A Quest on Overdrive … :)

An eccentric rambler on life's lessons and mercies, found and lost… :)


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Tetchy

So there was this Mama bear
Who’d, each day, tear her hair 😀

Why, you may wonder…
But Ah. She be a Mama bear, remember? 😎

And them bears, particular the Mama sort
Do nothing, but cuddle, and then sneakily snort 🙂

She be nice, and all that jazz
Coolest Mama, her cubs, they say, they has 😛

bunnyslippered

Now Mama bear’s little cub
He be bherry fond of de pub 😉

Not the honey, as her bigger one
The golu molu rolu polu, nearly one tonne! 😛

The Cubs now know who they be
And are likely to get real tetchy. 😆

Mama bear has none but thems
To weave a write, for they be her precious gems 😛

IMG_0267

(Reading the above lines, they be sure to blow kisses
Instead of brickbats that could be near misses
) 😀

But seriously, tetchy is she
When she don’t get her morning tea! :mrgreen:

When there be those who sit and Judges
As if they be Solomon’s courtiers, or their smudges 😡

When Mama bear, she thinks of these
She be liverish, she be wanting, them, to seize 👿

And box their ears, perhaps, looking grumpy
Sometimes, pinch their arms, seeming crabby 😈

But all to naught
For she know, she not ought 🙄

She be Mama bear, not just to her cubs
But to all, for Mama bears, they all, do much much lubbs 😛

So if you do think her Cross, Fractious, irascible
Remember, it could be thee, not her that’s just irritable! 😈

She?
Tetchy? 🙄

Nyet. Non. Nevah.
She’s so goddamned clevah! ❤

You wouldn’t spot her so!
You’d just be caught out, being a Bozo! 😆

1 April, 2017, for 2 April, 2017

Day#2 of #Napowrimo, 2017 – National Poetry Writing Month 2017
This one creams it, it terms of sheer nonsense, fun and wicked wicked references. You all know who you be 😛 😛 Yenjaaiii! ~ Mama Bear 😛

 

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33 Comments

Brothers Who Bake

… are awesome. My younger brother is, anyway, whether he can bake or not 😀 But, the fact that he has, and has motivated me to, is awesomer yet 🙂 🙂 Truly! So, let’s just go back a bit, now that the appreciation has been recorded, and will be acknowledged soon enough – read, when he sees this 😀

Over the weekend, as I was preparing to visit home, for the Onam vacation, having cancelled, rather sadly, a longer trip to meet the elder son and my DIL, Vinu calls and tells me he’s actually baked a loaf of bread. I was amazed, for though my brother is an exemplary household help, in every which way, and makes the best doshas, and has forayed into other dishes, it is usually his wife, Tripti, who is the one who experiments and bakes the most wonderful dishes! And here he was telling me about this accomplishment! I applauded, asked for the recipe, and wondered when the heck I’d get to doing it. Making bread, for me, is a most complex task, one fraught with dangers and fall-flat-on-your-face kind of results. But, as always, Vinu gave hope 😀

He sent me the recipe via email, and I didn’t even check it till yesterday. It has to be the most entertaining of recipes I’ve read to date; a warm, funny, fuzzy woman had written it, for sure; someone who is so empathetic! You’ll understand why, as you read it – I’ll copy paste it, later.

photo (1)

Vinu’s elegant masterpiece!

Next, yesterday afternoon, he send me the picture he took of his creation. Boy O Boy! Was I impressed!!! Mom too. He called this morning to give me some tips that worked for him; this picture is his third attempt; the first one being, well, forgettable, the second better, and the third, as you can see, almost professional! I scrawled the tips all over the printed sheet, and said I’d do it with Atta, instead of Maida. After a tiny silence he gently prompted, well, would you want to see if it works with Maida, and then go on, towards Atta? Lol. It worked. It always does 😀 So I went ahead, got the ingredients out – just 4-5 of them, and NO EGG. Before I proceed, let me add the recipe here, so that you have that laugh, as I did, while kneading. You wouldn’t understand my wanting to giggle as I kneaded it, otherwise 😛

******************************

The Recipe:

Simple Bread Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups warm water, not hot or you will kill your yeasty friends

2 teaspoons yeast—a packet contains 2.25 teaspoons–close enough.

2 teaspoons salt

5-ish cups flour, all-purpose is fine unless you wish to alter it for health reasons

Instructions

Mix the yeast into the water.

Combine the salt with two or three cups of flour.

Add the flour/salt duo to the water, stirring…or enlisting younger arms to stir for you.

Add more flour and continue to stir until the dough holds together and is not wet.

Dump the dough onto a clean, floured surface and knead. (If you don’t know how to knead bread dough, just fake it. This is very forgiving bread.) Add more flour as needed, but don’t overdo it. A little sticky is fine—too dry is not so fine.

Knead until it is as smooth as a baby’s bottom. If you have no baby’s bottom at hand to compare it to, give it the stretch test. Hold the dough up to the light and stretch a portion of it. If you can see light through it before it breaks, congrats! You’re finished. If not, give it a little more tender lovin’ care. We knead this dough about ten minutes. (Sometimes we cheat and knead less. We’ve yet to be ostracized for our occasional laissez-faire kneading attitude.)

Shape the bread into two or three Italian-shaped loaves or several mini-loaves. Do this by pressing the dough flat and folding it into thirds, or by rolling it up.

Put the ugly seamed side down and tuck under the ends.

Place the loaves on a lightly greased pan. Optionally, shape two shorter loaves and place them in greased loaf pans for “bread-shaped bread.” Grease the top (I like butter), and cover with plastic wrap or a flour sack towel. Set in a warm place to rise—the oven is too warm for rising and will kill your yeast, but the top of the refrigerator is just fine.

Let those babies rise until about doubled in size, or until you get tired of waiting, whichever comes first. We wait anywhere from 30 minutes on a hungry, summer’s day to an hour and a half on an oops-did-we-forget-about-the-bread day. Normally, 45 minutes should do it.

Preheat the oven to 232 degrees C. (My girls bake at 232 degrees, and I bake at 218 because I like the little time cushion for when (not if) I get distracted and wander somewhere that I can’t hear the oven timer. I won’t tell you whose bread my husband likes better.) Preheat for 20 minutes if you have baking stones in your oven.

Slash the top of the loaves several times diagonally for that authentic, fresh-from-a-French-bakery look.

Put the dough in the oven. (If you want to use baking stones, slide the loaves off the pans and onto the stones.) Spritz the interior of the oven with water. (This is optional, but gives the out-of-the-pan loaf a more tender crust. Some people have had trouble with stones and a few oven doors cracking from spritzing a very hot oven with cold water, so you may opt for a heavy duty pan with a couple cups of water set on another rack in the oven. Or skip it. Honestly, I skip it. We’re going for simple here.

Some of my girls spritz the loaf and the sides of the oven.) Set the timer for roughly 12 to 15 minutes, although it may take up to 20 minutes or more, depending on the size of your loaves and whether or not they are in pans.

Because all ovens, pans, doughs, and bakers are different, use this reliable test to see if your bread is done. Traditionally, cooks tap the bread; if it sounds hollow, it’s done. It always sounds hollow to me when I’m hungry and smelling fresh bread. Therefore, I take an instant read thermometer and insert it into the ugliest part of the bread where nobody will notice a hole. If the temp reads 190 to 210, it’s done.

Remove, cool briefly, slice, eat. Personally, I believe bread is a means of transporting butter to the mouth, so I say load on the butter!

*****************************

Entertaining, wasn’t it? I’ve deliberately italicized the real fun parts 🙂

I got the water, just right, (** Tips: as he said, dip your finger in it and it should be hot enough, just not to hurt :D) ; did the rest of the things he suggested (which was to halve the ingredients, except the yeast, and then do it, for starters), and then came the kneading! Push out with heel of palm, fold in, push out again… except that it was real sticky, and I was getting mad. Then I kept thinking about the required consistency, the baby’s bottom wala rule 😛 And that got me laughing and giggling and asking mom every now and then if the baby bottom rule had been achieved! It was fun!

The rest of it followed as instructed, and in a very square pan, it went in, like this 😀 And came out quite ok!

Before it went into the oven!

Before it went into the oven!

And ta-da! Tasted good too!

And ta-da! Tasted good too!

 

Wow! For me! And for Vinu! Ta-da! Please do try it! Ambitiously, mom and I plan to try the same thingy with whole wheat, and throw in a bit of garlic and sesame seeds for good effect. Vinu assures me it will work! This, after a loud guffaw!

Thanks Vinu! It really was fun! Now I’ve got to try the Walnut cake recipe you sent. Soon.

**Tips: In the lukewarm water, sprinkle half teaspoon of sugar; then sprinkle yeast – do not stir

Add flour bit by bit; stop if your dough is becoming dryish; sticky is good, not too sticky of course. (Psst mine was real sticky 😛 )

I did not manage to even shape it, as it was SO sticky. Still, it’s okay 😀

I baked at 210 deg. C. Also, I kept the dough in the oven, slightly preheated, switched off, and left to cool a bit. Helped it to rise better I think. My brother’s tips 🙂

And Pssst… I am not sure where the recipe is from, but will find out and add the website here soon. Do excuse till then.

Disclaimer: The Simple Bread Recipe belongs to the wonderful person who wrote it. I just feel so sad that I don’t have a name to go by, to thank!

19 September, 2013

*****

write tribe

This post comes as a response to the Write Tribe’s Free Write theme for this week. I have been infrequent here, and elsewhere owing to a bad back, and reading that motivating post, on Write Tribe, made me want to do my bit. And the prompt was handed on that platter, along with the loaf of bread, by my brother 🙂 16 minutes is what it took, just typing in; till before the date. The copy-paste, proof-reading and pictures, extra time 🙂


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Peppiness

The pearly glow of dawn trickled in through the gaps the fluttering curtains made. Craning her neck backwards she looked at the clock. Nearing six. Should she or not? She gave up and got up anyway. It was too early, and too new a day to lend it to heaviness.

Her husband shifted, groaned, when she got up. Missed her warmth, more likely. He lucked out, she decided. She wasn’t going to cuddle him this Sunday. She cleaned up and made tea. Left a cup for him, to warm in the microwave later. Then she wandered out into the balcony. Her favourite time of the day. The nip in the air, the tang of a freshness that  never duplicated; each day’s flavour was unique. Or perhaps she had simply forgotten the previous day’s? Whatever.

Today was Lazy Day. She wasn’t going to do a THING. Anything that needed to be done would be done, however. She stopped short of making herself that promise. She knew how promises were with her. They reneged, each and every darned time. Today she would play the hours without the page, or the page turner.

The newspaper boy, earphones plugged in from his mobile, expertly threw her three sets of dailies her way. Ah. Bliss. An hour later, and she was leisurely reading though some interesting features in the magazine section, smiling at some genial jibes on the state of affairs in the virtual world, when she felt a tickle on the nape of her neck. He had bent over to blow on her neck, followed by a light peck.

“Ummmm….” she said.

“You’re heartless, d’you know that?” He grinned at her.

“Of course”, she smirked.”Your tea is the only thing I’m going to cater for today. You need to warm it up.” She poked her tongue at him.

“Careful darling, Don’t get all decisive on me. You know how you get undecided really fast.”And he stuck his tongue out at her.

She giggled. He trailed his fingers over her shoulders and hair, on the way out of the balcony, to the kitchen.

Ten minutes later he was back, on his chair.

“So what’s new today?” He picked up one of the dailies that screamed of scandal, of a Minister and his domestic troubles. “Oh him.” Cuckoo. Mainstream news was so cynical. Nothing ever was sacrosanct either. He suddenly started laughing. She kicked out and wanted to know why.

“Here’s a feature- an ode, I’d say- about how women can never be lazy.” He continued to laugh intermittently.

“Oh? I’m not going to read it, but I’ll show you how I can. ME.” Ignoring the bad grammar, which he would not notice anyway, she was determined to show him how a lazy day is spent. He only rolled his eyes at her.

She finished her tea, nice and cold though it was, dumped the rest of the dailies on his lap, ruffled his hair and went inside. Switched on the TV. 9XM had some crazy songs playing. Music? She gave a shudder! Switching channels, she came across a favourite. Goodtimes, the NDTV; a sure-fire engaging channel. She’d just watch some mouth-watering recipes and cooking, and then hope he’d go out and get something. Already she was regretting the “I’ll show you” she threw at him!

There went Vicky, the egoistic charmer, with his dashing style. Wait a minute, why was he up so early on the channel? Oh, a re-run. She sat through it, drool collecting by the drop each moment. Automatically she went over the ingredients she might just have. The episode was over, and now came some dessert suggestions. Oatmeal cookies with whipped cream. Ah. Ah. Aaaah. She changed channels, and caught a favourite playing on HBO. Before Sunrise. She practically sub vocalized each bit Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke said to each other. The tantalizing lingering feeling of love, of anticipation, of desire… it seeped into her, all over again. She felt warm and marshmallowy, just as he came and joined her on the couch, wrapping his arms around her.

Nine in the morning, and her lazy day was hotting up. She gave in, to the surreal way he always made her feel. She did not question, just savoured the magic. Till her stomach wanted her to pay attention.

“Baby, me wants food” Petulantly, as a child would. He loved it when she was that way.

“Mmmmm… Me too.” He got up and fixed breakfast, which he brought her to the couch, and joined her. They talked, laughed a lot, ate, watched TV, in between, and did not stir out of the couch. It was a perfect Sunday. That was yet to get over.

A while later, sated with food, sleepy, she went back to bed and curled up with a book. She was re reading The Alchemist. There was something about a Sunday, and re reading that made her feel good. You knew what was coming, and you did not need to be unduly anxious about the characters doing strange things. She wondered what he was doing, and could not stay there.

Getting up, she peeked out of the bedroom. And heard noises from the Kitchen. Uh oh. A Lazy Sunday meant a Manic Monday if he was loose in the Kitchen. She sashayed in pretending to just potter around. He quirked an eyebrow at her questioningly. She shrugged her shoulders.

What was he doing! Chopping the spinach that way, or shredding the cabbage with  the scissors! And why did he need that amount of green chilly? Was the chicken fully thawed before he put it in the microwave? He hummed a tuneless sound, obviously enjoying himself. When she tried to do something, he sent her off, promising delicacies never heard of.

She went back to the book. The Universe, she decided, had conspired to make her break her promise, the one she refused to make anyway. Closing the book, she picked up her towel and clothes and headed for the bathroom. Half an hour later, refreshed, happy, she came to the kitchen, and cheerfully ordered him out. Took over from where he left off.

“It’s only self-preservation” she defended.

“I know. Those instincts of yours are really good you know. You sure you don’t want me to do anything?”

“Baby, just go. You’ve proved your point”

He grabbed her, twirled and set her down with a quick peck.

The I-told-you-so was clearly superfluous. And they giggled together.

***

2 April, through to 3 April, just after midnight
Online
The Experiments are simply getting crazier, aren’t they? The muse is manic. 😛


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Jugular

It must be said though I may be only molecular
That any and every effort I make is un-singular

I try and attempt to encourage the exemplar
Without achieving anything in particular

And so with this, rather minute, best-seen-with-a-binocular
Write, I rest my silly rhyme, most un-spectacular
Fearing you might go for the jugular!

11 September, 2011
(Fixated on writing, stubbornly, with “jugular”. Sigh. Talk of losing one’s mind. Lost my quill too. :D!)


26 Comments

Vishu- വിഷു

Sols and Deeps, this is just for you. I know how much you two love this sort of a thing 🙂 🙂

This is also for my MOM 🙂

Today is special. It is Vishu. It is also my EB’s birthday 🙂 (Elder Brother). Happy birthday to another special Arien, and also to a year, reborn again, bringing with it hope for a better tomorrow.

കൈ നിറയെ കൊന്ന പൂവും, നിറപറയും, നിലവിളക്കും, മനസ്സുനിറയെ സ്നേഹഹവുമായി വിഷുവിനെ വരവേല്‍ക്കാം … 🙂

If you are seeing the above in “????” or a whole lot of little squares, you probably do not have the malayalam font! I’ll just transliterate for you, in English.. “Kai niraye konna poovum, niraparayum, nilavilakkum, manassuniraye snehavumaayi vishuvine varavelkkam ”

Meaning to say:

“With our hands and hearts full of the beauty, and the golden sheen of the konna flowers (cassia fistula, or indian laburnum), the fullness of a nirapara ( a measure of paddy, in golden grain), and the light of a lamp lit on the morning of Vishu, let us welcome it with our hearts full of love…”

A nirapara looks like this 🙂

(Have taken the image from a search engine, and it belongs to flickr.com )

Vishu:

The Kani Konna (- Cassia Fistula, a lot like the laburnum) is the flower of Vishu. Gorgeous chandelier like flowers in the sunshiniest yellow golden, filling the tree, our eyes and our hearts, come Vishu 🙂 It is the key to the Vishu Kani (what you ought to see- kani- the first thing when you open your eyes on Vishu day 🙂 )Here is the tree, at my parents, taken about a week ago… a beautiful sight!

The Vishu Kani, mom’s

The lamp at the nearest end, is called a Maadambi (മാടമ്പി)- It is pretty ancient, a family heirloom,  has a wooden stand, on which is placed the brass lamp. Mom uses it only on special occasions. The nilavilakku is at the far end, on the other side of the uruli (ഉരുളി), the brass basin in which the kani is arranged. The pic above is when she arranged it, and below, when it was time for the kani, at 4 am 🙂

Incidentally, I was tweeted as to why a mirror is placed in the vishukani. I have been told it is because we need to see ouselves, the best in ourselves, to appreciate the Godhead in us, as we prepare to start a new year, with this auspicious sight! It figures then, I think that you need to love yourself, and respect yourself, to be able to see in oneself the Godhead, isn’t it? I like that viewpoint, immensely 🙂 🙂

The chakka (ചക്ക)… jackfruit, is then taken out, after the kani (കണി), and facing eastwards, it is cut 🙂 That is mom doing it the naadan (നാടന്‍), the traditional way with a mazhu (മഴു).. or axe 🙂 And below, the halves arranged, for a few seconds left as it is 🙂 🙂

I am also told, that Vishu begins the cycle of rain patterns, the njattuvela (ഞാറ്റുവേല)… 🙂 Today marks the ashwathy njattuvela (അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല), and it is likely to rain soon 🙂 Each of the 27 stars has its own pattern, with the rohini, makayiryam, thiruvathira, (രോഹിണി, മകീരം, തിരുവാതിര) bringing in the most amount of rain, which is so essential for the farmers.

Today is also the day when it is most auspicious to sow a few seeds, being the ashwathy njattuvel 🙂 ((അശ്വതി ഞാറ്റുവേല))

*Whew! Wipes sweat off her brow* This has been satisfying, but hard work. Finding a transliteration page to work with, and finally opening the google transliteration malayalam page, to write there, and copy paste the malayalam here. But it seems to be worth it!

Have a wonderful year ahead, everyone!

സര്‍വ ഐശ്വര്യങ്ങള്‍ കൂടിയ വിഷുദിനാശംസകള്‍

സ്നേഹപൂര്‍വ്വം …
ഉഷസ്സ്

Wishing the best of the season, for Vishu, greetings and blessings…

With love

Ushus 🙂

15 April, 2010

Edited to add on 18th April, 2010:

Found this video, of a favourite song , in Malayalam, Kani Kaanum neram (കണി കാണും നേരം കമല നേത്രന്ടെ) on Sindhu’s FB wall 🙂 Thanks Sindhu 🙂 Just to share, because I know those who love this song will certain find it in the right post 🙂