Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art

Waffles off the Griddle

My first exposure to waffles came when I was invited over to my friends’ place for a weekend during my sophomore years. As we ate through buttery waffles with sliced bananas, honey and chocolate syrup that morning, it was like an answer for sugar cravings in the morning. Ever since then, I try not to pass on an opportunity to indulge in this decadent breakfast treat.

Ideally waffles are made from leavened batter or dough cooked between two plates that are patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression. Something similar to pancakes, though distinct in its’ style. And over the years from its’ initial medieval origins, there are over a dozen different varieties of waffles around the world, with different batters and toppings. They range from being big or small, crispy or chewy, sugared or spiced to becoming side dishes like as ice-cream cones or simply as waffle burritos.

 

Contrary to popular belief, waffles aren’t restricted to being served for breakfast. It can grace the table for lunch or dinner, depending on the mood of the day. Besides the savoury combination of chicken and waffles, other combinations like chili and waffles? Use your favorite cornbread mix and cook the batter in your waffle iron, then top with chili, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped onions or can be had with eggs and veggies, or we can have a bit of both with bacon and maple syrup. The great thing about waffles is that they can be tailored to personal choices and make great desserts too. With the availability of the waffle iron, the ease of making waffles gives flight to fanciful combinations. Yet there are two rules to live by, warm the milk for the waffles and never stack the waffles while making else we’ll lose out on the crispiness.

The incredible simplicity of making waffles has resulted in it being blended with the local cuisine for instance waffles on stick with kulfi or as savoury waffle dosa. Although in the regular Indian households waffles have are still on the once-in-a-while menu list, trends are changing with more interesting recipes being experimented on. Additionally with waffle mix available and as waffles have excellent freeze options, they have become popular in the rush hour especially in the fast paced mornings. To quote Lauren Myracle, “You should eat a waffle! You can’t be sad if you eat a waffle!”

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Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Personal Musings

Deprived by Doubts

One of the most common ways that we deprive ourselves of happiness are “the doubts” that continuously provoke the mind. For instance, when we buy any expensive gadget or any item like a car, cell phone, dresses, cruise tickets or the latest laptops, we continuously skim and look for offers, plan on the pros and cons as well as try to budget and pray about it. Yet once we receive it, we often have a mixed response. Initially the thrill is there of the brand “new”thing and we try to explore it, use it and show other as well. Yet after sometime, when something else new comes up or we see something better, we then wonder if we should have bought “it” later or had waited for some more time for something better to come up or a larger discount on what we had wanted. The joy and happiness of the “acquisition” becomes negated by anxiety, worry, sadness and disappointment all because of our doubts.

“Give thanks in everything: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Instead of turning onto the track of frivolous doubts and dissatisfaction, it would be better if we prayed about our choices, made our decisions wisely and first thank for the events that have happened. Each time the doubts creep into our mind, think of the days and the “whys” of our need. As long as what we have attained serves the purpose, neither the brand, model or whether scores of people have it really matters.

“Don’t ever doubt yourselves or waste a second of your life. It’s too short, and you’re too special.” Ariana Grande

If we indulge in every niggling doubt that lurks in the mind based on what we see, hear or assume; then we would never find time to be happy with anything. Instead if we learn to grow our trust and faith in His Grace that all things happen for a reason, even though we often assume it is only based on chance and circumstances. When we try to rejoice and find joy in the smallest things that we had wished for or had happened just like that, the good moments in the timeline of our memories increases and prepares us for the journey ahead.

Posted in Christian, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Purifying the Silver

One woman studied the Book of Malachi. When she reached the 3rd chapter, she was bewildered by verse 3: “And silver will melt down and purify .” (Malachi 3: 3)
She decided to visit the silversmiths to observe his work. She did not tell the master about the reasons for her interest, speaking out of simple curiosity. When she came to the master, she found him at work. He heated a piece of silver over a fire. He explained to her that in this way silver was purified: it was kept above fire in the hottest part of the flame in order to burn out all impurities. The woman remembered the verse from the book of Malachi and thought that the Lord, as a jeweler, was keeping us in a cleansing fire. She asked:Do you have to sit like that in front of the fire all the time while the silver is being cleaned?
– Yes. And I do not just have to sit and hold silver in the flame, I should not take my eyes off of it: if you hold the metal in the fire, even for a moment, the damage will be irreparable.
The woman thought for a while and asked:And how do you determine the moment when the metal reached the required purity?
He smiled and replied: Oh, it’s simple. As soon as I see my reflection in it.

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.” Elisabeth Elliot

Life has its own share of disappointments and triumphs. Yet for many, the scales mayn’t be balanced. Some of us will have more failures, trials and difficulties as compared to others. During those times, it’s easy to lose faith in oneself, God and humanity. During my days like these, the words of prophet Zechariah echo in my mind and give me hope. “In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ (Zechariah 13:8-9)

Although God tests us under the fire, it’s a refiner’s fire and not a raging inferno. Unlike a forest fire or an incinerator, a refiner’s fire does not consume completely or destroy indiscriminately. It refines, purifies and melts down the bar of silver or gold, separating out the dross that arises on top and burning up the impurities that ruin its value. The remaining molten gold or silver is pure and intact. As a part of being human and its’ fallacies, man tends to lose hope, burn out giving up when the load of troubles increase and failures occur regularly. What God wants us to do is to turn to Him as we are being refined and let Him use the molten pure gold or silver to the form He sees fitting. God always gives us a way out, it may be easy or not. Yet if we put our complete trust and faith in Him, we discover a slit of light giving a ray of hope, which will eventually help us to guide the way out from the mess we were thrown into or landed up because of our own folly. The clause is unless we open our hearts and minds we can never be cast in a mould of His Choice or shaped as per as His Will. 

“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4

Posted in Christian, Life, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Curious not Judgemental

An elderly man with a 25-year-old son entered the train car and took their seats. The young man sat by the window. As soon as the train started moving, he put his hand out the window to feel the flow of air and suddenly shouted in admiration: “Dad, you see, all the trees are coming back!” The older man smiled back. Next to the young man was a married couple. They were a bit confused by the fact that a 25-year-old man behaves like a little child. Suddenly young man again shouted in delight: “Dad, you see the lake and the animals … The clouds go with the train!”  The couple shyly watched the strange behavior of a young man, in which his father did not seem to find anything strange. It began to rain, and raindrops touched the young man’s hand. He again became overwhelmed with joy and closed his eyes. And then he shouted: “Dad, it’s raining, the water touches me! See, Dad ?” Wanting to help with something, the couple sitting next to her asked the elderly man:“ Why won’t you take your son to some clinic for a consultation?” An elderly man replied: “We have just come from the clinic. Today, my son, for the first time in his life, has acquired his sight … ”

It is impossible to judge the affairs and actions of other people without having all the knowledge. Only God possesses the fullness of knowledge. Therefore, “Judge not, that ye be not judged!”

This is an interesting post that I had come across my social pages, although I am not sure about the original author or source. What set me thinking was that, n scenarios similar to the above, was there a better way to frame the question to allay the curiosity. For instance, a more polite way of asking would be, “Isn’t this journey interesting ?” or state “Your son loves train journeys.” If then the father is willing to open up and talk, then it would be fine. Even if that doesn’t happen, by keen observation one can deduce a number of things from any situation.

“Be curious, not judgemental.” Walt Whitman

There is a fine line between curiosity and being judgemental. The latter refers to holding an opinion; decide upon critically; to infer, think or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess or to act like a judge; passing verbal or mental comments with or without assessing the situation in totality. No one can know about the other, unless each one decides to share their story. For that to happen, we would be able to hear others, once we keep quiet, stop thinking or supposing and listen to their entire narrative.

“If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others and judging their lives as either black or white, good or bad. We all live our lives in shades of gray.”- Shannon L.Alder

As we go about the day, take care to be curious but not assign any opinion, label or be prejudiced in our behaviour without viewing the entire picture. Each time we weigh other in the mental scale, think twice before we start the process. Only when we are weighed in the scale do we realize how much our worth actually weighs against the lives that we lead.

Posted in Daily, Food, Quotes

Evolution of Pastry

“All food starting with p is comfort food: pasta, potato chips, pretzels, peanut butter, pastrami, Pizza, pastry.” Sara Paretsky

One of the most difficult comfort foods to master in the kitchen is the pastry. Unlike regular cuisine, all the measures have to be in exact precision, proportion as well as timing. Too much and too little handling damages it. Despite all this, mastering few types of pastry gives every “home kitchen cook” a profound sense of accomplishment as well as delightful treats on holidays for the entire family.

Pastry is different from cooking because you have to consider the chemistry, beauty and flavor. It’s not just sugar and eggs thrown together. I tell my pastry chefs to be in tune for all of this. You have to be challenged by using secret or unusual ingredients. Ron Ben-Israel

A dough of flour, water and shortening (solid fats, including butter) that may be savoury or sweetened is what encompasses pastry. From sweet to savoury, many kinds of baked products are made of ingredients such as flour, sugar, milk, butter, shortening, baking powder and eggs, although the sweeter version are often known as baker’s confectionery. Pies, tarts, quiches and pasties are the common pastry dishes with minor variations that come under their labeling. Today with ready-made pastry dough available, homemade pastry as become a little easy especially when schedules gets a bit hectic.

To make a full-blooded puff pastry, you need time, you need patience, and you need precision. It’s all about the lamination: it’s all about building up the layers of butter, dough, butter, dough; as the butter melts, it creates steam, and that brings up the layers of the two doughs apart from each other, and that’s what gives it the rise. Paul Hollywood

From shortcrust pastry to puff pastries, the evolution of various varieties has been synchronous with time, tradition, locale flavours and culture. Like many of the desserts, the tradition of pastry making started off as early as the era of Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Although the initial pastry covers over dishes were not meant to be eaten but used for baking to keep the juices in. The medieval cuisine of Europe had a breakthrough with pastry chefs using shortening and butter to make stiff pastries as well as newer techniques like the raised hot water crust initiated in the 14th century. Unlike the earlier processes which had used oil, causing the pastry to lose its stiffness. Towards middle of 16th century pastry recipes have been written, adopted and altered to the local flavour and availability.

I was drawn to bakery and pastry. It’s the same discipline you employ in dance – you take the instruction, and you keep on practicing, seeking perfection. You never achieve it, but you strive. Ron Ben-Israel

Although the pastry making traditions were different in the East and the West with different types of flour even rice flour going into the mix for the former. With the advent of travel and international cultural exchange, in the 19th century the trends of pastry making in Asia began to include a bit from the West. Once considered as a mere cover for dishes to be thrown away; today with a wide varied range pastry has become portable from creative miniature arts to eye-catching centerpieces as well as a culinary sheet for rich creative toppings and fillings of colourful, edible and delectable delights adding a bit of sparkle to make fusion varieties along with the classic recipes.

“The fine arts are five in number, namely: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture, the principal branch of the latter being pastry.” Marie-Antoine Careme

With a wide variety of cultural diversity and advancement of technology, Indian kitchens have been experimenting with sweet pies, tarts, Bougatsa of Greece, Danish pastry, Baklava, Apple strudel among the gulab jamuns, jalebis and Chatti pathiris that we have had since our childhood. Personally for me, I think tarts or sweet pies especially apple pies are way easier even with lack of oven, as a pressure cooker or crock pot on stove-tops can suffice. Although pastry making can lead to a kitchen disaster if not done with care, the satisfied feeling makes the experimentation worth the effort.

“A pastry usually tastes better if it looks nice. A cream pastry, now that looks nice – in fact, there is nothing I mind as long as it looks nice.” Arne Jacobsen

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Aftermath of Ripples

Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect. Rob Reiner

Two men were out on the water in a boat. One of them began drilling in the bottom of the boat, and the other, aghast said “What are you doing? Stop drilling!”. And the first man replied: “It’s all right. I’m only drilling on my side.”

Whether it’s your side or my side, the drilling of the hole affects all the travelers in the boat. This was a forward I had recently received from a friend. There are other versions similar to the above tale, although I believe this was adapted from the parable in the Jewish Midrash Rabbah. The message underlying is that the action of one person whether intentional or not, will affect those around him, either directly or indirectly.

Like the ripples caused by a stone in water, one leads to another till the action wears off. In real life, the ripples caused can have drastic impact, of the good kind and of the dangerous type. An accident, sudden death or harsh words can offset a chain of events that haven’t been predicted or foreseen. While some call it fate, not all events can be grouped under that umbrella. The consequence of our actions at time can be unfathomable. Drunk driving, hit-and-run, speeding, unsupervised work at construction sites are few instances that remind us that our actions impact everyone, not just us.

“Our personal ripple effect is the power of one generating hope and change in others for a better world. Like ripples radiating across the surface of a pond when a pebble is tossed in, kindness is powerful and has far-reaching, positive ramifications that bring about a tremendous sense of joy.” Laurie Buchanan

While we do good, others do benefit and same with the bad. When we try not to cause harm to others by keeping our selfish interests under check, it makes the world a better place to live. In case we forget this important fact, remember very often what goes around comes around as well. After all time doesn’t discriminate.

While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary. Matt Bevin

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Quotes

Bring the Warmth to December

As the days go by, entering into the last month of this year brings to mind hours of being busy with festive, celebrations and thanksgiving. Despite being busy, the time can be considered well spent as long as we root ourselves in reality and open our eyes to what is happening around us, instead of getting completely lost in the gaiety.

“It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready.” Sarah Kay

The cold wintry days of December and the overwhelming feeling of the year end closing in, can be made warm by the human attributes of love and kindness. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, it would be better to not lose sight of the true spirit of humaneness. For then we would realize, that joys shared are memories to be cherished for rainy days of the future.

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Such a warm December. And so hopelessly cold.
Heartlessly stiffens under a crust of ice.
People are like cars. In the crazy bustle of the New Year
All are running somewhere. It is not clear why and where.

Here is a game. The one who knows the rules is playing.
There is no life outside the game,
everything is decided by skill and rank.
Who is not too handsome and not too smart – leaves the
game and lives on the side of life alone.

I used a little heat – warm up, and a little light.
I see a hearth in the temple and collect rags running.
But the guard at the entrance mutters to me that the entrance with tickets,
Who is rich and handsome, bought up places to the hearth.

Such a sad December. And so hopelessly cold.
All who thirst for warmth, all those who have not got a place,
In poverty there is hope for the goodness and mercy of  God

Margarita Kolomiytseva