Monday, June 02, 2014

The List: May 2014

Goodbye May, Hello June! Here are a dozen or so snapshots that capture the month that was.

Cooking & Baking


Beet thoran. If you don't like beets, we can't be friends. Kidding, kidding. A friend directed me towards this recipe for beet thoran- thoran being the flavorful and minimalist way of cooking vegetables, Kerala style. And as I was saying, if you don't like beets, I think you'll start to like them the minute you taste this thoran.

I tried a long-pinned recipe and made these mini quiches. The recipe calls for a crust that is simply mixed and patted into the pan- no rolling required. I used a caramelized onion filling. The result was wonderful except for one thing- the filling cooks before the crust is well browned. Maybe I should try blind baking the crust next time?



A friend threw a cinco de mayo party (any excuse to drink margaritas at 3 PM, right?) and I finally had a chance to make the tres leches cake I saw on America's Test Kitchen. The cake was a hit- but alarmingly rich and sweet, so definitely a rare treat to be shared with many.



Reading
Image: Goodreads
The best book I read all month was a graphic memoir: Marbles by Ellen Forney. Forney is a cartoonist and she tells us her story of grappling with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. She worries about whether her illness is correlated with her creativity ("mad genius") and whether dosing herself with medication will kill her art. Her memoir is touching, illuminating (mental illness being as misunderstood as it is) and believe it or not, entertaining because of her personality and honesty. "My sufferings are a part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art." 

Radhika's eloquent review made me pick up the book and I'm glad I did.



Enjoying

Strawberry ice cream made by a friend with berries that she picked with her daughters.







Magnolias- the iconic Southern trees are in bloom now. I love the big bold white flowers and the intoxicating fragrance that carries in the breeze.







Sun and sand!







A cool painting that we bought from a local artist. The restaurants here have art exhibits; we went to lunch with visiting relatives and couldn't take our eyes off this. It is huge (8 feet x 4 feet) and every time I look at it, I notice a new detail.


Sewing


Tote bags as quick and functional gifts. I used the 40 minute tote bag pattern- the only change is that I made my own handles from fabric. They take 40 minutes to make if you don't have a toddler underfoot, otherwise all bets are off.





Quilt blocks for the quilt I'm working on. This one is called the bear paw.







A town quilt for my nephew's birthday. It is the same pre-printed panel I've used before to make a quilt, but I added some suburbs to make it bigger.








Our big milestone this month was that Lila is fully potty trained during the day time at least. She's super excited and a bit obsessed about the whole thing. We were out on a walk and a kindly older neighbor asked her, "How are you doing, Lila?" only to be told, "I am peeing in the potty!" To his credit, he kept a straight face and solemnly congratulated her.

I keep dreading that this kid is going to ask one of our proper-Southern-lady neighbors, "Are you wearing underwear"?! The book on the left is very funny and cute, by the way.


Ahem, on that note, what have you been cooking, eating, enjoying and making in May? Any milestones to report ;)? 

And with that I say
night night

37 comments:

  1. I love the book recommendations and try and get as many as I can, from the library. Thank u, for introducing me to graphic memoirs.

    I like Ree Drummonds Tres Leches cake. I haven't tried any other versions.

    Hahahahaha! Lila is super cute! And a big girl now. I just remembered a funny incident, we were dining a a restaurant ( last year..) and S wanted to go potty, I went with him, now he sat there, humming, swinging his legs, looking up at me, smiling, twiddling his thumbs and humming some more.. I was impatient to go back tot he table and asked him, "zhali?", he smiled and went back to humming, for a good 5 mins. Finally I got irritated and said, "arey kay? what are u doing?" he smiles, sweeeeetly and says, " nothing, just sitting"......
    'paf' slapped my forehead!

    I am facing a block, i have been meaning to post ( pictures are ready and everything) but cannot get down to it. I spend ages on the laptop, so I do have the time :( Hopefully I can do that soon.

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    1. LOL rest and relaxation on the potty! Hey, why not? I know the dreaded writer's block all too well.

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    2. Oh and I'm so glad you're enjoying graphic novels/memoirs too. It was really a revelation to me that they are every bit as deep and touching as prose.

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  2. One of the highlights of May (the biggest for the daughter) was strawberry picking. She was excited for days before and after. The 4 lbs just vanished before I could even think jam. Most were eaten as is and few squishy ones went into strawberry dressing for salads.

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    1. We missed strawberry picking season! But hope to go blueberry picking soon. I think my kid would love it too.

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  3. Hey congrats on potty training!

    Here is my round up
    Eating


    * Well drinking really - smoothies made on our new Vitamix. I add all kinds of fruit, next to no milk and nuts and sometimes oats. Makes for a great 4pm snack and a way to use up over ripe fruit
    * Produce from our garden

    Reading


    * The NYTimes daily
    * Economist sometimes

    Doing


    * Not nearly enough biking - need to train for a really long ride I am doing in July
    * Fixing things around the house - first a blocked shower, today the sprinklers, the sink is next! Lest you think I am so handy - this mostly involves calling around and finding a local handyman to fix it

    Enjoying


    * Our veggie garden - I harvested, a dozen potatoes, a pound of peas(pound after shelling!), loads and loads of arugula, mint, coriander and chard.

    * Now waiting on the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. My experimental plants include bhindi, karela and dudhi as well as “owa"

    Planning


    * A work trip to Chennai
    * A special anniversary trip for Dec

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    1. Thanks for sharing the highlights of your month and there are so many! How wonderful that you're growing produce. I am absolutely impressed (struggling with my one curry leaf plant)!

      I empathize about the fixing around the house, we had an expensive plumbing situation last week too. There's always something.

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  4. How very cute is Lila, OMG. Yes, it's a very exciting milestone for kiddos when they can finally 'go' on their own to the potty, and not less so for us parents either. I recall how hastily I had to port train my own now 10 year old when he was just shy of three because the pre-school he was to enter that July insisted on all kids being fully potty trained. Thats the only time in his life I'd resorted to a few bribes to get him to learn a new skill ASAP:-) He would inform guests to our home that if they gave him candy he'd go show them how he did potty. Hugely embarrassing.

    BTW, am totes going to borrow Marbles and read it soon. Have personal(in the immediate family) experience with Bipolar disorder and I'm certain much of her experiences will feel very familiar to me.

    Also, have to, have to try out the no-roll quiche dough. I've had Epic Fails with a proper crusty and flaky type traditional quiche dough and have just about given up. Sad, because we love quiche in our home. This one might just be up my alley though. Will report back success(or failure).

    You lead such a lovely and graceful life. God Bless.

    Deepa

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    1. Yeah I have to acknowledge V and I are pretty excited too about the potty situation :D I think you will enjoy Marbles. I learned so much about mental illness and will be more compassionate about people dealing with it.

      If you've been struggling with quiche dough, have you tried buying pie crusts? There are brands that make pie crusts with few and real ingredients. I sometimes keep a couple in the freezer for last minute quiche. And many many thanks for your kind words!

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  5. I am glad you enjoyed Marbles, Nupur.

    I am now reading 'Sex and the Citadel', and just bought a skein of yarn to crochet my first scarf for my little one. Also trying my hand a gardening and growing some indoor plants this season.

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    1. I'm excited to read your review of Sex and the Citadel. It sounds very intriguing. Good luck with the crochet and gardening- fun pursuits (I had better luck with the former compared to the latter)!!

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  6. Congrats to Lila on her new milestone :).

    I am now reading the book: "The Female Brain" by Louann Brizendine. It discusses with anectodes as to why girls behave the way they behave and the impact of hormones on women right from birth till post-menopause stage. It is an interesting read.

    Regarding psychological illness, there is one immediate family member who seems to have hallucinations and a fear that somebody is plotting against. The person refuses to take treatment and the parents are also not concerned to give medical treatment.

    There is an alarming increase in divorce rates due to this reason of psychological illness in one of the spouses.

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    1. I'm sorry about your relative- there is so much stigma and misunderstanding/denial about mental illness. And by its nature, people who suffer from it don't often realize that they are ill.

      There are so many reasons for divorce, and while mental illness I'm sure contributes to some break ups, I'd be very surprised if it is anywhere near a leading cause. Where did you hear/read this?

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  7. omg! I was laughing so much at Lila's response! Kids say the cutest and funniest things!
    We had a couple of milestones here as well..Little A started sitting on his own and crawling. He still prefers scooting to crawling and follows us if we leave the room for a minute! Also, over the weekend we had such a laugh when he got so scared and started crying when my hubby shaved (after a LONG time) and went to pick him up! He didnt recognise him and was so freaked out! He took a good 30 mins to make sure it was dad and not a stranger.
    cooking- Nothing special actually..just quick healthy meals.
    Enjoying- The nice weather and picnics by the lake, watching lil A grow and enjoy things around him.

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    1. That's so funny- because we had a similar incident with Lila and her dad's newly clean shaven look. There were many questions about where the beard went :) Also, Lila never crawled, only scooted on her butt.

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  8. congrats Lila, that's awesome. It's camp peachy time for the kids (same preschool different routine) so they are mighty excited.

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    1. I hope your little guys have a great summer!

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  9. Yay Lila! Kids have no filter and I wish we could be that way! Ha!
    We have been busy dealing with sick kiddos over here and I'm hoping we have an uneventful, healthy summer.
    I haven't been experimenting much on the cooking front but, I have started an "eat from the fridge/freezer and pantry" period. We are only on week 2 and I have so much stuff I could easily do this the whole month of June. My backyard veggie garden will start producing lot of veggies soon and I need to make space for the overflow. I did cook up a batch of fried plaintains couple of weeks ago (so good!) and made Smitten Kitchen's Triple Berry Buttermilk summer bundt cake this weekend. The recipe calls for 3-4 cups of berries and was mostly to use up a lot of berries from my freezer. A fairly easy and berry heavy cake. We all loved it.
    We enjoyed a trip to Disneyland this month and celebrated both my daughter's birthday and my birthday. Looking forward to summer activities, blueberry and fig picking and a trip or two to the beach, trips to the splash pad and many, many get togethers with good friends.

    -Anu

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    1. Yeah, trust kids to tell it like it is, for better or worse. Berry cake sounds fantastic. I'm the middle of a freezer eat down as well. Your plans for summer sound wonderful and I hope you all have an awesome summer!

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  10. Lovely quilts, Nupur! And bags and dishes. Congrats to Lila! :-) Our milestone is that my daughter is over 48 inches and hence can go on the "big kids" slide in the swimming pool. Also she has graduated to a 20 inch bicycle. I have been going on a lot of walks and bike rides. Miss the magnolias from the South. We have a terrible case of the gnats here. They attack you in swarms seemingly. I can't stop eating the thoran. So good! I didn't know I was a beetroot fan. Have a joyful June! R

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    1. That's quite a milestone to get to be 4 feet tall, almost as tall as me ;) I hope you all are having a great summer!

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  11. Hi Nupur. Love that painting! I really enjoy large scale paintings with tonnes of detail: I love Breughel paintings for that reason.
    We have been very health conscious in May. Invested in a nutribullet and have been making lots of smoothies. Invariably make the mango ones though; time to blend some green smoothies I think.
    Also have been going to the gym a lot last month ( will not last long believe me :))
    Reading: started High Rising by Angela Thirkell; it has an intro by McCall smith. Also got Towers of Trebizond from the library.
    Watched Blue jasmine recently which I liked.
    Also have been watching a lot of cooking series: like the Hairy bikers and Two Greedy Italians. Epic stuff!
    Happy June.
    Arpita.

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    1. Hi Arpita! Good for you for eating well and working out. I just started swimming and walking more and it does feel good to get moving. I'm reading a few heavy books and dying for some light summer reading.

      The cooking series sound very intriguing :) Hope you have a terrific June as well!

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  12. Awesome May roundup Nupur, I loved the tote bags, and painting. This May, I baked 2 graduation cakes: one with buttercream icing, and other using homemade fondant(made hat, rolled diploma), a rewarding, fun experience. Enjoying outing with kids until summer lasts! Happy June

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    1. Oh how wonderful that you made grad cakes- I admire decorative cakes but am no good at making them myself. Enjoy summer!

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  13. With my only son (ATB) away at college the milestones are so different but no less important and memorable. ATB had to make the 14 drive home by himself so I offered to meet him halfway. It was wonderful. As it turned out his girlfriend had to drive a friend's car to San Diego too so I got to meet her in a relaxed and fun setting ... no pressure. She's adorable.
    But the best part was the drive hine. 9 hours in a small space leads to good conversation and long stretches of comfortable silence. I highly recommend it. We also got to stop for lunch at La Super Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara which is a small shack on an unassuming street discovered years ago by Julia Child. Authentic, delicious, always a line but worth it. I never miss a chance to stop in. It's about 5 hours south of home so I don't get there often :-)
    Let summer begin

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    1. How fun, Angela! Long car trips can be wonderful or disastrous and I am glad yours was the former. And good food along the way is the icing on the metaphorical cake. Happy summer!

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  14. I have a LONG way to go before my little one gets out of diapers. For now, I'm enjoying our leisurely stroller walks every evening. My daughter, now able to absorb her surroundings, loves looking at anything new she's introduced to, and meeting all our neighbors who baby-talk to her. Last Saturday was her first trip to the farmer's market. It was great fun. So much fun these little ones are!

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    1. Aww- how sweet. It really is fun to see little ones have new experiences and it helps us jaded parents see the world with fresh eyes.

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  15. Nupur, the beetroot thoran recipe doesnt seem - dare I say it - typical? Thorans do not have garam masala type of spices in them. They usually go like this :

    1. Grate/chop finally vegetable of choice and mix it with salt, grated coconut. Even the turmeric and cumin can be mixed into this in advance. This can be set aside for a little while to let the flavors meld well.
    2. Heat oil, preferably coconut especially now that its shed its pariah status :) and put in the tempering ingredients like mustard seeds, curry leaves..
    3. Put in the veggie mixture from step 1 and cover the vessel so that the vegetable steams and cooks in its own liquid. This part is important and the recipe up there talked of it cooking without being covered. Because the vegetable is chopped fine it shouldnt take too long to cook.

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  16. We had a sleepless May :( with DD's growth spurt and ear infection. I'm a SAHM, so wanted my daughter to learn to be without me for some time (I'm dealing with the worst separation anxiety). She started daycare twice a week just for 3 hours. 3 days at daycare and she comes home with an ear infection and fever, and we are still dealing with it (and a super-fussy kid). Don't know if I want to continue sending her.

    I love beets, must try this thorn. The bags look awesome. Loved the fabric. And so do the quilt blocks.

    Yay Lila! Her potty story made me chuckle. I think we are going to have a similar situation in future :) I got a potty seat for my DD last month and she kinda loves it. She's starting to understand now when she poops and goes on saying poootee… poootee… (potty). When I change her diaper and go to empty it, she runs behind me at a supersonic speed and almost puts her finger in the toilet bowl (which btw almost always makes me scream), and screams poootee… It's hilarious. Need to get this book for her :) Have a wonderful June!

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    1. Hi Amruta!
      Sorry about the unasked for advice, but thought it might help you. About the daycare- It is very normal for kids to fall ill for the first 3-4 months after starting daycare. Our son who is 9 months now started daycare full time (6 hours/5 days a week) at 6months of age (mostly because that was the best option with both of us working and my mom having to go back to india after 6 months) and he was falling ill on and off for the first 2 months..ear infection, cold, throat infection... But this is also how kids build their immunity..sooner or later they are gonna fall ill when they are introduced to the "outside world" for the first time. But then most kids do have a lot of fun among other kids, and also learn to build relationships outside of home..so there are a lot of benefits too. Just thought id share this, so that you are mentally prepared if you plan on continuing daycare :)

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    2. I'm sorry- kids being sick is so exhausting and stressful for everyone. Hope she's all better now!

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  17. May? What May? It's well into June now. And here's what I've been doing - I read the first of my Iain M Banks' books, which was also sadly to be his last. I think our book club chose well. I also read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (cannot recommend enough). Been juicing various things. Carrot and ginger is always a winner. I don't think the cabbage juice sharpened with lemon is going to get another airing.

    Getting out of nappies is such a noteworthy event in their little lives and well done, Lila for this milestone. I remember feeling such elation when my two managed to achieve it. So yay, Mummy!

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    1. I'll definitely look for Harold Fry, Ammani- sounds like a very interesting read!

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