Sunday, December 08, 2013

A city under siege......

The city is under a siege. A sudden drop in the temperatures and the city seems to have collapsed under it.

It all started on Thursday evening, when my friend and I had to pick up the kids after school. It was cold, very cold and a drizzle started, just as the car hit the main street. The kind of rain that hurts, when it hits you, sharp and icy, icy cold. A matter of 5 miles, which is covered in about 20 mins. (driving  normally and getting caught at some signals) took us about an hour. 
Driving home was about the same. 
Dallas, is afraid of such weather.
By evening, whatsapp was buzzing with questions, 'is our school closed tomorrow?'  No one knew the answer to that, but everyone seemed to have an opinion about how foul the weather was just about now and how it would worsen by the time the sun was up. 
The kids, however, were sure, there was no school on Friday. They stuck to that. 

Well, whaddya know? The kids were right! By 9:00 pm there was an IVR broadcast announcing that the school was closed due to inclement weather.

We woke up to a dazzling white morning. To people living in places where there is regular snowfall, this seems like nothing, and it is, nothing, but for a city, that knows little to nothing about snow, it comes as  a rude awakening. 
Men and women work from home, stores are swept clean of any and every vegetable, dairy, water and snack. Heaters are cranked up and the roads are clear, of cars, that is. 

Not many want to brave the snow and even worse, the icy streets. It's the icy streets that kept us indoors too. 
It is difficult, to sit at home and play and do stuff with an active 5 year old, who never seems to tire.
2 play dates and playing about in the scanty snow and freezing our axxxx toes  outside and the little one still showed NO signs of wear and tear. 
It was time to involve him in some activity that required minimal effort but good results and most importantly, kept him in one place for a few minutes.

On my last trip to the grocery store, I had, on a whim, picked up a roll of Crescent Rolls dough, the kind that comes in a tube. 
When it is as cold as it was outside ( it was about -7 deg. C, by the by, Celsius in the negative is so much more impressive then 2 digit Fahrenheit, no?), something warm, sweet hits the spot. Like Cinnamon Pull- Apart Bread.

I pulled out the tube of Crescent rolls (the one that makes 8 rolls, I think) from the fridge.
Pre-heat the oven t 375 deg. F ( as per tube instructions)
Melted about 2 tbsp butter
Ina  small bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar, approximately 1 tsp Cinnamon powder  and 1/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
Clean and prep the work surface.
Pop the tube and pull out the dough
Roll out the dough on the clean work surface and pinch together the triangles to make one big rectangle
Brush the surface of the rectangle with the melted butter
Sprinkle the cinna-nutmeg- sugar evenly all over the rectangle, covering the entire surface. 
Here comes the part when you start the cutting and arranging.
It helps to have  loaf pan ready, greased and all.
Now, using a pizza cutter (which is the best way to cut it) or a sharp knife, cut 3 horizontal lines in the dough.
Now, carefully, lift one strip and place it on top of the other. 
3 strips piled on top of one another, think 3 mattresses piled on top of the other , just so we are clear.
Using the pizza cutter, cut the piled on strips in 4-6 squares, vertically, so they look like stacked pillows in a line.
Now pick up one stack at a time and place it in the pan, like soldiers in a line, not piled on top of one another. Just so we are clear on the placement.
Sprinkle any left over sugar on top and bake in the oven.
The tube says bake for 15 -17 minutes, but I took longer, about 25 minutes. 
At the 15 minute mark, the first pull apart was done, but inside, the rest was all soft and doughy, so I had to bung it in the oven longer. 
It may be my oven, so keep an eye after the 17 minute mark. 
Remove the pan from from the oven, click a picture while it cools and then devour.

It has the child's seal of approval.
Mission accomplished.

We still have a school shutdown and so it's time to do more stuff, indoors.
Stay warm folks! See you soon.
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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Life happens.....

.... just because I cannot use s*** happens, in the title. After all, this is a food blog.
But this is also the space where I laugh, smile, reminisce, thank, whine, rant... you get the drift.

So things were going well, when I last posted, I finally began to believe that bad times were behind me. I was just relaxing into that mindset when, of course, fate has to go and blow the whole thing up in my face.

The first thing that happened was, I started slowing down, specially in the mornings. I would wake up to the alarm and start planning on my day in my head, but the moment I tried to stand up I felt shooting pain in my heel.
This was something that had started when I was visiting India, I had no time to think or do anything about it then. When I came back, I just ignored it, as usual. The thing with pain (and when it impairs mobility) is, you have to sit up (or down, in this case) and take notice.
Turns out I have Plantar Fasciitis
All my plans for a Thanksgiving Dinner with special friends is now postponed until further notice.
It sucks.

Just when I  thought medicines and a bit of care would settle that.... then I go ahead and suffer another set back.
On the day of my last post, we had a break-in, in our apartment and my Nikon DSLR was stolen.
It was a big shock for me and fair broke my heart.

This sucked even more.

Still does

Much as I'd like to forgive, I cannot and have (and still do, when I look at the place I kept my camera kit) roundly cursed the wretched thief (you know, the Hindi filmy drama types (polite version here), "main tujhe shraap/ shaap deti hoon, papi, bhrasta duratma, tu insaan kehlane ke layak nahi...chor, daku, goonda-mavali.. types. )

The whole process of research and evaluation and reviews and all that has to be gone through again, but this time, there is a bit of hesitancy. I am.... not ready. But I do want a camera.
I feel horrible, when I see my son sitting with a particular look on his handsome face and the fact that I cannot capture every detail of it, as  a memory, when I am old. My blog feels lost without it. I know I do not blog regularly, but I still need a good camera.
I do.

So for the time being, I will try and post recipes and take terrible pictures with my iPhone. 
I am also  trawling the blogosphere for recipes to try out. And that is why I love Pinterest. People everywhere are doing everything possible. My favorite section is the food and drink section, of course. I pin recipes, some that I want to try immediately and some in the near future and then some, I may or may not try, but boy! they look (and read) good. For example, a few weeks ago, I had a Soup, Salad and Sandwich lunch and made my favorite Tomato Soup
The recipe is fairly simple,
Blanch 5 Roma Tomatoes in boiling water, peel and puree ( I also sieve them to get rid of the seeds)
Chop 1/2 Onion
Peel and chop 1 Carrot ( I place the chopped carrot in a microwave safe bowl, add 3-4 Tbsp water and microwave for 2 mins. - till tender)
In a  deep saucepan, heat Oil ( I used Olive, but sometimes I just use Canola or even butter) and saute the chopped onion.
Once the onion is translucent, add the cooked carrots and stir them around for a while, add the tomato puree and about 2 cups of water ( I just use the regular coffee cups, not the real measuring cup) and add / crumble 1 Veg. bullion cube. Let it all boil. I use my immersion blender at his stage to puree everything to a smooth consistency.
Add 2 tbsp. sugar, salt to taste and dried Oregano and reduce the heat to medium and let the soup come to a boil.
Lower the heat and add about 3/4 cup milk while stirring and cook for a few mins longer (use 1/2 cup heavy cream, if you are not calorie conscious)
Serve hot with or without croutons and a dash of black pepper.

- Black pepper can be added  while cooking as well (with the oregano) unless you prefer it mild.
-If you have vegetable stock on hand, please use that instead of water ( or the veg. bullion cube).

For the salad, I adapted the recipe from here,and just adjusted the amount of peanut butter ( I get migraine with PB,but I still indulge, once in a few months). The salad is all that it looks, good and filling and packs in a good amount of protein and vegetables and makes it all so enjoyable. I am a recent convert to salads and am enjoying  different versions that can be made and thankful that it's not just lettuce (not that I dislike lettuce, but it gets boring after a bit). I have been toying with the idea of substituting almond butter for peanut butter so I can make this more often.      

Vegan and Gluten free salad full of protein

For the sandwich part, I took the small liberty of calling a burger a sandwich. I found this burger patty recipe. Thyme is a new addition to my pantry, thanks to this wonderful recipe. The patties freeze well and can be re-heated and used when you want a quick, but filling and nutritious meal. 
I made these on my cast iron pan, which heats up quickly and brown the patties well with a crispy cover, just how I like it.
But now, I have a new grill and I am looking forward to making my burger patties (and more) on this.

I am looking at replicating the Panera Bread Panini which has sun dried Tomato Pesto and tomato and mozzarella cheese, oh yum!

Do you  have a grill? Please do share your ideas and suggestions in the comments section.

I'll see you all soon, hopefully with cheerful news and some yummy recipes and food adventures to share.
Till then, take care and stay warm!

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