Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beauty and the Beast

 All I wanted for Mothers Day was a relaxed day with my family. The kids all over me and my husband next to me. And that is exactly what I got. It felt so good to hold on to my pre schooler and sleep at 11 in the morning when the rest of the family snoozed away as well.
There was this sweet nothingness of the day which made it all the more special.

I had tickets for 'The Actors Training Center RepertoryCompany' for their production of 'Beauty and the Beast' for the Mothers Day evening. And I was a bit skeptical about driving to 'Wilmette Theatre' due to the distance. But I got over the laziness of the Sunday evening and made the trip. I was so very glad I did.

The theatre itself is small. We picked up more than our share of the Pop Corn from the concession stand and headed over to the theatre. The performance in my five year old's words was 'Breathtaking' She loved the songs, the beast and Belle. She was very scared when the wolves come to take the father away and above all she loved the dancing Tea Cups.
I thought the timing of the play, the characters and the music was just perfect. It was enthralling for the little kids and very simplistic for us. The production quality was ok though. But for the size of the theatre it was just right.
Right after the performance all the characters stood outside to chat with the guests and I think that was so sweet. You get to meet the characters, who were 12-16 year old kids. My daughter was so pleased to take a picture with Belle and was asking the director, Carol DIno all sorts of questions- Where did you get the clothes from, how did the music come etc etc. She was patient enough to answer all the questions.

My husband was outside for a bit and saw that the girl who played Belle had fallen down on her knees during the performance. She was icing her knee in between the shots. When he told me, I was shocked. The Princess didnt show it for the play and the meet and greet after. So very professional.

It is an inspiration to see these kids perform with so much confidence, grace and attitude. It is a lifetime's learning’s for the kids from the Training Academy.

Overall, my Mothers Day got sweeter with this lovely performance.

I received free tickets for the performance for review. The views expressed are solely my own

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quick Food Fix: Quinoa Avacado Pancakes/ Childa

Being a mom means busy. Actually being any person now a days means busy. You are generally shuttling from engagement to the next, coordinating work meetings, social calendars, pencilling in me time and then of course finding time in all this to sleep.
In this busy schedule, we all to varying degrees are concious of what we eat, how we eat and the time spent in order to make the things needed.
I am a big fan of quick healthy fixes. Something which had loads of vegetables and can be served in less than twenty minutes for this foodie family of mine, sign me up!

A friend of mine D recently called me in the evening with a 'Hallelujah' kind of voice, she tried to make something which was quick, loved by her pre schooler and healthy. Here is her recipe with a few modifications

1 Avocado: Finely Chopped
1/2 Onion:  Finely Chopped
1 Cup Cucumber, tomato: Finely Chopped
1 Cup Quinoa- boiled and drained
1 green chilli
1/4 inch ginger
1 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tsp Besan/ Chick Pea flour
Black Pepper
Red chilli powder
Optional: Chaat Masala
You can add other vegetables as well

1. In the boiled Quinoa, add besan and all vegetables, spices.
2. Mix well and adjust seasoning. I added a bit of lemon juice for tangy flavour.
3. The batter should be thick and consistent.
4. Heat a non stick pan and start making small pancakes.

Serve with Green Chutney, Ketchup!

Note: My batter was a bit runny, so I added extra besan. In addition when you are making the pan cakes ensure one side is very crisp before you flip them, else you will have something called a 'Quinoa Scramble'

Friday, May 10, 2013

To try new things.... Munch Bunch

A few friends of mine had started this thing called: 'MuchBunch'
Concept is simple, four foodie couples meet once a month decide on a 'cuisine' and cook something which challenges them, or something that they want to try making. The venue rotates in the couples place and this way, one gets to try new cuisines, new dishes and enjoy the process of making them as well. Above all, its an awesome evening spent with awesome food and even better company.
Recently I was invited to join them, I guess I qualified the 'foodie' label, surprise surprise!!

The Munch Bunch theme was Vietnamese.

My personal experience with Vietnamese has been restricted to Pho, Spring rolls and the tea. The Vietnamese Spring Roll I have made a couple of times with varying degree of success. I chose to make the Dessert this time.
Mainly because making desserts is not my forte and secondly because I did want to challenge myself.

I made something called:  Che Bap: (Vietnamese Sweet Corn Pudding). We all loved it, I think its less sweet than other desserts making you really enjoy it more
Recipe adapted from Pham Fatale

Here is the simple process:

Makes 12 portions
Time to Cook: 1 hour
Time to eat: 2 minutes!

For pudding-
½ cup tapioca pearls: Sabutdana
1 (16-ounce) package frozen yellow sweet corn, thawed
½ cup coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds, slightly dry toasted
1 tsp Vanilla extract

For Coconut Sauce
2 Tsp of corn starch/ corn flour
1/4 th cup water
1 Cup coconut milk
2 Tsp. Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt

1. Boil 1-½ quarts water. Add the tapioca pearls. Bring back to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring every now and then.
2. Cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. The mixture should be thickened. Drain the tapioca pearls and set aside.
3. Puree the corn in a blender. The texture should be slightly coarse
4. Separately heat the coconut milk. Bring to a near boil. Then lower the heat and add boil and drained tapioca. Mix
5. Then add the pureed sweet corn mixture, sugar and salt.
6. Cover and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla extract.
7. Let cool for 10 minutes. The texture of the pudding should be slightly thick.

Coconut Sauce:
1. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of corn-starch in 1/4 cup of water.
2. Add 1 cup coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Lower the heat, then add the dissolved corn-starch, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt, stirring constantly.
3. As soon as the sauce thickens, turn off the heat. This takes about 15 minutes.
Please make sure to stir consistently else you will have lumps in the sauce

To Serve:
Place the pudding, top with coconut sauce and garnish with slightly roasted sesame seeds.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The simplicity of it all

Things are wired differently between men and women. I know, I should know it, it’s been said over and over again, but somehow it strikes me now, men and women are different in the simplest of things.
Case in Point: Planning a dinner.

To continue our girls night evenings, a friend sent an email a week before with time and venue.
The chicas replied one after the other whether they could make it or not. If they would be late or bummer something is up. This was in general followed by text to reflect: 'How Exciting, cant wait!' This includes yours truly of course. It just feels natural.
Come day of the event, a gentle reminder is sent out.
As usual we meet, have a gala of a time. Relax, chillax, catch up and feel refreshed. Some girl time is needed. Very much needed.
The next day, a slew of emails follow thanking the organiser, saying until next time or more simply, 'Can't wait for next time!'
This includes yours truly of course. It just feels natural.

Now, how does this relate to men planning a dinner, you ask? Here is your answer. Boy's Night

The same day, the spouses realised the wives are out. Hmm. What a perfect evening to spend time with the boys.
A text goes out from guy 1 to the other: Dinner, my place. Maggi and some drinks, Poker, come whenever. This text then gets forwarded and send again to others in the gang. Plan done, simple.
Icing on the cake:
Hubby S: Dinner, my place tonight. X and Y are confirmed.
Friend A: Sure, what time
Hubby S: 7:00
Friend A: Will be there, who is this?
Hubby S: haha, love the spirit. This is Sumit.

I was stumped by the simplicity of how men planned the same evening. I asked hubby, 'How the hell can your plans be so simple
He looks at me stumped and says: 'It just feels natural.'