Monday, February 20, 2012

Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be...

This song has been on replay ever since I heard that Whitney Houston passed away. It was the only song I liked of hers and I used to listen to it nonstop back while we (me and the siblings) were growing up along with Elton John's Sacrifice and Richard Marx's Right here waiting for you, these are the songs I remember constantly rewinding and playing, till everybody got sick of it. This song of hers made an impact more than any other song of that era because it was not the usual sappy love songs every other pop singer was churning out. This was about learning to be courageous and living a life of dignity, and growing into a good human being. It is a song about overcoming obstacles, learning from experiences and discovering who you really are in the process. You realise that you have to first learn to love yourself before you expect others to do the same. At that impressionable young age, this song really meant a lot... especially the last stanza where she sings about finding that special somebody, "And if I chance that special place, that you've been dreaming of, leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love." It was that age, when you're in love with the idea of falling in love... and I think this is what the lyrics mean, after you evolve into a secure person who is not afraid to face life, you will chance upon the special person you've been dreaming about and when you're with him make sure he is the real deal. His love should continue the process of self evolution, it should make you a better person. Your love in each other should be something sacred (my catechism influence) you become better individuals because of each other and therein lies your strength. This song was actually written by a woman suffering from cancer, she wanted to show her children the way to live a meaningful life... this explains its poignant nature. 

The day she died, I couldn't seem to shake off the feeling of sadness that engulfed me... it was the same when Michael died. When you hear news like this, its like a video plays in your head of the past, of the way you were... how they were a part of that memorable, fun and uncomplicated childhood. And you wonder why they didn't derive the same strength from their songs... the same happiness that infused the warm little homes that built us...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Chocolate mug cake...

So I was craving something chocolatey the other day and remembered the 'cake in a mug' recipes I had seen online, so decided to try one out. Was a little skeptical at first, didn't really expect the cake to turn out well.  Was surprised when it came out perfect and fluffy like a normal cake after 2 minutes in the microwave. I don't really know how this process would work with a normal sized cake, but this cake in a mug recipe is simply wonderful. It would have been even more scrumptious with some ice cream or chocolate sauce... 

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour 
(which is really maida, a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of baking soda)
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 heaped Tablespoon cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons whisked egg
a splash of vanilla essence
Chocolate chips 

 Run the maida, baking powder and baking salt through the sieve. All the ingredients can be mixed directly in the cup, I did it in a bowl cause I wanted a clean cup for the pictures.
 Add the sugar and the cocoa powder, to the all purpose flour.
 Drop in the milk, oil, whisked egg and the splash of vanilla essence.
 Mix it with a spoon till you get a smooth batter, and then pour it into the cup that can be used in a microwave.
 Now, I didn't have chocolate chips, so I used some dark chocolate that was lying around in the fridge. I chopped up a few pieces and added it to the cake batter.
 Here is the batter all ready to go into the microwave.
Set the timer for 2 minutes and watch the magic unfold, this was one of the reasons I was eager to try this cake. It's like a volcano... a chocolate volcano. Wait a few minutes and then dig in... its super soft and fluffy, like any ordinary cake. Mine was a little less sweet, which was okay with me.. if you prefer more sweet add another tablespoon of sugar to the batter. This is great for on the spot desserts for two people, all you need is a little vanilla ice cream to go with it. So try this and let me know how it turned out. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Apple Crumble

So there were a lot of apples at home and by lot I mean at least 3 to 4 dozens. I wanted something that uses a lot of apples but with less fattening stuff like butter and white flour, yet at the same time should taste awesome. Came upon this Martha Stewart recipe and tweaked it a bit to suit my taste. You should try this, it's impossible to go wrong with this recipe and its totally healthy, taste's great too. Like my cousin said, 'It's so full of joy, it's the apple pie equivalent of a baby's smile.' Yeah, me thinks he was smoking something too. 

Wheat Flour:  3/4 cup
Oats: 1 cup
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
Cold Butter: bout 50 gms (you can substitute apple sauce or plain vegetable oil)
Apples (peeled, cored and sliced): 6 or 7 medium sized ones
Cinnamon powdered: 2 to 3 teaspoons
Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup for the crumble topping and 1/2 cup for the apple base
Orange: juice of half an orange

Take the wheat, 1/4 cup sugar and the chopped cold butter in a bowl. Use your finger tips to break the butter into the wheat, till you get a crumb like texture. Instead of butter you can use plain oil or honey, just go with your intuition... cause unlike cake, this thing is not meant to rise or have a fluffy cake interior. This is just the crunchy coating to the sweet soft warm apples that form the base.
Here is the crumb like texture.
Now drop in the oats, salt and mix it up nicely, squeeze everything together and then stick it in the freezer while you work on the apples. Now is the time to watch your favourite show as you peel, core and slice the apples. I watched an episode of The Wonder Years while I worked on the apples, it was the episode where Kevin visits his dad's work place for the day. Kevin doesn't seem to understand why his dad was always in a foul mood whenever he got home from work. At the end of the show, Kevin realises that his dad put family first and that's why he works so hard... and Kevin isn't intimidated by him anymore. As always, my eyes filled up with tears as I saw Kevin and his dad bonding over a telescope as they peer into the night sky. This show always manages to touch a cord within you... it is that beautiful and simple, not like the shows of today, where the standard and content have deteriorated with changing times.
I just had to add a picture of Kevin and his dad...
Okay, getting back to the apples... slice your apples into half inch slices, and drop in the cinnamon powder, the 1/2 cup sugar and the orange juice (just take a few pieces of orange and squeeze them over the apples, make sure the seeds don't fall in). The original recipe calls for lemon juice, but I used oranges and I think this made it even better. You get that distinct orange taste with the sweet caramelized apples, gosh, I loved every bite of this. Give the vessel a nice jolt, shake everything up till all the apples are coated with this cinnamon, sugar mixture.
Dump the apples into a baking pan (it's not necessary to grease and flour the pan, I didn't and it came out pretty well).
Now add the crumble topping uniformly over the apples... and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes (at 210 degree C, that's the temperature I do all my baking) till the apples are soft. You can poke a knife and if it goes in without any resistance then the apples are baked. 
Here it is, just out of the oven and looking great...
There, awesomeness in a dish... I've already made this twice in the same week. It's supremely healthy, I used wheat instead of white flour that the original recipe called for and I cut down on the butter and used honey.
Makes for a great snack, you won't stop eating it... a dollop of ice cream nearby would make this even more perfect.