Monday, March 31, 2014

Animal Duty

So we went to the farm once more. This time we could not avoid animal duty. Planting is a rewarding activity, but contrary to expectations we also loved cleaning up after those little guys and gals and feeding them! Look at the bunch of them all ready and hungry to be fed! It was such a motley assortment yet so beautiful that they had me at the first cluck.

There were goats, pigs, geese and chickens of course. Remember Em? Well she certainly has the attitude. The other geese we met were just your ordinary farm geese while Emily had this very human like possessiveness.

While the boys were off strutting their stuff, the girls were found commiserating together. Probably pondering why the guys are adorned in such glorious colors while they were dressed in leftovers. Even the common rooster seems to have more color to him than us they say!

Totally unconcerned with all the goings on in the farm are the bunnies. They eat, sleep, hop some, eat more, sleep more and hop more. Well, you get the idea.

It was definitely fun being among the animals as opposed to just going there to observe. Hope to do more of this. Thanks are due to the last owner who so graciously donated her farmhouses and land to the city so we can still experience this life in the midst of all the urban growth and technology that pervades nowadays.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Not Sushi, Indo-California Shrimp Rolls!

I never knew H to be a Sushi fan and so was a little perplexed when he plunged wholeheartedly into making California rolls few weeks back. Granted, he was a little rushed with a new job which took up almost all his time and maybe was looking to de-stress. Whatever it was, we had two weeks of fast and furious sushi making. He has since joined a new company which has more of a normal pace and we may never see sushi anymore. He was apparently inspired by a sushi restaurant he frequented for lunch when working at the first place. I am not complaining since as a responsible spouse I feel it my sacred duty to gobble up any such rolls made by H. The fact that they are little pieces of heaven rolled in rice does not sway me one way or another:-)

Let us go into the nitty gritty of sushi making albeit with an Indian touch. There is one equipment you need for sushi making and it is the mat. This is what helps you to roll the rice and it can be found in Japanese grocery stores. H covered it with plastic wrap to stop it from sticking and to help when cleaning up.

In The Mix

japanese short grain rice - 1 cup ( this is the most important item that will make or break your sushi)
water - 1 1/4 cup water
nori (sea weed) - 1 pkg
fish stock powder (dashi) - 1/2 tsp or to taste)
rice wine vinegar - 1/4 cup - add more or less to taste
 - the above items can be found in japanese stores

fresh shrimp fry - any kerala recipe will do
dried roasted shrimp -  as needed from 1 pkg (you will get this from indian stores)
salt, sugar as needed

How To Do

Prepare fresh shrimp curry following any recipe. Coconut pieces in the shrimp adds to the overall flavor so it is preferred.

Soak the rice in water for 20 minutes.

Boil the vinegar and then add sugar, salt, dashi and mix well. Check and add more of each to your taste.  Over all flavoring should be subtle. Boil once and remove from heat. Stir and set aside to cool.

Prepare the sticky rice by carefully following the directions below:

Wash and drain the rice. Add the water to the rice and cook covered on high heat. When the first steam comes out turn to low and cook for about 20 minutes. Check to see if rice is sticking to the bottom. Rice is done once all the water is gone. Remove from heat right away. Start stirring the rice gently with spoon in one hand while fanning with the other hand to remove any remaining water and to cool down the rice. Add the vinegar mixture and gently stir all together. Result should be sticky but separated evenly flavored rice. Most of the hard work is done. Now for some fun.

Take one seaweed and cut into two. Place a half sheet on the mat and spread the rice evenly onto it.

Now turn this over carefully so the rice side is touching the mat.

Spoon out the shrimp fry in a row on the long side of the sheet close to one edge. Sprinkle some dried shrimp along for crunch factor.

Now start rolling the mat gently so the whole layer of stuff gets rolled. This is why we needed the mat. It helps to roll the rice side without much ado!

Once the inner roll has reached full circle, give an even squeeze along the top for good measure. Remove the mat by rolling the stuff out onto a plate.

Wet a non serrated knife to avoid rice sticking and cut out into small sushi like rolls. You can pop each one into your mouth as they are being cut or wait and try your patience. You will not realize how many you can eat in one sitting until much later!