Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Photography Styling Challenge- Chaos

chaos2Time and fate work against me. This is the third time I am trying to post this. Apparently wordpress doesn’t understand what “save draft” means, although that is one of the options on offer. So let me do this before that smidgen of inclination towards writing fades away in me. Chaos was readily available at home… until we decided to clean up the mess since we were having guests over. After all the vacuuming (credits to the hub) and changing linen and stowing all of A’s toys away, I realized my folly.

So I decided to make do with what chaos I could collect in the house… I am not all that impressed and you will see why. The challenge threw a curveball at me: I had to use some of the same elements I had used in the Order post. Easier said than done but I decided to get creative with this rule and you will find out how in a minute.

The trinket gifts from various cities our friends and family live/visited became mementos from our travels in and around USA. The paw, of course, is K’s way of showing his Nittany Lions pride. Correction- one of the many ways (you should see his car and his wardrobe). Since the refrigerator door is common property in this house, my apples biting their apples (left hand side corner in sunglasses) also made the cut! I miss you girls…
chaos3My stack of books, my favorite companions, became Aarabhi’s favorite companions: her big basket of toys and dolls. She loves playing with almost all of them but her most favorite activity of all will always be pulling the whole basket and toppling its contents all over herself and the floor. This here is Sophie (aka Valli, named so in honor of her manufacturer, Vulli). Thanks to her, my fingers have been spared and they now function for what they were intended for, picking up her mess, rather than a live chewable toy.
chaosSo there. How is that for a messy house?

You can read about the challenge here and you can look at better representation of Chaos by the following participants:
Redesigned By M
Red Lovin Pixie
At the Corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography
My Food Tapestry
Pies and Puggles
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
A Tree Grows in the Bayou
I Live under a Rock Called Table Mountain
Hooked on Homes

 

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Props and Plans for 2014

blog stuffWhen I first started baking (which was around the same time I started blogging about it), my measuring cup was a single take-out container which had a one cup marking on it. I resisted the idea of buying tools due to a faint fear that I would grow out of this “novel” method of cooking. But the hub prodded me into buying a set of measuring cups at least! On a random visit to our local Dollar Tree outlet back in Maryland, I came across a set of measuring devices (in picture) for, yes, a dollar! Since then, a lot of buying has happened in various Dollar Tree outlets and somewhere along the line, I realized that hey, you don’t need to buy from fancy shmancy stores to cook effectively. blog stuff4Well, I stand corrected. you don’t need to buy everything from big stores to cook yummy food. Although I have wonderful appliances and baking tools from other stores, Dollar Tree always excites me. Apart from the measuring cups, I have quite a few other interesting props and tools I have collected over the years. So when I was wondering how I wanted to end the year, a picture heavy post about things that help make my food look and taste good was not only an awesome idea but also very fitting. Our Christmas lights and a gloomy day worked well together and I ended up with beautiful pictures- probably the best shoot I have done in long. So let’s continue, shall we? blog stuff5As the cliche goes, hands are a cook’s best tools. But a set of sturdy mixing spatula and basting brush are always a welcome relief especially when your batter gets stuck to the bottom of the KitchenAid while trying to make a birthday cake or when you are trying to brown the top of your garlic rolls with some melted butter. Both of them are by Betty Crocker and I love the brilliant red they come in. blog stuff3Ah, the birds and my beautiful silver tray! Although the former have never made it to the blog (yet), the latter was on the other cake post I wrote a few months ago. The birds are such dainty little things that I am still looking for a post to include them in. The silver tray was a random purchase that K threatened to throw out if I did not use. It was a dollar and he was tired of storing it. Thankfully, I found a use and am I glad I did! blog stuff2I don’t know which I love more- the black bowl or the red napkin (slash rag cloth). Although the bowl has been featured in gravy posts like Veg Balls in Garlic Sauce and Punjabi Kadhi, the rag cloth is a new buy so I am stowing it away for the new year. So yes, it is easy to blog on a budget if you open your eyes and look. There is really no shame is going the Dollar Store route as long as you know where to draw a line!

As for plans, the blog address is going to change, I am certain about it. We will go from Ladlesandhighheels.com to ChefetteSpicy.com.I am going to indulge more in low-carb cooking for 2014. It has been six months since Aarabhi and now is the time to get back in shape. So my low-carb diet is going to aid me in getting there. Also on my to-do list for the blog is slow cooker cooking. Although I see no point in making pies and brownies in my crock-pot, I am pretty sure that it can turn out some crazy delish Sambar and Dal. Since all I would have to do is mix the ingredients together and wait for the dish to be done, I am very excited!

The holidays are closing in on us and I am in Virginia at the moment with the whole bunch of East Coasters. I have so many pictures to share and plans to cook something together with M, one of my sisters-in-law. I am looking forward to that and I am looking forward to clicking pics. I used to be nonchalant or very pessimistic about new years but this time, I am very positive about it. I have various reasons for it but whatever it is, I know one thing: I will own 2014!

So I might do yet another post before we ring in the new year. But in case I go MIA until 2014, here is me wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe, drink eggnog (if you are into it) and eat lots of wonderful food!


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Good-bye, Tarla

tarlaI cannot seem to grasp the fact that Tarla Dalal is no more. It is strange, but her demise has touched me at a personal level that no random news about death of a celebrity does… yet, I’ve never met her, had no dreams of getting in touch with her and there was no way our paths would ever have crossed even if she had lived a hundred years more.

Like most contemporary Indian home cooks and Indian cuisine lovers alike, Tarla was one of the first people, a silent teacher whose invisible hands guided us to make wonderful homey dishes that ranged from Kashmiri food to Malayali cuisine. I loved the fact that she got her ingredients and flavors right 98% of the time, a feat only a hand full of chefs in this world can boast of. Her books were my happy place, her website, an oasis of good food that I would visit at least once a week, in search of something yummy to make.

Today, as I leaf through my well-loved copy of Punjabi Khana and caress the hastily-wiped stains of dried splutters of food, I send Tarla a silent message of gratitude. I could never have whipped up a perfect pot of Dal Makhani without her gentle prodding. I would never have known the foolproof method to make perfect Kachoris without her Rajasthani Cookbook.

Thank you for sharing your passion with us, chef. And I am grateful for the legacy you leave behind in the form of literature. You will be terribly missed. Good-bye, Tarla and I hope you cook up a storm high up in heaven!


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Fight Club-like Musings

There are really no rules to play by or live with, I gather. When you finally do all the growing up that qualifies you to take charge of your life, you are left bewildered at the lack of rules. At five, you learn to share everything with your sibling, at ten, you are taught the art of playing together with your friends. At fifteen, you understand that best friends are a bunch of people you never double-cross and at twenty, you realize that relationships require more work than your full-time job. It is only ironic that the people who teach you these values are adults who have grown up and learned the exact lesson I just did.

On a broader frame, I wonder where our rules relocated to. With friends, I learn that tough-love and betrayal are not only two ways of making you a better person but also a reason for your undying gratitude towards those meanies. Having been the recipient for the above-mentioned, I can tell you that you should risk it all only if you have a daredevil streak. Your relationship with them alters permanently even if their plan does work out.

You don’t have to necessarily marry the person you actually fell in love with, one of my friends informs, because love and happiness are two different things. What did happen to those days when we crooned sweet nothings like “you are my life, my happiness and everything between”? Corny, I know, but get the drift? The social derangement, cultural differences and temperamental parents are making more adults choose someone more compatible rather than someone they actually like and know as a human being. So every man/woman is expected to run around the street, yelling cynical monologues and is considered normal.

Family actually means nothing to some revamped rule-players. Actually, I have come across these creatures. They have a barrier and the first person who crosses it is ultimately cooked for dinner with less salt and overwhelming flavors, I am not joking. So people to whom they matter are set aside until they get cold and go on with life with bitterness. These people are considered “independent” and their doormat accomplices actually worship them!

So here I am, wondering how I should play because my rules are so out-dated that they are neither accepted, nor alive. At 26, I am too old to change my rules. I like my friends trustworthy, I prefer my love-filled marriage and I would never show anyone who matters, the exit door.


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On the labour/labor of writing

*I am not showing off or subtly dropping names here*

I once met a man, a disciplined writer. He was one of my favourite writers and a New York Times Bestseller at that. The day I met Jeffrey Archer after struggling with my teammates and later, convincing my boss that I was good enough to be picked for a 30 minute interview is something I look back at everyday when I sit down at my desk (cum dining table) to write.

Amongst discussing things like his latest book that I fell in love with (Paths of Glory) and his first ever work of fiction, we discussed things that actually opened my mind to the possible journey of writing a fiction. Well, I consider blogging fiction enough to last me a lifetime or until I am ready for more. Archer, being a humble person, told me that discipline, more than the gift of words, is the key to success. He informed me, matter of factually, that he wakes up at 4am everyday to begin writing at five. He always works for two hours at a time, with sufficient break-time in the middle.

While my hours at work deeply varies, a couple of things he told this very small-wannabe-correspondent really stayed on. Dedication matters. If you don’t believe in what you write, you will never make your point. Hours are important: you can’t expect to churn out an awesome page-turner or webpage-scroller if you spend thirty minutes in front of your laptop and think about getting this done after the first fifteen minutes. You need to think big, find other amusements to keep you inspired and possess enough imagination to turn even the smallest thing you come across into a concept (I silently thought about his Prison Diaries while writing his response in bold).

It was only a couple of weeks back that I took complete heed to his beliefs. I have stopped watching daytime television. I don’t chat much or surf through Facebook aimlessly (sorry, Zucker-man!). I sit and put my heart onto whatever I type. About 70% of it is crap (as some of you may think this entry is) but hey, can Jeffrey Archer be wrong about it? I doubt, I doubt.