail which would take us into New York State.

But that is for part two. On to the beggie subzi!

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beggie carrot
rutabaga and carrot

The humble rutabaga usually makes its appearance on the autumn and winter table in the form of “mashed beggies” or as an integral part of pasty filling. This brassica can have a pleasantly bitter taste which is much improved with long cooking and liberal doses of butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper — the way it’s been dressed for Thanksgiving as long as I can remember.

Here in the north woods, I am learning all over again what it means to make do with what’s in the fridge. I had a hankering for pumpkin subzi, but there’s no room for new veggies ’till the old ones are gone. No worries, there’s a beggie here! I made pumpkin subzi with a rutabaga. This is probably not a traditional Indian dish, but with a little imagination it worked out beautifully. Carrots add sweetness, while fennel gives the dish a subtle something special that can’t be defined.

This is simple as can be — takes awhile, but well worth it πŸ™‚

Beggie Subzi

For veggies:

1 medium rutabaga (beggie, swede, yellow turnip), peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

beggies and carrots
rutabaga and carrot ~ roughly chopped

For tadka/seasoning:

2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 black cardamom

1 TB ginger-garlic paste
1 small red onion, diced

Optional seasoning:

1/2 tsp methi powder
1 TB Kitchen King (I like MHD) or your favorite masala

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On medium, heat oil in a heavy pot, when hot splutter mustard, add cumin, fennel and black cardamom and stir one minute. Add gg paste and cook a couple of minutes, then add onion and cook till it begins to soften. Lower heat and add ‘beggie’ and carrot chunks, stir to coat with spices and cook over low heat 4-5 min. Add 1 c water, raise back to medium heat, cover and cook approx. 60 min, checking every 10 min or so, until veggies have softened. Add optional masala powders if using, stirring to mix well. Add another cup of water and cook until veggies are completely soft. This may take another 60 min, or less if you’re in the kitchen watching the stove closely.

When veggies are soft and liquid is almost absorbed, mash roughly and serve with rice or any bread.

beggie subzi
beggie subzi with rice ~ simple craving satisfied!

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Out Of The Michigan Garden!

Hello dear friends!

Much water has flowed under the bridge since I was last able to write a real post. Probably enough to fill Lake Superior! Well, maybe not quite πŸ˜‰ The kitties and I have finally landed in Michigan — the beautiful north woods — and I am busy in a very good way. Would you believe me if I told you that most of my old house is packed up in storage, but my prized boxes and bags of spices and dals and all things yummy are sitting in the new home as I type!?

Here in the cool of the north is a patch of sunlight in which the new garden luxuriates under the hardwoods.

I wish you all as much happiness and contentment as the last few months have brought me… and now without further ado, the Michigan garden!

the little garden in the north woods
pea vines and corn patch

garden
lots of tomatoes and cucumbers ~ herb patch in the back

amish paste tomato
amish paste tomato ~ an heirloom variety

sweet 100 cherry tomatoes
cherry tomatoes ~ sweet 100s

corn patch, sunflowers and peppers
corn patch, with myriad hot and sweet peppers to the fore

yummy brinjals
ichiban (rear) and fairytale (front) eggplants ~ hooray for brinjal!

herb patch
the herb patch ~ sweet and thai basil, sage, oregano, dill, fennel (we hope!), cilantro, and methi methi methi!

lebanese squash plants
lebanese squash from seeds of india ~ the seeds were three years old and germinated like a dream

methi methi methi
that lovely methi!

chanchal okra
more older seeds popping up ~ the ever-reliable chanchal okra

sunflowers
the little patch of sunflowers lives behind the corn patch

tomatillos
something new to try ~ tomatillos! this variety supposedly ripens yellow

tomatillo husk tomato
tomatillos are also called husk tomatoes; the husk grows first, then the fruit forms inside!

cukes and beans
straight eight cukes and a variety of pole beans ~ including horticultural beans of succotash fame, and some long beans from seeds of india

It’s so exciting to try a garden in the *ground* as opposed to on the deck. Old habits die hard, however — I still have some eggplants in pots, as well as one golden jubilee tomato ~ we’ll see how they fare up here!

A few last scenes from the new homeplace…

front yard
the front yard complete with bird feeder, bird pond, and woodpile ready to be stacked properly for winter use

country road in northern michigan
the view from the mailbox down a country road ~ how happy could I be!

daisy in a woodbox
daisy in a woodbox

welcome!
welcome to my new little home in the north woods!

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