Posted in Daily, Food

Whole and Toasted

Warm, toasted and sizzling; there’s something special about experiencing it. In fact, one of the best parts of the recipes of today, is that they can be blended to make a bit of the “old and the new”. Which is why for a quick snack, quesadillas have undergone a recent kitchen experimentation, though of a more outdoorsy nature.

Originally as per the Mexican cuisine, a “quesadilla” is a tortilla (flat circle of cooked corn masa) warmed, softened, folded in half and filled with the typical Oaxaca cheese, cooked on a comal till the cheese is melted and gooey. Usually cooked without any oil, had with green or red salsa or chopped onions; these days the fillings can be as varied as own choice. From cooked vegetables, like potatoes with chorizo, mushrooms, epazote or even different types of cooked meat (chicharron, tinga of chicken or beef or cooked pork) or even as simple as avocado or guacamole, chopped onions, tomato, serrano chiles and cilantro. In essence, a quesadilla is simply a turnover food, or a “special Mexican version of the portable pie”.

Modifying the quesadilla with pizza toppings to make the “pizzadilla” or even desert quesadilla with chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, candied fruits and the like, are just an eye-opener to the versatility and ease of turnover foods. Likewise the breakfast quesadillas are also made, using ingredients such as eggs, cheese and bacon. Trying to modify the recipe to a bit of the local Indian cuisine, the tortilla was substituted with a roti (wheat) and stuffed with paneer(Indian cottage cheese) and shredded chicken.Alternatively certain recipes substitute the wheat base with chickpea flour or even a combination of all-purpose flour and rice flour.

Making a blend of the Old World tradition and New World foods; these recipes bring not just a feeling of goodness with the meal, but also a wholesomeness to it. Somewhere along the lines, amateur food experimenters, too have added their little bit to the food culture around the world. And that brings a feeling of content, warmth and happiness, along with satitey; an experience which brings a pleasant feel to the end of any day.

[1944]
“Quesadilla (Tortilla Stuffed with Cheese)
Take fresh tortillas (bought in a Mexican store), place generous piece of Monterey cream cheese (or American cheese) in the center, and fold it over as you would a turnover. Pin top with toothpicks to hold. Place in hot, ungreased skillet and cook lightly, turing often until cheese is melted. Delicious with refried beans.” Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House: San Francisco] October 1944 (p. 35)

Posted in Life, poetry, Random Thoughts

One to Experience

The stillness of the noon hours was a rare experience, more so when it is a full house with pitter-patter of feet and paws, along with the continuous yells, shouts and thumps of the ball outside. Though the chance of a siesta beckoned, the caution and wariness of the absence of the noise stayed uppermost in the mind. Which is why in stealth mode, the silent steps stopped outside the pantry. Cookie jar, empty (check) and the rustling of paper and crunching. With the steam levels rising, before the stern words could come out it was the proud announcement that “mom, tea is ready”. It was to be stern then on. True that the kitchen was a mess, along with jammy fingers and crumbs on the floor. But as always said, it is the thought that counts.

“We want someone to love us, but in fact it’s more important that we love!” Joyce Meyer

Love comes in numerous forms. From the morning cup of tea made ready after a long night or work from home experience shift to the blessing of a few hours of domestic respite to the unasked help in the garden, love comes in many different shapes and sizes. One never realizes its’ true form, until one looks back and reflects on those good feelings within. Love can be noisy as well, but also transient and fleeting. It can be true or false, fake or real as well as an apparition or “an effect of the moment”. Though underlining through all these forms, one needs to give to experience it.

Such is human love, to experience it’s true form, it needs to be shared from within the heart. Such love is always meant to be caught, treasured, experienced, shared and brought back to life for the dark and dull moments. May we wish each other to experience such moments in the days, that we breathe the air around us. For what is life without such an emotion, futile and hopeless; but with it, so full of that inner happiness and peace.

Want to tell you about love?
But not about the one that passion, debauchery, disorder,
What kindles us a fire in the blood
And makes us commit folly.

I will tell you about another love –
When you come home from work in the evening,
And at home all of your relatives, all of your own,
And behind the threshold, care is taken off.

Such a love I wish you friends,
To always rush home from work.
It can not be found in a single moment,
But you can grow with patience and care.

Margarita Fortier

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, Photography Art, poetry

Out of the “State”

When in the mood for a stress release, the all-time favourite is to lose own self in books or literature of any kind, from novels to online reads and the like. Though on some days, it mayn’t work, among the options of Netflix, Spotify and so on; one of them is to observe the toddlers and above at play. From trying to make buildings to antics of monkeys to get the kite stuck in the low branches of the tree or the swing, the tedious hours gets a fresh turn. As far as perseverance is concerned, children to do know quite a bit about it, especially when the cookie jar is placed way up the top shelf or the aren’t in the usual place. They don’t stop till they get those delicious crumbs on their dress.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates

Bad days will come, but how long they stay, the impact they leave and their effect, all depends on own thinking and state of the gray cells within. If and when those “bad times” govern our thoughts, all hell breaks loose. And when they don’t get the upper hand, the rays of light filter trough the breaks among the black clouds and eventually the brightness stays on and spreads ahead. The point lies in how eager one is to get the cookie jar. When one falters, learn to pick up own-self with help and inspiration from the world around us. Eventually we do get to it, no matter how hidden or how high the jar is placed. It all boils down to what, how and when we think and in doing so, just believe and charge ahead.

“It’s All In A State Of Mind”

If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost a “cinch” you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost,
For out in the world you find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

Full many a race is lost
Ere ever a step is run;
And many a coward fails
Ere ever his work’s begun.

Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you’ll fall behind,
Think that you can and you will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later, the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can.

-Walter D. Wintle

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Reflections

Just those “Five”

“Wait for five minutes…when the sliced onions turn golden brown, pour the sauce and saute.”
“Five minutes more…I’ll switch off the television after this episode”.
“Snooze”. Five more minutes.

Reality and time are a formidable combination, especially when they turn events to be one of the life-changing moments. Every now and then, they snatch the net that holds our fall or by saving grace, they stretch the net to break the fall. Either way, their significance is not to be underestimated. In just “five” minutes, they highlight the balance of life, that we humans need to find and attain. Whether it be five, more or less; time always brings the one on the highest rung on the ladder down with a thud, or help us to grow our wings slowly.

“Balance suggests a perfect equilibrium. There is no such thing. That is a false expectation…. There are going to be priorities and dimensions of your life; how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.” Denise Morrison

Sticking to the universal “five minutes”, one can feel or do a lot of things in that time. When time is a whole bunch, those five minutes seem a lot of time. But as the second whiz by, it becomes too little.

Or those five minutes can be mean so much. Five minutes to talk to our parents. Five minutes to play wit our pet. Five minutes to sing a raucous song with the kid, or admire and share in their drawings. Five minutes to hug our better halves and show much much they fill a part to makes us whole. Five minutes to hold hands and walk under the night sky. Five minutes of shared words, whispered conversations and fears, and support.

Those five minutes is what pulls us through our worst moments in life. Those five minutes is what makes one smile from the heart, even though they may not be near in real. Those five minutes become the most important thing to us. In a way, “those five minutes” pale in comparison to those endless hours of “important meetings and projects”. In fact, “those five minutes” become the safety net for the inevitable fall that one may make when the carpet is pulled under our feet.

So let us all have those occasional “five minutes”; to be on those important things, the ones that matter the most. For those five minutes of “simple things” will last for an eternity, or expensive than eternity and more.

Posted in Daily, Food

An “In-dul-gence”

More than forty eight hours, still the excuse to indulge in a little of the delectable sweetness of “c” stays on. On a frank note, the gift from the simple cacao seeds don’t really need any special day to be enjoyed; yet on the need for a reason to binge on it, these special choclate based days are noted and celebrated. On such a note, a couple of us “chocolate-fanatics” decided to give the online chocolataire a whirl and oh what a visual treat was it. Though obsolete now, a chocolate themed social gathering gives a boost tot he low morale during these “locked in periods”.

“Chocolate Wine. Take a pint of Sherry, or a pint and a half of Port, four ounces and a half of chocolate, six ounces of fine sugar, and half an ounce of white starch, or find flour; mix, dissolve, and boil all these together for about ten or twelve minutes. But if your chocolate is made with sugar, take double the quantity of chocolate, and half the quantity of sugar.” (The Cook’s Own Book: Being a Culinary Encyclopedia, Mrs. N.K.M. Lee, facsimile 1832 edition [Arno Press:New York] 1972 (p. 51))

From being processed, blended, conched, tempered and stored, chocolate has undergone a bit more changes, primarily to the percentages of cocoa solid, fats or both along with added ingredients, to give the many varieties of today. Interestingly cocoa can be combined with vegetable fat (tropical or hydrogenated fats) to give the confection of compound chocolate. Though not legally “chocolate”, it can be used as a dipping sauce, candy bar coatings or just to give the feel of chocolate to a simple dessert, biscuits or even pie. Alternatively for amateur home experimenters (like yours truly); melting chocolate with glucose, golden or corn syrup to make the modeling chocolate for homemade decorations to sponge cakes, cupcakes and the like brings a feeling of bringing a bit of the delicatessen home. On a very sweet and sour note, chocolate too has its’ own tune with the creation of Callebaut’s Ruby chocolate. Made from the Ruby cocoa bean, the distinct red colour gives a flair to the dramatic taste.

The quest to find a “cool and practical recipe” for the impromptu chocolataire has opened up a whole range of ideas and range of experimentation. With many recipes being borrowed, jotted and modified; chocolate will be one of the musts for cacao based desert crazy folks. As they say old is gold; with a little bit of “this and that”, it gives a good feel for the taste buds and an enjoyable ride for the memory cells especially as they age over time.

[1957]
“Chocolate Fondue: Hot Dessert
2 squares (ounces) unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup milk, 1 cup soft breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs separated. Add chocolate, broken in pieces, to milk. Heat till chocolate melts; stir till blended. Add crumbs, butter, sugar, salt. Beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in a little of the hot milk, add to milk mixture, cool. Beat egg whites till stiff; fold into cooled mixture. Turn into a five-cup greased baking dish. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about forty minutes. Serve hot with whipped cream. Yield: Four servings.” (“Our Daily Bread,” Jane Nickerson New York Times, September 8, 1957 (p. SM46))

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Threads to Hold

Ever had the experience of a sudden recollection of a chance acquaintance or an old friend, popping out of the blue into the mind and lingering on for some time; or maybe, those of our near and dear ones. Perhaps this rhetorical question doesn’t really need a reply.

Memories or moments. They confound us or make us smile, or just dig up those old restless feelings buried knowingly deep in the past. Come what may, they do stay on, and sometimes they may be all that is left behind.

“People leave strange little memories of themselves behind when they die.” Haruki Murakami

In own respective fabric of life, one may hold multiple threads of a prominent colour for another, or vice-versa. Whichever way it may be, it is these memories that sustain us and help us face with the absence of their real voice. It is these memories that share and support the self in the challenges of the days of now. To feel the unwavering support of their souls, it just takes a wee little of time to embrace the present or the previous memories and thread them into the happy fabric of moments. Many a time, is these little things that we need that keep us going.

The Making of a Memory
One can’t predict when or where they will come from; those memories that stay with us a lifetime, and never fail to bring us warm fuzzy feelings. My husband had just finished loading his car; made one lap back through the house and then into the kitchen. ‘I guess filling my thermos is all I have left to do, and then I’m off.’
Down the drain went the hot water that had been warming his thermos. With a very nostalgic look on his face he softly said, ‘When I filled this with water earlier, I thought of your mum. In fact, anytime I fill my thermos I think her.’ ‘Oh honey, that’s so sweet. I know she’s watching and listening right now with a big smile on her face,’ I responded as tears began to brim my eyelids. ‘You know, I never fill my thermos that I don’t think of her, and I always smile too.’ The tone in his voice was so tender as he spoke of my mother who is no longer with us.

Years ago we had been visiting my parents, and the morning we were leaving my mother watched as Jerry began to fill his thermos. Being the ‘coffee drinker’ in the family, he’s always placed himself in charge of thermos duties. Mum then casually offered up a tidbit of advice. ‘Jerry, if you would fill your thermos with hot water and let it sit a while, your coffee would stay hot longer on your drive.’ The look on his face was priceless as her simple suggestion sunk in. Well of course it would! It only makes all the sense in the world! Who wouldn’t know that? He dumped the small amount of coffee already in the thermos, and ran the tap until it was at its hottest; then refilled with piping hot water. After pouring himself a fresh cup of coffee, he sat down to enjoy a few more minutes with mum, and to discuss this unique new idea.

Words of wisdom from a loving mother-in-law made an impact that will never be forgotten. When spoken that morning, Jerry didn’t realize he would always hear those words ringing in his ears, or that they would bring a smile to his face time and time again. And Mother would never have dreamed her words would be a treasured, and everlasting memory in the heart of her son-in-law.
The ‘fondest, lasting memories’ don’t necessarily come from ‘major moments’ in life, the making of a memory simply happens.
(Written by Kathleene S. Baker (Source: Internet))

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

Standing Strong

As the downpour continues unabated for more than two days in a row, getting across the lawn to even close the gates at night are a hassle. From hopping between the deep pools to stepping on the stones laid across the path and below the tall branches laden with green leaves breaking down the torrential downpour to drips of rain. Though the skies are mostly laden with gray, the mornings are spent on assessing the visual damage across the fields and lawn. The scene of dead branches and a tree split by lightening, brings about the dark reality of life to surface.

The cycle of life as one may call it. The birth of life and the scene of destruction. Nature has her own way of showing her love, the cycle of balance and the end of an old or on the other hand, fresh beginnings.

All these and the words of Herman Hesse come to mind, on seeing the scene of chaos. Though fast forward a week ahead, the colour of the fresh flowers and the shades of varied bright colours across the fields, show how much beauty and revival is possible, once the mess is cleaned up. Likewise, our lives be so. After every fall, we pick ourselves by self or with help, clean up the mess and move on. Staying in the flow, eventually we will reach the point where the rainbow ends.

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” Herman Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte