It’s not Blurry any more… and a Couple of Blog Awards

It started getting blurry a while back. Yeah… old age can bring great misery if you don’t smack it on the back, sit it down, pour it a nice stiff Scotch on the rocks and make it your best bud… Or at least your drinking companion till the bottles don’t run dry 😉

I have presbyopia. Nothing to be alarmed by. It’s just one of those things that guarantees you admittance into the 40+ league of which I’m a proud member. It sort of says, “Yup, you’re here, like it or not… so suck it up and put those darn glasses on a cord around your neck please”.

I started wearing reading glasses about a year and a half ago, more off than on and suffered the consequences of not having them around my neck when I’ve needed them most. I read a lot and my laptop works as office, library and entertainment centre rolled into one on most days. Then one morning the old glasses stopped working like they were meant to. The distance between the screen and my eyes crept up to 30 inches or more and started increasing steadily. The font on my phone was set to max and was still a blur. I’d wake up, brush my teeth, fix my coffee, and on days when I did get the newspaper pick it up, and just look at the headlines and the pictures. Not that I was missing much by not going through the fine print anyway… So I did away with the morning paper.

But there was still the laptop to negotiate, and I couldn’t do away with it. So I hauled myself off to the ophthalmologist for a check-up and yeah, no surprises there, my number had increased. Now I have new glasses and with them on, the writing on the screen’s pretty clear. The doctor did add that I have great distance vision (for someone my age) and absolutely no other issues with my eyes. So my glasses are perched halfway down my nose as I write this, the frames a dark sap green.

Which brings me to another thing I’ve been putting off for ages… passing on Blog Awards that my fellow bloggers have been generous enough to nominate me for. In my defence I guess I could say that I’ve been in a state of flux over the last few months, that I’ve been travelling and that I simply haven’t had the time. But I shouldn’t procrastinate any longer. After all I owe it to the kind people out there who’ve nominated me to pay it forward at the very least.

And now on to the first thing about Blog Awards which is thanking the Bloggers who’ve nominated me and linking back to their sites. So I’d like to thank Kate from http://thecosycreative.wordpress.com/ for her Easter surprise when she nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award last month.

And Jen from http://lovefoodcookfood.com/ who nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award also in April.

 

Thanks Kate and Jen for your thoughtful gifts 🙂

Now… to be honest I’m a bit confused about the rules of the Kreativ Blogger Award since I couldn’t find them on Kate’s blog… and that just means one thing. Ditch the rules and enjoy the award, which is precisely what I’m going to do, and pass it on to a few great blogs that I’ve had the good fortune of visiting.

Oh…by the way… there should and would have been more nominees per award, but I’ve not been active with follows, something I hope to remedy soon. But I’d rather not procrastinate any longer, these awards are just itching to go out. So in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ll nominate three blogs per award.

And they are –

For the Kreativ Blogger Award

1.http://arignagardener.wordpress.com/

2. http://keepinitkind.com/

3. http://whataboutthepie.wordpress.com/

And the nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are –

1. http://stirandstitch.wordpress.com/

2. http://perisspiceladle.com/

3. http://filingawaycupcakes.wordpress.com/

Do drop by all these incredible blogs… They are well worth not just a visit… but a ‘Follow’ as well, if you aren’t already following them.

Have a great weekend… and yeah I suppose I ought to try knitting myself a nice, happy, multicoloured cord for my glasses just so that I manage to keep my number in check. I doubt the binocular look would be flattering… not on me.

Have got to learn to knit first 😉

Advertisements

Sunshine…Versatile… and a Plateful of Pakoras

I love deep-fried food. My weighing scale hates me for it, and as for my hips, I… (No, I won’t say it, coz then they’ll hang around like those uninvited relatives who come to visit bag-n-baggage in tow sans any return ticket), I’ve only just learned to adapt to their constant morphing instead of driving myself crazy when my body decides to get into the stockpiling business and add on the kilos.

Oh there were times I would weep and gnash my teeth and rend my clothes when the needle on the scale went south, but given that most of those clothes were in pretty good wear, I just decided to give them away instead of hoarding them in the hope that I would get back into them. I even have a dress I wore when I was a year old.

I still have this dress. And it’s in way better shape than this photo 🙂

I eventually gave up on the teeth gnashing when the enamel on my teeth started wearing off and I saw my dentist at the Porche showroom when it opened for advance bookings.

I dislike most dentists by-the-way. I kicked one in the jaw when he tried to gas me to knock off a tooth when I was four, and I’m still getting over the fact that the one next door to my parents’ house knocked out a few of my perfectly good molars to put in braces I didn’t need when I was twelve. He charged my parents a pretty packet and when the braces came off, my teeth decided to do their own thing and went right back to where they were. I had to endure a second round of orthodontic appliances attached to my teeth as an adult to fix the problem caused by the first set.

And now on to the fun part…

In early March I received a pleasant surprise from Donna @ The Sugared Pecan when she nominated me for the Sunshine Award.

Now February was a crazy month for me with house painting and setting up and work and internet woes which continued to plague me through March and into this month as well. Which meant that my internet time was interrupted and short, and I’ve had to juggle between trying to put up a post and follow up on my fellow bloggers. Sadly, I’ve fallen behind on both. I must try and remedy the situation soon… I must! I must!

As per the rules of the Sunshine Award, I should

– Include the award logo in a post or on my blog (Done)

– Answer 10 questions about myself (hmmmm… :-I… okay… rules are rules)

– Nominate 10-12 other bloggers I think merit a mention (I’ll try my best)

– Link the nominees to the post and let them know that they have been nominated (Sure… once I’m done nominating them)

– Link back to the person who nominated me (Doesn’t that go without saying :-))

And later that month, Susan from susartandfood nominated me for my second Versatile Blogger Award.

The rules of which are –

-Thank the person who gave me this award and provide a link to their blog (of course :-))

-Nominate 15 blogs/bloggers that I have recently discovered or that I follow regularly.

-Tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself (hmmm…???)

-Include this set of rules.

-Inform the nominees by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

Let me start off by linking back and thanking Donna who has a delightful blog @ The Sugared Pecan and comes across as a wonderful person, warm and effusive and always a pleasure to read, with interesting recipes and lovely anecdotes that accompany them.

And…

Thank Susan at susartandfood who as an artist, graphic illustrator, cook and writer seems to have a life that’s full of creativity and her cat 😉 among other things.

Here’s the next … the 10 questions (for the Sunshine Award)

My Favourite Colour – Sunshine Yellow

My Favourite Animal – Dogs (though I’d love to say Meerkat)

My Favourite Number – 1

My Favourite Non-Alcoholic Drink (why???) – Cranberry Juice

Prefer Facebook or Twitter – I don’t have a preference here. They both have their uses.

My Passion – Baking and Making my little Clay Men (though I haven’t had the time to do that in a while)

Prefer Getting or Giving Presents – Both… definitely

My Favourite Pattern – Really?… Footprints on wet sand

My Favourite Day of the Week – Saturday

My Favourite Flower – Narcissus

Now to the Seven things about Myself (as required by the Versatile Blogger Award)

I’ll be lazy here and just link back to the last one, since I they haven’t really changed.

And now on to the Nominations and to linking up to them

This is going to be a bit of a toughie since there are so many fantastic bloggers out there, but here goes, and as a Easter treat I’ll be clubbing them together which means all those mentioned here get a 2-in-1 Easter treat with both the Sunshine and the Versatile Blogger Awards coming their way.

And the awards go to –

1. http://subhorup.blogspot.in/

2. http://zestybeandog.wordpress.com/

3. http://anunrefinedvegan.com/

4. http://delicio8.wordpress.com/

5. http://curryandcomfort.blogspot.in/

6. http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/

7. http://confederacyofspinsters.com/

8. http://authenticfooddelights.blogspot.in/

9. http://myyatradiary.blogspot.in/ 

10. http://365daysofbaking.blogspot.in/

Nominating your fellow bloggers for awards is such hard work because they are all so unique in terms of content, style and versatility, it’s really difficult to pick one over the other. So do go and check out these blogs. They are all incredible.

And now on to the treat after the awards are handed out and what better than a tasty snack that goes as well with a cup of chai, as it does with a cold beer.

Fritters are really quite popular around the world and here in India we’re no different. And because we’re such a vast country with so many different regions all different from each other in terms of language, culture and cuisine, every part of India throws up its own variation of some of the more popular foods on offer. The one dish that really bridges the gap between most cultures however is the Pakora. Known as Bhajjias [pronounced bha-gee(as in gee wiz)-yaas] in and around Mumbai where I live, this crunchy snack is a popular street food served piping hot straight off the deep fryer, and accompanied by both dry and wet chutneys.

The pakora or bhajjia can also take different forms and can be made from different vegetables or lentils, or combinations of the same. I prefer to make mine more in a tempura style, with cut slices or strips of assorted vegetables. Paired with a chutney or a spicy tomato or tamarind sauce they are the perfect any-time comfort food, especially when the weather turns cold or wet.

I used an assortment of veggies – Potatoes, Aubergines, Fat Green Chillies, Onions and Cauliflower.

Usually dipped in a batter made of chickpea flour, I used a combination of chickpea and rice flour (1:1/4 cup) to give them that extra crunch. And an assortment of spices, caraway seeds (1/2 teaspoon), cumin powder (1/2 teaspoon), red chilli powder (1/4 teaspoon), a pinch of turmeric powder, minced garlic (I crushed and minced @ large cloves to a paste like consistency), salt to taste, and a pinch of baking powder. Use about 1/3 cup of ice-cold water and a few ice cubes to make the batter.

Heat a large wok or deep-fryer with oil. I’ve never used a thermometer to test the temperature of the oil relying more on instinct, but you could drop a tiny blob of batter into the oil to test its readiness. If it rises up instantly and crisps up within seconds your oil is ready. Dip the sliced/cut veggies into the batter before lowering them into the oil. Do not overcrowd the wok/fryer, this will ensure that all the bhajjias/pakoras all cook evenly and crisp up nicely without getting soggy in the middle.

Drain them on a paper towel and sprinkle some extra cumin, salt and add a squeeze of lime or a drop of vinegar, and serve them with spicy chutney.

The chutney I made here is similar to the one I made for the Corn, Ricotta and Fenugreek Samosas, only this time I used very little peanuts and a lot more mint and coriander for that lighter more minty taste.

I’ll walk an extra hour tomorrow.

Dust, Paint, Basic Dining and a 2nd Liebster

I’m having my house painted which means that my kitchen is not just out of commission, it’s out of bounds. But this is India improved, so what used to be a 25 day job, 10 years ago, has thankfully come down to 15, give or take a couple.

I’m hedging my bets on give by-the-way, with a silent prayer to the good lord of the kitchen. Withdrawal symptoms can be a female dog with a bad attitude. (Gee Ma, why did you have to fine us every-time we used a cuss word when we were little. It’s cramped my vocabulary for life, not to mention that I’m compelled to use six words when one succinctly stated one would have done the job most effectively.

Mothers!

My house is coated in a fine powdery dust from all the scraping, not to mention that awful smell of primer that goes on to the walls, getting your throat all itchy. Thank heavens for Hot Toddy, glugged by the tiny mug-full every evening, and big airy windows that send in gusts of cool breeze. The only down side to all that lovely breeze being corners, not to forget the appliances and other little things the infernal dust manages to find its way into, despite being covered. I’ve learned that tarpaulin, plastic sheeting and newspaper, howsoever lavishly applied, offer no protection against dust. Besides, even if you do a thorough job of cleaning, you never manage to catch all of it. The painters who clean up after their work is done for the day don’t, so I’m left vaccuming and mopping the floors twice over when they’ve left.

But I shouldn’t complain too much. I’ve had to step on their tails a bit, but they’re on point now.

Mother trained me well.

Well worn = Experience?… Hopefully

But having a kitchen out of bounds means that I’m compelled to eat take out at lunch and dinner, until my body finally rebelled and I walked out on auto-pilot down to the local veggie vendor and got myself some basic supplies. I had left out a tiny pan for frying eggs, and one saucepan along with a wooden spatula… everything else boxed away safely against that darn dust. The saucepan I used to par-boil the kernels of corn, before tossing the corn with a little olive oil, a knob of butter, some garlic and two chopped green chillies (de-seeded). Adding in the spinach, cabbage and tomato (I removed the pulpy innards ;-)) and chopping them into largish chunks, before finishing it off with some pan-fried pieces of tofu, and a sprinkling of sea salt… all in my tiny egg frying pan.

Reminded me of camp way, way back when.

A simple and light dinner for one, packed with fresh veggies and a good protein fix from all that yummy tofu.

Fresh n Basic Cooking with Crunch

How’s that for basic, fresh, wholesome and good food.

But it isn’t just the food I’m grateful for, I’ve also got to thank Beccy from A Foodies Voyage for honouring me with a 2nd Liebster Blog Award.

My mug of hot toddy runneth over and falleth to the floor, which means more cleaning ;-(… but I’m truly honoured for the mention Beccy and here’s a ‘Thank You’ coming your way with a basketful of virtual baked goodies ;-).

And now in the tradition of the Liebster Awards here are the rules…

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog. (√ check)

2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you. (√ check)

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog. (√ check)

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 (or 3) blogs of 200 followers or less. (√ check… I’m passing it on to 3)

5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog… (shall do so when I finish this post. First things first… right?)

I’ve got to confess that it isn’t just my stomach that’s been rebelling since the painting started, my typing fingers are a bit stiff (I’m a two finger typist/computer user), but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and having received it shall pass it on post-haste (not exactly this time around) lest the luck of the Trojans befalls me 😉

So I shall attempt to fulfil my blogging duty and pass on this award to –

1. Jillian from Whisky Drinkin’ Chimney Sweep whose blog and recipes I love… and have got to try (and I mean every single one of them yummies).

2. delicio8 who is a self confessed bad-ass… don’t believe me? Check out her blog, where she admits that she’s ‘bad to the bone and sweet to the tooth’. Now that’s a person I identify with.

3. Angela or Los Angelas (her blog moniker) as she’s also called from Up close in my world, who puts together a real treat in her photo n food blog, while her cat mews in appreciation.

These are my three chosen blogs, amidst the scores of other fantastic blogs I’ve been so very lucky to read, follow and adore. I wish them all, and these three blogs in particular the very best till I return to my kitchen, and life as I would like it to be.

So here’s the night-sky from my window, with the stars twinkling…

twinkle… twinkle…

Have a fabulous weekend… and see you soon.

The Versatile Blogger Award

2012 is proving to be a good year. I ended January with the Liebster Blog Award coming my way and now with Vered Simons from http://eatnowtalklater.wordpress.com nominating me for the the Versatile Blogger Award, I’m quite chuffed.

And the rules for this award are:

A) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post… But of course!

So here’s a shout out to Vered, not just for the award but for all her comments and ‘Likes’ on my posts since The Cook, The Baker and The Clay Boy Maker came into the big wide world of blogging. Thank You! 🙂

B) Share 7 things about yourself… Do I have to?… Really?… Oh well!

Here goes….

1. I prefer lean meat and detest fat and chicken skin.

2. Since I’ve started this blog… which led to a baking overdrive, I’ve had to buy new jeans… honest! The old one’s just don’t fit any more.

3. I love the opera, and operatic music, but can’t sing. Not even for my supper. Now, isn’t it a good thing I cook?

4. I love plantain chips, salted and sprinkled with chilli powder and lemon… I’m not mentioning those jeans again.

5. I’m a chronic learner, a perennial student if you will. Got myself a Bachelors and Masters in Law, in my 40s, just for kicks.

6. Secretly wish to go out and spray paint Mumbai, the city in which I live, and I mean the entire city, with one gigantinormous can of spray paint… bright green and purple. If only it wouldn’t harm the ozone layer.

7. I love the mountains, but I live near the sea… That’s life I suppose 😉

C) Pass the award on to 15 bloggers…

No mean task this and I hope to make the magical number. But even if I don’t, here are some of the blogs I love to stop by and more than deserve this award. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

And they are…

1. http://susartandfood.wordpress.com/ Susan blogs about food and art and her cat among other thing. A definite place to stop by, browse and smile a while.

2. http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/ Marilyn Gardner who authors this blog, posts on a variety of subjects and her sensitivity while dealing with issues, even those alien to her cultural background, keep me visiting her blog for more.

3. Barbara or Smidge as she’s also known in the world of blogging from http://justasmidgen.com/ whose love for life comes through in her writing. A writer, a poet, an artist, a cook… who also plays the cello.

4. Seth and Jenn Kendall’s delightful food blog Home Skillet http://hskillet.blogspot.in/ for their yummy recipes and the lovely photos accompanying them

5. Ramona from http://curryandcomfort.blogspot.in/ who is an absolute wiz at what she does. Don’t miss the variety of dishes she churns out… and gives you a step by step demo at times as well.

6.  Tara from http://sugarspiceandbacon.com/ for her lovely recipes, especially the Cheddar and Rosemary Crackers. Yum!

7. Elle from http://ellesphotographicadventures.wordpress.com/… whose photo blog is a real treat for the senses.

8. http://klutzychef.wordpress.com/ for her matter of fact way of being, and writing and for her delicious recipes and lovely food photos.

9. Carol Anne from http://thisisrocksalt.com/, who rocks out a mean Old Fashioned… cupcake among other things. Fedex some to me puhlease!

10. A naturalist to the core of his being, Alok who lives in the foothills of the HImalayas, works to empower local communities and chronicles butterflies and moths of the region among other things. A modest man Alok chronicles his work/passion at  http://forwildlife.wordpress.com/ Drop by his blog or rather his Nature Log (he doesn’t see himself as a blogger :-)) if you’re a nature lover or just anyway. It’s well worth the visit.

11. Jess, a brilliant baker and cook who I met on FoodBuzz and I’ve only just started following on Twitter. Drop by http://cake-o-cake.blogspot.in/ and you’ll be glad you did.

12. April at http://gluten-free-zen.com/ because she is a marvellous cook and baker, whose recipes are gluten free. A must see for all the recipes and my personal favourites, the Breads, especially the French Bread.

… and I fell short of the 15 blog mark but I hope that’s okay.

D) Contact the bloggers I have chosen to let them know that they have been selected!…

Have a great week of Food, Fun, Love and Peace…

Liebster Blog Award

Liebster Blog Awards!

Liebster is German and translates to the English word
“dearest”or” favourite”. It’s meant for up-and-coming
blogs with less than 200 followers.”
A Liebster Blog Award is given to talented bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is a German word that means “Dearest”, it also means ”Favorite”. So, in a way the award not only recognizes these bloggers as amazingly gifted in their own right but also as your very own personal favourites.
So I’m obviously thrilled that Liam from isbutteracarb recognised my blog for this award. Liam, yes I’m pleasantly surprised and you’ve certainly made me and my pots, pans, rolling pin and baking trays jump up n down with glee… Weeee! You have such an interesting blog and it contains two of my favourite words in the whole world, so I guess that makes us friends for life ;-). So here’s to Liam and isbutteracarb, and to food and to all good things and to his mum’s Irish soda bread which is on my to-do list.
A big shout goes out to all my blog followers and everyone who drops in now and then, with their valuable comments, and encouragement. They keep the the cook, the baker and the clay boy maker in me inspired and going.
So in the great tradition of the Liebster Blog Awards, I’m passing on the torch to 5 of my favourite up and coming blogs with less than 200 followers.
Here are the rules
  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
  5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

And they are –

1. Donna @ thesugaredpecan.wordpress.com

2. Jen @ juanitascocina.blog.com

3. Choc Chip Uru @ gobakeyourself.wordpress.com

4. Red Shallot @ redshallotkitchen.blogspot.in

5. Apple Pie Zucchini @ applepiezucchini.wordpress.com

So there they are, my 5 Liebster Blog Awardees, for their passion for food and their love for sharing. And to Liam once again for nominating me.

Thanks Liam. Cheers!