Posted in Christian, Daily, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Jump With Faith

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ( Luke 12:25-26 (NIV))

When we always enter unknown territory, from being simply new at the workplace gatherings to high school reunions or settling into a new town to relocating to a new profession or hearing bad news in the hospital; the feeling of wariness transcends in all of us. In those times, there is nothing more comforting than having someone familiar or something familiar to lean on to. The pillar of support can range from family, friends, our church or community to our memories of good times, our old comfort blanket or even our treasured memorabilia. Yet what we often fail to realize is that the strongest comfort comes from none other than Our Father in Heaven. The gentle calmness in the restless mind, the sudden peace that flows through us, the strength to brave the new day and the hope of the new dawn are what we get when we read and understand His Word. Through centuries, the Word of God has withstood the test of time. Yet of all the things fickle in this world, His Word will never change like the weather nor will His Hope ever leave us when we put our entire trust and faith in Him.

“..But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

One day late in the evening a fire broke out in one of the houses. The whole family – the father, mother and children, shocked by what was happening, ran out into the street and watched the fire flare up. And suddenly everyone understood that among them there is no youngest member of the family – a five-year-old son. Most likely, he, frightened by the flame and smoke, instead of going down, climbed the stairs to the very top. One could not even dream of finding him. Suddenly, a window opened and a child’s distorted face appeared in it. In desperation, the father shouted: “Jump!” The kid, seeing only smoke and flames in front of him, shouted, “Dad, I can’t see you!” His father replied, “But I see you, do not be afraid, jump now!”
The boy, having gathered his courage, jumped and found himself right in the arms of his father. It is this faith that God expects from us!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Like the times when we cast our hope on our firefighters, emergency personnel and technicians, when the going gets tough and shoulders are overburdened; the sooner we cast our cares on to His Shoulders, the lesser will we be troubled and the lesser the hardships will seem For just as the song goes, “our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, With wisdom, power, and love, Our God is an awesome God”, so will we be able to face what life throws at us.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” ( 1 Peter 5:7-10)

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Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art

Art of Chantilly Cream

Whipped cream also known as Chantilly cream or crème chantilly, is one of those discoveries whose origins have been lost in obscurity. From being attributed to accidental discovery in the ancient times, to whipping instead of churning the cream for butter or the common folk tale of a fast horse ride with a half filled container of cream, whipped cream has become an answer to transform the boring mundane to fresh, new and exciting view.

Essentially whipped cream is made by whipping the cream by a whisk or mixer until it is light and fluffy. It is often sweetened and flavored with vanilla, coffee, chocolate, orange to mention a few. The colder the equipment, ingredients and the cream, the easier to whip and better the results. Cream must be below 50 degrees to whip, for at 50 degrees or above it gets churned into butter. From whipping siphons to food processors and electric mixers, the hand whipped cream has progressed with time and technology.

Popularized from the 16th century onward, whipped cream became aromatized and sweetened. Then it was added to various desserts from pyramidal shapes with coffee, liqueurs, chocolate, fruits and so on, to make either as a mixture or poured on top known as crème en mousse (‘cream in a foam’), crème fouettée, crème mousseuse and fromage à la Chantilly. Modern mousses including “mousse au chocolat” have continued this tradition. As written, “Mousses are made with sweet cream, not very thick; one whips it, which makes it foam, and it is this foam that one uses: one may give it whatever flavor one wants, with aromatics, flours, fruits, wines, or liqueurs.” M. Emy, 1768

Continuing through the years, whipped cream still remains a popular topping from fruit to desserts of pie, ice cream, cake, puddings, waffles and even to beverages ranging from coffee to milk or plain hot chocolate. These days imitations of whipped cream, for those with milk allergies or vegan diets, extended shelf life and convenience have been made available as whipped topping or squirty cream. Although the original whipped cream is the best, whichever way it may be made, whipped cream makes a good treat for the eyes as well as the palate. So in honour of National Whipped Cream Day (January 5th), I’m planning to shut down the inner calorie counter, to have whipped cream on any topping like, cake, pie or even coffee for a delicious weekend splurge.

Posted in Daily, Food, Photography Art

Oatmeal Art

“The oat is the Horatio Alger of cereals, which progressed, if not from rags to riches, at least from weed to health food.” Waverley Root, ‘Food’ (1980)

From being a weed, oats has been transformed to being one of the essential health foods, so much so as to declare January as the month of oatmeal as per “foodimentarians”. From its’ origin as early as 3000 years ago, oats were a common occurrence among the cultivation of other crops. Greeks and Romans considered oats to be a diseased form of wheat. Though most of the Scottish and the Germanic tribes would disagree with that thought.

Slowly over the years, oats has been embraced as a part of dining, especially for breakfast. The slow acceptance can be attributed to the fact that oats was and still is a primary fodder as pasturage and hay crops especially for cattle and horses. Additionally oats can turn rancid pretty quickly if not processed immediately after harvesting.

It truly amazes me all the things you can add and mix in to truly transform a plain old bowl of oatmeal. Ayesha Curry

Nevertheless the acceptance of oats especially as oatmeal (made of hulled oat grains, groats which have either been milled or ground, steel-cut or rolled) is on the rise. From the least to most processed oatmeal can be prepared from oat groats or whole oats, oat bran, steel cut (Irish) oats, rolled oats ( known as old fashioned oats), quick oats as well as instant oats and oat flour. From simple oatmeal to protein bars, brownies, oatmeal bread and cakes; the experimentation with oats is endless.

Oats are great – you can make meatloaf and use oats instead of bread as the binder, or you can make oatmeal cookies, my husband’s favorite. Ree Drummond

Besides being wonderful art decor for foodists, oats can be mixed with an “n” number of ingredients to make weird combination like oats dosa, oats and chicken salads, oats “upma”, to shakshuka, medley of vegetable or meat and even into stuffed bell peppers or spicy seasoned stuffed bitter-gourds. Try an online search, there would be numerous recipes including the addition of oats.

There is no doubt that some plant food, such as oatmeal, is more economical than meat, and superior to it in regard to both mechanical and mental performance. Such food, moreover, taxes our digestive organs decidedly less, and, in making us more contented and sociable, produces an amount of good difficult to estimate. Nikola Tesla

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

Raise the Curtain

“Circling easily and awkwardly,
Snowflake sat down on the glass.
It was snowing thick and white during the night.
From the snow in a light room
A little newly-fallen snow flying down,
And the winter sun rises.
As every day is fuller and better,
Fuller and better is the New Year … “

A.Tvardovsky

And 2019 has arrived in its’ own time. One of the greatest gifts that time has given us is its’ ability to throw some hope as it moves forward. Every new year is rich with hopes, desires, dreams and goals. While the days or months leading to it may have been of realizations, trepidation and incompleteness. Although man knows that not all disease can be overcome, despairs wiped or lack of money solved without divine Grace, miracle or help. This understanding is what lies behind the expectations of hope for tomorrow.

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

As we wait and hope for the miracle to happen, the feeling of despondency fills us at times. Yet once we light the flame inside the us, we discover that there were miracles all around us that were happening which we had failed to comprehend. For miracles and hope comes from the Grace above, it happens through our thoughts, words and actions by our hands. The sooner this “knowing” comes to us, the more beautiful life becomes.

“It doesn’t matter where you came from. All that matters is where you are going.” Brian Tracy

Venturing into this new year, sharing the traditions across the globe; from the Russian custom of drinking the “wished” champagne to stew of black-eyed peas (Southern States of US), eating twelve times (Estonia), releasing wishing spheres onto the river (Singapore), dropping dollop of cream on the floor (Switzerland) or creating our own traditions in the family; the real miracle starts from above and grows in us garnering the hope for the dreams and desires of tomorrow.

“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”
Rumi

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

Transition: From Old to New

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on.” Hal Borland

Approaching the last day of this year, flashbacks are imminent and although the proportions may vary by marked degrees, both happiness, contentment laced with sorrows and regrets cloud the mind. As the New Year celebrations swing into full force, there is an underlying feeling of “expectations of something new” in the mind. Yet when the first day of the next year turns out to be something of the normal or later as the month returns to the normal tune; one has the tendency to be swamped by the “absence of something” which is of course our expectations. Despite having the fun and partying to ring in the year, eventually when things return back to the usual; one often wonders what all the partying and revelry drew in. On one hand, we we do celebrate the new, yet on the other hand; the newness wears off, too quickly at times.

“Develop An Attitude Of Gratitude This Year, And Give Thanks For Everything That Happens To You, Knowing That Every Step Forward Is A Step Toward Achieving Something Bigger And Better Than Your Current Situation.” Brian Tracy

The beauty of the new year lies in welcoming the coming days with grace, gratitude, love, thoughtfulness and kindness. Celebrations have always been a part of our days since the formation of societies and building of civilizations. Yet it is when we lose sight of the ground that we fall too hard into the monotonous tone of the usual. Even though we partake in the fun of the New Year, recalling to mind the Grace and Blessings of the year gone, helps us to start the fresh year with new perspectives, hope and dreams.

– What happens in the world? – And just winter.
– Just winter, you think? – I guess.
After all, I myself, as I am able,
lay traces in your early sleeping homes.
– What is behind all this? – And it will be January.
– It will be January, do you think? – Yes, I think.
I’ve been reading this white book for a long time,
this old snowman with pictures of a blizzard.
– What is all this over? – It will be April.
– It will be April, are you sure? – Yes, I am sure.
I have already heard, and this rumor is checked by me,
as if in a grove the flute was ringing today.
– What follows from this? – It is necessary to live,
sew sundresses and light dresses from calico.
– Do you think all this will be worn?
– I believe that all this should be sewn.
It should be sewn, because, no matter how blizzard or circling,
its bondage and opal are short-lived.
So allow me, in honor of the New Year’s ball,
to offer your hand to the dance, madam, to you!
The silver month, the ball with the candle inside
and the carnival masks – in a circle, in a circle.
The waltz begins. Give, madam, a hand,
and – one-two-three, one-two-three,
one-two-three, one-two-three! ..

Yuri Levitansky

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

Winter, Soup and Holidays

“What a marvelous resource soup is for the thrifty cook – it solves the ham-bone and lamb-bone problems, the everlasting Thanksgiving turkey, the extra vegetables.” Julia Child

With the season’s celebrations underway, one of the ideal ways to put the extra meat and vegetables to good use is to make them into soup. From the clear soups ( bouillon, consomme) to thick (purees, bisques, veloutes) soups are a consistent favourite with many. Its origins can be traced back to the Roman Era as evidenced by use of the middle English word “soup” from the Old French “soupe” which in turn is derived from “suppa” of Late Latin of Germanic roots. Additionally evidence of existence of soup can be found to as early as 20,000 BC with the discovery of the technique of “boiling” and waterproof jars. Yet since then, soup has been revolutionized to the traditions, customs, flavours, taste as well as style of the local cuisine to the extent that soup is not simply a starter or appetizer but also eaten as dessert or with fruit, as well as being served hot or cold.

“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.” Marge Kennedy

Come December with the cold and snow, there’s nothing more apt than having pepper pot soup. This soup made from scraps meat and peppercorn had gained mass popularity during the Revolutionary War days in Colonial America. As the legend goes, during the battle of Valley Forge in an exceptionally cold harsh winter of 1777-78, food was often scarce and conditions deplorable. The soldiers were low on food and Christopher Ludwick, a baker general of the Continental Army, gathered whatever food he could scrounge together to feed the cold and frail soldiers. Gathering scraps of tripe, meat, and some peppercorn, he mixed the ingredients together with some other seasonings and created the hot, thick, and spicy soup we now know as pepper pot soup. It quickly became known as “the soup that won the war” as the soup gave the soldiers the warmth and strength that they needed to push the enemies back through the harsh winter weather.

It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it. M. F. K. Fisher

From the Belgian Waterzool to the Russian Solyanka, Vietnamese Pho, Partan bree of Scotland; each country, place and local cuisine have their own version of soup of meat and vegetables. Whichever name it may be by, essentially soups ward off the wintry chill satisfying not just the palate and hunger, but also keep us simply warm, comfortable and nice.

Posted in Daily, Food, Quotes

Balancing the Scale

Post Christmas and as a part of the year end festive, some of us may discover that a new wardrobe might come in order if the continue on the path of festive eating. The whole point of holidays is to have fun and enjoy. Yet the post-holiday guilt is disheartening and clings onto to our conscience, taunting us with every bite we take, unless we learn to numb it or have a back up plan in place to keep us still healthy and fit. There are a few tips and tricks that I plan to put into place before the guilt strikes with a fury.

Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. ~English proverb

Remember the old dictum for healthy eating, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a peasant. While it may be difficult putting this into daily practice, there are ways around it. For holidays try proportioning the meals as well as desserts; then we would be able to stick to the rule.

The key of having fun with food and controlling our portions is to experiment a bit as well as sit down to mindful eating. Even though you are alone for lunch or dinner, instead of mindless snacking or eating from the fridge, set the table for a meal for one and enjoy your food with plenty of light and proper cutlery. When the whole family is in, set the table and sit down for a proper meal.

While many of us hit the gym or workout during the week, instead of over indulging over the weekends, plan ahead for your weekend parties, trips and drives so as to downsize the calorie intake before the celebratory eating phase.

I definitely try to eat a healthy diet, but I am the first person to say I love unhealthy food. I would never tell you I don’t. I love fried chicken or mac and cheese. Do I order them all the time when I’m out at restaurants? No, though I do have one splurge meal a week. Rachel Nichols

Mix up the healthy and unhealthy foods. For instance try having fried chicken with one serving of rice or bread, adding some colour to the plate with greens or other vegetables. Another mix-up would be having the pizza homemade with a healthy topping of vegetables, meat as well as cheese but limit the portions. Enjoy the large serving of homemade desserts but then remove any added sugars ( especially in tea, coffee and juices) for the rest of the day, limit the remaining portion of carbohydrates and go more for protein and cellulose rich foods to feel full.

Mindless eating whether we are eating to finish off and not waste food, or even munching while talking nineteen to the dozen kills the taste of food and delight of eating. Instead sit down at a place and eat quietly. Even when in a group, occasional comments may be passed but mindless chatter ceases when we concentrate and eat. In this case I try to take a leaf from my toddler’s book of chewing. Ideally when we chew our dense foods thirty times, we discover that the little portion was enough.

Homemade fries, potato wedges and fried snacks are way better than always getting them delivered. Even though the holiday season is in full swing, try not to make too much.

If nature had intended our skeletons to be visible it would have put them on the outside of our bodies. Elmer Rice

When food is delivered, first lay them on your plate and then pack up the rest away. Once when we settle done to eat, the chances of getting up and adding on are slim when we have already packed away the extras.

With all the excess food delivered and leftovers from the party, outings or fellowship meets and neighbourhood dinners, distribute them among neighbours and friends or even better, donate them to the nearby orphanage, old age or retirement home or even the homeless shelters.

Instead of eating straight out of the containers or box, pre-portion your snacks  and meals too, into small individual containers or bag them for a ready to eat snack.

Food feeds both the body and soul – there are clear reasons to eat a balanced diet, but there are also reasons you cling to your mom’s secret chicken noodle soup recipe when you’re sick. Michael Mina

Add spice to food when possible, for spicy food tends to make us feel full faster. Another trick that I had read and tried was to stock some red pepper flakes. When eaten early in the day, red pepper can reduce the amount of food you consumer later.

If you remember the good old saying, “Good things come in small packages”, then apply them to food and treats as well.

For those of us who love our desserts, enjoy the decadent delights in bite sizes savouring the taste and not eating in a hurry, or when doing any other work or in front of any entertainment. When we focus on the taste and flavour we realize that the little portion was enough.

If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution. Author unknown

Most importantly stay active, enjoy your food without guilt and engage in the pleasure as well as mindful eating even if they are comfort foods. A little of everything never hurts but the catch is in our definition of the extent of “little”. When we decide to eat because we are hungry is not the same when we eat for the sake of it. Being on the top of the food chain, gives us the right to decide from the pyramid of choices, but it doesn’t mean that we have to end up being a large hamper ourselves.