Monthly Archives: January 2013

A hint of tang, a hint of honey…….A cakey ode to our 40’s!!

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My Mom, has what in my family we call the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’. She loves to buy different recipe books, especially those featuring the varied regional cuisines of India. So we have Parsi cookbooks and Bengali cookbooks, recipe books of the Konkanastha Brahmins as well as those of the Goans, cookbooks featuring Marwari cuisine as well as a whole variety of books written by Indian TV Chefs. However not one recipe from any of them has ever been tried out.They are relegated to the ‘Recipe Book Graveyard’ situated near my Dad’s ‘Telephone graveyard’….well that’s another story all together……so lets just stay on track.

This tendency to buy recipe books and just read them, not try a thing or try out something that was merely a hint of the original, comes to me, I believe, in a gene from my Mom.

I am not a strict follower of recipes. Wayward in many ways, I loathe following recipes…..and I don’t. Yet, most often than not, I strike success, brought about by another gene, also inherited from my Mom…..talent in the cooking department.
As a subscriber to the BBC Good Food Magazine, India , I enjoy reading the magazine, marvel at the photography and often plan what to cook. But never ever end up cooking anything from the magazine.
My son J, whined and whinged and flung back at me all the lectures we give him about valuing and making use of all that he gets/buys. “Well, Ma……YOU NEVER make anything from your Good Food Magazines!!

So Mama, that’s ME, slunk away, tail between legs……to cook….following a recipe from the magazine.

I searched in some of the latest issues and found the right recipe for me to follow. A Cake. An Orange and Almond Cake.

This cake was perfect. It looked stunning and was so different to anything I had baked before. I had, of course, previously done a Pineapple Upside down. But in this one, I liked the use of honey and orange rind (which is a flavour I am shamelessly partial to), as well as ground almonds in the batter!! Almonds, oranges, honey and of course eggs, how much more goodness could a girl wish for?

As I ate this cake and savoured every bite, I realised I really liked it. Every new mouthful revealed something different. Honeyed sweetness, followed by the bitterness of the orange rind, the nutty texture of the almond and the tang of the oranges. This is such a ‘grown-up’, ‘ adult’ cake. Yet my youngest, 8-year-old D, particularly liked it. She thought it looked stunning and was supremely delicious. Heaving a sigh of relief, that I had spawned children with superior taste buds thus feeling rather superior myself, I continued nibbling.

As I nibbled, savoring each bite….(think wine connoisseur swirling the glass of a particularly prime vintage and you’ll get the picture), I couldn’t help thinking about my bunch of friends. Wonderful women who have either already turned 40 or will be doing so over the next year or two…..and one very lovely 30-year-old who fits in with the rest of the ‘oldies.’ We are all stunning….and sunny. Nutty? Oh yeah….and love it that way. The hint of the rind, a reminder of another facet of our personality…..forthrightness and honesty….often thought of as cattiness. If that be so then MEOW!! But the citrus hit reminds me of all the spunk and ‘devil may care attitude’ that comes only with the age and I’d like to think…AHEM….maturity.

So this one is for all my lovely friends and family as well as all the women out there….who have embraced their forties and rock on with style and panache, wind-blown hair streaked with grey and the confidence to care a damn about whether the grey shows through or not. Who laugh so heartily not worried whether we look like a jackass but confident that any smiling, laughing face is gorgeous, neither does the thought of laugh lines cross our minds.

“We’re not 40, just 18 with 22 years experience.”

Go on try this one….its full of character and its sure to leave an impression on you just as much as it does on everybody.

Orange almond cake

ORANGE AND ALMOND UPSIDE DOWN.(adapted from the BBC Good Food Magazine)

4 Medium sized Oranges
6 tbsp honey
200 gm butter + extra for greasing
200 gm brown sugar
200 gm flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking powder
100 gms ground almonds
4 eggs.

METHOD:

* Pre heat oven to 180 deg C.

orange cake Jan 2013 015* Finely grate the zest from two oranges.

* Peel the skin of all the oranges using a serrated knife.

* Cut the oranges into thick slices.

* Grease a 9 inch round baking pan. Drizzle the honey all over making sure that it covers the entire bottom.

*Arrange the best slices of orange all over the bottom. car rally & orange cake Jan 2013 009

* Finely chop the remaining orange slices.

* Cream butter and sugar till its light and fluffy.

* Bit by bit add in the egg a little at a time, ensuring that its incorporated into the butter/sugar mix before adding some more.

* Sieve flour and baking powder together and add in the ground almonds.

* Fold the flour and almond mix into the wet mix, adding in the chopped oranges halfway through.

* Pour the cake batter over the Oranges and honey in the tin.

*With a spatula or wooden spoon, make a depression in the centre of the cake.This will help the cake rise evenly when baked and not ‘dome’.

* Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

* Allow it to settle for around 5 minutes before turning it out.

* Serve as it is or drizzled with honey.

iPhone pics....New year- Pondy Rally 003

Personally, I prefer the flavour the next day.

But I’m sure you know your own likes.

“At the age of 20, we don’t care what the world thinks of us; at 30, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at 40, we discover that it wasn’t thinking of us at all.”

So sit back with a piece of this cake and savour the sweet, the bitter, the tang and nuttiness……embrace it’s flavours and personality.

ENJOY!!

Entering this into the Tea Time Treats Citrus Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked.

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My Christmas Tree Memories

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Ok….so I know it’s already the New Year…..but these thoughts have been floating around my head and heart for the past month….ever since I put up my Christmas Tree.
My Christmas Tree is always up by the first week of December, especially coz its my daughter D’s birthday on the 7th.
Besides it makes Christmas last that much longer!! My home feels so special and even on years when we are away, I make sure that our house is decorated for Christmas, the star hangs on the balcony and the tree is put up.
This year as I put up my tree,I couldn’t help but be amazed at the amount of meaning it held. Not just the tree itself, but the ornaments, each one special in its own way.
As we hung up each ornament, so many wonderful memories came flooding back…..memories of people and places, years that were especially wonderful and others that weren’t.
Yes, Christmas is about Jesus and church, carols and pressies, food and wine…..but it is so much more as well. Christmas is about family and friends, laughter, reunions, and memories…..creating new ones and revisiting the old.
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Living in Chennai, India….we only have access to artificial trees. Ours was a gift from my sister ML in the first year of our marraige…..that makes it 15 years old! ML is my big sis…..8 years older than me. I followed her everywhere and in every way! Probably still do!! As I put up the tree, I think of her and her family….although she lives in another part of the world, we are lucky enough to meet every year, most often more than once! An expert ‘organiser’, I admire the way ML values family and connections, making sure she meets up with them each time she is back home, tirelessly keeping in touch by email or telephone calls, which has made me in the recent past reconnect with cousins and childhood friends, bringing me indescribable happiness.

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Brought by Dutch friends from Holland more than 30 years ago, this ornament hung on my husband V’s tree each year through his childhood. Although his siblings are scattered around the world, I marvel at how they all gel and connect on the rare occasions they get together. V values everything and believes in perseverance and hard work to achieve what you want. It’s a rare value in today‚Äôs world, one that I admire greatly.

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These namesake teddy bear ornaments are gifts from my sis to my kids
J and D, who bring us not just joy, but also keep us on our toes with their insistent questioning about everything. J has a deep sense of justice and I admire his integrity and courage to stand up for it, although I struggle to guide him on how to acheive this without seeming brash. Unfortunately in today’s world ‘falseness’ is the order of the day. Fake smiles, sweet yet untrue words are accepted so easily, yet those who tell us the truth plainly from their hearts are brushed aside just because we cannot face it. As I write this I realise that I have a few yet wonderful plain speaking friends. I am thankful for that. That I am surrounded by genuine smiles a gift I would wish under my tree every year.

D has a boundless amount of joie de vivre. Ever creative, she never fails to surprise us with her ‘surprises’!! Art, craft, dancing, cooking, acting, talking, sports and people all excite her. She is accepting of everyone teaching me to be more so…..tough, as I struggle to accept the differences I see around me. As a result, she makes friends effortlessly.

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Our first Christmas together was spent in KL, Malaysia as V was on a training course there all through the month of December. These ornaments were probably the first I bought for our tree. Accompanied by my childhood friend Nathan, who happened to be living in Kl at the time, I raided the post-Christmas sales. As I put these up, I think especially of all the wonderful boys and girls I grew up with. We never had a ‘curfew’ but yet never abused the freedom we were given. In the environment in India today, all of us parents with daughters are afraid….very very afraid. How do we teach our daughters to enjoy the company of the opposite sex without being suspicious or afraid?
How do I bring up my son to be like the boys I grew up with. They looked out for the girls and we had good clean fun without the fear of being misunderstood or taken advantage of. For that I am truly thankful for all our parents, especially mine, who brought us up to respect each other and to behave in such a way that we earned the respect of others. Yet we never knew we were learning this…..I wish for a gift under my tree that would give me the ability to be able to teach my kids this. href=”https://josmojo.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/my-christmas-tree-memories/sept-to-dec-2012-264/” rel=”attachment wp-att-546″>Sept to Dec 2012 264

From our time in Sri Lanka, a beautiful land filled with wonderful people. As I put these up I think of our neighbours, friends, extended family and the most wonderful group of Indian women who I met there.
What’s so unusual about a group of Indian women bonding? Well, we were of different ages and backgrounds and yet we gelled. The older ones, a good 15 to 20 years older than us, have taught me that age is just a state of mind. They were rocking then and are still today as well!
There was an extended family in Colombo, my sister’s in-laws, who drew us into the comfort of their homes, wooing us with the most amazing food and warm personalities, friends who were as close as family……I love SL for all these reasons and it will always be a place that is so special coz it was where my D was born.
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This little crochet angel, makes me think about Bandra…..the place where my heart belongs. I love the energy and the people who truly know how to enjoy life….dancing through it with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. Creativity and effervescence abounds. I love to see the older folk rock any dance floor as much as the teens, the natural effortless style in everything and the fact that this has been a place that my family has lived in since the 1500’s (as far back as the records tell us…..probably longer!!) A sense of belonging that is unmatched!

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Just a few of the ornaments from around the world that remind me to be thankful for all the experiences I’ve had by meeting people of different cultures and for the gift of being healthy and lucky enough to travel to many interesting places.

These are just a few of the many ornaments that hang on my tree each year. Every year I add a few new ones. This year I got 2 picture frame ornaments from my friend Jo. Meeting her after a gap of 8 years set the tone for my Christmas season this year. Amazingly, I bumped into many more friends that I had not met in eons…..so these new ornaments will have pics of my reunion with 2 of my BFF’s that made my Christmas 2012.
As I get ready to take down my tree this weekend, I am grateful for all the people in my life, those who form a big part of it, as well as those who have breezed through. I believe there is always a reason for everyone and everything we encounter. So this New Year 2013, I look forward to all the ‘encounters’ that will fill my year.
May you too have a year filled with happy memories of old and memories created new.