Monday, April 28, 2014

The List: April 2014

April was a glorious month- yes, it was my personal worst allergy season of all time (I discovered for the first time how scary it is to be so congested that one is gasping for breath; let's just say I have much empathy for people with asthma) but all that was outweighed by the fact that my sister and her family came to visit. Two little cousins met for the first time and spend 10 days playing, singing, dancing, squabbling over toys, splashing in a little wading pool (best 15 bucks I ever spent), and visiting every playground in a 10 mile radius.

Cooking and Baking

Farmer's Market season is on and we went one sunny Saturday morning. I was thrilled to find Spring garlic- do you know what that is? It is just like Spring onions, but the shoots come from garlic rather than onion. The taste is subtle and garlicky- sounds like a contradiction but really that's how I can best describe it. In India, we'd get this every once in a blue moon and my aunt and I made scrambled eggs with it. This time I used it in a veggie and omelet noodle stir fry. I still think scrambled eggs are the simplest and best way to showcase this seasonal specialty.

This was a long-bookmarked recipe- brussels sprout fried rice from Post Punk Kitchen. I added heaps of vegetables and only a modest amount of rice. And crushed peanuts instead of cashews. So delicious! The coconut oil really does add a nice touch to this dish.

A friend e-mailed me a recipe for no-bake energy bites. Well, basically these are mini ladoos made with raw oats, peanut butter, honey, coconut, flaxseed, chocolate. You just mix a bunch of ingredients and form small balls. I tested the recipe on my colleagues at a work meeting and they gave it two thumbs up. Lila also gave it a metaphorical thumbs up- her fingers and thumbs were busy stuffing two ladoos in her mouth simultaneously! Here's the recipe.

And carrot cake. It was not too sweet, moist and just about perfect. Instead of a 9 x 13 sheet cake, I made 2 circular 9 inch cakes and froze one for another occasion a couple weeks later; it thawed beautifully. I'm always happy to find freezer-friendly recipes.

Image: Goodreads
I read an exceptional book this month- The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The author is a cancer physician-scientist who happens to also be a gifted storyteller- a rare and wonderful combination. He narrates the story of cancer from the very beginning, weaving in history and biology, medicine and politics into a masterpiece.

This is a work of non-fiction with more twists and turns than your average detective story- I breathlessly read it in three or four evenings. Parts of the book are dense with biomedical jargon which might not be a breeze if you don't work in biology/medicine (I do and I thought he handled complex concepts very well) but truly, this book is worth a read. Because I'm betting that this terrible disease has affected most of us in one way or another and it is worth learning more about where we are and where we came from, vis-a-vis cancer.

Also, I read this thoughtful piece of reporting: India's Golden Chance.


Breaking Bad. This show is- how should I put this- a wee bit addictive. I'm watching 2 episodes every night. Thanks, R. ;)

Jim Gaffigan's Mr. Universe stand-up hour on Netflix. My sister and I were looking for something genuinely funny to watch one evening and this was it.


Some months ago, I made a laundry detergent concentrate ("laundry sauce") using an online recipe and was pleased with it for the most part. Last week when I ran out, I made detergent again, this time liquid- well, it is more of a gel- laundry detergent using this recipe. It made 5 gallons- enough to fill one of those orange pails from Home Depot!

My bag-sewing skills got a boost with a pattern that I bought from my local quilt shop: It is called the two hour tulip purse from the designers at Anything but Boring. A gratifyingly well-written pattern and it makes a cute lunch bag/ around town purse. I made one in a cheerful Springy print for a dear friend.

I have to show you a couple of cute things sewed by my sister- unlike me, she doesn't need no stinkin' patterns. Her designs are all original.

A kitty backpack for Lila- it is adorably toddler sized.

A placemat for Duncan- because no dog should be without a personalized placemat.

What have you been eating, cooking, reading, watching, making this month? Anyone else doped out on anti-histamines? You have my sympathies. Happy May!


  1. Sorry to hear about your allergies Nupur! Hope u feel better.
    Lol- we are addicted to Breaking Bad as well. My husband I watch back to back episodes too and we are on Season 2 :-)
    What beautiful crafts! Both you and your sister are so talented!!Duncan's placemat is so adorable!

    1. Sapna- I'm on season 2 too! And the episode I watched yesterday called "peekaboo" was really hard to watch- I was in tears.

      Thanks- I'm glad you like the crafts!

    2. Hi nupur where do u leave ur kid when at work

    3. She goes to a daycare school.

  2. am happily jealous reading this post! :D

    1. Happy and jealous are exactly the opposite of each other!

  3. Whenever I hear of someone's family visiting them I feel totally jealous! :) But I'm so glad that you had a great time with your sister - these moments are priceless I tell ya. I can imagine the kiddo cousins playing with each other. Cuteness overload!
    Is spring garlic the same as 'oli lasun'? The one traditionally used in undhiyu?
    I can bet the homemade laundry detergent works out much cheaper. I have to give it a shot.
    I'm in love with the kitty backpack. Lila is a lucky girl!

    1. I had not known that spring garlic is used in undhiyu but yes, it is the same thing! Makes sense, I remember green garlic being in season in Bombay during winter- prime undhiyu season.

      And look I found something on Meera's blog about how easy it is to grow:

      Laundry detergent is a dollar per gallon to make at home- huge bargain.

  4. Sorry to hear about your allergies. Mine have gotten worse in the last couple of years. I went to an ENT last year and the medicines help me see and breathe a little bit better. Just less than a month more. Hang in there is what I tell myself :)
    We did some travelling in April. First Washington DC and then Myrtle Beach. Had a great time. Hope to get some strawberry picking this month.

    1. Nikita- I'm sorry your allergies are getting worse- this year was my worst yet. But I'm so much better this last couple of weeks. How wonderful that you're traveling to fun places!

  5. Sorry to hear about the allergies :( Glad you had family visiting. It must have been the silver lining. Here is the list for april:
    cooking: tried some recipes from oh she glows cookbook and blog: chia chocolate pudding (absolutely delicious..I am hooked), pear oatmeal, kale salad (yum!).
    reading: mostly work related books on operating systems! Need to get back into a routine to read other books unfinished from last month.
    watching: Nothing much. our television remains switched off for days on end. It has been such a busy month that whatever little time we get we end up catching up with each other or playing with our baby. Watched 12 years a slave (movie) yesterday. Really good but kind of depressing.
    making: Made travel plans and executed them last week! Took a much needed vacation with our 7 month old to puerto rico. 1 week of lazing on the beach, swimming in the ocean and pigging out on the good food and even better coffee! And the fact that little A was a trooper (his first flight journey) was an added benefit!

    1. Neha- I have to try that chia chocolate pudding- it sounds wonderful. Operating systems don't sound that wonderful ;) but I am sure they are to you. I saw the trailer for 12 years a slave and knew right away that I could not bear to watch it.

      Your PR trip sounds wonderful and how fun that the baby enjoyed as well.

  6. What a happy list despite all the allergy troubles. You have my sympathies. My 3 yo has really bad hayfever too and it makes me feel just utterly helpless that I can't seem to do much about it. Just gotta wait it out (anti-histamines only do so much).
    Love your tulip purse - its so cute.
    Anyway onto my happy list -
    Cooking/baking - Getting my granola mojo back on now that spring berries are here. My fav recipe is adapted from Barefoot contessa (+/- the fancy nuts).
    On my list for this week
    - carrot cake from the blog "Orangette"( Have made it before sans frosting and its yum).
    - split Moong dal dosas (need quick dosa fixes, so trying this)
    - your idea of bisebele "khichdi" from a previous post - I went and bought the MTR paste last week :-)
    Making - a pinata and paper plate fish to hang up for my son's bday in 2 weeks - the bday boy and I are working on it together.
    Reading - Reading Lolita in Tehran - enjoying it so far. Emperor of Maladies is on my list!
    Happy May!! Hope the allergy symptoms start to wane soon.

    1. Prashanti- I hope your little one feels better- the symptoms must be so much more distressing when you're that young. You can't even sleep with that congestion. I make a big batch of granola every single week! Moong dal dosas sound wonderful. Let me know if you like the quick khichdi! Wishing your boy an early happy birthday and a really fun party.

  7. Oh my, those allergies sound dreadful. I hope they vanish with the onset of better weather ( and that, translates as dreadful, for me. HATE summer)
    I was just mentioning this to a friend a few days ago, we never heard of so many allergies in India, despite the pollution and all.
    You and your sister are really talented. Her backpack is super adorable and the placemat for Duncan is so nice!
    My list
    Cooking and baking:
    Cooking greens ( think, taakatla palak / methi , mudda bhaji) and yogurt- rice which is necessary with rising temps.
    Baking: cakes - birthday cakes for my friends sons celebrating their big day ( post coming up soon)
    Reading and watching: Madhur Jaffrey's Climbing the Mango trees ( almost done) , Joy the Bakers book on baking.
    Watching: still enjoying Midsomer Murders and I added breaking bad just a week ago to my list :)
    I also watch Marathi serials ;) Javai vikat ghene ahe, honar soon my hya gharchi and Asmita.

    1. Manasi- I can imagine that summer is awful in your neck of the woods. It is much the same here actually although last summer was very mild. Spring is so enjoyable but the allergies do dampen my enthusiasm.

      I want to cook more greens- you're reminding me to make those wonderful dishes. You are becoming quite the cake pro- love seeing your creations. Haven't read Joy the Baker's book yet but I read her blog now and then.

      Are you watching Marathi serials online?

    2. I bring a big box of spinach from sams. I have to finish it and so the spinach ends up in 'patal bhaji', sandwich, daal, paratha.:)

      I watch those serials online ( and Movies on - in case you want to check it out.

  8. Hope you feel better soon, Nupur, Lila's back pack is so cute! I went to Smoky Mountains with friends, it was a very nice trip. On way back, I learnt little more crochet with help from a friend and was very excited, as for past couple of months could not get time to do! I tried your green sauce enchilada, it tastes good, but hubby does not like sour flavor in enchilada much so until then your red sauce enchilada rocks, Started using tomatillo instead of tamarind in sambhar, it taste good, Happy May!

    1. My husband drove through the Smoky Mountains and was telling me how spectacular they are- but we haven't had a chance to go back yet. Good luck with the crochet! And tomatillo in sambar is a really yummy idea, I'll have to try that.

  9. Cooking and Eating
    - Kelphul bhaji: the only person I know who made this was my mother. Made this today after years - it’s been 10 years since my mother passed away and I m,are this today from a recipe she had emailed me a long time ago.
    - Homemade Samosa: made by my MIL. They were amazing
    - Homemade Pizza made by DH with arugula from the garden
    - Flavouring everything with cilantro from the garden - it is the most fragrant cilantro ever!

    - time to harvest the garden and plant for the summer
    - House Season 6 after a long hiatus.
    - Also Royal Pains - it is silly and wont recommend it. Harmless though
    - Enjoy Breaking Bad - we watched it diligently over
    - Sigh - nothing much this month. Really need to change this!
    - The company of my in-laws - good food, conversation and the children looked after as we work
    - My son’s account of his first job and his delight at receiving a paycheck and depositing it in the bank
    Recovering from a bout f flu that laid me low for a week. It has been a while since I was this ill. All better now

    1. Oh Vishakha I am glad you had a recipe from your mother. I don't think I've ever tasted kelphul bhaji. The pizza, samosas, fresh cilantro- you're eating well :)

      Congrats to your son on this huge milestone! Ah it is a unique and unforgettable feeling to get a paycheck that one has earned. Glad you're better from the flu.

  10. So sorry about your suffering, Nupur. Hope the allergy symptoms have passed now.

    I ADORE the Tulip bag, it's so unique and pretty. My daughter loves it too! I really admire your boundless energy and skill. And the Duncan placemat- that is the darlingest thing ever. Will definitely read The Emperor...

    My husband is currently hooked on BB! He didn't want to watch it initially- the description sounds bad, doesn't it?

    Haven't been cooking much. I need to get better about planning weekly meals and cooking healthy food. Sigh.....I am sending your laundry detergent recipe to my sister-in-law. She will love it. I would probably end up buying the ingredients and then they would sit around forever. :-(

    You must have some great memories and pictures of the two little cousins! Hugs to little Lila and Duncan. Wish you an allergy-free May. R

    1. I'm so much better now, R. The first half of this month was just miserable. Dunkie loves his placemat, I told my sister she was crazy, that he would rip it up in a day. But no, he carefully eats off it :) I hope your May is wonderful with lots of fresh and healthy food!

  11. Hi nupur, still waiting for spring and allergy season to kick in here. I tried the spring garlic from the farmer's market last year and put it into an omlette and a cheese sandwich with goats cheese.
    April was moving month for us - we moved to a nearby apartment but amazingly other stuff did get done- we must be getting pro at this moving business!
    Reading: murder on the cherwell- this is a vintage Brit classic that has been brought back into print. Isn't there something so precious about a piece of literature that might have been lost forever having life breathed into it again? It's set in early last century oxford in a girl's college- the misogynistic attitudes are quite eye-opening.
    Cooking lots of whole moong daal with red onions and ginger on my slow cooker.
    Watching: we relinquished TV ( yes even PBS) with the move. Have subscribed to Acorn TV. OMG it has an amazing british drama line up. Really enjoying it!
    Enjoying going to the local science museum with my girl.
    Happy may!

    1. Arpita- hope you like your new place! Moving is such a hassle especially with kids and their crap- you know what I mean. You are awesome with your vintage detective finds!!

      Acorn TV- haven't heard of it. Do I need more TV in my life ;) Have a wonderful May with your little girl!

  12. Wow, it must've been so fun having your sister there, it's the sweetest thing watching cousins together. How are your sister and you both so talented? My sis is very talented and in the creative field and I'm all thumbs.
    I'm totally with you on the allergies. Felt like this year was the worst yet. This is the first week I haven't had to take an antihistamine.
    I just finished reading A fault in our stars last night and at the end the author recommends reading An emperor of Maladies and now your post mentions it too! It's a must read now I guess :)
    We are eating mostly simple meals this week and next, trying to eat from the pantry and freezer. Made potato and chard bhaji for dinner last night with swiss chard from our backyard and the taste of just harvested vegetables is seriously something else.
    We are currently watching House of Cards and really enjoying it, a really good show. I think you'll like it. We finished Breaking Bad about a month ago. I'm also watching A Good Wife when I work in the kitchen and I've really enjoyed it.

    Looking forward to our trip to Disneyland in CA next week, first trip for us and excited to see my daughter's reaction.


    1. Anu- My sister is a LOT more creative than me and that's the truth. And yes, it was super cute watching the cousins together and Duncan in the mix. This is my first week off antihistamines too. Crossing my fingers...

      How weird- I read Fault in our Stars last month and Emperor of Maladies this month :) I have House of Cards and Good Wife on my list for TV once BB is done. Have lots of fun at Disneyland- how exciting!

  13. sounds like a wonderful month (inspite of the congestion- hope you are better!)
    And belated Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks so much Lavanya for the birthday wishes :) Yes, it was a wonderful month, even allergies could not ruin it.

  14. Thanks for the thought provoking read on breaking the cycle of social evils continuing to hold back Indian women...puts my "first world problems" in perspective..

    The cancer book is highly topical for me. A colleague recently received the dreaded C-diagnosis (although his was caught early and prognosis is good).So its definitely something that's been on the brain. ... After your post, I went and read excerpts of the Cancer book online and its fascinating reading..

    Gotta try the bruessls sprout rice.. a friend gifted me the Veganomicon and I always dip into it for inspiration.

    Lila's backpack.. Duncan's placemat.. Cuteness overload. I remember you posted your sis' business venture ..? Kala Koyree? Will look for the link again.

    1. Yes, isn't it sobering that the majority of girls/women still have an uphill battle for basic rights and freedoms? I'm sorry about your colleague- best wishes to him. I should go borrow Veganomicon again, it has some good recipes. My sis put her business on hold because she moved so Kala Koyree is dormant for now. But she continues to sew and create as she looks for a new venture!

  15. Thanks for all the yummy ideas. And allergies AYE AYE!! Suffering here in California as well. But you know what has helped me a lot this season? The good old Neti Pot. I had always heard about it but never tried it until a few days back when hubby adamantly told me to give it a try. I am so glad I did. I felt relieved just after one use and now bye bye anti histamines, hello Neti pot :) Hope this helps you too!

    1. Sonia- You know, I used to use a neti pot (well, a version of it, a syringe thing for nasal irrigation) for a long while but lately I've forgotten to use it. I should start again! I remember it did help a bit.

  16. I love your bag you made and your sister's craft - and the visit from your sister sounds wonderful. We are watching the Wire which has taken time to get into but is really developing into an interesting show. My reading has been curtis sittenfeld - have finished The American Wife and started Prep - highly recommend her writing if you haven't read her.

    1. I will look for Curtis Sittenfeld- thanks Johanna!

  17. Allergies.. get well soon!
    Liked Lila’s backpack and Duncan’ mat.. lovely creation.. I remember Kala Koyri right, very innovative.
    Isn't it cute watching baby cousins together, last time we had a similar get together with my cousin and her toddler we had too much of fun even they had dippped in a inside swimming pool in our balcony :) but during the course my son pulled his cousins hair in loving way but scared me to death and from then I just hold his hands when he around other babies or toddlers.
    I recollect The Emperor of All Maladies was published nearly at the same time when my dad passed away due to cancer, I really wanted to read it so added to my cart but never got the guts to buy n read, my personal baggage.
    I’m watching The Good wife got to know about the series somewhere in your earlier The List comments ;) Not great but Fine.
    I tried OHS onion chutney the one from Pedatha, we had it with dal dosa, loved it chutney without coconut.
    Waiting for some summery updates here on OHS :)

    1. Kanchan: I'm so sorry about your Dad. And it is perfectly understandable that this book would hit too close to home at this time. But later if you wanted to learn more about what this horrible disease is all about, the books tells it in a very compassionate and intelligent way.

      Glad you enjoyed the onion chutney! Yes, it is a nice change from coconut. By the way, toddlers pulling hair and hitting is all quite normal- they take turns doing it to each other.

  18. wow - that handbag is one of the prettiest I have seen! Lucky friend;)
    my sewing machine has not been used for atleast 4 months now, what with toddler and work. Time to change that!!:)

    1. You can always get back to it when you have more time- I've been doing these small projects 15 minutes here and there!

  19. Hi nupur,
    Hope u never get another allergy. A sure shot way to avoid allergies is to have a spoonful of organic local honey regularly. since the bees collect the bounty from flowers maybe it builds antibodies in our system (pollen contains a lot of allergens).

    1. I do eat local honey but it is far from being a sure shot cure from allergies!

    2. A wise doctor said that allergies are caused by anything in between the earth and sky including the earth and sky. Identifying the cause of the allergy helps to avoid it in the future but calls for some serious investigation. While in Bangalore the offending ingredient is pollen from the flowering trees in Delhi fine particles from harvests during the threshing season in neighbouring Punjab/Haryana cause havoc. Increasing the intake of vitamin c from natural sources like lemons and gooseberries boost the immune system. Also unleashing the healing powers of our minds/bodies can help. Will pray for your health and happiness dear. Do take care!

  20. I had a similar experience recently - so congested that I thought I couldn't breath. It was super scary. Hope you are feeling better now Nupur.

    All those handcrafted things look so cute!

  21. OMG! that placemat for Duncan is so adorable!


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