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Mindful Creativity

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The Joy of making Paneer ( Indian Pot Cheese)

Rosemary paneer!

On this beautiful Monday morning, I decided to make rosemary paneer to honor the friendship of my friend Ryan. Many moons ago he introduced me to rosemary infused milk. This one's for you Ryan!

  • 1  quart whole milk
  • 1 quart half and half
  • 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary ( 4-5 inches length)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cheesecloth
  1. Heat the milk and half and half in a saucepan. Frequently stir so that the milk solids do not burn at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Just before milk comes to a boil add the rosemary sprigs and salt. Lower the heat as soon as the mixture boils. Stir so that it does not boil over.Simmer a minute to infuse the milk and add the acid to curdle the milk. Allow the mixture to come to a boil for a minute.
  3. The whey should look clear and not milky. 
  4. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and strain. I saved the top part of the sprig . Now, lift and fold the cheesecloth around the paneer and place under a weight to drain more of the whey out. 
  5. I needed a disc like shape and kept the paneer under weight for about three hours.
  6. Peel the cheesecloth. Cut and use as desired.
  7. I was inspired to make a Caprese Salad with a twist. Rosemary paneer, tomatoes, mint and touch of chaat masala !!
This is the underbelly of the rosemary paneer!   

This is the underbelly of the rosemary paneer!

 

I don't have a label for this cooking . This is where I am . Many influences. Many adoptions. Many adaptations. Many moods. Many Tastes. Mostly progressing forward on the path into the journey!!!

Enjoy!

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Cilantro Cucumber Dip!

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The cooking today was inspired by minimalism and availability of ingredients on hand. The perfect combination. This dip or chutney is simple and versatile in its use.

1 medium size cucumber, rough chopped

2 bunches of cilantro, washed 

1 teaspoon of fresh ginger- turmeric paste ( optional)

3 Tablespoons of almond butter

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/8 teaspoon vanilla powder

1 Tablespoon Amla ( Indian gooseberry) powder ( optional )

2 limes juiced ( add 1 more if not using amla

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder 

  • Put everything in the food processor and grind to desired dip consistency.

Enjoy as:

  • Dressing for pasta or noodle salad
  • Spread on sandwiches
  • Sauce for grilled fish,chicken or vegetables
  • Potato or cauliflower salad for picnics
  • Sauce for tacos

Reaffirms that Simple is tasty. Less is better. 

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Realize the Value not just the price !

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IMG_2108.JPG This creamy Cauliflower soup is made from the cast off trimmings that typically end up in the compost ! In cooking mindfully and Divinising the food , the cauliflowers encompassed so much more! I am filled with gratitude in recognizing it always !

Stalks and leaves of 4 medium sized cauliflowers 1 large potato, peeled, quartered Smoked salt for seasoning to taste( 1.5 - 2 teaspoons) 1/2 gallon( approximately, )water 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands or one large pinch( optional) 1 lemon

In a large Dutch oven, bring all ingredients to a boil. Simmer for at least 35-40 minutes. Blend till smooth . Add more liquid to get soup consistency of choice. Finish with a splash of lemon juice.

Find a sunny corner. Ladle into bowl. Be grateful! Savour!!

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WTF!#* Turnip Tapas

20140709-164952-60592859.jpg These began with pure inspiration and creativity. A by product of Mindfulness in the kitchen!

6 medium turnips, peeled and sliced 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons mustard seeds, yellow , brown or black A pinch of saffron...6-8 strands 1 level tablespoon of paprika 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar Salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and toast them a couple of minutes till they snap, crackle and pop in sound and release a nutty aroma. Add the saffron and toast a minute. Now add the turnips , paprika and salt. Stir well. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes till turnips are tender. Finish off with the vinegar and cook another minute or so to dry off the liquid.

Serve garnished with cilantro or parsley! Here they were served with a plum grilling jam and spiced amaranth!

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WTF !#*~

20140630-115518-42918640.jpg World Through Food !!! WTF ! The turnips were cradled and peeled with a paring knife. The goal was not to not break the peel , but just to use peeling turnips as my MINDFUL EXERCISE ! I felt the hands hugging the turnip! I saw the hand , the thumb and the fingers, move the knife to create a strip of peel, and turn and turn again! I heard the slice and peel sound. A gentle whoosh whoosh whoosh ! The turnips lay together having shed their outer layer. They gave up their splashes of purple. The peels curled in joy as though rejoicing in the knowledge of the karmic Wheel of action ! This MINDFULNESS resulted in unbroken peels of all the turnips. This MINDFULNESS resulted in a heightened sense of awareness ! This MINDFULNESS resulted in a burst of creativity to combine saffron, mustard, smoked paprika and sherry vinegar to make Turnip Tapas !

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ABUNDANT SELF of the plum trees!

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20140620-113147-41507050.jpg The plum tree in our backyard is following its true selfless nature of bearing fruit. It provides the foragers, the birds and squirrels and yes, us! Thankful for the Abundant tree a plum , vanilla, honey butter is born. Cooking the plums for hours over a medium low heat is an amazing experience if you let it BE ! The whole house was fragrant with tones of plums and vanilla and then honey. There was a heightened sense of awareness especially for the nose and the eyes. As the plums cooked their color and smell changed. The added caramelization and reduction added a richness . A truly MiNDFUL exercise. Here is the intuitive recipe:

8-10 cups plums ( 7-8 pounds approximately ), washed well 2-3 cups honey depending on the sweetness desired 4 vanilla beans slit

Place plums in a large pot. Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Lower heat and keep on simmer for about an hour and a half, gently stirring every 20 minutes or so. The plums were truly mushy and falling apart. Let them cool and fish out the pits that had sort of settled at the bottom. To get a smooth texture , put the plums through the food mill. They , then went back into the pot with the vanilla beans in. Once again, simmering on a low heat and this time being stirred every 10-15 minutes. You don't want them to be charred at the bottom. I enjoyed the stirring as i am a follower of the traditional principle of transferring the cook' s energy and intention to the food. This was my loving energy in the plum butter in the making. If you don't have the time this can be done in the slow cooker/ crock . After several hours( almost 5 hours for me ) the mush had thickened and it was time to sweeten it. Whether you add honey or sugar , you will need to cook again on low heat for 15-20 minutes at least. Cool and Jar! Share and Enjoy!

Yield :1/2 to 3/4 gallon depending on the consistency!

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Birthing a WRACO !!

20140618-135821-50301904.jpg Could not make up my mind about this being a wrap or a taco ! The WRACO was born!

1 pack, organic, extra firm tofu, sliced 12-14 corn tortillas 1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce of choice or homemade 1 cup salad greens of choice 2 avocados 1 small red onion, chopped 1 pint cherry tomatoes , halved 3 limes, juiced 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 2 Serrano chilies, chopped fine ( optional) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Salt Pepper to taste 1/2 teaspoon toasted, cumin seed powder ( optional)

In a pan, simmer the tofu slices and BBQ sauce, till thick and it almost oats the slices.(15-20 minutes approximately) In a mason jar add the oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin powder and shake a few minutes. Place the greens, avocados, onions, tomatoes, chilies and cilantro in a bowl. When ready to assemble the taco or wrap , add the dressing and toss well.

To ASSEMBLE ! Put about half a cup of the salad in the middle of a warm corn tortilla . Top with a couple of slices of tofu. Wrap and fold ! ENJOY!

Makes about 6-8 servings !

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Hum hum hummus !

Have you heard your Garbanzos snap, crackle, pop??If you soak them, hear them !!

They were slow cooked for about 2 hours! About 4 cups cooked garbanzo beans 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 large clove garlic 1 large, juiced lemon 1/4 cup tahini All lovingly blended till smooth.

Bowled

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Kitchen ! Go from Stressed to Blessed

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20140526-141522-51322239.jpg With busy lifestyles, it is is not uncommon to be stressed about the kitchen. Healthy food that needs to be tasty, convenient and trendy! Follow these tips and feel less stressed: 1. Open your mind. 2. Be Creative. 3. Build a recipe by available ingredients and favorable tastes. 4. Add the intention of love and good health to the dish when you are preparing it. 5. Be joyful , keep it simple and have fun cooking.

RECIPE for a BLESSED PASTA DISH !

1/2 kilo or 1 pound whole wheat pasta ( fusili, penne or your choice ) 1 kilo or 2 pounds of vegetables in season and choice( asparagus, baby tomatoes, spinach or other market greens, carrots, peas....) 1/2 pound fresh paneer or 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 6-8 garlic cloves chopped or 1 teaspoon asafetida if you don't use garlic 10-12 basil or tulsi leaves, chopped fine 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings ( optional) NO need to run and get some ! 4 tablespoons olive oil or ghee

1. Prep the vegetables that you are going to be using. 2. Heat a pan . Add the fat. Add the garlic or asafetida . Add the pepper flakes. Add the prepared vegetables. Sauté a few minutes till they are tender. 3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add some salt. Cook pasta as per instructions. Drain. 4. Toss pasta, vegetables , basil leaves ,crumbled paneer or Parmesan cheese together. 5. Season with salt if necessary. Enjoy with the family.

This will serve 4-6 people.

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Spring ! Spring! Sprung !

Seasons and Time have a way of surprising us! Just the other day I was Happy New Year- ing !! Of course I knew that winter would end , no matter the temperatures in California, and yet here I am into Spring! I am not ready but who cares..SPRING has SPRUNG upon us . So, I surrender to it. A walk through the Farmer's Market and my bags are filled with citrus , three different colors of cauliflowers and asparagus that is sweet and tender! Baby portabellos, nestled next to garlic chives and you know The Poetry goes on!

So the intention to RE Balance my life is on. And how do I do this ? SIMPLY - FIVE

1. Being present in every moment.

2. Being Accepting of Me.

3. Being Grateful ! No matter what.

4. Being Joy and sharing it.

5. Being Thankful of every moment.

For the Solar calendar this is the joyous New Year and I choose this time to simplify by Simply-Five !

Did you think this would not translate into the kitchen?

My Spring Bowl of Cauliflower with Paanch Phoron! The Five spice blend of Bengal.... Cumin seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds.

2 cauliflowers, cut into flowerettesq, washed and rinsed 3 tablespoons of the five spice mix(Paanch Phoron ) 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 medium lemons, juiced Salt to taste Cracked pepper to taste

Heat a large pan on medium heat. Add the oil. Keep the heat low as you do not want the olive oil to reach smoking point. Add the spices to the oil and gently toast them till you hear some Snap! Crackel! Pop! Add the cauliflower and salt. Raise the heat to medium high. Toss the cauliflower pieces well. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and toss the cauliflower. Check for done ness. You want them to be fork tender . Cook for a few more minutes without the lid . When done, remove to another bowl. Add the pepper and lemon juice. Toss well and serve. This can be served hot, warm, at room temperature and chilled! If using 2 cauliflowers for their color, this will serve at least 8-10 servings!

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Spring is in the air !

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Spring is in the air !

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20140319-114250.jpg We have had the winter to hibernate and reflect on. Now we awaken, reNew! reEnergize and reInvent ourselves into action. A walk to through the Farmers market has indications of spring everywhere.

Keep it Simple Asparagus !

3 bunches of spring asparagus 2 large lemons, juiced 1 cup of green and black olives, I kept them whole 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped 3 tablespoons of olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and cut off the woody bottoms of the asparagus. 2. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit . 3. Place asparagus spears in baking sheet. Drizzle the oil. Add the olives and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. 4.place in hot oven for 12-14 minutes. 5. Add lemon juice and serve. Good, hot or cold or at room temperature.

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Get your own Bowl !

My Bowl stories begin more than five decades ago in Kolkata, India. Mom would pick me up from school and we would have lunch together . The lunch would be traditional India...curried lentils, rice, vegetables, pickle and relish but the special item would be the bowl! Medium large brass metal bowls. Very wide and shallow, almost like the pasta bowl. I guess many , many years later the bowl has resurfaced in my life with so much more than childhood memories! Cupping the bowl of food in my hands gets me connected to the food. This food will nourish my mind, my body and my spirit!! It helps me honor the fact that the Universe and I are One ! And so I see The Universe in my bowl !!

I started my Sunday by talking to my Mum and got Bowled over. So the pasta got Bowled and spice whispered!! Enjoy the idea!

The pasta = penne pasta with a Kumato pesto The cauliflower = cauliflower in a lemon, garlic and black pepper broth The carrots, crimini mushrooms and green bell pepper = olive oil and bishop weed ( ajwain ) The fresh tomatoes= fresh tomatoes, feta and will be adding some fresh tarragon!!

The best idea of the bowl is that one can create their own special pasta bowl !!

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Don't kill them !

I am always bothered about making strawberry jam! We take the farm fresh, vitamin loaded strawberries. Then add sugar and cook and cook and cook till we have jam for the year !! This process unfortunately kills a lot of the nutrients and ends up with too much sugar! Here is my 5 minute method of fresh tasting, healthy strawberry jam!

1 Cup fresh strawberries, washed and hulled 2 Tablespoons chia seeds

Put the two ingredients in the blender. Purée. Refrigerate for several hours to gel. Enjoy! This jam will need to be refrigerated . Uses:

I love having this in my breakfast cereal. Make your own fruit yogurt by adding a dollop to your plain yogurt. Great with scones. Makes a great strawberry vinaigrette.

Need I go on.

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What Pride !!

It is truly a Pride weekend in San Francisco , Bay area !!! inspired to make a Pride Salad! Purple rice, millet, red bell peppers, zucchini, carrots , fresh mango and fennel. It is proudly dressed with  preserved lemons and flax seed oil !!2013-06-29 10.38.28 2013-06-29 10.39.09

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Tea Time at Memory Lane !!

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Tea Time at Memory Lane !!

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2013-05-20 15.06.28This post is inspired by the love of sisters!! Many moons ago Punita ( my sister) and Vinita took a Teapot Trail in the UK. It was about the Tea, the Teapots, the scones, dainty cucumber sandwiches and Love !! Love that creates memories of a lifetime ! Punita is an amazing person. She inspires me with her intensity! I miss her terribly and these scones have all the love of the Tea pot Trails and more.

Inspired Scones !

Makes 8 scones
2    cups whole wheat pastry flour
1    tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ,  cinnamon powder
2/3 of a medium size banana, mashed
1/8 teaspoon salt
5   Tablespoons butter, chilled, cubed
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup milk, low fat
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F!
  • In a food processor, add flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon powder. Pulse a few seconds to mix the dry ingredients.
  • Add butter, a few chunks at a time and pulse till the mixture resembles cornmeal.
  • Add  banana and pulse about 4-5 times.
  • Add the chia and hemp seeds and lemon zest and pulse a few more times.
  • Add milk in a few batches, and pulse a few times.
  • Transfer the almost ball of dough to a floured surface.
  • Push it together and form a disk! Flatten it to about 1 1/2 inch thickness.
  • Cut disk into 8 pieces. Lay them in a sheet pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes
Enjoy!!
Notes:
If you do not want to use a food processor, you can work the butter into the flour with fingertips or pastry blender.

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