Saturday, October 16, 2010


Wacky has been our weather lately! After scorching-o-scorching summer, last week it felt like we went directly to winter, especially the mornings! The day was starting cold and it felt like we needed the heating on. Then through the day it was becoming cool to pleasant to slightly sticky in the evening that it felt like we needed to turn on the fan!

Weird are the school preachings about good nutrition. After all the talking the talk about the food pyramids and healthy eating and stuff, they burst into parties like Indian movies do with songs - no reason or rhyme! As if they needed more excuse to have treats, 'the student of the week' shares a treat with the class every Friday. There was one such Friday when on top that, 2 other students celebrated their birthdays on the very same day and so A1 came home devouring cakes and cookies and ice creams. Mudiyaleenga!!

Wild are R(gh)ajini fans after Endirun-o-run!! Oops, they did it again!! Even though I am in truce with the edhir-katchi especially after this, it irks why Annathey turned it down and hangs around with KSR!! The greatest success for Rajini is not the box-office success but his ghajini attempt succeeding in roping Ms (forever for Indians) World for his film! Penance in Himalayas does have effect!!

Wasted are Vikram's efforts movie after movie! After getting so much mixed responses to Ravan(an), I decided on the Tamil version just for the sake of Vikram. I realised later that all the people who liked the movie had seen the Hindi version! Incidentally, I unearthed "Kadhal Pagadai" on the internet and finished watching it in record one week! Roughly the theme is same and it felt the serial scored much better!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Easy eggless brownies

Yay! Atlast A1 approved and shared home-made brownies with her school mates!! "Home-made", "from scratch" phrases have had the desired effect on friends and family but to a bunch of goodie eating grade schoolers.... I was nervous!! So, I picked this tried and tested recipe from Before google, before food blogs, it was I depended totally for all my food experiments. Even now, if I have some ingredients I want to use, I simply go to their ingredient search option and find a recipe! With reviews and ratings, it is an awesome site!

I made a few changes to the basic recipe: I used sweetened hot chocolate mix instead of unsweetened cocoa powder and reduced the sugar amount. I reduced the amount of water and added some milk. I also reduced the amount of oil and added a little butter(It is only for kids, no?) I've tried it with reduced oil and apple sauce before too. I just didn't have apple sauce in hand this time.


2 cups all purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water or milk
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine well flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Pour in the water and/or milk, oil and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread in a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven. The top should no longer be shiny. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

(I had made a second batch which I baked in a round pan!)

These brownies are very cakey. For solid brownies, bake another 10 minutes. Don't over bake or they get hard.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shooting star!

I read about the Perseid meteor shower and thought, "ok, let's welcome Friday the 13th in ishtyle!" Even though the meteor shower was visible since early dawn today and even though I was woken up around 2.30 AM, the lazy me took over and convinced me that tomorrow is the bigger/better show! Right now the night sky is cloudy (punishment for my laziness!) Will the clouds clear by midnight? Will my internal alarm wake me up on time tomorrow morning too?

Every time I read about any celestial spectacles, I make big plans but then go back to complaining how it's either too bright/late or too cold for sky watching here!! Like the waves in the sea, the stars in the sky and gazing at the night sky is very soothing! Just reminds me of those childhood mottai maadi days! That also reminds me of those silly teenage years when spotting a shooting star and making a wish was such a big deal!

And talking of shooting stars will definitely bring up Tintin! Oh, I didn't know this was in the making!!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Lately, my choices in frozen treat flavours have been disasters(Most of it because of your going overboard being the sneaky chef says hubby)!! With summer temperatures dangerously threatening to hit the 3 digits almost every day this entire season, I am having to give in to the kids' scream for ice cream. And when it comes close to being a daily affair, the health freak in me kicks in!

Frozen yogurt, though doesn't sound as yummilicious as ice cream, at Ikea stores, Sweet tomatoes and Ben & Jerry's have been such a huge success that I was overjoyed to find Yogen Fruz newly opened at the mall food court. Absolutely proud of myself for sneaking frozen yogurt instead of ice cream to my little ones, (I took them the round about way so they wouldn't spot and stop at Dairy queen) ordered 2 vanilla and 1 mint choco chip at Yogen Fruz. One lick and for the first time felt the sourness of yogurt. May be a fruity flavour would've been a better choice. The kids finished all the M&M toppings and donated the rest to me!!

Initially, tubs & buckets of ice cream made me go berserk! After struggling to finish the tubs a couple of times(thankfully I didn't go near the buckets!), realised that the pint sized ones suited our household better. It didn't stay too long in the freezer and it allowed us to try different flavours too.

To compensate for the disaster at the Mall, I went to get Mayfield's Birthday Cake(everyone's favourite) ice cream from the grocery store. Since that flavour was not available I found myself forced to make a choice. After much deliberation, picked the Rocky road(thought for the marshmallows sake A1 would forgive me for choosing an ice cream with nuts) But yet again I found the hard way that I have many more rocky (road) days ahead!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Celebrity Watch!

Guess who?

A friend had sent a youtube link of her kids video. A1, who has so far watched TV shows, movie songs on youtube saw this video and excalimed, "Ammaaa... they are on YOUTUBE!!!" So, we made her a celebrity too!! ;) Talking of celebrities, have you met your favourite celebrity and how did you react? When A1 recently met the family band "Laughing Pizza" for real, she was all dumbstruck and tongue tied!

After the initial excitement of air travel waned and become an ordeal, the one and only tiny flicker I have each time every time, I am about to fly is, "will I spot a celebrity?" Though the "celebrity" for us is either a movie artist or a sportsperson where sports limits to cricket and/or tennis. So, Kenyan marathon runner or even a Dutch footballer won't count!

One of my mother's friend is related to Vani Ganapathy, Kamalhaasan's ex-wife and my mom tells me that we have spotted Kamal & Vani in weddings during their happily married years. Though being very young at that time, I hardly remember the events. But for a very long time, I used to boast to friends about my meeting with Kamal(depending on my mood & imagination level it ranged from shaking hands to riding in his shoulders!)!! So, you can imagine who would have been the saddest person when the two divorced!!

At the peak of my 'cinema payithiam' days, one day, on my way home with a cousin, saw a crowd outside a bungalow. We learnt of a cinema shooting and my cousin was telling me that the house was called Singapore house and it was often let out for cinema shooting. I was bent upon waiting outside to see which actor/actress were inside while my cousin was getting thoroughly embarrassed hanging around there. All that I can remember now is Actor Suresh coming to the balcony to give darshan and we(much to my cousin's relief) taking off after seeing Director Natraj(Moondram Pirai villain!)!

Several years later, I had now jumped fence when it came to running behind cinema stars. At school, we were taken to watch a stupid movie called "Engalayum Vaazhavidungal", supposedly a children's movie, at Nagesh theatre. Thoroughly disappointed by the movie we were all waiting for our school bus when we heard about Anandbabu(Nagesh's son) coming into the complex. Within minutes, 3/4 of the crowd ran to see him and some even returned with autographs. We were a few girls who felt embarrassed by our classmates behaviour and later had a big fight with those who went 'running to see Anandbabu'!!

After some years in the foreign countries, with most faces looking alike, while struggling to spot neighbours at the grocery store, Aththaan and me exchange conversations like, "That Guy browsing at the laptop at the far end.. doesn't he look like John Cusack?" or "Look, look that man in the speeding convertible... he is definitely Harrison Ford!" More pathetic is when I go to famous stadiums, I won't know whether to admire the grounds or celebrities or enjoy the picnic/specialty food!!

Anyway, during one of my air travel ordeal, before A2 was born, it was just me & A1 and I was eagerly waiting to see who was going to occupy the last seat in the 3 seater row. My mind floating high up flashing scenes from 'Dil chahta hai', 'Ninaithale inikkum' and the likes... 'thud' came crashing to the ground when the empty seat was occupied by my ex-company's ex-VP!

P. S. - A1 is at crossroads now...
In Music
She is too old for Dora
too young for Hanna Montana
just right Amul chocolatey suggestions for a 8 yr old please!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Big Show(s)

Atlast the purpose of getting Vijay TV got served! After indha round andha round-nnu round round-a suthi Super singer Junior got selected!! Alka Ajith deserved to be the winner but seemed like the kids(& the viewers) were drained to the last bit! Shravan, Priyanka and Srinisha were my other favourites! It is amazing to see such talent and zero stage fright in today's kids!

Once upon a time, these once-in-a-blue-moon shows were exciting and interesting. But these days, there seems to be one almost everyday(and is Karthi, the official representative for these Vijay TV functions from the Sivakumar family?). I am glad I can forward, skip, personalise and finish it in 1/2 or 1 hr!

May be I am old fashioned, but seems to me that these Orey the celebrity treatment, grand finale(y) thingy( and I thought the 9PM timing was not suitable for juniors!), beg for votes are a little too much for kiddies? The juniors, suttigals were all nice in the beginning. But now with the kids acting(or trained to?) like adhigaprasangis and with jodi no. 1 juniors, please let kids-b-kids!!


Ok, Vijay awards - check!
Though orey Deja vu! Adhey aattam, pattam, Gopinath(Vijay TV can soon change its name to Gopijay TV!), Kamal, Surya(are they introducing new categories just for Surya?), Sasikumar and Co. But I am not complaining!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Health nut case

I often wonder how & when did this health freaky, green hippy avatar of mine started! Because I was, once upon a time, a normal, regular, veggie-hating, kothavarangai skinny picky eater like most! I was never the foodie in my childhood days, embarrassed my parents everywhere with my very short list of favourite foods(my mom reminds me of this whenever I complain about my kids!). But my mother was never the fretter like me and never let criticisms from others about her kids' poor eating habits bother her too much. She always used to say"ellaam perisaana saapda kathupaanga"!

Learning to enjoy cooking lead to experimenting with varieties. And pregnancy made me a responsible eater. Once given a teeny-tiny chance to these 'counting calories', 'nutrition labels', 'balanced diet' thingies, they cling onto you like leeches for life! "You got to set an example" dangles like Yamadharmarajan's kaththi everytime I eye an extra treat or think of indulging! Right when I am fighting for 50% reservation for the brownies(flour, sugar, rice) at the dinner table, food bloggers are far ahead in their exploration and supremacy over grains like oats and quinoa(to learn to rightly pronounce it is an achievement!) and barley and... Oh, I can't keep up!!

Provision store experiences mostly like this one(from 5.05-6.30), shopping at departmental stores (Kamadenu supermarket, Vitan, Nilgiris) used to be a big bandha. Inge supermarket experience kekkave venaam! But after "Food Inc", its only the ugly, dirty side that is visible through the neat, packed isles. Co-incidentaly there was an episode on Vijay TV's "Neeya Naana" about farming, natural organic vs technology assisted. Everywhere its the farmer who has become the pawn! So, inimey head to the local farmer's market sacrificing Saturday morning sleep-dhaan.

So, for now only veganism is left and with articles like these, I am considering if I should try something like dairy free duesdays/dhursdays (like meat free mondays) and Aththaan is seriously considering cutting off ... no, not dairy, but home internet connection!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Book roundup - II

It is easier to run & hide from the masala and melodramatic stories of the screen versions, thanks to the numerous reviews from benevolent souls online and offline but when it comes to the print versions, I learnt the hard way that the star ratings don't help! After months of enduring bitchy sisters, witchy Ammayis atlast found a simble Ammachi and seedhi-saadhi sisters in an extraordinary tale - Atlas of the unknowns! It's hard to believe that the author, Tania James is a second generation Indian American as I could smell the maNNin maNam of both Kumarakom as well as NY! The narration, jumping from person to person was a total page turner. Engrossing and engaging novel! "The Wonder House" by Justine Hardy was another affecting novel!

Like the Athribacha story, I went to get books by Anita Rau Badami and came back with Amulya Malladi's! AM's "Serving crazy with curry" is the latest, I guess, to join the gang of novels with recipes thrown in at the end of each chapter. The curry in the title and the Indian desi setting made me pick this one but only ended up with an indigestion(the Saroj-Avi's Aradhana shtyle love shtory seemed the only high point!)! ARB's Tamarind woman with almost a similar setting of an incompatible couple, a bitter mother with 2 daughters was a bit interesting. Liked the description of the different places that the family live in due to the father's transferrable job. Quick read! ARB's "A Hero's walk" was like watching a Tamil movie. The detailed descriptions that looks like the author's style was but too strong, especially about the dirt and filth. I don't know how I dared to pick this one up with a story line of a little girl in Canada who loses her parents in a car accident and comes to live with her maternal grandparents in India. Though the main storyline is not about the girl, it was so so sad when the toothfairy dreams of the little girl goes out the window, the villi ammayya steals the red jacket!

Lately almost all of the novels that I've read have a filmy feel but none as worse as "the dowry bride"! Very shallow and childish!! And then there was this "Ladies coupe", felt like reading the script of KB's 70s movies! "The marriage bureau for rich people" by Farahad Zama was filmy too but a wishful and good natured one! "Almost single" and "For matrimonial purposes" were bollywoodish jolly timepass! I leaped and grabbed R K Narayan's "The Guide" when I saw it in our local library! Even though I haven't watched the movie, I knew that there was no room for imagination as Dev Anand and Waheeta Rahman were firmly stuck in my head as Raju and Rosie. In a weird coincidence I read "Hullabaloo in the guava orchard" by Kiran desai right after guide where the lead character is an accidental samiyar like Raju but the similarities end right there! Is the end really what I am thinking it is?!!

Tried my hand at non fiction with Earl Mindell's "The Oral Health Bible" but had to return without finishing as books like these are in such demand that it couldn't be renewed like the other books!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Vittadhum pidichadhum

After quite a long gap, I caught up with some recent episodes(conservative moms vs new-age moms) of Neeya, naana. It was a 2 part episode with part 1 dealing with cooking(Amma cooking Vs wife cooking), romance(Ennanga vs poda porukki!)etc while the second part was about the tug-of-war between the old and new style of parenting. Parenting is tough and for the present generation parents there is the Eastern-western conflict! The true aadha I am, I was siding with some points this side and some points that side! It was surprising when Gopinath concluded with reference to some Irish research which states parents/moms acting as an extended hand(as against letting the kids be independant) until atleast their children are 12/13 yrs of age as "the best parenting"!!!

I had been looking forward to Parthiban & his daughter Keerthana's episode in Coffee with Anu but missed it when it was shown here. So, I went hunting for the episode online and clicked on the date I had missed the show. Anu started talking about her guests' father-daughter relationship and in came Sarathkumar! It was around the time that Sarath-Radhika were all teary eyed about Jaggubai's unofficial release on the net/VCDs before its official release and for a minute I forgot that the programmes of Vijai TV shown here are a week behind and thought "ada paavigala, TV programmes kooda early release on the net-a"!

Too much to catch up with(moochu vaangudhu!!) in movies, music, books, blogs...!! Had I been a cell user in India, "iktara" would've been my ringtone. Vat a song!! With Kollywood (Annathey manichukonga!) all gone very serious and scary and sentimental(Pre "Tamil padam"), I had to knock bollywood for some timepass(read romantic comedies) movies and ended up watching "Wake up Sid", "Jaane tu ya jaane na" etc. Any timepass movie suggestions? Nambikkai natchathirangala(Kadhal Bharath, Dishyum Jeeva), ippadi thadam maari poreengaley da!!

One scientific flaw per film please!- Yaarukkavadhu kaadhula vizhugudha?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Engalukkum snow varum....

Every winter, A1's wish for shoan (the way A1 called snow when she started talking) will come true atleast once even here in the south. This year after all the record breaking snow in the east, even we got slum(the way A2 calls snow now!) decent enough to take pictures!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Amarikan Inglipish!

Recently I met an old acquaintance and when I went up to her and said, "remember me? we used to meet at our daughters' football practice sessions"? She had a big question mark in her face, "football practice... oh, soccer practice, you mean?" Can I get anymore superbowled!!!

I've always admired people who become Roman as soon as their feet touch Rome! Amongst friends who in just 3 months of landing in foreign shores could talk about cabs & cardigans in ishtyle, here I am, a thirundhadha case, even after a decade, still filling petrol, eating and feeding biscuits instead of cookies/crackers, getting rose/violet colour outfits! Recently, A1 added a new word, comforter, in her vocabulary cos' we still refer to hers as 'blankie'(btw, a diploma course is required to understand bed linens)!

Some words like 'trash', 'elevator', 'bell pepper' didn't seem that hard to get used to. But words like schedule, bath etc. confuses my brain and the outcome will definitely be the Indian way to Americans and vice versa! Same with direct, vitamins etc. And bike, scooter, jeep are quite deeply etched that the substitution is still a WIP. Apartment was easy but when I had to answer which floor, I always wished I lived in the top most as I bungled with all others. Shortened versions are to make life easy. But I kashtapattu, vedhanapattu, thindadi, theruporukki somehow manage to say 'condomonium' in full cos' a couple of times, my mouth(with help from brain or not, I know not) mysteriously adds a 'm' to the end to its short form!!

Recently a desi asked me if & how I pronounced my name Americanized. After reading thro' this post, you might've guessed that like the Doordarshan TV times palmolive shaving advt. dhadiwala(beard) guy, my answer was "who, me?" ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010


One of A1's friend's mom happened to tell me that on a discussion about idlis, A1 remarked, "My mom makes the best idlis"! No doubt I came back home all smiling ear to ear and thinking, not all hard work goes unnoticed, unrewarded. While I was sharing this proud moment with hubby, A1 appeared from nowhere and said, "I didn't say that. I just said my mom makes idlis too"!!
(okie, okie... aall iz well, aall iz well)

From the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to sleep, my mind transistor always remains on(especially with all my favourite radio stations vanishing one by one(, aahaafm etc.)) with some song playing all day and some are picked up by the mouth! Now that A2 is old enough to have ideas and opinions and realised the utility of the mouth other than eating & crying, uses it to command "Amma, no paat!"
(okie, okie... aall iz well, aall iz well)

Atthaan is orey the narcissist these days, all the time only I-phone, I-pod, I-app... But I dare not open my mouth about it or orders will be placed on the I-net for me too and/or the chotoos(I-yo!)