Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saaka? Beka?

As long as in the parent's nest, didn't give much thought to the plate of food, infact favourite food most of the time, that awaited me every meal time! The realization hit only in one's own nest! Most Indian dishes, though delicious, involves tedious work. I can't think of many dishes that are easy to make. Even the basic dal & roti or rice & rasam/curd(in this hemisphere, a degree more or less in the warmth of the milk will result in climate change(d) antartica's melting glaciers like yogurt and not the katti thangam, I mean, the getti thayir that one expects!) involves medium level work! But the worst is that even hard work doesn't guarantee rewarding results. Another proof of this!

So, instead of becoming a beku by slogging with the "kai vidaa" stirring / "ennai kopparai" styles of cooking with average(and below) success rates, I took to the fantastic "fill it, shut it, forget it" baking! With wonderful food recipe sites and amazing food bloggers simplifying & healthy-fying recipes that are easy & rewarding, neither I have to give saaku-pokku to avoid making yummy dishes nor the victims have to give saaku-pokku to avoid my experiments!

So, here are some of my experiments from the www!!

No-bake chocolate & peanut butter cookies - One of my relatives had sent this and I loved it! The recipe is so easy and simple too! Only, the next time I am going to make it as bars instead of cookies.

PB Granola - I love granola bars! With a little chocolate chips, nuts etc. it is better than Snickers! (As you would've guessed, I have got to finish this jar of chunky peanut butter sitting in my pantry!)

Banana bars - Feeding A1 healthy foods is getting challenging every passing day, month, year! She is tired of all the banana breads and muffins. So, I found this recipe. Don't know how long its going to take for her get tired of this too!
As per many commentators in the recipe site, it is too sweet and I cut down on sugar & butter. I haven't tried it with the icing too. Still very yummy either for breakfast or just a snack.

Coconut bun - I used to love these thenga buns. Thanks to the food blogger for posting this recipe. It came out delicious. Only problem was that some liquid from the buns oozed out in the baking process. But that might be because I must've really stuffed the buns!

Nippattu - Seri, seri, atleast one savory dish since its winter!! This came out well only it became a bit soft the next day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ada, Raamaa!!!

Good - Healthy diet containing fruits, vegetables
Bad - Junk foods
Ugly - Pesticide/hormone added produce/dairy

Good - Bathing/Showering preferably everyday
Bad - Not bathing/showering

Good - Natural breeze through open windows
Bad - Artificial air conditioning

Friday, October 16, 2009

Deepavali Bonus!

I got my Deepavali bonus! Vi'jai-ho'! ".com" Vaazhga!!

Even though the celebration for Kamalhassan's 50 years in Cinema has been going on since August in Vijay TV, I have been unable to contain myself ever since pictures & articles about the grand event that took place in Nehru stadium last month began emerging!

Atlast, 'kanden kondatathai'!!!
The program was fairly neat and organised, categorised decade-wise, talent wise with oliyum, oLiyum performances in between. K Balachander & AVM Saravanan made short & sweet "oosi vedi" speeches having already said much more in the 'thodarum sarithiram' episodes. The Radhika segment was the "sara vedi"! Rohini's poetic speech & Revathi singing 'inji idupazhaga' were 'maththappu'! The absence of Kushboo, Ambika/Radha amongst his heroines was surprising!

The much anticipated unplugged with SPB & Hariharan was a mini "poochetti". Mini because after the CBE extravaganza 'Kamalum Kadhalum', anything else might seem low-key! Vivek's rocket speech was asusual enjoyable. It was puzzling to see Kamal sitting unusually grim faced almost through the entire time, his expression brightening once in while and notably when Shruthi sang "one is the loneliest number"!

The function-shy Ilayaraja made exception to attend his sahodarar's mega celebration. But the "10000 wala" speech came from Rajni!! He was unbelievably Mr. Perunthanmai-kanth! When Kamal came atlast to the dias he seemed genuinely emotional! Kudos Annathey!! You absolutely deserve this accolade!

In those yesteryear DD only days, 2 Kamal songs in Oliyum oliyums, chitrahaars /chitramalas would lead to big elated discussions. Now after happily drenching myself in the Grand event Kamal shower, it is sad to find all my Kamal fan blogger friends in dormancy/hibernation. Even my best friend and fellow Kamal fanatic is in a non-approachable situation that I had to make this Deepavali release myself!

Iniya Deepavali nalvaazhthukkal!!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Achchamundu achchamundu!

Nope, not a(nother) review of the recently released movie. But ever since I heard about the movie, it's been of some interest to me. Be it the new& nice cast of Prasanna & Sneha, the desi setting of the movie or the director of the movie, Arun Vaidyanathan. In my pre-blogging days, when there weren't many tamil blogs, Arun's blog was one of the few tamil blogs that I followed. He used to post about his short films, movie reviews etc. but had to shut it down because of some nasty commentators. When bloggers(whether you know them personally or not) come under the limelight, it feels the way a friend does. But now having come to know of the theme of the movie, I am all "achchamundu achchamundu"!

Once upon a time, in Damil movies, the hero was the epitome of goodness! Then there was a time when all heroes were anti heroes. Ipellaam, orey the yadhartha heroes dhaan! The perfectly odhavakarey college/high school drop outs, drinking & smoking in every frame! Is that Anbumani Ramadoss saar giving that 'I told you so!' look? But luckily or unluckily, the red carpet - Bangalore ishtyle stories will not make it on Damil screens!

And what is with Jeeva and sodhappal endings? From 'Ram' to 'Dishyum' to 'SMS'... aiyo! yempa ippadi?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Gone too soon!

The only news that penetrated and made us to pause during our vacation was the passing away of Michael Jackson. This past weekend, the news of his fans all over the world performing his songs to commemorate his 51st birthday took me down memory lane too.

My interest for western music started (& faded) with his rise(& fall!). In the late 80s and early 90s, 3 of us friends used to sit glued to the radio sets (rarely together but mostly in our own homes) on Saturday nights to listen to the one and only western music program on Madras B and discuss the songs the following sunday morning. It used to be a competition to learn the lyrics of the songs! MJ's was a particular favourite. Screaming 'Ambey... Ambey' for 'Bad' or feeling goosebumps listening to 'Man in the mirror' or giggling to the 'Girl is mine' seems like yesterday! When cable TV entered and brought MTV home, watching the videos of Thriller, The smooth criminal, Black or white were so awesome!

A (US return)friend of mine in college sort of gave me the idea that MJ wasn't as popular in the US as in India. So, the first time in the US, when someone asked me whose or what kind of music I liked, I wasn't sure whether to say Michael Jackson or not. Then he himself added, "George Michael? My sister used to be crazy about him"! I was about to blurt, 'George Michael, Michael Jackson, I guess all Michaels' and gulped it at the last minute and saved my face for the person talking to me was a Michael too!!

Like most celebrities, once again, in the manipulation contest between the media and the celebrity, the media wins!

RIP, Moonwalker!

P.S. - And bye, bye Chandrayaan! Some consolation!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Malayala Melody

Our back from India items include all the usual ones like eatables, clothes, memories etc. plus a few children's VCDs everytime. A1 has graduated from 'Amma inge vaa vaa', Thenali Raman/Panchatantra animated stories to music/dance VCDs this time! Enjoy a few samples here. Feel free to suggest any other musical videos featuring children singing/dancing.

In an unrelated note, idhu ennanga combination, Mr India Sridevi - Thayir vada desigan...

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Summer holidays meant going to paatti/thatha veedu for most Indian kids. Guess, the desis are continuing and saving the tradition now! We made our 'thaai manney vanakkam' trip this summer. It was A2's first trip to India and my first time with 2 kids on the mega flight experience(not bad at all!).

The last couple of months just zipped past packing & unpacking from one place to another, attending several functions(thoroughly enjoyed vazhai ilai kalyana saapadu!) etc. that after my return I had to go thro' the photos to realise what really happened! None of the usual NRI stuff like cinema theatre visit, shopping or sight-seeing this time b'cos of clingy A2! A1 went on an amusement park-adanam in every place with whoever available!!

Atlast people have started to get bored of mega serials and now it is Music/dance shows that rule India. Aaha, enna timing that I got to witness the mega final of Super singer 08 and Surya's sashtanga namaskaram to Kamal in vijay awards!!! And what 'phonnu, cell phonnu, blue toothu, black berry, blue berry.... idellaam dupe... SMS dhaan top!! Chiyaan, nee asathu ba!!

I guess, it's quite common in most house-holds that the porandha veedu and pugundha veedu have totally different lifestyles / pazhakka-vazhakkams! Every trip some stuff gets left behind in India, mostly accidentally & some purposely! It was so funny that on one side, I can dig into all those treasures and more while in the other, even if I came back missing my flight, the stuff would've been donated! Now back home, to deal with all my household collection mountain, I am wondering if I should go my usual 50-50 method of holding onto some as memorobilia and trashing the rest. But now the problem is that there is adidhadi as to which is memorobilia/trash & to who!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Deepening, darkening Grrreen!!

The economic slowdown, the green shift etc. are making the once termed 'cheap Indian mentality' not cheap anymore! 

Bringing your own bags to stores are welcomed and I see people sporting these store logo-ed green bags everywhere!(oh, I miss being the odd jolna pai!)

I was surprised to see the following printed on Target's plastic bag
10 Ways to Reuse Your Target Bag
1. Tiny Trash Can Liner 
2. Doggy Duty 
3. Water Balloon 
4. Road Trip Rubbish 
5. Soggy Laundry 
6. Ice Pack 
7. Toiletry Tote 
8. Kitty Litter Liner 
9. Tomorrow’s Lunch Bag
10. Care Package Padding
(aaha, appadi vaanga vazhikku!!)

Even my kindergartener has caught up with the Reuse-Recycle-Reduce mantra but her ishtyle is always the unexpected! She doesn't let me throw anything in the bin now(even the flimsy store bakery boxes). After the use of her favourite tools: scissors, glue, colors (Cut & Paste & Decorate) it becomes a "gift for Amma"!! 

Whether I (get to) use or not, I love to clip all those coupons that I find and add to my handbag clutter. But compared to her, I don't know if I will even qualify to be Kadhalikka Neramillai Sachchu style, raanikku saamaram veesum chedi!!! 

It is nice that all newsletters are sent(or atleast have the option) in e-mail saving paper. But isn't  it just light green since electricity is used to power those computers?

People, please stop giving those free T-shirts for anything and everything! Most of them are of gigantic sizes and others have outdated logos(how to wear a T-shirt with prints Digital 1999 or Black Friday 2006!)

Hubby's office celebrated a belated Earth Day recently (on a day he was off!). A few days back he proudly brought back his green kit containing a couple of green re-usable bags(with grocery on the other hand in a store plastic bag!!), a green tips sheet and other pamphlets in logoed plastic bag! One of the green tip was about carrying your own mug to the coffee shop & reduce trash! Everytime we had to get doggy bag/food to go from the restaurant, my hands would itch to get a container of my own but never got the courage(what if aththaan declares, "That's it! No more eating out")! Anyway, like the jolna pai, I'm sure the day is not far away when everyone will come to restaurants with their adukku tiffin box! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kaapi & Tea

This post has been brewing in my mind for quite a while now but what with the spring fevers and spring breaks! Next to sweets, the kaapi/tea comes in my irresistible list! I try to limit one of each per day but any bonus is absolutely relished. As a kid, Amma made it more special by banning it for kids. It was an absolute triumph when Amma, vexed with our pestering, lifted the ban! Till date, the thought of hot kaapi  is my boost to the chore-some 'waking up in the morning'! 

For Appa, anything more than 1/2 tsp of sugar in the kaapi is panagam but the rest of us would enjoy the kaapi with a generous 2-3 tsps of sugar. But that made it impossible to enjoy kaapi anywhere outside of home. Especially, in the kalyana mandapams, in the plane, at Starbucks etc. Initially, it used to be embarrassing to ask for more sugar packets at the counter all the while wondering how this sugar crazy land is content with one teeny-tiny sugar packet for the giant lotta of coffee! Also, it took a long time to realise that the little too milky cafe latte is the one which is as close to our kaapi from among the big list of capuccinos & espressos in the coffee shops. 

Even though the filter kaapi wins hands down and it is worth waiting for the thick dicoction to drip & fill the filter, there is no time for these indulgences during the hurry-burry week days. As it is my dislike for microwaved milk has raised a few eye brows. Whatever the beverage, I only prefer the good old pongalo pongal stove boiled milk!

Like the English language, the other British custom left by the British and adopted by some Indian families is the afternoon Tea. With a couple of biscuits and soothing hindi songs from Vividbarathi, it was bliss. The best tea I ever had was at a roadside tea shop in Mettupalayam! Tea is good if someone makes it for you. And making tea for one person is torture! Hubby is from a kaapi and kaapi only family! After several ghajini attempts, this got him hooked onto tea so much so that these days he gets Chai Latte from Starbucks for both of us!! 

Lately the kollywood movies can be categorised into the kaapi or T type movies. Kaapi types are from big banners, big casts, big names and copied/lifted from foren films. (Originali)T types are small budgets, new faces or forgotten faces, too realistic, sad and/or gory! There are few boost/bournvita type movies but don't stay in the mind too much!

Anyway, as per the tradition of including arusuvai (of including veppam poo & mango pachidi) on the Tamil new year's day to signify the ups and downs of our life, I am thinking may be I'll start a tradition of having 1/2 cup of unsweetened kaapi and 1/2 cup of sweetened kaapi! To all my Virodhis and Friends, puththandu vaazhthukkal!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vattam, Maavattam!

The Appas, Ammas, Athais, Mamas of desis who come to visit the states spend most of their time converting $ into Rs or vice versa. But as a pudhu ponnu in the states, I appavi-ly use to exclaim, "haiyo, tape recorder 55 dhaana! Vangidalamley?" much to the horror of Hd! Then came the icing, sales tax! Especially with all prices ending with a .99, the final payment always seem a mockery! To my knowledge, I always remember paying either the MRP or sticker or the kadakaran sollara price at stores in India. Or if one is really lucky with no 'no bargain' signs, can even come out of the store with a big grin having saved Rs. 2!! Here in the States, if one is lucky enough to live in a no sales tax state or even in the vicinity of such states then orey the alattals dhaan!! To save 5%, we used to drive 50+ miles in the North East! 

It was a revelation that not just the tax, driving rules, immunizations, speed limits and many other things varied from state to state. And when we moved here, it went another step further,  the county level! With our city lying across 3 counties, it took me a while to understand the county level rules, tax(take the right turn and save 1% sales tax!), school systems etc. Anyway, all this build-up is for my latest bungle. 

As a pudhu ponnu in the states knowing nothing about the big deal about long weekends and the mandatory big plans for trips that one has to make and with an absent-minded professor hubby who might thankfully remember on Sunday evening that the following Monday is a holiday, I took over the holiday planning committee chair(wo)man post. All was well until this past President's day long weekend. With hubby having a holiday, relatives' kids having a holiday, Balavihar on holiday and even the stock market enjoying a holiday, not in my wildest dreams did I imagine A1's school district county would be sincerely working on President's day! Now hereafter, every holiday I will be subjected to the "Are you sure its a holiday for me today?" 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Slum God!

When the hares of bolly, kolly and all the o'llywoods were racing for the os'car', slowly, steadily and smartly ARR has won the 'ஞானப்பழம்' (gyana pazham)!! Congrats to Madras Mozart(!!)! More than all his recent awards, its his acceptance speech with a punch(billion people in GG, in tamil at Oscar)that really was more surprising! "இவ்வளவு முத்து கூட உதிருமா இவரிடம்(Ivalavu muthu kooda odhiruma ivaridam)!!"

I like "கஷாய"(kashaaya-isn't that the opposite of masala?) movies even though I am an emotional party(you know!)! I have been keeping my fingers crossed for our ultimate gutsy கஷாய director Bala's latest கைவண்ணம்(kaivannam), 'Naan Kadavul'. Before I had kids, a couple of dozens of handkerchiefs and I was all set to watch those real movies. But now, emotionally and mentally weak, I have to muster enough strength to sit through those serious stuff. Having not been able to watch beyond 30 mins of 'Slumdog..', severe penance, I mean, preparations are needed to see kadavul, I guess!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Something something!

In our local Indian store, the newest attraction is 'Madras Samosa'! It's only around the late 90s, that Chaat houses started creeping up in Chennai but now there is a local version of the Samosa??  The crust of this new entrant is crispy which makes me wonder if some wrap (tortilla or wanton wraps) is used for the crust. So, does that mean from scratch preparations are punjabi(?) samosas and semi-homemades (Sandra Lee ishtyle) are Madras versions?!! If so, what wraps do they use in Madras?

Sometime back during a discussion with A1(my older one) about eating habits, I happened to mention that my grandma often said kids can & should eat anything & everything and that they are even capable of digesting stones. These days the pulses / lentils/ dals' (especially tur dal) quality has come down a lot.  Either it takes too long to cook(some don't cook very well even after an over-night soak!) or there are impurities in them. So, when A1 discovered a stone in her food once, she asked me, "do you want to test my digestive system, Amma?"