Monthly Archives: April 2008

Hiking @ Alviso Marina Park

Over the weekend, I was wondering whether it was just me or did we just move to summer directly from winter. Till about a week or two back, the temperatures were in the 50s, cold and breezy threatening to rain anytime – well, typical winter weather in general. And suddenly over the weekend the temperature shot up to 90 – hot and sweaty. Where did the beautiful spring disappear amidst all this? I wonder…

Anyway, I thought it was a criminal waste to sit at home in this weather and so decided to go for a hike on Sunday. Near our place, there is a quaint little town called Alviso with an old world charm to it, that boasts of a nice county park that opens to the bay. This town was once a prosperous town with a busy port shipping agricultural products from the Santa Clara Valley. With other means of transport getting more popular, the port lost its importance and so did the town. The current attraction in this town is the Alviso County Marina park with its miles of trails for bikers and hikers on the levees here.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 29, 2008 in Activity


Tags: ,

Baked Veggie Pasta

Ever since I saw Giada making this on Food network, I have been meaning to try this. This is a dish that can make a super elegant presence on your dinner table when you have guests or for a simple weekday dinner.

Baked pasta

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 24, 2008 in Cooking, Italian


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mexican Grilled Sandwich

Ever since I saw this recipe at TasteTinkerer, my friendly neighborhood blog, I have been meaning to try this grilled sandwich with a Mexican twist. High in protein with very little fat aka nutritious and can be fixed in under 30 minutes, making it a perfect weekday dinner candidate.

Mexican grilled sandwich

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 21, 2008 in Cooking, Mexican


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Inspired Wrap

Inspired by the roll-up that Nandita made for the WBB – Balanced Breakfast, I made this wrap for dinner (as you can tell, I am not too much of a breakfast cooking person) couple of nights ago. This is super easy to make, extremely delicious and highly nutritious – definitely a keeper. Thanks Nandita!

Tortilla Wrap

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 16, 2008 in Cooking


Tags: , , , , ,

Eat, Pray, Love

The book starts with an unusual premise – here is a woman brought down by life – divorced, broke up with her boyfriend and completely depressed. Left with meager choices, she decides to step out of the country, travel the world (well, 3 countries) for a year with the hope that this experience will enrich her and inject some much needed vitality into her life. Does she find hope and peace through and in her journey? Well, that is what you find out when you read the book.

Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir of her travels through Italy where she eats, India where she learns to commune with God and Indonesia where she discovers love. Having read a few memoirs myself (Kabul beauty school – avoid it, Into the Wild – can read, Chasing the monsoon – can read), I did not have high expectations of this book when I started reading. But Gilbert’s chatty style of writing is very engaging and is almost like holding a conversation with a friend. Memoirs can tend to get very repetitive and boring, as it is essentially a monologue capturing the world (and culture) from the author’s perspective. Eat, Pray & Love was refreshingly different in this aspect and there was not a single instance throughout the book when I got tired of the soliloquy.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 13, 2008 in Books


Tags: , ,

Rama Navami

Rama Navami celebrates the birth of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and a just-ruler whose reign is a symbol of peace and prosperity. It is also significant as it is celebrated in the beginning of summer when the Sun is moving towards the Northern Hemisphere and Rama is supposed to belong to the Sun dynasty. The birth and story of Lord Rama is chronicled by Sage Valmiki in the epic Ramayana, meaning Rama’s journey.

Lord Rama is believed to be born on the ninth day of the bright fortnight (Sukla Paksha) in the month of Chaita, the first month of the Hindu Calendar. As He was born mid-day, people usually fast till mid-day, in anticipation of the Lord’s birth and then break the fast with the offerings to God. In South India, we usually make panagam (water sweetened with jaggery and spices), neer mor (watered down butter milk) and kosumbari (pre-soaked moong dhal flavored with green chillies and ginger) as offerings on Rama Navami.

The virtues of Lord Rama and why His worship is important is beautifully explained here.


Posted by on April 13, 2008 in Pandigai (Festival)



Tamil New Year

Although there is no single true Hindu calendar, mostly, Hindu new year falls around late March to early April. Different regions of India, celebrate the new year on different dates. Southern states of Andhra, Karnataka and Maharashtra celebrate Ugadi / Gudi Padwa on the same day (typically around late-March and early-April). Other states of India – Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu celebrate their new year in mid-April.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 11, 2008 in Pandigai (Festival)



Twin paths to a delectable tofu

Tofu, a food that resembles paneer or cheese, is formed by curdling soy milk with a coagulant, usually edible gypsum or nigari. Tofu has been in use from 200 B.C. when a zealous cook stumbled upon tofu by chance when he added nigari (magnesium chloride, found in ocean water) to flavor the soy milk. This reminded me of the origin of dulce de leche – seems to me that a lot of tasty foods were created more by accident than design 🙂

Tofu is available in soft(silken) and firm varieties. Soft tofu is easy to blend, and is used in a lot of vegan desserts and soups, whereas firm tofu retains shapes well, and is used in stir-fry, grilling and baking. Tofu is rich in protein, and hence a good source of protein for vegetarians and more so for vegans. It is also widely believed that the spread of Buddhism, which preached strict vegetarianism helped the spread and popularity of tofu. The health benefits of tofu are enormous, including but not limited to its cardiovascular protection and anti-cancer properties. While there are a lot of benefits to tofu, it contains goitrogens which interfere with the functioning of thyroid glands. You might want to go easy on tofu, if you have (or suspect) thyroid issues.

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 9, 2008 in Chinese, Cooking


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hummer? Hormuz? Hummus!

No – it is not an off-roading gas guzzler nor is it any geographical entity, it is a mid-eastern protein packed spread that is considered one of the oldest prepared food known to mankind. The 2 main ingredients of hummus are chickpeas and sesame – both are extremely healthy and a nutritionist’s dream. In fact, the early rise and spread of the Mesopotamian civilization is attributed to the nutritional benefits of hummus. Whoa! I would have never connected or even imagined, that a success of a civilization could be due to food. There are times when I feel good about blogging, like when I meet new friends with similar interest or when I am exploring new (to me, that is) and different culture, and in turn, food. What I learnt about hummus made me realize why blogging is not just fun but also educational.


Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 7, 2008 in Cooking, Mid-Eastern


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cuppa chai anyone?

As food-bloggers, in our quest to cook exotic food, we tend to give a miss to some of the everyday food, that are simple to cook and very satisfying. These everyday foods are staple in most households, dished out day-in and day-out, and as one starts to find their footing around the kitchen, these are the dishes that they first foray into. These dishes make or break a person’s interest in cooking and hence, although rarely given their due, play a very pivotal role. In this series, Freshmen Cooking, I hope to bring attention to these dishes. Also, I am hoping this will help kindle interest to cook in all those non-foodies out there 🙂

The idea for this post was triggered by an email conversation that I had with a friend – she wanted to know how do I prepare chai (the milky Indian version of tea), do I use any special tea leaves or spices? Her complaint was that her attempt at preparing chai was not as fruitful, and she wanted to know a fool-proof way of making chai with exact measurements. I immediately replied to her mail with instructions and used to eye-balling, I found this a little challenging. This set me thinking – how many times when I first ventured into the kitchen, have I pestered my mom to give me exact measurements – how much tamarind do I need for sambar or how much salt should I add to rasam? We all go through that stage, when as beginners we need exact measurements and instructions and slowly graduate to eye-balling 🙂 That is when I realized that for every foodie out there, there are probably 1000 (if not more) others that are novices, who have no idea about cooking and they would need recipes that are easy and simple to prepare, not laborious ones that will scare them away for life. The motivation for this series is to chronicle easy, simple, everyday food that will make cooking a pleasure and get people interested enough to venture into the exotic territory 🙂 Let’s begin cooking!

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 4, 2008 in Cooking, Desi


Tags: , , , ,