(Relatively) Guilt-Free Baking: Whole Wheat Flour & Oats Cake Sweetened With Dates

I am very much a beginner baker. I don’t know much about baking. I am still learning, and definitely have a long, long way to go. I think baking is a craft that needs a lot of passion to learn and perfect, and I am still trudging slowly on that path. I am supposed to be on a strict diet and exercise regime and baking interferes a whole lot with that – that is the one reason I don’t bake as much as I would like to. That said, I find it therapeutic to smell the delicious aroma that the cakes and cookies fill up my house with, while they are baking. That is precisely what keeps me going.

With this background, you’d understand just how thrilled I’d have been when I recently discovered this recipe for a (relatively) healthy cake – a cake made with whole wheat flour and oats, sweetened with dates and only a minimal amount of sugar! I even had the option of omitting the sugar altogether and letting the dates do their job. This was my chance to bake a cake and eat it too! Of course, I had to try it out, and try it out I did, as soon as I could get all the ingredients together.

I was even more thrilled when I tasted the cake – it is just G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S. Perfectly moist and just the right amount of sweet, it had the earthy goodness of a home-made cake. There was no artificial colouring or cream or icing in the way – just plain, delicious cake. I am happy to report that the family loved this cake too. I have made it twice in the last two weeks, and I am sure these are not the only two times I will be making it. It is, indeed, a great way for weight watchers to sate those sweet cravings, without feeling overly guilty about it later.

You must try this cake out to understand what exactly I mean! I am sure you won’t regret it.

Take a look at this beauty just out of the oven…

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And here it is all sliced up, ready to devour..

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Tempted enough to make it yourself? I’ll tell you how to go about it.

I followed the original recipe to the T, without any changes. I note it down here, again, for the sake of reference.

Ingredients (yields about 15 slices):

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

18 dates, deseeded and chopped

1-1/2 cups of milk

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan and then switch off the gas. Add the chopped dates to the milk. Ensure that they are completely immersed in the milk. Let the dates soak in the hot milk for 15-20 minutes.
  2. While the dates are soaking, get the rest of the ingredients ready. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oats, powdered sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and whole wheat flour. Ensure that everything is well combined together. Keep aside.
  3. Grease a loaf pan with a little oil. Dust the greased pan with some flour. Keep aside.
  4. Preheat the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes.
  5. When the dates are done soaking, add them to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, along with the milk you soaked them in. Add the vanilla essence and the oil. Mix well, until everything is well combined together.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and shake it gently to level it out.
  7. If you want to, you could sprinkle some more quick-cooking oats and/or nuts of your choice on top of the batter in the loaf pan.
  8. Put the loaf pan into the oven and bake at 175 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the cake is done. A knife inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Cut into slices when the cake is cool enough to handle.

Notes:

You could omit the powdered sugar altogether, and just let the dates sweeten the cake. Personally, though, I felt the sugar is a necessary addition.

You like?

Product Experience: Rose Geranium Hand-Crafted Luxury Bath Soap from SOS Organics

I make it a point to visit the Dastkar arts and crafts exhibition whenever it is in Bangalore, but it was my experience there only last year that, sort of, shaped me. If you remember, I wrote about my visit to Dastkar 2015 here, how it changed me, how I began to see hand-crafted and organic produce with new eyes, how I pledged to make informed buys whenever I could, and how I decided to try to go the natural way as far as the products and services we consume go. I started the latter in a small way at the fair last year, by getting some organic, hand-crafted soaps from Neev. I am happy to tell you that, almost one year since, I have stuck to the using of hand-crafted, organic soaps – I have been reading up about and experimenting with a variety of such soaps, and have had several really good experiences.:)

Today, I am here to tell you about one such hand-crafted, organic soap that I have tried and loved – the Rose Geranium soap from SOS Organics. They call it a ‘hand-crafted luxury bath soap’, and I think that is apt for the luxurious, fragrant bar that it is.

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The things that I loved about this soap:

  1. I like the packaging of the soap. It comes in a cute little paper box, wrapped in a plastic cover to ensure that the fragrance of the soap doesn’t go off.
  2. The soap has a gorgeous smell of roses and herbs – it is just the right amount of fragrance, without being too overpowering, I think. The smell lingers around your home and your body for some time after you bathe with the soap, and I have come to love that.
  3. I like the look of the soap, too. It looks like something hand-made and natural.
  4. It lathers well and washes off easily.
  5. It leaves my extremely dry skin feeling lovely and moist, without making it look like it is dripping with oil either. And that is quite a feat, I tell you, considering just how dry my skin is, and the sheer number of soaps that I have used in the past which have either made my skin feel drier or have made it super-duper oily. After a bath with this soap, I do not feel the urge to apply a moisturiser on my body immediately – which is what usually happens with other soaps. My skin looks and feels better when I use this soap. Period.
  6. The soap does dissolve rather fast, but then, I am told that is the mark of a good soap. That is how a pure soap is supposed to be – it is not supposed to last forever and ever!
  7. The firm claims that the soap is made using 100% natural ingredients, like coconut oil, madder root, rose geranium and nettle leaf powder, and that it does not contain any chemicals, artificial colours or preservatives. And, having used the soap, I can, sort of, feel that it is pure and natural. The soap does not have the chemical, artificial feel that several other similar products do.
  8. Apparently, the product has not been tested on animals which is, again, something I love about it.
  9. The natural ingredients (especially the rose geranium and patchouli oil) used in the making of the soap make it great for dry skin, mood upliftment, and relieving stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy. I can vouch for the stress- and anxiety-relief part.
  10. Most of the products of SOS Organics come from its production unit near Almora, Uttarakhand, in the midst of the Himalayas. I think it is a great way of providing gainful employment to the villagers there. I love that I am, in my own small way, contributing towards this end. (Side note – Take a look at their Facebook page, and tell me if you aren’t charmed!)

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The cons:

  1. The price is slightly on the higher side – INR 140 for a 100-gram bar. That said, considering the many benefits of the soap that I have experienced myself and the fact that it is hand-made, I don’t mind the price.

Other details:

  1. The soap is easily available in most eco-friendly outlets across Bangalore. I bought it at Eco Store, HSR Layout – a shop that I have come to love. On a related note, do visit the store, if you haven’t already!
  2. You can buy the soap online too. Amazon India has it, as does Joy by Nature. You can even buy it straight off SOS Organics’ website – there are no shipping charges within India, but the minimum order value is INR 750.
  3. SOS Organics also offers a huge variety of other products, most of them infused with Himalayan goodness. I am yet to try out their other products, and am eagerly waiting for a chance to do so! Take a look at the wide range of products the firm has on offer here (Do read the ‘Pahari Gold’ part here!).

Have you used this product? I would love to know your thoughts about it, if you have. If you haven’t, I would definitely urge you to give it a shot!

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are entirely my own, based on personal experience. I bought the product with my own money, and I write about it only because I loved it. There is no commercial motive associated with this post.

Instant Mango Dhokla

Today, I am here with the recipe for Mango Dhokla, something I learnt from a member in one of the foodie groups that I am part of, on Facebook. This might well be the last mango-based dish I am making this season, so it is special to me. Mangoes have now almost disappeared from the market, and the few that are still available are either worm-infested or not great in taste. The mango season is, officially, at an end here, in Bangalore. Sad, eh?

As we wait for the mangoes to show up again (a whole year to go for that! Sigh!), I will tell you about this new recipe for Mango Dhokla that I tried out and loved. It is a quick and easy thing to make, and tastes delicious too, with the smell of ripe mango oozing out of every square. Try it out, will you? You will then know exactly what I mean.

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I followed the original recipe, with a few little variations of my own.

Here is how I made the dhoklas.

Ingredients (yields about 15 pieces):

1 cup rava/ sooji (no need to roast – I used the fine variety that we use to make upma)

1 cup thick curd (slightly sour is better)

1 cup mango puree (use a fully ripe mango that is sweetish in taste)

1 cup of idli/ dosa batter (I used the home-made batter that I had)

Salt, to taste

Red chilli powder, to taste

2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

A pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon Eno fruit salt

2 tablespoons oil for tempering + more to grease the dhokla plate

2 teaspoons mustard

1 teaspoon sesame seeds (til)

A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely

2 green chillies, finely chopped

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the rava, salt to taste, asafoetida, red chilli powder, idli/ dosa batter, ginger-garlic paste and mango puree. Mix well, ensuring that everything is well combined together. Let this batter rest for 10-15 minutes, covered.
  2. In the meanwhile, grease a plate with oil and keep it ready.
  3. Take some water in the base of a pressure cooker, put in a stand and place the greased plate over it. Let the pressure cooker base get heated on a high flame, till the water at the bottom starts boiling.
  4. At this point, mix in the Eno fruit salt in the batter that you prepared earlier. Mix well, ensuring that everything is well mixed together.
  5. Pour the batter evenly into the plate in the pressure cooker base.
  6. Close the pressure cooker and steam, on high flame, without putting the weight on, for 12-15 minutes.
  7. Once the pressure comes down a bit, open the pressure cooker and check the dhokla for doneness. A knife inserted into the middle of the steamed dhokla should come out clean – that is the check for doneness.
  8. While the dhokla is cooling, get the tempering ready. For this, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Now, add the sesame seeds and let them stay in for just a second. Switch off the gas. Pour this tempering all over the dhokla.
  9. Sprinkle the finely chopped coriander leaves and green chillies evenly over the dhokla.
  10. When the dhokla has cooled down quite a bit, cut into pieces using a knife.
  11. Serve warm or cool, as it is or with your choice of chutney.

You like?

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Would you like to read about the other mango special recipes that I made this season? Here you go!

Fruit extravaganza – Mango special

Ripe mango salsa

Mango pooris

North-Indian style ripe mango curry

Rich and yummy, eggless mango ice cream without ice cream maker

The Sherbet Of The Kings?: Chandan Sherbet At Jalpaan

I have always associated ‘chandan‘ aka ‘sandalwood’ with stuff that I use on my body, in the form of talcum powder, soap, a face pack or cream. I never thought of it as an ingredient in food (or drink). So, when I came across ‘Chandan Sherbet‘ on the menu at Jalpaan, Jayanagar, while recently lunching there, I was intrigued. Of course, I had to try it out.

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The sherbet tasted sweet and sour, with the light fragrance of sandalwood to it. It was cool and refreshing, definitely something I would like to have on a hot summer afternoon. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I did like it. I can see myself ordering it again, totally.

The juice, served in a cute mason jar, took me back to the days of yore, of days when there were kings and queens and princes and princesses. This would have been the sort of stuff they would have drunk, I think, in gorgeous silver tumblers with intricate craftsmanship on them. Sigh!

Just because the concept of this drink is so alien to me, I will add it to the list of ‘offbeat’ or ‘crazy’ food and drink that I have had the opportunity to sample so far.:)

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You might also be interested in reading about the other seemingly crazy things we have tried out so far: Dark chocolate sandwich, ice cream chaat, bhoo chakra gadde, rasgulla chaat, chilli chocolate, fried ice cream, and paper sweet.:)

 

Animal Musings

The other day, the OH and I were out with Bubboo when we came across a donkey.

Bubboo hadn’t encountered a donkey before that, ever. So, we turned around this way and that, pointed to the donkey, with excited shouts of ‘Look, Bubboo, that is a donkey! That is what you call a donkey!’. There was absolutely zero reaction from Bubboo, but that is not the point of this post.:)

The point of this post is that I immediately went on to feel guilty about our actions. Pointing fingers at the donkey, making it feel like an oddity – wasn’t that what we were doing? How would I feel if the donkey had pointed us out to its kids and shouted – ‘Look, humans! Those are what you call humans!’.

The OH, as usual, was super calm and there was no reaction from him to any of my rants. Gah!

Okay, I probably over-reacted a bit there, but I surely didn’t over-react about what this particular incident led me to think about – zoos and circuses.

I started hating zoos for this very reason – they make objects out of animals, pull them out of their natural habitat, all the while not even treating them right – once I became a conscious person, a more aware traveller on the path of life. Circuses are even sadder. But then, zoos are indeed great ways to teach little ones about different animals and birds that they might not see commonly around them. Of course, there’s always the fact that we could take Bubboo to Gir to show her lions or to Africa to show her zebras, but then, is it really a practical thing to do? Does that always happen? And this has to happen when the little one is still a toddler, curious and absorbing things like a sponge, right?

How does one draw the middle line?

Your thoughts, please?

Haldi Doodh| Turmeric Latte

If you are in on the foodie circuit, you’d probably know by know about ‘Turmeric Latte’, something that has recently taken the Western world by storm. It is all the rage over there now, with more and more cafes listing it on their menu, more and more people getting aware of it by the day, and more and more health magazines and websites writing about its benefits. And this ‘turmeric latte’, indeed, has a number of health benefits – like helping to keep the sniffles at bay, improving your skin, delaying the onset of diabetes and several other diseases, helping in alleviating muscle pain, reducing cholesterol, fighting depression, among other things, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory drink and being great for the brain.

What is this ‘turmeric latte’? For the uninitiated, ‘turmeric latte‘ is just an improvised version of our very own humble Indian haldi doodh, something our mothers and grandmothers have been giving us since the time we were barely out of our cradles. India has always recognised the health benefits that turmeric holds, and we have always been using it liberally in our kitchens. The ‘turmeric latte’ aka the modern version of haldi doodh has many avatars – including ones with palm sugar, coconut milk, cinnamon, black pepper, and what not. Some cafes in the West have even gone on to introduce turmeric cookies and other turmeric-based snacks and drinks!

While I was growing up, haldi doodh was administered to me too, just like it is in every other Indian family out there. However, it used to be something as simple as a teaspoon or so of pure, freshly ground turmeric powder mixed into warm, boiled milk. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I drank it up quietly whenever it was proffered to me, and I think it did aid towards recovery from the sniffles, in a non-antibiotic way. I am still the same – I don’t love it or hate it, but I will drink it in the face of interminable-looking sniffles when I don’t want to go the antibiotic way.

Recently, when everyone around me was sneezing and coughing and generally feeling miserable, I thought of giving haldi doodh a shot. I made haldi doodh the way it is made in North India, though – with a dash of honey and black pepper. It might not be cafe-material turmeric latte, but it was fairly decent haldi doodh. I liked this version waaaay better than I loved the one Amma used to force on me all those years ago (Sorry, Ma!).:) I think this style of making the drink is here to stay in our family.

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Without further ado, I will go on to tell you how I made the haldi doodh.

Ingredients (yields 2 cups):

2 cups of milk + 3-4 tablespoons to make up for evaporation

3/4 teaspoon black pepper powder, or to taste

1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, or to taste

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and set it on high heat on the gas.
  2. Stirring every now and then, let the milk come to a boil.
  3. Reduce the flame at this point. Let the milk simmer for a couple of minutes. Now, switch off the gas.
  4. Serve the milk warm or piping hot.

Notes:

  1. I liked the addition of honey in the milk. You could skip it altogether if you don’t think you’d like your milk a tad sweet.
  2. I like the haldi doodh to be a bit high on black pepper. You could decrease the quantity of black pepper powder according to your taste preferences.
  3. The turmeric powder that we use at home is quite strong, and adding just 1/2 teaspoon gives a heady flavour. If you think 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric powder isn’t going to be enough, do increase the quantity you add to the milk, as per your taste preferences.
  4. You could even strain the milk after letting it simmer for a couple of minutes, before serving it. I chose not to do that, because I wanted the black pepper particles to stay in the milk.

How do you like your haldi doodh? Tell me all about how you make it!

Shocked

I wrote this just yesterday, proclaiming my love for balconies that are open and not grilled in, ones that look onto a road. And, today, I get to know of a toddler falling from the second floor of an apartment and meeting his death. It all happened in a matter of seconds, apparently, while the mother was preparing breakfast in the kitchen and keeping an eye on the child. Theirs was an open balcony, and the curious child somehow managed to jump over the railing. The news has shattered me. I am upset ever since I read it.

This is something that could have happened to anyone. However much you keep your kids under strict supervision, they have this way of distracting you, of getting into something in a matter of seconds while you go to grab a glass of water or visit the loo. Day by day, I realise this, more and more.

Bubboo has already started doing gymnastics in the balcony. She is very, very curious. She loves the balcony. She loves looking out. I do keep a tight eye on my child, but she still distracts me, frustrates me, shocks me, every now and then. This piece of news, as I see it, is a lesson in parenting. It comes at the right time, telling me to do something that I have long been procrastinating on – cover up our balcony.

I can’t be careful enough when it comes to ensuring a good life for my daughter. I don’t want to keep postponing a task indefinitely, and then regret later about not doing it earlier. Safety comes first, especially when it is my child in the area of concern – our likes and dislikes later. It is probably time to get that balcony covered. I will learn to take it with a pinch of salt.

May the soul of the deceased child find peace, and may the parents find strength.

 

Balcony Tales

Balconies have always been important to me. I love balconies. I think they are windows to the world outside, from where you can look out, all the while sitting in the safe comfort of your own home. They are sanctuaries, where you can grab a few moments of peace over a cup of tea or a plate of bajjis. They are in-between, neither inside the house nor outside, a place where you can escape to when the chaos inside the house gets too much for you, and you don’t really want to get out of the house. They make the house outward-looking, I think. Without a balcony, a house would be isolated from the rest of the world, cut off, very inward-looking – of course, my own two cents only, meaning no offense to anyone else. For this very reason, I do not like balconies with grills – they make a house safe, yes, but they also close out a lot of light and action and air and love and make the house, well, suffocating.

I especially love balconies that do not face dead, overgrown plots of vacant land or the back of someone else’s house. I like my balconies to look out onto a road, possibly, where there is a little action – just enough action, mind you, not too much. My ideal balcony is one where there are plants (flowers and a small patch of herbs and some vegetables), a swing and a little nook where I can sit and think and create.

Considering my love of balconies (thankfully, the OH shares a bit of this love), a road-facing balcony was one thing we always look out for while we are looking for an apartment to live. We had three balconies (three! yes, a rarity these days) in the place we used to stay in earlier, and a long road-facing one in the place we shifted to last year. It took us quite some time to set up the balcony garden in the house we presently live in, but now, I can safely say we are almost 70% done. The garden still needs a lot of work to bring it to the shape I want to bring it to, but at least there is some semblance of a garden now, there is a sanctuary in the house for me to go to, there is a little place that fills my heart with joy.

I am happy to say Bubboo seems to love the balcony as much as I do. It is the first place she heads to, as soon as she wakes up in the mornings. It is where she sits and watches the older boys and girls in our apartment play in the evenings. It is where I sit and talk to her about the different kinds of things that we see around us – from dogs and cats to vegetable vendors and trees and flowers. It is where Bubboo sits and watches the rain. She often eats sitting out on the balcony. I sometimes read to her there. We like basking in the sun on the balcony, on days when it is not too hot. We like watching as our neighbours wave to us in the balcony, and waving back to them. We like watching as butterflies and squirrels run in and out of our plants, searching for food. I could just go on and on and on!

Balconies have always, always been a place of solace for me. Our balconies have seen a lot of action. They hold a whole lot of fond memories for us. They have been a place of sharing our own kind of love, of bonding with each other. They have been places of sustenance for us, providing us with some home-grown ingredients for our food.

This new place is slowly, very slowly, beginning to feel like home. We are apart from the rest of the OH’s family now, very far away, but we are slowly finding friends here, bonding, building up relationships. I hope, with all my heart, that we soon forge friendships and relationships of note here, and that our balcony here goes on to witness a whole lot of special, little memories.

 

 

Eggless Coffee Pudding| Easy Dessert Recipe

You would probably already know that I have been experimenting quite a bit, of late, with desserts that are very simple to make, yet delicious, and guaranteed to bring a smile on the faces of the eaters. I have never been good at making the traditional Indian desserts, like gulab jamun or mysorepa, at home. So, these quick-fix, simple but unique desserts are what I usually turn to whenever we have guests over or on special occasions or just because, whenever the OH and I need a sweet fix. My most recent discovery in this category of easy desserts is an eggless coffee pudding, whose recipe I found here.

I made this coffee pudding recently, and was amazed at just how easy it was to make – it hardly took a few minutes to put together. It is eggless to boot, and tastes just lovely. Chilled, it makes the perfect accompaniment to lunch or dinner.

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I followed the original recipe mostly, but did make a few variations of my own. Also, I felt the quantities used in the original recipe make pudding that is enough to serve 4 (in our case, they did!).

Here is how I made the pudding.

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 cups of milk

2 tablespoons instant coffee powder (I used Bru)

2 tablespoons corn flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

8 Marie biscuits (or digestive biscuits of your choice)

Dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)

Method:

  1. Crush the biscuits into a coarse powder, using your hands. Keep aside.
  2. Warm about 1/2 cup of the milk, and mix in the cornflour and instant coffee powder. Ensure that everything is combined well together and that there are no lumps.
  3. Heat the remaining 1-1/2 cups of milk in a pan along with the sugar. Add the cornflour-coffee mixture to the pan too.
  4. Cook the mixture till it begins to thicken, stirring continuously.
  5. Add the vanilla essence to the mixture. Mix well, until thoroughly combined.
  6. Let the mixture cool down completely.
  7. Now, make a little layer of crushed biscuits in the bottom of a small cup or glass. Spoon some coffee mixture over the biscuit layer. Add a few dark chocolate chips over the coffee mixture. Add one more layer of powdered biscuits, then one more layer of the coffee mixture, and again, a few dark chocolate chips.
  8. Prepare 4 cups/ glasses in a similar fashion.
  9. Let the glasses chill, covered, in the refrigerator till you are ready to serve it. It tastes best when chilled.

Variations:

  1. You could drizzle some chocolate syrup over each layer of biscuits and coffee mixture that you make. I didn’t do that, because I thought the pudding was just the right amount of sweet, and didn’t want to add to it.
  2. I think dark chocolate chips go really well with this pudding, but if you don’t have them, you could add ordinary milk chocolate or white chocolate chips as well.
  3. I think digestive biscuits or Marie biscuits would be best for making this pudding, but you could use Oreos or chocolate chip cookies too. It would be best to slightly reduce the amount of sugar you are using, in that case.
  4. A different sort of essence – maybe orange – would also go very well with this pudding, according to me.

Do you like the sound of this recipe? I hope you will try it out too, and that you will like it as much as we did!

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Here are some other easy dessert recipes that I have tried out and loved.

Boondi Laddoo Rabdi

OPOS Coffee Flan

No-Bake Eggless Chocolate Ganache And Strawberry Tart

Eggless Mango Ice Cream Without Ice Cream Maker

Chocolate & Coconut Balls With Dry Fruits

Eggless Lemon Ice Cream Without Ice Cream Maker

No-Bake Vanilla Ice Cream Pie With Fresh Grapes, Strawberry & Butterscotch Syrup

Panchamritam, The Food Of The Gods

Home-Made Date & Nut Fudge

Fruit Ëxtravaganza

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee…

… I’d tell you that Bubboo just recovered from her bout of tummy upset and the loosies and then fell sick again, yesterday, with a bad sore throat, cough and vomiting. She hasn’t been sleeping well, has been clingy and in pain again, and we have been worn down to bare bones. I, for one, really, really need something to de-stress myself. I can’t wait to go on a holiday where there isn’t really much to do, except roam around and laze. I want that kind of vacation, pronto! If that’s not a possibility, I do want a (few little) something(s) that will perk me up instantly.😦

… I’d tell you about how my resolution to try to get fitter and eat healthier and reduce my stress levels has, quite literally, gone to the dogs, almost since the beginning of this month. I was just beginning to feel the good kind of difference to the rolls of fat that envelop my tummy, when the said difference disappeared into thin air, and I am back to square one, as far as health is concerned.

… I’d tell you that we did manage to go to the family wedding I told you about, in between Bubboo’s previous bout of illness and this one. It was such a simple, homely, satisfying affair that it set me thinking about the grand big hoopla that passes off as ‘wedding’ these days. I wore my mother’s wedding saree to the wedding – a gorgeous golden silk saree with a big, big maroon temple border – and it won me many compliments. The couple gifted me a gorgeous cotton saree, which I just love!

…. I’d tell you that I just realised I haven’t been giving my saree collection its due share of love and wearing of late, which isn’t good. There are so many stories, so many memories attached to each saree of mine, which I would love to relive. I should get around to giving them an airing more frequently than I do now.

… I’d tell you that Bubboo is becoming more and more interested in pretend play these days. She looks into the mirror, kisses her reflection, saying ‘Paapa, kiss!’ She makes imaginary tea and rasam in vessels from the kitchen, and insists on feeding each one of us with her own hands. She’s a darn cute sight to watch, if I might say so myself.:)

… I’d tell you that we have been exploring the few parks around our house, trying to find one that Bubboo and we like the best, so that we can be regular visitors and make a few friends. But then, each park has something different to offer – one has a lovely sand pit, one has lovely baby-friendly swings (Bubboo’s love for the swings is something else altogether – she refuses to get off them even after swinging for almost an hour!), and yet another one has lots of leaves and pebbles and flowers that she can pick up and learn from. So, we have been alternating between different parks, letting her get her hands and feet dirty in the sand one day, letting her swing to her heart’s content the other day, letting her explore the world around her on yet another day.

… I’d tell you that I have been reading Marlena de Blasi’s The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club these days, and have been absolutely loving it. Considering how much I loved the author’s previous works, I wonder why I waited so long to read this one! I have been driving people crazy just by quoting passages from the book that I think are charming. (Read my thoughts about the author’s other books here, here and here.)

… I’d tell you that I’ve been introspecting a bit, trying to figure out why I am so stressed out all the time, in spite of having that nagging feeling that I am not really up to much in my life. I think I do have some insights, if not answers. Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking (which I’ve been reading off and on) has helped me figure these insights out. This related article, shared by a mother in a parenting group that I am part of, resonated with me like nothing else, and that is what led me to discover Quiet. I am a through-and-through introvert, and I need time to myself in between being social with people, talking to a child who needs a lot of talking to, taking decisions (even though ones as mundane as ‘What should I make for dinner today?’), and doing chores and running errands. I need that non-interrupted time to delve into myself, and that is how I thrive. I haven’t been getting that, and that is what has been wearing me out, a lot. Now, I need to work on these insights, find out what works for me and what doesn’t.

… I’d tell you that I’ve also sort of figured out why a lot of other mothers around me seem to get a whole lot more done in their days (and nights!) than I seem to be doing. I think it is because I am a certain kind of person, a different sort of person than them (no offense meant to these mothers, of course!). And also because Bubboo is a different sort of child than theirs. Many mothers around me resort to screen time for their children, giving them food off supermarket shelves, and just generally letting them run around the house or sleep while they go about their day-to-day chores. I have kept Bubboo away from screen time and packaged food of any kind. I insist on feeding her different varieties of home-made snacks most days of the week, and doing activities with her. Bubboo insists on getting up as soon as I wake up in the mornings or after my afternoon naps (if any), so there’s no scope of getting anything done while she’s not around. She is also not the kind of child who plays by herself – I don’t know whether that is good or bad, but she needs to be played with. I need to sit down in the sand pit in the park and play in the sand with her, for her to enjoy it. I need to sit down with her while she splashes about in her little home swimming pool. Also, I insist on the cook making healthy food for us, and not just make a jhatpat meal with loads of oil and masala. I insist on giving him a lot of feedback (thankfully, he’s been taking it well so far!). I insist on being more present in our everyday chores, too – giving a neighbour a hand-made birthday present rather than a store-bought one, for instance. In between all of this, how can I ever expect to get leisure time or not be stressed out, I realise now.

… I’d tell you that there’s this urge in me to write, again, on a freelance basis, for money. I’d love to write for a few publications that I trust in, about topics that are close to my heart. I don’t think there would be a better antidote than that to reducing my stress levels and making me feel better. I should probably start working to that end. When and how I will get around to doing that are big, big, big questions, though.

… I’d also ask after you and your loved ones, about what you’ve been up to and how you’ve been. Tell me, will you?

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For the Weekend Coffee Share, a very interesting and fun meme!