Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

This has been a strange year to say the least; what from spending the whole year working from home, schools from home, the global travel and life as we know coming to a pause.. unlike anything any of us would have ever imagined! I can not believe the year is coming to an end..

Through the twists and turns and the wild ride of 2020, I have still found so many things to be thankful for! I am thankful that everyone in our family and our friends are well.. sure, a bit wary with cabin fever and tired of isolation but healthy and well. Considering the hardships a lot of people are going through, that is a lot to be thankful for to be sure.

So this thanksgiving, like a lot of families across US, we spent at home, just with the 3 of us. It was different, but special in it's own way. We didn't skimp on any of the dishes or the decoration.. and while the table was a lot smaller than usual, we didn't miss a single bit on the festivities and the spirit of the season.

Our menu was simple - ie, a lot of dishes but all sorta simple. We started off with roasted butternut squash soup with ginger & apple and roasted brussel sprouts w/ lemon. Our main dish was baked herbs de provence chicken breast with olives and roasted rosemary potatoes, combined with sides of freshly baked flaky biscuits, sweet potato casserole, cranberry maple relish and couscous w/ roasted butternut squash & parsley. For dessert we made a home-made pumpkin pie and rounded it all up with a chilled bottle of Riesling and a lemonade for the little one.
We spent the morning cooking - daughter & I. It's a lot of fun involving kids in the kitchen. She made some tea sandwiches and was in-charge of table decoration and tasting. We put on some nice music (which was changed to a Disney kids music station pretty soon :) ) and spent our morning cooking and chatting and afternoon eating it all up!!

Through the thick and thin of it all, I think that is what thanksgiving is all about - finding those special moments with your loved ones and being thankful for all that you have.
Hope you were able to unwind a bit and enjoy a smaller thanksgiving with your family! 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Recipes & Reading Update - Oct'20

2020 continues to be a very strange year. For many of us, it's been close to 8 months of working, schooling from home. While I continue to enjoy the no-commute part and spending more time w/ kids parts, a little monotone fatigue is also setting in. To add to that, we went through a crazy fire season in bay area, fueled by (guess what) a rare freak lightning storm event late summer igniting multiple fires across the nearby forests and mountains. For weeks, the sky was filled with smoke and the sun looked like a red orange ball in yellow orange skies. We lost parts of our beloved Big Basin Redwood State Park to raging fires and countless mountain communities suffered damages. Only recently that we are back to better weather now.

Anyhow, through all that, here we are in the crisp fall season! Days are getting shorter and mornings are crisper. It's a blissful feeling to sit in the front yard watching the increasing yellows on the trees, fall roses in the air, basking in a nice warming sun, sipping hot coffee. We must all enjoy life's little pleasures!

Cooking has been a challenge of late both with work picking up and the fatigue of the same recipes over and over. So we changed things up a bit last month. I found convenient salad kits at our local Whole Foods. They are great - just mix prepped things together, add the dressing from the kit and serve! We have tried kale ceasar salad, asian salad, greek salad, cranberry walnut salad, sweet kale & Southwestern salad. I pair the salad with a warm soup - either leftovers from a big pot cooked over the weekend or bought from Whole Foods (creamy tomato, carrot ginger, Indian spiced red lentil soup - are all great!). Easy fuss-free lunches! We had a few crazy days when adults were all in meetings during daughter's lunch hour, but the salads are so simple that an 8-year old can put them together and manage to have a healthy lunch with little oversight.

Friday and weekends is when we *really* cook. Last weekend, as a nod to fall, I made a simple pumpkin bread from this recipe. It came out wonderfully. The only edit to the recipe I made was to reduce the sugar and increase the fruit (pumpkin in this case + cranberries). A slice of this bread with butter on top is a great fall afternoon treat!

I also got into naan making recently. It's always something I have wanted to try and I was amazed at how easy it was to put together the dough and how tasty it came out cooked on a cast iron pan! Truly restaurant quality... this is a keeper recipe, I'll be sure to be making it again & again.

Our fig tree has been overflowing with fruit this year.. though finishing it up has never been an issue at our home. We all love ripe sweet figs and can polish off 10-15 big ones in a sitting :) They are also great added into salads or on toast with goat cheese - yum!

Another fun treat this summer was grilling Indian papad on an outdoor grill. We have an electric stove which is not much friendly to papad making. I tried microwave method but wasn't really a fan of it.. until my husband decided to throw them on the grill one day. Nicely toasty and yum - great with chopped tomato onion masala on top!

Reading Update:


While my reading velocity slowed down quite a bit recently, I still managed to dig into a few interesting reads. The first was a bestseller Where the Crawdads Sing - a mystery set in the marshlands of south which is also a coming of age story of a young abandoned girl living alone and figuring her way through life. I enjoyed the book - it was a page turner for sure.

Second was a portrayal of Jane Seymour, the Tudor queen #3 of King Henry VIII. I am interested in the history of that era and enjoyed the book of the queen seldom portrayed compared to her well-known predecessor Anne Boleyn. 

Third book was by an Indian author Recipe for Pursuasion - while the book itself was a bit hard to keep going at times, it was interleaved with delicious food writing that kept me from putting it down. 

Lastly, my Mom recently made this wonderful knitted/crocheted Diwali Faral plate (snacks) which made our day. Retired after many years of working as a maths professor, now she is able to devote all her time to her passions - which has been arts and crafts of all sorts. She takes a lot of joy and pride in teaching these crafts to the younger generation through her Youtube channel Kalopasak - check it out!

Till next time, folks, hope you have some spooky time watching scary movie, candy scavenger hunt or whatever else you plan to do this Halloween :)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Summer Bruschetta & July Reading/Activities

Any time is a good time for bruschetta but, it's at it's best in mid-summer when the tomatoes are at their sweetest and fresh basil is abundantly growing in gardens everywhere. We often make bruschetta in summer - it's our favorite camping food. 

4-5 weekends every summer we go camping to nearby beaches or redwood forests. Only one night spent camping every visit, but it's a lot of fun, and undeniably a highlight of our summer. 

We always make bruschetta when we go camping... it's so easy and a perfect camp food! I pack 3-4 nice ripe heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of basil and usual condiments. Chop the tomatoes finely (seed and all), grate a clove of garlic and add to tomatoes, add handful of finely chopped basil ribbons. Season with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper - and voila, bruschetta is ready! Sometimes I add chopped kalamata olives or mozzarella cheese for an extra oomph but totally optional.

While the bruschetta is resting, we slice and grill the bread loaf using lots of olive oil straight on the campside grill and then rub the freshly grilled bread with a clove of garlic to impart more of the garlicky flavor. Then laden the bread with bruschetta and dig in! 

I don't mind tomatoes releasing water and making a little sauce in my bruschetta, I love dunking the remaining parts of toasts in that and devour at the end. But if you do, just salt the chopped tomatoes and set them aside for 15 minutes, gently remove the water and follow the remaining steps.

This year all the campgrounds are closed.. but we are keeping the camping spirit going by making camping foods in our backyard on the weekends and sharing scary stories under the starlit sky. Here is to hoping the next summer brings us lots of missed outdoor activities and travel :)

July Reading 

I started July with an ambitious book list but at these times when so much around us is changing rapidly, sometimes a lot of comfort can be found in an old beloved book... a book where you intimately know what happens next and you have read it and enjoyed so many times but still every reading brings you a new round of joy and happiness. One such book for me is a beloved copy of Pride & Prejudice. I re-read it again and enjoyed every bit of it!

Another good read for the month was "The Stationary Shop" by Marjan Kamali. It's a sad but ethereal love story set in 1950s Iran, woven with the political backdrop of the time. There are no major spoilers but a story describing political climate of the nation and it's effects on everyday people. I enjoyed reading the book, the culture and the often detailed descriptions of Iranian foods and recipes :)

On the beach reads front, I read "Distant Shores" by Kristin Hannah. I have enjoyed a lot of her books but this one fell off the mark for me.

Last book of July was a juicy mystery by Lucey Foley "The Guest List". While not very thought provoking, it is indeed a page turner keeping you glued to the book as often a good mystery can :) 

In terms of activities, on the same theme of familiarity, I binged on the season 2 of Downton Abbey - which is by far my favorite season :) Daughter and I also finished our embroidery projects and spent a wonderful afternoon weaving these hand bracelets - so fun!

Hope you are having a good summer and staying safe!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

OT: Kids Craft - Paper Lilies

This is a guest post by my daughter (who incidentally has been pleading, crying and in-turn trying to convince me to give her a guest post once in a while on this blog... but, let's see :) ). To her credit, she does spend a lot of time inventing her own recipes and making crafts. This is one of her favorite craft project this summer. So without further ado, here are the paper lilies. 

How to make paper lilies

Lilies come in different shape,size,and color! It is time to design your own lilies. Even though it is not spring you can still make paper lilies! This is the way you can express yourself, culture, and ideas. Also this is a good craft to do with kids!! If you don’t have craft paper I suggest you use two sheets of regular paper and stick them together. Also, if you still don't want to do that you can use paint paper. If you don't have yellow pipe cleaner you can use whatever pipe cleaner you have unless it is not matching your flower.

I hope you are doing well in the covid 19! Stay safe, get creative, and enjoy this craft!!!   

You will need: Craft paper, yellow pipe cleaner and green pipe cleaner, pencil, hand, scissor!!

(if you don’t understand, look at the pictures)

It is gonna be fun okay!!

  1. Take the paper and put your hand over it!

  2. Trace your hand neatly using a pencil and cut using scissors. 

  3. Fold it like this:

  4. Now with your pen roll the paper like this:

  5. Take your yellow and green pipe cleaner, fold the yellow pipe cleaner into a small thing,and stick both together, like this:

  6. Now, stick it in your flower

  7. Wrap it in a bow and enjoy!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Rustic Summer Plum Tart

I have been taking daily walks in our neighborhood during this work from home phase. Boundaries between the "work time" and "home time" have become hazy for so many of us, that it helps to set small rituals to remind you of just that. Our ritual is to go for long evening walks across our neighborhood right after I finish my work and before we start dinner prep. 

There are so many things I am noticing about our neighborhood that I never did before! Like there is a beautiful creek and an old style footbridge tucked away merely a mile from us (I had no idea!).. and how many of our neighbors have fruit trees in their front yards - all laden with apricots, plums and lots and lots of apples! The apples are still small and green, but the plums are ripe everywhere.. we often see perfectly good plums lying on the sidewalks fallen from a tree laden with fruit.

As you can imagine, we are over-flowing with plums at our house as well - some given by our young plum tree, a lot shared by generosity of neighbors and our CSA. After enjoying a lot of plums this summer for snacks and deserts, I was left with a bag which was not super sweet and more on the tart-sweet side. What better motivation than make a plum tart then!

This is a very simple recipe and perfect for weeknight deserts too. I used the pie-crust recipe I always user - but you are welcome to use frozen crust too.. works just as well and a huge time-saver!

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

To prepare the filling: thinly slice 5-6 plums. Add 1/2C sugar (or less depending on how sweet the plums are), 1/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp salt, 1/4tsp cardamom powder (optional). Mix well and set aside for 20 minutes. After 20 mins, drain the plum juices but do not discard! Arrange plum slices on the pie crust tightly and fold the edges inward to "seal" the tart. Brush the edges of the crust with melted butter. 

Bake for 40 minutes until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. While the tart is baking, cook the plum juices + 1Tbsp of whatever fruit preserve you have at hand (I used strawberry) until it forms a thick sauce. When the tart is out, brush the sauce on the plums, let it cool completely and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Easy Bread Loaf & Summer Home Activities!

I caught on to the COVID home baking trend pretty early on, I think. It started with a need to make a sandwich loaf at home but once I mastered that, I realized that baking bread, even without a bread machine, can be super easy and deeply satisfying - just as long as you have access to flour and yeast! 

My mind has been set for a while now on learning to bake a crusty bread loaf.. the kind of loaf with thick crusty skin and soft fluffy bread inside that you can dunk into hot soup and enjoy. I came across this recipe on King Arthur Flour and true to it's name it was indeed a very easy bread loaf to put together. 

I didn't change anything from the original recipe except halving it and making one bread loaf instead of 2. In the hindsight however I should have made 2 for the work of 1.. the one loaf I made in the morning was long gone before the dinner time :)

I am sure to be making this bread loaf again and again now. A keeper recipe.

Summer Home Activities:

This summer has been special for my daughter because she got to spend all of it at home, without any summer camps or travels. She was excited about no summer camps - she is at the age where she has gotten over the fancy of the camps and just prefers spending her time her own way. However she was bummed about the no travel plan. Anyhow, she got a promise out of us to make up for it by 2x longer vacation next summer :)

We did manage to do a lot of fun things at home however and had a lot of summer fun. It was a different kind of summer than traditional summer, but fun-filled neverthless!

She is quite outdoorsy and likes to learn a new outdoor activity every summer. This summer learning to skateboarding has been her main project. After a few falls and bumps, I think she is coming along quite well!

We wrapped up our Spanish learning course on duolingo and embarked on Scratch programming. Scratch is a programming language for kids - like blockly, where building a game or a program is simple putting the right blocks together. It encourages kids 8-12 to build logical thinking which is a key skill of computer programming but at the same time keeping it fun and exciting. I spent some time teaching her scratch, she attended an online camp and had fun building some fun new games like this obstacle run and a simple translator (being a young coder and all, both games need keyboard and not mobile friendly yet :) )

I also bought an embroidery starter kit and we had fun doing embroidery together on long weekend afternoons. It took us about 4 weekends to finish the two projects - but we had a lot of fun. She did the simple straight stitches and attempted some loops. I finished remaining loops and all the french knots. We are super happy with how it turned out!
I hope you are all having fun and relaxing summer break and staying safe!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Flax-Seeds Chutney (Javasachi Chutney) & Reading Update

Javas (or brown flax seeds) chutney is a quint-essential Maharashtrian condiment. Easy to prepare, cheap due to the abundance of flax seeds in the region and super tasty. This chutney is a staple of farm lands, where fresh roti (or bhakri), this chutney with a glob of oil and some sabji can make a flavorful easy to prepare everyday meal.

While flaxmeal (ground flax) is more common in supermarkets across US, for this recipe I prefer using whole flax seeds. You can find them at Trader Joe's or buy bulk from Amazon of this Bob's Red Mills brand.

The "recipe" is super simple. Roast 1C golden flax seeds and 4-5 large peeled garlic cloves on medium heat stirring frequently until they release a nutty aroma and are starting to turn brownish. Often flax seeds pop while you are heating them, so be careful not to be to close to the stove. Remove from heat and let them cool completely.

Once cool, add the roasted flax seeds and roasted garlic cloves to the blender, along-with 1/4tsp red chili powder and salt to season. Blend until smooth and powdery. Taste, adjust salt as needed. Store in an air-tight container and serve as condiment for any meals! Mix 1Tbsp of this chutney with warm cooked rice, olive oil and salt for a quick meal or add oil to 1Tbsp of this chutney and eat with warm pita breads - yum!

Reading Update:
My reading front is still going strong. This stay at home phase has provided a unique opportunity by saving the commute times that I am putting to good use by exercising  couple times a week and reading 30 minutes almost every day. Access to kindle and online library makes finding content a breeze!

I would classify June reading as 2 hits and 1 miss :) I read highly awaited book The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi. This is a beautifully told story transporting us back to the 1950s India, Jaipur in particular, told from the voice of a henna artist, Lakshmi, known for her most unique and creative patterns - it's a story of many contrasts, women's struggles and empowerment in a paternal society, cast systems and middle class vs upper class struggles. All in all, this was a true page-turner.. transporting me back to 1950s Jaipur. A must read!

The second hit was this well awaited Marie Benedict's Carnegie's Maid. This is a book about a young girl, Clara Kelley, leaving her family behind in Ireland to travel to America to support her family and earn some money. She doesn't have much more other than her wits, an uncanny business sense and resolve to strive and do better, both for herself and her family. She ends up as a lady's maid in the Carnegie household of Pittsburgh, and soon her employer starts to trust her business instincts. It is again a story of a woman ahead of her time, with a business sense parallel to the business magnet Andrew Carnegie, but needing to hide her talents and thoughts behind a subdued ladies' main persona. I have enjoyed all of Benedict books so far, so I knew I would love this book, and happy to say it didn't disappoint me :)

Third book, and a miss, was "Ada's algorithms - How Lord Byron's Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age". Ada has been long considered as the original computer programmer, and a key but overlooked figure in the history of computers and programming. I wanted to love this book, I really did, but unfortunately writing was hard to keep up with - not being written as a story and not being quite a well engaging non-fiction either, I finished the book but it was quite a struggle at times.

Anyhow, my July reading list is promising and I look forward to posting about it here soon!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Zucchini Paratha & A Sudden Sweet Tooth

I love the changing seasons -- like now, a crisp and flowery spring is giving way to hot summers, just as the life we know it is inching back to what is likely a new normal for the rest of the year. The usual bearers of the summer events like end of school carnival, trips to local ice-cream parlor and visits to the magnificent California beaches were very much muted this year... but one thing screamed summer loud and clear - and that is lots and lots of zucchini and stone fruits in our CSA boxes!

For last few weeks, our CSA box has been overflowing with zucchinis, peaches, plums, nectarines and juicy California apricots. We have no problems finishing any amount of fruit at our home but finishing loads of zucchini is another matter :) This year, along-with grilled zucchini, zucchini "spaghetti" and zucchini raita, one new thing I introduced in our rotation is this zucchini parathas. 

The recipe is very similar to the methi and chard paratha I have posted before. I used 2 large or 3 small zucchini, grated them fine, salted them and then pressing very hard removed as much water as I can. Instead of discarding the zucchini juices, I used part of it to make the dough. I seasoned the whole wheat flour dough with grated garlic, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt and chili powder (but skip adding chili powder if cooking for kids). Other than that, it's the same recipe as the chard paratha

These parathas are very tasty, soft and best enjoyed right off the griddle with a dollop of yogurt or any chutney you might have at hand. Enjoy!

Normally, we don't make a lot of sweets at home. We enjoy sweets once in a while, when visiting bakeries or coffee shops or one of the numerous birthday parties we attend every year. This year however, may be it's the lack of bakery visits or the birthday parties, but suddenly we have all developed a strong sweet tooth and craving sweets at home! 

In addition to the usual chocolate cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate bundt cake and fruit tarts, I posted previously, I also dabbed my hands at some Indian sweets - mainly this besan ladoo! Believe it or not, this was my first time making it at our home :) I often shy away from home-made sweets because none of us usually crave it, and if it's home you would eat it whether you crave it or not.. but like I say, this stay at home has changed a lot of our palette and what's made at home!

On healthier side, my mid-afternoon pick-me snack has been this very berry cereal bowl with any two types of berries (strawberries and blueberries are my favorite combo) with cereal of your choice and milk of your choice... yum!

And the bear banana pancake which brought a huge smile to my daughter's face when she found them in her plate our Saturday morning :) 

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy - until next time!

Copyright and Disclaimer

This page and all of its contents is copyright of Prajakta Gudadhe. All rights reserved.

This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.