Sunday, December 05, 2010

Xmas cookies

So I baked my first batch of X'mas cookies mainly to send them to friends and to get into the holiday spirit (read: I had nothing better to do!).

A few months ago A talked me into buying some matcha green tea powder so I could make green tea ice cream for him. Now, you must know that match powder is quite expensive and you tend to use very little of it for any recipe. So I was raring to use the powder again and decided to make some green tea cookies - hence the green spirals.

Also made chocolate spirals, checker board cookies - which I have wanted to since forever, m&m cookies and a combination of all of the above.

The chocolate cookie recipe is here.
The other recipes and methodology are here, here and here - but with modified shapes.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Happy Diwali

This Diwali, I decided to cook :D Amma had made some awesome murruku podi and brought along with her. With that as an inspiration, the sweets just happened.


The kaju katli recipe is from here, the milk burfi from here, the coconut burfi is the exact same recipe as the kaju katli where I substituted the cashew nut for the coconut. The pistachio brittle recipe is something I just made up and posted here. The kheer is a 'Makhani' recipe that I inherited from mom, but tweaked along the way and the murukku is a 'Solai' family secret (jk!).

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ode to mommy

Mom used to have really, really long, but curly hair when she got married to Dad. I hear that she hated it (but it was soo pretty). All during her college years, she tried a bunch of treatments and methods to straighten her hair, but it never did - it just stayed its stubborn curly self. Anyway, over the years as I grew, her hair shortened. Using one excuse after another, she would keep cutting her hair shorter and shorter until she finally had a close cut crop when I reached high school. But, man I totally loved her hair. What was funny though, is that I was born with the same stubborn curl. My mom was so mad when she saw my curls that she kept getting my head shaved when I was a baby. She said, she would keep doing it until the curls stopped and guess what, after 5 shavings, they did. I ended up with the straightest hair ever. And mom was happy.

A few years ago, mom was diagnosed with leukemia. My world turned upside down - because I or anyone else had absolutely no clue. As she started her chemo treatments, mom and i would joke that when she her hair would fall because of the chemo, we would get her a wig with totally straight hair and finally she would have her straight hair. We even debated on the length - i was all for short hair and mom for long :) But, the treatment did not have any affect on her. Mom lost her battle with cancer but she did not lose a single hair.

After mom died, for 3 years I kept growing my hair - first it was for the wedding hair style, then because I was in love with my hair, and most lately because I wanted to donate it. And last week, it reached the longest length it ever has in my life. So today, I chopped off 11 inches of my hair, finally, to donate it to Locks of Love.  As I was watching my hair stylist, I thought about all recovering cancer patients who lament the loss of their hair and I wanted to tell them to be glad that their hair is falling because it means that the treatment is having an effect and it means that they are on the road to recovery. I wish my mom's hair fell too.

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. They provide custom-made wigs to children. This allows them the kids to boost their self esteem, regain their place in the society, and offer them some normalcy in their daily lives. If you can donate, I would encourage you to do so.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Evolution is a time consuming process. Most of the adaptions that we see around us today took hundreds if not thousands of years to develop. Any search on this topic will tell us how evolution is caused by a single mutation on an original specimen. This mutation more often than not fails. When it does not fail it still does not survive the specimen. The mutation is considered an evolution only if it survives the specimen and can propagate genetically via reproduction. And this cannot be seen in a lifetime. So extinctions are easy to notice but evolutions are not. Consider the earth over the lifetime if the human species. What the first of our kind saw in the world is very different from what we experience now. The climate, the land and the atmospheric composition has changed. But until recently there has not been any known evolution to combat this change. Thinking about the last few decades, one of the major things that one notices is the increasing spread of cancer - of all kinds. Cancer is the abnormal mutation of body cells that cannot be controlled by our existing defense mechanisms. The concept of cancerous cell is very close to mutation except for the fact that the specimen does not usually survive. It Is a known fact that the chances of cancer increase if you are exposed to it genetically. I wonder if cancer is actually the next step in the human evolution process. We will never know in our lifetime but maybe over time there might emerge one mutation that helps it's specimen adapt and survives the specimen and maybe propagates. Maybe but will we ever know?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ode to Sci-Fi

Reading has always been a very important part of my life, even when I think back as long as I can. Mom always used to say that all she had to do was hand me a book and I would be entertained for hours together. I read my first adult fiction in eighth grade and by the end of that year had devoured most of the usual fiction - Sidney Sheldon, Robin Cook and the like and since then have tried out pretty much all kinds of authors. But it was not until the last 5-6 years that I had the pleasure of reading Science fiction. Now I know that I usually put sci-fi and fantasy in the same category when I talk to people (read: non-believers) but to me they are completely different. Ever since I discovered the world of Sci-fi every other genre has pretty much paled in comparison (not fantasy of course - which is my second best and another topic close to my heart). It may seem weird, having read more mature book when I was younger, that I refuse to pick up any thing else now. Maybe it is because I came across sci-fi's so late in life that I have to go through an entire room - and mind you there are that many - before I can switch to something else. I do feel every now and then, when my friends advocate non-fiction and biographies that may be it is time to 'grow up' and read 'real stuff'. But, to me, Sci-fi books have offered every kind of life experience, politics, history that I ever need. Can anyone ever contradict me when I say that 'Dune' is one of the best learning grounds of politics? Is there any better philosopher than Orson Scott Card or even Asimov? But the problem with Sci-fi is that it is very hard to pass on the excitement to a non-initiate. How do you convince a 'realist' to accept for a minute that you can travel at light speed, just so you can explain to him the theories behind the 'eighth color' (Zimmermann - colors of space) or make someone understand that kelp can be sentient too (Herbert - Lazarus effect)? So, why am I rambling today, because I finally found another Orson Scott Card that I had not read. Ever since 'S' introduced me to Enders game (thank you for that!), I have loved Card's books. A lot of his fans are not very fond of the later sequels because they seem to ramble on and border the realm of fantasy, but I was fascinated - the fact that a gene sequence could remember and reproduce was amazing to me and it seemed so possible - can the flu virus not do exactly that? And now while reading Wyrms, I realize that he is really gifted. Card had dealt with the subject of sentience in so many different ways and so many times that I feel I am never going to be surprised if I ever come across a sentient species. Oh, I love Science fiction!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I recently came across this article that talks about the popularity of social games, especially the ones of Facebook like Farmville, Mafia wars etc. I know that almost everybody has played or knows someone who has played these games. Apparently 65million users play these games each month. Now, I know that most of us are tired of seeing Farmville updates pop up on our 'Recent news' page, just because one of our contacts has been playing it. I have been a part of many a conversation in which we all have complained about the stupidity of maintaining a virtual farm. But, the other day this got me thinking- which is never good - that what if all technology ended tomorrow. What if, white collar jobs as we know them stopped existing. What if we had to go back to a world where agriculture was the main form of sustenance. How many of us know how to plant a crop? Heck, how many of us even know what you can find on a farm. Well, the players of Farmville sure do! Virtual playing can nver be compared to a real world scenario, but if we had to go back to living on the land, I am hoping that these Farmville players can tell us what crops to grow when and what fertilizers to use and when to water the grains. Weak as it may sound, atleast this social game reminds the next generation that 'farms' were once the main source of family income. And thanks to Farmville, we know for sure that individual farms will not go extinct for a while, atleast not in the virtual world.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April fool's day

When i first came to the US, almost 6 years ago, I was very amused by the fact that even corporates played pranks on people. It never ceased to amaze me that a company that makes money out of its customers can play tricks, especially because it was soooo frowned upon in India (Dad used to hate me playing any kind of pranks :( ).
Anyway, over the years, I have become a bit desensitized, because this year I have not fallen for any trick (yeayyy me!!)
Here are the usual ones:
Eric Shepherd from QuestionMark - it is a good one and surprising coming from an assessment company
Google Mobile
Engadget - i bet there are more, someone needs to comb the site :)
Google Mobile 2 
Johns Hopkins

Thursday, March 25, 2010

how to make an impromptu fruit pie ...

The following steps make a most satisfying pie :D
1. Go grocery shopping after an eternity when you realize it has to be today if you want any chai at all.
2. Walk by the fruit aisle just because you cannot decide which veggies you want to "store in the fridge till they rot" this week.
3. Get super excited to see peaches wondering 'woww spring is here'!
4. Buy peaches in this excitement without checking them.
5. Rush home to eat your peaches and find out it may be easier to peel a rock instead.
6. Never wanting to give up, chop the peach like you would a potato.
7. Throw it in a pan with some butter.
8. Realize they also taste like a potato so dump in some sugar.
9. Realize all of a sudden that you had never bothered to eat the blueberries in the fridge (that you had bought when you decided to go on a fruit diet - and never did!!)
10. Throw them in the pan with the peaches, which are softer now.
11. Remember that it has been a week sincce you were in Napa and you have not opened a single bottle of wine.
12. Decide to open one for yourself.
13. Splash the said wine in the pan just out of curiousity.
14. Splash in some more.. And a little bit more.
15. Wait till it all gets gooey-ish.
16. Spread an unbaked crust, resurrected from the depth of the freezer on a pan.
17. Dump the fruit gravy in.
18. Bake at 350F till the crust gets golden brown ( oh yeah you had to have switched on the oven when you chopped the peaches:)
19. Serve with ice cream - that has almost hit the bottom of the container and has been a residence of your freezer from a long time.
20. Enjoy!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Promote the idea

Affinity to Math and Science has to be inculcated from childhood as we all learn the hard way later on in life - a lot of us, including me, chose the field of science just because it offered the most lucrative career options but not because it insipred us. And at every step of the way, I have envied those who carry in them the realy love for the subject. Seeing their enthusiasm in every experiment that they do or every paper they read is a very heart warming sight. I strongly believe that this can be instilled among the youth at an early age via hands on experiences and training, like for e.g., with the use of an educational tool kit, almost like a home laboratory. School lectures can be quite boring but if theory was aided by practical sessions, science would be a lot more fun. And this is what my good friends at Babson are trying to do. Please see their idea here and promote it - it is definitely a worthwhile cause.