Indian rice pudding (Khir)

Again I disappeared.  It’s been a busy few months.  This is for 2 reasons.  First of all- I can call myself a freelance writer now, because since my last post I’ve been published in a magazine, and also have a second article coming out in September.  Not food writing- my inability to post a recipe with hard and fast rules and proportions would leave much to be desired in a world where recipes have to be tried out until perfect before publishing.  I’m trying to dabble in popular science writing, but the articles I’ve written so far are geared more towards instruction and consumer awareness.  It’s a start.

Also, my NaniJi- my maternal grandmother- was in the hospital for almost 2 months.  7 weeks to be exact, and nearly 5 of those were in the intensive care unit.  I didn’t hear her voice for over a month, despite visiting her everyday.  She had a breathing tub down her throat, for about 2 weeks, and during that time she was unconscious.  I thought she wasn’t coming back, and all I could do was kick myself for not spending more time with her, asking her more questions, listening to more of her stories.  And she’s a great story teller.  After the breathing tube was removed, she had a tracheotomy done, and still couldn’t talk for nearly a further 3 weeks.  But, she was conscious, and could write out (in Hindi) her demands and needs.  She’d write hilarious things to us like, “I did not poo, but I farted 12 times” after she had made an attempt to use the bathroom.  My family may be a little too close, perhaps, but I’m lucky to have them all.

So, my grandmother is home.  We are happy, so happy.  She’s weak, but when she is stronger I am going to wring every story and bit of wisdom I can from her.  And I’m also going to get her and her son- my schizophrenic, but kind and well-meaning uncle- to teach me how to properly read and write Hindi.  I can get by, but very, very slowly.  It’s painful for my family, I’m sure…like watching a 6 year old sound out words in a story book.

In honour of my grandmother, and the joyful eating of sweets that comes with happy occasions in an Indian household, I’m going to post a loosey-goosey recipe for khir.  Indian rice pudding.  My grandmother used to make the best rice pudding, for she’s been too weak over the last couple of years to do so.  I hope she’ll be willing to sit at the kitchen and tell me a story while instructing me exactly how to make her version of khir.  Because it really is the best.

To approximately 1 litre of milk, add 1/2 cup of rice.  Now comes the hard part.  Over a simmering heat, stir and stir and stir, until the rice is cooked.  Your arms may get tired.  If you want to eat khir, you will know this is worth the effort.  Once the rice is cooked, remove from heat.  Add about 1/4 cup of chopped nuts and raisins, and a couple tbsps of sugar (adjust to taste).  Also add 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.  Let cool.  Eat!  Should serve about 8 people.

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Just eat it!

Not technically a food post… but the video does list some delicious (and “ethnic”) food. I wonder how much of it Harper has tried?

And it just occurred to me- I think of myself as Canadian first…but am I one of the “ethnic votes” he’s targeting?

Go Ethnics Go!?!?

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Stylish blogger? Moi?

A good friend and fellow-blogger recently awarded me the Stylish Blogger award:

A very generous award, me thinks, given my entire lack of style whatsoever. I think in order to have bragging rights, I must go through with the responsibilities that come with the award. Here goes:

Link back and thank the person who gave you the award.

If By Yes and I have been very good friends since grade 8. Her blog is one of my favourites to follow, and since we now live on opposite sides of the country it makes it easier for me to keep up with what is going on in her life. She writes about battling depression and anxiety in a humorous, non self-pitying way, and now that she is a new mommy she posts incredibly cute pictures of her very cute son (and I’m not a baby person. I think he is the first baby I’ve ever thought of as cute, and I’m not sure if it’s because he is HER baby, or if he just happens to be a baby so cute even I can see it.  I think it’s the latter).

Share 7 things about yourself.

  1. I have a completely irrational fear of ship anchors. They make me very uncomfortable. I think it’s linked to my intense fear of The Deep. I realize scuba diving is amazing and there is so much beauty to be seen in the oceans, but just thinking of being under water for any amount of time terrifies me and instantly makes me feel claustrophobic. That being said, I LOVE BBC’s The Blue Planet. I can learn about the wonders of the ocean floor without having to visit it, and that’s more than good enough for me.
  2. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 22. I didn’t learn how to drive a car until I was 26, and I also didn’t get out of diapers until I was, like, 4. I’m apparently a really, really slow learner.
  3. When I was in Latvia I was almost pick-pocketed by a Russian man. I managed to foil him (he obviously sucked) but he knew that I knew exactly what he had been trying to do. It was a bit awkward, especially since I ran into him 4 times over 3 days. The last time I saw him, I stopped him from trying to take advantage of a young woman with an oversized bag that didn’t zip up, so he could’ve just reached in and grabbed what he liked. I left that same day, which is lucky because I’m not sure it would’ve been overly safe for me to be there after that point.
  4. I have flat-feet and require the use of orthotics. My feet are also very wide, and huge (size 9 or 10, depending). This is a godsend, because otherwise I suspect I would be the type of girl who had way too many shoes. Shoes in my size that have removable foot-beds to allow orthotics are either very ugly, or very expensive. Such a tragedy my life is, really.
  5. A monkey once grabbed a bag of bananas from me. And then proceed to eat the bananas. While watching me. I was 8. It was my birthday.
  6. I’ve been watching Days of Our Lives for the last 6 months. At first it was because I wanted to spend time with my extended family by having tea with them, and Days happened to be a show my grandmother followed at tea time and she required an English-Hindi translation of the ridiculous events happening on screen. Now I watch because I’m seriously curious whether the truth will ever come out that EJ and Stefano replaced Sammy’s husband Rafe with an imposter. The real Rafe has had his memory wiped, of course, and is now being kept in an insane asylum, and the fake Rafe is getting away with the act because the real Rafe had had a bad accident right before the switch, so he can blame everything newly weird about him on “the accident.” Craziness!
  7. I’m really glad I got this award because it gave me an excuse to blog. I haven’t been in the mood to cook much lately, and I find it hard to write about food when I’m not as interested in it. It’s just been a lot of beans ‘n rice, pasta, or my mum’s delicious home-cooking lately. Or kale and cous-cous salad.

Award 5 recently discovered blogs.

  1. The Frazzled Foodie The Frazzled Foodie is an understated Patricia Volk-esque food blog.  I love her family-recipe stories, and her kids (“kitchen helpers”) are adorable.
  2. Plateful showcases beautiful, mouth-watering pictures and recipes of South Indian dishes.  Can we say mmmmm?
  3. Top Five Parenting A parenting blog I’ve only very, very recently begun reading.  So far a grounded, interesting, non-judgmental read (EDIT- I just realized she hasn’t updated in 9 months…but I still think what she has blogged is a worthwhile read).
  4. Organoholic! Organic Food Blog A fascinating blog that asks really fascinating questions about where our food comes from.  The questions do get answered, by the way, so definitely worth the read.
  5. Life is Fare A wonderful blog about eating ethically and consciously.

Contact them and tell them about their award.

I think through the wonders of the internet and WordPress dashboards/statistics they’ll be able to figure it out.

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Kale and cous-cous salad

I know. The last thing you are supposed to do when trying to gain readership for your blog is to Not. Blog. For way too long.

Sorry.

It’s been a strange few months. I can’t remember the last time I was so unemployed, and I go back and forth between loving it and hating it. I’m blessed though- my mother let’s me live with her (“I’m your mother. Of course”), and my husband is finishing up (just 2 months and a bit left!) an advanced diploma program that will hopefully lead to him finding work he loves that pays decently, and we will end up in a province where I can find work.

Sigh

I did not get The February Blues this year. I think, I think, because a good friend from university moved back to town at the end of January, and all of a sudden my days were filled up with tea dates, dog-walks, dinners and wonderful conversation and sharing of dreams and ideas. Everytime I talked to my husband on the phone or when he was here on the weekends and asked what I had been up to I’d ramble: “Oh, well, J____ and I did this, and then she said this, oh, and she wants to do this, and then we did this, and then…” An outsider would think I had a highschool crush!

So the point. This dear friend introduced me to this wonderful, wonderful kale salad. My mother loves it too, and I think in the last 3 weeks we’ve eaten it at least half a dozen times. You can eat a surprisingly large amount of it in one sitting. This will serve 2-4.

Ingredients:

~ 1 cup of cous-cous
~ 1 cup of boiling hot water

Place the cous-cous in a large bowl and pour the hot water over it. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes or so. In the meanwhile, saute:

~1 onion
~a couple cloves of garlic
~salt (to taste)

in a couple tbsp olive oil. I like to add chopped peppers here sometimes. When softened, add to the cous-cous. Mix well. Layer about ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup chopped nuts, and ¼ cup crumbled feta, blue cheese, or goat cheese over top of the cous-cous and onion mixture. Steam about 4 cups of chopped kale, and layer this on top of the nuts and cheese. Done! I like to eat this warm or at room temperature, but my friend served it cold (which is almost just as good, but only almost).

Pictures someday. I promise.  Once I find the battery recharger.  And stop getting so excited to eat that I forget to photograph what I’ve made.

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Spinach “Alfredo” Pizza

A good university friend (now cousin-in-law) and I used to make this frequently in our undergrad days. She was home over the holidays, and so we decided to indulge our taste-buds, and revisit the good old days (when it was a lot easier to keep weight off than it is now!)

This recipe has the potential to be excessively calorie rich and very heavy. I remember making authentic Alfredo sauce for a seafood pasta dish that I was serving for a romantic dinner with my husband (then boyfriend). We put in a movie after eating (with no real intention of actually watching the movie)…and immediately fell into deep slumber, our stomachs working overtime to process the richness of our meal.

For the “Alfredo” sauce in this pizza recipe, instead of reducing heavy cream with equal parts cheese, I make a white sauce using whole milk and reduce the amount of cheese used, which makes this easier on the stomach and waist-line. The herbs and spice also alters the flavour, so this is very different from a proper Alfredo sauce, but still good in its own right. I really need to stop calling this Alfredo pizza, but that is how my college friend and I remember it as (I think the original recipe DID use a proper Alfredo sauce, but I altered it quite a bit), and so that is probably how it will always be known to us.

As always, quantities are approximate.

Ingredients (should serve at least 4-6 people, I think)

1 recipe for your favourite pizza dough (to make 1 large-size crust)
2-3 tbsp butter
1-2 tbsp white flour
1- 1½ cup milk (homogenized preferably)
1/2 -¾ cup grated parmesan cheese- more or less according to your preference
2 minced cloves garlic
½ tsp marjoram
pinch of cloves and/or nutmeg and/or black pepper (I use all 3, but when you’re cooking it’s up to you)*
½ package chopped, frozen spinach (thawed)
chopped or sliced onion and/or mushrooms and/or peppers and/or olives and/or tomatoes and/or garlic
½ – 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Make your thick/thin crust whole-wheat/all purpose flour/gluten-free/etc pizza dough, let rise, and all that jazz.

Preheat oven to 425’C (or use whatever temperature your crust recipe requires. I opt for very high temperature and quick baking time when it comes to pizza crust).

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook while whisking for 1 minute. Add milk gradually, whisking to prevent lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened.

Add parmesan cheese, garlic, marjoram, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper to the white sauce. Stir until smooth and thick, then add the spinach. Remove from heat.

Roll out pizza dough, and spread the spinach “alfredo” sauce over dough as you would tomato sauce if making a regular pizza. Put on only as much as you want/need. If you have more than you want, serve the rest over pasta for next days dinner, or serve with sliced baguette as a warm spread while the pizza cooks.

Scatter the chopped vegetables over top, and sprinkle with mozzarella.

Bake in preheated over for about 12-15 minutes (or for however long your crust recipe suggests, but again, I suggest high baking temp and short baking time).   I like to use the broiler for the last minute of baking, so the cheese is deliciously golden and bubbly.

Serve with a crisp green salad and nice white wine.

*I think dill weed (dried or fresh) would be lovely in lieu of the other seasonings

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Salted Tomato’s guidelines for (the best ever!) tomato sauce

I haven’t bought canned or bottled pasta sauce in years. Wait, that’s a lie. I am my mother’s daughter, and I buy anything on sale that is useful in my kitchen. Tomatoes are such a staple for making curries and … Continue reading

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Paneer Paranthas (Cheese stuffed flat-bread)

This week I went to a good friend’s house to cook an Indian feast with him and his family. His son in particular wanted to learn now to make stuffed paranthas. Because my friend is currently on a low carb … Continue reading

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