Sunday, June 25, 2017

Apple crumble!



For a while now, I have been curious about the bottom layer (of digestive biscuits) in Cheesecakes and pie and really wanted to try out an easy recipe, to see how it turns out. So when I had few apples lying around, I instantly decided to make apple crumble. Now this recipe is ridiculously easy and very delicious. If you try it, do post pictures :-)

All you need are:
*few apples (I used 2)
*digestive biscuits or crackers ( I used a packet)
*flour (I used Atta - 1.5 cups)
*Sugar (I used honey approx 1/2 to 3/4 cups)
*Room temperature butter

Procedure:
* Dice the apples to desired size. I cut them medium to small pieces.
* Add some lemon juice to prevent browning
* If you want to add extra flavour or sweetness to your apples, you can add a dash of vanilla essense and some honey.


* Prepare your top crumble layer - 1 or 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour. Add desired amount of sugar or honey. Rub in cold butter to form crumbs as shown in photo


* Bottom crust - Crush a packet digestive biscuits (Some tiny bits and some medium bits).


* Mix with room temperature melted butter and line the bottom of your pan (I used a 7 inch square pan)
* Your crust is now ready

* Arrange your apple layer on top of the digestive biscuit layer


* Add the flour crumble layer on top evenly and pat down gently.


* Bake for 180 C in a pre-heated oven till a golden brown crust is formed.
* Serve warm as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
* Sit back and enjoy :D





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cloth Diaper Laundry - So simple!

When I say Cloth diapers - the first thing I hear is "How do we wash them?!"

Well, it is really simple. Cloth diapers (CDs), are just like your regular clothes - just as simple to use, and just as simple to wash :-) You can use any mainstream detergent to wash them.


For detergents, just check these points:
* No additives
* No fabric softeners (like Comfort)
* No fragrances (Jasmine flavoured, etc)
* No Dettol (Oh please!!)


The next question is - hand wash or machine wash?
Well, that is totally up to you! It depends on how you wash your regular laundry.

You can check my regular wash routine - here.

Few points to keep in mind:* Why no additives, fabric softeners (comfort), etc?
Any extra substance you use on CDs, will clog and cause buildup in the diapers, which will reduce their absorbance and also cause stinking issues.

*Dirty diapers smell a lot, can I use a little Comfort or Dettol to make them smell better?
Err, dirty diapers smell. Obviously - they have been peed or pooped in! If you are using sufficient quantity of a good detergent, then your diapers should come out of the wash smelling fresh and clean.
Absorbance is very important for a cloth diaper.
Any additive or fragrance you use will clog the pores and cause more issues in the longer run.

*What temperature should I was CDs in?
Normally CDs do not require special treatment unless you are facing problems like leaky or stinking diaper. You can regularly wash diapers in normal cold water or at 30 C or 40 C. Using very hot water on CDs may cause the elastics to loosen.


Any questions or queries, feel free to ping or email me and I ll be glad to help you out. Alternatively, Expecting mothers, new mothers, mother looking to cloth diaper your child, you can join the Facebook Group - Cloth Diapering India. It is a support group from Cloth Diapering mothers, with plenty of resources :-)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cloth Diapering - my wash routine

The most common query I come across is regarding washing CDs (Cloth Diapers). I have summarised my every day wash routine below.

I have been CDing for almost 2 years now and I always wash her CDs together with the family laundry in the washing machine.

I have used  
*Surf Excel
*Tide
*Amway SA8 
*Rustic Art (Power Laundry)

Amount of detergent you use for every wash depends on the load - number of clothes and how dirty they are (a day out in the park, more poopy diapers, etc).


This is my wash routine:

* Dirty diaper goes inside a large laundry basket (with holes for air circulation)
* If there is poop, shake the solids into the toilet and flush. You can also spray off the solids into the toilet. Rinse the diaper under tap and store the diaper in the said laundry basket.
* we do our laundry every night.
* Pre wash in cold water, with little detergent (this step is important to remove most of the urine and dirt) so that when the main wash cycle runs, the clothes are washed and rinsed in clean water.
* Main wash at 30 C or 40 C with sufficient detergent depending on the load.
* Once washed, sun dry.

This routine has worked well for me over the past couple of years, while using different detergents too.

Any questions or queries, feel free to ping or email me and I ll be glad to help you out. Alternatively, Expecting mothers, new mothers, mother looking to cloth diaper your child, you can join the Facebook Group - Cloth Diapering India. It is a support group from Cloth Diapering mothers, with plenty of resources :-)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Healthy Veggie Dosa

How nice it feels to give a twist to our regular every day dishes :-) This one is very easy to put together and you can season it to suite your taste buds :D

Ingredients
* Vegetables (as per your choice). I chose - Onions, Carrots, tri-color peppers
* Cumin seeds (optional)
* Dosa batter

Procedure
* Chop the vegetables very very fine. I don't have a photo of the chopped vegetables, but below you can see pictures of the Dosa batter and how I make this Dosa. The vegetables are chopped very tiny.
* Add proportionate amount of veggies to the dosa batter. Depends on how you like your dosa.
*if you want to make really thin dosa, the veggies should be lesser in your batter.
* But if you do not mind thick dosa, you can go ahead and fill your batter with veggies.
* Add a spoon or 2 of cumin seeds as per your taste. I love cumin seeds so I added a bit more.
* Mix the batter well, and add a little bit of water (if needed) to adjust the consistency.
* It should not be too thick or too runny.
*Tip* - if the batter becomes too runny, just add a spoon or 2 of Oats Powder (recipe here) to thicken it ;-) 
* At this point, you may check the batter to adjust salt as per your taste. I normally cook with less salt, so i do not add any extra salt to the batter.
* Place a dosa tawa on the stove in medium heat. Check that it has heated sufficiently and pour a ladle full of dosa batter on the tawa and spread it evenly.
* Add a few drops of oil around the edges of the dosa and cook on meduim flame.
* A couple of minutes later, flip over the other side and cook for few minutes.
* Your super healthy and tasty vegetable dosa is now ready to be served :-)


The batter is ready. Mixed well with vegetables and cumin seeds.

 The dosa batter is spread well on a hot tawa. Add few drops of oil around the edges and cook on medium flame.

One side is done, flip over and cook for a few minutes on medium flame..

Ready to be served with yummy Chutney and Sambar :D

Almond Butter Cookies!!

Every time I make cookies, I love to explore and try new flavours, new textures. This time I have tried my hand at Almond butter cookies :-)

Ingredients
* Almond Butter - here I am using fresh home made almond butter. Recipe here
* Powdered Oats (Recipe here)
* Sugar or Jaggery or Honey (as per preference)

Procedure
* Keep your Almond Butter ready and in room temperature (Recipe here. )

I made 2 batches. One with Jaggery as sweetener and the other with Honey as sweetener.

* Take 2-3 cups of Powdered Oats (Recipe here) in a large mixing bowl and slowly add almond butter to it and keep folding/mixing.
* Add about 3/4th of a cup to 1 cup of Jaggery (as per your taste preference) to this mixture.
* Make sure that the jaggery is well powdered and not in lumps.
* I got a pack of Organic Natural Sugar (jaggery powder) that I used here.
* Keep folding till you get a dough consistency. 
* If the cookie dough is too dry, add more almond butter. 
* If the dough feels buttery, but still not holding together, add a few drops of water or milk.
* break off a small portion and rub well to make a smooth ball.
* Flatten the ball between your palm to make round cookies of desired thickness.
* I use a Halogen Oven for baking. Baked for about 10 minutes at 180C.
* The temperature and timing depends on your oven setting.
* Keep checking the cookies for browning.
* Once done, take it out and let them cool before transferring to an airtight container for storage.

Freshly made Almond butter 


 Almond butter and oats - Cookie dough


 Ready to bake!


 Fresh out of the oven!

Yummmmm!!

My Kitchen Essentials!!

Apart from the regulars, I have a few specific items always readily available in my kitchen :-) I often use these in my recipes and will be referring to them in my posts.

Powdered Oats
I like to use powdered oats in a lot of my recipes. It is healthy and easy to use :-)

* Take a deep frying pan (to avoid the oats from spilling out) and dry roast for about 5-10 minutes
* Normally I turn off the stove just before the colour starts changing.
* Transfer the oats to a large plate for it to cool faster.
* Blend to a a fine powder once cool, and store in an air tight container.

Uses:
* Add a few spoons in regular dosa or idli batter for making an easy version of Oats Dosa.
* If any gravy or batter has become runny, a little bit of this oats powder will thicken it.
* I use this powder in almost all my cookie preparations.
* Mix a few spoons of this powder with Atta to make healthy Oats Rotis or Oats Poori.
* Oats porridge is very easy with this powder. Cooks faster too.
* When making patties or cutlets, you can roll the patty or cutlet in this powder too, instead of bread crumbs.

Garlic bread seasoning


Got this in the local supermarket and absolutely love it!! Gives a mild garlic feel, nothing too strong.
* Usually sprinkled on my sandwiches
* even once in a pasta dressing
* Seasoning for Bread upma :D 

I sprinkle this on any dish I feel like..
I am using the other herbs from this same brand - Oregano, Basil, Mixed herbs, and they are quite good!

Melagu-Jeeraga podi (Pepper-Cumin seeds powder)

This powder gives the nice flavour of cumin seeds along with the spice of peppers. 



* Dry roast some pepper and Cumin seeds individually.
* Allow them to cool down and then blend to a smooth powder.

The quantity of Cumin seeds and pepper depends on personal preference. I prefer more of cumin seeds, so I go for 2:1 ratio (2 measures of cumin seeds). If you want the powder to be more spicy, you can even go for 1:1 ratio.

As both the pepper and cumin seeds are wel roasted before grinding, the powder can be used directly.

Uses
* Final seasoning on rasam, just before switching off the stove.
* seasoning on Fried Rice/pulav for an extra punch.
* In sadnwiches.
* Sprinkled on salads (yummm!)

Sundal Podi

*will check exact proportions and update the recipe*

This is a a very versatile powder that I use extensively in my regular South Indian cooking. As the name suggests, its main use is in Sundal :D

Other uses are:
* Final seasoning for Sambar, to add an extra punch
* Additional flavour in Kootu
* Perfect seasoning for Brinjal fry!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Paal Kova - yummy milk sweet

Few days back I had some extra milk on hand, and I was craving for some sweet. First thing that came to my mind was Paal Kova :) Mom used to make for almost all special occasions and I remember my uncle used to specifically request for this ;-)

Paal Kova is a sweet made of densely condensed milk, with sugar to taste and elaichi powder for flavour.

Back then, we used to spend ages stirring the milk, never moving away from the stove. But over the years, I have learnt to be a little more relaxed.

Ingredients:
* Full Fat Milk
* Sugar 
* Elaichi powder

Procedure:
* Boil the full fat milk with some stirring in between.
* After the milk boils, keep the stove on low and let it continue to boil. The milk should become thicker and reduce in volume
* In between, keep stirring so that milk does not sediment on the side and does not stick to the bottom.
* A thick bottomed vessel is good for this.
 * Slowly you will begin to notice colour change. As th milk thickens to semi solid consistency, add sugar as per your taste. Sugar level depends on your preference.
* Add a bit of elaichi powder to taste. You can use freshly ground elaichi powder or store bought.

In this photo, it is almost ready. The colour has changed and milk and thickened considerably.
    

 At this stage you have to be very careful. It is almost completed. You will know that it is ready when it stops sticking to the sides and starts coming off easily.


Transfer to a bowl and enjoy warm or you can chill and serve as dessert :-)


Note - If I am keeping the kova in the vessel itself, I switch off the stove a few minutes earlier as the vessel will retain some heat and some amount of evaporation will take place even after the stove is switched off. This time, I have immediately transferred to a different bowl, so I ensure that Kova is completely done before switching off the stove :-)


Friday, March 31, 2017

Baby-led-weaning (BLW) - in my words!

In my previous post I had mentioned BLW, which is Baby Led Weaning. Let me give a quick overview :-)

The first 6 months, a baby's intake is only milk. Either breast milk (BM) or formula milk (FM). No other fluids such as -  cow's milk, honey, sugar water, gripe water, etc. Once the baby completes 6 months of age (180 days), solids can be started gradually. Milk (BM or FM) continues to be the primary source of nutrition till 1 year of age.

Another criteria for starting solids is losing the 'Tongue thrust reflex' and ability to maintain sitting posture independently, without support. This does not mean that the child should be able to sit up on their own - just that if made to sit, should be able to continue sitting for a few minutes without support.

Traditionally, at this stage, a baby is spoon fed with watered down rice porridge or mashed foods. But BLW is all about self-feeding, and family food. No special or separate food is prepared for the baby.

Surprised? How can a six month old self feed? That too regular family food?

Well, doesn't your baby keep everything from toys to books to her mouth? That is the natural hand-mouth co-ordination movement. See something nearby, grab it and take it to your mouth. Comes naturally to all babies. The parent just has to discourage that with toys and books, and instead offer food in a plate for the baby to touch, feel, grab and mouth. A baby is hard-wired by nature to self feed and knows to regulate quantity too - meaning, a baby will eat as much as needed, and stop! Quantity is set by baby's appetite and hunger and not by mother's expectation ;-)

BLW is more about introducing different flavours and textures to the baby and less about replacing a milk feed with solid food. In fact, please make sure that milk feeds are not skipped or replaced by solid meal till the baby completes 1 year of age.

Another important aspect of BLW is that baby eats family food (without salt, sugar, chilly and honey for a baby less than 1 year). She sits in the dining table or floor with the rest of the family and eats what they eat. This way baby learns eating habits from the rest of the family and will mimic usage of cutlery, etc.

Disclaimer - Please do your own research before trying BLW with your baby. Check YouTube videos for differentiating between chocking and gagging. When beginning solids, it is but natural and normal for the baby to gag out larger pieces of the food. But there is sometimes danger of choking and you should be prepared for that.

Over the next few weeks I ll be following up with details on first foods that I offered to my baby, the no-salt no-sugar rule and much more :-)

Stuffed veg bun - Toddler's review

As with any dish, my daughter is the deciding authority for this too ;-) So I offered her the evening snack and watched from the sidelines :-P

Let the pictures do the talking ;-)


A vary look - Hmm what is this new dish!


A tentative bite.. Always ready for new adventures ;-)


Oh yummmmmmmm :D

A little while later, half the bun done and most of the veggies inside - completely ignored! :-P


Ah well, little S being a BLW toddler, I give her complete freedom as far as her meals are concerned :-)

Wondering what BLW is? ;-) Coming up in next post... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Almond butter - toddler review!

My toddler is the motivation behind my every recipe and every trial :D If she likes what I cook, it pushes me to make it more often and try more dishes :)
I had used only 1 cup Almond to make butter (previous post) and it all got over almost instantaneously!! :P (Which is why i suggest you make butter from atleast 3 cups of almonds, to last you a bit).
Below are some photos of Little S enjoying the last few licks :)




Monday, March 27, 2017

Home made Almond butter - easier than you think!

After much deliberation, decided to try my hand at Almond Butter today.

Before trying anything new, I check out the method on YouTube. By watching different videos, I get a good idea on consistency, colour of final product, etc. I normally don't stick to measurements and like to eyeball it or taste as I go.. So watching videos makes it easier to get an idea on what to expect :)

You will need:
Almonds
Mixie (blender) or a food processor
Salt to taste .

I took only 1 cup of Almonds. I suggest that you take more.. It will be easier to process and collect if the quantity is more. With just 1 cup of Almonds I had to scrape the butter from the walls of the mixie.

In a saucepan or frying pan, dry roast the almonds for a few minutes on medium heat.. This helps in releasing the oils better.
Now pulse the Almonds to get a well powdered consistency.  In between, keep checking and scrape the almond bits from the walls to get powder uniformly.
once they are well powdered, continue to process and they will start clumping together.
At this stage, you may add salt to taste. I opted for no salt :)
Add a spoon or 2 of any neutral cooking oil.
A couple of more minutes and you will get a smooth buttery consistency.

Your Almond Butter is now ready! I enjoyed it with a slice of bread :-)


Quick Evening Snack - Veg stuffed bun

This stuffed bun is one of my childhood favourites! Mom would whip this up in just 10 minutes!! Easy and very yummy snack :D

Ingredients:
Onion
Tomato
carrot
capsicum (you can use a mix of coloured capsicums too)
butter or Mayo as per your taste
herbs and pepper for seasoning
Jeera for tempering

PS - My mom used to add beans, green peas too. You may add in any veggies of your choice. Cauliflower, potato are good options. Just make sure that they are well cooked.

Method:
Finely chops the veggies and keep them separate.

In a saucepan, add a few drops of oil or ghee and temper jeera.
Add onions and fry till transparent.
Add in the other veggies (tomato, carrot, etc) and saute for a couple of minutes.
Sprinkle some water and let the veggies cook.

Please note - carrot takes a while to cook, so keep checking. if you choose to add other veggies like potato, cauliflower, green peas - make sure they are all well cooked before proceeding further.
Once veggies are well cooked, add salt to taste and mix well.
The stuffing is now ready. Keep aside to cool down a bit

Meanwhile, cut the buns in 2 halves.
add few drops of ghee on a tawa and toast the insides of the bun (golden colour).

Apply mayo on the insides of the bun, add 1-2 spoons of the prepared veggies, sprinkle some pepper, or any herbs like Oregano, Basil, Garlic powder on top - as per your taste.

Tada!! yummy snack is ready.. Enjoy :D



Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cloth diapering? Really??

Hey guys! I am back.. This time about my obsession with cloth diapers :D

Feeling very proud to say that I have almost exclusively cloth diapered my toddler (now 21 months old). Of course occasionally we have resorted to disposables like Pampers or Huggies for emergencies, vacations, etc.. But for the most part, right from the hospital, we've used cloth!!

During pregnancy, when I was often discussing baby care with my mom, she would say, lets go the natural way and avoid chemicals for the baby. So we decided to go with traditional cloth diapering -  with pieces of cotton fabric - from old sarees and veshtis (dhotis).  By  the final trimester, I was part of several mommy groups and thats how I stumbled upon the Facebook Group - 'Cloth Diapering India' (CDI). What a boon it was. Right from the basics, to explaining each kind of Cloth Diaper, to wash care, the group had a wealth of information.


Has it been difficult? Not really.. I am a voracious reader and I love to go through articles and learn new things.. So I spent a very long time just reading the posts on CDI, the links and other member's experiences and formed an idea in my mind.

Then I gathered the courage to spend hundreds of rupees buying loads of cute prints of diapers, regardless of the brand, fit etc (poor, excited me!) And thus began my cloth diapering journey :D and I have not regretted it one bit :D I started off when my bub was just about a month old, with some newborn size diapers and some one size diapers. Over the months, I have tried several brands and as my baby grew, so did our preference and comfort. And with the passing time my stash has evolved a lot!

Just a few photos from down the memory lane, back when she was a squishy baby :)


about 7 months old bub in an Econobum Prefold, held by a boingo!


The same, from the back :-)



 One of our favourites! A gorgeous fitted diaper from Lalubaby :-)

Over the next few weeks, I ll be discussing my Cloth Diapering journey in detail,  along with lots of brand reviews! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our fight against pesky mosquitoes!

It's beginning to get warmer in our part of the world and the one thing I'm glad about is lesser insects! Particularly mosquitoes..

My toddler has insect bite hypersensitivity. Even a single mosquito bite, she breaks into boils and rashes on hands and legs. It has been this way since she was 3.5 months. So I'm forever in search of a good, baby-safe insect repellent! She also has sensitive skin, so I am very careful on what I apply to her skin.

Paediatric dermatologist recommended that Odomos can be used after a baby completes 6 months. So once she completed 6 months, I started applying Odomos regularly!

Odomos is available as a cream, lotion and spray, and I have got all 3. Each application has about 3-4 hours of efficacy, following which you will need to apply again..I like and prefer cream the best. To be honest, the spray has a weird smell to it and not as effective as the cream - in my opinion. Also, for a small baby, we frequently wash hands, legs, they get dirty - so any cream or lotion would get washed off or rubbed off during these activities. Frequent applications however keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Simultaneously I also practiced my tennis skills vigorously using the electric bat at any mosquito that I could see! It gives immense satisfaction to electrocute those flying menaces, but not really an effective long term solution. We also used a mosquito net for a really long time, but it was a task to go in and out of the net without letting mosquitoes in or waking up my girl.. So off went the mosquito net and we settled to trying other products.

The next product I tried was Godrej Fabric Roll-on. I was extremely attracted by the advertisement which said that 4 drops of the liquid on kid's dress (one drop each on both sleeves and trousers) is enough to keep mosquitoes away! SO I promptly ordered one and was highly disappointed with the tiny sized bottle that I received! But nevertheless, gave it a shot.. Although it did seem to be effective against mosquitoes, I could not not bear the distinct odour of the product. Hubby joked - Hey it repels humans too!! And the teeny tiny bottle got over in no time.. and I do not think I ll get this one again..

Next I tried keeping powdered camphor in a bowl of water in the room and replenished the camphor sincerely. As expected, nothing happened.. someone suggested powdered camphor in neem water, and I tried that too.. I think it had Some effect, but not something I could rely on a regular basis..

Followed by spraying citronella oil in the room.. Gave a refreshing aroma to the room and did keep mosquitoes away, but extremely short-lived relief and I soon emptied the bottle of Citronella oil! Next hubby got some agarbathis that were said to contain Citronella and hence mosquito repelling..These are highly unpredictable. Some times they work,  sometimes they just seem to agitate the mosquitoes and they roam around biting us more vigorously.

A friend suggested La Flora Organics - spray and balm - all natural and I thought why not give it a try! I should say, of all the above methods I am satisfied by this so far. I use the spray more than the balm just because spray is simpler. The balm comes in a small container, which we need to rub with a finger and apply all over exposed areas - which I feel is quite tedious. Comparatively, the spray is much simpler. I just spray the oil onto my palm and then rub all over my daughter's hands, legs and neck. 

Sometimes I feel that mosquitoes do bite through thin clothing, so I always apply repellent to back, hips and any other places where I have previously observed mosquito bites. In fact, I have even observed bites on her ears - Poor baby!

The next on my list is Mama Earth mosquito repellent and I have already ordered it.. Will try that for a few weeks and then post a review :)

Apart from products, I always have a tube of Odomos in hand - just to be safe and in case I need.. Also, I mostly dress her in full sleeved dresses, full pants and socks so that the skin exposed for insect bites is less.. I highly recommend getting good quality cotton clothing as it is soft n the skin and not too stuffy or hot!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Shilpa Ramam - a street shopping Experience!

We visited Hyderabad in December 2016 and Shilpa Ramam was on the top of my list to visit. I had heard so much about it!
We started out in the morning itself, and reached even before the place opened :P
Most of the shops were still closed, so we spent a good time walking through the shops, clicking photos.

There are SO many shops, and SO many items to buy that I wish I had spent more time there! We first stopped at a trinket shop, where I picked up a couple of funky bracelets for a steal! Then moved on to get lovely shoes for my toddler <3 p="">The jewellery, beads, chains and necklaces available are Amaazzingg!! I could have spent my lifetime here :-P

Next I found this delightful Terracotta shop which had the most adorable collections ever!! I picked up some Jhumkas here.. Normally I am good at bargaining, but it was fun to chat with the shopkeepers and discuss their collections.. As I deal with dresses and fabrics myself, I enjoyed chatting with them about their products.

Another section where I spent good time is the earthern ware ! I got some gorgeous lamps (diyas) as gifts, and few for our home.. Overall had a great time walking and chatting.. Definitely will visit again with more time to spare :)

If you are in Hyderabad or planning a visit, AND if you LOVE shopping, you must visit Shilpa Ramam!! If you go there by afternoon after all shops open, you'll have more variety and you'll be spoilt for options :D

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Birthday Resolution?!

Every New Year we talk of New Year resolutions, some that are followed for longer, some that are quite shortlived!
This year I thought why not have a Birthday resolution instead.. Something that is more doable with a naughty toddler around..I barely have time to pick up dolls/books/ and other random stuff after her,So I was highly skeptical about starting something new..
I have decided to that I ll blog more regularly this year. Having plenty to share and so here goes my Birthday Resolution this year - Blog More!

Apple crumble!

For a while now, I have been curious about the bottom layer (of digestive biscuits) in Cheesecakes and pie and really wanted to try out a...