“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Oat Almond and Apricot Cookies - Whole grain and Egg less


 Weekends are relaxing. It is early morning. A “thud” sound announces the arrival of newspaper as it falls in our veranda. We admire the precision with which the vendor flings the paper holding handle of his bicycle with one hand and digging another into the bag again for another newspaper for our neighbour. A group of children going to school chatter in high decibels. Their animated conversation remains audible even when they pass by our gate and reach almost the end of the lane. Fog and cold does not seem to deter children. They enjoy everything.


Soon it is time for preparing lunch and some brinjals growing in our backyard need to be plucked. It is sunny and pleasant. A “tweep” sound at intervals makes us stop and spot the source. We discover a male Grey bushchat perched in the branches. 



Some days ago we spotted a female Grey bushchat in the same area.



In the evening, I baked Oat Almond and Apricot Cookies. 


Half of them vanished before the tea could be served. Tasty and healthy and just perfect with chai spiced tea.


Oat Almond and Apricot Cookies – Whole grain and Egg less
Ingredients
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ stick butter
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 to 2 tablespoon milk at room temperature
½ cup chopped soft dried apricots
½ cup chopped almonds
Method
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease a baking tray.
Whisk together first four ingredients in a bowl. Keep aside.
Beat butter and powdered sugar till creamy and fluffy. Add granulated sugar. Mix well. Add vanilla essence and flour mix. Mix till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. You may mix it with hands.
Add apricots and almonds. Mix. Add one tablespoon milk. Try to get the dough together. Add more milk it feels dry and hard. The dough should come together and bind well.
Take walnut size balls of dough and press between palms to get a cookie about ¾ inch thick. Arrange cookies on the greased tray keeping some distance in between. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or till the edges of the cookies start turning golden. Remove tray from the oven. Remove cookies after 5 minutes to a rack.

Store in an airtight jar when cold.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Marmalade Cake - Wholegrain and Egg less


It is a cloudy evening. Cloudscapes meld into a thick gray cover looming over the sky. A soothing warmth pervades. At night, we smell the scent of wet Earth. It is raining. Another cold day in store we assume, clutching our quilts tighter. Next morning, it is cloudy and foggy as expected. A movement in the dry bushes catch our attention. 


It is a Taiga Flycatcher hopping in the branches and returning to her perch after catching insects from the ground. 



She is all fluffed up, letting out a sonorous light pitched note periodically.


Our kitchen smells heaven. Marmalade Cake is almost baked. An Orangee aroma and flavour of spices is intoxicating. 



The cake is sliced next day. Everyone relishes it and gets over same evening.


Marmalade Cake – Whole grain and Egg less
A Delia Collection recipe adapted from www.tastegoblet.com
Ingredients
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup brown sugar or powdered white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon each of powdered green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and dried ginger
½ cup (100 gms) butter softened
 ¼ cup mixed dry fruits (candied orange peels, apricots, cherries etc.)
¼ cup tutty fruity
Finely grated zest of an orange
Finely grated zest of a lemon
1 tablespoon white vinegar
160 ml milk, plus more if needed
1 heaped tablespoon marmalade
½ tablespoon fine sugar to sprinkle on top
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one 6 ½ inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
Whisk together first four ingredients in a big bowl.
Cut butter into small cubes and add to ingredients in the bowl. Mix with hands till the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Add dry fruits, tutty fruity and zest.            
Mix well. Add milk, a little at a time followed by a little vinegar.
Stir well till the ingredients mix well. Stir in marmalade. The batter should be of dropping consistency. Add more milk if required.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle sugar evenly on top. Bake for 55-60 minutes till the cake shrinks from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides. Invert in the rack. Cool.
Slice next day. This is important. The cake really tastes beautiful after a day.



Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Wartime Cake | Cake-Pan Cake (Egg less, Butter free and Low Calorie)


Forest is enchanting, intriguing, mysterious sometimes cold and scary. A row of Sagwan trees (Teak, tectona grandis) stood between forest and fields. Tall majestic trees looked like a part of forest in thickness and growth, unhindered and untouched- away from human intervention. Broad leaves of Sagwan fluttered and quivered as a mild breeze passed through them. We perceived some movement in the top branches. A distinct movement caused by repeated motion of some kind. The Sun was bright and getting into the eyes making it difficult to ascertain and guess the cause of it. We zoomed the camera and discovered a Jungle Owlet


Perched on the topmost branch under a tuft of leaves, it looked at us intently. We were lucky to spot one during daytime. And we immediately left its territory intending not to disturb it.



One recipe that has always come to my rescue whenever I have to bake a cake in a short time and with basic ingredients is this Wartime Cake. Also called Cake Pan Cake, it requires simple ingredients that are always there at home.



 It is butter free and egg less, yet dark moist and delicious. It can be put together in the pan it is baked in.
It is an easy recipe.





Wartime Cake | Cake-Pan Cake - Butter free and Egg less

Adapted from kingarthurflour.com 
I have added 1 teaspoon of coffee powder. Original recipe asks for ½ teaspoon. Wrap the cake in a foil and slice it cake on the second day, or even later. The flavours develop fully and the cake also becomes softer.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups All-Purpose flour
1 cup sugar (powdered)
¼ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coffee powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line the bottom and sides of one 6 inch round cake pan.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients (pass cocoa through a sieve to remove the lumps if any) in a wide mouthed pan.
Make three holes in the pan. Pour vanilla essence into the first hole, vinegar into the second and oil into the third.
Take cold milk and pour it over everything in the pan. Stir everything with a fork until the ingredients are well blended. Pour the batter immediately into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven after 5 minutes. Remove from the pan after another 5 minutes. Cool in the rack.
Pour Ganache over the cake (optional). Slice and serve.
Ganache
100gms dark chocolate
4 tablespoons low fat cream
Heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler. Stir constantly till the chocolate melts. Take off the heat and stir briskly till it becomes smooth and shiny. It will thicken as it cools.
Pour Ganache evenly on cake.










Monday, 12 January 2015

Til Chikki | Sesame Brittle



 The Sun was kind and benevolent today. It showered all the warmth and brightness and it was a pleasant day after heavy fog and mist that had made life sluggish and dull.



 We spotted a White Breasted Kingfisher sunning on one of the logs used for barbed fence.
The festival of Makar Sankranti is a day away. Makar Sankranti entails great celebrations all over Kumaon. We celebrate Kumaoni culture, music, traditions and art. Fairs are held in all the towns where local artists showcase their talents. Plays and music shows exhibit the richness of our culture. Stalls are put up where the farmers from interior hills sell their produce that comprises mainly of pulses and rare Himalayan herbs. People brave the cold and attend the festivities with great élan.


Sweets made of sesame seeds are made in every house hold and are offered to the Gods. Come winters and sesame sweets are made and relished all over the hills. Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), healthy protein and fiber. Half a cup of sesame seeds with hull contains three times more calcium than half a cup of whole milk. Jaggery is rich in minerals and iron. Roasted sesame seeds in caramelized jaggery make til chikki a delicious and healthy treat.


Sesame Chikki| Sesame Brittle
Ingredients
1 cup Sesame seeds (Til)
1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter) + 1 teaspoon ghee for greasing
¾ cup Jaggery (Gur)
Method
Roast the sesame seeds in low flame till they turn golden in color. Keep aside.
Take a pan. Add ghee and crumbled jaggery.
Cook it over a low flame till it caramelizes. Add a drop of jaggery in cold water. If it forms a hard ball, it is caramelized.
Turn off the heat and now add the roasted sesame seeds to jaggery and mix thoroughly.
Grease the plate with ghee and then pour this mixture and roll it into thin sheet with the help of greased rolling pin.
Allow it to cool for some time and then cut into square pieces.
Store in an airtight container.



Saturday, 10 January 2015

Chunky Bitter Sweet Pomelo Marmalade


Few days ago we got some Pomleos from our friends’ farm. It is the coldest time of the year with temperature dropping to lowest and the fog looming most of the time. No one wanted to eat the humble citruses that were lying in the counter pretty ignored. We love making jams, and, marmalade is our favourite. But I have never made orange marmalade solely because the pesticides and sprays that are used unscrupulously in oranges is intimidating, especially in marmalade where the peels are used. I have made Malta marmalade with Malta from the hills. Pomelos had to be used and using them for marmalade was the best way of doing justice to the fruit given to us lovingly and also the fact that they had not been sprayed with any pesticide.


A Pomelo is a citrus fruit native to several countries in Southeastern Asia. It is also known as Chinese Grapefruit. In Hindi, Pomelo is called Chakotra. Pomelo is the largest fruit in the citrus family. The peels of ripe Pomelo are pale green or yellow in colour and very bitter. The inner fruit is usually white, pink or even red. It is mildly sweet.



I followed my dad’s recipe in making Pomelo Marmalade. Bitter sweet chunky marmalade lashed on butter drenched warm toast is pure heaven!


While I was taking pictures, a bee came and sat on the bottle. It felt like a  compliment!


Chunky Bitter Sweet Pomelo Marmalade
Ingredients
4 Pomelos
2 lemons
Sugar depending on the quantity of juice and peel mixture (approx. 1 kg + 1 cup sugar)
Water
Other Ingredients
A muslin cloth
A steel plate
Method
Wash the pomelos and lemons thoroughly with hot water. Peel the rind of one pomelo and one lemon with a sharp peeler. Take care not to get the pith (white portion underneath the rind). Cut peels into thin strips. You may peel the other pomelo and cut peels into thin strips if you want a chunkier marmalade.
Cut the pomelos into quartets. Remove the flesh (juicy hair) collect in a bowl. Collect the pips and the white membranes of Pomelo. 
Cut lemons into half. Juice the lemons and add the juice to Pomelo flesh. Collect pips and white membranes of lemon.
Take juice and flesh in a steel wok. Add peels and add enough water to cover the fruit completely. Make sure that the quantity of water is on the higher side and not less.
 Take all the pips and white membrane in a muslin cloth. Tie a knot tightly. Add this muslin bag to the steel wok. Cook in medium flame. Stir the mixture and keep pressing the bag. Pips and membranes are rich in pectin. Try to extract as much as possible. It will give marmalade a jelly like consistency.
Turn off the heat when the peels turn mush. Press the muslin bag for pectin. Discard. Measure the juice–peel mixture in cups. Add equivalent quantity of sugar or more if you want a sweeter marmalade.
Freeze a small steel plate.
Cook on medium heat. Bring it to rolling boil, then cook on low heat. Keep stirring. Cook till mixture becomes thick. Drop some marmalade onto the plate and push back with the index finger. If it wrinkles and collects, it is done. If it spreads thinly, it needs to be cooked more.
While the marmalade cools, sterilize the bottles. To sterilize the bottles, Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven.
Ladle warm Marmalade into hot sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch space. 







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