Tag: lavender

Home Alone making paranthas, salad & pizza and thinking of all things sweet & scary!

So I am home alone for three nights.

V had to go for some office stuff to Texas, and I am left home alone.

This is the first time I am staying alone in our house. And I was very nervous about it. Our town is quite safe. So I was not scared of somebody breaking in (although, I made sure all my windows were closed and do not laugh, but I also put a chair/stool in front of the front and back doors. Just in case someone does decide to break in, I will be warned by the noise. Too much of CSI does that to you!)

Like I mentioned, I am not scared of someone breaking in (you are rolling your eyes, aren’t ya?), but all the horror movies I have seen have made me a little scared of the paranormal- ghosts to be more precise. So that you are sure, yes, I am an adult. But I have an overactive imagination. A very overactive imagination.

I remember after watching the movie The Ring , I slept with my lights on for a month, imagining the girl ghost in the movie standing next to my bed every time I switched off the lights off and then even when the image of the ghost left after a month, I continued sleeping with the lights on, thinking the ghost would get pissed off that I wasn’t sacred anymore, and would be tempted to scare me off.

Yes. Overactive. Imagination. Mine is.

So, how I always do when I am alone, the first night I slept with the lights in my room on. And with the TV on. And the bathroom lights on. And the hallway light on. And the living room light on. With the phone in my hand every time. I felt really bad that I was wasting so much electricity, but honestly I could not help it. This is how I slept last night as well. Today though, my protector, my husband, will be back home, and I should live in a world less scared of the evils it possesses. (I repeat- do not roll your eyes! or laugh! Please?)

Besides being scared at night, the other thing that was bothering me about being home alone for three days was the food situation. With V gone, I knew I would not feel like cooking for one. I knew I would be cooking Maggi noodles for lunch, dinner, and well, even breakfast. But, I did not want that. So, instead, as soon as V left I made it a point to pre-make things. I made the tomato feta pasta salad. I made the topping for the artichoke spinach pizza and also had the necessary leftovers for the chicken paranthas I had packed for V before he left. The maggi packets are left to be eaten some other week.

This post has no recipes. It has links to some of my previous recipes though. And all of them are good. Some are quite old, some not so much.

Chicken Paranthas

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Learn how to turn a kitchen failure into a Success: Macaron Cake

Some are good at finance.

Some are better at marketing.

Some have an artistic bent.

I, on the other hand, have been struggling to find out what I am good at it.

And till recently, I was clueless.

I know I am a decent baker, but to say I am great at it, would be a stretch right now.

Thanks to this blog though, I have realized what my thing is.

My thing is…

*drum roll*

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I am a problem solver!

Yup that’s my thing and that’s why God, the Almighty, keeps throwing these problems at me.

He is like,  

(For actual effect, imagine a figure in an angelic white robe with an ethereal aura talking in a god like tone saying this)

“Child, I know you are good at this and that’s why I give problems to you.”

.

.

So, you see, that’s my thing.

God keeps giving me problems. And I keep solving them :)!

Case in point:

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LAVENDER & LEMON SOUFFLE

I have been so lazy the past few days- jet lag, catching up with my mom on family gossip, and just the sheer comfort of home where I don’t have to lift a finger for anything (seriously! there’s someone to cook, someone to clean the house, someone to do the laundry) – all of it has made me lazy to blog. The first few days back home, I did nothing- yes, jet lag was a primary reason- with the odd sleeping and waking hours – I was busy orienting myself to the change in time zones.

Thanks to the jet lag, though, I have been regular with my exercise. Up at 3.30 am , I was ready to exercise at 5 as there was nothing else to do. Now, of course the jetlag has more or less worn off, but I still sleep pretty early and am up at an hour which has always been a little early for me, but a good time for me to hit the gym. Since the day I arrived, my mom has been pointing out how much weight I have gained, and this just won’t do. So, I have been working hard and hope to continue doing so. I also resisted buying Nutties, a chocolate I haven’t eaten for over a year and which has always been one of my favorites. I also passed the opportunity for picking a packet of Bingo (a very popular chips packet in India), something that was a staple during my B-school days. Determination! Well, I really do need to get in shape!

I did indulge in a soufflé though. Well, a little leeway is allowed. The thing is- I had to make the soufflé. I had tried making one day before (a spicy dark chocolate one) but it was an utter failure. Mind you, when I made it the first time, I only made enough for my mom and dad and none for me- again determination! And what would you know, that was a flop, and one of the reasons for its failure was that I overfilled the ramekins, trying to avoid filling a third one for me!

I could have written about the other reasons for failing at soufflé making, but decided against sheltering under excuses, because I believe a good baker should be able to turn any kitchen environment to his/her advantage. So the next attempt had to be made to prove that I can bake not only at my own house (where I have the luxury of a big oven, the perfect temperature, the right temperature and ingredients) but just about anywhere!

So, I set off to make another soufflé yesterday. All soufflés are made by folding stiffly whipped egg whites into a richly seasoned base, either sweet or savoury, then baking until risen and feather-light. In my last attempt I tried Curtis Stone’s recipe which only uses egg whites and no yolks/cream/milk/flour/butter. This time I decided to try a version which started with a base of roux and lavender-lemon flavored cream folded into the egg whites.

Preparing the dish, some claim, enhances the chances of having a perfectly risen soufflé. Since rising wasn’t a problem in my first attempt, I decided to use Curtis Stone’s way of buttering and sugaring (is that a word?!) the ramekins. He adds melted butter to the bottom of the ramekins and with a brush and upward strokes, butters the sides of the ramekins. Then, he lets the buttered ramekins sit to cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 minutes. Once the butter hardens, he again brushes the sides with melted butter and sprinkles granulated sugar on the bottom and sides of the ramekins. (You can check the video here)

When I told one of my friends of my plans to make a Lavender soufflé, she called me lavender obsessed. As much as I don’t like to admit, but lately I have been on a lavender fetish. I just love the flavor lavender adds to any dish. And, well, lavender with lemon- that is what delish stuff is made of!

Attempt two at soufflés turned out not so bad. I did have one with a cracked top, but the other three rose just fine and behaved themselves for me to take a few pictures with their puffed tops (although, they did sink a bit by the time I got them ready for the shot).

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LAVENDER TRUFFLES

I am finally in India! Met my parents after almost a year. It feels so different- being at home after your marriage. I am still trill trying to comprehend the feeling I have, so it would be difficult to put it in words right now. The journey was long- more so thanks to my fever and cough.

I had a four hour wait at LA airport and thought I would blog to kill some time- but, the internet service was really bad at the airport, so guess the post had to wait. It was just not the greatest time for me to board a flight. Amidst excitement of meeting everyone back in India and of course the sadness of leaving V alone for such a long time, I was also fighting a terrible cold accompanied by severe body ache and fever. The day of my flight I was up in the morning at 3, waking V up and exclaiming how am I going to take the flight today- I just had no strength. Definitely, this was not a good time to get sick.

I hate travelling alone- I mean I really hate it- especially if I have a lot of luggage- which, of course, I did. And to travel with a fever and cold- well, hate would be too mild a word for the feeling I have. It kind of surpasses the excitement and the sadness- and the feeling that I had was to just get to India in one piece.

In the plane, though, I had a revelation. I watched 127 hours. (127 hours is a true story of a real life mountain climber Aron who gets trapped in a boulder for more than five days and has to amputate his arm to free himself. The movie is based on Aron’s book Between a Rock and a Hard Place). It kind of made me realise how petty my problem was- it was just a fever, cold- nothing a medicine couldn’t cure- and that gave me strength to enjoy the rest of the journey and not keep saying- why me,God! why now! (I tend to be a drama queen at times!) So, by the time I reached Dubai, I was all excited to meet my parents and everyone at home!

I never had a favorite color- it kind of keeps changing. Black has been constant but the rest evolve. Now, for a long time I have had this obsession with the color purple and all its hues. My iPhone case is purple. One of my favorite scarfs is purple. From Denver I picked up these measuring cups and spoons from Sur La Table for my mom and they too were purple and well, the list goes on. This obsession with purple might explain my current inclination to use lavender in the food I make. (My friends from the coffee group have promised helping me set up a herb garden once I’m back. I plan to have my own lavender plant and some other herbs.)

So, the other day, while going through Helen’s blog Tartelette for her macarons tutorial I stumbled on her lavender truffles recipe. (I love her blog- she is a true inspiration!) I knew I had to make this. I did not have enough of the ingredients called for so I did add some hazelnut creamer (I was out of cream). It gave a nice nutty toasty flavor to the truffles. Adding lavender made them so exquisite and a perfect gift to give some one!

In case you just want to use heavy cream, add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and don’t add the creamer at all.

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Lavender Chiffon Birthday Cake

It was my birthday yesterday and finally I turned 18 (or so I would like to believe..sigh…how I wish that was true!!!). Christmas is over but the hang over is still there. The weekend was spent in Vegas (I know- life is gooood!!). It was my first time there and after a long time I had so much of fun! Three days of drinking, eating, drinking, gambling, drinking, shows, lights and did I mention drinking?! Came back late night 26th since V was working on Monday, 27th – my birthday. Called people over for cocktails and cake- it was supposed to be a surprise but V had to tell me since the house was in a mess after the long weekend. So much for the surprise!

Luckily, the cake was already planned. A few days back I discovered Deeba’s blog, and was floored by her baking skills. The moment I laid eyes on her version of the Lavender Chiffon Cake, I knew this was it- this was the birthday cake I had to make. Impressed with the whole look of the cake I decided to replicate it. I tried my hand at the firm white chocolate ganache decoration too with a mango motif design, though with not much success. Of course, Deeba’s cake looks so much more beautiful and wish my pictures were as good (I should have photographed in day light- but the cake got ready in the evening, just in time for the party). Looks aside, the cake was excellent- just baked, it was springy to touch like a chiffon cake should be, and light as a feather! So what if my photography and decorating skills aren’t that good! As they say, you learn from your mistakes and am happy to come out of this as a more experienced decorator- I promise next time would be better.

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