Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Series Garden Escapades

Anyone who has got a book collection and a garden wants for nothing.
Cicero

At the end of the day gardening for me is away to wind down. Gardening represents optimism for me and being a true optimist the amount of satisfaction I get nurturing saplings and see them fruit and flower is beyond words. Dairy of my garden from last year, this year with an up coming long trip did not plant much as I would hate for them die and wither away.

Summer for me arrives with Jasmine flowers, these tiny blooms so fragrant and sensual a true summer quintessential.

Indian Jasmine (Malle Puvvu)

A must have for any home vegetable garden are Tomatoes, thanks to the Californian summersthese grow plenty. Very hardy and easy to grow. Last year went to local gardening chapter and got plants/seeds of Heirloom variety, and true to the picture these were so sweet,It would be an insult to cook anything with them. All you have to do is wash and eat. Extremely delicious,meaty and sweet.

Heirloom Tomatoes are my entry for Click hosted by Bee& Jai of Jugalbandi, this months theme -Stacks.

We had a bounty last year and most of my friends got to taste them.
Summer vegetables we grew include corn, yellow squash and cucumber. Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked fruit /vegetables hands down.
Eggplant the hotter the weather the better the crop.
Lemon Cucumber or Indian cucumber (Dosakaya) excellent for Dals and pickles.

Uncontrollable mint, find it every where in my yard and the king of south Indian cooking Kadi Patta or Curry leaves, No dish is ever complete without curry leaves seasoning.
Indian Guava, these flower in summer and takes a while for the fruit to form usually in November, though they are very small in size they are big on flavor.
Pomegranate or Anar, this is the Kabuli Anar, so soft sweet and very fleshy. Get to enjoy them untill fall.
No yard is complete without fragrant flowers. Pink Calla Lilly and my favorite red rose.
Few other variety of roses.
Lovely Hydrangea,depending on the soil conditions one year its blue flowers and one year its pink and one year a combination of both a visual treat to my eyes.
Hope you have enjoyed a tour of my modest sub urban yard. I will be gone for few days hopefully I get to take pictures of places,people and food I see and eat. Have a happy summer everyone.
Hope to be back soon.
Love,
Sreelu

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Series : Jalapeño Guacamole

Summer Series : Jalapeño Guacamole
Friends are amazing and the way you meet and develop friendship is even more amazing,some friends are to die for and some are a social obligation and some in between.When I came to US about a decade ago ( boy makes me feel old) anyways back to point,I was a newly wed bride trying to figure out my way into this new and strange at times country, I started working for a very high energy start up in San Francisco, which meant I had a long commute from south bay where we lived. With no kids and no other obligations that long train ride to SFO was such a pleasure, it was my chance to catch with new paper and my favorite past time ever reading. Well during these commute day met a girl in a very similar state as me newly married immigrant figuring out things just like me, after some awkward initial hi and byes we realized we work very close to each other take the same trains slowly we became friends since both of us had quite a few common shared interest.Then one day lady Jane and her husband decided to move across the coast for a better opportunity,initially phone calls were regular then frequency changed to monthly then mostly for wishing each other on special occasions and then to none and eventually lost touch.Thanks to the era of social networking few weeks back out of the blue I get pinged by Lady JANE wow it felt nice to catch up.Met up with her for lunch at her home , you see we had seven years worth of catching up todo. She moved into this cute little home right out of some Jane Austin's novel. A huge fruit orchard and a nice vegetable patch, she had lilacs in her front yard and a gigantic Avocado tree.I have never see avocado tree before, so as you can imagine after a delicious lunch came home with a bag full of avocados.M this is for you and to many more lunches together.
For a person where guacamole was out of a jar most of the time eating a freshly made one was heavenly. Heard Avocado is high in anti oxidants and has good fat.Kicked it up a little by adding canned Jalapeños and boy o boy it tasted great.
Ingredients
Preparation time about 15 minutes
serves about 2 people

2 medium sized Avocadoes
1/2 firm ripe tomato cut into thin cubes
1 garlic pod minced very very fine
2 canned jalapeños, squeeze the water out of it and chop finely into pieces
few springs of Cilantro
fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt according to taste
Preparation
1. de shell avocado and cut into cubes, to this add tomatoes, minced garlic,chopped Jalapeños.
2.Mix with a fork trying to squish avocado, I like it chunky so I don't mush it much.
3.Add salt ,pepper and lemon juice and mix well
4.Add cilantro and mix well
Serve with Chips or on top it of on a cheesy quesadilla or eat just like that, either way I swear you will love the taste.
PS: During conversion with my friend she mentioned what a pain fruit and vegetable trees can be when they have abundant crop,ripe fruit fallen on the ground makes a mess.When you have bounty of fruits and vegetables that you can share please donate it to your local food bank or call organization like http://www.sfglean.org/ where volunteers will come collect your crop and god know if you get lucky a good voluteer might even prune your tree for free, its a win win situation your garden stays clean and a family in need is helped.
Stay cool this summer and have fun.
Love,
Sreelu

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Series : Garbanzo Picnic Salad

Summer Series Garbanzo/Chickpeas Salad
Yeah its summer, weather here in bay area has been so perfect that it seems like a crime to sit at home on the weekends. We had our first picnic of the season few weeks back with good friends and boy it was fun. Can't wait for our next one.Come summer with schools closed its time to take a chill pill and put the strict schedules of pick up and drop off,homework's,soccer practices and classes on shelf for some time. Looking forward to lots of picnics and tons of fun this summer.
Made this Garbanzo salad for the picnic, very simple and very filling best part it can be ahead of time and allow to chill or can be tossed right in the park for a crunchy texture.
Ingredients
1 cup chickpeas (soaked over night and pressure cooked with salt) or 1 canned garbanzo beans
1/2 cup very finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely seed and diced cucumber
1/2 cup de seeded and finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup peeled and finely diced raw mango
1/2 cup seeded and finely chopped red bell pepper ( you can use mixed colors here)
2-3 tbsp very very finely chopped chilies ( I use fresh red Thai chilies)
few sprigs of cilantro finely chopped
1-2 tbsp ginger very very finely chopped (optional)
For dressing
2 tbsp Chaat masala
2 tbsp fresh ground pepper ( adjust accordingly to choice)
1 tbsp amchur powder (dried mango powder)
1 tbsp rock salt/black salt
Juice of 1-2 lemons (depending on size of lemons)
salt according to taste

Process
1. Cut all the vegetables finely as mentioned (I usually like mine very finely chopped and of same size, it makes salad look very pretty)
2. add vegetable to boiled Garbanzo/chickpeas and toss well
3. mix all the dry ingredients and add to the the above and mix well
4. add lemon juice and salt and toss well.
Can be eaten at room temperature or cold,colorful ,healthy and very very filling.
Enjoy your summer everyone and have fun, don't forget your sunscreen .
This goes off to Susan's My Legume Love Affair, hosted this month by Annarasa and
Sunday Snacks-Spill the beans hosted by Priya of Akshayapaatram
Love,
Sreelu

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MM Ravishing Rice- Rice Pilaf/Pulav

Rice Pilaf
Well technically I don't know what is the difference between pulav and Biryani is for most part I use the same ingredients and vegetables in both with the exception of baking one while cooking the other. I was always intimidated making pulav for it always sounded complex with lot of involved processes, but after trying couple of time I can vouch that its one of the most easiest rice dish to make only pre requisite being that you need to have a handful of spices at home.
Ever since we had a restaurant with Hyderabad Dum Biryani as its speciality open close to our home making pulav has become a rarity for me.
Ingredients used seem a little exhaustive but trust me its not hard as it seems
Ingredients
Serves 5-6 cooking time 15 min prep+cooking time for rice
Spices2-3 Bay leaves
1/2 tbsp Black Onion Seed/Kalonji Seed/Nigella Seed
few Mace or Javitri
pinch Saffron or Zafraan
1 Star Anise or Badayan
3-4 Cloves/Laung/Lavang
two 1 inch pieces of Cinnamon stick/Dalchini
check out images of the spices used here
Vegetables
1 red Red onion sliced thin vertically
2 cups mixed vegetables ( peas,carrot,beans)
3-4 Chilies ( I used red Chilies)
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup store brought coconut milk
2tbsp of milk to soak saffron
1 Cup Basmati rice
2tb Ghee/clarified butter
2 tbsp oil for shallow frying spices
salt according taste
1 tbsp Turmeric
for garnish deep fried Onions,cashew nuts,cilantro
Process
1. Soak saffron in 2 tbsp warm milk and set aside.
2. wash basmati rice in warm water and keep aside.
3. Heat a pan add 2 tbsp oil, when oil gets warm ad all the above mentioned spices and fry till they emit a nice aroma.
4. Now add ginger garlic paste, sliced onions and chilies sauté them till onions turn brown.
5. Add all the vegetables and mix well, stir fry for about 1-2 minutes.
6. Add turmeric, salt and coconut milk and stir once again.
7. Now add soaked rice and saffron and stir till the rice is well coated.
8. Now transfer the rice into a rice cooker and add 2 cups of water, spray generously with PAM (Non-stick spray) mix well and allow to cook.
9. When cooked allow to cool a bit and then fluff the rice around for all the ingredients to mix.
10. Garnish with fried onion ,cashews and coriander leaves.
Serve hot,tastes best when accompanied with Raita or Kurma.This is my entry for Meeta's Monthly Mingle hosted by Nags - this months theme Ravishing Rice .
Love,
Sreelu

 
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