Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Reflections

As they Bloom

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.” Veronica Roth

Last evening in lieu of a small thank you meeting being organized, arrangements were being made and the event went as planned. The next day, saw many being greeted by the vases were filled with flowers of yesterday, with their freshness still intact. For once, the atmosphere was brightened by their beauty and their grace. Though over a few days, they wane off and lose their initial sparkle, the memories of their beauty still linger on.

“A life filled with complete certainty is absurdity.” Maxime Lagacé

Life, on the whole, echoes the moments of flowers in bits and pieces. Over unexpected elements, finding the sunshine rays and the available resources, to grow and bring forth their colours. Though the uncertainty of their survival looms high, whether they being plucked or not, the fodder for the animals and so on, it doesn’t prevent them from colouring the world around them. Such that, their grace and beauty brings forth a smile even on the most dull and tired faces. To be like them, is not difficult but hard, depending on own will and inner peace. When one tries to imbibe and live as the grace of the flowers, then the beauty of life will increase by manifold.

“You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold that desire with singleness of purpose.” Abraham Lincoln

The Grace Of Flowers
Sue Coppernoll

Gladiolas in a white vase,
their magenta faces shining
in early morning light
streaming through a windowpane
speckled with last night’s raindrops,
bring me to wakefulness,
adoration, and hope.

Another volley of blossom
unfolds atop their stems,
assuring me that on the morrow
I shall yet have their company.

Breathing gratitude,
I pour cool water from a crystal pitcher
into the vase with a devout prayer:
“May my life also unfold in radiance and in beauty.”

I return the flowers
to a corner of the hearth,
knowing I am ready, now,
for what the day may bring.

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

Rainbow of the Day

“When I set a glass prism on a windowsill and allow the sun to flood through it, a spectrum of colors dances on the floor. What we call “white” is a rainbow of colored rays packed into a small space. The prism sets them free. Love is the white light of emotion.” Diane Ackerman

One of the most important tasks as mother to a toddler is finding space for the innumerable handiwork with the colours either on the cupboards, kitchen cabinets, door or the refrigerator door (walls aren’t an option). Just the other day, there was a struggle to find space for “the rainbow” which eventually displaced the “dog and cat” on the fridge door.

Taking a close look at the rainbow, there are more than the scientific seven colours lined up. More than the aesthetic and art sense, what makes it more important is the love behind the drawing and to acknowledge the skills of the child, learning to appreciate them and let them grow by themselves, just guiding them and not pointing out or training them. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow depends on how one views it.

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” Douglas Pagels

I’ll Paint You A Rainbow
Grace E. Easley

I’ll paint you a rainbow to hang on the wall,
to brighten your heart when the gray shadows fall.
On a canvas of joy outlasting the years,
with a soft brush of sweetness to dry all your tears.
I’ll paint you a rainbow with colors of smiles
That glow with sincerity over the miles.
On a palette of words I will tenderly blend
Tones into treasures of sunlight and wind.

I’ll paint you a rainbow that reaches so wide,
Your sights and your sorrows will vanish inside,
And deep in the center of each different hue,
A memory fashioned especially for you.
So lift up your eyes, for suspended above,
A rainbow designed by the fingers of love…

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World, Work

Beyond the Odds

Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.” Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

“You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

It wouldn’t be just the assistant of Edison alone felt defeated, but thousands of like minded innovators and entrepreneurs who would have had similar feelings during their line of work. While working out their dreams and designs, many a time the negativism felt would have to be replaced with practical optimism for things to succeed. What would have been the outcome if they were still stuck in the crypts of negativity ? While the obvious was that they may have lost out on their invention; the reality is that they may lost out on their dream.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Every experience has something to teach each one of us. Being human, one is bound to make mistakes, feel low during the time of repeated setbacks, open criticism and rejection. Coming out of those dumps is what makes the difference for each one of us. Life is all about growth and finding new shores. Find the realistic optimistic side of each failures or setback. Use them as stones to rebuild the dream and finally one would achieve it over the course of time.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

Posted in Daily, Food, Stories Around the World

The “Petit Four” Story

“It was the best first kiss in the history of first kisses. It was as sweet as sugar. And it was warm, as warm as pie. The whole world opened up and I fell inside. I don’t know where I was, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care because the only person who mattered was there with me.” Sarah Addison Allen (author of The Sugar Queen)

Craving for a snack between meals, especially during office hours wherein it is a situation between the need for the sugar versus the knowing that control is a must (mind vs. body), the deli across the road offers a relief during the short breaks. With the variety of mignardises of petit four on display, these cravings can be satisfied when their effect runs too hard.

Known more commonly as petit four than mignardises, the former word when literally translated from French means “small oven”. These small bite sized single piece confectionery or savoury appetizer arose in the 18th and 19th century French cuisine.

Before the gas ovens had been invented, those years saw the large brick ovens (more common Dutch design) being used. The latter used to take a long time to heat up (especially to the bread baking temperatures) as well as cool down. Taking advantage of the stored heat, bakers used these ovens to bake pastry during the cooling process which was known as baking à petit four (literally “at small oven”).

Walking into any French patisserie, these assorted small desserts are usually called mignardises; whereas the hard, buttery biscuits are called petits fours. Similar to the petit four is the classical Austrian confection of pastry known as Punschkrapfen or Punschkrapferl (punch cake), which has a legend of it’s own.

These petits fours come in three main varieties, as Petit Fours Glacé (“glazed”) predominantly served as iced or decorated tiny cakes topped with marzipan covered in fondant or icing. The second category includes savoury bite-sized appetizers usually served at cocktail parties or buffets known as Salé (“salted”). The third category are the Sec (“dry”) which encompasses dry cookies, dainty biscuits, baked meringues, macarons, sable beurre, palmiers, duchesses and puff pastries, all baked at low temperatures for a long time. Other categorizations also include the Petits fours frais which are any small pastries like sponge cakes like madeleine, financiers, creme filled pastries like eclairs or tartlets, all these must be eaten the same day they are made for the quality is lost if they sit longer. On the healthier front, there is the “Petits fours Deguises”, made of fresh or dried fruit dipped in a sweet coating such as chocolate or cooked sugar.

Homemade petit fours can be made on a more simple and creative way with plenty of icing sugar, fondant, candied bit and pieces as well as the good old chocolate to add to the flavours and sparkle it to a work of art. With this wide assortment of treats, petit fours are indeed a delightful to enjoy that little bit of sugar, the concentrated way or slightly less or simply be savoury for a change.

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

No Matter When

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” John Wooden

Finishing culinary school, my cousin had longed to start off her own deli primarily as she was fond of baking and making delicacies than continuing as a chef. While she had got a job for the initial few months, with family and personal responsibilities, her own plans were put on hold. Fast forwarding to when both children had reached middle school, she had started off small with baked goods from home. As of now, the dream of her own bakery is slowly taking shape with the inauguration happening soon. What amazed me about her spirit is the willingness to wait but not to lose out on her inner belief about her dream.

“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” Anatole France 

Many a time, we may have faced similar scenarios where in the cherished dreams are put on hold. As they get rusted and broken down over time, looking back leaves a sense of dejection which may be masked at times or not. The truth is we can do it, as long as we believe we can do it against all odds. For the soul that longs to learn the piano, or drive that truck or be a part of a musical, it is never late to try on’s hand as long one believes that they can. Any dream close to the heart, no matter how small should be given a try. For these dreams are the ones that help when the going gets tough and gives the drive in those moments to help see daylight.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

To Believe…
Author Unknown

To believe is to know that every day
is a new beginning.
It is to trust that miracles happen,
and dreams really do come true.
To believe is to see angels dancing among the clouds,
To know the wonder of a stardust sky
and the wisdom of the man in the moon.
To believe is to know the value of a nurturing heart,
The innocence of a child’s eyes
and the beauty of an aging hand,
for it is through their teachings we learn to love.
To believe is to find the strength
and courage that lies within us.
When it is time to pick up the pieces and begin again.
To believe is to know we are not alone,
That life is a gift and this is our time to cherish it.
To believe is to know that wonderful surprises
are just waiting to happen,
And all our hopes and dreams are within reach.
If only we believe.

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

Of Faith and Prayer

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Lost opportunities, being unemployed, opportunities being cut down and so on. What drives one to go through the difficult times ? While it is true that the core inner will and perseverance may be strong; yet the pillar of support arises from different sources. One of the most strongest grounds is one’s own Faith. The faith that lies in His Grace and His Hand guiding one out of the current mess. For Faith is one of the most powerful aspects of life.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

The Christian faith has various facets. From steadfastness in the teachings and beliefs to being a gift of His Grace and His Mercy; faith involves not just prayer but living by His Will and His Word. Faith exists as a part of salvation through Christ but also as strength from the Lord for man to face the trials, temptations and tribulations. Faith is what gives water to the kernels of hope during the hard times, the times of self doubt and difficulties. Yet faith doesn’t grow by itself. It too needs it’s own nourishment through prayer and growth in the Scriptures. When one learns to grow in His Faith, miracles no matter how small they be or difficulties no matter how mentally overwhelming they may be, will be faced and brought down through His Love, His Works and by His Grace.

“….that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,..” (Ephesians 3:17)

A poor woman from a small family was a believer. And one day, when there was not enough money even to feed the children, she called the radio station and left there an appeal to God for help. While employees of the radio reacted with understanding to the believing woman, one of the listeners was touched by her words.
He was a staunch atheist and decided to indulge himself by mocking the stranger. The man found out her address, called the secretary and instructed her to buy many products. What was her surprise when the boss gave the following order: deliver the products to the address and if the woman asks who sent the food, say it is from the devil. When the secretary handed the products to the stranger, she was so grateful that tears flowed from her eyes. She never ceased to thank and bless the girl. But when the woman had already begun to say goodbye, the secretary asked: “And you do not want to know who you these products?” To which the woman replied: No. It doesn’t matter at all, because when God gives an order, even the devil obeys.

“So that in the name of Jesus every knee of the heavenly, earthly, and underworld bows, And every tongue confessed that the Lord Jesus Christ was in the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2: 10-11.

Posted in Food, Stories Around the World

Of Kladdkaka and Chocolate

Butter. Eggs. Sugar. Cocoa or chopped dark chocolate. Vanilla sugar. Flour. Pinch of Salt.
Minimum Baking Time.

While prepping a sudden luncheon meet for old friends, the dessert dish had to be something different, for we three ladies were all dessert connoisseurs. Hunting down for quick cake recipes, had led to the Swedish Kladdkaka, a gooey choclate cake that requires the very basic ingredients and minimum preparatory as well as baking time. This venture had led to the revelation of interesting tidbits and details of this favoured Swedish delight.

Kladdkaka, literally translated as gooey or messy cake (more commonly known as “chocolate mud cake” is a dense sticky chocolate cake with a soft and gooey center, often served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and raspberries. Widely believed to be one of the best cakes for chocoholics, there are many variations to the standard recipe for this delight. One of the major reason for it’s gooey nature (quite different from brownies and other regular sugar cookies) is the absence of baking soda in this preparation. With just mild whisking, the absence of air bubble results in the stickiness.

While tracing the exact origin of this cake didn’t lead to any specific occasion or person, it is believed to have been inspired by the brownie or the French chocolate cake recipe; with its’ origin being at a time when baking soda wasn’t routinely available (probably around World War II). Another theory was that Kladdkaka came from Örebro where Gudrun Isaksson (1938) baked brownies from a recipe she received from the USA. As baking powder was difficult to get hold of then, the dough became liquid resulting in the chocolate mud cake. Alternatively it was believed that this cake came to Sweden via the editor-in-chief of the Veckojournalen (1968), Margareta Wickbom who had visited a cafe in Paris where she tasted chocolate cake and brought home the recipe. It was known as “Elake old man’s muffins” then, believed to be made first in muffin form.

Regardless of the roots, with the simplicity of the recipe, ingredients and quick baking time, it makes for a welcome change for the quick but elaborate dessert. Variations are there with coffee added to the regular flavour or making the cake on block chocolate to give a whitish texture to it, adding fruits or nuts as well as making the batter more lighter or luxurious or give it a flour-less twist. So for the kitchen experimenters or home chefs, dessertarian and chocoholics, here is another recipe and delight to add to the ever growing list.

“This cake is one of those cakes I take for granted somehow. I love it so much but I rarely bake it. Before I started baking like crazy, about 5 years ago, I used to bake two times a year, tops. Two times a year, that’s it. And when I did, it was always “kladdkaka” (roughly translated “sticky cake” or “gooey cake” but I’ll just call it Swedish chocolate cake). Why kladdkaka then? Well, first of all, it was the only recipe I knew how to make. Second, it’s probably the easiest thing you could possibly make, and it’s just so darn delicious. You simply have to make this one! And don’t forget to serve it with whipped cream (vanilla ice cream is ok as well)!”
Linda Lomelino, Call Me Cupcake