Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food & Drink: Don't Tantalize My Taste Buds

I'm Hungry Mother; I Really Am!
(101 Dalmatians)

Food is our basic need. What I mean is, without food and water, our life is virtually non-existent. Wars have been fought over 'green pastures', and families have been united by grand-mom's cooking. Food to many, is a passion. Its not just the end result of cooking, but also the manner in which a dish is made that makes it extra special. One apt example is the Master Chef program. It's become a big hit, not because of its recipes and dishes, but the passion and zing added to cooking. To be honest, there are many dishes that I find repelling when I watch them on Master Chef. But the fascinating part is how they prepare the dish and how they present it.

The above picture is that of the Stuffed Roast Chicken I made last Easter. It is one of my favorite festive dishes and is always a big hit. To go along with that, I've found an interesting article from Helium, written by Mona Gallagher, where she writes 'The best way to roast a chicken'. I quite like her combination of seasoning which she claims is her own invention. You just have to check this out.

Talking about grand-mom's cooking, recipe books are part of family treasures. My maternal grandparents are no more; my grand-mom Pearl passed away in Jan 2005, and my grandpa Cyril earlier this month. One of the treasures of theirs that I possess is an old recipe book, written by both of them. It dates back to 1967; way before I was born. Its actually a simple 200 page notebook with a 'calendar paper' cover and a handwritten label cello-taped to it. The pages have a dull brown look to them, with an air of mystery.

Both of them, Nana Pearl and Papa Cyril, have written recipes in this book and its like they worked as a team, preserving some of their prized dishes. To complement that, they always had tins and jars of goodies stocked up for us always. They loved to see food in plenty, especially for all those who visited. Never would a guest leave the house without a snack, if not a meal, and despite their financial struggles, there was always food to go around. If you were to leave their home on a journey, they, especially Nana, would pack food for you for the next two days. Such was their heart where food and sharing was concerned.

This week, I'd like to showcase a writer who has had an incredibly, impressive exposure to many kinds of cuisine. One of my favorite writers, Susan gives us a bit of an insight into her history with food.

Susan Klatz Beal

I come from a family of foodies. My mother studied cooking in Paris at La Varenne, so I’ve been exposed to all sorts of gourmet and international foods since I was a child. That may be what initially prompted my interest in food… and why I write about so many different international types of cuisine.

As a veggie gardener, I’ve naturally been interested about growing vegetables. But I also thought it was important to learn about the nutritional benefits of the vegetables, vegetable families and other aspects of a healthy diet.

Working in a wine and cheese store while in college, forced me to learn as much as I could about wine, cheese and other gourmet delicacies, especially coffees. It just seemed natural that I use some of what I had learned and delve deeper into that to learn more.

I also happen to love to do research, so any time I can do research about something that fascinates me, gives me a chance to learn more.

As for advice to other writers, I’d recommend not limiting oneself to a specific area. I personally don’t think I could have become the writer that I am today unless I’d been willing to step out of my comfort zone enough to learn about things I knew nothing about. I also believe that the best writers learn to think like readers as they write. By considering the mind of a reader, a writer can learn how not to over-think their writing.

F & D articles by Susan,

How to lower your grocery bill without clipping coupons

Tips to help you eat vegetables

Susan Klatz Beal recommends:

Recipes: Ttzatziki by Maria Papadoupoulou

Recipes: Quick and easy meatloaf by Barb Hopkins

Food is a source of inspiration and not just sustenance. Take for example this blog Cooking to Heal, where my friend Shalini George, describes food that inspires her, motivates her... and helps her live. Think about it. There are so many ways that one can relate to food.

You may be wondering why I am talking only about food, with no mention of drink. How about this... 'How to make non-alcoholic Ginger wine'. Its actually very simple, and a fun drink for parties. And no... you won't get drunk, in case you wondered, but it definitely will give you the pep that you need.

If you are looking for recipes with good directions, Sheila Watson Kraklow has a whole list of recipe guides.

Some interesting food guides of hers are:

Here are pics of vegetarian meals. This is one of the standard meals seen in South India, and is the pride of India. What you see is a serving of rice with many vegetable dishes, (usually accompanied by dessert which are plantain and paysam). The pic on the right shows three paper tumblers; one with water, one with 'jaggery payasam' and the last with 'palada paysam'. Depending on the occasion, this vegetarian meal can range from 15 to 35 dishes. If you thought that vegetables are hard to swallow, think about all the vegetarians who eat this on a daily basis. Trust me, its actually VERY appetizing; especially when its served on a Banana Leaf. In fact, as Suzanne Rose describes, restaurants can benefit from offering vegetarian meals.

There are those that bake bread on a daily basis; for those who's staple diet consists of different kinds of bread. But for me, more a a rice eater, I tend to rely on bread from the store. Its easier that way without the hassle of waiting for the dough to rise, and then bake. However, one person who motivated me to bake bread is M. J. Joachim with her instructions... 'How to make homemade bread'. The attached pic is my first attempt at baking bread (8 loaves at the first attempt itself) for a party, which was a huge success. Can't say I've tried it again, but the recipe is still stuck to my refrigerator.

Here are a few pics of miniature cooking vessels and kitchen accessories that were displayed in a restaurant in Muscat. These are of typically items in an Indian kitchen. The Bharani or the clay jar is most often used for pickles, making wine or for salt. Some have a screw-on lid that fits securely and is good for pickles and wines.

The next pic, is that of a ''puttu' maker, that is, steamed rice flour cakes are made in the cylindrical holder, and its generally eaten with either plantains or lentils.

This is the miniature version of the pestle and mortar which is used to grind rice for making rice flour. Nowadays rice flour is readily available; ground at the mill... but over a decade ago, rice pounding was done at one's home using this kitchen accessory.

This is a pic of the grinding stone on which masalas or coconut are ground, even today... and chutneys are made.

This last pic is that of a lentil smasher (for smashing cooked dal) and a coconut-shell spoon. I have a ladle like this which I use, but not the dal smasher. I don't remember having seen the dal smasher in use for the past many years, except when I was a kid, maybe.

There have been a whole lot more pics that I've collected from around. but having already compiled a lengthy page, I refrain from adding them.

Food and Drink articles of Interest:


  1. Great post:) Lots to tweet. I love to eat, but let my husband do most of the cooking. Glad you're back at it.

  2. Great to see your blog come to life again! I just had breakfast, but already I'm drooling looking at the photos. :-) Lots of good links too.

  3. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

  4. Mandy, this is wonderful! Great job on it. Makes me hungry just reading it!

  5. Thank you for your awesome support. You guys rock!!! :)))

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