Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Over-Turn

Whether it be work from home or not, breaks are always a must. Which is why there is always time for a “break”. There is something special about holding that warm cup. More than just a routine, it brings out a fresh perspective with each sip. Be it coffee or tea, herbal, green or black, with or without milk, each cup has something in it.

“There are mornings when everything brims with promise, even my empty cup.” Ted Kooser

Like the cups that hold within it, so do we people, hold something within each of us. Different situations may have different hues and flavours, but we do put something in it. Interestingly whatever these cups hold in them, do spill out. That cup can bring out a smile, or push one into sorrows. When a cup spills over, what is in it is what comes out. Knowing that, let’s try to put something worth, so that even though the cup may tip over, it brings a smile on the faces around us.

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee?
“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!”
*Wrong answer.*
You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.
Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.
*Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.*
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.
*So we have to ask ourselves”what’s in my cup?”*
When life gets tough, what spills over?
Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?
You choose!
Today let’s work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation for ourselves; and kindness, gentleness and love for others.
Source: Internet

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Of Crisp, Soft to Crunchy or Curls

With snack time being in the savoury category for the past one week (courtesy of the fresh crop of plantain and cassava), the urge to indulge in something sweet was running quiet strong. For the change, it was “churros” that got the pick and making it at home, was quite an interesting experience.

Predominantly a choux based snack, made of fried pastry dough; “churros” are synonymous to the Spanish and Portuguese food traditions. Made from flour, these thin spirally, knotted or neat, long or thick pieces of dough (all purpose flour or wheat mixed) are more of a breakfast tradition, had dipped in champurrado (chocolate based atole) or hot choclate, dulce de leche with sugar sprinkled on top.

Tracing their origins, the making of churros were credited to the Spanish shepherds, who had fried the dough of flour, water, salt with a little butter and eggs, as a substitute for fresh bread. Interestingly, the name churros was adapted from the ridged horns of the native Churra sheep, which kind of resembled the ridges on this snack. On the other hand, some food historians state that the Spanish churro is an adaptation of the Chinese pastry “youtiao” whic was pastry fried in oil with their shape being as two long conjoined breadsticks. As the legend goes, the “youtiao” was brought back to Iberia by Portuguese explorers. From therein, the distinct star-edged shaped took root and the dish became famed for its’ sweetness on the breakfast tables across Spain and Portugal. With colonization and spread of travel, churros soon found there way to the Americas, both Norht and South; and gradually across the globe.

As with all popular dishes, churros too have been adapted to their indigenous cuisine. Known as calientes in Andalusia, these pastry dough are fried as a continuous spiral which is then cut into portions. The delicacy and art of these lie in the thick and soft centers. Another variation is made with a thinner dough and smooth non-ridged surface (no star shaped nozzle on the piping bag). For filled, straight churros; the Cuban cuisine has made with fruit fillings like guava; while chocolate, vanilla or cajeta (caramelized goat’s milk) are the preferred fillings across Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. Alternatively churros may be had glazed with sweetened condensed milk, rolled in cinnamon or other sugars, or made savoury with a filling of melted cheese. From being made straight or bent into the typical “U” or other shapes, churros can be had as a meal, snack or party dip.

One of the best parts of churro, is their ease and simplicity in the make and style. For a quick snack when getting out of the kitchen isn’t an option and minimum stock of “packaged snacks” in the pantry, “churros” are a go-to option during the days like this. After all, it just comes down to pastry and sugar; missing out on a try would be a miss at the chance to travel down the food lane, not worth the miss.

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Of Iced, Sweet and Tannin

Approaching the mid-rays of the summer, there is something about the lure of a sip from the chilled glass. Whether the drink be of the canned variety, or the iced feel of Java or the lighter tones of crushed infused leaves, that sip brings out a volume of emotions from within. The best part is the memories of childhood that come along with it. Also the fact that one can switch from the java to tannins anytime, with each recipe being different with every make, results in one reaching out for that glass. Learning the stories behind the iced tea, opens a whole new chapter in the kitchen experimentation.

Surprisingly iced tea was initially made as a medicinal drink. As the drink gained popularity beyond this, varied experimentation with different herbs and varieties of tea leaves were tried. With the combination of ice, tea and sugar doing wonders, the slow evolution of sweet tea began; though it was more of an item of luxury during the initial period. Tracing back to late 1870s wherein the oldest known recipe for sweet iced tea was published, the base was of green tea as the latter was the most popular tea leaves being used then. With the WWII and the availability of only black tea in the market; flavours were switched and then on it just stayed.

[1861]
“Balm and Burrage Tea
These, as well as all other medicinal herbs, may easily be cultivated in a corner of your garden…Take a balm and burrage a small handful each, put this into a jug, pour in upon the herbs a quart of boiling water, allow the tea to stand for ten minutes, and then strain it off into another jug, and let it become cold. This cooling drink is recommended as a beverage for persons whose system has become heated for any cause.” —A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes, Charles Elme Francatelli, London [1861] (p. 92) [Note: Mr. Francatelli was the head chef for Queen Victoria. He is often credited for introducing many popular Victorian food dishes and trends.]

Graduating from the simple iced tea, one of the cultural iced teas which may be tried at the home kitchen is the Thai Iced tea. Also known as “cha yen”, this drink is made from strongly brewed black tea, laced with condensed milk and sugar and served chilled. To give the creamy taste and look, evaporated milk, coconut milk or even whole milk may be poured over the iced tea For the “cha dem ya” (Dark Thai iced tea) the milk is out and the iced tea is sweetened with sugar alone. To get the “cha manao” (Lime Thai iced tea), the flavourings of lime and ice maybe added..

“Unlike water or wine or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn’t a drink, really. It’s culture in a glass.” Allison Glock

To get a kick in the evening hours, sweet iced tea can be had as a punch mixed with liquor with a dash of cream and mint julep for the flavour. Or one could try out he Tortuga cocktail, home to the Haitian island Tortuga. Made primarily from iced tea sweetened with brown sugar, it is garnished by cinnamon and a lime wedge. Though an alternate recipe of the Tortuga cocktail involves Cuban rum, curacao and creme de cacao for an additional flavour.

With each blend having a story of own to be told; trying out different varieties brings various cultures across the globe to the kitchen. Little wonder why then, there are two pitchers kept chilled, round the clock. With a new twist to the old known recipes, that pitcher is always a welcome surprise for the summer heat.

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

A Little of all, or More

With all at home, attempting their hand at “a little something”, especially in the kitchen arena; there was an assortment of sorts for dinner. With the leftovers from lunch, the cookies of last weekend and a little of the experimentation (definitely edible) left from the past two days in the refrigerator, supper was more like a picnic meal, of sorts.

Laying down the table, reminded one of the college days, wherein the complete meal was more or less, like garbage plate. One of the first life lessons on managing college life and the budget at hand, was to make do with a “garbage plate”. Originally started off at Nick Tahou Hots, a restaurant based in Rochester which had featured their signature dish of “the Garbage Plate”. With the crowd consisting f mainly college students, the dish was concocted to meet the demand of a meal with a little of everything on it.

“What is the famous Nick Tahou’s Garbage Plate™? We start with a base of any combination of home fries, macaroni salad, baked beans, or french fries topped by your choice of meats and dressed to your liking with spicy mustard, chopped onions, and our signature Nick Tahou’s hot sauce. Each plate comes with two thick slices of fresh Italian bread and butter.” (2010, Archived from the offical website

Though other records state that the first original plate was concocted from two hamburger patties with a choice of two sides, from home fries, macaroni salad or beans, laced with a heavy layer of ketchup and hot sauce. Despite the high carbohydrate laden meal, this dish stayed quite popular, even in the present college campus.Maybe the fact that this plate accounts for a little comfort in every bite, a reminder of our home makes it one of the “at least once must haves”, during college days.

Bringing it down to a more simpler or tone version, plate the salad (macaroni, pasta, baked beans or even greens) and then add the next layer of homemade french fries (or any fries, vary it with baked beet-fries). Still adding on, the next layer is for the protein with grilled, fried or baked patties (meat, fish, chicken, hamburgers, hot-dogs or maybe soya-keema and paneer for the vegetarian version). The final touch is made by the sauce slathered over it and then being topped with the classic garnishing of chopped onions, yellow mustard and not forget to add the tomato ketchup to the lot. Ranging from the hot sauce (meat, chilli and hot) to a toned down vegan chilli, the final plate can change with every serve, though the basic ingredients may remain the same. Also not to miss out on the side dish, choose the pick from traditional garlic bread, rolls or even roti and naan to mop out the sauce,

Trying to recreate a similar version didn’t work out in the typical “garbage plate manner”. Though the next attempt, to go heavy on the carbs is on the agenda. The dinner of “bits and pieces” had some other weird food combinations like the tuna and spaghetti, rice with beans, soy and chopped meat or cheese and chocolate and the running favourite for now, two slices of bread with aloo bhujia ( an Indian potato snack), butter, sugar and sprinkles between them, to list a few of the experiments when the chefs run amok in the kitchen. Also not to forget the latest invention of pancake batter with slices of all berries, bananas, essence of maple syrup, crushed nuts with whipped cream on top. Cleaning out all the leftovers (best though weird), the supper of these ” odds and ends” (little higher on the carbs) wasn’t the typical garbage plate but, oddly an interesting combination and completely satisfying.

Posted in Reflections, Stories Around the World

Little of Reality, the Why and the Truth

With a little extra time at hand, thanks to the hours saved by missing out on the daily work-school commute (though one definitely misses them), reading those “snippets of information” makes one realise the gargantuan foundations laid not just by science, but also by reality and history. Embroiled in the fiasco of the present crisis, it looks like science and history have reinforced their teachings once again.

“Science taught…. without a sense of history, is robbed” I. Bernard Cohen

Reading up on these historical and scientific articles, one would understand that a lot of science is born from how one chooses to perceive reality. Take for instance, the fact that one has repeated bouts of morning coryza symptoms, on opening for that breath of fresh air. Some of us just pass it over, while few of us blame on the timings and the like. Yet a distinct set of people chose to ponder the whys and hows of it. So the options lie in not opening the window, or opening it another time. When the people who had the “whys” observes their hard facts, it led to the concept of “allergies”. Broaden it and includes not just the usual “hay fever” but also dust, pets or even upholstery fabrics as allergens. Record this over a length of time, and it leads to the study of allergies and the start to overcome them.

“You don’t get explanations in real life. You just get moments that are absolutely, utterly, inexplicably odd.” Neil Gaiman

Point of interest to note, is that one has to address. Just like the person with the “whys”, one needs to brood on their failures in life too. Success too requires it’s fair share of the “pats on the back”, but learning to address the falls helps one to get past them and back on our feet withe next single or couple of attempts.

As the spider says to try, try again; to do so, one needs to choose to inspect the facts, remove the inner emotions and face the hard reality. Once we join the dots and map out the course, each of our journeys will have something extraordinary and exceptional to offer, in the course of our own.

“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Albert Einstein

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis was a Hungarian physician and scientist, now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the “saviour of mothers”, Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever (also known as “childbed fever”) could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics. Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal. Semmelweis proposed the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards. Despite various publications of results where hand washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings, and some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and mocked him for it. It much later that Joseph Lister and Louis Pasteur discovered that it was ‘germs’ (bacteria) that were responsible for the Puerperal fever. Source: Internet

 

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Stories Around the World, Work

Trace those Bytes

The ten minute coffee break during the morning office hours serves as an interesting session for not just coffee alone, but an interesting exchange of words or ideas, catching up with colleagues on non-office talk and intercepting snippets of information. Considering the latter, those bits of news may hold a ten-percent truth or just pure nonsense. Which is why, for any piece of information; print is the best. As far as the verbal pass-it-on goes, always consider the true source.

“The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.” Criss Jami

The thought to always trace the source of any news is important. As early as Aesop’s fables tell us, one’s character is defined by the daily lives they lead. Pole do change, the bad habits get thrown away for developing better ones but the essence of one stays almost the same or better if considering a positive change. Like if one knows that a colleague has the tendency to hype up things, take those details said at a lesser face value. Just like a wolf won’t eat any oats, know that the horse won’t eat red meat either. So for any source of news, look for the face and facts lest the one gets trapped in the mire of lies, confusion and errors. Knowing this and doing so, will help maintain their sanity especially when the news rendered is weird and disturbing. With this, office or even social life will definitely be handle-able during tired, dull or dreary days.

A tricky old wolf once entered a farm,
And seeing oats growing, he put on his charm,
So, calmly pretending that he meant no harm,
He spoke to a horse in his stall.
Sir Horse, I do hope you are comfortably fed,
But in case you are hungry and famished instead,
There are oats by the ton in one field, he said,
And I ate none so you’d have all.

Now the horse knew quite well that the wolf hated oats
And cared nothing for horses — or cattle or goats,
And in fact was well known for attacking their throats,
So he couldn’t resist ridicule:

Sir Wolf, he said, Don’t think me over-suspicious
Were I to suspect there was something malicious
In your lying claim you find oats delicious.
BEGONE! Do you think me a fool?

Aseop’s fable: (The Wolf Fails to Deceive the Horse)
MORAL: Before you believe anything, consider the source

Posted in Christian, Stories Around the World

Of Beatitudes, Grace and Gratefulness

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Reflecting on the happenings of the last week, the fact that one was truly blessed struck deep within. At a time when the global crisis is still creating unrest, discovering this feeling gives a deep sense of peace within. Counting on the gifts of having our loved ones with us, a roof above our heads, family both near and distant safe so far as well as enough food to get by, these simple things when at hand, are enough to get on our knees and thank Our Maker above.

Yet on the other hand, there are among all of us, those who may have lost everything. Whether the loss be family, friends, jobs or even the comfort of the daily life; know that one is truly blessed in having the gift of life given to them. While the loss may never be replaced, the realization is that we have had those blessings for this long may offer some solace to the restless mind. And that, we still have the gift to breathe the air of today. 

“No matter what happens, always be thankful for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

While in the crisis we go on our knees, asking for His Help, His Mercy and His Comfort; let us not forget to thank Him for the gifts provided till the present hour. As life has shown us, some things no matter how hard we try, will never be in our complete grasp. Though man may never command, our Lord above can.

When we pray on bended knees, let us know to remember this little wonders of the Blessings and Gifts received so far. Let both the angels travel to Him with not only our prayers of requests, hopes and wants; but also our sincere prayers of thankfulness for His Love, His Kindness and His Mercy.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)

There were two angels living in heaven. One of them was always resting, and the other was constantly traveling from earth to God.
The resting angel asked the other:
– Why are you flying all the time from here to there?
– I am carrying the messages from people to God which start with these words: Dear God, help… And why are you resting all the time?
– Well, I have to carry the messages to God which start with these words: I thank you Lord…