Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Food Journals: Eid, Tea Time, & Overwhelmed!


After the peaceful Ramadan meals that seemed to magically plan them out, it has been a crazy bulk cook-athon / speed-cooking kind of life. Sara & I had frozen curries for almost the entire month of Ramadan and S.I.L. had frozen pizzas and calzones and the stash lasted throughout the month. As of now, I am overwhelmingly multitasking between new tenants moving in, my mother's cataract surgery, post-Ramadan clean-ups, travel plans, and more yaddi yaddi yadda.

We can begin the food journals with a gorgeous post about the beautifully decorated Eid spread of ours which we shared with a friend and her family. Areej - the famous woman behind Ilaichi wali Chai and Qeema Naans came over with her family for Eid.

Read "An Elegant Eid Dinner" for the bit about that Eid dinner.

A photo posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on

CHAAND RAAT TRADITION - SLIGHTLY ALTERED
First came Eid and the gianormous feast that comes with it. I was so busy with work that I was not able to do the Chaand Raat Tandoori Chicken (full size whole) tradition that I so proudly started last year. That's that. I did do tandoori boti though. So that counts.

A video posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on


QUICK FIX FLATBREAD PIZZA
One of the Giant food stores sells a '00 flour flatbread which I am super fond of because I use that to make pizza! Unlike the kitchenistas I know who make everything from scratch (hats off to them), my broken back screams a huge "NAH!" when I think of making the dough. So there we go. These are a brilliant quick fix. Put on melted butter (mixed with garlic powder and little bit of salt), add the pesto sauce (pizza sauce) - I make my own - and top it with cheeses and bake until cheeses melt at 370 F. 

K&N chicken products (frozen) from Pakistan are my other favorite quick fix solutions. The nuggets and kabas are fry and eat. The Koftas, I use to make a chicken kofta curry.

A photo posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on

HEAVY DUTY COOKING: PASANDA
Some serious heavy-duty cooking happened when I made Beef Pasanda Stew.
Pasanda (Urdu: پسندہ‎) is a popular North Indian and Pakistani meat dish, derived from a meal served in the Court of the Mughal Emperors. The word is a variation on the Urdu word "pasande" meaning "favourite", which refers to the prime cut of meat traditionally used within.
The Pasanda meat cut is typically from the leg of lamb/cow and comes as flattened strips. They are marinated in seriously strong spices before slow-cooking into a stew.

A photo posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on


Sara finally got her hands on some Zucchini. All this time she was wondering if green squash was zucchini and we didn't know we were just a Google search away from getting a yes. Mom got to her cooking mojo and make some zucchini curry. That video down below is me frying spring rolls (ready made, frozen) and cooking the curry she left half done for her. 
A video posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on


LOTS OF PULAAO RICE STEAMING
The simple peas pulaao is always a lifesaver. It goes with all curries. It cooks within twenty minutes and it literally saves my broken back when I get home and there is practically nothing to go with the curry of the day. 

An Elegant Eid Dinner 2016


I wanted to go all gold and silver for this Eid. It had been a rewarding Ramadan and it needed a grand celebration. There is no better way to celebrate than to have a friend over and treat them to a delicious feast. 







THE MENU




Prisma, My Foot & Other Horrors: A High-Power Rant


While half the planet was heavily self-absorbed in creating graphical distortions of their faces using the Prisma app (it is supposed to be an art thing) *sighs* *rolls eyes to the back of the skull*, I have been working. And while the other half of the planet was busy stampeding nooks and corners in search of rare Pokemons, I was still working. I say this with a tinge of complain in my tone because let’s face it I am still human. I am the most thankful and the most grateful person I know and nothing can cut me short of saying that I am indeed the happiest girl on the planet. But … there are quite a few reasons the planet can give you to sulk about.

There was the Paparazzi Aunty that invaded my privacy and triggered a volcanic eruption in the core of my soul. You can read that rant in the Desi Diaries: “The Paparazzi Aunties: Zara Pose Tou Banayen”.


Then, there was the annoying gardener who wouldn’t listen to me and my garden practically started turning into the Amazon rainforest and I had to hunt for a new gardener before Tarzan could have found home there. Turned out that the previous gardener had taken the liberty to break a lot of sprinkler heads in the lawn and considering the kind of expense those repairs are each year (because somebody decides to go Freddy Kreuger with the lawn mower) I am planning to have the irrigation system closed off. They’ve asked me to turn off the water flow from the main pipe that feeds the system and I am planning to go down the utility room and do the honors. But before I do that I will have to re-think the cons of the idea because I have a feeling that with a broken back and a lazy brother at hand, my chances of watering the garden are near zero. I might as well have the repairs done and keep the system running?

A video posted by The Abbie (@abbiesadventures) on

Okay, as if one crazy garden wasn't enough for me --- the very spawn of the beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk propped up at one of my rentals. The tenants sort of 'overlooked'. So the rest of my August will be a lot about having weeds pulled, houses cleaned, and looking at some seriously gnarly, crazy mess.


Let's see it in Prisma shall we? O, yes! Prisma makes everything look better.


Think that was crazy? There would be more! O, you'll see it alright --- provided I keep my temper and remember to take pictures! Speaking of pictures --- presenting the beanstalk --- and its family!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Paparazzi Aunties: "Zara Pose Tou Banayen!"


My insides are still reeling with anger over a seriously Desi invasion of privacy incident that happened to me a couple of weeks ago. We’d been invited to a wedding function - a Mehendi to be exact - and a random unknown aunty decided to go paparazzi and started taking our photographs. 

“Zara pose tou banayen apni doston ke saath.” she said to our friend whom she knew, and insisted on us striking a pose to which our friend reminded her that we wear the Hijab and were currently without it. That should have been a cue for any literate person. Even my chiropractic doctor who happens to be non-Muslim knows that she should lock the door when we are in her office and having ourselves treated without the Hijab. This particular lady did what Desi ladies would typically do when they run out of their intelligence and moral quota and continued being the jackass paparazzi. I don't really know what pose was she exactly look for?


“Haan tou beta meinay kaunsa kisi ko dikhaani hai?” she said when Sara and I said very sharply that we wear Hijabs and don’t like photos taken when we are without them. To our not-so-surprising-surprise she followed us with her smartphone and kept snapping photos for the rest of the evening. I really wanted to raise the question "Agar dikhani nahi hai tou kia aap itni shauqeen mizaaj hain ke akelay mein baith ke humari photos dekheingi?"

I cannot say that I fail to understand these Paparazzi Aunties because I totally understand their needs for photography in such circumstances. They feel that they have hit a jackpot when they capture a Hijabi girl without her Hijab. And most of them are from the Kuwari Kudi Marriage Bureau and tend to maintain "archives" (alphabetical sometimes) in their smartphones of girls available for marriage. They use these photos as a social ticket. 

Another time, at another wedding function, an aunty wanted me to get up and walk around and suggested that I do not ‘stick’ to my mother all the time. "Zara uth ke ghooma phira karo, kia har waqt ammi se chipki rehti ho?" I had an exceptionally hard rest of the evening because I really don't know how to walk around like a runaway camel at someone else's wedding. Apologies, but I can only eat like one when I am attending such 'strange' gatherings.


“Tasweer banwaati ho tum?” she asked, if I liked having photos taken and before I could have responded to the apprehension she had already clicked a photo of me which I am sure looked like a taken aback Professor Snape. 


Thankfully I was in my Hijab that day and my blood boiled only a degree less. My mind’s wisdom had failed me temporarily but then when she snapped my photograph forcibly I understood what her strategy was. I’d gotten up to get dinner from the buffet and she grabbed my arm! Apparently she was snapping my photograph to show around to her family and in particular an eligible bachelor son! You find out eventually, because such fine specimen aunties have the Kuwari Kudi Marriage Bureau working in their favor. They spread the word real well.


They practically find me to be a prospective Simran for their Kuljeeta, but they should know better. Cheesy dialogues --- specially at wedding buffets --- will only make me angry. Casting more-than-frequent looks at me will only freak me out. And asking my entire bio data/resume/life story will only make the effort too obvious. 

Be kind, let me get to the buffet and no one gets hurt!


Sunday, May 15, 2016

ADVENTURE BOARD: Writer's Best Kept Secrets


This is the Spring 2016 project, actually that digressed into a whole new theme on its own --- crazy heart of mine --- I was gathering stuff for a spring-y, flowery bouquet type Adventure Board with burlap and flowers like last year's but I ended up doing a 'WRITER'S BEST KEPT SECRETS' vintage theme. 


The background paper was scrapbook paper. I happen to have a Once Upon A Time Mat Stack book that has some really good vintage storybook text prints. And of course there were fairylights to complete the fairytale.


I took the opportunity to put up some jewelry items i.e. necklaces up on the board to go with the theme alongside burlap clip on flowers and butterflies from last year's Spring Adventure Board.


I always launch myself into hoarder mode when ornaments come up on shelves each winter. I had a beautiful lamp, and a vintage key to add to this ensemble.


The dreamcatcher had its moment of glory alongside the burlap butterflies and flowers. This beautiful vintage ensemble is coming off soon insha'Allah to prep the board for Ramadan Adventures. I am thinking lanterns, crescent moons, Moroccan lattice, and lots of printed graphics. Until next time ---


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Abbie's Adventurezine: 25 Advices, Awesome Recipes, Spring Craft, Limericks & Aunty Humor





 


Sugar-Free Creme Caramel


This Mother's Day I chose to accomplish a challenging feat from my 30 Before 30 Bucket List. I had made creme caramel before in a boiling water bath over a stove top. I have always wanted to try the oven and a sugar-free version. I had been Googling for ages for a sugar-free version but the Internet was telling me all sorts of funny things. 

People were using cheats like blow torches to burn some regular sugar on top of the dessert. Crazy! It is not creme caramel if you don't overturn the ramekin to pop out a perfect mound of custard with bitter sweet syrup caramel pouring down it! Blow torching is creme brulee!

So, I settled for a regular Martha Stewart recipe and decided to replace the 1 cup regular sugar with granulated erythritol, and 1/2 cup regular sugar with 1/2 cup granulated Splenda. Now here's what happened --- I started caramelizing the erythritol and two to three minutes passed and there was no caramel color. That's when it occurred to me that ERYTHRITOL WILL NOT CARAMELIZE. Ya Allah! Now what?

Frantically, I began Googling and found out just plain boring theories of why Erythritol does not caramelize to golden. It has some element missing that is there in all other sugars. Think think think think --- aha! Why not add a tablespoon of that raw coconut sugar? It's still diabetic-friendly! Pure experimentation!

Voila! To the boiling erythritol solution, I added the raw coconut sugar and it began caramelizing! As soon as it got thick I removed it! There is no coconut flavor at the end.

So here we go!


INGREDIENTS
1 cup granulated Erythritol [I used NOW Sugar brand]
1/2 cup granulated Splenda
1 tablespoon raw coconut sugar
3 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
8, 4 oz ramekins
13 x 9 inch baking pan
Large sieve to strain the custard

CARAMEL UP!

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

2. Put 8 ramekins in the baking pan and set aside.
3. In a small pot, add granulated erythritol, raw coconut sugar, and 4 tablespoons of water and stir well. Star a medium-high heat and keep stirring to dissolve and continue cooking the sugar. Continuous stirring prevents burning. As the syrup begins to thicken, stop and remove immediately from heat. This usually take 5 minutes or slightly over.
4. Quickly, use a serving spoon to evenly pour out the caramel into the ramekins equally, swirling them so that their base is entirely coated. This is the part that hardens up and then afterwards turns syrup and pour down over the dessert when overturned.


5. Heat milk in a pot on medium heat - do not boil.

6. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, salt, and 1/2 cup granulated Splenda together to make a thick creamy paste.

7. Pouring 1/4 cup at a time, add milk to this paste and continue whisking until all milk has been added and whisked to a foamy custard.

8. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a large bowl and add vanilla extract.


9. Pour equal amounts of custard into each ramekin using a deep serving spoon to avoid spillage

10. Bring enough water to a boil and pour it in the baking pan (in which the ramekins have been placed) until it rises halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is your water bath.



11. Set the pan with the ramekins in the oven and bake away for 35 minutes.

12. Bring out to cool and then pop the ramekins in the fridge for at least two hours.

13. To unmold, run a sharp knife around the inside of each ramekin and then invert into a serving plate. Pat the back of the ramekin firmly, shake gently to release! 

14. Do a happy dance when it comes out in single piece!

Check out the de-moulding process in the video below.

"Hey Bestie!" said my food-crazy sister, "This is making me weak at the knees."

video

Friday, April 29, 2016

Abbie Says: #25 "Your Circus! If They Don't By It, Don't Sell It To Them!"


We live in a harsh world. Nobody is willing to buy your circus, really, because everybody is absorbed in a chaos of their own successes and glamours. Not every ear is willing to lend itself to your problems. Not every mind understands your circumstances. And not every heart can beat to match the pain and pace of yours. And when you try to sell your show - your stories, your adventures, your hopes, your dreams, your troubles - to audiences who couldn't care any less --- that's when you end up playing the sad face clown instead of the circus master. 
Advice #25 is about not selling yourself cheap. In making friends, in choosing life partners and soulmates, in socializing, and in creative expressionism do not bother giving yourself away to those who do not understand your freak show. 
The majority will not entertain your troubles, complications, and dilemmas as a part of their perfect existence. To them you will be a freak show. That's not a problem. Everybody has a freak show unique to themselves. The difference is the level of freak that comes in each person's share. My fate is notorious for presenting me with a generous load of freak - hence my heavy duty freak show. But I feel blessed - alhamdulillah [all praise for Allah] - with my little freak show. It makes me stronger. 


Cicada's Last Laugh

This poem is part of the Limericks Of Abbie Dragonblood.