This is the picture collage I posted with the original blog post. Yup, my photography has come a long way and still there is a long way to go!

Yesterday was feast day for V and me. Not that yesterday was any special  day but I just felt like cooking a grand meal. Probably, a reason for the special dinner was that V worked every day of last week. While his parents were here he had taken two days off, for which he had to make up by working Saturday, Sunday too this week. Another reason was that I wanted to try a few dishes that I had been postponing for a while. So, as a result, the dinner table was laden with my quick version of shahi paneer (an Indian cottage cheese dish), mama’s channa masala (a chickpea/garbanzo dish), spinach pooris (Indian fried flat bread) and for dessert shrikhand!

Shrikhand is one of the main desserts in Gujarat (a state in western India) and quite popular in Maharashtra too. Its fairly easy to prepare and delicious to eat. To make it, you need to strain the yogurt in a muslin cloth under pressure, so that all the water drains off. Then, to the strained yogurt, you add green cardamom powder and powdered sugar. In a tablespoon of hot milk, dissolve saffron. Add this to the yogurt. Mix well. Top with finely chopped pistachios and pomegranate, chill for a while and its ready to eat!:)

The shrikhand, spinach pooris and the paneer were something I tried on my own and forgot to note the measurements down. So, I am only posting the recipe for the chhole/chana masala, (but have given the general idea to prepare shrikhand above). The recipe is fairly quick to make and freakingly tasty! Enjoy making and eating it!

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So, we are back to just the two of us in our house. Said bye to V’s parents on Sunday and came back home to an empty house. After one month of Mom’s cooking lessons, catching up on family gossip, Papa’s watering the garden, and celebrating festivals together, V and I are both alone again in the house. From being so busy to not find time to log on to the net, I now have ample time on hand, and of course, back to having nothing to do in the afternoon. Which means- I am back to blogging :)! And, that too with a chocolate chiffon cake! There couldn’t be a better way to come back!

This cake is very, very soft- like the name suggests its like chiffon- light and soft. I couldn’t find vanilla essence in my house, which came as a shock to me, because its never happened that I don’t have a bottle of vanilla essence in my pantry. So, instead I used a teaspoon of Godiva chocolate liqueur (like I needed an excuse for doing that!), notching up the cake a little.

I would use a bigger pan the next time I try making the cake, because the batter did overflow a bit, as a result the cake fell while baking. But, besides that, the cake turned out great- really moist and perfectly chocolaty.
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Last weekend was awesome fun. And so was this one – Sunday was Halloween! And with that the festive season in the US kick starts! 🙂 🙂

Have not been able to blog for a long time- V’s parents are here so been busy exploring places with them around our little small town. Last weekend, I went for my first American football game and realised that more activity happens off field than on field, with cheerleaders chanting and the band playing and the food flying all over- it is fun. That was Friday. Saturday, finally, after  pestering V a lot to take me to the nearby places around our small mining town,  and thanks to his parents being here, we went.

About a 1.5 hour drive from our town is a huge pumpkin patch. Close to it is also an apple orchard and a vineyard. En route we saw rows and rows of greenhouses. There is a whole establishment dealing in producing tomatoes. It was beautiful and made all of us day dream about opening something on a similar scale like this back in India. Hopefully, some day we will!

With our hand picked pumpkins dumped in the car, we drove to the Apple Annie’s Orchard. After having a light snack of bean burritos (which were similar to our Indian Rajma roti) and pasta salad at the pumpkin patch, it was time for dessert at the orchard. I had the best tasting cider donuts there. V’s mom, who a day before, had vowed to not eat a donut again, was tempted so much by the smell, that she ordered for all of us. A testimony to the taste would be that there was a 20 minute wait to get your own freshly made cider donut. It was crisp and perfectly sweet.

We also tried there homemade ice cream and their apple pie- which was really good. Though, normally I like making my own breads and cakes, but with everything tasting so good, I was tempted to try some of theirs and got the pumpkin and apple bread home. I was not disappointed at all.

Having had our dose of apples and pumpkins, it was time for some wine tasting 🙂 . Who would have thought to find a vineyard in Arizona! After tasting 13 different wines, we finally bought two bottles of their gold medal winning sparkling wine. I’m not a big fan of wine- but champagne I like and this tasted more like champagne, so I’m glad we brought back some home.

The next day we drove to Alpine, a small hill station with a Swiss-like setting.

The drive to Alpine is very scenic and the fall colored trees en route made the drive all the more captivating.

With a really hectic last week, this weekend we chose to take it easy. Did some grocery shopping and bought candy for the trick-or-treaters. Friday, I carved my first pumpkin ever.

I was really excited about Halloween. I just think its a fun holiday- people dressed up in costumes, houses decorated, candies galore- it’s just so festive. V’s dad probably was even more excited than me. He had been going to the library and reading Halloween stories and then coming back home and reciting them to all of us. On Sunday, he made a Halloween poster that we put outside near the entrance. V and I gifted him a Halloween t-shirt which he sportingly wore! Even though we had a good stock of candy, thanks to my friends who had warned me that a lot of kids come to the lane where our house is, we still ran out and V had to rush to the store to get more. The second lot, too, vanished with as much speed as V got them. Finally, we decided to shut off our lights and move out, since the kids were still coming in large numbers (felt bad doing it but had no choice- no amount of candy was enough for the crowd we got!). Overall, a fun two weeks. Will be back soon with some recipes!