Monday, February 28, 2011

Nutrition for a Good Game

Recipe: Homemade Milk Chocolate with Cocoa Powder

It was one of those days when my 4 year old son and I were bored of playing all the usual games. So we had to think up of some new game. On that fateful day, the game of "Goodminton" was born.

What exactly is goodminton, you may ask? And how does one play it?
Well, all you need are
1) Two plastic bats (actually anything that functions as a bat will do)
2) a little-less-than-full blown up balloon and
3) an imaginary net (a real one will also do).
You play it very much like the well known game of badminton - have the 2 players stand on either courts and hit the balloon with the bat to each other :)

We thoroughly enjoyed playing this new game every day. This meant a lot more activity for him. So I wanted to make sure his energy levels are good and that he doesn't lose weight (considering the fact that he doesn't have enough of it as per the older and more experienced members of the family).

The next time I went to the super-market, I bought a fortified milk powder for children his age from a well-known company hoping that my son will attain all the 10 benefits stated behind the box in a matter of a few days of consuming the drink. But all my hopes vanished into thin air when my lil boy declared that he hated the taste of it and refused to go anywhere near it.

So now I'm left with this box of unused children's milk powder and an active kid engrossed in his game. I had to find a way to use up the milk powder and make sure my son is well nourished. (Ulterior motive: hide/disguise the nutritious milk powder in foods that my son likes) Also, I dont like wasting stuff. 

After a few days of racking my brains to find a solution and a curious question from a friend asking me if I knew how to make chocolates from cocoa powder, I came up with an idea. I knew milk chocolates contained milk, cocoa, some fat (usually cocoa butter) and sugar. The result of my trials turned out to be an outstanding success.

You CAN really make stuff that tastes like chocolate from cocoa powder if you get the proportions right.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adventures with Coconuts

Recipe: Beef and Tapioca

Last week, I was able to fulfil one of my lifelong ambitions - to successfully dehusk a coconut. In my parent's house in Kerala, there was an interesting contraption they used to dehusk a coconut. It looked like an arrow pointing to heaven with a lever on one side! And when you pulled the lever, the arrow head opens up and pulls apart the fibres of the husk from the coconut. This contraption was supposed to make coconut dehusking easier.

With instructions from the most experienced coconut-dehusker, our house-help, I hit the coconut hard on the arrow head such that it punctured the husk. Held it steady and then pulled at the lever. And... it just slipped of the arrow-head (Flop 1). Then I tried again, this time I found it very difficult to even budge the lever (Flop2). And after many more flops, I finally managed to do it right (finally a glimmer of hope). I had to do this on all sides of the coconut (and with a little help from my brother to pull the lever), I was able to get it completely dehusked. And then I pulled apart the loose husk from the nut to reveal my first ever successfully dehusked beauty! I laughed victoriously and suddenly felt like a super-hero! (how's coco-woman for my super-hero name? Now to get my cape and costume ready...)

After I did my first coconut, I went on to do another one and then another one. I finally stopped after dehusking 12 coconuts in a row! After that it was difficult to stand outside and dehusk anymore as it was past 6pm and the mosquitoes were eating me up. I had to escape indoors with what was left of my poor arms and legs.

I felt like I had done over 100 crunches after all that coconut dehusking. This definitely works out the muscles of the abdomen. So those of you who are aiming for that gorgeous flat stomach flaunted by models and film-stars, just dehusk about 10 coconuts a day... everday. And you are guaranteed to have a stomach as flat as a table-top! Forget those crazy diets and expensive gyms :)

We lugged our bounty of dehusked coconuts and a tiny bundle of the much sought after "kanthari" chilli, (the tiny chilli which is famous for its fiery nature and distinct smell) all the way to Bangalore.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creativity and Meringue Creations

Recipe: Meringues with Fruit and Yoghurt

When I was about 6 years old, I was on a secret mission. I wanted to dig a hole through the Earth all the way into space! (talk about high ambitions for a 6 year old!)

For some reason, I thought that we lived inside the Earth and hence the idea if I dig deep enough, I might be able to reach outer space! And that idea was further reinforced, every time I looked up at the sky. Surely the sky looked like a spherical dome covering the Earth. And when I looked out into the horizon (there weren't any tall buildings nearby to spoil my view then), I could clearly see the place where the sky meets the Earth :) So according to me, all facts pointed that we live inside an enormous Sphere - The sky being the top half of the sphere and the land and the oceans and seas forming the bottom half.

I was so excited with my mission to dig into space, that one day I spent hours digging in the playground with a toy spade. Finally my best friend asked me what I was up to and I confided in her about my secret mission. She, however, told her older sister who was 4 years older than us and hence considered an authority by her on such stuff.

It was my friend's sister who broke the disheartening news to me that my superb idea wouldn't work. She tried explaining to me that we lived ON the Earth and not inside it. I showed her the sky in my defense! And to a 6 year old, it sounded absurd trying to walk over a spherical surface without rolling off. After long discussions, I decided to take her advice and stop digging.

That was my first big idea. Though it was absurd and meaningless, at the time I had a exciting time thinking it up and looking for reasons to support my idea :) It's so enjoyable going through the creative process. To think out of the ordinary or try out something new or find a simple solution or even frame and click a wonderful picture or make a delicious dish.

When I look around, I see that this world is full of creative geniuses. The most creative ones being children or people who are able to retain and nurture the child-like curiosity and passion in what they do. And of course, it always pays to fuel your creativity with knowledge.

One such creative blogger is Sunita Bhuyan. She needs no introduction as she is well-known in the blogosphere. And her recipes have always inspired me. One such recipe was this dessert with meringues that resurrected the same childhood digging-into-space enthusiasm in me :) The tips she provided were also very useful.

I've been wanting to try it out for so long and was waiting for berry season in Bangalore. Sadly the only berries seen here are Strawberries around January and February. Though they are grown here, it costs close to an arm and a leg! I also found very sweet black and green grapes and they were a lovely addition to the dessert.


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