Category: home


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

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/

Taco Truck

Taco Truck

Tikka Tacos was one thing I was planning on for so long and recently it became a reality. Food is one thing that really detoxifies me and it came once again to the rescue on a gloomy tiring/irritating Sunday evening. Didn’t have an awesome day and wanted to cook something for the evening to put a nice end to the weekend (funny concept ehh…END to a week-END(something like metabraces)?????). Well its about the tikka tacos and not the day so let me tell the taco tale.

Wanted to get some chiken drumsticks (started to dislike boneless stuff now) and wanted to make something not tandoori. Even though it tastes awesome, I am feeling kinda monotonous about it now. I always tell my friends about how I will start my taco truck and still  not for once did I try making a single taco , and voila there came the recipe, “I should make tacos. Lets make tacos“.

I headed straight to the mexican aisle and saw the small pack corn tortillas. Off-late  my buddies at work have taken me to different taco places and I loved all of them expect for the fact that nowhere I was able to find a nice blend of  indian curry meat and the mexican taco delight. Yeah, I had tikka bites once…they were alright…to be honest did not like their food and it was not cheap either.

So now for the recipe, I started with the chicken first and fried some cumin, cinnamon and a big black cardamom. When smelt the goodness and heard the cumins, threw in a big onion for the saute. Added big pieces of garlic and not that much ginger to the party to deepen the flavor. Sauted it for a while before adding two big tomatoes. Now comes the fun part when you get to the spices. These indian spices are like colors , they leave their unique mark on whichever painting they are used on and leave you with a very different thought even if you see a same color on a different painting .

My colors were salt,corriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala (dont ask me what goes in it. Its called garam masala and one more thing, MDH garam massala and not MTR), roasted fennel, roasted green cardamom and the star of the painting, the final sparkle, my favorite of all spices, Nutmeg. Gave it a mix till everything became a bit darker and came to a paste consistency. Added the chicken drumsticks and mixed it for a while before adding a cup of water and pressure cooked it for about 15 minutes. I did let the pressure release by itself and take its own sweet time. This ensured a nice penetration of the flavors and for me, some time to rest and prepare the salsa for the tacos

As I was doing this salsa stuff, I did not tell peetu about the tacos. She kind of knew that I was making chicken but totally voted for the indian meal when  asked  for a choice between tortillas and chapati.  Of-course who would experiment on a tiring/irritating/gloomy sunday evening? “Just gimmie something nice” was the feeling, and tacos?, no tacos was the call. Somehow I asked her to taste one taco and she reluctantly agreed. Immediately I chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, pickled jalapeño and mixed it with some salt, cayenne pepper (pinch) and lime juice. De-boned and chopped the meat and made a taco for her to taste topping it with the gravy of blended goodness.

Boy !! the sheer feel of satisfaction and that smile, the moment after that first bite, sucked all that bad stuff out of me. Sunday started feeling sunny even though it was 7 in the evening and monday was approaching, I felt awesome again. Had a bite from peetu and let the chicken rest for the night for a taco meal the next day.

After that I was sitting on my couch just thinking about how food is such an important part of our lives. It treats people in so many different ways. Some de-stress themselves by eating a lot of food, some by cooking a lot of food, but in the end its the food and the love of it which makes us all work 9-5 Mon-Fri so that we all can have that awesome sat-sun COOKING session that we have earned through the week.

~cheers

zulu

P.S: We ended up having chapati for the dinner on sunday and tacos were on the menu for the monday meal. I did not take a picture of the tacos this time. They really tasted awesome and looked even more delightful. Will post just the pictures next time on Tikka Tacos…cont…

Keep your chin up

Last Saturday I woke up really early. I thought I heard the doorbell ring. You see, a gardener was supposed to come early morning, on a Saturday (*rolling eyes*). And since my need of getting our front yard in a decent shape so that we don’t get known as the only people on the block with a horrible gardening skills, was greater than my much needed beauty sleep, I was awake since 7am. Long story short, yes the gardener did turn up at an ungodly hour of 8am on a Saturday. And I did what any normal person would do on a Saturday morning. I went back to sleep after he left.

I woke after 2 hours with a horrible realization that I couldn’t move my head. I had a shooting pain in my neck everytime I tried to tilt to my head. The whole weekend I relied on Icy-Hot cream. Come Tuesday morning, the neck pain not only showed no signs of receding, but actually resulted in me waking up in the middle of the night trying to wake up Z to ask him to help me move my head ‘coz I couldn’t do it on my own. 2 days and 2 trips to the Urgent Care and finally strong meds & a neck brace later I realized a few things.

  • When we are fine and healthy we take the simplest things for granted. I realized this when I had to ask my husband if my neck was straight or lopsided in an effort to adjust in a position with minimum pain.
  • The sympathy helps. You find yourself being bumped up in queues since people feel bad about making someone wearing a neck brace wait for long.
  • The neck brace…. Not weird at all.. Ok I’ll admit, its weird for the first 15 minutes where you think of yourself as really old & all. But the one I have is actually pretty cool. Its black & soft and definitely doesn’t look anything like the pink/beige ones you must’ve seen. And don’t even get me started on how comfortable it is when you actually need to wear it!
  • The doctors understand you when you say that you are scared of getting a shot inspite of the fact that it sounds like the only way out from the horrible pain. Their means of showing that they understand – pat your hand and look at you with an expression we generally reserve for kids who throw away all their candy just to make a point.
  • Toy Story (1-3) playing on the only TV in the hospital waiting room makes the long hours go so fast that you actually regret when the nurse calls out your name.. C’mon Woody was just trying to save everyone from ending up at Sunnyside!!!
  • And the last thing… I got asked atleast 5 times in my 2 visits whether I was pregnant or about to be.. all women out there should pray that they don’t end up getting hurt when they are pregnant. You won’t get the meds!!

Here’s to a happy and healthy week/month/year/life…

Cheers \m/

Mitsuwa….

Yesterday was my first dive into the Japanese culinary galaxy. I tried my luck on making the Miso soup and sushi for my wife on her birthday and combining it with the Valentine’s Day. (I thought I was smart :p)

We ended up having an amazing plate of hand rolled sushi, California style sushi rolls and a flavorful bowl of miso soup but  there is a confession that I can only make through this post. In the process of preparation for such an ambitious step,  I lost track of everything else.  I forgot the reasons and was totally controlled by the fragrance that the open simmering pot of konbu sea weed and wakame seeds was doing to my senses.

Making the miso soup was kind of an education to me. How different flavors can gel so well and create a real symphony of flavors.The kind of flavors extracted from  the preparation were so off the charts (read my first time use of such ingredients ever); I don’t know what’s in-store if one gets  it  from the masters themselves.
I salute the ingredients, the thinkers, the makers and the ones who have mastered this art  where you walk on this thin line,  and the result is either a ‘0’ or a ‘1’ (I had to get in binary somehow).I don’t know if there exists something like an edible miso soup. It’s good, awesome, great or BAD.
I will try to learn more from this experience, study the flavor profile of the bonitos, the wakames and the konbus a bit more and will get back with my  new dives.

I have to, I have to.

So stay tuned

I would like to thank the saleswoman at the Japanese grocery store who literally took my list of ingredients, changed it a bit on what could make the recipe taste better than what I had and handpicked it for me.

Thanks.

Thanks a lot, for you really made our evening, but most importantly you held my hand when I just decided to jump in the ocean without the safety gear.

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