I finally completed my second trunk yesterday. With that, Project Trunk is under wraps! Finally! This called for a celebration!
I had mushrooms lying in my fridge for some time now. V hates mushrooms- well hate would be too strong a word, but he is NOT a fan. I like mushrooms a lot. But, its quite ironical that growing up, I hated all dishes that had mushrooms in them.
Then, one fateful day (boy, do I like to dramatize things!), my friend from college, called us for lunch at her home. She made this garlic mushroom bread that was awesome and since then I have been in love with mushrooms.
Lot of people believe that it takes one dish to change a person’s opinion about a vegetable. And, I am a living proof of that!
So I thought I’ll try to get V to change his mind about mushrooms, and decided to make this pasta recipe I got from a special cookbook edition of Femina. The recipe is the same one that they use at Pizza Hut for their creamy Spinach Mushroom fettuccine. The first time I tried this recipe was while visiting home, and I made it for a party my parents were throwing. Everyone loved it. I made it again at my aunt’s place- it didn’t come out as good as the first time- there were some ingredient issues- but still was liked.
This was my third time, and this time the dish had a mission- to turn V to a mushroom lover. I had to get this one right! So, I set the table and went all out- they say people eat with their eyes first and I hoped that for V the first impression would be the last one.
V loved it- a lot! Proof..u ask? Look at the pics at the end. Its still too early to say whether he is a mushroom convert, but well, its safe to say that he will happily eat this dish again.
It does use a lot of cream though- but luckily, I had just one small packet of cream, and thus could not use the whole amount asked for. It still turned out great.
About ten years back, I did my first water color art. It was part of the school activity I had joined. Besides that one time, I have never tried my hand at doing a full fledged water color art before. So, a few weeks back, on our visit to Michaels for buying paint stuff for the trunk, I thought I will get a sketch book and a set of water colors. I initially thought of oil paints but they were more expensive and I was under the impression that oil painting is more difficult. Well, my mom told me that I was wrong and its more difficult to cover up mistakes in a water color painting. And, you know how it is, mom’s are always right. It wasn’t like painting the trunk where I was able to take a cloth and remove excessive paint- a mistake done in water colors is difficult to correct- the mark always remains. Sigh!
Now, came the question- what should I paint.
In India, the start of anything new is done by worshiping Lord Ganesha. He is considered the god of luck and “of opening the way”. Perfect! I needed a lot of luck for this to go right and so decided to paint him. And, who knows, Lord Ganesha might just open the way to the world of art for me!:):)
So, with background music set as “Damn! It’s good to be me” by Uncle Cracker (a little pep talk doesn’t hurt any one!), I set out on painting my second water color art after ten years! This was my afternoon project, and I am proud at the speed with which I finished the painting, even though its not perfect. The lines are crooked at places. Ganesha’s stomach should have been a little more bulging. The effect of the different colors could have been better. But, then when did I say I was perfect. I’m just a novice housewife ;)!
I am yet to see V’s reaction. He hasn’t come back from work. Let’s see what hubby has to say! Till then I’ll have my afternoon siesta!
I am getting better at things. More quick. I was done with preparing lunch, sweeped and mopped the kitchen floor, loaded Jaywanti (our dishwasher) – I usually wait till night for this- but today I had time on my hand. I also set the table and after no more excuses left to not take a bath- I took a shower too. All this, in less than two hours! For me, this is an achievement. I remember, during my first few weeks of marriage, I used to struggle getting the food ready just in time for V to come home for lunch. The kitchen used to be a mess and I, too, used to be one. But, now, I have become more comfortable with cooking Indian and thus, more efficient (self pat on my back!) :).
Now, V has a list of favorite food. He can eat the same thing day in and day out for days, weeks and months. The list includes: arhar ki dal (yellow lentil curry), baingan ka bharta (roasted eggplant cooked with spices), biryani (a rice based dish), bhindi(okra). And when I say that he can eat these dishes day in and day out, I mean it. He used to do that when he was a bachelor. He does the same when he goes back home. The dal is made everyday and the bhindi and the baingan ka bharta alternated during his stay.
V’s favorite things made me wonder, what’s my list? What things can I eat again n again without getting bored. And, I realized, even my favorite of favorite things- I can’t repeat them more than two consecutive times, max three times. After the third time, I would need a change. I need variety. But, yes, there are a few things that do come close to things I could eat repeatedly- (I am not including chocolates, cakes, cookies here- talking about stuff that I could eat as a meal). My list is:
1. Maggi noodles
2. Parantha made out of leftover dal (a flat Indian bread made from leftover cooked lentils and whole wheat flour)
3. Chilli chicken (dry)
4. Dal makhani (black lentil curry cooked in lots of butter)
Now, one look at V’s and my list, and you would know why I am the size I am, and why V is the size he is. He likes all the healthy stuff. The food I like is not unhealthy per se (agreed, the Maggi is unhealthy), but it surely is fattening!
So, when I started cooking, I thought of cooking what V likes, that ways I too get into the habit of eating healthier. It hasn’t worked completely. I still eat more chocolate than he does. I also snack more, when he is in office and I am alone at home! But, overall, its an improvement. I have warmed up to healthier vegetables like bitter gourd and eggplant, and to food like yellow lentil curry- things I never ate before- things that my mom is shocked to learn I ‘willingly’ make in my home!
So, today I made baingan ka bharta. Its an Indian dish made with roasted eggplant that is cooked with some onions, tomatoes and other Indian spices. The key to good baingan bharta lies in the smoky flavor you get after roasting it. Roasting can be done either directly on the gas flame or by basting the eggplant with some oil and leaving it in the oven at the highest setting for 15-20 minutes, or until the skin gets the burnt color and starts peeling off slightly. This time I tried roasting the eggplant directly on the flame but the next time I’ll try broiling it in the oven. It’s just less messier that ways!
Also, a lot of the recipes I saw, called for mustard oil. But, since its banned in the US for human consumption- supposedly because of its high content of erucic acid, which is considered noxious, I used vegetable oil. I still don’t know how unsafe it is to use mustard oil, though, generations in our family have used it and, touch wood, faced no problems. Some forums, do mention that heating the mustard oil to a smoking temperature does reduce the noxious substances. I feel its just a matter of buying from a reputed manufacturer.
Lot of people also make this dish with peas, but I did not have any on hand, plus, I am not that big a fan. But, feel free to add!