Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tea Ceremony & My Girl's Grape Juice Recipe

It started out rather innocuously. From an inconvenience I felt once when making several cups of tea one at a time in the microwave. Making it the old fashioned way on the stove was just too slow for that day. I thought if I could get a teapot small enough to get in the microwave and large enough for a few cups of tea I could just pour it all out in one stretch. As with all such things, the idea stayed just that for a long time. Then something brought it back to the top and I made an impulsive buy of a teapot  only to find it too tall for the microwave! That got returned and the whole plan got discarded. At least for the time being. Last week we drove to an outlet mall that we hadn't visited in the longest time and I spent some time in a favorite store of mine. The Corelle Outlet. You can find all sorts of cute kitchen stuff there. Many Indian parents shop there before their return trip to get some unbreakable everyday stuff for a good price. I bought some stuff that I liked and then I remembered the teapot. My son spotted this cutesy little guy and the decision to buy was immediate.

As luck would have it I spotted something else on the shelf. The glasses that reminded me of those roadside teashops where tea was always served hot with a flourish or thud in one of these!  My dad depended on them to quench his thirst when going on long trips. So we came home, washed teapot and glasses with soapy warm water and our tea ceremony got started. It will last at least for the duration of the holidays when time and temperament seems inviting for such an act. I had planned on using my lovely teacups but once I got the glasses, they were the natural pick:-)

Here is how we do it. Around 4 to 5 in the evening, kids and Mom gather in the kitchen. Mom gets the teapot and kids get the glasses, help with pouring 2.5 glasses of milk plus 1.5 glasses of water. Add in 5 tea bags and 4 tbsp of sugar, close the lid and microwave for 4.30 or more. Now you can let it sit in there and steep or take out depending on your needs. Remove the teabags, stir the sugar and pour out carefully into glasses. Make sure eager hands touching their glasses "for the same amount of tea as parents" don't get spilled over. Call Dad and gather round the table to sit and sip the tea. All of us are enjoying this very much. Who would have thought? Bring on the holidays anytime I say.

My Girl's Grape Juice Recipe
She is always busy if she gets the board and the marker. This time when she was done this is what we saw.  A recipe for grape juice. Thought I'll post it here. 

Above picture is an illustration of the method. Recipe follows:

I did ask her what to do once you have all the listed ingredients to get the grape juice. She gave me a look that said, why ask about something so basic!! I'd say remove skin from the grapes and put all in the blender is what she meant:-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas & A Happy 2011!

Stars sent lovingly from India have been hung up with lights and all. See one of those above. Just ignore the dark wires:-) Nativity is setup, appam batter is ready, stew pieces are cut and duck roast is done. Fruit cake has been distributed and gifts are under the tree. Now all that is left is for Santa to visit and for us to attend Mass. Did I say that I love holidays especially guilt free ones with no pressure from work? Hope the holidays are going well for everyone and that Christmas is indeed Merry. Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year too . A picture of our roasted duck is below.

Oven Roasted Potatoes
I oven roasted  the potatoes in the oven instead of frying in oil this time. A much better and easier way to do it. Here is how:

Preheat oven to 475F
Just peel and cube 1 or 2 potatoes. You could also cut them into circles as before.
Sprinkle some oil, mix and sprinkle some salt.
Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 25-28 minutes.
If doing circles reduce the time to 12-15 minutes and check.
Let cool for potatoes to come off the sheet and add to the roasted duck curry. Done!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crab Stir-Fry/Njandu Ularth and Crab Curry

Crab in any form is yummy especially so for my husband. We bought a nice bunch of cooked crabs from Costco and it was up to me to make something out of it this time. I was a little weary due to the disastrous crab preparation I perpetrated upon the household the other day from two rather expensive cans of crab meat. But that is when Mrs. KMM can truly come to your rescue. She had a Njandu Ularth recipe in her Nadan Pachakarama and I followed mostly except for the quantities and one other change. I did not shell the crabs. Used them as they are which is preferred by the Main Crab Eater in the realm. My girl and I are used to this too. My boy stays clear of the whole thing at this time of his life. Maybe soon.. Here is the recipe

In The Mix
crabs -3 lbs (cleaned, cooked and separated into pieces)
mustard seeds - 1 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 2 or 3 sprigs
big red onion - 2sliced
torn dry red chili - 2 tbsp(ran out of this so i added the powder form below)
dry red chili powder - 1 1/2 tbsp
garlic - 10-12 cloves crushed and then gently sliced if required
pepper powder - 2 to 2 1/2 tsp up to your spice tolerance (too lazy to crush whole pepper mentioned in recipe)
kudampuli - 2-3 pieces in 1 cup of water (cleaned and heated in a microwave with the water - my Mom)

How To Do
I am glad that cooked crabs are easy to find. Not sure if I'd be this willing to venture into crabland if I also need to deal with live crustaceans! To deal with the cooking, let us go with Mrs KMM. She says to put crabs, turmeric powder and salt into boiling water and cook for about 1 hour.  Cook until the shells turn orange. Put cooked crab into cold water to keep the flesh firm. Then she suggests to shell the crabs which I didn't do.

Moving onto what to do once you have cooked, separated and unshelled crabs ready to roll -
Heat oil in a pan and break mustard. Add curry leaves and onions. Add salt to mix well with onions. Saute for a while until onions turn translucent and then add red chilies including powder. Keep on sauteing and add garlic and then pepper powder. Saute some more till they have a pleasing look all together.

Now add the kudampuli with its water and then add crab pieces. Mix well together, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes so the crab meat imbibes some of the flavors. Open and dry out well in the heat before taking out to enjoy with hot cooked rice. Yum! The shells are easy to break but make sure to keep an empty platter for all those shells to collect in. This can pile up before you have time to think!

Crab Curry
I had some leftover crab after taking what was needed for the Ularth. So went ahead and cooked it with the egg curry recipe and below is the result. With this ularth and curry any memories of the previous crabby incident has been erased forever:-) Just replace the eggs with about as much of cooked crab in shells (about 1/2 lbs?). Add a bit of vinegar to taste in the end and voila!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


 Nope, no new food posts yet. Just saying a hello to say we are eating but just not anything new:-) I have some in mind but picture taking opportunities are hard to come by since the dark winter evenings are here. Hope Thanksgiving went well for those who celebrated. We made some yummy duck roast in honor of TG a week ahead and happily skipped the Turkey this year. Went to Grand Canyon via Las Vegas instead. Watched Cirque De Soleil's Ka while at Las Vegas. Not bad. Kids totally loved all of it. Moving vertical and horizontal stages were awesome! Grand Canyon was too cold by sunset watching time. We barely managed it. Yet, judging by the crowd I am not sure I want to do the trip when the weather is more pleasant. Too much crowd is not fun in the buses as well as with kids. GC indeed is a sight to see. I kept wondering about the people who had never heard or seen pictures of it blundering on to this brilliant brilliant beauty of a canyon carved by the Colorado River jumping at them. Awe inspiring. Next time maybe we will trek down a bit. We went to the south rim. Didn't drive to the west rim where the Skywalk Glassbridge is.  The 12 hours driving was rather fun with us all together. Holidays are special to all I guess.  Can't wait for the X-mas hols now. Nativity is set and the tree is up. X-mas here we are!! Well, almost. Must be the overworked employee in me getting excited:-) Projects have cooled down to a manageable level so shouldn't complain.

Come to think of it, I do have some food related stuff to relate. Did I tell you about the new Waffle Iron we got sometime back? I can't find the exact model but this one comes closest.

Better than reheating those frozen store bought waffles. Possibilities are endless with the toppings: honey, fruits, butter, jelly, sunny side up, bacon. All goes well with a crisp yummy waffle. I get this waffle mix and simply follow the recipe on the can.