Monday, July 21, 2014

Zing it up, zest it up





Now that I wrote about the five people who bring zest to my life, how can I forget the situations that make my mundane a little magical? So here are five situations that zest up my life:

A selfie gone wrong

Yes I'm old world and cannot understand why people stand with their backs against pretty places and block the wonderful view with their faces for a picture! I get sadistic pleasure when selfies go all wrong (for other people of course because I never take them)! Take a picture of the Taj Mahal, people and not of yourself pouting against it!

An office meeting canceled

Of course, this continues from the school days where sudden holidays were the sweetest words somebody said to you! I love it when something unexpected blocks meetings from happening – of course I never hope it happens because somebody is unwell or something, but sudden engagements, other commitments, unavailability of people, or any other harmless reason is good!

A traffic blockage rescued

Thanks to a Good Samaritan or a rare traffic cop who loves his job, sometimes traffic jams so get cleared up! I love those moments where you’re tired after moving inch by inch and then suddenly the vehicle in front of you zooms ahead – only then you realize that the road to happiness is all clear!

A spurt in motivation to exercise

Lazy and procrastinator that I am, there are those rare days when I actually ‘feel’ like exercising. Though such days don’t come too often, when they do, I totally dig them!

An unexpected compliment

Ever happened to you that you’re preoccupied with something else and then along comes somebody who tells you that your hair looks pretty today and you burst into a smile? Well, unexpected compliments anywhere – work, friends or even with random people – make my day. Is anybody listening?





This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com

Featuring five zest-adders





With all the drama,
And confusion galore,
Life is a circus,
Funny to the core.

Filled with highs and lows,
With a share of troughs and crest,
Sometimes you just need something
To add a little bit of zest.

I have found some people
That do that for me,
They spark up my day
And make me so happy!

They are simple and unacknowledged,
Their names never taken,
Without them things will crumble
So many things will be shaken!

First is my maid – my lovely
Who cleans and arranges
Like I can never do
She wipes and changes.

Then is my driver
My cruiser around town,
Takes over the traffic stress
As I relax on the back-seat like a clown.

My building guard,
Quietly taking care of business,
Standing there the whole day,
Sun, rain, whatever mess.

The vegetable vendors
Strolling on my street,
Wonder how they manage that smile
No matter cold or heat!

Last, not least, my best friend,
Who is my pillar of support,
She is always there to listen
And hold fort.



This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and BlogAdda.com

Monday, July 07, 2014

A little trip to the French countryside




Sometimes you tease me in my dreams,
Your mouthwatering aromas, your delectable creams.

Shades of red mixed with a brown hue,
No flavor can be tastier than you.

Your buttermilk, butter, cocoa and beetroot attract me,
Those delicious frostings make me go weak in the knee.

When you land in front of me on this gorgeous dish,
If I only I could resist you – how I wish!

The Celebration Platter is truly your perfect partner,
Majestic in its looks, it enhances your every feature.

When you stage a dramatic entry beaming on its top,
You make my mouth water and my eyes pop!

Oh, Red Velvet cake! Now please be mine,
Let me savor your fluffy icing, your creamy layers so fine…



I wrote this poem in a fit on inspiration during my breakfast visit to a bistro close by. A cozy little affair run by an expat, this café is popular for its perfect French delicacies like croissants, cakes, muffins and pastries. It is always swarming with foodies, no matter what time of the day and the freshly baked aromas tempt you the moment you enter. I normally go there on Sunday mornings for a lazy brunch, armed with a book.

This Sunday I found a dainty and yet luxurious looking Red Velvet cake looking at me through the counter glass and I couldn’t resists, as always. Savoring the light buttermilk cream and layers of perfect sweet cake with my strong coffee, I was transported to the French countryside or to Paris with its many quaint road-side cafes and bistros. After finishing this sinful entrée to my morning, I walked up to the chef and asked him for the recipe.

He has seen me sitting around a couple of times and was happy to share some of his tips though for the main recipe, he asked me to look at any ‘good French cooking website’. As I ordered another round of coffee and a butter croissant this time (needing a salt rush badly), he asked me what I planned to do with the recipe.

I told him I planned to treat myself the next Saturday. It would be a mouthwatering indulgent weekend with home-baked Red Velvet cake. Using my proud acquisition: The Deep Round Casserole, I would be easily able to bake it at home. Since the casserole is made of borosilicate glass, it is guaranteed to withstand temperatures of upto 350°C. This means it can be safely used in the microwave, oven, fridge, freezer, and dishwasher. I would use the Celebration platter to serve the cake, as relishing good food is as much about appealing the eyes as it is about indulging the taste buds. Don’t you agree?

With my ‘good French website’ recipe, the handsome chef’s expert tips and MyBorosil’s perfect microwavable dishes, self-indulgence is not too far away!


(p.s. Thanks to My Beautiful Food for inspiring this post!)

Mission impossible to Mission successful :D



Being a mother is walking on a tightrope. It is like holding a glass of hot milk in one hand, a bowl of sticky halwa in the other and trying to balance your steps on a floor splashed with slippery soap water. There are so many things that come with being a mother, which nobody tells you before you accept the job. Most of the times, you get into the job seeing cuddly baby pictures in magazines, but the babies turn out to be squeaking sleep depriving confusing little cute aliens. Basically, being a mother involves many job descriptions that are written in too fine a print to see.

One of such things that’s the common sworn enemy of all mothers is their kids’ meal time.

Ask any new mother (or for that matter any mother) what is her perpetual grouse and shell tell you its: “How to get her child to eat!” Kids these days are moody, selective and impatient. They have video games vying for their attention. They have unhealthy but attractive junk food from McDonalds luring them like a pretty monster. They have parents that dote on them and hence are too reluctant to force them to do anything, even if it’s eating.

I have seen young mothers in my friend-circle building running after their three-year olds with a bowl of flavored rice for hours on end. I have seen mothers of teenagers heat the food multiple times before it is tasted and rejected as boring.

But with more access to online and other information resources, I am beginning to realize that there are many kind people out there who are trying to make lives of mothers easier! When it comes to cooking and feeding kids, you may think that I'm talking about ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook food items. Not really, because I'm a total supporter of slow cooking, home cooking and natural eating. I tend to have reservations about using ingredients or food items that have been preserved for too long, unless I'm complete sure about the process used.

So when I say that mothers’ lives have been made drastically easier and lovelier thanks to the efforts of some generous people sitting somewhere behind some hidden curtains, I am talking of that company which has been a pioneer in the field of many consumer products for decades. I'm talking of Borosil.

Borosil has been one of India’s best known consumer brands for over half a century. You’d be surprised to know that they were making microwave proof glass even before the microwave was invented! In fact, in India, the name Borosil is generic for heat-proof glass.

Recently I discovered MyBorosil. This is an online platform that was launched when Borosil realized that their product range was growing so fast that there was no one store where you could see the entire product range under one roof. I browsed through their various sections like “Microwavables”, “Inspring”, “Trend-setting”, “Appliances” and “Sistema”; and instantly I had an idea.

I called up Akhila, who is one of the more troubled mothers in my building, having a very naughty eleven-year old son and a very moody nine-year old daughter – both very picky when it comes to food. She came over and while having yummy-licious masala chai in my Piccolo Cup & Saucer Set, we hatched a plan.

That whole day, till her children were in school, both of us sat and made note-cards for the various meals she normally cooks for them in a day. Of course her children are twenty-second century kids, having read all of Harry Potter and what not, so this was not an easy task. What helped was the fact that Akhila has a very fine taste in cookware and servingware, having a large range from MyBorosil herself, so we take the help of each of those items in our descriptions! So these were the placards for the three different meals of the day:

Lunch

Hello children! Here before you, you will find aromatic Dal Tadka. I have made this delicious dish with split red lentils which had proffered it a creamy, rich and smooth texture. The dal, after slow cooking, has been tempered with a host of spices and a dollop of ghee. It will cover your palette with its golden richness and soothing nostalgia. I have already served it for you in Borosil Large Glass Katoris, that bring out its sunny colors. The side dish today is jeera alloo, flavored delicately to your liking. Find it smiling at you in the Square Dish with Lid!

This dal makes the perfect accompaniment to rice or rotis, so you will see both next to it. Enjoy it with steaming hot rice served in the loaf dish or with soft rotis served in the luxurious Deep Round Casserole. Bon appetite!

Dinner

Hi again! For dinner, you are presented with mildly spicy and very delicious Mughlai paneer. The melt-in-your-mouth cottage cheese has been marinated for half an hour in a selection of choicest spices like garam masala, chilli powder, home made curd and salt. This has given an aromatic edge to its delectable flavour. I am sure you will love its intense flavors that will take over all your senses.
To go with the Mughlai Paneer, you have fresh parathas made with less oil keeping your good health in mind. Eat them piping hot and you will soon be left licking your fingers. The meal is served in the Deep Round Casserole again as I love how it multi-functions for various uses, and hence love to re-use it different gravy items, rice and even rotis! End your meal with some vegetable raita that will soothe your taste buds and delight you in the cute Small Glass Katories. Bon appetite!

Breakfast

So, now for your third meal which is also the most important for you – the breakfast! This meal sets you up for the whole day, gives you nourishment you need and can never be missed at any cost – as your dad and I have told you many times.

For breakfast, you have soft boiled eggs and rice idlis, served in the Mini Oval Dish Set. Rich in proteins, vitamins and soft on your stomach, this meal can be enjoyed with coconut chutney for the idlis and salt / pepper for the eggs. I'm sure you will enjoy this light meal tremendously.

In the end, don’t forget to wash it all down with a glass of warm milk in which I have already added your favorite chocolate powder. My favorite 'Everest Glasses Large' will ensure that you enjoy not only the flavor of the milk but also the experience of having them! Bon appetite!

POSTSCRIPT: The next day, being a weekend, after the kiddies had gone off to play, I dropped by at Akhila’s and as expected, found her beaming ear to ear. The simple meals had been lapped up in seconds, despite being nothing fancy. She was sure it was because of the magical touches added by our mouth-watering descriptions of each meal and the classy Midas touches of MyBorosil cookware and servingware! As long as our job was done and naughty ones ate heartily, we weren’t complaining!;)


(p.s. Thanks to My Beautiful Food for inspiring this post!)