Posted in Daily, Food

“Quiche” on the Menu

Fill the pastry crust with cheese, tomatoes, egg custard and smoked meat or mushrooms or any ingredient by choice, bake it without covering the pastry and viola’ the “homemade quiche’ ” is ready for the get-together with the extended family, friends, colleagues, neighbours or for a quiet light meal for two.

This savoury open flan consisting of pastry crust filled with eggs, milk or cream with cheese, meat, seafood or vegetables, quiche is one of the popular dishes of the French cuisine which has reached over to various parts and countries of the world albeit with or without modifications.

While the word “quiche” was first attested in French (1805) and the first English usage as “quiche Lorraine” was recorded in the Indiana Evening Gazette in 1925; the origins of this dish may be traced to the German roots. For the word “quiche” may originate from the German “Kuchen” meaning “cake” or “tart”. Food historians have traced the roots of “quiche” to the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, which the French later renamed as Lorraine.

Although this may be debatable as using eggs and cream in pastry was practiced in most cuisines as early as the 13th century. In fact the ” Forme of Cury” and the “Italian Libro de arte coquinaria” of the 13th and 14th century cookbooks have references of recipes known as ” Crustardes of flesh” or ” Crustade” which spell out steps for eggs and cream baked in pastry containing meat, fish and fruit. Since then, these recipes have caught on.

“I do not like a quiche with wet, undercooked pastry underneath, and that is that.” Mary Berry

Quiche can be made with a variety of ingredients with the variants often named descriptively in French like the quiche au fromage ( with cheese), quiche aux champignons (with mushrooms) or conventionally like florentine (spinach) and provençale (tomatoes) to list a few. Although there are many variants of quiche, one of the most popular and famous one is the ” Quiche Lorraine”, which has its’ own National Day as per the foodimentarians ( May 20th).

The authentic Quiche Lorraine originated from the German culture in which the “quiche” was an egg custard pie baked in a brioche pastry (and not in the typical French pie dough). Over the years this recipe had evolved into its’ classical form containing heavy cream, eggs and bacon or chopped ham, but no cheese. This mouth-watering wintry dish is baked until the pastry crust is browning. It can be served as a starter with a dressed crisp salad or as a brunch dish, often enjoyed at room temperature or little warm to keep the pie still crunchy. While the most popular Quiche recipe, includes French soft cheese (emmenthal or gruyere); many modern variations like the Alsatian-style including onions to modern versions with goat cheese, salmon, leek or even broccoli are made today.

So for a quick change from the regular, trying this simple recipe after a busy day may be fun. For the lack of ovens, this dish works fine on cooking with “instant pot” or ” by double boiling” techniques too . As often said, cooking is all about ” experimentation, cuisine mixing with modifications keeping it simple, tasty and artsy as well as fun”.

Advertisements
Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Reflections, Work

From the Ashes to Hope

“The darkest hours are just before dawn.” English proverb

Of recent times, the town had seen a couple of new start ups’, businesses that have been flourishing over the past three years. Initially they had started small, one had crashed in between and had later had caught on; while few others had stayed steady on from the beginning. Yet what comes to mind on walking down the market road, was how fragile time is and how we must learn to rise up every now and then from the ashes of our efforts, similar to the phoenix.

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas Salk

 

As per the Greek mythology, the phoenix (Ancient Greek: φοῖνιξ, phoînix) was a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix is believed to die in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. Among the different traditions concerning the lifespan of the phoenix, by most accounts the phoenix lived for 500 years before rebirth. Among the old records of Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Ovid among others, the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif has been done in detail. As per these historical records, the phoenix symbolized renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life”. In the Old English Exeter Book,  an anonymous 677-line 9th-century alliterative poem has been written consisting of a paraphrase and abbreviation of Lactantius, followed by an explication of the Phoenix as an allegory for the resurrection of Christ.

Þisses fugles gecynd fela gelices
bi þam gecornum Cristes þegnum;
beacnað in burgum hu hi beorhtne gefean
þurh Fæder fultum on þar frecnan tid
healdaþ under heofonum & him heanna blæd
in þam uplican eðle gestrynaþ. (In the Original Old English)

This bird’s nature is much like
to the chosen servants of Christ;
pointeth out to men how they bright joy
through the Father’s aid in this perilous time
may under heaven possess, and exalted happiness
in the celestial country may gain. (In Modern English translation )

Source:Thorpe, Benjamin; Corson, Hiram (1842). “Codex exoniensis. A collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry, from a manuscript in the library of the dean and chapter of Exeter”. p. 244.

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

In the various phases of one’s life, we have all our “phoenix” moments, to rise from the ashes of downfall. With the turn from winter to spring, nature teaches us time and again that hope will bear fruit as long as we aim to work for it. With the new crops planted in the last few weeks, one can hardly believe that few months ago it was the time of cold, dry and rainy days of the winters. As the season changes and time moves on, staying stuck lasts only as long as we allow it to be so. Like all plans and dreams that may be fulfilled or go astray; it’s the will to survive that beats the intermittent thunders and storms in one’s life as well as to dust ourselves from the ashes to start rebuilding.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

 

I will return as grass in spring,
I’ll try to reach you, germinating,
As buds reach forward to the green
When they are waiting to awaken.

To start the blossoming anew
One morning, secretly and shyly,
Already sparkling with the dew,
That dries away if sun is shining.

The sun arises every time
To warm the humid earth for seeding,
It reaches joyously your eyes
But I already do not see it.

It cannot raise my heavy eaves,
My closed eyelids, cannot force them.
And it’s ridiculous to grieve
For me as for a single person.

For I am grass and autumn leaves
That fly and fall to putrefaction,
But there is nothing new in these
Banal ideas and reflections.

It’s the eternal hope and dream –
To be, to stay, at least, as grass does,
To grow through the soil in spring
And join the life, the new one, lasting.

Gennady Shpalikov

 

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

Unexpected Rays of “Providence”

“Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.” C.S. Lewis

Unexpected occasions arise in one’s life at different points in their time frame. Yet while one mayn’t look for it, help often comes by His Grace.

Often unexpectedly, at a good hour, one may meet a person who disperses the clouds that have gathered in our soul, unwittingly resolving some of our personal problems.

” “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? “They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? “Its measure is longer than the earth And broader than the sea.” (Job 11:7-9)

Often it may be so that one happens to hear from another person a word that pleases them, or to say someone an encouraging word. Or suddenly one may receive a letter from someone, and precisely when it is necessary be it at a low point in one’s life or when one has been waiting for the “lost” opportunity for some time.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Often when one is deeply entangled in the circumstances life has thrown them into, when one is desperately trying to reason within their views and thinking, trying to get out of the hopeless situation; when suddenly something happens that radically changes the situation. Thus by inference unexpected meetings, kind words, cherished and promised letters and such situations as well as kind deeds towards oneself are all signs given to as reminders, lessons, admonitions, encouragement or as a call to remind one of the Grace of God and the gift of Providence.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Mathew 6:26)

Among the phrases handed down in the various cultures, there is a Chinese saying that all the darkness of the universe can not extinguish the smallest candle. It would do well to remember this during the dark phases of one’s life. When one knows and learns of this, the most ugly situations and the most terrible people may be viewed by different angles and seek out the spark of light. For Providence does indeed hold out the light, only it mayn’t be somewhere expected. When one believes in His Grace, Faith and Love; along the way one will find the rays that Providence throws offering the sparks and the rays to live.

“Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.” Samuel Adams

“Life is but a Weaving” (the Tapestry Poem)

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”
― Corrie ten Boom

“……and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation…” (Acts 17:26)

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Of Origin and Evolution…”Soufflé”

“You can’t make a souffle rise twice.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth

One of the main dishes that declares one’s success in the kitchen is the “souffle'”. Although records have traced its’ appearance to the early eighteenth century in France, soufflés may have been around ever since flour, milk, eggs and butter have been whipped up into different concoctions to please the palate. Essentially a soufflé is a baked egg-based dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert. “Soufflé” is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means “to blow”, “to breathe”, “to inflate” or “to puff”.

 

While, few food historians state that the first appearance is by the French master cook Vincent de la Chappelle in the early 1700s; the popularization of souffle perfected to an art was credited to the French chef, Marie-Antoine Carême, who was “a product of post-revolutionary Paris.” As per Antoine Beauvilliers, who is credited with the “first grand restaurant of Paris, had described the soufflé in “The Art of the Cook” (L’Art du Cuisinier, 1814) as,

“Put in the size of an egg of good butter, a little nutmeg and the yolks of four fresh eggs, the white of which must be whipped apart as for biscuit; mix them by little and little into the puree though hot, mix all well, and pour it into a silver dish or paper mould, put it in the oven. When the soufflé is well risen, touch it lightly, if it resist a little it is enough; it must be served immediately, as it is apt to fall.”

Baked in individual ramekins or typical dishes, soufflés are typically prepared from two basic components; the base as a flavored crème pâtissière, cream sauce (or béchamel) or a purée and the egg whites beaten to a soft peak. While the base provides the flavor, the egg whites provide the “lift” or puffiness to the dish. The base can be flavored with varied ingredients including herbs, cheese and vegetables for savory varieties or jam, fruits, berries,chocolate, banana or lemons and the like, for dessert soufflés. In fact, the savory soufflés can incorporate poultry, bacon, ham or seafood for a more substantial dish.

“The only thing that will make a souffle fall is if it knows you’re afraid of it.” James Beard

 

One of the main defaults while preparing a souffle’ is when it fails to rise. Yet as most chefs will say, one thing to keep in mind in soufflé preparation is that it really doesn’t matter how high the bubbly mixture poufs up while it bakes as long as the ingredients hidden inside should taste heavenly and cloud-like.

“If a dish doesn’t turn out right, change the name and don’t bat an eyelid. A fallen souffle is only a risen omelette. It depends on the self-confidence with which you present it.” Lionel Blue

For avid movie watchers as well as fans of the movies of the black and white era, one may have seen “Sabrina”, the 1954 film starring Audrey Hepburn. One of the scenes is where Hepburn is humiliated at the Parisian culinary school when the master chef humiliates her (and almost everyone) and critiqued their failed efforts at soufflé from “Too low; too high; too heavy; sloppy”. Hepburn sighs to her French baron friend (whose soufflé is perfect) “I don’t know what happened.”
He explains to her that she forgot to turn on her oven. “Your mind has not been on the cooking,” he says. “It has been elsewhere. A woman happy in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappy in love she forgets to turn on the oven.”

While “the fallen soufflés” may be depicted in cartoons, comedies and children’s programs as a source of humor; the process of making it will be easy and fun if one learns to proportionate the ingredients and time the baking right. As they always say “Practice makes perfect”, trying a souffle’ for the National Cheese Souffle’ (May 18th) or Chocolate Souffle’ (February 28th) Day would be a first step towards mastering this art. If not to master, then at least experimenting to make one can result in some “kitchen fun” and good use of leftovers; or simple have and enjoy the “heavenly and light as air” experience.

 

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Hold the Condemnation

“What we don’t speak burns more than the spoken words especially when the actions, expressions and emotions radiate the sense of censure as the silent unspoken disapproval.”

If we ever sit down and reflect on the number of times we had condemned or felt extreme disapproval at the actions of others or towards the circumstances, the list would be formed for most of us. The tendency to condemn or sentence another is one of the most common follies and fallacies of man. If we look on the pages of the local town news or reflect on the “hearsay” at the office, communities, neighbourhood centers and even schools, the “good news” gets less attention when compared to the “bad”. Though it is indeed important to know both, a fact that stands true is that the more disreputable the news is, the faster it spreads and believed.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl Jung

 

One of the sad realities of the social order is that people are more engaged in passing the “bad news” rather than the good happenings especially of others. Unfortunately condemning anyone unless the entire picture is known will strike back at us, especially when we are at our worse. To not condemn anyone may seem simple when said, but to actually do it is quite difficult. At some point of time, each one of us would have been at the wrong end of the receiving line, sometimes at no fault of ours or we have been grossly wronged. In such situations, it seems easier to condemn and castigate the other. However one’s real character is reflected when we hold such thoughts, emotions and actions.

 

When the wrong has been done to us, instead of engaging in harsh words or negative behaviour, feel angry but don’t feed the anger. Then acknowledge that what has been done was wrong and just move on. The harsh words, gestures or behaviour may aid one in letting off some steam for the moment, but a little later the regret, guilt and ramifications set in. The more we engage in the act of condemnation, the guilt may not bother us; yet when the day back to us as a boomerang it may be too late for the remedial actions or reparative measures. Eventually if we try, we can learn and master the art of  avoiding condemnation. If we do so, one discovers life’s simple pleasures and good moments. Above all, we learn to move with the flow, treasuring the memories of happiness, kindness and simple joys.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Work

Time, Change and Addresses

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France

Like all events that come to an eventual close, yesterday had marked the farewell of two colleagues at the workplace. While attending the meet, what came to mind was the fact that predictability and stability works only for a time. During my younger years, with both parents working, transfers and promotions went in hand with address change. Although as kids we had met many friends and been to many localities, there was always an underlying feeling in me that certain things can never be permanent or sure.

“People lose people, we lose things in our life as we’re constantly growing and changing. That’s what life is is change, and a lot of that is loss. It’s what you gain from that loss that makes life.” Thomas Jane

Change, development and growth go in tandem in life. People change, addresses change and routine alters, yet nature remains true to its’ unpredictability. As literature and history, unfolds the story of the great conqueror of their times, Alexander the Great, the truth that we come carrying nothing and we leave empty handed too holds true. But what we do leave behind, is the legacy of our work as footprints behind. Every man will disappear, but leaving those marks for the future to learn from them, is dependent on each individual alone. One always has the choice to change, either for the better or worse. The wiser we act, think and live; the happier, serene and at peace, we will be.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

Addresses Change

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

What in the very end remains?
Not idle talks or strained relations, –
– A mowed field, the vast of plains,
A forest road to a train station.

The path by empty villas winds,
The homes of wealth, prestige, renown.
An old dray-cart left us behind –
A guy was driving to the town.

And this is what, for sure, stays:
The river, white in the night haze,
It is bewitched and charmed by mist,
Adorned by a camp-fire shimmer
And beacons twinkling in the midst –
All for the safety of shipping.

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

Gennady Shpalikov

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” William Shakespeare

Posted in Daily, Food

Staying “Summer” Fresh

“If life gives you lemons, make apple juice and make people wonder how the hell you did it.” Gurbaksh Chahal

With summer reaching it’s peak, staying hydrated is quite important. Add holidays, children, get together weekends or picnics as well as spending time with friends and family; getting creative is a necessity. With plenty of fruits available this season as well the vegetable garden thriving, it would be fun to experiment and serve something more than chilled lemonade this summer.

“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” Conan O’Brien

 

Before getting started, few practical tips would make the experimentation more fun and feasible as well as palatable. As per most nutrition experts and chefs, carrots can be juiced with any fruit and apples can be mixed with any vegetables. Cabbage, kale or collard greens shouldn’t be juiced. A little of mint, basil or rosemary gives a distinct flavour to the regular fruit juices. Adding a little of parsley or watercress will not only cleanse the blood but also give a distinct flavour.

Before juicing, washing the vegetables and fruits is a must. A quick tip to clean the berries would be to soak them for a few minutes in a solution of vinegar and water of one cup to ten, respectively and dry them completely. Not only will they remain fresh mould free but also be cleansed. Have fruit juices fresh and early in the morning would ease the health for the day. Fruit juice once made, should be consumed fresh as they may turn too sweet when kept in the fridge for long, or turn rancid or sour when kept outside. T have it cold, add a few ice cubes which can contain a hint of crushed mint in the water frozen as ice cubes.

 

Before juicing, rough skins like those of pineapple and avocado as well as pits and seeds should be removed. An exception to the peels are apple skin and citrus (not oranges) peels which are edible and anti-oxidant rich. And the removed pulp can be added to mayonnaise for a delicious mock salad, or to pancakes, cookies, and even hummus. Not all seeds and greens can be added to food as some can cause gastric upsets as well as food allergies. Few of the more vibrant juices, as seen by their colours fall into the category of :
Big RED: Beetroot, Carrot, Celery, Apple, Pomegranate.
Yummy Carrot: Carrots, Apple, Ginger, Turmeric or Parsley and Lemon.
Green: Kale, Spinach, Cucumber, Parsley, Celery, Apple.
The Detoxifier: Beets, Carrots, Lemon, Ginger, Apple
The Vision: Carrots, Oranges, Ginger with or without turmeric

If the taste of the juice isn’t sweet enough to the palate initially, try adding some stevia or things like cucumber, beetroot and carrot, which can make the juices easier to drink for a newbie. Also although lemonade is one of the summer drinks since school, a dash of lime any juice would spruce it up a bit.