Hi and thanks for stopping by 🙂 !
I am Shumaila and I do the cooking, baking,
eating, writing, styling and photography for the Novice Housewife. I am a twenty eight nine thirty one year old Indian (absolutely in love with my country), Sikh by religion, with a muslim name and a Hindu husband (Vikram or known on the blog as V) presently living in the US India and trying my hand at making cakes/cookies/cupcakes for a living.
Update December 2015:
I have moved back to the US and now am in Dallas, Texas with my husband V after a wonderful year of baking cakes, cupcakes, cookies for my venture The Pink CakeBox in Chandigarh, India. As of October 2016, I have moved back to Chandigarh, India and am working as freelance food and lifestyle photographer, while still sharing my love for food on the blog here.
Update March 2016: I have launched my photography brand under the label MuddyChoux Photography. Why the name MuddyChoux? Growing up I had a fairly uncommon name and people always mispronounced it. I have heard many variations of my name (including Somalia, the country), but the most common was shoe-mela, which in Hindi translates to a dirty/muddy shoe. And thats how one of my friends’ husband nicknamed me as. Since my main focus in photography has been on food, I thought Muddy Choux (which is a play on my name and related to food – choux pastry in particular) would be apt for my photography brand. A lot of credit for the name goes to my friend Ruchi who suggested using muddy instead of dirty since that has a chocolate connotation to it and well, sounds better. Coincidentally, her husband is the one who nicknamed me Dirty Shoe.
More About Me
I love talking, reading, thinking, dreaming about food and come from a family of foodies.
I have grown up on some of the best home cooked meals that my mom would laboriously make for my brother, my father and me. My dad hardly ever cooks, but when he does he makes a mean spaghetti sauce and some pretty juicy and flavorful chicken kebabs. For me though, cooking only came post marriage, and even though I don’t mind cooking as much, baking is where my heart lies.
Why I blog
After getting married and moving to a completely new place (on a different continent)- with no friends, no job (and no chance of getting one) and left for hours to do nothing in a small mining town, I needed an outlet. I felt very unproductive and I needed something to change that. I also have a very busy mind- and thought rather than talking to myself, its better I pen the thoughts down somewhere. To keep me sane.
I started the blog on July 28, 2010 as a place to document my newly married life and a place to store the recipes I was trying, and of course as a way to keep myself busy.
My thing with cooking (I still won’t call it love- baking is my true love) was actually born more out of a necessity than any passion. The place where we stay has just 3 restaurants, out of which one always gives me food poisoning and the other is limited on the vegetarian and chicken options (my husband’s preferences), actually that goes for the third restaurant as well. None of them serve my three favorite cuisines- Italian, thai and indian. So if I want to have something nice, I have to make it. And since I do not do frozen foods, I can not stock up on these cuisines either. So I have to cook my way out.
Update November 2015: We have moved to Dallas and now we live right opposite a bar and several restaurants walking distance away; life is good even though fitting into skinny jeans is a long painful task.
I blog with the whole intention that good things are meant to be celebrated and shared. I don’t claim to be an expert in the world of cooking (and hence the name of the blog), so if you see a mistake or are not particularly fond of a recipe, please let me know but do it kindly. I am a little sensitive.
My food philosophy
I have always been a fan of unprocessed food, because that’s what I have grown up on, favouring beautiful natural produce to canned, pre-packaged stuff. Its more labor intensive but I just feel that the effort is worth it. But, to be fair, I understand that there are cases of time crunch and you have no choice but to use some processed stuff. So while most of the recipes you find on my blog are made from scratch and with fresh ingredients, there are few in the list that use processed food. Like my friend, Jamie’s crockpot tater tot casserole.
Thanks to a friend, I now always buy full fat milk and thin it down in my own kitchen with water to decrease its fat content, rather than buying the more unnatural fat free milk. I also believe that butter in less quantity is better than low fat dairy spread. Also, full-fat natural yoghurt is the way to go. Just have small portions of the real stuff- that’s my philosophy. And eat a bucket load of vegetables. I went raw for a week and even though I know its not possible to go 100% raw (for me personally at least), try and include as many veggies you in your diet. You will love the difference.
About the recipes
Earlier, I would put everything and anything that I made in my kitchen on the blog. That was when my readers were only people I knew. But, as the blog grew popular and I realized people were actually trying out my recipes, I felt a little more responsible for what recipes get on the site. Now, it is more a place to store my favorite recipes, though I still talk about my (failed and other) experiments from time to time. I generally don’t publish a post regarding a new recipe on the same day I try it. I photograph everything I make though, and what turns out nice is drafted and put on the blog.
As for coming up with what to make. I day dream a lot, and a lot of my day dreams revolve around food- could be something I had at a restaurant, or something I had when I was in India or something I saw on somebody’s blog, on Food Network or something that just came to my mind. I also own a ton of cookbooks and spend a lot of time on pinterest. I keep bookmarking stuff I see, and then when I feel like making something new, I check my pins, or my ever-increasing pile of cookbooks or my iPhone notes and tally it with what I have in the refrigerator, and make something.
You won’t find beef or pork recipes on the site and on very rare occasions will you come across a seafood recipe. While I have no religious issues with any kind of meat, V is a chicken-a-tarian (its a word!) except on Tuesdays and Saturdays when he is a vegetarian who does not eat egg (but not a vegan because he will drink milk on these days). And since he is the person I cook for (besides you guys), there is an absence of recipes with meat other than that of chicken.
And since I am allergic to bananas, something I got to know only after I came to the US, you will most likely not see a banana recipe on the blog except for my first post ever- the banana bundt cake. Somehow over the span of 3 years that has changed and I am perfectly fine eating bananas now.
What you’ll see here is: A lot of comfort foods, things like bread, cookies, farewell cupcakes, birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and a lot of Indian recipes from the best samosas you will ever have to crockpot dals.
About the photographs
All the photographs on the blog are styled and shot by me. When I started this blog I used to shoot with a Sony point and shoot camera but now use my Nikon D7000 and the 50mm f/1.4 lens for almost all the recent photographs you see on the blog. I would like to upgrade to a full frame digital SLR and own a few other lenses, but for now this is what I can afford, and I am not cribbing.
As of mid-December 2015, I am the proud owner of a 105mm f/2.8 macro lens.
I love photographing food, be it from my DSLR or my iPhone. I also love styling the dishes I prepare and budget permitting, love to stock up on food props. I love shopping for clothes but my love for collecting antique silverware, cool plates and backgrounds sometimes triumphs over the former.
If you want to use any of my photographs for any purpose, please do take my permission first. Each and every photograph has been clicked after a lot of thought, planning and effort. Please appreciate that and give due credit.
Comments, emails, social networking and copyright
Your thoughts, suggestions, feedback and everything you have to say is very important for me. So, please leave a note/email/facebook message and let me know.
I love getting your emails and comments. But please know I am the laziest person ever. That said, I do try my level best to get back in touch with you, even if it means getting back to you after a month- exceptions are there when someone has a doubt regarding a recipe- then I reply instantly.
Every detail on this blog is copyright of The Novice Housewife. Blogging is a lot of work and I spend a lot of time and effort in all the posts that I share with you here. So, please keep that in mind and give credit to my work.
You can follow me on instagram, facebook, twitter and pinterest or subscribe to me via email. I am most active on instagram and facebook. Joined the twitter bandwagon quite late and still trying to figure out how to be regular on it.
And in the end, some randomness!
If you choose to follow this blog, you will soon learn that I can be very random at times. So here are some random notes about me:
- I hate boiled carrots. I love raw carrots but boiled I cant eat. Just. Do. Not. Like. Them.
- I can’t have a single piece of gum. There has to be at least two. Three or even more is fine. Just can’t be one.
- I have a horrible case of stage fright and hate being the centre of attention (not that I ever am). That’s why I can’t do speeches (or when on the rare occasion I do get on stage I generally drench in sweat and make multiple trips to the restroom). For the same reason, I can’t take compliments. If you compliment me and I show a weird face or try to refute you, please dont think I am rude, its just I am designed that way. I dont like being put in the spot and have always liked being the silent backstage helper.
- I have irrational fears, like the ones I talk about here.
- Ryan Gosling is my soul mate. He just doesnt know it yet.
- I want to own a bakery. A small little quaint european style bakery. Nothing big. Just something which serves the best stuff in town, and where people know your name ;)!
- I hate throwing stuff. Even cardboard. Im a hoarder of junk things because I feel something or the other can either be made out of the stuff to be thrown or it can be recycled into something useful. I have been like this since a child. So you would find lots of pen holders on my desk made out of recycled cans etc.
- I have five grey hair strands. That I know of.
- I am the clumsiest person I know of. I have bruises all over my body as a result of me smashing into furniture or a door or the wall. Its been a norm that I have to drop my drink on myself atleast once during a party.
- I smile a lot when I am with company. I smile when I am uncomfortable. I also smile when I dont know what to say. Someone actually commented that is my name pronounced as Smila (since I would always smile in front of this person). I didn’t know should I thank her for the compliment or get offended.
- I can be a control freak. Sometimes. All the time. But have improved after my 10 day Vipasana stint.
- I hate washing dishes, especially the pressure cooker. My hatred for lizards though trumps the pressure cooker dislike.
- I have a pimple on my cheek in the picture above.
If you have a question or comment, feel free to email me at [email protected]