Monday, May 25, 2020

Stay-at-home Food & Activities

It is hard to believe we are in the week #11 of stay at home here. Over 10 weeks of home-schooling, 77 days of not going out for sightseeing or dinner and over 230 meals made at home later, here we are!! 

The cycle of the prepping, cooking and cleaning is endless! Managing work and home-school has been a bit of an adventure with kids sneaking on and off into work meetings and parents walking into school zoom :) but on the whole we are settling into the new rhythm well and might I say, even enjoying it a bit. It has been stressful to see the news; but personally also enjoying no daily commutes, no drop-off and pickups and just less juggling social commitments with everything else.

With so many meals at home, our kitchen has been churning non-stop! I learnt to make a few things from scratch not being able to just go out and buy prepped ingredients - like this dosa and idle batter for example. We always bought dosa/idle batter, but now with the abundance of hours at home, I realized it's actually pretty easy to make batter at home. Home-made dosas and idlis have been making a rotation every-other week at our home and they are always a hit.
Dosa & Idli w/ Home-made Batter
Home-made pizza dough and bread
We are also making bread and pizza dough at home. To be honest, given a choice I would still buy store bought bread - because while my plain white bread is coming out great, the whole wheat one still needs improvements and I love the store bought whole wheat. On the other hand, home-made pizza dough has been a solid hit! Given a choice, I don't think I'll ever go back to store bought pizza dough anymore.

To nibble on, we have been baking lots of baked goodies like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, blueberry mini-muffins, simple chocolate cakes and banana oatmeal bread. The daughter definitely takes the lead in this department :)
Baked Goodies!
Thai Basil green curry w/ tofu
While lunches have been simple - left-overs from previous dinner or wild rice bowls, veggie wraps or veggie burgers -- we attempt different rotations in dinner to avoid the dinner fatigue. Our recent favorites have been pav bhaji, Thai basil curry with tofu, udon noodles and lots of different pastas!

Very berry pancakes
Another family favorite has been this very berry pan-cakes. Made with chopped raspberries and blueberries in the batter and a strawberry-orange sauce, it has been a huge hit with everyone and something we will keep making for a few more weeks until berries become scarce with summer.
Stay at home time has also been filled with lots of reading time for everyone in the family! With less outdoor distractions, I am happily finding little time here and there to make a dent in my to-read list.

Most notable read was The Tenth Muse, which is a story of an Asian-American woman mathematician at a time when it wasn't common for women to be professors or pursuing careers in mathematics. It is a story of the challenging Math problems she solves, strength, courage in her profession she exhibits as well as her journey to finding her lineage along the way and finding who she really is. Overall a highly recommended read!

On the thought provoking side, I also enjoyed reading Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world, Red At the Bone as well as Night Diaries. And on light side, lots of good page-turner mysteries and Tudor English stories like the Couple Next Door, Gone Girl, The Other Queen and Katherine Howard.

On the kids reading front, my daughter's school shared a subscription of Epic! Reading e-reading platform with her, which has been a life-saver engaging her with countless books and hours at end!

My daughter and I are also crafting a lot - we recently took up sketching, which does not need a lot of supplies; and next we are taking up embroidery.

However the most fun activity we are sharing together is learning Spanish on a free Duolingo app. I have always wanted to learn a new language, so with more time at home we took up Spanish. Today is our 30th day of learning. We only spend about 15 minutes a day after dinner but we are making good progress and most importantly, having a lot of fun speaking Spanish to each other!

I am looking forward to summer ahead - enjoying the warmer weather and perhaps a chance to get out a bit more!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Polenta with Ultimate Spring Vegetable Saute

Early in the lock-down days, I subscribed to CSA deliveries. So every week a box full of fresh veggies and fruits gets delivered to our home. It has been a huge source of respite and inspiration to see the familiar farmer's market fresh veggies during these lock-down times - not to mention I feel good about playing our part in supporting local farms who are feeling particularly challenged as local restaurants slow down.

This polenta with spring veggie saute is a spur of the moment creation from looking at the CSA box and thinking of what to make. Last week we got fresh fava beans in pods, early asparagus shoots, celery, young garlic and some mint sprigs.  
Preparing fava beans:
To prepare fava beans, remove them from pods (get your kids to help with this step! :) ). Boil water in a small pot, add fava beans to boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and drench them in ice-cold water to stop cooking. Remove from the icy-water and shell the beans to remove the outer skin. That's all! Young spring fava beans are super flavorful and are a treat!

Preparing polenta:
Add 5C water to a large pan along with a Tbsp of olive oil and some salt. Let it come to boil. Then reduce heat to simmer and slowly while stirring continuously, add 1C dried cornmeal for polenta. It is important to keep stirring so the cornmeal does not stick together. If it does, just try to mash up and separate with the back of your spoon. Cover and let cook on low heat simmer for 15-20 minutes until you get the desired consistency. Some people like it loose and some other like it more congealed. Add water as needed. Once polenta feels done, add another dash of olive oil and mix well and remove from heat. 

Preparing veggie saute:
While the polenta is cooking, prep the veggies. Chop the asparagus, celery, green garlic (or regular garlic cloves), handful of olives and capers. Heat olive oil in a large pan. When warm, add garlic and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. Add fava beans, asparagus, olives and capers. Saute for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and add fresh chopped mint (or basil would go well too). 

Assembly:
To assemble, in a plate, create a bed of warm polenta. Add spring vegetable saute. Season with any sauce or chutney you may have at hand (I used left-over mint cilantro chutney) or just plain good quality olive oil. 

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Quick Lunch: Lavash Wrap w/ Roasted Veggies

I finished week 8 of working from home this week! Wow, but who is counting, right? There are so many things which are so heartbreaking about this current phase we are in, not to mention sufferings of so many; but just to look at the bright spot a bit, I find myself starting to like the perks of remote working too - like no commute to and from work (which in bay area traffic is saying something!), no waking up early in the morning to prepare for school drop offs and the best perk of all has been getting to spend sooo much time with my daughter. 

We are always running around so much, this new forced isolation has helped us connect better as a family and just slow down the pace of the day a bit. Still not to say that the weekdays don't fly by! By the time Friday afternoon rolls, I am just about ready to shut the work laptop off and spend the next two days reading books, playing board games and baking some treats or just napping!

Lunches have been especially tricky as I am often back to back in work meetings; so most days lunch is left-over from the dinner last night. But on days where that's also not available, I see myself going back to the two tried and trusted quick healthy lunches: the veggie bowl and this lavash veggie wrap.

We have a CSA subscription which delivers a fresh box of veggies and fruits every week, so we often have some veggies in the fridge waiting to be used up. Lavash is a thin unleavened bread made in Tandoor which is eaten in many parts of Asia. I like it best because it's ideal for wraps! It's thick enough to hold everything in without being dry or chewy. We get this brand from our CSA, but any other brand that's pre-cut for wraps would work equally well I think.

The "recipe" is not a recipe at-all but rather an "assembly" which is perfect for hurried lunches.
Lavash Wrap w/ Roasted Veggies
There are a few components to the wrap:
  1. spread: first spread the lavash with a spread of your choice. Hummus, pesto, chutneys or cream cheese - whatever you have at hand. Spread a layer evenly on the wrap.
  2. filling: I add roasted veggies (broccoli florets, carrot slices, mushrooms - roasted at 400F for 15 minutes) or raw (cucumber slices, tomatoes, lettuce, olives).
  3. cheese: optional but I love a sprinkling of mozzarella on my wrap.
That's it. To make it easier to roll, I add filling on one side of lavash leaving the other side empty and roll as tightly as I can to make a log. You don't need to tuck the ends in. Once rolled, slice the wrap in half and use toothpicks if needed to hold it together. 

Enjoy! 

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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.