Monday, January 31, 2011

Quick Meal

The recipe today is a  ‘quick meal’  to keep warm during the cold weather.This  could  be eaten as a late morning meal  (brunch) on a lazy weekend. It is very  easy to make .I have tried this recipe with a range of different toppings ( (tuna, boiled chicken, vegetables).The children  relish this.

Egg and cheese toast

Mash two boiled eggs .To this .add a little butter , grated cheese, pepper and salt to taste .Mix well set aside.
Take six slices of bread. Trim the edges.Cut into halves/triangles or squares.Evenly apply tomato ketchup on each slice.
Then spread on each slice   a generous amount of  the the  egg and cheese  mixture.
Place on baking tray and bake for 5 minutes.
Optional :  sprinkle  ground pepper and extra cheese. Cut  into bite  size pieces.

And voila ! A quick meal in minutes.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moringa Magic

It was an email sent to me that impelled me to  delve into more information on this miracle tree and in so doing,(thanks to the internet ) I was awe- strucked  getting to know invaluable facts about it’s the rich  resources.  The  Moringa  tree  is extraordinary. It  is  is extensively  cultivated and harvested throughout the year in most of the African and South Asian countries.What is so extraordinary about this tree is, that  every part of  it is  enriched with nutrients and medicinal values: the leaves are full of antioxidants, the oil in the seeds can be used for cooking purposes and making cosmetics .According to a moringa cultivator, whose moringa  cultivation is documented by the discovery channel on You Tube, the  roots could  be used as tea and the juice extracted from the scrapped trunk could be applied on bruises and cuts. 

All of  us  in the family love the vegetable ‘drum sticks ‘ , the moringa pod . I grew up being familiar  with the  moringa tree, which stood in the front yard of  my parents' home, ( this was  another reason why I became curious to know more about it). My late mother cooked delicious food using the leaves and the pod .During the month of fasting , she used to make rice porridge, with moringa leaves added to it. We enjoyed  it’s unusual flavour. Even the people from the neighbourhood used to  come over to our garden to pluck moringa leaves. In later years, due to unavoidable circumstances, the tree  had to be cut down. It’s a pity we never knew the significance of the tree then..Perhaps had we known, the tree would be still  in sight,  in front of the ancestral home.

Here is a recipe for  a delicious delicacy using the moringa pod ( drumsticks)

Hearth  and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Amateur Photographer

Say Cheese ! click ! click!

I have been trying my hands at various subject matters lately. The most recent one I focused was taking photographs from a digital camera. In the recent past, whenever I found something of importance, I’d ask my daughter or my son to click a picture of that particular interest.  Although highly enthusiastic, it took me a while to  pay attention to every little details of the camera. Nonetheless, with a lot of patience, I was able to grasp the tactics and the techniques of how to handle the digital camera. This in general has benefited me a lot .And I am thankful to my children, who assisted me throughout the ‘learning progression’. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Odds And Ends

While clearing some odds and ends from the cupboard ,I came across an old copy of my favourite magazine.I was surprised and kept wondering why I  had  preserved this particular one. After having finished my task and out of sheer curiosity, I clutched the ‘aged’  magazine and sat in a cosy corner to browse. As I was flipping through  the brittle pages, one particular page caught my attention. A  couple of lines in the  paragraph of an article was highlighted. I bent over to read the content which   interprets  as follows ’to retain the strength of old books , sprinkle grey ash between pages’. ‘This will prevent the pages from becoming brown and brittle’ .Then I remembered and realized that this paragraph had caught my attention previously too, and that was the reason I had highlighted  the text with a marker pen,probably to read again.If only I had seriously experimented the highlighted tips at that time , almost certainly, my ‘preserved’   magazine too, would have  been  all white and clean.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Learning Through Activity

Recently,my nine year old,took part in his class ‘paper recycling' competition. Although ,he didn’t win, he gained something by duly participating. He learnt the concept of reduce, reuse, recycle. We noticed his sudden interest in collecting empty cardboard boxes. One day he truly got upset when I discarded  some empty boxes into the garbage bin.

I wondered what a nine year old wanted to do with his cardboard collection, when I sat with him during his ‘project work’,using bits and pieces of cardboard scraps. I was really  amazed at what I saw. He had converted some of these  boxes into something spectacular.

My husband and I are grateful to the teachers for focusing on a wonderful theme like ‘Recycling’  and making it  possible for our child to fully understand the meaning  behind the main objective.Moreover,creating innovative ideas and teaching them through activity makes learning an enjoyable experience.

helicopter waiting for take off....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Scrumptious Delight

Baked eggplant (brinjal) is another recipe that I have tried and tested. And  have listed it as a top favourite. I first experienced the taste of this delicious dish at a friend's dinner and persuaded her to give me the recipe.I am so grateful to her for passing it over to me. Very recently I read something similar to this, under the title ' moussaka'. I wonder if this is the  same recipe ,with a slight twist. This eggplant curry is presumed to be from the Middle East. But I must admit, I never got to know the original name given to this delectable dish. The first time I tried it,a few years ago,didn’t turn out quite well as expected. After several attempts, I gradually learnt the technique of getting it  right. This is eaten as an accompaniment, with flat bread or rice. I reckon  this my specialty and with great  pleasure,treat my family and my circle of friends to a scrumptious dish on special occasions. 

In a baking tray assemble as many  layers of  onions,tomatoes,green chillies and slightly fried eggplants.Sprinkle a good amount of lemon juice,and add salt according to taste.Bake in hot oven until done.

                                   Baked Eggplant –A scrumptious delight

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Blog Updates

These days I have managed to update my page. It’s not that I blog daily. I simply found an easy way to do that. I have  made up my mind to write  about various topics,(the usual rantings in the household) about six to eight of them and save it on my computer. Each day I take one topic that I have already documented and post it on my blogger page. So that it wouldn't take much of my time and energy. I have also taken a keen interest in taking pictures of my new recipes, with the intention of  blogging  about it. To me, this is uplifting. This perception motivates me to try my hands at different recipes adapted by different cultures and learn to cook even better.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cooking Tapioca

The tapioca root
Tapioca is a staple food in some countries and is used widely as a thickening agent mainly in foods. This is a good source of food for people who are allergic to gluten.Tapioca is  free from gluten.It is widely known in my native land that tapioca and ginger (both are  kind of roots) are not compatible and could cause catastrophic results when cooked together or eaten on the same day.Whether this is a  fact or not, I still don’t know, but continue to believe this myth  to this day.
Whenever  tapioca is used at home , I make sure that ginger is not added to any other  food for a day or two.The last time I  cooked it,the children didn’t quite like the taste.I had simply boiled  and served it with scrapped coconut and a chilly sambol,something closer to a chutney. I always wondered how tapioca would taste if it was cooked in some different way,other than boiled, which is the usual  and the most common method of cooking tapioca  in my home country. So taking that into consideration, I decided to make something  different and exceptional  this time, when my husband bought some from the grocer.
I remembered ,a few weeks  ago, I had watched the making of kofta on TV, which was telecasted  in the  middle eastern food channel. Kofta is a middle eastern and asian dish . It, is made of ground  meat: most commonly  lamb or beef with a variety of spices added . It is  similar to meatballs. They can be eaten fried, grilled or poached. And that was the recipe I decided to try, ’topiaco kofta-minus the meat . With the vegetarian recipe  in mind,I reached  for the bag of tapioca and headed toward the kitchen.Once done, everyone relished them.
Flattened and shaped into patties
Sizzling in hot oil

All done and set to eat 
For the above savoury dish,I used mashed tapioca,onions,green chillies,red chilly flakes,salt and lime juice.Mix well and form round patties using the fingers.Chill them in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour.The patties must be firm and not soggy.Then dip in beaten  eggs and coat with bread crumbs before frying in hot oil.
Tip: you can even replace tapioca with  good old potatoes.Mash coarsely the boiled tapioca,add butter,pepper and salt.

Hearth & Soul Hop

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our One Day Road Trip

During the holidays in the recent past,we went on a road trip to Bahrain. Long  before the holidays,my husband had promised the kids ,to take them to the  theatre, to watch Toy Story 3 ( there are no movie  theatres in the country we reside).They were all thrilled when the  day arrived.We travelled by vehicle  via the causeway-the bridge that links the country I live and Bahrain. It took us about an hour to reach there.After the movie ,we had lunch at an Indian restaurant.We had to get back to our destination before dusk, so we didn’t have much time to go sight seeing.In the spur of the moment, I remembered the  list of some  books that I badly wanted to read.Those books were beautifully  embedded in the back of my mind.Since we didn’t have any planned agenda, we went to the  bookstore on our way home. And I was  fortunate that the books I  needed were available in the bookstore.

Embarking on our journey

On the causeway-the bridge

Each book  tells a different story

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rainy Day Chronicles

It’s Midnight-And it’s raining outside. The room is in full darkness .I remember switching on the night lamp before going to bed.’Maybe I have got up in the middle of a dream’, rubbing my eyes hard, I convince myself. Pulling my share of the blanket , I try to get back to sleep, when I hear a cry from the children’s room ,that  is right across the hallway. That’s when I realized that this wasn’t a dream.The lights were out due to a power cut.To reassure that everything was allright ,I managed to stagger up to  their room and comfort the frightened kids.I waited in their room till they went back to sleep. Needless to say,  I too drifted back to sleep with them.

This morning -it is still  raining, pouring to be precise.Peeping through the blinds,I could see the roads  filled with water.My husband and I have decided not to send the children to school today. They still don’t know our decision,but once they wake up, they’ll be euphoric.

A moment ago-drinking a hot cup of tea, I  remembered an earlier converstion I had with my son.That particular day ,we had almost finished our shopping, when there was a slight drizzle, we hurried back home.I mentioned to my husband that we needed to buy an umbrella. Upon hearing this, my son prompted ’No..Mom we need to buy two’, ‘One for us and one for God”..Taken aback, I asked him why God needed one.His innocent answer really bowled us over.”Mom you always say that God is everywhere, so when it rains, even God gets wet.’

Now- The power is on and I am recounting the whole episode to you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Gift For My Daughter


Today my second daughter ,turned fourteen.The last two days , I was wondering what I should give her on her great day.Eventually I decided to make her a surprise gift- a hand-made card. Hence before the crack of dawn,I  quietly started working on my tools.I had already downloaded the digital card that I designed and got a print out of it..And the rest of the materials that was used in making the card was recycled stuff. Moreover,this card was better than the earlier cards I had experimented,thus  I managed to  click some photos in the process .After my task was done, I sneaked into her bedroom and placed it on her dresser .She was all smiles when she woke up and saw her surprise gift. 


And then she had more surprises at school .....

compliments from her friends.....

So sweet....


Friday, January 14, 2011

Motivating Children To Read

Enid Blyton

The school where my children attend , organized  their  annual   ‘Reading Book Week’ recently, for the  children in the smaller age group. This was arranged  in a very elaborate way. All the little  children took part with a lot of enthusiasm. I actually like this idea a lot because  the main objective is to encourage and motivate children to read.My kids were asked to bring some of their favourite books,to display in the makeshift class room Library and share and exchange  books with friends.This actually helped my sons to actively participate in the program.

Motivating children at an early age ,encourages them  to enhance their reading habits .This helps them develop their learning  skills  and enable them to reach great heights in learning  in their later years.Reading at an early age instigates a child in many ways.Their listening and writing skills improve to a  vast extent.   In this day and age most children are  fascinated by the television and the computer .They have no time to get involved in extra curriculum or  outdoor activities.So getting teachers and parents organize similar programs would definitely facilitate a lot of children to read a lot and more often.

The other day ,reading an article on Enid Blyton took me back to my childhood. As a little girl I loved reading her books.I would wait impatiently till I got my hands on her latest book.I vividly remember during that time ( in the late 7o’s) .We got the opportunity to borrow books from the mobile bookman, who would bring the latest books of Enid Blyton,stacked in a box on his bicycle.For a few cents, we got to keep the book for a week or so. Now as an adult and a mother to four, I’m still enthralled with her books and enjoy reading her mysteries and adventures to my children. Her books were a part of my childhood and in some way   responsible for my love for reading.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mama's Macaroni

I love making pasta with an assortment  of different shapes, so as to make it  appetizing for my children . The most relished collection of dried  pasta  at home  is the conventional type :  spaghetti (thin rods) and  Macoroni , (tubes) .  I find it  irresistible to stack countless packets of dried ones in the  cabinet , so  I may try out the  new dish that I  might have seen  on the  previous day on “Fatafeat’ , a popular Middle Eastern Food Channel.

My Children love pasta in general, but get divided when choosing the condiments that go with the pasta. The four have a penchant to eat it according to their respective taste buds, which obviously vary. Eventually they end up settling with the  most  common dish , ‘Mama ‘s Macoroni’ which is  applicable to everyone. ” Mama’s Macaroni” –is   my own specified pasta  dish - the name in particular was familiarized by my children.This particular one   is also a  favorite amongst the family and  I can tag it as the ‘most cooked’ dish during  the holidays and festive season.

 Ever since my younger daughter gave up  eating cheese, an absolute condiment in  pasta,  I had to find an alternative. And  was n’t I lucky enough  to  have found it sooner. I couldn’t have found anything better than coconut cream as the substitute.  It’s absolutely delectable with pasta. Although traditionally pasta  is  cooked to the dent,  my children  prefer it flexible and  very  tender .In view of that I have adapted that method  when  cooking  pasta.The recipe I have posted today is made with macoroni, the tubed shaped pasta . And   for my vegetarian  daughter, I skip the meat and add par boiled carrots and zucchini .


Mama's Macaroni

( Ingredients)

A packet of macaroni (500 gm packet)

1 1/2 lbs beef ( you can substitute with chicken)

2 large onions chopped

4-5 green chilies (remove seeds if you prefer less spicy)

A small pod of garlic

1inch ginger (or a little more)

1-2 teaspoons of Cummin seeds

1-2 teaspoons of curry powder

1-2 teaspoons pepper or according to your palate

Salt to taste

2 cubes  beef/ chicken stock 


1 cup thick coconut milk  or 3-4 tablespoons of coconut milk powder added to a cup of hot water ( * or you can stir in the milk powder straight into the cooking pasta- if you use this method please add  a cup of water  into the pan when  the  pasta is being cooked with the other ingredients.)

For garnishing; 



Coriander leaves/ parsley


Boil the macaroni with a little salt (drain it and set aside). Wash & cut the beef into medium sized pieces. Boil the beef with 2-3 cups of water- with a little pepper & salt. Once done set aside (don’t throw the excess liquid).

Pound the ginger, garlic, green chilies & the Cummin seeds (set aside).

In a large pan, heat 2-3 tablespoon of ghee/butter, stir in the chopped onions and when it begins to get soft & translucent, put in the rest of the pounded ingredients (garlic, ginger, green chilies & Cummin seeds). Keep on stirring it you get that aroma (don’t let it brown).

Put in the curry powder and the pepper and give it a good stir. Add the boiled beef with the excess liquid into this sautéed mixture and cover the pan with a lid & cook for 10 minutes. Next add the boiled macaroni. Mix in the  stock cubes. Cover and cook for further 10-15 minutes. Pour in, the cup of coconut milk or the milk powder( If you intend to use the powder ,follow the instructions given * )

 Remember the meat stock cube is already salty, so add  salt only if it’s necessary.  Let it simmer for a while .Transfer in to dish and garnish with chopped coriander/parsley.

 (Ready to serve  for about 8-10 persons)

Or if you still fancy it with cheese

Transfer this cooked pasta into a baking dish. Grate cheese on top of the pasta and bake in a hot oven until the cheese begins to melt .Remove from oven & garnish with chopped coriander leaves/parsley (optional)

 (P.S. You can adjust the spices according to your taste bud.)