Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooking and Recipes

Every week I search on internet for recipes. Am I a good cook, do I like cooking? Well, no and no to both. I am an ok cook but a fervent eater, who loves new recipes and in general eating yummy food, be it traditional homemade or all fancy culinary stuff. So I visit all these traditional recipe sites and then go to my kitchen and pretend that I am participating in Top Chef or something. Trust me for a person like me who has to find some means to motivate and go to kitchen, this works. Just this week, I tried making tortellini pasta. Nope not from scratch, you get these tortellini pasta packets in Costco. Ok ok that’s not much of cooking, but still is something , no? I love pasta and atleast once a week we have it.

I keep a pot of boiling water, how much water, well I have this big pot, I simply fill it up and put it on the stove. There is no logic, no thought. I feel it would hold one packet of tortellini pasta and that’s it. Then I put a pan on another stove, this is for the sauce. And a third pot to blanche the tomatoes. About 6-7 tomatoes. That’s how many I would need to some sort of sauce to show up on the plate. Now in most of the Indian cooking, there is gravy. We like a lot of gravy, and spices, so when cooking pasta I try to recreate the same experience, only using Italian ingredients. I let both pots with water come to boil, for the pasta pot I add some salt (again, how much you ask?, tilt the salt holder and think of not pouring too much, that’s how much :)) and to the tomato pot, I just drop the tomatoes and turn off the burner.

Oops forgot about the pan, its red hot and I need to start putting stuff in it. So I reduce the heat, turn the burner to like 1 or really low. I cut some shallots about 3-4 (if they are small). Then I squish about 4 cloves of garlic, yep love garlic. Why squish? I think the taste stays intact and I hate removing skins and all neatly. And there is a kind of pleasure you would get, to keep the knife horizontal on the garlic clove and stomp it with your fist. Then hold the tail end of the garlic and the skin just comes off. And somewhere you feel a pride of saving few seconds of tedious clove peeling:). Now turn the pan stove to medium, put some olive oil. How much? Till you don’t feel guilty, the moment oops this is a little too much comes to mind, stop that very instant. Immediately you will feel, ahh that looks okie. Put in the garlic cloves and watch them turn brown. Add the shallots and let them turn soft, slightly golden. In the meantime drain the water from the tomatoes. Take 6 mushrooms, any type and cut them into pieces, any size you like. They shrink so don’t think too much. You don’t need to be precise or neat either, be fast though. As soon as the shallots turn golden, you would want to drop these in the pan. So drop them in the pan. Turn gas to high and let them cook well, shrink in size. Drain the water from the tomato pot. Now the tomatoes will still be steaming hot, so add some cold water. And then take each tomato, peel the skin and cut them. The juices will come out on the cutting board and there would only be enough space to cut 2 at a time. So start cutting the tomatoes when you see the mushrooms are almost done.

Now if you are me, you have forgotten about the tortellini pasta which is cooking and its when the water steams off and falls creating a sizzling noise, will you know the pasta was cooking. So go to the pasta, dig one of them with a fork. If it looks cooked that’s good. Just turn off the gas. I don’t like to drain the water then, just coz the pasta sticks together. Go back to the cutting board and add the tomatoes to the pan. Remember all the skin you peeled, cut that too. Add it to the pan. Now the spices, if you have any cooking wine or any wine at all, just add a little bit to the pan. It removes all the nice flavors that were stuck to the pan and the alcohol cooks away. Open a can of black olives, cut in half and add them. Add parsley, italain seasonsing (you get this at fredmeyer or any store really), add 1 spoon honey (this is the exotic ingredient I like to add), add basil, salt, pepper. Now 2 more spices I add from time to time are fresh cut dill and red chili powder (just to give it a degree of hot taste). Add about 2-3 spoons of low fat sour cream. This gives you the gravy. Add salt and taste. If it’s good for you, it’s good for anyone :). Drain the water from tortellini, add them to the sauce, mix well and serve.

Well I think I did well in this top chef episode, do you? Have a great time tyring some new recipes and eat some great food during 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Secret-Always hard to keep

When you are told to keep a secret what do you do? Do you have this urge of telling the first person you see, whether you know the person or not? Do you share it with your mom who explains how it’s absolutely disastrous to share a secret and then goes on and on about how it’s a sin you told her, now that she too has to keep it a secret? Do you tell your dad, who if like mine totally finds it uninteresting and lame. Dude it’s a secret, get it. Someone somewhere doesn’t want it to be shared with anyone. Itsss aaa secretttt shhhh. But well, that’s what men do, don’t they? They don’t have secrets, there are no boundaries of what to say or not say when having conversations. Keep our wife, family and kids topics out and there will be no secrets. Also, when you can talk hours and hours about politics, money market and cricket, why would you need any other complicated topics which lead to secrets.

So what do I do when someone tells me to hear them out and then just shut up? Not a word to anyone. Not even a single syllable. Well, I feel as if I have a knot in my stomach. Now if the person had never told me explicitly that it's a secret, I wouldn’t care less. But now after pointing out not to tell, how do I seriously not tell? Don’t get me wrong, I am not the kind of friend who would go share secrets, but this is just an urge of telling someone. Just a little bit you know. And like all good women, I have managed to kill, stab and poke this urge out of my system everytime. But then what’s the harm if you share it with your mom who is like seven seas away and has no remote connection to this so called person whatsoever right?

Ma: (after sharing pleasantries) What else, I hate these long pauses you know…there is so much going on here and I am holding the phone all the time. Bai, tum kal aaogi na (Ma talking simultaneously to the maid servant)

Me: So remembers that person at my office (let’s call him Obi-Wan Kenobi). Why this name is another story for some other time. Obi-Wan told me about blah and blah and didn’t want me to tell anyone.

Ma: What is this? Why did you tell me? Now what do I do with this? You know when it's told not to tell you should not tell. Now how weird will I feel when talking to Geeta masi, Sita masi, Bai and those women who meet me everyday when taking evening walks.

Me: WHAT? Why should they care? And how does this relate in any way to them Ma?

Ma: Well, how did it relate to me?

Me: Ma, you are my mom and I can share stuff with you about a person you remotely know. Doesn’t mean you should go tell half the world about it.

Ma: Half the world, you call this half the world. I am not even telling Sangita masi (our neighbor), Bai II (our other less favorite bai), some mrs x, mrs y, mrs z (women I don’t even know). And they too don’t know this person and don’t say this to anyone but I don’t think they would even visit USA. And don’t mention this to anyone because they certainly think they will.

Me: (What kind of weird information is that, why would I tell someone this) But still you don’t need to tell them. I should have never told you. I take my words back, you never heard about it.

Ma: I maybe old but I am not so old that you just tell me to forget something and I forget. This is a good lesson for you, now you will remember not to tell anyone.

Me: Ofcourse it’s a lesson, but I don’t need to learn it the hard way, do I? Ma, can you just forget this entire topic, pleaaaaaaaase.

Ma: I cannot just forget. Ok maybe just Sangita masi (who by the way would definitely tell half the world)

Me: O dear god. How do I convince you not to say a word to anyone? Where is dad, maybe I should just tell him this.

Ma: What do you mean tell dad, what has he to do with this. (Other phone rings) Hold on now, I need to clear this with you.

Background chatter- Ma talking to someone
Ah Sangita, tell tell. Yes yes, I know her. Your sister’s husband’s cousin right? Yes yes, tell. Oh, getting married, when? Such good news. Not a news? Why? Oh, they haven’t told anyone yet? I see, ofcourse ofcourse. No no, I won’t mention. But what a nice news, ahh sorry not news. Ok ok, talk to you some other time.

Ma: (totally exicited) Listen listen Sangita had just called so and so is getting married. How nice no?

Me: Didn’t Sangita tell you, its not NEWS and don’t share?

Ma: Ofcourse she did, but I bet she is already calling half the world and who are you going to tell, you don’t even know these people.

Me: And about what I said earlier?

Ma: You? What did you say? Yeah, you did tell me some lame story, but it was totally boring. I don’t even remember it now. And I have ten thousand things to do. Call me tomorrow ok?

Me: Ok (yay!)

And just like that she forgot and kept my secret a secret. How nice it is, when you can share something with someone who you know would absolutely forget it after listening hehehe.