Ganesh is Good!

So…I made it to 31 days of blogging straight. Phew. I’m tired. Now goodbye until December. Ha ha. Just kiddin. It was very appropriate that the day my self-inflicted challenge to “write” every day ended, I went to celebrate the Indian god that you pray to when you start stuff. Typical.
Anyway – I met my family today to celebrate the Hindu god Ganesh. You know, the one with the elephant head. Every year in late August, this god of new beginnings is the central focus of all festivities for 10 days. A huge, I’m talking 20 foot huge, statue is created for the holiday. On the 10th day it’s taken to a body of water and submerged as an offering for a good year. We didn’t see that happen. I’m not even sure where they’d go in New Jersey to do that.The shore? Would we want Ganesh to be with all the other people sleeping with the fishes? I dunno. What I do know is that the festival involves food. Not Indian buffet food – there’s no chicken tikka masala here. This is Indian street food. For Indian street rats like me. We also did some shopping and spent some quality time with my parents, which means we let them buy stuff for us. They love that.
Here’s some pics and here’s to an amazing new year – so says Ganesh.
My mom and dad about to approach the big guy.

20140831-185803-68283070.jpg
Here’s Ganesh in all his glory.

20140831-185909-68349720.jpg
And here’s my favorite of all the food – and there was a lot of food – eaten today! It’s a puffed, crispy thin bread stuffed with all kinds of yogurt, potatoes and cilantro chutneys. Then they top it with fried thin noodles. A food for the gods. Or for me. We also found a pickle bar. Indians love a good condiment.

20140831-190157-68517802.jpg

20140831-190214-68534750.jpg

Blog interrupted

So I meant to write a really coherent, interesting blog as always (ha ha), but then this happened…. My boy got his brown belt!! Yippee. Thank goodness he got some distant relative’s athletic gene.

20140829-232140-84100287.jpg
And then I had just 18 minutes to shower and get ready for a night out with friends – and then this happened..

20140829-232245-84165408.jpg
Which led to this…

20140829-232304-84184915.jpg
And then it was 10pm and I had to go to bed. Kidding! More like 10:15pm.
#livinthethuglife

The Dinner Bell

Sometimes nothing makes me happier than some hummus. And some pretzel chips. Do you know about pretzel chips? I was just introduced to them. It was love at first bite. Sorry. Hope your dinner made you this happy.

20140819-201910-73150744.jpg

Nutty

Two years ago my sister showed up at Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving or Christmas – one of them – with a bag full of these spicy, sweet, salty nuts. They have a strange crack-like power on everyone who tries them. I decided to make a batch for our favorite aunt out in Long Island who takes our girl for a beach adventure every summer. In fact she’ll take any girls – all girls seem to be welcome. Boys too maybe. She’s good like that. She deserves some nuts.

This is the Smitten Kitchen recipe, quadrupled. Cause that’s how I roll.

4 Cups Nuts (any nut will do. Except the nut you’re married to), 1 egg white, 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, 1/2 Cup White Sugar, 2 tsp Cinnamon, 2 tsp Salt, 2 tbs Cayenne Pepper, 3 tbs water.

IMG_0187

Combine the sugars, cayenne pepper, salt and cinnamon. Whisk the egg white with the water until frothy. Add egg whites to the nuts and coat evenly. Add the sugar and toss. 

IMG_0192

Spread evenly in one layer on parchment paper and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before packaging. I made a batch of these last week to take to a picnic and found this cute candy bowl. The plan was to give the host of the picnic the nuts and bowl, but when he offered it back at the end of the night, I took it. I couldn’t help it. It’s so cute. The first batch of nuts I made were pecans, almonds, and walnuts. The clear winner taste wise in our house is the pecans – so that’s what I made today.

IMG_0193

IMG_0191

Dear Howard, I’m not going to punk out!

Confession. Sometimes (not ALWAYS) I make plans and then cancel. I’m particularly guilty of ditching my friend Howard. Howie. Uncle Wowie to some. Here’s the formal definition of my disease:

20140813-170046-61246357.jpg

Retreating. It’s what I do best. Some folks also refer to this as “flaking”. I’m a flake. Sometimes. But not without a cause! I don’t just willy nilly cancel. I’m not a monster.
Here’s the reason I couldn’t come to the party, the cocktail hour, the dinner, the birthday, the birth of your first born (gulp):

- when I said yes, I meant it. I really wanted to be there. Then all of a sudden I didn’t, and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I do.
– sometimes I over estimate my ability to “make it happen”. For example, I thought I could work a week-long event, travel home and then go right to a party. Or… I thought I could drive the 10 hours for your baby shower, have cake, and then drive home.
– you wouldn’t have fun. Why? Because I suck at faking it. Loads of people do loads of things they don’t want to. Not me. No sir. I have no poker face. I’m a walking billboard of my emotional state.
– I thought I’d be able to volunteer for the PTA/show up for your make-up party/drive you to your friend’s house even though I work two states away and can’t ever be home by 3.
Good intentions people. Always good.
I’m lucky my friends and family don’t disown me. They all understand. Almost all do (ahem. Howard)
I’m also very understanding when friends cancel on me. I get it. I don’t judge you! I’m not mad! I may even be happy. Who knows. The point is, it’s ok.
But I don’t want to be the friend/wife/mother that cried plans. I vow to change! Or at least make fewer plans that I have to cancel.
I’ll see you tomorrow night Howard! Xoxo

RIP, RPM and Rahm

I cannot believe Robin Williams is dead. Heartbreaking. The first thing I did when I found out was text my husband. Not just to share the sad news, but to gloat that I knew before him.
For those of you who are in normal, healthy relationships, this is weird. How dare we compete with such a sensitive thing.
But those of you that are in similar, weirdo marriages – I won!! I won!! I beat the guy that’s told me about all the major deaths in recent news, including Mandela and Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Do you know how many times I’ve heard,”guess who died?”. I think Robin would have appreciated that.
I won!
Ok. Sorry. Back to being super sad.
I got the news in Chicago where I’m making a quick visit to a conference. We had a free night and decided to go to Juliana and Bill Ranci’s new place – RPM. You can throw a dart at this menu below and we probably ordered it. Mama Depandi would be proud. If you know who that is then you watch as much reality TV as me.
Finally- I can’t mention Chicago and not mention Rahm Emanuel. Sigh. I’d move to Chicago just to share the air.
I’ve talked about him before. I bet he doesn’t compete with his wife about announcing dead people.
So RIP Robin, thanks for the calories RPM, and till we not meet again Rahm.

20140812-182138-66098236.jpg

20140812-182147-66107620.jpg

20140812-182200-66120309.jpg

Carrot Cake 101

A couple of years ago I was gifted a fantastic cookbook called “Flour”. It is based on a bakery in Boston called Flour Bakery (duh). I love this book. I’ve made many of the recipes. I even went and found the bakery in Boston. Like all pilgrimages, there was a little bit of let-down (what? you aren’t impressed that I have your cookbook and love it? I’m not the first person to come in and want to chat about it?) – but in the end I felt validated. Croissants have a way of validating me.
My two go-to recipes are the banana bread and the carrot cake.
My two biggest fails from the book are the granola bar cookies and the chocolate almond dacquoise. That’s another story.

I made the carrot cake this weekend. Try it. People will hug you for it.

As always – here’s the recipe and the visual. You know I like pictures.

IMG_0035

Notice I added raisins. My man likes raisins. What can I say.

IMG_9972

Sift the flour, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon. My “sifter” is a strainer that I warped in the dish washer. Just an fyi.
IMG_9973

Cream the oil, sugar and eggs. 

IMG_9975

Add your carrots. Please don’t use the pre-shredded ones. They are covered in some sort of nuclear coating so they don’t stick together. But that coating also make it impossible for them to soften in the cake. So go old school and shred by hand. 
IMG_9979

Add vanilla. This is a homemade bottle my little bitty sister gave me a while ago. I keep adding store bought vanilla and trying to extend the life. Poor me. If only SOMEONE would make me more. Anyhoo.

IMG_9982

Add raisins if you want to or if you’re maritally committed to.
IMG_9985

Combine the dry and wet ingredients.

Divide amongst your pans. If you are are suspicious of non-stick pans like I am – add some non-stick spray. Otherwise, be normal and healthy and skip this step. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes .
IMG_9988

I forgot to add pecans to the ingredients photo. So sorry. These very very important. Toast a cup and let cool.
IMG_0010

Then using a highly evolved Ziploc bag/bottom of a plastic bowl method – pound them into pieces.
IMG_0012

Make the frosting by creaming butter, powdered sugar, vanilla (poor poor me) and cream cheese together in an empty kitchen, better to do multiple tastings.
IMG_0001
IMG_0004
IMG_0006

Frost between layers and frost. You only have to make the top look pretty. 
IMG_0013
IMG_0014

Take the pecans and use them like Spanx all around the cake. They push and tuck all the unruly bits into place. You have a tight, toned and together cake. 
IMG_0015

Refrigerate for an hour before serving and then sit back and accept all the love. 

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 419 other followers