Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yummy Apple Cake

I am not a fruity person... I don't mind co-existing with fruits but we don't have much in common. And I am not much into cakes either. (The only thing I love about home-made cakes is my mum making them and moi licking the vessel clean!). I was at the super market, picking up provisions for the week, when I saw fresh red apples. They were almost calling out to me! (Fruits have never spoken to me before!) So, in all impulsiveness, I picked up a few. Once home, however, I didn't know what to do with them. Finally, I decided the only way I can finish all the apples at one go (so that I would not feel guilty about buying them without a purpose - and I can hear some men sighing thinking that this is what most women do all the time in shopping!), is to bake a cake with them. So, I modified the standard cake making recipe (since I wanted it to be low calorie) to bake the Yummy Apple Cake as I now call it.

With the TV switched on to the DLF IPL Chennai Super Kings v/s Kolkata Knight Riders with the crowds cheering and Dhoni doing what he does best - dho daalna, I embarked on my baking mission.

Here's what I used :
4 fresh red apples,
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar (apples have a sweetness of their own so too much sugar won't be necessary and we are treading the low calorie path, remember!)

...and what I did :
1. Wash 3 apples under running water and make a paste in the mixer. I kept the skin of the apples on, which gave the paste a slightly grainy texture.
2. Add the eggs and beat the mix well.
3. Mix in the vanilla essence and sugar. Continue stirring well.
4. Sift flour and baking powder 2-3 times in a separate bowl.
5. One spoon at a time, pour in the flour mix into the egg mix, stirring constantly. Mix everything together until a smooth batter of even consistency is formed.
6. Take a microwave safe bowl, grease with very little butter and dust flour on the base and sides (or line with greaseproof paper).
7. Microwave on a high for 3 minutes. Then pre-heat to 220 degree celcius and microwave for about 8 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. I kept checking every 3 odd minutes, since I was using the microwave to bake a cake for the first time. Spend these minutes doing full justice to licking the mixing bowl clean.
8. Take the cake out and leave it to cool.
9. Take the last apple, skin it and slice it into very small pieces. Dust it with half tsp sugar (you can omit the sugar if the apples are very sweet) and microwave on high for about 2 minutes till they are soft.
10. Layer the cake with these soft, gooey apply slices, dust some powdered sugar on it and digg in.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Master Blaster

I am not a cricket fan... I would much rather watch a movie or read stuff or blog rather than watch a cricket match. The only time I have enjoyed a cricket match is at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, commonly known as the Chepauk, in Chennai when, on 23rd April 2008, Mahendra Singh Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings clashed with Harbhajan Singh led Mumbai Indians. The electrifying atmosphere, Shivamani, Hariharan's live performances, the dance and jingles of the cheer leaders and the 'Mexican Wave' of hands going around again and again, around the stadium.

But when it comes to the Master Blaster, its show-time, folks. To quote from the Times Of India, 'Just 147 balls later, Tendulkar set the record straight in emphatic fashion. A staggering 2,961 matches and almost 39 years after the first ODI was played the Little Legend finally became the first cricketer to score 200 in a one-dayer, propelled by a record 25 fours in one knock.'

The Time Magazine's quote on Sachin: "When Sachin Tendulkar travelled to Pakistan to face one of the finest bowling attacks ever assembled in cricket, Michael Schumacher was yet to race a F1 car, Lance Armstrong had never been to the Tour de France, Diego Maradona was still the captain of a world champion Argentina team, Pete Sampras had never won a Grand Slam. When Tendulkar embarked on a glorious career taming Imran and company, Roger Federer was a name unheard of; Lionel Messi was in his nappies, Usain Bolt was an unknown kid in the Jamaican backwaters. The Berlin Wall was still intact, USSR was one big, big country, Dr Manmohan Singh was yet to "open" the Nehruvian economy. It seems while Time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused one man. Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar. We have had champions, we have had legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will."

He will always remain a man for whom excellence is a habit, who is so devoted to his craft, so enthusiastic still, that with experience he has mastered the art of seamlessly binding talent, discipline and perspicacity, all without compromising on style, for maximum gain in a team cause.
Sachin, You Rock!!!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

To be a mother...

This is from a very old e-mail I'd received and treasured. Guys, be warned, this has a strong dose of senti and girlie-wisdom... !

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family."
"We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"
"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.
"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all.

I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her.
I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.
I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?".
That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her.
That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder
if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.
That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room
rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom. However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.That she would give up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs. I want her to know that a caesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more
you can love someone who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with their child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say.
Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

This post has always left me a little loss for words... and although I understand all that has been written and spoken about motherhood, it is a huge step in itself and a whole new world. At the end of the day, for parents, what is most important is not the ability to have children but the courage and conviction to raise them and raise then well. It's a lovely little adventure to be on!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bollywood's IMDB - ReviewGang

I am a Bollywood fan... I love to watch movies and I love everything about them - the songs, music, romance, drama, dialogues – from SRK's kisi cheez ko agar dil se chaho to saari kainath tumhe usse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai (OSO), Bade bade desho mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein hoti rehti hain (DDLJ) to Mogambo Khush Hua (Mr. India) & Kitne aadmi the (Sholay), the roona-dhona, hasna-gaana, the works! When I watch movies, I get drawn into the plot, identify with the characters and for the brief 150 or so minutes, I know I want to be in that world, particulary since I know that most Bollywood movies end on a ‘Happily-Ever-After’ note.

Being more drawn into Hindi movies than English ones, I find IMDB not adequate for Bollywood reviews. I search youtube for trailers and songs, news websites to read on what the critics have commented, a few of my favourite blogs and user sites to read movie-goers' reviews and finally decide whether or not I should go for the movie or just wait for it to do a ‘World-TV-Premiere’ and watch it free from the comforts of my home. Getting together so much information is tiresome at times and yet it is something I think most of us Bollywood-Buffs do, irrespective of whether the movie is a run-away hit or a dismal flop. That’s where ‘Review-Gang’ was born.

I like ReviewGang for its simple and clean interface. Although initially I had found the logo way too simple, it now stands out in the movies’ poster watermark very well. (Being a woman I guess I look at aesthetics way ahead of checking the utility :) ). But the site is great utility as well. What is interesting about it is that it gives the Critic review, User reviews, Links, Music, Videos, Trailers and Ratings all in one place. One can even look at up-coming releases and watch their videos and trailers. And what’s cooler is that in addition to giving a weighted rating on a scale of 1 to 10, aggregated from the ratings given by critics, it allows users to rate movies through a separate Viewer’s Rating (So now I can Voice out MY Ratings alongside Anupama Chopra & Nikhat Kazmi!!). I even wrote a few reviews for the site. And one can become a FaceBook fan here.

So, in complete Bollywood ishtyle, Tamaam gawaahon aur sabooton ko maddhe nazar rakhte hue ye adalat iss nateeje par pahuchi hai ki ReviewGang ke khilaf koi saboot nahin hai; issliye ye adalat ReviewGang ko baaizzat bari karti hai. After all, FIRST IMPRESSION... IZ the LAST IMPRESSION... Jhakaazzz……. (Anil Kapoor!) (Keeping in mind all the testinomials and proofs, the court has come to the conclusion that there is nothing against ReviewGang which makes it guilty; in light of the same, this court acquits ReviewGang restoring full honours. - a very popular Hindi Filmi dialogue)