Since my parents' arrival, our trips to the library are more frequent than ever. We're sampling genres as varied as crafts, physics, nutrition, aviation and classic mysteries, and books are being borrowed by the bagful. Here are some highlights from my reading list over the last few weeks:
The story is colorful with historic details and has a satisfying, tidy ending. The book is set in the late 19th century so the wording on "native servants" can be startling (but is true to the era). With a crocodile lurking in the title, this book fits the first category in my Criminal Plots reading challenge: Novel with an Animal in the Title.
Barlow's book is very clever because she shows how you can use standard cake pans- square, circular, rectangular pans, bowls, bundt pans, muffin tins that most of us amateur bakers already have on hand- and transform the basic shape into a novelty cake with a couple of simple cuts and rearrangement of the pieces, and with strategically placed decorations. Now, the book relies 100% on two things that I absolutely dread, boxed cake mixes and buttercream frosting, but one could make cakes from scratch and use other frosting recipes and still use all of the ideas.
Here are a couple of Barlow's cake ideas that I found online- cut off the 4 corners from a 9 x 13 rectangular cake and make a football cake, a round cake + 3 cupcakes makes a teddy bear. The book has a few others that I really liked, including a sail boat, rocket ship, dragon fly and clown fish. Some of the ideas are time-honored ones that I had seen before, like making a heart cake from one square and one round cake (example here) and making a bowtie-wearing bunny from two circular cakes (example here). What I love about these ideas is that they are doable for the average baker because, let's be honest, slapping on a little frosting and candy decorations is more my style and I'm not likely to be making elaborate fondant creations like these two.
I'm guessing that we all have food rules, whether or not we actively think of them as rules per se. While I don't have clever phrasings, some of my own food rules might be:
1. Dessert is for sharing (I never make dessert unless there's an occasion and there are plenty of people to share in the sweetness.)
2. Don't drink your calories (Water and tea are my beverages of choices and I don't understand why people are so fond of juicing- they throw away all that good fiber?)
3. Be grateful that you even get to have food rules (The most important of my food rules. Only lucky people get to worry about carbs and calories and the benefits of this diet and the other diet. The rest have nothing to eat.)
I'm linking this to the It's Monday... meme over on Book Journey.
Your turn: What are you reading? Care to share your own "food rules"?
I keep thinking I'll read some Elizabeth Peters and then I look at the length of the Egypt series and think 'next year' lol. Rebecca Stead is a great tip for middle grade, thanks! Have a nice reading week.ReplyDelete
I probably won't read through the whole Egypt series all at once- but it is still nice for me to discover a new author/series!Delete
Oh Nupur I missed you so much! I was happy knowing that you are busy having a good time but it didnt stop me from missing you. Seeing your new post made me so happy! Thank you.ReplyDelete
I have just started reading 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' and I am loving it! I think the series is going to keep me happily busy for next few weeks.
I am not in favor of cake moulds, cake box cakes and hate butter cream frosting or even fondant for that matter. I really appreciate the creativity and time spent in homemade birthday cakes and have some very special memories of my own while growing up. I remember reading your article on your memories of birthday cakes long time back, I could so relate to it.
Some of my food rules are:
1) Give every vegetable one more chance (or a couple of chances, prepared differently) until you label it as something you dislike. Bitter gourd has failed this test multiple times for me and that's the only veg I cannot bring myself to eat.
2) Serve yourself only what you can manage to finish off.
High five to you on your food rules, I follow those too.
You're so sweet- I missed posting last week too- this Monday post is becoming a habit :)Delete
I'm so thrilled you started with the Precious Ramotswe books- a few summers ago, I read the series and those were a couple of HAPPY months.
I love your food rules, and so agree about the vegetable one- can't tell you the number of times I've served a veggie and had someone love it because it was roasted vs. being boiled to a mush etc. Bitter gourd is not a particular favorite with me but my parents got some bitter gourd pickle and it was terrific. Then again you could pickle an old shoe and it would taste good with all the oil and spices ;)
I am completely hooked to this book series...I love Mma Ramotswe! I was telling my hubby the other day that reading this gives me a similar feel good feeling as I got while watching Malgudi Days. I want to go and live with them, I feel I know these characters. As a kid if I was asked where I would like to go for a vacation I would say Malgudi :) now I want to visit Botswana.
I have just finished reading Book 2 - Tears of the Giraffe.
I always read Elizabeth Peters writing under the Barbara Michaels name, but I have not read any of the Amelia Peabody books. I will have to do it!ReplyDelete
Food Rules looks good too!
Both books are worth a read! Thanks for stopping by :)Delete
Nupur, how do you manage to read so many books so fast? I really like your choice of books so before I go to the library, I always open yr blog and make a list of books to look for. But, I can't manage to read as much as you do.ReplyDelete
I really appreciate when people (like you and people who have commented above) value healthy eating habits and are grateful for having good food to eat. When I was in India, the guy who used to come to clean our neighborhood every morning, he used to come at night again with his family to beg food. They did not have the facility or the money to cook their own food. In fact, they had limited number of vessels, so they would mix all the leftovers people would give them. Imagine putting kadhi and daal in one container. Due to these memories stuck in my head, not even a grain goes wasted in our house.
Some of my food rules are:
1) Always include proteins and vegetables in the 2 major meals of the day (lunch and dinner)
2) Make abundant amount when making something healthy (leftovers area a blessing in busy times), but limited amount when making something unhealthy (like fried items or items with little nutrition).
Keep posting and take care.
Hi Suchi! Reading books is not a competition, just read as much and whenever it makes you happy. Incidentally, books for kids/young adults are perfect for when you want to read but are short on time.Delete
Thanks for sharing your food rules and I LOVE the second one- I'll have to remember that one. Like you, I've seen the stark contrast between the haves and have-nots and it certainly drives the way I live.
I bought The Paris Review Interviews on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/The-Paris-Review-Interviews-I/dp/0312361750) and have started reading it. It is great to read about the writing processes of celebrated authors and their views on art, fellow authors, creativity, etc. I highly recommend the book.ReplyDelete
Food rules at our home?
1. Empty out the cooking utensils thoroughly before putting in the sink to wash. As my mom says, "That speck of food (you were too lazy to clean out) does no one any good."
2. Cook every day... well, almost every day. We have restricted eating out to once a week and I think it has benefited our wallets and digestive systems immensely.
3. Cook only as much as is necessary. I am not a fan of freezing leftovers.
4. Nothing tastes as delicious as a home-cooked meal... :)
The Paris Review Interviews sound very interesting! Love your food rules, especially the last one :)Delete
I listened to Liar & Spy the first time, and I think I'm going to go back and read the actual book. The Michael Polan book looks good - I've heard lots about him but haven't read his book. Have a great week!ReplyDelete
Pollan has several books and I haven't read most of them but this one is a fun little read (and you can flip through the whole book in a couple of hours).Delete
I like rule number 3 of your food rules. In the little annoyances and hassles of everyday life, I often forget how fortunate and blessed I am to be able to afford good food and feed myself and my family that, there are millions on this planet who dont have that luxury.ReplyDelete
I realized that I do have a food rule - No wasting food. I use up produce and eat leftovers before they have a chance to go bad. Also I try to use up all parts of the vegetables I get (most of our produce is from the farmer's market), tops of beets or other leafy stuff go in dal, broccoli/cauliflower stalks get chopped up fine and into the curry etc. I used to do this off and on but reading Tamar Adler's book 'An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace' which has a chapter on this reinforced the practice.Delete
Forgot to mention a book recommendation in my earlier comment, its one that I read last year but it was such an interesting read and food related that its apt. 'What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets' by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio. I'd recommend their older book 'Hungry Planet' also just as much. Both were great reads, educational and entertaining at the same time and all about food which is always an interesting topic for me.ReplyDelete
I LOVED "Hungry Planet" by the same authors and the book on diets around the world sounds so interesting too!Delete
Thanks for the book recommendation Calknit! I got it from the library as I had too had loved their 'Hungry Planet'. This one is so much fun to go through, me and hubby both loved it. A picture or two are disturbing though since people eat all kinds of different stuff, just an alert.Delete
Amelia Peabody sounds like someone I would enjoy reading about. Totally going to look this series up. Thanks for that introduction.ReplyDelete
For me, the best cakes are the ones with no decoration and no icing. I am fairly certain this because I suck at both decorating and icing things.
Like you, I love an unadorned cake- pure and simple!! But yes, for birthdays I'll go the extra mile and do some decoration and icing.Delete
I agree with and follow most of yours and Pollan's rules. The flowers bit especially strikes a note because I almost always have a vase of flowers on the dining table. If I don't my daughter reminds me to :) Number 1 - Nothing out of a box. Another rule that I incorporated once my daughter was old enough is everyone sits for dinner together at the table. And everyone talks. No cutsie plates/ glasses for my daughter...she sits with us and eats like us. We used to eat out once a week but stopped after reading up on the sugar & soy content in most restaurant meals. We also try to make one special meal every week. Special as in everyone does something...it could be sandwiches but everyone chips in. It's fun and teaches my daughter about food.ReplyDelete
On a fun note, I talk to my daughter so much about unfortunate children who dont have enough to eat that she gave the speech to a few guests who had left over curry leaves on their plates :)
Thanks so much for sharing your rules! I LOVE how you're teaching your daughter about participating in meal-prep and eating together. The tradition of a special meal every week is so nice.Delete
As for my family, we'll continue to eat out once a week or so. Sure, restaurant meals can be too salty and sweet but I do like the idea of my baby learning to eat out in social situations and trying all kinds of food that I may not make at home.
Sure. I agree about children learning etiquette and developing a taste for different cuisines. What I meant was we'd rather go to a small Ethiopian/ Greek etc. restaurant after 3 weeks, than go to a standard American chain just because its Sunday.Delete
Oh yes, agree 100%!Delete
I have read only two books since last time. The first was Paris my sweet... I picked it because who doesn't want to read about French desserts. I enjoy books set in different cities especially if they can convey a sense of life living there. However the diary like narrative disappointed me. The author was whining about being alone for the majority of the year. Another issue was her indecision about living in New York or Paris. At the end of it all I wanted to scream at her. She does have a good list of dessert places in Paris and New York at the end of the book. I regretted not having been to many of these places whilst living in NY but I suppose this was good for my blood sugar.ReplyDelete
The second read was 44 Scotland street. Love love love this book. McCall Smith impresses me more and more each day. The series is very lighthearted but contains many quirky characters who get into the oddest situations. A laughed a lot reading this book.
Food rules. I don't have very strict ones. I try to eat as healthy as possible. A pack in 1-2 fruits a day, and a salad of some sort for lunch. I've been told to watch my carbs.i do so very reluctantly but i do indulge in a small slice of plain cake/ madeleine with my evening chai.
happy reading till next time,
Arpita- I had "Paris my Sweet" on my reading list but took it off after I read your thoughts on it. Truly cannot stand whining and there's no chance of me eating desserts in NYC or Paris anytime soon!Delete
Thanks for sharing your food rules! Great idea to include some raw veggies with at least one meal every day.
I am a HUGE fan of Alexander McCall Smith too, Arpita. I started with the Precious Ramotswe series, then went on to read every book in the Isabel Dalhousie series. I love his writing, the simplicity and depth embedded in every line, the purity and authenticity and intelligence of the writing... :) Btw, I highly recommend his 'La's Orchestra Saves the World,' a book I enjoyed immensely.Delete
I read "La's Orchestra" a couple of months ago and I liked it, but not as much as McCall Smith's other books.Delete
Glad to discover a fellow Mccall smith groupie. I am really addicted to the 44 Scotland street series at the moment. The chapters are the perfect length to read in a lunch break or when you can grab a quiet few moments. Will try la's orchestra for sure in the future!Delete
After reading all these comments, I finally remembered to pick up the first 44 Scotland Street book this weekend. Excited to start it!Delete
I was waiting for this post to comment!?I finished reading "I takes a village and other stories children teach us" by Hillary Clinton,though not based in the US,it was an interesting read to see how hard she has worked to convince people on child care benefits..Also read a diff genre book called "Almond eyes, lotus feet" by Sharada Dwivedi & Shalini Holkar,transports you to a time of Indian style royalty and pampering !ReplyDelete
Clinton's book sounds interesting! I'd heard of it many years ago but haven't read it. The other book sounds like an interesting read too. Thanks for sharing your reads :)Delete
Lovely to hear from you again...
"The most important of my food rules. Only lucky people get to worry about carbs and calories and the benefits of this diet and the other diet. The rest have nothing to eat.)"... Wow what a thought.. I am certainly going to carry this with me today and forever... its all to easy to crib and worry about diets and weight... but yes - it is important to be thankful for never having to face real hunger.
Thank you for such a beautiful thought...
I'm glad it resonated with you, Meenal. I feel like I need to remind myself of this every day.Delete
Lately we've started eating home cooked meals almost everyday. Eating out,I feel,is such a waste of money and most of the times you end up suffering from indigestion, over-stuffed feeling. I could see a drastic change in my health after eating home made meals and am so motivated to continue the same.
As for food rules,
1. Try to make fresh food(with fresh produce).
2. The amount of salt that's needed is always 3/4 of what you think you need.(In short, less salt intake.Found it quite difficult at first, but now I'm OK).
3. NEVER trash food.And no,eating it yourself(when you are full already) is not OK too. There are plenty of animals and birds looking out for food and water.And it's doubly OK to offer them.Even if it's fresh food made a couple of hour before.
4. That brings me to this point. Totally despise people who store food just for the sake of it and after a couple of days donate it to someone.What's the point?You could have given them the fresh food instead!
5. More veggies, less rice.
Enjoy your time with the parents:)
Thanks for sharing your food rules, Kavi! I love salt but I completely agree that it is a matter of slowly getting your taste buds adjusted to less salt. And YES, completely agree that one should share fresh food rather than keeping it around for days before giving it away. This is something I've seen happen too many times, unfortunately.Delete
I'd read Pollan's book a year ago or so. It is a good, quick read. I'm reading Anne Lamott's Operating instructions right now. It's a journal of her son's first year and I'm really liking the book so far. If I wasn't a mother, I'd have been shocked by some of the things she shares. I haven't finished it yet so, don't know if I'll end up not liking it.ReplyDelete
I don't have food rules as such. I try to cook most things from scratch at home and when we eat out, I just try to enjoy the experience instead of worrying about whether I'm eating healthy or not. I guess "everything in moderation" is my food rule.
And I had to laugh at your juicing comment because we juice a couple of times a week. I'm not a juicing fanatic but do enjoy a glass or two every week. We actually started it because every year we have a surplus of greens like kale from our backyard and there's only so much you can eat, freeze or give away. And no one in our family likes green smoothies. Sure, you lose fiber but, hey at least it is a healthy habit and not an unhealthy one. If you are ever in Houston, come over and I'll make you a big glass of fresh juice :)
WOW how fun to be growing tons of greens in your own backyard!Delete
I can't thank you enough for introducing me to McCall Smith:-)ReplyDelete
SO thrilled that you're enjoying his books!Delete
Hi Nupur, I'm actually reading When you Reach Me right now! Also Walk Two Moons by Sharon CReech; Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson and The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler. I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather and The age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. I highly recommend the Magician's Elephant by Kate DICAmillo (audio book is wonderful!) BTW, I drink green smoothies daily. I make them in my Vitamix. I agree about the fiber. Rashmi :-)ReplyDelete
That's a very nice reading list! I'll have to find "The Magician's Elephant"- can you believe I have not ever listened to an audio book?Delete
Hi Nupur, I am so happy to see your post. I was missing you last week! I am your follower when it comes to books. I use this blog as my guide before I go to the library.ReplyDelete
I just finished reading "Make your bread, buy your butter" by Reeese. I fell in love with the author after reading this. She make the book such an ejoyable read. I also have bookmarked her birthday cake to make.
I am also current reading "The Hobbit". I used to be an avid fan of the LOTR series a few year sback. But I find myself not being able to read more than a page of the Hobbit every day. My goal is to read the book before I watch the movie.
Another book that I am reading is the Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. This is an interesting read and is in simple language.
I read Brain Rules for Baby a couple of years ago but I'm trying to think if I remember a single thing from that book ;)Delete
So glad you enjoyed "Make the bread..."! I'm not really a fan of the LOTR series (slept through all the movies, much to my husband's chagrin) and haven't read any of those books.
Thanks for your share about food rules. It is like being invited to everybody's kitchen and see what's cooking there. This virtual sharing gives a feeling that there's somebody out there who is like me -:)
I am right now making lot of changes in the choice of food and incorporating healthy stuff. I follow these rules:
1)Have an early dinner
2)I buy a pack of mixed legumes, sprout them and have it atleast once a week
3)Have simple salads accompanying dinner or lunch
4)On weekends, I make it a point to buy fruits and enjoy them fresh, and remember this is mango season -:)
5)What I have been regularly doing is buying and using indigenous rice varities to support organic and natural farming
LOVE your food rules, Shreem! Like you, I feel much better with a very early dinner too. Buying indigenous rice varieties is so awesome. Hope you enjoy mango season to the fullest- eat one for me, will you ;)Delete
Just finished reading Knots and Crosses and started Haunted Grounds.ReplyDelete
Haunted Grounds sounds interesting- I'm not familiar with this series.Delete
Recently reading the Shiva trilogy Series by Amish Tripathi. This series is making huge rounds in Indian contemporary reading circle. I liked the first 2 books- Immortals of Meliha And Secrets of the Naga, the third one is Vayuputra. First 2 books were short and crispy, art of writing is ok but I liked the plot, logical thinking about Hindu mythologies of Hindu God's first family- Shiva-sati-Kartik and Ganesh, LAxmi-Saraswati. This family has its hold in almost all of India starting with Shiva being fevourite god in Jammu kashmir then Durga in Northern India, Durga and Saraswati in Bengal and some other Eastern parts, Ganesha and Laxmi being the Favourite in Central India and Kartik in southern India! Good read.ReplyDelete
Thanks for suggesting this- sounds very interesting. I like mythology but haven't read any of it in years.Delete
Hey Nupur - just wanted to drop a line while I remembered. I had mentioned this specific paneer that doesn't have any additives. See if you can find Gopi paneer in your grocery store. They claim it's made purely from milk and vinegar.ReplyDelete
I found Gopi paneer in a local East Asian store! They have no Indian groceries except for paneer- but I'm glad I found it. Thanks for mentioning it.Delete
What fun. Here are mine (and one's I've managed to pass on to my kids):ReplyDelete
1. Eat a piece of fresh fruit every day
2. Eat a salad every day
3. Cook foods outside what you grew up with
4. Take joy in food -- ask friends over, enjoy the food they make
5. I see Michael Pollan as yet another another guy trying to hawk old ideas by claiming they are new ideas. I mean, I grew up near the Amish -- I don't want to be them!
Love your blog! You are so talented and a great writer.
Manju- you're too kind, thank you for encouraging my attempts at writing.Delete
I enjoyed reading your food rules- and really do want to make a point of eating some raw veg every day. LOVE your rule #4! I'm not super familiar with Pollan's writing but I think rather than hawking old ideas as new, he's just reminding us that some traditional wisdom around food makes much sense in the modern context.
I love love love the Amelia Peabody series (I've read the entire series and own most of the books)! The stories do progressively become much better and more complex--very enjoyable.ReplyDelete
I'd like to thank you for your recommendations as well. I have read several books that you've reviewed and not one has disappointed--some that come to mind are the Vish Puri series and Brain rules for Baby.
Really? Well, I'll have to hurry up and get my hands on more of the Amelia Peabody books! I'm so glad you enjoyed some of the books I mentioned here.Delete
this must be 3rd or 4th time I'm saying this, but let me tell you again , I absolutely love love ur blog and writing. the simplicity and the down-to earth take home lessons are very inspiring. Sometimes when i read a few blogs on the internet, i always come away with feeling overwhelmed by all thats out there..everyone seems to be super human and super cooks and i come away with the feeling that i'm failing miserably .But when i read ur blog , though im mightily impressed by all that you do , i go away with the feeing , that even i can do it , even i can strike a happy balance wearing all my different ' hats' . Thank you for the that ..:)
Regarding food rules , whenever i start getting paranoid about diet and fitness, I too keep reminding myselftthat we are lucky to be even thinking of 'diets' and stuff, when there are so many others , starving.
Other rules : 1) Buy food as close as to their 'natural ' form as possible.
2) Stick to eating out only once a week
3) Avoid making desserts at home ,unless we are expecting guests
4) if eating out , its ok to split a meal or ask for a smaller portion
5) Include as much veg and protiens possible and try to stick to meat only during weekends.
Sarah- what a nice thing to say. Thank you so much. You're absolutely right that there's no super human stuff to be found here, just someone who's trying to make the best of each precious day.Delete
Thanks for sharing your food rules! I so agree with #3- I often take a container and save half my restaurant entree for lunch the next day. And we also enjoy making a meal of appetizers because the portion size is more reasonable that way.
I like Pollen, having read the last couple of his books. I finally finished wave and am looking for recommendations. So thanks for these Nupur.ReplyDelete
I don't know if I can bring myself to read "Wave", Mandira. The author's grief- I just can't imagine...Delete
I loved reading some of the food rules in the comments section. I needed to lose some weight, and I did it by going back to the basics - which means following rules that my mother or grandmother would follow. 1. Stop eating when you are slightly full, not when your stomach is ready to burst. 2. Make stuff from scratch, it tastes better and is healthy. A home-made puran poli isnt as bad for you as a packaged fruit juice. 3. Shut your body down at sunset by eating dinner early. My doctor told me that back in the days when there was no electricity, ppl would eat before sunset and that served them well. 4. This is very important for me - carry on the food legacy - I want to learn and perfect family favourites, recipes that arent as popular nowadays, but stuff that my parents grew up eating. I look around at all the pastas and pizzas that people are consuming these days and wonder if we havent forsaken our food legacy.ReplyDelete
You make very good points, Shilpa. Your first rule is so important, it is a terrible habit to eat until we're uncomfortably full. As for our food legacy, for me food blogs have become the biggest inspiration for making simple regional food from all over India and the world. Pizzas and pastas are fine occasionally, if we make them the way the Italians do- with fresh ingredients and plenty of vegetables. The stuff from Pizza Hut and Olive Garden I can do without.Delete
Belated Happy Birthday Nupur! I don't know the exact date but I know that April is your Birthday month. Hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration since your parents are here. Did they bake you a cake? And Happy Birthday (umm, in advance!) to Neighbour-Girl! I guess her's is in the first half of May since you both are two weeks apart. I still remember reading about the amazing birthday party you both hosted together. Your line from that post 'Diamonds are not a girl's best friends, Best Friend's are a girl's best friend' has stayed in my heart, it is so true! :) Eagerly waiting for your next post.ReplyDelete
Thank you my dear :) Yup, it is birthday season around here and I did have a nice birthday with waffles for breakfast (courtesy V) and Indo-Chinese dinner (courtesy my mom).Delete