Sunday, May 6, 2018

Food Journals March, April: Kitchen Rollercoaster Months

March? What's a March? I seriously don't recall a March. It was directly April upon me. When a baby is born in the family --- it brings with it some serious celebration! And celebrations mean copious demands of foods! There was a lunch affair to celebrate my niece, Hafsa (Chunky Huffington Hufflepuffs’) birth! I cooked Chicken Biryani ๐Ÿ—, Baisan Karhi, and Koftay ๐Ÿ˜ and you can check out the grand luncheon in video below.
It's a small world after all. I found the Arabic Mamoul cookies (date filled goodness!) at the ICNA MAS Convention! And the $5 packs were in 2 varieties ... whole wheat and regular ... The whole wheat has a bitter wheatish tinge to it but we can live with that! I also got a stash of assorted Turkish Delight flavors via my father who came to visit. I'm a Turkish Delight maniac! I'd add these treats to my Ramadan display as well because they're such flavorful parts of the Muslim culture! 
Behold! These are some of the wonders I created in the past two months. I say some because the mundane recipes don't get the camera spotlight. Fancy some no bake, sugar free strawberry cheesecake? Grab the recipe HERE!

March and April have been the kitchen rollercoaster duo months. Dish after dish I stirred up recipes to provide a different menu for my father for lunches and dinners. The Stone Hot whole wheat pizza was our guilty pleasure. Sara and I found ourselves stranded in the kitchen with very little time between meals and tea times. So we ate there --- at the countertop --- The Bosco Pizza and brownies are the hospital party we had in the maternity wing after my niece was born and we went over to visit. Bosco Pizza was served to my SIL! Fancy! A hospital that serves pizza to newbie moms! Fancy! 
That's a wrap for March and April. May is Ramadan Preparation month and the first 2 weeks of Ramadan fall there as well. See you on the other side!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sugar Free No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

This is an recipe, ladies. But I have tweaked it to simplify and also to add volume to the cake. The graham cracker crumbs and butter quantities have been doubled. I've excluded the spices (cinnamon and nutmeg because I wasn't sure how they'd react with artificial sweetener of the pudding, sometimes they take a bitter tinge). I've also substituted regular cream cheese with low fat. You can do the same with milk. I used regular though, I was afraid it would become too runny so I kept some fat.
1.5 cup graham cracker crumbs (from sugar free Digestive biscuits)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8 ounce) package low fat cream cheese, softened
1.5 cups milk
1 ounce package cheesecake or vanilla flavor sugar-free instant pudding mix (Jell-O)
Fresh strawberries, sliced, as many as you like
8" pie dish or springform pan 
1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl.
2. Press the mixture into an 8-inch pie dish. Refrigerate while making filling.
3. Beat low fat cream cheese in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until softened. reduce the speed to low, and gradually beat in milk, a little at a time (mixture will be watery). Use a rubber spatula to scrape cream cheese from the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
4. Beat in pudding mix until the filling is thick and smooth.

5. Spoon half of the cream cheese filling into the bottom of the graham cracker crust.
6. Spread half the strawberries over the filling.
7. Repeat cheesecake layer and strawberry layer.
8. Chill pie in refrigerator until set and cold, at least 1 hour.
Be hard when cutting out a slice because the crust hardens. Use a sharp, heavy duty knife and cut a wide piece. The narrower the piece, the wobblier it is and more chances of collapse! Enjoy the recipe! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

X - X-Factor: Tips For A Power Personality

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a power personality a 100% - it's a work in progress. 

EXPLORE THE SHADES OF YOUR PERSONALITY --- I have learned greatly to accept some hardcore weaknesses of my personality. There are some things I cannot do, some paths I do not wish to walk on, some things I am not capable of. These are the paths I avoid treading on to avoid acute failure. Also, I have recognized some incredible strengths. I take to them to build the bridges worth building. Marks should be made --- even if small, insignificant ones --- 

CREATIVE EXPRESSION --- is the beacon of success for anyone who wishes to develop an x-factor personality. I have observed that people with the gift of artistic expression are rare personality types and I identify with them. I have been a strange person since time immemorial and have been labeled the same. I beg to differ and I have an alternative eye for things and I continue to be this way. My creative expression is via poetry, microblogging, creative arts and crafts, and even cooking ...

LET PEOPLE KNOW --- earlier ... in the dinosaur age ... when I was called a 'freak' a lot because of my abilities, I refused to come out of my shell. I didn't have enough guts in the face of bullies to say out loud I was good at so many things different from them. I have learned that that was the biggest mistake --- staying in the shell! It is fair to tell the world what you do even if it is a tiny little speck of something! 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Z - Zooming In On The Year Gone

2017's been an unnerving year --- emotional challenges have been abundant! I have learned so much --- hard truths of life --- reality behind relationships --- my own weaknesses --- impossibilities of certain pathways I have been persistently pursuing --- alternative pathways that are rare to the world but destined for me perhaps --- unnecessary toxic emotions and stress that I have piled on --- remedies to battle these and keep my brain de-stressed --- the value of long hours of undisturbed sleep --- the uselessness of everything, everyone --- the afterworld being the only permanent goal to strive for --- 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Y - You Are Your Only Curse

If it rains on my parade, I am responsible somehow or the other. I know this sounds like I'm being hard on myself but that's the hardcore truth beneath the workings of life. If you invite trouble, trouble finds you. That make you your own curse!
You let in fishy people, get ready to face the stink!
You sign up for less than perfect, get ready for a Greek tragedy!
You get on board funny business, get ready to sink like the Titanic!
You let too many cooks in, get ready for a spoiled broth!
You lose focus, get ready for spilled milk!
You don't respect yourself, get ready for mass ridicule!
You do unnecessary favors, get taken for granted!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

W - Will To Survive

April has been a battle with time *SLIDING SWORD BACK INTO ITS SHEATH* and I still cannot be at ease because every day, every week, every month is a time battle. The thirties is a rocky road and I have realized I need the will to survive to go through it. 
SILENCE is needed to tolerate the negative hyberbole!
PATIENCE is needed to combat failures!
COURAGE is needed to battle my worst fears!
FOCUS is needed to do away with distractions!
CONFIDENCE is needed to push back elements that don't believe in me!
HUMOR is needed to be able to swallow it all in!

Monday, April 23, 2018

T - Tips From A Savvy Landlady

I was a nervous train wreck when I got into the property management biz. Gradually, as I learned through trial and error, things changed. I cannot say I am any less bonkers than I ever was but I am not the Greek tragedy that I used to be. The tips I am about to deliver to your doorstep right now are good for home management!

  • Only hire licensed, bonded/insured people for your works such as handymen, plumbers, and contractors. 
  • Don't call servicemen after 5pm. Happy hour puts them in a mood and they can always send you a "kissing cat" emoji, or try talking with you in an unprofessional way.
  • Get used to packing to-go lunches for days when servicemen are coming over at rental properties.
  • Always pay using your checkbook so you can stop payment or have the record.
  • Don't let any work start before finalizing a price and getting a work invoice.
  • Always read Google Reviews of companies you find online.
  • Avoid using handymen who charge by the hour. They end up charging a lot more than what a simple job costs.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

S - Small Stuff Don't Sweat

--- I have let small stuff annoy me too much and at times, it has kept me from a good night's sleep. I have learned that I cannot please everyone, everyone's opinion is not important in my life, and I certainly don't need to lose my sleep over any of it ---
--- remarks, judgements, opinions --- compliments, appreciation, respect not given --- expectations not met by people --- 
 A quote from Richard Carlson's book "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" 
“The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.” - Richard Carlson.

Friday, April 20, 2018

R - Roads & Wrongs & How To Deal

I have been stray driving on wrong roads too often lately. I took a left turn and ended up on the wrong side to find 5 lanes of cars rushing towards me! Extreme shock! Mega confusion! The reason could be anything... stress, lack of focus, and maybe even lack of confidence. But should wrong turns be allowed to hinder my confidence? --- NO --- And that's the lesson I've been working on! I actually felt my confidence buckle, and the inner voices made me think twice about a lot of things. But then, quitting should never be an option. The best way is to take a deep breath, calm down, recite a prayer or two, and collide head on with the problem --- so I backed up as the five lanes of cars rushed towards me, and turned back into the street! --- took a deep breath --- recited a prayer and took the right turn this time.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

P - Personal Diaries Are Not Advisable

Personal diaries ... my relationship with them has been sweet and sour. I have been writing since I have learned how to write. But ... no ... diaries have not been accumulating like the Cullen vampire family's wall of graduation caps. Why? Because I kept realizing that feelings should not be preserved unless they are pleasant. The more you spill out negative feelings, the more are the chances of this happening to your diary ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

O - Only God Can Decide The Best Course

It takes a great deal of experience, an unbelievable load of patience, and sincere blind faith to learn this lesson. And once I did, life became a lot more peaceful. I understood that the story of my life (and everyone else's) is being written by the One Who only writes Masterpieces. So, mine is one too! Every route, every direction, every incident is pre-decided and there's a perfect timing for every little bit. 
Earlier, I was a big time ball of fear due to uncertainty. I am still a panic ball --- *HEE HEE*--- but the uncertainty is gone. This doesn't mean I have turned into an ecstatic hippy because that's not what I am implying. I haven't given up the struggle. I am still putting up a fight everyday but I am not that crazy anymore to be losing my hair over it. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

N - Never Bring Your Complain To A Man

Before any of the readers of this post decide to launch an attack on me for being a feminist, please be warned that I am not speaking like a woman who likes to overrule men and question their authority. I am just a fed up one ... who is tired of being overruled all the time.
The gentlemen I have come across in my 31 years of life have; unfortunately, always refused to consider my problem as a problem. I have always gotten a lot of dismissive waves of the hands.
Apparently it has to be Dotty the asteroid speeding towards me to qualify as a real problem. And then ... it would be my fault I didn't move out of the way. ---*FACEPALM*--- So technically, head and tail are both not in my favor when I take a problem to their table. 
For starters, I am taken as a dumb broad who knows nothing about anything. My knowledge, acumen, expertise don't matter. What would I know of the world? I am a lady. Next comes the matter of voicing a complain. A woman has limitations, alright? And we need opinion and assistance of the men around us. 
And they cannot offer that without putting up a pompous display of strength! I get a "Ha! Told you so" when I make a mistake. I try telling them something's wrong, someone's wrong ... and my complain can go take a hike because they don't have ears for it. O, and they always have something superior to tell me. Mostly, it is a solution as difficult as a NASA mission so I know I won't be able to do it! 
This is the reason why I have always been gathering up guts every now and then to try and achieve the most impossible! It is not always achievable but the continuous trying changes you. So before you transform into the above depicted character ... keep your complaining to yourself. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

M - Marriage, Manhunt & Lessons Learned

There is this conspiracy about finding a Mr Abbie - a supposed-to-be life partner for me. The idea is as crazy as the feat of trying to transplant a human head onto a new body. They haven't been able to do that just yet. It will be a legendary day in history; the world shall remember it as 'The Day They Found Mr Abbie', when a male equivalent of me will be discovered! Until then ... the manhunt is on!
In my community (South Asians) a woman of 31 is a bird that's been flying solo for too long. And, every element of the sociosphere becomes 'dishonestly' interested in trying to make it hit an iceberg before the ship has sailed too far! 
The biggest lesson I have learned so far, as the manhunt continues, is to keep standing with courage as insane as Captain Jack Sparrow! There's a precise time when the absolute best of things comes around and this is Mr Abbie we are speaking of. Until then, some wise strategies need to be executed to survive!
I have to dodge the creepy matrimonial aunties that chase me as soon as they smell 'Single'. They carry resumes and profiles of eligible bachelors they think are as good as Johnny Depp! --- I find myself warding off the sadist demon who likes to ask if my mother is unwell because I am 'ageing and still single' (my mother has a herniated disc for God's sake, you imbecile!)! --- There are nut women from sinister sororities who like to cook stories about hopeless singles and their suicidal lives when I am around. Erm, I'm not living for the ring ladies. If it doesn't come around I'll still be living a sassy, exotic life! --- Oooh, and meet the desperate housewife who likes to send me photos with strategic shots of her husband's hairy arms and legs!!! (true story!). The idea behind doing this is to trigger some nerve in me. It only triggers serious concerns for her psychological health. Must I go on to nauseate you?
Besides playing dodge, I have also learned the types of shady characters to avoid --- the 'self-proclaimed eligible' bachelors that is. The majority of buffoons are those hanging by the delicate thread called 'visa' and wish to tie the knot with my US passport instead of my awesome self! Instead of over-focusing time and money on that wall we share with Mexico, Mr. President should hunt out these matrimonial aunties who have organized portfolios of immigrants who have passed their visa tenures, have no legal resident status, or are carrying fake academic degrees to trap vulnerable citizen ladies. There are certain checks and balances that I have figured out to decode the fake. 
Also, from the horror stories I have seen, I have learned that you don't marry JUST the man but you marry the family as well. You get a monster-in-law instead of a mother-in-law you are dead! You land into a greedy family, your happy days are over. You tie the knot with people who are different in culture, values, faith, and tradition - you are in for an existential crisis. So, I have learned not to compromise standards and criteria. 

Another thing! I am a hopeless romantic. I believe in the magic of Disney fairytales, I live like the madness of Captain Jack Sparrow, I am a Gryffindor at heart, and a Middle-Earthling as well! With this package, I cannot settle for a commercial marriage contract. Mr. Abbie needs to do justice to this package, otherwise --- Keep the ring and let freedom riiiiiiiiinggggggggggggggggg! 

L - Less Is More

... of everything, really. Keeping it simple rounds up to big! That's a mathematical oddity but who cares about math, and its other strings attached? I mean, I knew I wasn't going to care when I scored a 6 on 25 on my first ever Algebra test in 6th grade. Okay, I was worried sick but still...
Less is more is my lesson learned all through last year. I am using a minimalist approach to my artistic expressionism and also my lifestyle! Why? Because I feel my processing capacity is diminishing with time. It is deterring partly because I am always under panic and pressure! ๐Ÿ’ฃ Work's growing, social media are booming like mad, and social complications know no end! I do not think ALL of that is for me to handle. 
Most of art should be kept personal and all meanings should not be given away. Small, meaningful posts with animated gifs and comics and graphics is more appealing than paras upon paras of writing.
Talking less and keeping details to myself is also a very wise thing to do - conveys more! Nobody listens sincerely anyways. 
Keeping a few numbered good friends is better than huge groups and battalions of social butterflies because they simply add to the disturbia! 
And ... I shall leave you here.  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

K - Kitchen Hacks That Changed My Life

I was discarding milk dot on the best before date, the cilantro was turning into compost fertilizer (smelly as sewage!) in the produce drawer of my fridge, green onions were dying, and bananas were turning into blackened corpses. I took to the internet to find and test hacks that would rescue all the produce! Here are the tried and tested ones!
The deal is... air dry your cilantro by laying it out on the counter and setting a fan on it. Pat dry with a dish towel, and place it an airtight container NOT a Ziploc bag. Put an egg (NOT BOILED) with the cilantro. Cover with a lid, make it all airtight. Store in a crisp produce drawer. Keep changing the egg with a fresh one every week, and the old egg's completely usable - you will not mutate into a ninja turtle, I promise! Cilantro will stay fresh and unspoiled for weeks. If you see moisture on the leaves, keep pat drying. 
Oranges like farting. Yes, they emit this gas that ripens and rots other fruits and vegetables. Apples and cucumbers all die when oranges break wind. They should be stored in plastic bags and in separate drawers of the fridge.
I have tested and approved this! But don't try getting 2 dozen bananas because this is not mummification. This is temporary extension of shelf life. Break bananas off from the bunch and aluminum foil wrap the stem where it was attached. Then wrap a cling wrap. Do not store with oranges. Use a plastic bag to keep them.
Add a cling wrap to the tops. And change water every couple of days. The green shoots will grow! Keep trimming, keep using! This looks like a terrarium in my fridge! The only green thumb I have ever exhibited after killing my hydrangeas!
Pickle jars, juice bottles, jam bottles, etc. etc. etc.
These hacks changed my life - speaking in a TV ad testimonial tone - Seriously! I intend to do some more tests and trials. Until next year then ...