Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Photography Styling Challenge- Patterns

Long long ago, in my second year of undergrad, we had photography exercises that spanned over a multiple everyday concepts. This was my syllabus’ way of creating “well-rounded” photographers and our professor would spend an awfully long time picking and selecting record book-worthy photos from the sea of rolls we would go through every week.
Needless to say, I would dread this process since photography, I decided, was not my cuppa. I was more the graphic designing kinda girl and I made sure the whole world knew this. Thankfully, things have changed. I have fallen hopelessly in love with photography and my humble but very beautiful camera. Every time I begin my journey for the monthly photography challenge, I always think back to that dreadful photography phase and kind of regret it.

My father was a wonderful photographer. Every frame he clicked would come alive in the sepia-toned postcard-sizes. Yet, he never had a formal portfolio, did not give professional photography a thought and his models all lived under the same roof- his. Being one of his primary muses, I have always felt honored (and secretly superior) to have had his beautiful vintage Pentax (an inheritance from his father, another amateur photographer) focused on me- a concept I am trying on my little girl, in an attempt to capture every little bit of this beautiful life we are living together.

So yes, this month’s photography challenge brought to me a sea of memories, some of them difficult and most of them very happy ones. Patterns: what does it bring to my mind? Life, that is what. But how does one go about photographing life? More specifically, how does one bring life to a subject like pattern? It was difficult so I decided to go with a couple of obvious subjects to focus on.
patternsThe first one is a picture of sticky buns I made a couple of months ago. I specifically clicked this picture with this exercise in mind. This is me being prepared like the little Girl Scout I was back in the day. Food can make pretty patterns, you see. But you’ve gotta look out for them.
patterns3The next thing that comes to my mind at the mention of patterns is knitting. My sister is a very enthusiastic knitter and she made this wonderful scallop patterned scarf for winter. It is the most beautiful piece I’ve ever owned and it makes me a proud sister whenever I wear it. You can read her blog here.
patterns2Although I wanted to go about clicking madly, I hardly had any time to do it. My goal for the next challenge is come up with at least four different concepts. I am pretty sure I can manage that.

So if you want to know more about the challenge, click here and you can see how others interpreted this subject by clicking on the following links to other participants:

Redesigned By M
At the Corner of Happy and Harried
Inge Kathleen Photography
My Food Tapestry
A Woven Life
City Girl Searching
A Tree Grows in the Bayou
I Live under a Rock Called Table Mountain
Hooked on Homes

I nearly forgot to tell you! I started another blog on a whim. Since it is still under development, I will tell you more about it later.

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Jam Tart from the Past

I have been gushing about this book all week long on social media. Well, it is not so much a book as a hand-written diary, carried down from my paternal grandmother to my mother and then to me. Here is a little bit of history: The diary itself dates back to 1972, a brief period during which my grandfather, one of the leading leprologists in India during his time, was working in Iran. He lived there for a year or two with my grandmother and two of his then unmarried daughters.

The book was probably commissioned by my grandmother to help my aunts evade boredom because the diary itself is filled with both their meticulous hand. The book has three parts: traditional South Indian, little bit of North Indian and baking/canning which, I suspect, was copied from random American cooking books they found in Iran (the Oz and °F in some of them gave it away). So fast-forward twenty five years, my grandmother unofficially gave the book away to my mother when she handed over the kitchen to her (a periodical occurrence in Indian joint families) . Now, my mother is so absent-minded that she reminds me of Dori (Finding Nemo) sometimes. But whatever she misplaced, she held on to this book tight. Andh this time, when I went to India, I asked her if I could photocopy the book. She refused. And gave the book away to me!

project diary

jam tart pageI had a wonderful time drowning in it. While the book itself contains so many basic recipes, it has wonderful ones for squashes, pickles, jams and jellies. I should applaud my grandmother’s futuristic thinking here: she had no oven, had no clue what a pie was but she decided not to pass them recipes up (I certainly would have!) and asked my aunts to write them down for future contemplation. Also, all the baking recipes here are eggless because eggs were a strict no-no in our household back then! Can you imagine that?! I so cannot wait to try all the recipes out. To start the project off successfully (I shall name this Project: Diary), I decided on making the easiest one first: a basic jam tart.

You could ignore it but I should warn you: these are the butteriest, gooiest cookies ever!!

jam tart2

Jam Tart Cookies

Ingredients:
1 pie crust or make your own:

Two cups flour

One stick/half cup chilled butter

Half cup sugar

One tsp salt

Two Tbsp cold water

Half tsp baking powder

One tsp vanilla essence

Quarter cup jam (I used my homemade apricot jam. What a way to show off!)

Method:
Make the pie crust:

Pulse the dry ingredients and vanilla together with the butter. When it reaches the, what Ina Garten calls, Parmesan (coarse) stage, dump it on a clean surface and mold into a dough. Add the two Tbsp water as you need to bring the flour together. Shape it into a log, seal it with cling wrap and refrigerate it.

Meanwhile set the oven at 400°F. Bring the pie crust (or should I say log?) out. Cut it into 14 circles and place on a lined baking tray. gently press the center of each tart cookie and fill it with a generous amount of jam. Bake for 15 minutes. Let it cool and enjoy!

apricot preserves

 


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Ginger Snap Memories

I have always loved ginger cookies. Back home, we call these ginger biscuits. We have this bakery called McRennett in Madras which has been around since pre-Independence days (which is why the English/Scottish name). When I was younger, my mom used to work and she would bring us back tasty McRennett treats from an outlet near her work. The store expanded as I grew up and quite a few of them popped up near where we lived.

It was at McRennett that I tasted my first cinnamon bun, Swiss roll and other yummy pastries. My paternal grandfather (Thatha) used to love ginger biscuits and people would buy it from McRennett when they used to visit him. His personal pantry was always open to his lucky granddaughters and he would indulge us in rummaging through it on weekends and summer holidays. My favorite treats from my Thatha’s stash would always be ginger snap cookies and orange sugar candies.

I had quite a volatile relationship with my grandfather while I was growing up. My grandparents lived with us and Thatha disapproved of quite a few things I did in my growing up years. Those dark years didn’t really stop him from indulging me in the weekly treats. Thankfully, all that passed and we formed a strong bond for the last seven years of his life. So after Thatha passed away, a few of us grandchildren got together in his room one day, rummaged through his pantry and feasted on what was left of his goodies while sharing wonderful stories about him. So these gingersnap cookies might as well be a tribute to my Thatha. Only thing is, the store-bought ones were always darker in color and crunchier in texture. But they had the same wonderful ginger taste.

Ginger also happens to be one of those doc-recommended flavor for me so I am all on board!

This time, when I go to Madras, I will make sure I stop at a McRennett outlet and buy a few goodies.