What am I cooking? Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding/Watalappan

#993 of 1001 Foods to Eat Before You Die

What Is It?

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http://www.indiamart.com

From Wikipedia, “Jaggery is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa and some countries in the Americas. It is a concentrated product of cane juice and often date or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color.  It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, and up to 20% moisture, with the remainder, made up of other insoluble matter, such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers. Ancient scriptures on Ayurveda mention various medicinal uses based on the method of preparation and age.”

How It Tastes.

Jaggery tastes like Molasses and brown sugar had a lovely baby.

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White sugar is yucky.

It tastes like a ginger snap cookie that is light on ginger, but heavy on molasses.

Basically, it is delicious tasting, but you really have to like a darker sugar. Which I do. The only thing I put white sugar on is cereal, and even then it is suspect. When it comes to tea and pretty much anything else, brown sugar is my go-to. I think brown sugar has a greater depth of flavor and Jaggery is no exception. It is the ultimate brown sugar.

A word to the wise, jaggery is crunchy, so either a mortar and pestle or a little water to melt it are in order.

The pudding is melt in your mouth excellent. Rich in flavors and anything in my opinion with cardamon is a winner. The raisins add a specific subtle flavor too. Do it, make it, try it. It is worth the effort it takes to make.

Recipe Used.

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Image courtesy of http://www.loveandotherspices.com

Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding

Recipe Taken from loveandotherspices.com

Ingredients:
250 g Jaggery
1 cup thick Coconut milk
4 eggs
5 to 6 Cardomoms crushed
Pinch of salt
Cashews roasted and sliced
Raisins to garnish

Method:

Crush the jaggery (I used a Mortar for this), add about 2 tbsp of water and melt it in low flame. Once melted take it from the fire, keep whisking till it cools down a bit.
Add the coconut milk to the mixture and whisk.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with crushed cardamoms and a pinch of salt.
Combine the two mixtures and beat.
Strain the mixture, pour it into a bowl and steam for about 25 minutes.
Garnish it with cashews and raisins.
Notes:
* You can use a caramel syrup to increase the sweetness. Make it by caramelizing 3 tbsp of sugar and adding 3 to 4 tbsp of water, stirring continuously to get the right consistency. Pour it over the cooled pudding.
* This is best served chilled.

 

The Spiral Jetty is Crazy Dedication and Smells of Fish

 

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The Spiral Jetty from Space. (https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/arts/design/18spiral.html

About five years ago my father battled stage three throat cancer. What followed was the worst 6 weeks of our collective families life. However, this isn’t about cancer but what my husband did to cheer me up afterward.

 

When my father was diagnosed, I moved back to Vegas temporarily to help my mom and dad. Cancer is a bitch. It isn’t just the emotional and physical toll on the person affected, but it also dramatically changes all the people that they love and love them in return.  After my father’s treatments, I was drained to the point of desperation and depression. My dad is a hero of mine, and I needed a pick me up from all this adulting.

 

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The building of The Spiral in 1970 The Getty

Enter Mark, my husband. He flew down mid-trip to stay with me, and help me cope, and when we drove back to Portland, we turned it into an impressive road trip. Road trips are fantastic, as long as you don’t have kids. With young kids they are purgatory.

 

Ever hear of the Spiral Jetty? I did when I was in college (went to college for Landscape Architecture), and have always wanted to see it. It is a giant earthwork that is only accessible by a long 15ish mile offroad journey through the desert. We did this in my Scion Toaster. We off-roaded in a Scion XB for 15 miles both ways. I still think this is crazy, but you know DEDICATION TO ART!

spiraljettyThe Jetty is only viewable some years, other years it is submerged under the Great Salt Lake. The Artist Robert Smithson said of the sculpture,“I am for an art that takes into account the direct effect of the elements as they exist from day today.” It is effective. As a viewer, you never know if it will be visible or not. It adds a bit of drama to the offroad trip. You have no idea what you will find. The sculpture forms a 1,500-foot-long, 15-foot-wide counterclockwise coil jutting from the shore of the Great Salt Lake. Over the years, the Jetty has developed a patina of crunchy pink salt crystals over the black rocks.  It also smells like the worst fish market ever, but aside from that it is wholly beautiful and seems entirely at home in the lake.   The artist worked in the middle of the desert for years to create this thing. People should see it as a salute to his profound dedication. It cheered me up substantially and I loved striking it off my bucket list. It was worth the trip.

What Skills Do You Have?

I am currently watching the TV show Sense8 (screw you Netflix for canceling) and freaking loving it. I have always have been a fan of the Wachowiski sisters. I saw Matrix 8 times at the theater, and I really adore Speed Racer. When I was watching Sesne8, I had an interesting thought based upon the plot.  As an individual, what skill have you cultivated? Who are you? In the story, they are eight very different individuals. Each has a very unique life experience. Each of them brings something to the table. My question is, what do you know how to do that other’s might not know about. sense8-clusters1

I have always been a bit fascinated by this thought. In a world full of people, hell, in a room full of people, we are the stars of our own movie or our own book. In that, we are the main protagonist of our lives. Each of us has gone down many branching paths that have led us to adopt, understand and try new things. Those branches lead an individual to become a combination of infinite things. So who are you, because I am a combination of millions of choices in my 37 years.

I am a tryer. To me, one of the coolest things in life is trying new things. I figure that if I try enough stuff I might come across something that makes my heart explode in delight. Or if it sucks really bad, that’s ok too. It is something new.  This is how I personally battle depression and anxiety. Which I have been dogged with for most of my life. But, that is another story.

So who am I? I am one who tries different things.

I can tell you a little about some things that I can do, and I am curious as a lover of stories, about things that you can do. Everyone has such great stories if they could only tell them. So tell me something. Here are a few about me:

I can juggle like a fiend. I used to work at IKEA in childcare, and it was boring. Boring and insanely stressful at the same time. The coworkers would sit with anonymous children for 8 hours a day and try and figure out things to do to entertain them. We also had a giant ball pit. All kids like playing with balls, and I discovered 99% of children love to watch juggling. It is magical to them. I watched a few youtube videos on basic juggling and taught myself to juggle over the course of a few weeks. I can now juggle 3 balls backward, forwards,  upside down, all sorts of ways. I can juggle 4 balls for a few seconds. But I quit Working there before I got to spend much time doing that. I am infinitely grateful IKEA because they gave me health insurance when my family really needed it, and an opportunity to learn to juggle while getting paid for it.

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Adam the Bawdy Juggler. Image Courtesy of http://www.adamthejuggler.com/imagepage.html

A little proud tidbit. I actually impressed Adam the Bawdy Juggler with my basic juggling skills. He taught me how to do Mills Mess. Well, he showed me Mills Mess, and I dropped all the balls on the floor. Repeatedly.

 

I have read a lot. (Well duh if you read this blog.) Books are this mysterious entity for me. So many stories, true or not, lay inside of flattened, dead trees. The thought itself is kinda magical. When I was younger, I carried a tiny little book inside my purse everywhere I went. It had lists of books that I would like to read. As I went along and read them, I crossed them off with a highlighter. Crossing something off became this fantastic cathartic happy inducing thing. I have graduated on to other means of tracking my lists, but the idea still fascinates me. Electronic means of tracking lists are not as satisfying as a little yellow book that you can carry. I might even go back to that. Very old school. I have read, as of today 1700 books. Of various lengths. That isn’t 1700, 500-page novels. Some were much longer, I am looking at you unabridged version of The Stand by Stephen King, and some were novellas. But Lists and books make my heart sing. Happy happy things.

The third thing I am mentioning today. I have a degree in Landscape Architecture that I do not use professionally but use it every day otherwise. Education is never a waste, and my knowledge has a daily effect on me. I hate when people say to me, “Wow your parents spent 40 grand on a degree that you don’t use. They must be so pissed at you.” First off, you’re a presumptuous prick. Secondly, I am sure my folks would love it if I got back into designing parks and stuff. But, a degree is not like a jug of milk. It doesn’t go bad, and you have to throw it away if you don’t use it. It took me seven years to get my degree. I think I got something out of it I can use on a daily basis. Stop being a prick.

Tell me what you like to do, or part of your story. I want to hear something about you. You are the protagonist, tell me something that changed your story as you lived it. I am all ears, or eyes because you know.. computer.

 

Obligatory apology – I haven’t written in a couple weeks. Every member of my family came down with Pneumonia or bronchitis at the same damn time. Every single one. It was like a damn plague swept through our homes. I have been too sick to get out of bed, let alone write and think. But I am feeling much better now. So here you go. 

 

You Can’t Go Home Again

 

 

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Image courtesy of visitlasvegas.com

When I stepped off of the plane last week and into my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, I was assaulted by a familiar cacophony of noise, blaring light, and a hair dryer worth of heat. I felt at both times exhilarated and full of dread although that dread had a helpful tinge of fondness and nostalgia. I left home eight years ago after living in Vegas for 30 years. I had to. I was out of a job, and my husband and I needed to live, so we ripped Las Vegas out of that place in our minds and hearts that held what home is and made for parts unknown. It was one of the most painful and scariest things I have ever done.

 

Now looking back, it is so odd. I am in a sorta limbo. Portland, my new home,  does not have the hometown feel that I used to get from Vegas, but Vegas doesn’t have it either. Vegas is so changed now that I get lost here. The vegas I new is now gone.

It is ok though. The new things to discover are like icing on a nostalgia cake. There are new restaurants, new parks, new things to try and do. So maybe you can’t come home again, because home is not a static place. It lives inside you, in your memories, with your family,  and your past. It has been quite the adventure. I will be here for another week due to a family emergency. Hopefully, I will have a chance between panic attacks to try some new exciting things. Here’s to hoping. Cheers.

 

 

 

Thank You Mr. Rogers

32106This post will be a mite more serious than my usual lighter fare. I haven’t written anything this week because I wanted to write about this thing that happened to me, and I didn’t have the words. I think I might have some words now, but it might be that I will never know exactly what to say.

Recently while driving home from my almost daily coffee run, Starbucks makes a lot of money off of me, I came across a dead body. At least I think he was dead. I was too scared to actually check for a pulse. But, he certainly looked like he had passed into the beyond, and his chest wasn’t moving.

Not where you think I was going with this.

A man lying in the middle of the sidewalk, face down behind a grocery store. He had a box of Venezia wine and a 24 pack of beers next to him like they came tumbling from his arms as he fell. Before I am asked, he wasn’t homeless, not that that matters in the slightest. He wasn’t just some dude deciding that a nap in the middle of a cold sidewalk sounded awesome. He was a man lying down in the middle of the sidewalk. Face down, and not moving. The part that bothered me so

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

much, is not that he was dead but that people were walking around him seemingly unconcerned about this person. He was a non-entity that did not exist in their world. That bothers me. As in existential crisis bothers me. Have we as a society become so inured to horrible things that someone who is dead is not given a second thought? We care about Kim Kardashian, couldn’t we care a little about the guy on the sidewalk.  I was stunned by what I was witnessing.

Mr. Rogers came to my mind and offered me comfort. All was not as bleak as it seemed. Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” So I did.  I looked for the helpers, and then I endeavored to become one. There was a man across the street, who I had originally not seen,  on his phone calling 911. I asked him what he was doing. His reply was, “trying to get him some help.” He was a helper.

What can I do?  how can I be a helper in this situation? The only thing I did the only thing I could think of, I went and got a blanket out of my car and threw it over the man. Not over his face, but around him.  It was a cold damp day, if he was alive, maybe a blanket would keep him a little warmer. When I got close to him, his chest wasn’t moving. Maybe the breathing was imperceptible, and it was there but I couldn’t see it. I hope so. There wasn’t much else I could do for this man. The paramedics were coming, so I left him the blanket and got back in my car. When I got home, I sat in the car for a long time trying to process what I had just seen and later I talked to my mom about the whole thing.  She said that I did a good thing, and I was a good person by giving him the blanket. Did I? I feel like I did the absolute minimum that a person should do. I felt bad, and cowardly that I did not do more. I still do. But what could I have done?

Later on that afternoon, I drove by where the man was laying out of morbid curiosity. Was there a chalk outline to be found like out of a detective novel? There wasn’t. There was nothing. Like he was never there.

Here I am writing this blog, not sure how I feel about the whole situation, but I do feel better for having written something. I will always endeavor to try and be the helper. Even if it is scary, it often is. Thank you, Mr. Rogers for helping me that day. Your lessons go on and on.

Weird Beauty Products, and why you should just give up and Use Lush

Don’t you feel a little confused about all of the beauty products out there? From a seaweed bath soak that comes complete with dead crustaceans attached, to an eyebrow product that literally stamps your eyebrows on, it is hard to know what you can use that makes you feel good and is not made of crap. Sometimes literally.

For me personally, that means drastic simplification. I enjoy wearing makeup and usually when I wear makeup I don’t look like a clown. Except when I attempt winged liner.

You are bathing in suds and glory.

That is a whole bunch of next level crap I haven’t mastered. My life just doesn’t seem to allow me much time to do a full face of makeup except on date night. Even then.  Sorry hubby, get used to it.  I do however search out for products that smell good and make me feel right about my very limited beauty routine. Specifically, they are bath bombs and the Whoosh shower gel from Lush.

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Yaaaas queen. Let me huff you. (Image courtesy of lush.com)

The bath bombs need no explaining. They are a bomb of awesome that is plunked with anticipation into your bathwater. They fizzle, glitter, and smell amazing. Cleaning your tub sucks. But who the hell cares! You are bathing in suds and glory.

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The aptly named sex bomb. Jasmine lusciousness. (Image courtesy of lush.com)

The shower gel is for me the most perfect smell and this is coming from someone who has a pretty extensive perfume collection. I sometimes sit in the restroom and just huff it. There is something about the herbal/citrus smell that gets to me. I have searched pretty hard for something that smells like an equivalent, and have yet to find anything.

The third beauty product I am going to mention here is perfume. I like to smell like a french whore. Yes, I love myself. Yes, I know that that is not something that is generally aimed for. Yes, I am ok with this.

I think I have pretty good taste in perfumes, but what the hell do I know. Fun fact about me: I am slightly anosmic. Which means that I have very little to no sense of smell. It is not entirely gone, I can smell some things. But generally, they have to be very strong or very specific. This carries into they way perfumes smell for me. Belk.jpegMy very favorite fragrance that does not wholly annoy my ultra sensitive nose of a husband (aren’t we a pair) is by MAC cosmetics. It smells like I have slathered honey and sexiness all over my body. It is called Velvet Teddy. See see, french whore.

Sometimes I sit in the bathroom and huff it

Close second concerning smell is all class, Coco Chanel. I feel so fancy wearing it. Two very different price points. Depending on the day and if I want to feel a little low-class slutty, I wear the Velvet Teddy. High-class “Pretty Woman” slutty, it’s all Coco Chanel. If I want to keep it all to myself, just the shower gel after a shower.

I built a Thing. It’s Spicy.

 

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I actually have that quote painted on a board and hanging above my new spice rack, I think that It combines my favorite things, science fiction, and cooking. Only about 1 in 40 people who have seen it know where it comes from so all my smug coolness of it is really only in my head. Garbgeek.com

We decided not long ago that we needed a spice storage solution to the million spice jars that I have in the kitchen. No joke, but I think I have close to seventy. I like to cook, and that requires a lot of different spices. Garam Masala to Chinese five spice, I have quite the collection and before you ask I have used them on a least one dish at some point in the past.  I make killer tea eggs with the Chinese five spice.

A previous solution we had been using utilized the spice holder Bekvam from IKEA just hanging by its lonesome on the wall. It got ridiculous with all the spice. It was almost like a shrine to IKEA. Plus,  they are hard as hell to hang. IKEA totes itself as being easy to build and hang, but I call BS on it. Most of the stuff I have gotten from IKEA has been difficult and required a youtube video to get together.

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Not my hack, but you get the idea. This times 10. 

I had gone through a teal phase with them, then a coral phase. The spice holders were a bevy of different colors by now. Much to the chagrin of my husband, it looked like the seventies threw up in my kitchen.

This is what I did. I took all the myriad of spice racks I had and some scrap wood. screwed them all together. Tried to get it true, then painted it. Voila! Insta-spice rack. The wood I screwed it together with was kinda warped, and the spice shelves are not perfectly level. But it is off my counter and hanging beautifully up. Obviously, this isn’t as a tutorial. I kinda winged it. You get the idea.

 

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Here it is in all its glory. Be awed. Be Amazed. Be jealous. Make one yourself. 

 

One of the things I am going to do in the future is to do a background on the spice rack. The periodic table of spices appeals to my inner geekiness. Also, having it organized and a spot where I can find them easily is a must. Baby steps. They are off my counter.