Friday, February 5, 2010

See Mom, I'm Eating My Greens!

Motherhood is warfare, and C-section scars are just one of the battle wounds inflicted upon us. Don't even get me started on breastfeeding. Seriously. Don't. And then there's the new eating techniques I have to get used to. Where once I was free to savor every bite of whatever came out of my kitchen, leisurely enjoying my meal and chatting away with DH about the day, now I have no choice but to gulp down my meal in 5 mins. Barely getting the time to chew! That's the worst for a foodie, isn't it? One of these days I'd like to get back to eating for pleasure. A girl's got to have goals in life, right?

That's my thought of the day. *Sigh*. It feels so strange talking about "mommy" issues now. I never thought of myself as being very maternal. And I'm still not very good at it, but I find that I rather like being part of this whole new group of special people in the world, i.e., moms!

I'm not afraid to occasionally grumble about the small things with you, dear readers, because you are the soul of discretion and understanding. Plus, there is no guilt because I know how my heart melts when I look at my little guy. Some day I hope I can look back on these first few weeks, and laugh at how paranoid and silly I was about so many things. Like the intense relief I felt when Bashaar's pediatrician informed me yesterday that I was doing a "good job" with him, and that he had gained a good amount of weight. Two weeks ago, I never even thought this would be a concern for me - after all,
gaining weight has never been a problem for people living in or visiting my house! It's almost a no-brainer.

But I am trying to control myself when it comes to food these days (oh, the pain!), and I do love my veggies. Hard to believe, I know. But I like 'em cooked, not raw, please. My poor mom (I miss her so!), who was with me during the first few days after my delivery, tried her very best to get me to eat all kinds of nutritious foods. But those early days were really rough for me - nausea, baby blues, you name it - so I did not have an appetite at all. Now though, as time has gone by, I'm definitely feeling hungrier and craving foods that are good for my body and soul. Like this Indian recipe for Okra Curry - hands down my favorite way to eat okra. It might become yours too.
A pretty bouquet of okra.

Okra Curry With Cashews & Yogurt
Serves 4

Click here for printable recipe

1/2 lb okra (preferably fresh)
2 tbsp urad/maash daal (the white lentils)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, finely diced
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
3/4 cup yogurt, whisked
Salt to taste
1.5 tbsp grated coconut
1/4 cup cashews
8-10 curry leaves (kadi patha)
Canola oil for frying

1. Grind the coconut and cashews to a paste; set aside.

2. Remove the base and tip of each piece of okra and cut into thirds. Heat a few tbsp of oil in a pan and shallow-fry the okra for 5-10 mins, till mostly crispy. Remove from pan and drain on kitchen towels.

3. In the same pan with the remaining oil, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion and curry leaves. Saute till onions are transparent. Then add in the urad/maash daal and saute for another 30 secs.

4. To this, add tomatoes, chilli powder, turmeric, cashew-coconut paste and salt. Cook till tomatoes are softened.

5. To the yogurt, add 1 cup of water and mix into the masala. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Now add the fried okra back in, cover the pan and simmer for 10 mins. Serve hot with chapatis or parathas.
Verdict: I always, always lick my plate clean whenever I eat this curry. It's a little sweet from the onions, a little tangy from the yogurt and tomatoes, and has amazing texture because of the cashews - plus frying the okra means they're not at all slimy, so be not afraid. I first made this when I started living on my own oh-so-many years ago, and I feel like it's ingrained into my regular cuisine now. I don't need a side of meat with this. Actually I don't need anything, other than hot chapatis to go with this. Even DH agrees that it's his favorite version of an okra curry. Score!

I'll be submitting this particular favorite recipe of mine to the next Weekend Herb Blogging round-up, hosted by Simona of Briciole.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Changed Woman

Dear readers, a new note has been added to my edible symphony of a life. I have no idea if I'm singing it right - I feel a bit off-key most of the time, to be honest with you - but I love the new melody. It's complex and beautiful. And I'm still working on it. You see, after nine months of pigging out to my heart's content, cooking and baking scrumptious goodies to sate my growing appetite (and that of DH, bless his calorific heart), it all boiled down to an eventful Tuesday, when I put my trust in God's divine recipe for humanity and let the doctors pull this delicious, delectable niblet out of my oven!Meet Bashaar, which means "bringer of happiness/glad tidings". Born Jan 19th to a pair of awe-struck parents. I drool over him. He smells better than freshly baked bread. And to my biased eyes, he's more gorgeous than a gift box full of Pierre Hermes' best macarons! I want to snuggle into him - but I won't even try, because this little tyke is just 6 lbs and fits pretty comfortably in DH's two hands.

After almost two weeks of having this little guy, I've finally found a few precious moments to share the good news with you all. And get back to some of the loves of my former life - blogging being one of them! Now, before you start thinking I'm superwoman, let me assure you that I haven't got back to cooking as yet. My only forays into the kitchen involve dumping some cereal into a bowl, throwing some blueberries in, and eating that while still standing ... as my cat looks on with disdain and the sting of betrayal in his eyes. Mama hasn't been the same since the new addition has arrived.

*Sigh* - I'll make it up to you Ozzy, I promise. In the meantime, please go play with the "It's A Boy" balloons we got home from the hospital.

Luckily, my mom was in town for two weeks, and now my mom-in-law has the dubious job of keeping our little family fed and clean, while yours truly has been relegated to the honor of being just one, over-sized, milk-producing boob for Bashaar. Exhausted would be an understatement for me right now.

So you'll forgive me if this PW recipe I'm about to talk about is a little fuzzy in my mind, since I'd made it before the delivery. Still, I do remember loving it, and giving Ree a virtual high-five for producing yet another successful recipe to add to my growing repertoire.
PW's Tres Leches Cake (see Ree's original recipe here)
Serves a crowd

Click here for printable recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 whole eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the icing:
Half pint heavy cream
1.5 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan, then put a layer of parchment paper on the bottom.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.
After having Bashaar, I don't think I'll ever look at eggs quite the same way again!

4. Beat egg whites on high speed till soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat till egg whites are stiff but not dry.

5. Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently till combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 35 - 45 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and let it cool.

6. Now for the fun part. Combine the evaporated and condensed milks, along with the heavy cream. When cake is cooled, poke it all over the surface with a fork. Don't be shy - have at it. Slowly drizzle the entire mixture over the cake, especially the edges.

7. Allow the cake to absorb the mixture for about 30 mins. In the meantime, whip the heavy cream and sugar together to make the topping. Then spread it all over the surface of the cake. Top with your favorite berries. Then cut into it and enjoy. This cake keeps really well in the fridge for about 5 days, and stays just as juicy and moist.
Verdict: This is going to be my new go-to cake for large parties. It's easy and super-delicious. Who doesn't go nuts for condensed milk, after all?! And I love that it uses 5 whole eggs. I remember having this day and night during the last week of my pregnancy - under the false pretenses that it was for the sake of having my daily intake of calcium, of course! The fact that it was light and sweet and moist beyond belief had nothing to do with it.
See the pooling of the three milks on the bottom? That's as good as gold, folks.

The perfect bite.

My blogger buddy, Debby, has been holding down the fort over at Foodie Fans of The Pioneer Woman all by herself since the last two weeks. The least I can do is send over this fab recipe as my contribution for the next FFPW round-up, which is the Wildcard round. Hang in there Deb. I may be a physical and emotional wreck these days, but I'm going to get back in the blogging saddle with you soon enough, by golly!

Now I have to rush off to feed Bashaar, who is looking mighty fine right now in his red-white-n-blue striped onesie. Tee hee.