Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Random Thoughts - In US

Being in US has thrown up a lot of challenges to my culinary skills I have been cooking for more than 30 years now and have always been trying out newer rceipes and loved cooking and having people over.I had thought about varieties of meals and snacks to be prepared while in US. Mostly because Anand has been away from us for 10 years and in all these ten years we have spent just about 3 months with him, when he visited us. This has always given me a heartache that I have not been able to cook for him all that I wanted or thought he would have liked to eat.(It is another story that he is now least concerned about the variety of meals, immersed that he is in his all consuming new passion, his work.May he reach the heights he is looking up to).

So, immediately after I got over my jet lag,I started preparing goodies which used to turn out perfect in India, but here they were a far cry from what they intended to be.It was very frustrating, as more than ever before, I wanted them to be the best now,It made me try out smaller and smaller batches of everything, from cheedai to murukku to pakodas, without satisfaction.This drove me to a point of despearation. With experience, I realised, it was not as if I had lost my culinary skills half way across the globe, but it had to do with the stove. Back home, we are used to gas burners and here we have only electric hot plates. The electric hot plates are great for pressure cooking and not for making murukku or neyyappam. The reason being they heat up the bottom of the pan only and not heat the pan from all sides.So none of my crispies turned crispies, which was the cause of my frustration.

How I overcame my frustration will be posted in due course.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My first and fastest Poncho and other knitting thoughts

I Have been knitting eversince, I was 19 years. I may have knitted and crochetted, may be a hundred sweaters,many of them my own patterns. I have never recorded the patterns, all these days. Maybe, I should start doing it from now on.

I knit and crochet, while travelling, walking, reading, watching tv. The most difficult part of my knitting/crochet project is the selection of pattern. Though I have hundreds of patterns to choose from the books, I have collected over 30+ years, each time, I want to make a new sweater, I have to go thru all of them again and again and more often that not, after some two days of searching, I am still not happy with any of the patterns. Either, the stich do not suit the garment I have in my mind, or I do not have the right type of yarn, the pattern prescribes( I live in India, where we do not get a big variety of yarns.The pattern books, I have are all printed abroad and talk about yarns, available there). Then I start thinking of designing my own pattern( I do take some tips from the patterns from the books, like the design of the garment, etc. So I pour over my stiches book and with great difficulty pick up 4 or 5 stiches. I make swatches and show to my family(my husband and two sons) and get their opinion.Then I sit and write the various changes I have to make from the original pattern and start. Usually, once I start on a project, I work on it atleast 2-3 hours a day and try to finish it as soon as possible. Yet I do have many unfinished projects, started long ago.

I have finished this crochet Poncho for a little girl in 4 hours time. It is the fastest garment I have ever made. I am also working, now on a baby garment, 80% of which is done. May be, by tomoroow, i will be able to finish it.


halloween is big festival in the US.People keep heaps of pumpkins in front of their houses.They also have spooky decorations in the front yard, like skeletons, spiders, ghosts, etc. Towards the end of the month people carve pumpkins and keep lanterns in them.

They make pumpkin pies and icecreams and cakes and what have you. When you drive thru any farming district, you can see patches and patches of pumpkins in various shapes and colours and sizes. We saw a pumpkin which weighed about 620 kg. in a festival in halfmoon bay.

Halloween, I understand is celeberated as a harvest festival, as well as a festival to remember the forefathers.

The pumpkins in the frontyard, reminds me of the vishukani and kolu in our places. And also, around the same time of the year, we in India, observe the Mahalaya Paksha, when we offer special prayers to our forefathers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005