It is my blog’s 7th anniversary today and funny enough I almost forgot about it. Like relationships that we take for granted as time passes by, I have started to take my blog for granted. Hardly giving it the attention and care it deserves. How easily I forgot that this was where it all started – my creative life, the food journey, the writing and ultimately the digital business. In all the years that I wrote my blog regularly, I never suffered a writers’ block or never felt the lack of creative ideas. Now that I am doing it lesser and lesser, pool of ideas is growing shallower and for the first time since my birth as a writer ( or atleast I would like to think so about myself) I am struggling to form sentences. Feelings that are trapped inside have difficulty finding expression in words.
I don’t know if I am in a position right now to make any blog related resolutions but I hope to be more regular at blogging and baking ( another joy of my life).
The skillet orange & chocolate brownies were supposed to be a Valentine’s special post but as usual, I couldn’t blog about it then. So I take this chance to share with you recipe of the Skillet Orange and Chocolate brownies which are fudgey and is child’s play to whip up. Literally.
Mimi made this on-the-go with little guidance from me. I couldn’t be prouder.
Recipe is as follows-
100 gms butter
100 gm dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 large eggs at room temperature
175 gm sugar
1 large orange, zested
50 gm all purpose flour
25 gm cocoa powder
half cup chocolate chips ( milk or dark chocolate)
Beat the egg and sugar till the mixture is pale and doubles its volume
Heat the oven at 180 C
Warm the chocolate, butter and orange zest in a non-stick sauce pan and gently melt the contents. Do not over heat it else the chocolate will burn and give a bitter taste. Let it cool.
Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add it to the egg and sugar mixture by folding it in gently.
Sift the all purpose flour and the cocoa powder to the mixture and mix well with gentle hands.
Pour it in a greased iron skillet and generously add chocolate chips on it.
Bake for 30 mins at 180 C and 10-15 min at 160 C
Serve it hot with some vanilla ice cream or it is deliciously gooey just by itself
Such a special time of the year. A time to celebrate with your family and friends. As expats in Bahrain, we make sure that we have some kind of celebration planned to feel the same vibe and spirit as back in our home country. Ofcourse crackers aren’t a possibility but lighting diyas (lamps) and preparing sweets and desserts make it just as special.
While the scale of celebrations remains unaffected, this Diwali is going to be slightly different.
I am going SUGAR -FREE!
But does that mean that I won’t be enjoying any desserts or sweets? Absolutely NOT! What are festivals without the usual burfis, pedas, kheer and halwas! An opportunity came along that made me more resolute about keeping this Diwali sugar -free. At Aster Medical Center , the month of November is all about diabetes awareness and they reached out to me to create diabetes- friendly desserts for this festive season. It was challenging to create recipes that not only taste good but also diabetes-friendly.
In the coming few days, you will see a series of sugar-free, low calorie desserts that are easy to prepare and enjoy, guilt-free. The first of the series is Shrikhand.
Growing up in Gujarat, a state in the western part of India, Shrikhand – a yogurt based dessert- was a regular for festivals. Until now, I never realized how easy it is to make it at home especially when you can buy Greek yogurt. Traditionally, Shrikhand is made using hung yogurt – yogurt that is strained to drain all the water overnight. This allows the yogurt to be creamy and just right for Shrikhand.
Aster Medicals Centers intentions are backed by efforts where they are holding a camp for free check up at Lulu Hyper Market in Riffa between 6 pm – 9 pm. You can get your diabetes checked for free until the 12th of November. For more information you can check Aster Medical Center’s social media channels and search using #AsterAgainstDiabetes – Facebook, Twitter , Instagram.
Now for the recipe – I replaced the sugar from the recipe with ‘Stevia’. Stevia is a super sugar that is natural and has no side effects. It is wonderful for diabetics and people who want to stay off processed sugar. It does take some getting used to since the after taste is vastly different from what we are used to. Having said that, there are ways to mask that after taste with slight addition of honey or other alternate sweeteners like agave nectar.
Place the 2 cups of Greek yogurt in a bowl and beat it well to make it smooth and creamy
Add crushed cardamom and mix it well with the yogurt.
Add the stevia and mix well ( add honey if you are not used to stevia's taste or do a half and half to mask stevia's taste)
At this point your cardamom / Elaichi Shrikhand is ready. Fill small mason jars with Elaichi Shrikhand.You can garnish it with nuts and put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Take the warmed milk in a small bowl. You can heat it for few seconds in your microwave. Add the saffron to it, give it a quick stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Add the saffron to the Greek yogurt and mix well. This is your kesar/ Saffron Shrikhand. Fill it in a small jar and garnish it with nuts and refrigerate it.
Finally sift the cocoa powder and mix it well with the remaining quantity of Greek yogurt in the bowl and mix well. You will have to add honey to chocolate flavoured Shrikhand to mask the taste of stevia. Do not miss this step for chocolate shrikhand.You can add diabetes -friendly dark & milk chocolate pieces if you like in the Chocolate Shrikhand. Garnish with nuts and place it in the refrigerate to set.
Shrikhand takes a few hours to set and the flavours to meld. It tastes the best the next day.
If you do not have Greek yogurt, you can use normal yogurt and hang it in a muslin cloth overnight to drain all the water.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/
Some of the best books grace my book shelf but I have no time to read them. I look at them with guilt and they look back at me with a lot of contempt. They don’t say much, mostly because I don’t give them a chance. I turn away to tend to some of the more ‘urgent’ things that need my attention. My bedside table has some of the lighter reads and some cook books. Nigella’s cookbooks are always at my hand’s reach. I flip through some recipes and read a line of two from the novel who’s name I forget until I close to book to look at the title.
I am drifting. Again. This happens when I get too busy in my busyness. I read a post written by Saheli called Floating and I knew I was feeling the exact same thing. What’s reassuring is I know its just a phase and it will pass, so I am not despairing.
Initially I used to fight it but it never helped. Now I just drift along only because I know it will end. There are few things I know make me feel better and one of them is baking. So I baked a chocolate frosted peanut butter cake. It was a friend’s surprise baby shower. I poured myself into it and even before I prepped for the cake, I hadn’t a shred of doubt that it will be wonderful.
The pictures are pathetic because they were rushed, but who cares! The cake was fantastic. I didn’t need anybody else to tell me that and I didn’t even have to taste it. I just knew it. There are a few things you should know about the cake before you try it.
– Its barely sweet and that allows the peanut butter taste to shine through.
– It uses no butter. Only oil and the cake is soft as a baby’s bottom.
-The sweetness is from the chocolate frosting which if you avoid, you’d be doing the cake a lot of disservice.
Before I end this post, there is a video I would like to share here. It is a Ted talk by one of my favourite writers – Elizabeth Gilbert of the Eat, Pray, Love fame. She talks about the creative process and of managing our own expectations that we have from our creative selves. It made a lot of sense to me. I watched it twice and each time it felt like she was talking to me. Here you go.
Being a parent is the most fortunate thing to happen to anyone – seems like an overstatement but I think it’s absolutely true. When Mimi was born, it took me a while to step out from the state of awe. Tiny and vulnerable, my new-born looked like the most exquisite thing I had ever laid my eyes on. Unfortunately, unlike most of you, I didn’t take to motherhood naturally. It took me a great while to figure her out. I was too scared to trust my instincts or for that matter even my husband’s as far as Mimi affairs were concerned. Be it her colicky experience, her natural tendency to run before she started walking, her difficulty in pronouncing ” Y” and “Th” words ( words like yellow were pronounced as Lello and Bath was Baff). Rather than trusting my own instincts, I would look up the internet or talk to my mother who I thought is the authority in raising a child since she managed to make something out of me! But over a period of time, I have understood Mimi and my instincts are better positioned to work and deliver.
Despite having four solid years of experience of raising a child, both my husband and I still struggle when it comes to trusting our instincts as parents. It becomes increasingly difficult especially when a credible source like school and especially your child’s teacher tells you certain things about your child that you find difficult to refute. It was when Mimi joined nursery that I went back to work. It was a trying time for both of us because we spent nearly 3.5 glorious years together before this abrupt separation happened. ( including the pregnancy months when I took a sabbatical from work)
The first year passed incident-free but the second year onward we received a steady stream of complaints from school regarding her behaviour. Mimi suddenly resorted to displaying sudden bursts of temper and several cases of disobedience. These complaints did not cease even after several attempts of intervention with Mimi. We, as parents, were at our wits end. The teacher and school started to label her as someone with ADHD and that increased our anxiety levels beyond imagination. Every single day was spent trying to make Mimi understand about good behaviour but none seem to work. Somehow we resigned to believe that maybe Mimi did have ADHD and perhaps as the teacher suggested would need medical attention and therapy. We spoke to several counselors, Psychotherapists and child psychiatrists and each one of them strongly recommended that we should wait it out because at 3 years it was too early to diagnose anything. It was the most grueling time for us as parents and midst all of this confusion, the school gave us a hard time questioning our parenting skills.
Finally, after months of sleepless nights, we decided to trust our instincts and take her off the school especially when certain stray incidents of discrimination came to my knowledge. It was as if the school did not want her too. Truce was declared and Mimi spent several months at home doing what she liked – painting, writing, watching her favourite shows, eating wonderful food and chilling out. What surprised me was that she was a completely different person at home as compared to how the teachers projected her – A devil child.
For a parent, there no bigger grief trust me.
Once she was off school, there was collective sigh of relief and life went on. Towards the beginning of a new year, I went up to one of the smaller nurseries in town and requested them to take Mimi. The new school gladly took her and Mimi began a new life with new classmates, new teachers and a brand new atmosphere. By the grace of God, she took to this new school rather easily and the positive environment did a good deal of good. Her beautiful character sparkled through and she started to enjoy the new tryst. There were never any complaints from school and we thanked our lucky stars that she found a loving environment that cherishes her for what and who she is.
We are so happy that we trusted our instincts and got her off the previous school without falling for the teacher’s random observations of Mimi having ADHD. These days ADHD has become the easiest label given to a child who is slightly naughty. I feel it is utterly unfair when schools and their ‘qualified’ teachers assume this easy way of relinquishing all responsibility when it comes to handling children with different capacities and energy levels by pronouncing them as either developmentally slow or suffering from ADHD.
Hence a lesson to learn from our bitter experience would be always, ALWAYS trust your own instincts in matters relating to your child.
Only yesterday we got to know that Mimi got accepted at the “Big School” after a thorough interview process and fantastic recommendation from her current school. We are so proud of her and how she has transformed in the last 6-8 months with the new school. It is a big milestone for us as parents and a beautiful opportunity for Mimi. This joyous moment called out for something sweet and beautiful and the chocolate pistachio fudge was the right choice – instinctively. 🙂
It asks for very few basic ingredients and very little prep. It is fudgy and full of chocolate goodness. You would be surprised how quickly these vanish – these little bites of heaven. Enjoy these one at a time with your children and treasure every moment spent with them because time’s flying away. Wishing you all a terrific mid-week!
It is that time of the year where corny rules and cheesy is the flavour of the day. Valentine’s Day is a week away and my inbox is spammed with emails from chocolates and flower companies with shopping suggestions. As years have rolled on, Valentine’s day for me isn’t about fluttering heart beats and romantic cards anymore. As a matter of fact, the only times I have been aware of this love-day was when my husband surprised me with gifts. Even he knows that this day doesn’t stir me though I appreciate all his efforts. But this year, it was different. This new person in my life just blew my mind away with the most wonderful gift. I know now that you can never be too old for mush.
Do you see that little red heart in the center of the red velvet I and U?
My baby made it for me. She drew a heart which she claimed was only as big as her own heart that beats “thud thud , thud thud”. She coloured it with her red colour pencil and used her child-friendly scissors to cut the heart out. She came up to me while I was busy with something in the kitchen and called out, “Hello, I love you..”
I turned around to see her holding out this little red paper heart out to me.
“Happy Valentines Mamma. Keep this in your purse. I made it for you. Don’t ever lose it.”
I took it from her tiny fingers that were dented from the intense pressure of colouring the paper heart.
I stood in the kitchen holding the paper heart long after the little artist was gone. I placed it delicately in the palms of my hands wondering how much I loved this little person. To have her reciprocate in this fashion was the ultimate joy I have ever experienced. My child is growing up and she is exploring different emotions. I sense a change in her and in the way she reacts to the world around her, including me. Her reciprocation blew my mind away. For that moment, I felt she loved me more than I thought I loved her. I slid her precious heart in my purse and as I looked up I saw her observing me. She smiled because she was happy I was following her instructions.
When I got back to my chores, I noticed her rummaging through my purse to make sure her heart was in the right place and safe. Satisfied, she went back to doing her own thing. That is when I thought of making these lovely red velvet chocolate brownies to show my 4 year old how much I appreciate her gift of love. I used a red velvet recipe to capture the colour of her red paper heart that went “thud,thud thud thud”.
The recipe makes a very small batch – just enough to please a 4 -year-old girl. 16 pieces in all but full of chocolate and red velvet goodness. I refered to Averie Cook’s recipe to make these decadent plum coloured beauties.
The recipe is below in the recipe card (click on it to see the enlarged version). I urge that you make this small batch of beautiful red velvet brownies and see how happy it makes your loved ones.
It is remarkable how love takes different forms as we grow older. Its meaning and its essence changes over time and becomes mellow and enduring. My daughter’s eyes lit up the moment she saw this chocolate covered squares and I realized I hit a home run.
Hope everybody has a beautiful Valentines.Celebrate love, celebrate closeness and feel lucky.