Saturday, March 31, 2012

Getting Ready to Plant

This time I want to start everything from seeds rather than buying plants for my garden. To get a head start, I planted seeds indoors and here is what I have so far. Planning to plant some of these out this weekend. The ones seen in the picture are sunflower, corn, beans, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, radishes and cucumbers. I have been collecting my used tea paper cups at work and recycled them as containers for these seedlings. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fennel Fronds

These Fennel leaves are from our backyard. I sprinkled some fennel seeds from my pantry in the soil during winter. Plants came out in spring but they are not growing as tall as I thought they would. Might be a different seed variety. And there was no bulb to the root either.
Anyhow, I want to utilize these fennel fronds at least. They have such a nice aroma and sweet anise flavor. I am trying to figure out the ingredient to marry these delicate leaves with. Will keep you posted :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Ugadi

Clock-wise - Jalebi, Purnam laddu, Ugadi Pachadi

Ugadi is the beginning of our New Year. It's celebrated in southern states of India and of course by South Indians all over the world. We had Ugadi pachadi first thing today. I like the concept of Ugadi pachadi that should be eaten on this New year's day. It symbolizes that life is a mixture of all experiences and should be accepted as we go through it. All six ingredients in this mixture represent different emotions like happiness, sad, anger, disgust, fear and surprise.
With no specific proportions, I used below ingredients to make pachadi.
  • Tamarind extract 
  • Mango pieces
  • Dry Neem flowers
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Jaggery

Wish you all a Happy and Prosperous Ugadi!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Simple Joys - Guava with Salt and Chili Powder

Every time I visit Indian store here, I look for Guavas. They are one of my favorite fruit. I like them when they are semi-ripe and crunchy, not the smelly ripe ones. Guava is good just as it is but with a touch of salt and red chili powder it's a perfect harmony of sweet, spice and saltiness. I had a blast when I visited my Husband's grandma's place in India. They have a huge Guava tree in front yard bursting with fruit. I literally stayed under the tree during the whole time I was there :). Here is a picture of the fresh fruit we picked then.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St.Patrick's Day

We went to see the St.Patrick's Day parade in our town yesterday morning. Despite the chilling 48 degrees weather, it was so much fun. Sharing few pictures taken with my cell phone (clarity is not that great though)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dulce de leche Brownies

It feels like we just started the New year and it's already March. Days are flying by so fast. Here in California we have a mild winter this time, so it's almost like Summer back to back. I didn't have to unpack any of our winter jackets. One thing I am very happy about is the early start for gardening. Since I am a newbie gardener, I am excited to try different plants.

Before I made these brownies, I would never give brownies a second look. I felt that they are very monotonous. But I have to admit that I am totally wrong, regular brownies can be transformed to mouth watering treats with multiple layers of flavor. I was enlightened with this truth while watching The Pioneer Woman show on Food Network. So, I adapted the recipe from there and changed few things like using dulce de leche instead of regular caramel sauce. The procedure is little time consuming but totally worth it. I took these brownies to work for a potluck and they got the nick name as "Sinful Brownies" :)

What you need:

1 box (18.25 oz) of Milk Chocolate cake mix ( I used Betty Crocker)
3/4 cup fine chopped Almonds
1/3 cup + 3 tbsp Evaporated milk
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 can Dulce de leche  (1 can = 13.4 oz)
2 tbsp Powdered sugar for light coating

Steps to Follow:
(Pictures below will give an idea)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a bowl combine cake mix, 1/3 cup evaporated milk and melted butter until everything comes together. Dough will be thick.
  3. Divide the dough into two parts and keep half of it in fridge
  4. Press remaining half of it into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside
  6. In a microwaveable bowl add dulce de leche with 3 tbsp evaporated milk and heat it in 20-30 sec and mix it very well. Sauce should be pourable. If it is too thick, microwave for another 20-30 sec
  7. Pour this sauce on baked layer and spread it to coat evenly. 
  8. On top of the sauce, sprinkle an even layer of chocolate chips and chopped almonds
  9. Now comes the tricky part, take the remaining dough on a parchment paper and using your fingers spread it into a square slightly smaller than the pan, it doesn't have to be perfect.
  10. Careful lift this layer and place it in the pan (on top of chocolate chips and chopped almonds)
  11. Bake it for 20-25 min. Remove from oven and let it cool.
  12. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  13. When ready to serve sift powdered sugar on top and cut into desired size squares

Base layer
Dulce de leche, chocolate chips and chopped almonds layer
Spread the remaining dough into a square
Place it as top layer in the pan