Archive | Baking RSS feed for this section

154: Snapshots So Far

3 Jun

Some experiences are best described without words. 

Here are some of mine so far, and I’m letting these pictures do all the talking. 

Banana chips and post-dinner conversations


Saris, dosas, window shopping in Commercial Street.

Friday afternoons with family and these eyes

Impromptu visits, conversations, and homemade fish fry and prawn curry meals

Sunny, windy, shade-laden walks under these gentle giants

Andhra meals, laughter, and bubbly fresh lime sodas

Relaxing with baking

151: Magical May

31 May

Here’s what it’s been like in pictures. 

Hot. 

Relaxing. 

Experimental. 

Filled with debauchery. 


And just plain amazing!

149: A Day In The Lives Of Most Of Us

29 May

I woke up very early for a Sunday. Given that I had to go in to work as well, it felt oddly fine to get out of bed before 7am; after all, there’d just be more time to do the things I’d wanted to do. Sunday mornings, according to me, ought to be spent savouring the best the weekend has to offer – it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s pleasant, it’s the calm you need before the rush of yet another week begins. Therefore, in order for my Sunday to be perfect, it needs to be hearty in a subtle, non-overpowering way. For that, I have always imagined either sipping my tea whilst inhaling the aromas of a freshly baked cake rising in the oven or while digging into said warm cake as I have my tea. There’d also be the ambient sounds of chirping birds, the rustle of a newspaper, the crack of a biscuit or two (though they don’t really feature in this act when there’s cake around), minimal conversation, and perhaps the subtle seduction of a guitar playing in the background as well. I achieved some of this yesterday; except there wasn’t any cake fluffing up in the oven because I’d run out of baking powder and hadn’t bothered remembering to get a new bottle. I sought the company of my blog instead, when I still had tea to drink and was done with my papers.

Today was a different set-up. It did involve the appropriation of my Sunday morning fantasies, except, it looked and felt a little like this; something that may be all too familiar to you as well.

Please note that this is the dream I was trying to achieve – sipping on my cup of tea with A, while reading the newspaper in the ambience of chirping birds and the aroma of a cake.

I woke up and by default put on some water to boil for tea. In the meantime, I got the ingredients for my cake ready, and was just about to start on this process when; and I will use the now atrociously common phrase “but first let me…” (not take a selfie, but…)

…add milk to this boiling water for my tea.
…scoop this cream that’s collected on top of this bowl of milk and keep it aside.
…gather all the cream I’ve been collecting and make some ghee (clarified butter) out of it, since I already have the cream at hand.
…turn the tea off (it was done by then and was listlessly boiling away and becoming too strong for our liking)
…get the process of ghee-making started
…put my cake batter together
…oil my hair so I can let it rest while I have my tea, leaving me with enough time to wash it once tea is done.
…turn the tea back on (it had cooled down by now)
…wake A up, because I’ve become his alarm clock now.
…get our tea and biscuits on the table (the cake was in the oven)
…say hello to my plants which are now outside my house (as A opened the door to get the newspaper)
…read while I have my tea
…but wait, let me Instagram this perfect moment
…skim the ghee off the kadhai (wok)
…enjoy my tea-time. Babska, enjoy the present moment, always.

This is endless. This happens to each of us. This has become a regular feature of my life which, if given precedence over everything else, takes over my ability to do one thing at a time (is that necessarily a bad thing?!, you’d ask), or anything else that I might wish to do (like sleep, for example).

Some may call it the ants-in-my-pants syndrome; I just call it the this-domestication-gives-two-fucks-about-living-life-in-the-moment. Sigh.

Having said that, I did end up having my (still) hot tea with biscuits, as I instagrammed a photograph and then proceeded on to read, while enjoying the ambience of birds, the rustle of trees, the shuffle of the newspaper, and the smell of freshly baked cake and homemade ghee that was bubbling away, all in the company of A. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and a great Monday today. :)

140: For Ma

20 May

This cake was a long time coming; one that I’d been dreaming of making but just never got around to investing time over, until today when it just happened. Needless to say, it was the most effort I’ve ever needed to put in for a simple tea-cake, but the results, as you can see, were fabulous, and just thrilling, to be honest.

Today is ma’s birthday, and it was absolutely fitting to have this bubble up in my oven and fill my house with the fragrance of love, and all things that ma is to me, and each of us. Besides, she loves her teacakes, and I cannot wait to make this for her, because we all have an Alex in us that needs to bite the Marty in us too. :)

This reminded me of two years back when I made ma her birthday cake at home; it was also the year I was moving away from home and her nest. It had to be doubly special for reasons still too emotional to describe.

Time flies, and here I am, sitting with another cake over yet another year that has arrived at our doorsteps.

While I can’t be with her on this day, and couldn’t be with her on this day last year either, this sense of serendipity makes up for it somehow.

Love is ma. Love is a freshly baked homemade cake, too. :)

133: Friday Feels and Saturday Spiels

13 May

I didn’t, or couldn’t write much at all yesterday because I had a dinner party to huff about even though it was clear that there was no cooking on my part to do. Barring throwing some fries into the fryer, ensuring we had enough ice to soothe six summer parched party souls on a Friday night, keeping the beers in our fridge chilled the way my family likes it (though that was A’s job to take care of), and figuring out where we wanted to order from, there wasn’t anything else I had to do really. Except, I still was flitting around in those feels (also why I posted the picture I did, yesterday).

And that’s because the host in me, and more importantly, the dessert-maker in me couldn’t digest the fact that I hadn’t got anything to offer my family who was spending dinner with us yesterday. It’s a blasphemous thought, especially when I’m everywhere on social media when I bake, and nowhere when I have guests over. So in went a stack of mousses that I’d infused with coffee and layered with toffee cake crumble, ready to set for when it’d be time for dessert.

Except they hadn’t set or weren’t even close to setting. To be fair, it wasn’t a dessert to be made on short notice, and expect to set especially quickly under the summer circumstances that we currently are in. 45 degrees is no joke. Anyhoo, a prompt banana sponge was baked which not just added some literal cushioning to my semi-solid but beautiful mousse, but also made my house smell like it was the place to be on a Friday evening. I promise there isn’t a more inviting smell than that of freshly made food.

I’ve no idea where the evening went – before I knew it, it was past midnight and we’d packed my tipsy happy family in their car back home. We have leftovers to party with today, so there will be no cooking whatsoever; just shameless after-party binging of butter chicken, butter naan, chilled sirke waale pyaaz (pickled onions in vinegar), and of course some beer and tv to go along with it.

I reckon this is how some weekends ought to be. With exercise, which A and I seem to be avoiding like the plague. What a killjoy that was.

117: Short Notes

27 Apr

In continuation of yesterday’s post and sick tease, we woke up to some serious stormy conditions – no visible sunrise on time, no colour-changing sky, deep black pregnant clouds, no flirty breeze, no dust storm and no wind storm. It was dark when I woke up, which was both comforting and weird (530am feels like 7am these days). We opened our balcony doors to the fantastic outdoors while sipping our respective cuppas. I didn’t soak clothes to be washed later – typical Bangalore mentality, especially when you wake up to conditions like I did today. An umbrella found its place in my rucksack, and off we dispersed to our offices. All of us – kids (big and small), teachers, guards – looked at the sky as we crossed our sports field en-route the main building. Kids exclaimed in glee dekho aaj to sky bhi nahin dikha, bas badal hi badal (look! we didn’t get to see the sky today, just clouds and more clouds). And then when I checked the quadrangle an hour later, the sky was right there in its blueness with all those promising clouds GONE.

If you haven’t gathered so far, I can’t handle this tease. It’s a cruel joke to play. :(

****

I’m beginning to get attached to my students, both seniors and juniors. I am a loyal and possessive person by default, so it goes without saying that this was bound to happen. A delusional me never imagined connecting or even getting attached to students here. We’re now clear why I called myself delusional here. I’ve picked my favourites – and most of them are the naughty kinds. The teacher in me cannot and will not be partial to anyone, but how can I not have expected my heart to soften towards kids who are in this like you and me were once upon a time. Damn it!

****

A came home early and when I opened the door expecting our AC to be delivered, it was him instead – :) . He brought flowers for me today – lilies – and I happened to bake the best ever banana cake I’ve ever baked, which I fed him with. There’s gratitude in this serendipitous synchronicity that was today. :)

****

91: Sublime Saturdays…

1 Apr

…are made of this

A breakfast of leftovers: chicken sausages, pork sausages, mushroom + pepperoni omlettes with toast and OJ to go.

this

Browned clarified butter + vanilla sponge cake.

and this.

Grilled begun(i) bhaaja (brinjal/eggplant fritters) to complement our lunch of daal (lentils) bhaat (rice).

18: What We’re Eating

18 Jan

There’s been a shift in the weather, this week. However, we’re still feeling cold, and I find myself wrapped up in no less than four layers. Come sunset, that becomes five. 

Given the weather, our diet has also naturally made way for the promise of warm, hearty, comfort meals. We’ve kept the concept of salads and cold foods aside, and welcomed dishes that I especially love – soups, stews, bakes. 

Yesterday I made this impromptu dish which featured in my kitchen for the first time since I got married. It’s a regular must-have dinner, otherwise. It needs an oven and whatever else it is that you’ve got in your vegetable basket. Baked vegetables. :)


I’d obviously fallen in love with it, as a child. In my opinion, I don’t think there’s a more hearty, and comforting way to have your vegetables. And they never taste as good anywhere else. 

In this pot, I added quite a basket of veges – handsfull of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, and mushrooms (only because I had some in my tray). Along with it, I added chunks of chicken to make this more appealing to my non-vegetarian loving husband. 

We sat under our throws, had bowls full of this, accompanied with garlic toast, and  we have no leftovers to fall back on, today. Sometimes it’s great to not have leftovers, tbh. The best part is the thick, brown crust right on top, thanks to the facelift this dish got with a small grating of cheese, for good measure. :)

As much as it’s a pain to cook in winters, especially, I think this season has the best dishes to offer any kitchen and hungry tummy. 

Today’s That Day

20 May

11334279_10155590115370055_1252360932108403002_o

It’s mamma’s birthday today and I’m not anywhere near her, physically, though I make up for the fact that my brother is with her, as are our friends who love her. This is what I made for her last year because I knew 2015 was the year I was to leave home which made it all the more necessary to live every single moment of it together. It’s funny how we take each other and time, most importantly, for granted. It’s when we’re given a deadline that that panic attack sets in, that urgency to do all the things you wanted to do and had kept on the back burner for no apparent reason. I miss her terribly, but the heartening bit is that I love her much more than how much I miss her. That sort of love is infinite and overpowering, often making everything else seem smaller and less significant. It’s almost a catch-22 sort of thing but I’d rather not get overly intellectual about it. My love for her is a love only I know and only I can have. That’s the beauty of it – we all get to love and no one’s love can be the same as yours, which makes it feel all the more exclusive and special, no? I cannot love her like my brother loves her, or her sisters love her…I can love her only the way I can.

It’s a tough but important lesson – to leave home and the fine wings of one’s parents. I really wish it wasn’t necessary but it is. Sometimes I hate it and sometimes I’m happy that it happened sooner than later – it gets harder to leave, you know.

Today I would’ve taken her for her customary Friday beer which she savours and loves, and gotten her a few surprise ones more.
Today I would’ve smelt her cheek as I kissed her face.
Today I would’ve made her her tea and laid it by the side of a springy, vanilla tea cake.
Today I would’ve bickered with her anyway, because she would’ve wanted to go to office and I, for her to take a break.
Today I would’ve baked her another cake, if I was there.
And today, we would’ve had our fresh, crunchy Greek salad and fries along with our drinks.
We would’ve clicked some selfies after another round of bickering because she likes to click pictures of her children especially when they’re engrossed in enjoying their favourite meals.
We would’ve gone for a drive if I could muster the courage to drive,
Or gone for a walk and found poetry in every passing tree and flower.

But I’m here and she’s there and there’s no room for sadness, heartbreak, or yearning today; because those are for days when you’re not feeling too good or for days that aren’t so good. And today’s a great day, so I’m only going to wish her the very best, which I always will. I’m going to power her with only great things – energy, thoughts, wishes and magic – as she reaches for that beer and gives me that big, satisfied grin which only a beer lover can give you after that first sip.

<3

Who Can Ever Say

29 Jun

I had already decided what I wanted my next post to be about and I’d let my words and thoughts stay brewing the entire time just so I could come here and spew them out. It looks like writing really is that form of catharsis considering the word spew came out even before I could control it. Everything began from Friday and continued to spill its negativity in every corner of my happy space. Of course we have the wonderment of hormonal powers to magnify every single feeling, especially if they’re negative. Or is that something our thoughts do? The point being that while most of my weekend was just dandy, on came along a series of thoughts that gatecrashed my happy weekend party and decided to take over. Of course one thought lead to the other as they always do and the last of the weekend slunk away in the dead of a rather sultry Sunday night. I woke up with a resolve to take it all out of my system right here and be done with it. So here I am. Except that I’ve been influenced otherwise, and for the better, thankfully.

Time has this magic of shedding its skin every single day and making way for something new, daily. And I use that as a constant reminder to look ahead and move on because evidently something so obvious as a brand new day isn’t enough for me to have renewed faith on my own. So a reminder it is that, in U2’s words, it’s a brand new day.

Every space around me has been taken over by love and so much of it. I see love in every place and in every being; more than I ever have in the recent past. It gives the cynic in me so much strength, that for once, I’m thankful to be on social media, lapping up all the positiveness around me for a change. For one, the world suddenly seems overjoyed about the new ruling by the US Supreme Court, which is lovely to see. Especially because we’ve become seasoned cribfests. So while it was a little overwhelming to see rainbows beaming from my screen, I guess the colours did their therapy for me, to be honest. I’m not going to comment about the ruling and how everyone went gaga over the country’s step forward while simultaneously and predictably became critical of India. But that’s more usual than unexpected; like I said, we’re expert cribfests come what may. Anyhoo, that was a joyous feeling to experience more happiness than I’ve ever seen, especially in the world of FB.

But when you’re surrounded by happiness and positive energies, it’s not that hard to feel a lift in one’s spirits too. Given said uplifted spirits, I tried my hand at this.

IMG_2996

IMG_2997

My first ever apple pie/pie in any form from scratch. It definitely needs more trials to become the perfect version I have of it in my head. But my biggest achievement was to get the dough just as it should be, so I’ll take that as a start for my next move forward.

That followed a rather impromptu visit to the a local brewery we’re pretty fond of spending time at. Sometimes you need to dress up, pucker that lipstick on, dab some perfume on, look your sexy best even with messy hair and just head out to celebrate everyday things like happiness, life and love. I guess we take it for granted and don’t highlight them as much as we do the mere passing grey clouds over us.

IMG_2998

Many mugs of beer and flutes of champagne were chugged down. Yes, we’re ladies who do both with a “beer mentality“, like my friend said. And then carbs taste even more magical, I do hope you agree? So we celebrated carbs in plenty too. Actually, that celebration comes rather naturally and on a very regular basis, might I add. Thankfully we’re celebrating something good on a regular basis at least.

IMG_2999

Mmmm, magical carbs, be mine forever. This was a Mediterranean pizza I was, erm, enjoying. It’s quite lovely and I’m thinking you’d like it too if pesto speaks to you like it does to us. Give it a try, it will not disappoint. And what won’t disappoint you even more is a splash of tobasco sauce on it. Trust me. Hop over to The Biere Club and when you’re ordering those carbs, get yourself their Greek salad. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a crispy, crunchy, cold, feta-laden bowl of summery greatness that all of us deserve more than we know. :)

And because I loved the pizza so much and because clearly I hadn’t celebrated my love for carbs enough, more had to be had. Sunday was spent making a large batch marinara sauce from scratch (mine had more than a guzzle of wine in it too) for pizzas and pasta, as well as making the dough from start. It’s here that I would like to thank the carb Gods for just being there for us mankind. While my mood began souring slightly, my spirits were alive and kickin’ only because the end result was this.

IMG_2989

Just plain, simple margarita pizza. With 98234 kgs of cheese on it. Well, sometimes you just have to, you know?

So it’s safe to say that carbs and love and laughter and happiness and positive thoughts and some most amazing weather courtesy Bangalore, evaporated my cynicism away.

Thank you, universe. Thank you for the simple things. And thank you for the power of love. The wannabe optimist in me celebrates its power every single day, or tries very hard to at least.