Food

Tumbleweed

When you find yourself in unknown parts of the world, trying to finish some work assignment or a presentation while nibbling on your croissant and listening to some white noise to gain concentration,

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always try to find some time for yourself, to gather your thoughts, to introspect and retrospect, to write your thoughts down to crystallize the concoctions of your brain over a cup of coffee and to listen to some music to enjoy those stolen moments,

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because it is important to find your own story at the end. The story of our life to break us free from ourselves and from the tangible and intangible object, so even if our body can’t walk through walls and obstructions but our imagination and soul can.

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San Francisco To Plant Pure Nation

I spent last month in traveling, both for official work and for leisure. A trip to San Francisco is always inviting and I grabbed it with both hands when my mind finally decided to utilize the memorial day weekend at last minute and I booked a hotel and flight to the golden state. I didn’t have any agenda per say, I decided to roam around the familiar neighborhoods of Mission, Richmond, Tenderloin, Japantown, Russian hill, Nob hill, South of market and so on. After savoring the wonderful view I had  from the balcony of my room, I decided to go out and roam around.

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My first stop was Bartlett Hall to check on a friend who wasn’t there that evening and then starting roaming around the streets. After few hours I was wondering what I am going to do in the city formerly knows as Yerba Buena for three days and the first thing that struck my mind apart from my holy visits to fisherman’s wharf int he morning was the vintage book stores. There are some wonderful book stores in the downtown area but the one that I adore are Kayo books on Post st. ( one has to take appointment), Green apple on Clement street between 6th and 7th avenue ( massive used books store, a must visit for bibliophiles ) – I would compare Green apple with the Book Cellar on 79th st. & York av. in Manhattan, my former home, although Book Cellar is much smaller; and the Books Inc. on Van Ness and Turk. I had ample amount of time and I decided to leaf through every possible book I could and enjoy my coffee, isn’t it a dream?

I already am a vegetarian, to be specific lacto vegetarian but then too I observed some gain in fat in past few months thanks to the whole milk and yogurt and my travel to the parts of USA where the word vegetarian invokes curious glances along with derisive mumbles. I don’t venture into the self help and cooking sections in general, not that I have akin to George Carlin’s aversion to self help but I have a different take. Let’s not digress here; So, I took a stroll into the cooking section this time and leafed through many vegan and vegetarian cooking books. They ranged from basic such as putting together an edible salad to much advanced one such as eggplant tagine with roasted freekah, what caught my eye was the various combinations that were put together and the emphasis on calorie count, reduction of sugar, salt, and oil in food. I enjoyed them thoroughly and enthused, eventually ended up buying two of them.

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Plant pure nation is more aggressive on no usage of oil along with veganism while vegan one is just true to its name. I brought them home and being motivated made a trip to grocery store where I purchased different types of grains such as freekah, mixed quinoa, bulgar wheat, oats along with other vegetables. My fridge hasn’t been so well equipped before but the results? They have been abysmal. When I cook, I am meticulous of the recipe, the heat, ingredients, the steps I have to take, and I don’t think twice to improvise. I started putting these recipes together such as mushroom pâté, or over baked potato chips but they didn’t turn out fine at all. It feels like I don’t know how to cook at all; even today I burnt my 4th batch of potato chips ( baked in oven without oil, not fried ). I used to think I can’t do wrong with chutneys but after today’s results I am wondering were previous ones all fluke or what? Pâté’s quantity is so massive that I need to invite people over few times to finish it over and in those invitations I would have to shove it down their throats.

I need a success soon sans which these books will start biting the dust like so many other books I have bought in the past are biting and stamping the concept of tsundoku in my life.

Living alone and enjoying it

I have been living alone for a long time and I enjoy it. I am not a solitary reaper and socially recluse but I enjoy the silence and solitude that I find in my apartment except on few occasions. I am not glorifying my way of life but I know for the fact that not many are capable to survive the choice. The reasons can be manifold – codependency, family issue, money or simply not able to function without some other human being. The last one is quite prominent in many human beings. At top of my head I can list at least ten names among my friends who don’t want to live alone for the simple reason that they don’t want to do the chores and assume the responsibilities that either their mothers or their spouses have been assuming in their lives. Anyway, it’s their choice and who are we to judge?

I read a brief article in an airline magazine once( I didn’t have anything to read as I had forgotten my kindle, iPad and earphones at home) about living the life alone and will try to recapitulate the same points here.

Take care of yourself – Simply because no one else is going to do so.

No fear of missing out – Don’t worry if you weren’t invited to some party or your friend didn’t come to see you. Everyone is busy these days and everyone has a life to live.

Make acquaintances and host get together in your apartment – Don’t worry about size of apartment, a simple potluck, movie session or just coffee get together can be held in a club hole as well.

Have more than one hobby – Keep trying different things and trust me you will have a story to tell eventually.

Treat yourself with respect – Just because you live alone doesn’t mean you have to live an ascetic life. If you like to binge watch int’l cinema while dressed in a french cuff shirt and  lying on your sofa then do it.

Take interest – Learn how to brew perfect coffee, try different drinks and keep an eye for what could be your favorite cocktail, learn about wines, go to museums. Pay attention to detail to a degree that you should be able to order coffee by saying both small cafe latte with whole milk and a small cafe latte with double shot of espresso, whole milk, decaf, caramel, extra foam without whipped cream to go please ( The example can be extrapolated to anything, it just shows how much attention to details you put. Also, few people might think you that you are just an obnoxious, pretentious a**)

Eat well – Again, living alone doesn’t mean you have to graze on a hot dog from the nearest bodega or live on french fries. Our body is the only thing that is truly ours, take care of it.

 

 

The Easy life

Given the right ingredients, spaghetti pasta would be my go to food. I don’t like precooked or canned food because of the preservatives and cooking your own food gives me a sense of satisfaction and self sufficiency(there is a psychological aspect of this but let’s not get into tit right now). Its nice to see the final product(if everything comes out to be fine) created from the mere ingredients. Many of my friends eat and cook pasta as its easy to cook but they use grocery store tomato purees which I don’t like. Creating your own gravy/sauce is easy and so is creating your own homemade pasta.

  1.  I use the usual rice noodles that I get from whole foods or any other grocery store.IMG_20160118_141834.jpg
  2.  Boil them in water, I add some oil and salt to make the boiling process smooth. Boil them enough so they are not raw and not that much so it turns out to be a mesh.IMG_20160118_141842.jpg
  3. Chop onions , garlic and some ginger. I use a manual cutter for the same which is very handy.IMG_20160118_141903.jpgIMG_20160118_141916.jpg
  4. Same is done for tomatoes. I use 2-3 tomatoes for the same and I have used the same cutter as above for getting this paste.IMG_20160118_141849.jpg
  5. Heat some oil in skillet.IMG_20160118_142153.jpg
  6. Fry the ginger once the oil is hot.IMG_20160118_142240.jpg
  7. Add onions and garlic and fry them until they are golden brown and have less moisture.IMG_20160118_142410.jpg
  8. Add spices you want to add. I have added red pepper, chilli flakes, dry basil leaves, black pepper and oregano.IMG_20160118_142656.jpg
  9. Let the spices cook for a while (approx 2-3 min, don’t let them burn)
  10. Add the spaghetti.IMG_20160118_142850.jpg
  11. Mix everything carefully. Mixing is important and should be done carefully as the spaghetti would be soft and can turn into gooey mesh. Turn things over from the bottom of skillet slowly and steadily.IMG_20160118_143112.jpg

 

And your lunch is ready in less than 20 minute. No preservatives at all except the one in the noodle that I got from whole foods.

 

Food characters = Our character ?

Continuing on yesterday’s thought of Who we are , I would add the characters of food that I have learned from my upbringing and the knowledge that I acquired from here and there.

According to the Ayurvedic studies the food can be classified into three branches:

1. Satvik

2. Tamsik

3. Rajsik

Based on what you eat , your tendencies and thought process follow.

Satvik food is anything that grows above the ground e.g. plants, fruits, leaves,cereals, grains, dairy products etc . The consumption of satvik diet induces alertness and calmness

Tamsik food is the one that grows below the ground e.g onion,garlic .This food takes time to digest but it has certain properties that can be beneficial if taken in very small amounts e.g. we know about the antioxidant properties of garlic. But ingestion can drive your concentration bipolar as one can be concerned about the bad breath and all.

Rajsik food is largely based on preparation.Rajsik in hindi means something related to prosperity, king like. When you have a lot of money then of course you can throw a lot of spices in your kettles and pots 🙂 It has pungent odor, induces passion, sensuality .They have hot ,spicy, salty taste. Generally the power, prestige, prosperity are the key points that fill the minds of those who eat rajsik food.

This comes from the ancient Indian wisdom but it is very difficult to remain on the satvik diet. I am a vegetarian and I maintain satvik diet but I do take onion,garlic in moderate amount.

Fat, sick and nearly dead

So, all those weight watchers out there. It’s for you. I see that a lot of people keep on complaining about that they don’t want to gain weight, or how last summer they added a few extra pounds. I talk to my friends about foods and they say  “No,No, I will gain weight!” or “I don’t want to eat this or that” or simply “I am just fat”

If you have so much problem then why don’t you do something about it ? I know easier said than done but if you want to lose weight then you will have to work for it.  I will digress here a little bit and all those women who have given birth, its ok that you got few extra pounds. You have given birth to a new life. Anyone who is expecting you to be some size zero figurine should be bashed severely.

So, coming back to what I was talking about. I saw this film many months ago and I really liked it. The Australian guy,Joe Cross, goes on a juice fast for 60 days and travels from one end of US to other and convinces other people, tells his story that how he was fat, sick and nearly dead. And how he repainted his whole life . It is very inspirational and can be done. I did the 5 day water fast myself and 6 day juice fast. It feels amazing ! Trust me

Here is the link to the movie.

Fat Sick and Nearly Dead

Please share it among your friends. 🙂

You can check out his website as well at

http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/

Tofu express

Hmm..I am writing after a long time. I was just busy in office and had few trips here and there.

I am a fan of plant based diet and practice vegetarianism. One very cliched question all veg people are asked is “from where do you get your protein” .Trust me its annoying .All those people who ask such questions please get few concepts cleared. There are hundreds of protein sources in the world. One is Tofu !

I fell in love with it the moment I tasted it. A lot depends on the kind of sauce you use but I have seen appetizers such as pan fried tofu,tofu salad, stuffed breads and tofu etc in many restaurants. I like experimenting with food.It gives me a sense of pleasure as if I am creating something new.Although you can find roots and routes both in cook books.I like the taste of pan fried tofu,its not deep fried.Its texture and royal golden color is very appetizing . I have failed in umpteenth attempts to get my pan fried tofu by myself. But today morning I decided that no matter what,I will get this one right.It might sound infinitely trivial to so many wonderful cooks out there but there is always a first time. I read one or two pages online on how to cook it and I got the trick. Heat the oil and place the tofu cuboids in it and LEAVE THEM THERE. I was going wrong here in my previous attempts.The stir fries have made me so restless that my hands itch to flip everything. So, I was doing this consistent flipping in my previous attempts. But today, I kept my patience and let the tofu cubes sit in the hot oil and I was so happy to see the royal golden brown colors on my tofu 🙂 yay !! Turning them over was a little issue as I don’t have enough equipment to do so. I used a spatula and it damaged a little bit the shapes but never mind.They turned out to be fine for at least the first time.

I live in a old apartment, so there is no chimney and I was startled when this fire alarm went off. Ughh..I was in my boxers and searched for my pants to run open the door. Hilarious and terrifying moment it was :/

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But eventually I am happy with the result 🙂

Pasta = Carbs !! Isn’t it ???

I am a lazy fellow and Chicago weather helps me in maintaining this laziness. I am still on my healthy diet plan . I had virtually nothing left in the fridge , and in the shelf I had this small packet of pasta. Pasta reminds me of fine ground flour , maida, from which the bran has been removed. Also, it has habit of sticking itself to the walls of your stomach which can cause pain.

If it is so unhealthy and vilified in so many health texts then why would one country will base its diet on it. If this was the case, Italy’s denizens  should have been the unhealthy lot of the human beings. Actually, whenever I think of pasta I see macaroni,farfella,vermicilli dipped in lot of cheese, and soy sauce, with a little bit of vegetables.This is surely not desirable.

I thought of doing some experiment, I can make it healthy. One way of making anything healthy is complementing it with lot of vegetables. I did the same. I had few tomatoes, spring onions and garlic. I crushed them all in a grinder and heated it to prepare my marinara dressing.

I had overcooked the pasta, so it was very very soft.I added few finely grated carrots to get the crunchy feeling.Lettuce and tomatoes on top made my plate healthy one. 🙂 🙂

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Hybrid salad

I won’t say I am fat or healthy(euphemistic terms) I have a lean frame and my waist is 32” and I am happy with that. But for past few days I am seeing a slight bulge in my abdomen. I detest it from the core. Being a vegetarian I do not have myriad options for my taste buds in the country of ham burgers and hot dogs. But the processed veg food is high in fats and calories which can be fattening as well. Moreover the milk ,of which I am fond of, is very pure here.(First time I am missing the adulterated milk 😀 ) . What to do now? How to keep my weight in check ? I am 5′ 9 ” and my weight is 61-62 kg (approx 134  lbs).People would say I am underweight. But whatever, I feel pleasant in my slenderness. What is bothering me now are the extra layers of fat that are sitting uninvited on me.

Salad with balsamic vinegar dressing is very desirable lunch for me. Ranch dressing is very creamy, though it tastes good but I don’t want the bottled ones as I am sure they put class 2 preservatives in it. Hummus and Tahini are ok once in a while, but I prefer the former as a a spread on Mexican flat bread of corn flour(tortillas) .

I opened the fridge and saw the spinach that I had bought a week earlier. I wanted to throw it away as the bunch looked like a withered flower. It was in this shape

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I had very few items left , I mixed them all up to get

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So, Its a mix of fried veg and raw veggies. I fried the grape tomatoes, spinach, red skin potatoes, little onion. I crushed few tomatoes, diced quarter bell pepper, added salt to create the dressing. Actually I had everything in very less quantity so dressing is not covering the full plate. half spring onion, cucumber,cranberries and lime complemented together to give me a colorful and healthy lunch.