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We’ve Moved!!!

We’ve moved to a new home!! To http://www.1825steps.com/  to be exact… From the comfortable cushy wordpress.com hosted blog to a self hosted blog.. I can’t help it but compare the situation to finally buying your own house and moving from the beloved rental. The rental that came with the maintenance guy as part of your lease.. everytime something broke, you called “the guy”. Now in this house, you are “the guy”. You fix the leaking faucet, the clogged drain, mow the lawn. But at the end of all that you stand there, albeit covered in grime & sweat, and look proudly at the final product, proud at the fact that you are the one responsible for all of this. And let me tell you this is the same feeling Z & I have right now. We designed, developed this baby. Over the next few days, things will break. You’ll see ridiculous things (a designer I am NOT!) or won’t see anything on the blog (a certainty in life – code that breaks). But fret not, ‘coz things will be back up and running pretty soon.

You can follow us on Twitter at 1825steps. Please visit drop in a line in the comments section at 1825 Steps.

~Peetu

MIA…

I started blogging regularly end of last year. With the Blog-A-Week challenge, I thought I would stick to the routine. But with the remodeling project, work and other things, the blog was relegated to things-we-never-get-around-to list. We started concentrating on the house again. So now that the renovating is almost close to the finish line, its back to blogging. What have we been upto in the meantime..

Cooking:

Tandoori chicken w/ mint chutney & charred veggies

Zulu trying his hand at Mediterranean food

Breakfast

Our take on sunnyside up

Andd… *drumroll* I tried my hand at Julia Child’s recipes!! And as expected, they turned out amazing!! (Credit to the recipe and clear instructions, than the cook aka me).. Buts that’s another post..

And house-stuff:

  • We now have a backyard!! Well, we always did but now its nicer.. We have grass! And  we cut down the huge mulberry and yucca trees.. So my wish of sitting in the backyard in the sun with a book in hand has finally come true.. 😀
  • Running across 3 different rooms every morning meant we had time to pay attention to how we can fix those rooms.. So look forward to more house posts..

But the main thing that has kept me away is whether I should get off wordpress and start hosting my own website. Have more control over the content and the look and feel of the blog.. So maybe my next post just might be the first post on my new blog.. Till then…

~Peetu

Good Eats … I ummm so sad…

Now that good eats has been officially declared to be discontinued … I am really disappointed but at the same time excited about the new stuff from Alton Brown . So here’s a run down of all the episodes … yeah all 249 of them courtesy Chicago tribune. I am sure I will be using them and so sharing on this platform too.

Steak, potatoes, eggs, salad, roasted chicken, ice cream, biscuits, gravy/roux, onion soup, fish, pasta, pilaf, chocolate, roasted turkey, fruitcake, fondue, grilled cheese, apples, pie crust, sugar/caramel, canning, shrimp, coffee, corn, fish and chips, ground beef, tomato sauce, mushrooms, clarified butter, pork ribs, tofu, mussels, quiche/custard/flan, duck, chocolate chip cookies, grilling, pickling, butter, pancakes/maple syrup, cabbage, pizza, beans, poaching, turkey leftovers, smoking/smoked salmon, pressure cooking, fried chicken, lobster, ham, angel food cake, pot roast, honey, garlic, mayonnaise, puff pastry, tea, chili peppers, gelatin, oats/haggis, crepes, roast beef, bacon, eggplant, cheesecake, squid/wok cooking, cocoa powder/brownies, squash, macaroni and cheese, clams, potatoes, tuna, strawberries, artichokes, yogurt, souffle, tomato, home brewing, dip, pork chops, choux pastry, casseroles, ravioli/tortellini, slaw, yellow cake, buttercream frosting, beets, roulade, crab, pulled pork, french omelet, muffins, chicken stock, sausage, steak/fajita/sirloin, steaming, grains, candy, sweet potato, sugar cookie, herbs, spices, corn dogs/sliders, fudge, nuts/pesto, lemon meringue pie, bread toast, banana, hollandaise sauce, oysters, flattened meat, doughnuts, wonton, chili con carne, sandwiches, soup, cheese, chocolate, grits/polenta, stuffing, pudding, melon, myths, coq au vin, carrots, leeks, baking, gyros, greens, rice, peas, shish kebab, beef jerky, ice cream, energy bar, sushi, cobbler, vinegar, waffle, meatball, avocado, pocket pie, eggnog, vanilla, beef tenderloin, cocktails, flounder, pad thai, scallop, olives, tortillas, barley, sweet yeast breads, cube steak, water, peaches, okra, squid, calamari, popcorn, peppercorns, deep fried turkey, lentils, tortillas, gumbo, cornish game hen, pomegranate, corned beef, espresso, spinach salad, milk, pretzels, coconut cake, substitutions, whole fish, dried fruit, beef stew, dill pickles, peanuts, green bean casserole, blueberries, marshmallow, knives, buffalo wings, apple pie, broccoli, crown of lamb, cranberry, cupcakes, dutch ovens, popovers, celery, tuna, oils, preservations, mincemeat, edamame, graham crackers, creole-style beans and rice, baklava, ginger, brussels sprouts, oranges, molasses, salmon, crawfish, tamales, spaghetti, pork tenderloin, parsnip, punch, breakfast, cooking with beer and wine, pound cake, trout, Japanese ingredients, spirits,diets, cocktails, salt, chicken and dumplings, curry, catfish, paella, porterhouse steak, grilled chicken, asparagus, eggs benedict, wood-fired pizzas, banana pudding, tacos, tempura, oats, homemade candy, summer squash, pumpkin pie, meringue, hummus, devil’s food cake, chicken pot pie, lasagna, bouillabaisse, bread pudding, yeast rolls, cauliflower, Asian noodles.

Puff Pastry… (pause)…..PUFF PASTRY…..

From my 1st grade school cafeteria till yesterday, its one thing that has always been such a mystery to me, which I always loved to eat but somehow had this question too that how on earth do they make so many layers of crunch which taste so good, when will I be a citizen of the Puff Pastry world?  I still remember spending my collections of coins, (5th grade school) which I had collected over a period of 6 months for that  2min pleasure of a crunchy Rs2.5 veggie puff (and have no regrets too)

Well that mystery did let me in today, I finally did it, and I “MADE MY OWN VEGGIE PUFF”. I just cant believe, I made an egg puff, a veggie puff and now the flood gates have opened.

It was Thursday and we decided to take the surface road to home while picking up mince chicken at the “Halal Market”. I saw a pack of puff pastry sheets in the freezer, jumped through the thoughts starting from   “No” to “Will I be able to???” to “Can I?” and finally resting  on “Lets try it, how bad can it get” . Reached home, took the pack out and looked at it  again. And again, repeat “No”, “Will I be able to???” “Can I?”. But this time I was really tired to get to the “Lets try it, how bad can it get”  and Thursday became history soon. Friday went with the same pace too.

Saturday somehow comes with an amazing urge to cook some nice stuff and wallah, “we have puff pastry sheets” in the freezer. Enthusiasm is one thing but actually turning it into something that you have always enjoyed, not being on the spectator side in the stadium and now amongst the players of the game, is something totally different. I was actually nervous.

I looked on the Internet and remembered one episode by “Alton Brown” on the puff pastry. Jumped onto it and within 15mins I was ready to take on the challenge.

My First ever puff pastry filling: Boiled Eggs with Cilantro Mint chatni

Oven Check : 400deg

Pizza Stone: Hot and ready in the oven to take on the task.

And then thanks to “Alton Brown” and my super Oven, I made my very first Puff.

It felt like Tom Hanks in Cast away ” I have made fire. I HAVE …….MADE FIRE”

Todo list: Weekend 04/03

Update: I started this post as a todo list this Friday and decided that I would post this after I was done crossing out some of the things on the list. And I did!! On Saturday 🙂 So with every muscle, that didn’t get a workout in the past, aching, I present to you the todo list for the weekend:

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Since we moved to this house in Oct, we haven’t done anything with the yard. Well, that’s not true. We did dig up the entire backyard to get rid of the thing that masqueraded as a lawn. And as rookies, we did it without the use of any powered tools or taking the simple route of using sod. ‘It’ comprises of turning the soil, removing the grass, mixing the fertilizer, seeding, and covering with top soil. Since both, L & I, work didn’t have spare time during the week, we did this over 2 weekends. And then it rained. We were in luck since we didn’t have to water it. We waited an entire week to see signs of grass. One early morning, just before leaving for work, when I peeked outside, I saw birds nibbling at the grass. And squirrels!! C’mon!! Not fair!! After all the blisters and aches, we ended up with a patchy lawn. And that killed our enthusiasm to bust our butt in the winter doing yard work. Result — a yard full of weeds. And we are ‘that’ house on the block that doesn’t take care of the yard. So we decided to get in a gardener. But as luck would have it, the gardener who gave an initial quote of $500 to clean both the yards and get rid of all the weeds, upped his quote to $1000 just ‘coz he wasn’t available for a month after the first quote & now apparently the work has doubled. I was so pissed off when I heard his revised quote that I decided to take matters into my own hands & clean up on my own. So this weekend is going to be dedicated to yard work.

  • Mow the grass (We got the Fiskars Reel Lawn Mower and its amazing. So now we have a mowed lawn!!)
  • Trim the bougainvillea
  • Kill/remove most of the weeds (This a harder battle to win. The weeds on the front yard are trimmed down.. still working on side spaces)
  • Plant something in the area next to the main entrance (Since it was overcast yesterday & we were eager to try the lawn mower before it started raining, we didn’t get any plants 😦 But the weekend isn’t over yet ;))

Cheers 🙂

Bath remodeling

With so many references to moving to the office, I guess a post about the bathroom remodeling project was imminent. So some background.. Generally single family homes come with huge master bath with all the works.. Our house came with a 6’x3′ tiny bathroom with atleast a 4’x1.5′ no-man’s land. It was a tiny space between the exterior wall & a bad shower stall with a door that wouldn’t close. With no ventilation & a non-functional master bath, we knew that this was going to be our first project. Since this was completely beyond our expertise, we decided to get a contractor to have a look at it. So within a week, with the estimate in hand, we decided to take the plunge & starve for 5 months (kidding ;)) and started the tiles etc w/ the designer, signing, arguing about a tile or a pattern with L, falling in love with stuff I knew we couldn’t afford (cmon, $159 for a Restoration Hardware wall sconce ?) and obviously learning a lot along the way (now I know for sure that even though we love clean lines, modern isn’t really out style).

So finally now with 2 weeks into the project, and 3 more weeks to go, what do we have?

  • A new bedroom 😀 We sleep in the smaller bedroom now. (Flipside of using a room that you didn’t venture into before? you start noticing stuff that needs to be fixed.. sigh..)
  • Too many tools & pipes & stuff that I’ve never seen..
  • Shopping lists
  • A huge master bath in the works. Even though the walls aren’t up & they still have to put in the stucco since they are waiting for the inspection to pass for the window that was moved

What do we don’t have anymore?

  • No master bedroom 😛
  • Cash 😀
  • Mess.. surprisingly the people who do all the work are super careful about not making a mess. I have heard horror stories about mud being tracked all around the house. I guess we are lucky that way. They even put out the trash on the street yesterday when we forgot that it was trash pickup day.
  • The yucky brown powder sort of thing that passed as insulation in the attic. No wonder it was freezing in the winter..
  • The marble vanity with green flecks (yayy!)

The pics of the ongoing renovation: (Note: sorry for the bad picture quality..)

Update: Removed the pics!

Todo list – Weekend 03/27

Now that spring is officially here (even though the weather is rebelling, thanks to rains & cloudy weather), I decided to get started with the spring cleaning. The first room on the list is the kitchen. Since this is where we spend most of our time in, the kitchen takes the cake for the room that needs the most attention. So this weekend’s todo list is centered around the kitchen. Here goes..

Kitchen:

  • Dishes
  • Clean countertop
  • Clean cooktop, microwave, oven
  • Mop floors
  • Get floor mats for the kitchen (repurposed the existing extra floor mats that we had around the house.. yayy for trimming down the shopping list :D)
  • Update: Organize pantry

Other:

  • Laundry
  • Clean the entryway
  • Move into the other bedroom from the office
  • Clean the office so that it can be actually used for what it was intended instead of a storage room
  • Work!!

Update: Surprisingly had a very productive Sunday. Except for the thing that pays the bills (read: work) finished everything! Putting up a todo list on the blog seems to be working where everything else has failed 😉 But I wouldn’t have been tick off all the items on this checklist had L not helped out with the kitchen stuff. And for being a good kid today I get to feast on L’s Palak Chicken 😀

Cheers \m/

The only place I can imagine “Tsingtao meets corn tortillas meet indian chicken curry” ….

a BAY AREA KITCHEN 🙂

As promised, pics of tikka tacos. Made them once again yesterday and this time peetu did let me take a pic :).

Weekend To-do List (03/19-03/20)

I have these grand plans each weekend. These include cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. Do some DIY. But laziness and the i-want-to-rest-this-weekend preempts all my noble house-cleaning plans. But I’m taking a page of Anna’s book. I’m going to put up my todo list on my blog and update it every Sunday evening. Maybe this is the motivation that I desperately need.

ToDo list

Kitchen/Family Room:

  • Clean counters
  • Mop floors
  • Organize pantry

Bedroom:

  • Move all the stuff from master room -> office (master bath remodeling)
  • Pack up all the stuff that we won’t need for the next 2 months

Office:

  • Turn the office into a bedroom
  • Make it functional 😉

Rest of the house:

  • Clean the (only??!) functional bath in the house
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry

For a todo list, this seems manageable enough. Lets see how much on this list actually gets done.

Update: With L handling all the chores outside the house, I was useless when it came down to moving the heavy stuff from the bedroom->office, all thanks to my puny muscles 😦

Cooking & me

I love cooking. I come from a family who loves to cook and eat. We never think of food as a hobby or an interest, its just way of life. I remember how my dad used to get 3-4 kinds of seafood while coming back from work and insist that mom make one kind of fish for me, the other for my brother, one for curry.. you get the idea, right? So I always had this love for home cooked meals which I never realized till I came to US and started cooking my own meals. My start wasn’t that great. I couldn’t identify which dishes needed garlic, which required ginger and what dishes were incomplete without either of them. And if you are from India, not knowing this is like missing out on learning the alphabets.

Luckily for me, I met L (aka Zulu) here. One of our loves was food. Both of us loved home-cooked meals. 2 months into the relationship, he made the most life-changing statement ‘All your chicken dishes taste the same’… AWKWARD!! A statement like this is a absolute no-no according to all the relationship books out there. But, for a change, this was an my AHA moment. I finally realized that me dumping ingredients in the pan and ending up with something edible didn’t make me a cook. So I finally started taking cooking seriously. And let me say this, when they say ‘cook with your heart’, they aren’t kidding! When you start letting your heart decide which ingredients go in the pot, the food on the plate tastes exactly like what you imagined it would. Slowly the pieces started falling in place and I can proudly say that I’ve reached a point where my food tastes good. And L is happy 🙂 What more could a girl ask for …

The path to becoming a better cook is littered with many of the small wins that I’ll always cherish. It’s become a source of interesting conversation topics. Case in point, conversation on how to make Paleo cookies by substituting sugar & eggs with ripe bananas. Being a homebody has never been more fun when you are trying a new recipe or a previously unknown ingredient eg. Collard greens 🙂 And making new discoveries about myself. Me, a self professed seafood fan, am better at cooking vegetarian stuff as opposed to non-veg dishes. Who knew?!! It’s a stress buster, a routine, a habit. A welcome habit. What could underscore this more other than the topic that L wrote about while this current post was still a draft is about food 🙂 And the reason why this was a draft when he hit the publish button on his post?? I was devouring the tacos that he made B-)

Happy Cooking!!

Cheers \m/

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