Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


10 Comments

How to Cake Smash Like a Pro

cake smash2The inevitable happened. My Junebug turned a year old last Sunday. Although I had been preparing for her birthday for four long months, the enormity of it hit me only while I was getting her ready for the cake smash photoshoot. A whole year zipped past me as I was learning new things about my baby and trying to be a satisfactory mother. Although I have guilt tripped several times over the year, I am glad I got plenty of chances to slow down, take long- deep glances at her and enjoy the little girl who is the best thing to have ever happened to Kishore and me.

So her birthday was not only a celebration of the first year Aarabhi spent in this world, but also of us as a family who made it through sleepless nights, mammoth bawling sessions, never-ending growth spurts and the zillion vaccination days that we are never going to shake off any time soon. Even though I had my sights set on the actual party that was scheduled to happen the day before her birthday, I was also looking forward to the cake smash. It was a new concept to me and I instantly fell in love with the idea of letting Aarabhi run wild around a specially baked cake. I poured over Pinterest, considered different cake recipes, selected the color combinations for the backdrop, her clothes and a sea of other things I never realized I would have to think about!
cake smashHere are the decisions we made and the budget we ended up with, in a nutshell:

  • The background was simple. Pink and green (her party color combination) ribbons- $2
  • The shabby-chic DIY A for centerpiece- From my cupboard
  • Homemade carrot-vanilla rosette. Green frosting since her costume was pink cake- $5
  • Pink tutu with DIY satin bow- $5
  • DIY Cake stand- $2.50

We spent slightly less than $15 on the shoot.
cake smash4Thankfully, I took the summer off, hence I was able to spend some extra time preparing. The result: A wonderful hour filled with a surprisingly well-behaved toddler who was more interested in feeding cake to her Appa than eating it herself. I really do wish my pictures had turned out better. On closer inspection, I noticed that the white balance set on my camera had resulted in a few grainy pictures. But discount that, I loved doing the shoot. And I am glad we decided to do it all by ourself, for there is nothing more rewarding than being THE ONE capturing her precious smile on the camera 🙂
cake smash3Here are a couple of pointers in case you want to try this at home:

  • Follow a super simple cake recipe like this one I used from Cooking Light. It is clean, not complicated and agrees with a baby’s tummy and palate.
  • Keep the background colorful yet easy to make. Your baby is your shining star. A couple of simple ribbons draped across the backdrop in subtle colors or a few balloons flying about will do the trick too.
  • You may be tempted to click a million pictures. Resist the urge. I did 200 and regretted it since I was confused about which ones to pick.
  • Have fun. Babies, as always, can sense your moods. If you are tensed and bark orders to the person helping you, your child will get cranky and we don’t want that!
  • Finally, set your shoot for a week before the party. You don’t want a hectic couple of days, do you?

We fly to Madras next week and I am super excited about showing little Miss B my city. Apart from that, I am hoping to cook for the family and eat a lot too. In case I don’t post anything before that, see y’all from India!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Something Sweet

Phew, I am so tired! This is the birthday weekend- I had mine on Thursday, Aarabhi turned three months today and the hub has his coming up tomorrow. I’ve been trying to get lots of things done this weekend and ultimately ended up doing nothing. Oh I did edit a few pictures, click new ones and made a birthday cake for Kishore (shhh!). I have four huge projects/case studies to complete in Financial Accounting and a paper I should be working on for Information Systems. Yet, I sit here all careless and free and write about the wonderful Kesari Amma made for my birthday. Daredevil much?
semiya kesariKesari is a kind of pudding made with Rava, a by-product of wheat. It has a coarse, cornmeal like texture and a nutty flavor. I once replaced it for couscous in a salad I made and called it semolina salad. Kesari is also made with Semiya or Vermicelli, a kind of noodles we use quite a bit in Indian cooking.

My mother, well aware of the fact that I am mentally-allergic to Rava Kesari (thanks to a gluttonous incident that happened more than ten years ago), made Kesari with Semiya last month. I fell in love with it and nearly replicated the afore mentioned incident (some people never learn!) but good sense stopped me on time. Well, that and a husband who fell equally in love with the dish. So when Amma asked me what sweet I wanted for my birthday (making sweets for birthdays is a tradition quite common in India), it was only natural that I pounced on another opportunity to eat the wonderful Semiya Kesari.

This time, she stepped it up a notch by adding pineapple to it. Before you make unappetizing noises, let me tell you this. It was wonderful!!! So wonderful that I am already making plans to go eat the leftover Kesari after I write up this blog entry.

Semiya Kesari

Ingredients
One cup Vermicelli or Semiya (from your Indian grocer) or broken up angel hair pasta

One and a quarter cup sugar

One cup frozen pineapple finely chopped

Ten almonds coarsely chopped

Ten raisins (any kind!)

One tsp powdered cardamom (or four pods of cardamom, slightly broken)

One Tbsp plus one tsp clarified or melted butter

Half cup milk

One and a half cups water

Method
Heat the clarified butter on medium heat in a pan. Slightly toast the Semiya. Add the milk and the water when it releases a nutty fragrance. When it starts boiling, add the sugar, powdered cardamom and pineapple and mix. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let it cook, absorb the water and melt the sugar. When the Kesari turns semi-solid, turn the heat off. In a separate pan, add the one tsp of butter and fry the almonds and raisins until brown. Mix it with the Kesari. Eat with vanilla ice cream to attain dessert Nirvana.


4 Comments

Mid-week Crisis: Tomato to the Rescue

Crabby evenings- Aarabhi is going through another growth spurt. Or that is what we think it is. It could also be because she hardly sleeps during the day and when evening strikes, she gradually goes into a tantrum-y mood. We haven’t figured this one out so we are still looking into it. Whatever it is, it has been mentally and physically draining everyone at home. So in-between trying to soothe her, writing a couple of exams for my Financial Accounting course (ugh, puke!), trying to keep the normalcy going, we have also been doing our best at getting meals on the table. When I say we in connection to cooking, I mean Amma and me.

Kishore has enough to do already between work and playing babysitter (or just being the baby’s father) in the evenings. To top this, he has signed up for a 5K this October and hasn’t found time to train for it. Oh well, we all know how that one is going to go! So today, I broke my resolution and decided to make dinner in the middle of the week. I wish I hadn’t. Thankfully, Amma did all the background work like chopping, grinding and making the side dish because I had to keep an eye on Aarabhi too. Although she is at this wonderful stage where the running ceiling fan amuses her, she fusses if we ignore her for more than two minutes. But her adorable smile every time she glances up at her new buddy is priceless! Sigh, my baby is growing up already…
Tomato riceBack to dinner, what started as an interesting version of a tomato rice I read somewhere on the blogosphere ended up becoming my own recipe. And after making it, I realized that it was very similar to the Biriyani recipe. Surprisingly, it tasted pretty different. We ate it with cucumber Raita but I do wish we had had some potato chips in the pantry. That was dinner done on a Wednesday and I swear I will keep my weekdays to merely photographing what Amma makes rather than getting adventurous in the kitchen. Phew!

Tangy Tomato Rice

Ingredients:
Two and a half cups Basmati rice, washed, rinsed, drained and cooked in three and a quarter cup of water

Six tomatoes, finely chopped

One huge onion, sliced thin

Two tsp Garam Masala, curry powder or any Masala really!

One tsp turmeric powder (optional)

Half tsp cayenne pepper powder

Salt to taste

For tempering-
One piece cinnamon stick

Four pods of cardamom and cloves

Two bay leaves

Few mustard and cumin seeds

Two Tbsp oil

To be ground into fine paste-
Half an onion

Six pods of garlic

One inch piece of ginger

A small bunch cilantro

A small bunch mint leaves

Four Thai green chilies

Method
Fluff the cooked rice and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add all the tempering spices. When done, add the sliced onions and turn the heat to med-low. Let it caramelize. When light brown in color, turn the heat to medium and add the ground paste. Let it cook for five minutes. Now add the tomatoes, Masala, turmeric powder, cayenne pepper powder and salt. Close the pan with a lid and let it cook for ten minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and the paste is semi-solid. Take the lid off and let it cook a few minutes more until it thickens. When done, mix it with the cooked rice, make sure the rice doesn’t turn mushy. Eat as a side or as a main dish like we did with Raita.
Tomato rice2