Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR & Sherlock Holmes on Christmas Day!

Its Christmas day, 2009 - Reminds me of the one in 2004 while I was in a dilemma to resign my first job or not. I was working night shift that day. The office cubicles were decorated with Christmas trees and colorful balloons. With the same amount of excitement and fun as any other day, I was ready to put my papers for good! The next day morning at around 5.30 AM I took my cab home. In Chennai, travelling along the Marina beach road early morning used to be fun, but not on that day! Well, it was the day of Tsunami. My cab driver changed route as there were a lot of chaos on the roads of Chennai early morning. Immediately after an hour all TV channels were flashing headlines about Tsunami in Chennai. Until then I guess the word Tsunami was not familiar in Indian dictionary.
'Avatar' and 'Sherlock Holmes' - Watching those 2 movies on the Christmas Day amidst American audience was quiet an experience!

Avatar - Well, Mr.James Cameroon's return after Titanic. Do I need to explain about Avatar then? Go watch it, if you have not yet. With the Imax 3D, the movie was scintillating! The imaginary Pandora's, floating mountains, flying animals, amazingly beautiful places in the Pandora were breathtaking views. The blue skinned Na'vi of the planet Pandora resembles the blue skin of lord Krishna. Maybe that was a reason for it to be called Avatar ( Dashavatar - 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu) ; was truly our(me and my husband's) view of the movie.
But again, aliens invading earth or man invading alien-land is not new to Hollywood.

Sherlock Holmes - Again two thumbs up! During my school days I have never read any Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie books. Hence naturally I felt it difficult following this movie. The background score, the set that portrayed London Bridge during its construction, olden days London, Robert Downey Jr. add beauty to this movie. People say the movie is running as equally as Avatar recently. But Avatar would definitely make it at the box office- no doubt!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thanksgiving time with Sweet potato pie

I was wondering why in India we don't celebrate 'Thanksgiving Day'. I just love the reason why the people here in America celebrate Thanksgiving day and the amount of happiness they have is endless. From their busy schedules they just take a day off to be with their loved ones thanking them for all what they have done! When I look back, I have never sat down a single day with my mom thanking her for all what she has done for me. Well, the love was definitely there in each others heart and we kept it within ourselves. Here I am several thousand miles away, blogging about her.

Its not about the word 'Thanks', but about the time we give to think about the family we belong to; children thanking parents, father thanking son, mother thanking her daughter-in-law, friends thanking each other - so emotional to look at!

Well, before I get too emotional let me explain something else that is important during this festive season - Food! Oh yes, when was it not important. But during thanksgiving the variety of food items they make are mouth-watering. Cheesecakes, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, a whole turkey are part of the thanksgiving dinner. I tried my hands on one of them and here is how I did it - of course with the help of great chefs from the 'Food Network'.

You need:
Sweet Potatoes - 2
Butter - 1/2 stick
Eggs - 3
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tbsp
Pie crust - ready made

Here you go:
1. Boil potatoes for more than 30 mins till they are really soft
2. Peel the skin and mash/blend with the remaining ingredients except the pie crust. You will(should) get a smooth paste.
3. Pour them on the pie crust and bake for 1 hr
4. What next? Slice it and have a bite!

I tried it with honey and dates.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pasta once a week!

One of my favorite dishes - Pasta! And one of my favorite things to do- eating Pasta! Pasta came into our lives a little late because it took its own time to travel from Italy to America and then to India.

In Chennai (South India), one of the best baked pasta can be found in the Eden restaurants at the Harrisons, Nungambakkam. My mouth waters even now when I think about their Pastitso.

Of the base dishes; Rice, Breads (Rotis in India) and Pasta; the last one is not too familiar in India(at least a few years back). And trust me cooking a complete Pasta meal takes lesser time comparatively.

You need:
Pasta - 1 cup (I loaaaaaaooooooooove Penne Pasta. I usuallySdon't prefer spagetti)
Veggies - As many as you want. Carrots, Beans kinda. Chop them into small, cute vertical pieces.
Tomatoes - 1 big, chopped
Tomato puree - 1 small can. Hmmm well its your choice absolutely to use this. The reason I use it is, it stops the Pasta from getting thicker. And I insist this product only when there are guests.When its you, then I guess you can prepare the puree yourself.
Garlic - at least 4 cloves. Aaahhhh, I love the essence of garlic.
Butter - 1 stick (Oh come on, its once in a while)
Cheese - loads (Again, once in a while)
Salt - 1 tbsp
Pepper - 1 tbsp

Here you go:
1. Cook pasta in boiling water for nearly 15 mins. Most pasta packs will have the heating instructions. But guess what, I prefer cooking at least 5 mins more than what is specified in the pack.
2. Cook the carrots and beans to a moderate level. Normally it takes 20 mins for it to get cooked completely. But for this dish its enough if you cook for 15 mins.
3. In a wide pan or kadaai heat the butter.Once it melts add the garlic and saute for a minute. Now add the tomatoes and saute till they become soft.
4. Add the puree and let cook for 2 mins
5. Add the cooked veggies and saute. Add salt and pepper. Let cook for a minute.
6. Now add the cooked pasta. Saute and let cook for 2 mins.

Pasta is ready to be served if you don't want it baked. For baking process read further.

7. Spread butter in a baking dish. Put some shredded cheese on the dish. Now spread all the ingredients into the dish. Put the rest of the cheese as if covering the entire stuff with a pool of cheese.
8. Onto the preheated oven for just 15 mins.

The cheese melted on top and the penne slightly brown in colour is the best sign of a perfectly baked pasta.

Serve hot with Italian wine (Oops!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I know why he hates MLM's

We were busy checking out new arrivals in a bookstore here in local Atlanta. A nicely dressed Indian woman approaches me and kick-starts a conversation. And me, without knowing that I am the prey of the day, for the marketing tricks of this MLM business; smiled at her and started to reciprocate. I really don't have any idea to explain you what it is, because I am not interested in doing it. But as he says in his rusted blog, these MLM people intrude into other's privacy to spread their business; is what I hate about it.

And guess what, they dont spare the Americans too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

America, its again you - Now on Hip Hop

These days I listen to more Hip Hop than the regular plagiarized tones from Chennai. Well, in this age, the term plagiarism revolves around with more than one inner meaning. I saw this quote somewhere "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources". Well, there were so many debates on the correctness of this statement. The man behind this quote is our very own Einstein. But if you are from India, having listened to musicians like Harris Jayraj, Vijay Antony, Deva, Pitam and others you will know that the quote by Einstein is totally stupid. Because their music is a little more than plagiarism.

For now Jay Z, Kanye West, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift do really have caught my attention. The whole Kanye-Taylor-Beyonce drama recently was so very interesting. And guess what, in this part of the world, the president was also asked to comment about it; and he did. Check that out here....

Hmmm, some interesting gossips going on here. Well, if that keeps entertaining people then nothing really wrong in it. And now, check this kid (4 year old) shaking his legs, on the Ellen show.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bachelor Meal

Woh Woh day by day my 'Junk' blog is turning out to be a fresh 'Cook Blog'.
This is going to be a very simple, healthy, not-so-messy ,interesting, quick meal for you bachelors out there who are living far-far-away from your mommas. It takes just 20 minutes to have your end product ready in your hands. So to leave for office at 8.00 AM, its enough to wake up at 7.00 AM for you to get ready.....and your lunch to be prepared. Now come on with me......

You need:
Wheat flour - 1 cup (makes 2 chapatis)
Salt - 1 tsp
Spring Onions(as referred in India)/Scallions (as referred in America)/Shallots(as referred somewhere else)- 2
Ghee/Butter - 1 tbsp (As a part of fat in the balanced meal. Bachelorettes trying to slim down......this one is not for you)
Water - few tbsp to knee the dough (A very good substitute is milk or even yogurt)
Put your hands on it:
The regular dough kneeding process begins.
Add your flour and salt and mix it first.
Then add your butter and mix it
And now, add water and kneed the dough. Add your Spring Onions now. Keep kneeding it. Give it some punches as much as you can. (Now see, that substitutes your gymming time). The more you punch the more softer it becomes.
Now leave it for 5 mins as you get ready for your work.
After you come back cut the dough into small chapati balls.
Roll them and heat it in the Tava.
While turning on each side you can spread some oil/butter/ghee as per your need. Else forget it.

With that:
Now in a small bowl put 3 tbsp yogurt. With that, add a pinch of salt and jaljeera(I suggest this one for that salty tinge and easier digestion. Else substitute with cumin powder).

Your lunch box is good to go.

Substitute Spring Onions with Mint leaves/Coriander leaves/Scrapped Carrots/or any dough-comfortable stuff from your wildest thoughts.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fried rice isn't a big deal

I discovered that this is going to be the easiest and quickly made variety rice, especially when you are running short of time.

There was a time when I kept wondering what makes this dish so very mouth-watering. Well, its time to explore. Nothing much, its the Soy sauce and Ajinomoto which gives it the 'yumm' taste. But I am not using either of them, not because that I don't have them both right now; but I felt the fried rice comes out well even without them.

All You need is:
Boiled rice
- As per the head count (Just make sure its not too boiled or sticky)
Carrots - cut them into longer thinner pieces
Green beans - same as carrots, but remember that beans takes more time to get cooked that carrots
Capsicum - I prefer smaller cubes, how about you
Spring onions - Aaah, now this guy is the hero. Cut them smaller to mix up well with the rice.
Ginger - I prefer adding ginger in most dishes for easier digestion. Oh come on, not in my cakes.
Green chillies - Size similar to carrots
Pepper - I like it pepper hot.
Salt - If its American made then 2 spoons, else if its Indian then 3 spoons. I have no idea why. Purely out of experience and taste.
Oil - Gingely oil
Ghee - Just a spoon for its aroma. Only for guests, not for you.

Get started:
A kadai/pan would do. Add oil and heat it.
Add half the pepper and ginger.
Add the veggies - carrots, beans and saute it for 1 minute.
Add a little bit of water, close the lid and let cook for 2 minutes. (On the contrary, you can boil these 2 veggies separately before and keep it ready. But remember that, neither of the veggies should be over-cooked. Remember eating it in a Chinese restaurant?)
Remove lid, add capsicum and the remaining pepper. You can add a spoonful of ghee at this stage. Saute and close lid again. Let cook for a minute.
Now add the rice. Mix well. Add salt. Reduce the heat.
Taste a spoonful to check if the salt and pepper has covered the rice and veggies well.
If no, add more.

In restaurants, fried rice is served with tomato sauce. Being truly Indians from the south, we prefer raitha with it. Especially boondhi raitha. Here you go. Decorate the rice as you like before serving or grab a spoonful right from the stove.

Other methods:

OK, now you don't have all these veggies. Say you just have beans. Well, repeat the process. Maybe you can add some chopped onions to fill the dish.Well that's not going to be a traditional fried rice. But who cares. Enjoy your meal as per your taste.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Neeya Naana Photos

Here I am attaching a few pictures that I shot during the great event. Fetna had organized it for 3 days, of which we could not cover most of the third day event, as my husband who was curious in shooting me on stage met with a small injury while he was coming down the stairs. Hence, immediately after my show was over we had to head to the nearby hospital. Well, I had to experience the point which I had told in the debate. In this lonely land, without a single person to support I had to manage the entire scene alone. Isn't that "Munnetram(progress)"?
In the photos : I am the first person sitting in the second row, right side, center stage (in a lovely green saree presented by my Mom-in-law).
Find more pictures in this FETNA link of day 2 images. Neeya Naana comes immediately after 'Kattabomman's images.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Me on 'Neeya Naana'

This year the North American Tamil Vizha was conducted in Atlanta by FETNA ( ); on July 3rd, 4Th and 5Th at the Georgia Tech University campus. Popular personalities like Scientist Mayilsamy, poet Vairamuthu, Actors Jeeva Pasupathi and many others were part of it. And it was a very happy occasion for me, being a part of it. Volunteering on day 1, I was there to take part in Neeya Naana, a popular TV show(Star Vijay television) conducted by this eminent TV personality, Gopinath(popularly known as Neeya Naana Gopinath).

"Americavil kudi peyarthadhal adhigam munnetram adaindhadhu Aangala, Pengala?" (Who has succeeded more after moving to America - Men or Women?) was the topic given. Well, if you ask, my personal opinion would be - Men! But I was put in Pengale (Women) side of the debate and trust me, I could not think of a single point to support my side of the topic, till the day. Finally I came up with this point...Checkout the video. The last person speaking in this video is me. The video not being that clear, you can find me on the right side, second row, center stage, first person.


Notepads, scrapbooks, excel sheets, word documents would have flashed these fancy calendar dates 01/01/01, 02/02/02 and so on...,in the past 8 years... But the next time will have to be the 1st 12 years of 21st century(well, don't ask me if we are already in 21st century. I meant the CC of the CCYY being 21). This century has three more years to celebrate this little fun (10/10/10, 11/11/11 and 12/12/12), while we are on 09/09/09. Oops, I guess I am messing up somewhere. Let me sit and think.............................

No one knows how 01/01/3001 is going to be or even if the earth would still be there. But we are here today to celebrate these fancy dates.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

100th post- My blogging with Julie & Julia

100Th post!

Julie and Julia - I am influenced! This happens to me most of the time I watch a movie that strongly portrays something that I like. And this movie had two portions in it that interests me - cooking and blogging.

Now that I find ample amount of time to experiment my cooking skills, I play in my kitchen space everyday.

But whats with the blogging. Way back in 2006, I started blogging, just like that. Without any specific thought in mind, my blog had random ideas and experiences till date and I would love to continue it this way. I have got strong comments at times for debatable topics. Well, most of the times my answer would be, 'this is purely my opinion'. And I stick to my answer. I usually don't spend time reading other blogs, because I fear if that would influence my writing. But then, during my dull days of blogging I used to visit a couple of other blogs; preferably humorous ones.

And what made me feel good about Julie and Julia - I must admit that I am writing this post because I am influenced by the movie which reminded me that I have a blog too.

Verdict on Julie @ Julia - Go for it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

With this Chick...

Here I have prepared a Channa masala with available ingredients and without Channa masala powder.

Chickpeas - 1 cup( 250 ml)
Tomatoes - 1 and a half. Grind
Onions - 1. Good to grind than chop
Coriander Leaves - You know how much
Ginger - 1 tbsp chopped. Hmmm, try a little more than normal. For both aroma and health.
Garam Masala Powder - 1 tbsp. When it all comes together, why worry. This one spices it up!
Green Chillies - A little more than 1 tbsp. Chopped finely. Well, I like it hot. How about you?
Salt - You know how much. 1 tbsp should do.
Chilly powder - 1 tsp. Well, I told you I like it hot!!!
Cumin seeds - 2 tsp. This one adds good aroma.
Oil - 2 tbsp. I prefer Gingely oil.
Water - Accordingly

1. Soak Chickpeas for more than 8 hours in prior to your preparation. Soaking it in the mid-morning, you can prepare it for dinner. Else leave it soaked overnight if its for breakfast or lunch.
2. Boil the chickpeas in your own way. Else like me, microwave it for 22 mins or till its cooked.
3. Heat a pan and add oil to it. Once oil is heated add cumin seeds.
4. Saute Onions and ginger till the raw smell disappears.
5. Add chillies and after about a minute or more add tomatoes.
6. Add Garam masala powder, chilly powder, salt and close the pan with a lid leaving it for about 3 mins.
7. Open the lid and add the water (used for boiling chickpeas) and close the lid again leaving it for another 2 minutes.
8. Now is the time for Hero entry. Add the Chickpeas. Mix it thoroughly. Close the lid and leave it for another 4-5 mins.
9. The consistency depends upon your need. Let it simmer for 2 mins if you want it thick.

Here its ready. Mouthwatering? Don't forget to switch off your stove before you rush to your dinner table!
Happy Eating.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Idle status

Staying at home all day, all week, all month? Here are my suggestions purely out of experience...

1. Re-arrange all the items in your home and arrange them again; room by room. Especially the ones in your kitchen. This will take at least 2-3 days. Do this repeatedly once in 2 weeks.

2. While at work you wont even get an hour to continuously stay online. But now as you are all time online, its obvious that you will get bored. Never watch movies online. That will make Internet boring. Instead watch YouTube clippings. Ones like baby Shakira dance, Jodi # 1- Action by Simbu , Benny Lava(I never knew Prabhu Deva had such an image) - don't forget to read the subtitles, Actor Vijay anger - remix, etc. Again watch YouTube videos once in every 2 hours.

3. Read about which hot-pair broke up recently.

4. Keep calling people at work and drag the conversation for at least 45 minutes. Repeat the 'called person' once in every 2 weeks.

5. Never ever watch daily soaps.That will make you feel like your mom. And watch serials like 'Desperate Housewives' at your own risk. Instead start watching NBA, WWF, programs on Motors.... That will make you feel more stronger.

6. If you are an interior decorator, good sign. Invest on good painting colors. Paint or rather play (try different combinations of colors drawing crooked stripes - with a thick brush) with colors in an A4 sheet. You will feel good! And who knows that might even look like a modern art. And give a bunch of them to your husband for framing. Hang them around the walls and invite people to look at it!!!

Can you smell the typical house-wife aroma on me?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

America - this is you!

Being an out and out Chennai girl right from the time of birth, this life gives in a lot many new and remarkable experiences. Here, I begin to share my stint in America.

Atlanta is the name. The state of Georgia now (temporarily) replaces Tamil Nadu. Watching the beautiful city of Chennai from the skies, my journey to the west began.

With my hand baggage, I moved towards the waiting area saying goodbye to my people in Chennai. Waiting for 'Emirates' to flash on the screens I was sitting there watching people walk around. I realised the disadvantage of not being a bookaholic. My first travel across countries began in a couple of hours. Well I wouldn't say I felt bored, though I did not have a travel companion. Two movies, lot of disturbed sleep, food in between and plenty of fruit juices filled in my journey.

The Emirates airship brought me to Dubai international airport(a huuu....gge one) in no time. Killing one odd hour watching the airport crew, I boarded my flight to New York. Emirates again! And it took off!!! I remember viewing the email forwarded pictures of the 'Palm Jumeirah' in Dubai, long time back. I got myself a direct view of the same now.

Back with the view of white clouds. Nothing much to peep through the window. Never thought I would watch Academy award winning movie 'Slumdog Millionaire' on the clouds. Though I was not much interested in the movie, I kept wondering what made it at the Oscars. The journey between Dubai and New York being the longest, made me feel tiring about 'flight travels'. There was no proper sleep for me as the toddlers around kept weeping, their mommy's were fast asleep. Well, if me myself could not manage sitting idle for hours in the flight; imagine those tiny ones.

After a few hours here it comes. The view of United States of America, from the airbus. As a child I used to dream about this country. And now I am here! New York's John F Kennedy airport, though did not attract me as the one at Dubai, was my first place of landing in the USA. Having a Cappuccino, I made a couple of new friends(Indians from Tamil Nadu) who surprisingly had travelled with me for more than 20 hrs without my knowledge. And all of us, young women headed towards our flight to Atlanta. Well, my stay in New York was just for an hour; leaving behind a remarkable memory.

Boarded the Delta flight to Atlanta. This one took off 2 hours later than the regular schedule due to traffic on the runway. And I kept watching each flight take off, waiting for mine to take its turn. There were around 25 to 30 flights before mine. Someone next to me said, "Well, this is New York!"

Watching the New York city in the dark, I started thinking about my loved one who is waiting for me to arrive. Within an hour, I was in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport. There he was, with a red rose in his hand. The hug I missed for a few days welcomed me to this LAND OF THE FREE...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Status change!!!

In the third decade of my life, an all new phase has begun. Missing my 'Miss' status from the moment I said 'Yes, I do.....', I became his lawful wife. Knowing him for nearly half a decade, I did not have the feel of an 'all new' environment during the start. The 'Shift' from one home to the other left behind tears of joy as well as sorrow in the respective homes. Of course, this is the story of every girl in this planet!

The dear ones with whom I was with, right from the time of my birth, are now far far away from me. The tradition says, they belong to my secondary home from now on. And my primary home now includes my husband and my parents-in-law. Luckily or unluckily I don't hold a sister-in-law status for anyone!

Kitchen used to be a forbidden area before marriage. Now it is the laboratory for me to practice and experiment, though there are no viva-voce or practical examinations. My husband now is a rat( or should I say cat) here, on whom I experiment my inventions on. Poor fellow, never disheartens me!

Right or wrong, funny or not-so-funny, I have to keep smiling all the time; in my new home; especially when the brothers and sisters of my parents-in-law crack jokes (they call it a joke)! My facial expressions include a smiley curve all-time, at least for the first few months; as they call us 'newly wed'. And of course, now I don't know what 'anger' means. Once upon a time my mother used to be the victim of my anger. I miss being with my mom!

No more bed-coffees; no more late-evening bath on Sundays; no more depending on mom for fish-curry, or rather no more fish-curry at home. Before marriage, mom hardly praises me, she was my queen of criticisms. Now she hardly scolds me, though I miss being her victim. I see a lot of fear in her eyes - worrying every minute for her daughter's well-being.

I am one of the lucky daughters-in-law around the world, for whom breakfast gets ready even before waking up. Searching for wood to touch...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Amazing Quotes - True Love

//True love is the soul's recognition of its counterpoint in another//

Isn't that an amazing quote? I leave it to you to find out where exactly this was picked from. Definitely not mine!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year Day?

For me the year started off with a working day! While returning home that day, I had a chat with a friend of mine which went like this;

Me : Shyam, for sure this traffic is going to take another hour for us to reach our place. ECR (East Coast Road in Chennai) is flooded with vehicles. Look at this, even the temple zone is jammed with traffic.
Shyam: People are trying to pour their devotion on a single day. Check out tomorrow, this temple will be deserted.
Me: Actually one can debate whether to celebrate January 1st as the New Year Day or not.
Shyam: Who asked us to? Why celebrate January 1st as New Year Day? Why not April 14Th for that matter?
Me: Come on! Then we in India will have too many New Year's Day.One for Tamils, one for Malayalees, one for Telagites and so on....
Shyam:It was just because Englishmen invaded us, we celebrate this day as the New Year Day. Its according to the English calendar. Imagine, if they had not invaded India we would not even be speaking English for that matter. They imparted the language too into us.
Me: If Britain had not invaded India, and have not imparted English in us, then India would definitely have not been like Japan, for that matter; wherein people speak at least a common language- Japanese. Indians would have ended up speaking Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati and what not....
Shyam: Yeah, also Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and so on....Each state would have fought for their own language and would have divided India like what happened to the European countries. Each state in India would have been a separate country by now.

The conversation just came on our way , just like that; and ended as we approached our destinations.But the topic was wandering in my mind for sometime.A controversial thought to start with.