Tuesday, July 28, 2009

recipe: Lemon-yogurt-crumble coffee cake

Well, this is really a first for this blog...I've never posted a recipe before!

Don't get put off by the long and wordy recipe...I just wrote it as it is in my book...read through it and you'll see it's a very simple recipe. This one is from my book on Baking that is one of the best recipe books I have. I bought it almost 7 years back and I've used it for a variety of dishes, from my hubby's birthday Sachertorte to Quiche Lorraine, scotch pancakes and more.

Makes 10-12 servings

For Crumble topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied lemon peel
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup plain yogurt of buttermilk
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • grated zest of one lemon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      To make:
      1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9x5 loaf pan, combine the crumble topping ingredients in a small bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside
      2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the candied lemon peel and make a well in the center.
      3. Put the butter in a saucepan and set over low heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, yogurt, eggs, grated lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pour into the well and stir with a form until just blended.
      4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top and pushing into the corners. Sprinkle over half the crumb topping. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the topping , and spread as evenly as possible, then sprinkle with the remaining topping
      5. Bake until the cake is risen and golden, and a cake tester (I use toothpicks) inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen it and remove from pan and let it rest on a wire rack to cool.

      I will be using brown sugar instead of white for the crumble topping next time I make it, since I find the white sugar just too sweet. Here is the shot on my photostream.

      The recipe book is called The Complete Book of Baking and it is edited by Deborah Gray. It is a compilation of recipes from about 15 other books, which is why it's so great, well the recipes are super too! I bought this book at Borders in Providence, RI in December 2002....I searched for it on Amazon and found a listing here.

      Sunday, July 26, 2009

      Remembering the Bombay rains

      Monsoon rain
      Watching the rain from our 3rd floor apt in Lokhandwala, Bombay

      Remembering the endless rains on July 26th 2005, when we lived in Bombay. We had moved there at the beginning of the year and this was our first experience of the famed Bombay monsoon rain. For me it was a lot of fun, especially since by then I had started working from home, so loved watching and enjoying the rains from the safety and security of my home, with a cup of coffee in my hand.

      July 26th started as a regular day and when it started to rain it wasn't any different from any other monsoon day, but with the combination of high tide which led to the drains being closed and a non-stop rain for hours on end, there was no where for the water to go.

      Money plant in the window
      My sunny view from the dining room windows

      Pretty soon the road outside our apartment complex, Tarapore Gardens in Lokhandwala was flooded, then the electricity was shut off by Reliance Power to prevent short circuits and we were left without much news about the rain. My hubby's office was nearby in Laxmi Industrial Estate and he managed to drive through the flooded New Link Road, without too much damage...or so we thought. Here's a post I wrote about what happened to our brand new car and how we got it fixed after it's starter got rusted thanks to the flooding.

      We were without power for almost 24 hours, but luckily had enough candles, matches and batteries to be OK. And we had enough food and milk to manage on as well, until one could go to the stores. The items that were flying off the shelves in markets were Maggi noodle packs, Nestle milk tetra packs and candles. Since then, I've always had a good supply of these items in my home at all times.

      Here's a few other interesting posts I wrote about the rains that year.

      Rained out Mumbai
      Bombay Blues
      Tales of Courage

      And here are more photos from our apartment in Bombay.

      guessing the economy's recovery time

      With the way the economy has been doing, this really was inevitable. The extras are usually the first to go...the luxury car, the designer clothing, the business class travel and of course the weekend home. The Outer Banks in North Carolina are particularly vulnerable, since they have a large number of vacation homes and the local economy depends a fair bit on this weekend and summer population. Seeing signs for Outer Banks foreclosures would be hard for the locals I'm sure and for those who work in the support industry.

      According to some reports, the worst is said to be over and things will definitely start looking up from now. The question is how long the recovery will take, will it be a W or a V recovery or the dreaded M or L shaped recoveries. Thanks to the downturn, there is a new breed of forecasters and predictors who have been coining new terms to describe the recovery pattern. It was actually started by the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bernanke, who said the ideal recovery would be a W shaped one.

      Wednesday, July 22, 2009

      Is it hot enough for you?

      Check out the temperatures we've been having lately.

      Posting screen shots of both the Centigrade and Fahrenheit versions. Besides having really high temperatures, it's the Heat Factor that really makes it miserable. The Heat Factor is what it actually feels like and can be equated to the Wind Chill factor in cold weather. Read the first lines in the blue boxes for this reading.

      Actual temperature: 39C
      What it feels like: 56C

      Actual temperature: 102F
      What it feels like: 132F

      PS: I'll be avoiding the heat, hiding out at home, enjoying the AC, looking through my recipe books to make some cool treats :-)

      Tuesday, July 21, 2009

      Thank you!

      Thanks Arya Kamath of ROTI KAPDA MAKAN for giving me this Kreativ Blogger award! I'm long overdue in responding to it...so sorry about that!

      I'd like to pass it on to some of the blogs that I enjoy reading.
      Celebrations of Life
      Once upon a tea time
      Nestled In
      Rang Decor

      on going the natural way

      The whole business of doing anything to look good has gone to an entirely new tangent it seems. Instead of going the healthy route, it seems to be going the shortcut route for quick solutions. Doesn't anyone have any patience any more, any will to try and do it oneself? If it isn't some new pill it's a new fangled natural appetite suppressant or the other. In a way, natural remedies are much preferred, but I do wonder if some people will take it as a short cut and not put in any effort on their own.

      keeping in touch

      Lately, I've been getting lots of invitations on the email. Invitations to parties, for baby announcements and showers and so on, and interestingly enough all from people half a world away, where I'm really not going to be showing up. In a way it's not really an actual invitation, but a way of keeping everyone informed and involved with events going on across the globe. With the way families are spread out in different countries and cities, this is a good way to make sure that you're connecting with everyone. The popularity of sites and programs such as Facebook are a testament to this phenomenon.

      Sunday, July 19, 2009

      in the header

      Just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who said that they liked my new header photo. I love taking shots of doors and windows, as much as I love taking shots of the little things around my home. This was taken on Princess street in Fort Kochi in December 2008 just down the road from Old Courtyard Hotel and the Chinese fishing nets. I remember this day well, since it was my hubby's birthday and we wanted to eat some continental seafood, his two favorite kinds of food.

      I'm not that great at taking shots of people, or maybe it's just that I haven't done it enough, or that I'm self conscious, but for whatever reason, these urban shots without people are becoming quite a favorite type of shots for me, espeically when I travel.

      See it where I'd posted this shot on my flickr photostream earlier this year. Posting a small version of it here, so that this post makes sense when I change the header photo :-)
      colorful street flowers

      Wednesday, July 15, 2009

      on an old addiction

      There are some things that turn into addictions, that end up consuming all your time, frustrating you and giving you joy at the same time. Well, golf used to be one of them for me. There was a time that I spent a lot of time on practicing my game, heading to the practice area early in the morning, working with a golf coach, using golf training aids and so on. For a while I really was stuck to the schedule, but then it just wore me out and I went to the other extreme of not playing a round of golf for ages.

      I still love the game, but realize that it's not a game that one can take up as and when one feels like it and still end up with good results. To be a good golfer, you have to be consistent. That's it, really. You don't have to spend lots of money or hours and hours on the course, but you do have play the game on somewhat of a regular basis.

      Monday, July 13, 2009

      tag: 29 things and counting

      I'm way behind in responding to tags, so I thought I'd start with this fun one that Patricia tagged me with. So sit back with a cup of tea or coffee and get to know me better.

      1. What is your current obsession?
      Figuring out which camera to buy, baking, buying artwork from Etsy, using my new juice extractor and crafting.

      2. What is your weirdest obsession?
      Endlessly putting stuff away in the kitchen at night.

      3. What are you wearing today?
      Jeans and a cap sleeved eyelet top. I work at home as a freelance writer and researcher so I can wear anything I want :-)

      4. What’s for dinner?
      Something healthy....but not sure what...just had lunch.

      5. What’s the last thing you bought?
      A set of postcards from Ikea a couple of days back.

      6. What are you listening to right now?
      Pandit Jasraj Live at Shivaji Park CD and of course the ever present hum of the air conditioners.

      7. What do you think about the person who tagged you?
      Patricia's always got so much energy, and it comes across so effortlessly in her posts and photographs. I'm always impressed with her creativity and vibrancy.

      8. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
      So many choices....I think I'd love to have a place in the Himalayas...like 360 Yeti in the Kumaon hills of Uttranchal.

      9. What are your must-have pieces for summer?
      Fun summer sandals, capris, dark glasses and an umbrella to combat the heat.

      10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour,where would you go?
      Anyplace where it's raining!

      11. Which language do you want to learn?
      French and German. The hubby speaks Germain, and he's really keen that I learn. I already know how to count in German and say the essentials, like "I love you" and "oh crap"!

      12. What’s your favorite quote?
      "Be the change you want to see in the world."
      Mohandas K Gandhi

      13. Who do you want to meet right now?
      My new nephew, Alexander Indus

      14. What is your favorite color?
      All colors....but lately greens, yellows and blues.

      15. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own closet?
      A floaty cream colored top with crochet details at the neck, so perfect for this heat.

      16. What is your dream job?
      What I do right now...freelance writer and researcher. I work at home, which I love, set my own hours, take up as much work as I want to, and best of all, I don't have to ask anyone for time off!

      17. What’s your favorite magazine?
      Used to be Domino, but since that's shut down, am browsing through a whole bunch of other ones. I like Living etc quite a bit.

      18. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
      Artwork from Etsy...it's an addiction.

      19. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
      Sari's tied too high, white socks with black pants, wearing see-through clothes...

      20. Who are your style icons?
      In the Indian sphere, I love the effortless style of Maharani Gayatri Devi. Internationally, Isabela Rosalini.

      21. Describe your personal style.
      Something that I feel comfortable in, well fitted but not skin tight, natural fabrics, vibrant colors.

      22. What are you going to do after this?
      Get back to work and have a cup of green tea to keep me going.

      23. What are your favorite movies?
      Too many to list....but some that I have seen again lately historicals like Jodha Akbar, Ben Hur and Cleopatra and crime capers of all kinds.

      24. What are three cosmetic/makeup/perfume products that you can't live without?
      Eyeliner, moisturizer, lip gloss

      25. What inspires you?
      Beauty in nature

      26. Give us three styling tips that always work for you
      1) Be comfortable...in your clothes and in your skin.
      2) Don't try too hard to be something that you're not.
      3) Stay away from impulsive buys, it's just not worth it.

      27. What do you do when you “have nothing to wear” (even though your closet’s packed)?
      Put on some music and dance! I always come up with cool combination's of clothes after doing this!

      28. Coffee or tea?
      Both...just depends on the time of day and my mood.

      29. Pet peeve?
      People cutting in line.

      **The rules are: Respond and rework – answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, and add one more question of your own. Then tag eight or ten other people.

      I'm not tagging anyone, but feel free to take this up if you'd like.

      PS: The cup in the photo is neither tea nor coffee (obviously!). It's a cinnamon and honey concoction that tastes really good and feels very soothing.

      Saturday, July 11, 2009

      photo: outside the door

      A shot from several months back of the lovely bougainvillea bush outside our door. I'm sad to say that this lovely plant is drying up and dying. The gardener changed a few months back and the new chap really doesn't know how to look after any plants, and I have no idea how he really became a gardener. Well, the more likely explanation is that he really isn't a gardener, but just does this kind of stuff for some extra money. The landlord is away on vacation and until he comes back nothing can be done, except give the plans a bit extra attention between all of us.

      on learning something new

      Don't you think that sometimes life takes on such a routine course that one forgets to make any changes or do anything different. One just seems to carry on without making any effort to learn something new, it seems. I've been feeling that I've been getting just too comfortable in my usual routine and must do something different. The options really are quite varied here, everything from riding lessons to ceramic classes to foreign languages. The requirement for riding lessons include breeches which are an essential part of the experience and I'm really quite keen on learning, but for the weather which makes it quite a bit like torture I'm sure. I should probably be smart about it and go in for indoor activities until the weather improves.

      travel notes

      As an avid traveler, there are some things that I always carry with me on our travels, such as a camera, notebook, and either a roaming phone service or prepaid phone card when traveling overseas. Phone services have changed a lot in the past few years and it has become extremely simple to get connected to any part of the world, so why not stay connected with loved ones while you are away as well! It is the simplest thing in the world to carry some prepaid phone cards and use them from anywhere to anywhere, without worry about having the right currency, the right change or any such thing.

      Now, when you search for prepaid phone cards on the Internet, you will get lots and lots of results, but be sure of where you actually buy it, since it's no fun getting stranded with a dud phone card, right? Sometimes, I find that it's really important to be able to get away from it all and like to go on vacation where there are no connections at all, just so I can switch off my phone for some time. It's such a relief not to be connected all the time.

      Good luck on your travels!

      I'm no expert on this...

      Continuing on from my last post, I must add that I'm not really sure how I became such an "expert" or rather perceived to be an expert for topics like top diet pills, weight loss and so on. I think I should go back in my archives and dig up the post that started it out, right! It might all make more sense to me than it does now. There are lots of actual experts that readers should be going to, instead of coming to a casual blogger like me, well at least on this subject, but what is a girl to do. Stop extra traffic from coming to my blog, no way....I welcome all visitors, no matter how you came here. Enjoy the reading and bits of expertise, although I'm not saying what I'm an expert on :-)

      Writing according to what is expected by readers

      Well, the thing is that it turns out that my reviews for many products are in hot demand. How, you say? I know, I find it hard to believe to, but apparently it is so. The number of people coming to my blog searching for things like diet pill reviews and best ways to lose weight seem only to be increasing, much to my consternation. I mean, how many more times do I write about the best ways to be slim and trim, how to do it healthily and so on. To be very frank, I'm not that much of an expert anyway, well, not any kind of expert at all, but my unseen readers seem to think I am and they're visiting me in droves. How can I disappoint them?

      Thursday, July 02, 2009

      Happy Weekending!

      Happy Weekending everyone! I'll be away from the computer on my weekly computer free day....there seems to be so much time when I don't turn the computer on :) I hope to finish The Duchess by Amanda Foreman that my dearest hubby gave me when I reached Dubai and I plan to dig out and sort out all my recipe books and cook up something wonderful to impress my dearest one!

      Hope all of you have a nice weekend too!

      How many computers are too many?

      I was so relieved when our computer saga was over earlier this year. Saga, as in both of us looking to update our laptops and buy them before they crashed due to old age. Well, we did manage to get good deals for both of us and thought that it was all over. But now, we realize that we do need to have some kind of desktops too, since there are still some advantages over having one of these laptops. But the thing is that we already have two laptops, and my old laptop is still around, so do we need another toy to play with? I'm hoping to have a look at some of them and let the decision come over me....or is that wishful thinking!