Posted in Recipes

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Healthy, quick and really good especially when you have a craving for chips!

Earlier today, I was cutting some sweet potatoes to make some red curry. I realised I had too much, so decided to make some fries (Peeled sweet potatoes don’t keep well in the fridge).  So, I sliced them finely, tossed them in a bowl with some olive oil and

So, I sliced them finely, tossed them in a bowl with some olive oil and piri piri spices (I have also used chaat masala before or just salt and pepper). You can add whatever spices you feel. Experiment!

Spread the sweet potatoes on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven (200°C), turning them in ten minutes. Bake for around 20 minutes till they are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes and serve. I usually delve into it when it is piping hot, just don’t burn your tongue. Enjoy!

I have been writing this post as I was eating the fries (all by myself).Since it is baked, it has much less oil but tastes as good! It was sweet and spicy, crunchy and tangy.  And, it is almost gone ….

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Posted in Recipes

Vegan Carrot halwa

 

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Carrot is a very versatile vegetable. You can make stir fries or curries, salads, carrot cake or baby food. When I was a kid, I was told to eat carrots. I was told that it is good for eyesight. It is very high in Vitamin A. (For more information and health benefits check http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21).

 I was always proud of my eyesight and always thought it was because of the carrots I ate. Unfortunately, today, even with all the carrots I eat, I need reading glasses. 😦

I love carrot halwa, but can’t eat it most time since one of the main ingredient other than carrots are milk. So, I make my own. I usually substitute milk with soy milk. Today, I have used almond milk instead. Try it and let me know, how it tastes. As I am writing this post, I am enjoying the halwa, not too sweet, just right and delicious!

Ingredients:

4 cups grated carrots (around 1 Kg)

2 cups almond milk (or soy milk)

6-7 tbsp sugar (according to taste- you could add more)

1/2 cup cashew nuts

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp oil or ghee

Directions:

In a heavy bottom pan, add the oil or ghee. To it, add the cashew nuts and fry till golden brown. Add raisins and fry for thirty seconds. Remove and keep aside.

In the same pan, add the carrots and fry for 5-6 minutes. 

Add milk and let it cook on a slow flame till most of the liquid evaporates. Add sugar and cardamom powder mix well till the liquid evaporates. 

Add cashews and raisins and mix. Serve it hot or cold.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Posted in Recipes

Healthy Granola

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The other day, I was shopping at an organic grocery store. In one of the aisles, they were selling granola. The jars of granola beckoned me. I was more fascinated by the jars than the granola itself. I checked the price, enthusiastically, and read the contents. I felt it was exorbitantly priced, but I suppose you are paying for the bottle too. I came home wanting to make granola.

As usual, I go to the chef I admire, Alton Brown. The nice things about granola and granola bars (recipe posted earlier) are that you don’t have to be precise with the ingredients. I tried making them healthier and with less sugar. The recipe (adapted from Alton Brown) follows:

Ingredients:

3 cups oats

1 cup cashew nuts 

1 cup almonds

3/4 cup shredded desiccated coconut

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 tbsp brown sugar (can add more if you want it sweeter)

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped dates

Directions:

Preheat oven to 150 degree Celsius.

In a large bowl, add first six ingredients and mix well.

In another bowl, mix the oil, honey, salt and vanilla.

Pour the oil – honey mixture with the dry ingredients and mix.

Pour onto a sheet pan and bake for about an hour. Keep stirring to get an even colour. Be careful not to burn the granola.

Remove from the oven, pour into a bowl and add the raisins and dates. Mix well. Cool and transfer to a dry container and store in a cool place.

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Posted in Recipes

Spring Rolls, for dinner?

spring-rolls

The last few days have been cold and dreary. All I wanted to do was roll up in bed with a good book, some hot tea and something fried. This is the perfect weather to eat samosas, pakodas and all things fried. Today I decided to make some spring rolls and served it with some homemade jalapeno jelly. You could use any sweet and sour sauce.

Ingredients

1 packet spring rolls sheets

2 cups shredded cabbage

1 onion chopped

2 carrots, shredded or julienned

1/2 cup bean sprouts

1/2 cup spring onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1-inch ginger, chopped

(I made vegetarian spring rolls, but chicken or shrimp can be added)

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp chilli sauce

salt to taste

pepper to taste

vegetable oil

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Method

In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add onions and fry for a few minutes. Add all vegetables except the spring onions and bean sprouts.

Once the vegetables are almost cooked, add the spring onions and bean sprouts. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce and chilli sauce. Taste for salt and spices. Let it cook for a few minutes. Take it off heat and cool, preferably on a plate.

Make sure the spring roll sheets are thawed.

Take one sheet and place on flat surface. Add a tbsp of the filling on one side of the sheet. Fold on both sides and roll tightly. Wet the end with water to seal. Keep sheets covered with a moist cloth. Make all the spring rolls.

Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add spring rolls and fry till golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot with sauce of your choice.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Recipes

Baking cookies and gleeful hearts; this is how the HOLIDAY starts! Tis the season to be jolly!

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Frank Sinatra’s ‘Christmas Memories’

Singing carols, stringing popcorn
Making footprints in the snow
Memories, Christmas memories
They’re the sweetest ones I know
Cookies baking in the kitchen
Cards and ribbons everywhere
Frosty, Christmas memories
Float like snowflakes in the air
And oh, the joy of waking Christmas mornings
The family round the tree
We had a way of making Christmas morning
As merry as can be
I close my eyes and see shining faces
Of all the children who now have children of their own
Funny, but comes December
And I remember every Christmas I’ve known.

The holiday season for me is synonymous with baking, food and family.    It is a time to spend with family and friends. This year, we are running late. I have been busy with work and study. We still have not put up our tree. Very soon, I will be baking my Christmas fruit cake; the fruits have been soaking in port wine for over a month and making my jalapeno jelly.

Today, I baked chocolate walnut bars. Of course, they will not last for long, surely not till Christmas. But the season has begun.  Listening to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Christmas Memories’ while baking.

Chocolate Walnut Bars

(From ‘The great cookie book’ by Hilaire Walden)

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts, or any nuts

1/3 sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

6 tbsps butter

For the topping

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

a pinch of salt2 eggs

icing sugar for dusting

Method

Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease the sides of an 8-inch pan.

Grind nuts with a few tbsp sugar. Mix with flour and cold butter. Rub the flour-butter mixture with your fingers till they resemble coarse crumbs.

Turn it into a prepared pan and press to form a layer

Bake for 25 minutes

Meanwhile, to make the topping, melt butter with water in a saucepan over low heat. Beat in cocoa and sugar.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat in eggs and blend well. (Do not add before 5 minutes as egg will scramble).

Pour the topping evenly over te crust when it is cooked.

Return to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until set.

Cool and cut into squares. Dust with icing sugar.

Store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!!!

 

Posted in Trekking

Makalidurga Trek – A road less travelled!

 

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“Climbing is really great, we all love climbing. But what’s interesting to me is what happens in my head or in my life because of it. Ultimately, I think climbing is a vehicle for exploration – of the world, of the self.”
Steph Davis

 

I started hiking/trekking around four months ago after much persistence from a friend. I never did these things, I have done short treks to see the fall colours with family, walked around lakes and parks but never hills and mountains. I lived in the midwest for many many years which was almost flat. For our holidays we usually went to museums and local eateries. Trekking was too much of physical work and not for me.

I started an MA this year and there we talked about reflecting about ‘oneself’, and do things we usually don’t do. We had electives to do and I wondered if I could put this under an elective 🙂 (I don’t think I can ). I sometimes wonder, if it is my ‘midlife crisis’, wanting to do things I had never done before, before it is too late. This is better and cheaper than buying a sports car, I suppose.

After the first trek it really got me motivated. It is almost like a drug, you can get addicted to it. However difficult the trek was and however tired and achy you are, at the end of it, you are thinking of the next trek. It is also about the company. Going with friends, encouraging each other on, giving a helping hand, laughing at the atrocious messages written on the rocks by ‘wanna be lovers’; that’s what keeps us going.

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Yesterday, we went to Makalidurga hills which is close to Doddaballapura. There are some overgrown trails and arrows drawn by people. As we go up, we have to look out for the arrows. Many times, we had no idea which way to go but we finally reached the top to see the fort walls. On the top, there is a small shiva temple and deities climb the hill to get there. All the way up, the views were beautiful. There is a huge lake in the shape of South America. I think another high about trekking is to be one with nature. You can listen to the ‘quiet’. You feel tiny compared to the magnitude of nature around you.

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

As we descended, the sun started shining and it started getting hotter, the boulders around us was emitting heat. We stopped in the shade and had breakfast which we took with us. We had poha (flattened rice) with chutney, boiled eggs (eggs had never tasted better) with salt and pepper, khakra, bread and butter, banana bread and granola bars (recipe in previous blog posts).  As we went down the sun beat on us harder and it got more difficult. We lost our way a bit but then found the arrows. The above quote is so apt, getting down is mandatory. Though at one time when we were resting, I was looking at the beauty of nature (and getting internet connection) was wondering if I could just sit there.

This was a long, strenuous trek but well worth it. Two of our group members Nandita and Azmee, have founded  DreamDestinations -Aznan, where they customise vacations for women and they specialize in trekking.

Posted in Education

Inspired by M.C. Escher

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Penrose Triangle

He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder. – M.C. Escher

A few years ago when I was teaching tessellations, I came across Escher. Escher was a dutch artist who was also a designer, print maker, illustrator and muralist. He was interested in space, illusion and Math. He is best known for tessellations, reality bending shapes and impossible shapes.

As I read about Escher and impossible shapes, I found it most interesting. I consider myself as a non-artist. I have never tried my hand at any art till about 7 years ago when I joined school as a teacher in Bangalore. I attend art class with my 4th and 5th graders and do what they are doing in art. I always say that I am at their level, some of them are way better than me.

Today, I was inspired by Escher. I spent the whole evening making a Mobius strip, a Penrose triangle and an Escher cube. I used youtube  videos to  sketch. What I realised today that sketching was very meditative. I felt calm and forgot about all the work I have. Maybe I should spend some time every day to sketch.

Mobius strip is a surface with one side and one edge.In Escher’s Mobius strip II red ants you see red ants scurrying on the Mobius strip.

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