Parenthood and other things + Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

19 Feb

Being a parent is the most fortunate thing to happen to anyone -  seems like an overstatement but I think it’s absolutely true. When Mimi was born, it took me a while to step out from the state of awe. Tiny and vulnerable, my new-born looked like the most exquisite thing I had ever laid my eyes on. Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I didn’t take to motherhood naturally. It took me a great while to figure her out. I was too scared to trust my instincts or for that matter even my husband’s as far as Mimi affairs were concerned. Be it her colicky experience, her natural tendency to run before she started walking, her difficulty in pronouncing ” Y” and “Th” words ( words like yellow were pronounced as Lello and Bath was Baff).  Rather than trusting my own instincts, I would look up the internet or talk to my mother who I thought is the authority in raising a child since she managed to make something out  of me! But over a period of time, I have understood Mimi and my instincts are better positioned to work and deliver.

photo (8)

Despite having four solid years of experience of raising a child, both my husband and I still struggle when it comes to trusting our instincts as parents. It becomes increasingly difficult especially when a credible source like school and especially your child’s teacher tells you certain things about your child that you find difficult to refute. It was when Mimi joined nursery that I went back to work. It was  a trying time for both of us because we spent nearly 3.5 glorious years together before this abrupt separation happened. ( including the pregnancy months when I took a sabbatical from work)

CF4

The first year passed incident-free but the second year onward we received a steady stream of complaints from school regarding her behaviour. Mimi suddenly resorted to displaying sudden bursts of temper and several cases of disobedience. These complaints did not cease even after several attempts of intervention with Mimi. We, as parents, were at our wits end. The teacher and school started to label her as someone with ADHD and that increased our anxiety levels beyond imagination. Every single day was spent trying to make Mimi understand about good behaviour but none seem to work. Somehow we resigned to believe that maybe Mimi did have ADHD and perhaps as the teacher suggested would need medical attention and therapy.  We spoke to several counselors, Psychotherapists and child psychiatrists and each one of them strongly recommended that we should wait it out because at 3  years it was too early to diagnose anything. It was the most grueling time for us as parents and midst all of this confusion, the school gave us a hard time questioning our parenting skills.

CF1

Finally, after months of sleepless nights, we decided to trust our instincts and take her off the school especially when certain stray incidents of discrimination came to my knowledge. It was as if the school did not want her too. Truce was declared and Mimi spent  several months at home doing what she liked – painting, writing, watching her favourite shows, eating wonderful food and chilling out. What surprised me was that she was  a completely different person at home as compared to how the teachers projected her – A devil child.

For a parent, there no bigger grief trust me.

Once she was off school, there was collective sigh of relief and life went on.  Towards the beginning of a new year, I went up to one of the smaller nurseries in town and requested them to take Mimi. The new school gladly took her and Mimi began a new life with new classmates, new teachers and a brand new atmosphere. By the grace of God, she took to this new school rather easily and the positive environment did a good deal of good. Her beautiful character sparkled through and she started to enjoy the new tryst. There were never any complaints from school and we thanked our lucky stars that she found a loving environment that cherishes her for what and who she is.

We are so happy that we trusted our instincts and got her off the previous school without falling for the teacher’s random observations of Mimi having ADHD. These days ADHD has become the easiest label given to a child who is slightly naughty. I feel it is utterly unfair when schools and their ‘qualified’ teachers assume this easy way of relinquishing all responsibility when it comes to handling children with different capacities and energy levels by pronouncing them as either developmentally slow or suffering from ADHD.

Hence a lesson to learn from our bitter experience would be always, ALWAYS trust your own instincts in matters relating to your child.

Only yesterday we got to know that Mimi got accepted at the “Big School” after a thorough interview process and fantastic recommendation from her current school. We are so proud of her and how she has transformed in the last 6-8 months with the new school. It is a big milestone for us as parents and a beautiful opportunity for Mimi. This joyous moment called out for something sweet and beautiful and the chocolate pistachio fudge was the right choice – instinctively. :-)

It asks for very few basic ingredients and very little prep. It is fudgy and full of chocolate goodness. You would be surprised how quickly these vanish – these little bites of heaven. Enjoy these one at a time with your children and treasure every moment spent with them because time’s flying away. Wishing you all a terrific mid-week!

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

Click to see the enlarged picture of the recipe card

 

On why there is no need to lead a deficient life & a healthy Vegetable Couscous recipe

15 Feb

Now if all the Valentines gifts have been unwrapped and the chocolate puddings have been licked off the spoon, can we talk about something serious today? Not serious as much as important. Have you been feeling a little under the weather lately? For the past lets say one or two or three months or even more than a year? When I say under the weather, I mean a few aches and pains in the body, wee bit tiredness to chronic fatigue and mild depression even on a sunny day. Well then it is something you should not simply sit upon and do nothing about.

I started experiencing these symptoms for as long as I can remember. A year or two years perhaps but I attributed it to the fact that I was prone to depression from time to time. But lately for the past several months I began to experience chronic fatigue. The inability to get up from my bed to do normal chores and to go about my hectic day made me feel terrible. I suspected it had something to do with the new work-out routine or a change in diet perhaps. I respected my body’s wishes and didn’t push myself and waited for it to reach back to me with refilled buckets of energy. Unfortunately it did not happen. This lack of energy, a general lassitude and mild every-day depression began to affect me and the people that I love the most in my life. It was during a rigourous interval training session with my trainer that I confided feeling low and he remarked that I wasn’t giving my best to the routine. He then suggested to get my blood checked for Vitamin D deficiency and Thyroid. I got my tests done and found out that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I was prescribed Vitamin D3 along with Calcium by the doctor.  It has been two weeks since I have started with the medication and I feel better already. I feel energized or perhaps these are my normal energy levels that are being restored. My moods aren’t dark and gloomy and I look forward to each day with renewed optimism.

C3

There is no feeling bigger, greater than feeling like your own self. 

Couscous

Couscous

C1

Vitamin D deficiency occurs for the following reason:

  • Darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.
  • If you spend a lot of time indoors during the day.  I stay indoors in office most of the time and when I go home its quite late.
  • If you cover your skin all of the time. If you wear sunscreen or wear full sleeves clothes
  • If you have been a vegetarian all your life. Growing up I have had a vegetarian diet thereby excluding crucial Vitamin D food sources such as Fish, eggs (very sparingly) and liver.
  • You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells and people with body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

And many more. You can look up for material on the internet to educate yourself on the causes of this deficiency.

Suffering from Vitamin D deficiency can have several implications:

  • Not having enough Vitamin D through food sources or the sun or supplements can lead to your body absorbing less calcium and there by affecting calcium metabolism in the body
  • The above reason would lead to the general aches and pains in the body
  • Not feeling enough sun is a common cause for depression as well
  • Above all the fatigue is killing.
  • Long term deficiencies lead to  increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, asthma in children and even cancer.

I am not a medical practitioner but since the time I got to know of my deficient levels which in turn made me live a deficient life, I educated myself about its implications and causes. Hence by all means you can question all the matter that has been included in the post but if you do feel any thing like I have felt in the past 1 year or so, its worth considering a blood test.

C2

Since good health is the topic for the day, I have included a healthy couscous recipe which is not only filling but also extremely healthy. The couscous that we get in a packet here is pre-cooked so all that is needed is soaking it in hot stock or simply boiling water. The coucous fluffs up beautifully absorbing the flavour of the liquid of choice. To this I added some stir fried vegetables such as broccoli, aubergines, beans, carrots, onions etc. Basically, you can add any vegetable that you like. I used up the lot that was in my vegetable tray for a week and couldn’t think of a better way of using them up.

It is one of my favourite recipes that is extremely easy to whip up and is delicious too. I alter the quantity of couscous and use more vegetables to make it healthier. You can reverse the equation and make it couscous heavy and less vegetables. The other option to make this dish rich is to add lightly fried paneer or even raisins and nuts. Eggs match well too. So the versatility of this recipe is boundless. You can use a vegetarian stock or a chicken stock and the couscous swells up beautifully to the chosen flavour.

C4

With this I come to the end of my post. My next post would be about a chocolate pistachio fudge which is beyond addcitive. I share my foodie life on Instagram at @sliceofmylyfe and if you like what I do on my blog, I am sure you would love my Instagram feed even more.Happy weekend everybody!

Hello, I love you….

12 Feb

It is that time of the year where corny rules and cheesy is the flavour of the day. Valentine’s Day is a week away and my inbox is spammed with emails from chocolates and flower companies with shopping suggestions. As years have rolled on, Valentine’s day for me isn’t about fluttering heart beats and romantic cards anymore. As a matter of fact, the only times I have been aware of this love-day was when my husband surprised me with gifts. Even he knows that this day doesn’t stir me though I appreciate all his efforts. But this year, it was different. This new person in my life just blew my mind away with the most wonderful gift. I know now that you can never be too old for mush.

RVB4

Do you see that little red heart in the center of the red velvet I and U?

My baby made it for me. She drew a heart which she claimed was only as big as her own heart that beats “thud thud , thud thud”. She coloured it with her red colour pencil and used her child-friendly scissors to cut the heart out. She came up to me while I was busy with something in the kitchen and called out, “Hello, I love you..”

I turned around to see her holding out this little red paper heart out to me.

“Happy Valentines Mamma. Keep this in your purse. I made it for you. Don’t ever lose it.”

I took it from her tiny fingers that were dented from the intense pressure of colouring the paper heart.

RVB3I stood in the kitchen holding the paper heart long after the little artist was gone. I placed it delicately in the palms of my hands wondering how much I loved this little person. To have her reciprocate in this fashion was the ultimate joy I have ever experienced. My child is growing up and she is exploring different emotions. I sense a change in her and in the way she reacts to the world around her, including me. Her reciprocation blew my mind away. For that moment, I felt she loved me more than I thought I loved her. I slid her precious heart in my purse and as I looked up I saw her observing me. She smiled because she was happy I was following her instructions.

RVB2

When I got back to my chores, I noticed her rummaging through my purse to make sure her heart was in the right place and safe. Satisfied, she went back to doing her own thing. That is when I thought of making these lovely red velvet chocolate brownies to show my 4 year old how much I appreciate her gift of love. I used a red velvet recipe to capture the colour of her red paper heart that went “thud,thud thud thud”.

RVB1

The recipe makes a very small batch – just enough to please a 4 -year-old girl. 16 pieces in all but full of chocolate and red velvet goodness. I refered to Averie Cook’s recipe to make these decadent plum coloured beauties.

The recipe is below in the recipe card (click on it to see the enlarged version). I urge that you make this small batch of beautiful red velvet brownies and see how happy it makes your loved ones.

RVB5It is remarkable how love takes different forms as we grow older. Its meaning and its essence changes over time and becomes mellow and enduring. My daughter’s eyes lit up the moment she saw this chocolate covered squares and I realized I hit a home run.

Hope everybody has a beautiful Valentines.Celebrate love, celebrate closeness and feel lucky.

This post was a part of the Valentine’s Day celebration at Brilliant Earth - Love is in the air.

“Crabby” Chocolate Croissants from Nigella Express & why cooking can change your life

7 Feb

My love affair with Nigella’s recipes is legendary. I already have all her popular cook books and by the end of April this year, I will have added another one of her books to my ever – burgeoning collection of books. My poor book case in groaning under the weight of so many books and soon I would have to buy a new one or build a make shift one to accommodate the new ones.

On back to the point of this post. In this post, I share Nigella’s Cheat’s chocolate croissant. When I watched the video, I couldn’t believe making a croissant could be this simple. Well they are cheat’s croissants and so they had to be quick and hassle -free. This year, I hope to undertake the real croissant challenge working my way through the layers of pastry sheets and tubs of butter.

C1

When I made mine, they turned out to be slightly different looking as compared to Nigella’s.  Says a lot about my incredible crafting abilities. My chocolate croissants looked like crabs heavy in the middle after a large meal. But, but , but, they were enormously delicious! Isn’t that what we want at the end of it all. So I thought I should rightfully call these croissants “Crabby” ( only in the way they look and not crabby- mood inducing)

Step-by-step instructions

Step-by-step instructions

C4

For the recipe you could see this incredibly engrossing video of Nigella doing her cheat’s chocolate croissant for Nigella Express.

Usually I am a very keen cook and I love spending time in the kitchen dishing out home made meals. But off – late, I am all about lazy cooking and cheat’s meals. Guess its the weather in Bahrain that is making me snuggle up on my couch and eat whatever I can lay my hands on. It was then I came upon this very interesting video my Micheal Pollan ( Fantastic , fantastic author of the book called “Cooked“) To anybody who enjoys to read about now culture intersects with food and behavioral patterns, this book is for you. 

I want anyone who is reading this blog to watch this video with all the care and attention you can. In here, Micheal Pollan stresses why and how cooking can change your life! It completely transformed my perspective about how powerful it is to take control of what we eat and feed our families. Learning how to cook and/or applying ourselves in the kitchen can result in long term health and other benefits.

 

C2Michael Pollan’s empowering thought process sure had enough pull to get me off the couch and start cooking again instead of reaching out for comforting / addictive packets of food that are so easy to make. Hope it makes you all who don’t cook enough at home, sit up and make that conscious promise to cook and eat healthy.

Next weekend, I have my favourite comfort food – Couscous and vegetables – that I will cover on my blog. Make sure you come back for this healthy couscous recipe. Take care and happy weekend, all!

An exciting evening at the Burger Lounge, Amwaj enjoying the AliaApproved Burger experience

31 Jan

There has been a sudden shift in the way this region (specifically Bahrain) has started to embrace social media and its power to influence. Since last year September I see an ongoing flurry of activities surrounding Twitter, Facebook and Instagram wherein all the PR and event management companies are roping in bloggers as partners. As a blogger and as someone who uses social media quite actively, I am quite taken by this new phenomenon. Winds of change are here and some very smart and intelligent PR companies like Obai and Hill understand that bloggers are that unbiased channel whose opinions people trust . This technology savvy bunch of girls at Obai and Hill have been creating events that are quite a new experience because they not only include the traditional channels such as magazines and newspapers but also bloggers who have their own follower base and influence on the WebSphere.  Perhaps Obai and Hill could be the trend setters here in the region who have begun branding their clients’ products and services and promoting them using all possible media.

Well done Team Obai and Hill!

burger lounge

Alia Almoayed

Being a part of this sassy PR and Design company’s events means you are in for a good time. I say this with experience because very recently I happened to be invited to the AliaApproved Burger event at Burger Lounge in Amwaj. The Burger Lounge has launched its very first Local Celebrity burger Campaign opening with the “AliaApproved’ Burger. The place was packed with magazines and newspaper representatives and bloggers on a chilly Thursday evening . Burgers were being served with onion rings and dips. There were bowls of exotic looking ice cream desserts doing rounds as well. Everybody was enjoying their fare and the atmosphere was boisterous. I attended this with a dear friend of mine, Farheen and we had good girls evening out clicking selfies on Instagram. All in all it was an enjoyable evening where I met with some blogger friends whom I only manage to meet during such events.

selfie

About the Burger : What makes the AliaApproved Burger special? Well, it is vegan! In a meat loving country, vegan options are next to impossible to find. But here we have Bahrain’s leading food and nutrition expert, Alia Almoayed designing a special burger that is vegan. People are bound to be curious and would definitely be willing to get a taste of the AliaApproved Burger. The burger has been made by grinding cooked brown rice, lentils, mushrooms, carrot and spices. These flavorsome patties are then topped with caramelized onions and nestled between two fresh and crunchy lettuce leaves. This was served with guacamole and sweet potato crisps.

A match made in heaven!

 My hearty congrats to Obai and Hill team for hosting such an exciting event and best wishes to Ms. Alia Almoayed and Burger Lounge for creating this special burger which is not only dairy free but also gluten free! All the readers in Bahrain, I urge you to go and try the AliaApproved Burger at the Burger Lounge in the Amwaj Lagoon to indulge in your favourite burger whilst remaining absolutely guilt free.

About the Burger Lounge

Burger Lounge is a unique concept restaurant that serves ‘burgers with style’ in a sleek and a stylish set up located directly facing the Lagoon in Amwaj Island. Burger Lounge specializes in creating and serving delicious, mouth – watering burgers made with the finest ingredients.

Goat Cheese, Prunes and Pistachio Savory cake

24 Jan

Traditionally, cake would evoke images of sweet bakes with or without frosting. In France, cakes can be sweet as well as savory. The French savory cakes use ingredients such as strong tasting cheeses, ham, prunes etc. while the Americans call it a loaf or bread such as zucchini bread, tomato bread, cheese bread and such. These savory cakes/ breads are  served in France as before dinner treats along with drinks. This particular savory cake that I share with you today is a Rachel Khoo recipe. I have been following Rachel Khoo’s inspiring story and her videos on BBC. You can read her story in this interview here.

CPPC2

Ms. Khoo calls herself a ‘Food creative’ which is a title good enough to create intrigue. She promises that her’s is a fresh approach to all things edible. Flipping through her recipes made me believe that she does keep her promise. Her recipes seem simple yet interesting enough through their flavour combinations. I have tried two of her recipes and both of them turned out marvelous. One of them was the flourless chocolate swirl cake and  then I attempted this savory cake.

CPPC5

I was quite sure that my family was going to reject this unusual cake on the table for evening tea. The strongly flavoured goat cheese, the soft sweetness of the prunes and the nutty flavour of the pistachio rendered the cake an exotic taste. My family was hooked. I served it toasted and with salted butter. It is a match made in heaven.

CPPC7

The next time I make it I would love to see how it would taste with whole wheat flour. If it works well, then I have a healthier version to keep for future use. What I also loved about the loaf is the fact that despite it looking so simple it photographed so well. The hint of green from the pistachio, the black from the prunes and the white from the goat cheese against the yellow-brown load looked wonderful.

CPPC4I see my list of bookmarked recipes and am startled to find that most of them are Rachel Khoo’s recipes. It goes on to show much her recipes have drawn me in. I have to get her “My little Paris Kitchen” or her latest cook book ” My little French Kitchen” which I hear has her own hand – drawn illustrations.

CPPC6

For the recipe, here goes:

CPPC1

Hope you guys try this cake and see for yourself how wonderful savory cakes are as well. I am a convert for sure.

The last of my bucket list : Khandvi

18 Jan

How much I enjoy cutting off items on my list! I don’t regard myself as some one with an OCD yet when it comes to making plans and lists, I may just be one. The final item on my list which I finished before the end of the year was Khandvi. Khandvi is a savory snack from the Indian state of Gujarat. I am extremely fond of Gujarati food because I was brought up there. Though my roots are in Kerala, my heart is with Gujarat. I speak and write fluent Gujarati but not my mother tongue which is Malayalam. Every October, during Navratri, I pine to go to Ahmedabad (where I did my Engineering degree) to enjoy the 9 days of festivity. Then comes Uttarayan, the festival of kites in January which I miss more than ever. When I think of Gujarat, I think of vibrant colours, cheerful and hospitable people and lip smacking food. Gujarati food tends to be sweet, even the savory ones. It is believed that a meal is not complete until it encompasses all the tastes of savoury, pungent, sweet, bitter and tangy. This holistic approach to food makes Gujarati food satisfying.

K2My mother mastered a lot of typical Gujarati recipes including dhokla and handvo. I have never managed to get any of these right at the first attempt. It only means these recipes are a bit tricky to master and require considerable practice. I had a similar experience while making Khandvi where it took me to two back – to- back attempts to get it right.

K4Khandvi is prepared usually from bengal gram flour but it can also be made using moong dal/ mung bean flour as well. The flour is mixed thoroughly with yogurt or butter milk and spiced with tumeric and ginger-green chilly paste. This is cooked on a low flame until the flour-yogurt mixture is done well. There is a test to figure out whether the Khandvi will roll without breaking. For that, you need to scoop a spoonful of Khandvi batter and apply it on a greased plate ( with oil). Let the Khandvi cool and with delicate fingers try and roll it out. If the Khandvi does not roll it means the batter is not done and needs more cooking. Sounds easy? Its NOT!! After rolling out the Khandvi, it is tempered with sesame seeds, mustard seeds, dried red chillis and curry leaves. The final touch is to garnish it with chopped, fresh coriander leaves and fresh grated coconut.

Khandvi should melt in your mouth! Mine did and I was happy the way it turned out.

K9I used the Late Tarla Dalal’s recipe – the pioneer MasterChef of India. She passed away last year leaving behind a legacy of amazing regional recipes and ‘Continental’ ones too. If you want to take a look at Tarla Dalal in action, here’s the link.

Here’s the recipe for people who are intrigued enough to try it themselves. It is a great recipe and so simple too. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.

K1

Now that I cleared my bucket list, I was meandering  around my statistics and discovered what my top 5 recipes posts have been in 2013.

1. The Apple turnovers

apple turn overs

2. The Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

blueberry swirl cheesecake

3. Poached eggs in baked beans

poached eggs

4. Flourless Chocolate – Orange Cake – Nigella recipe

choc orange

5. Chocolate Mousse

chocolate mousse

It has been a fantastic year for me as far as my culinary achievements go. Crossing off a culinary bucket list, visiting France and enjoying oysters  on my birthday, contributing recipes and other food related articles to magazines and attending several food related events in Bahrain have been the highlights. All this reflection and contemplation on the year gone by only tells me that there is so much to do in 2014 that I can hardly wait to start. I take this opportunity to thank each one of you readers of  my blog who take time out to come to my space and leave your thoughts in the comments section. Reading these comments always, ALWAYS  makes my day. It only means that you do enjoy my words and this creative space of mine. Thank you again!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,164 other followers

%d bloggers like this: