Saturday, August 31, 2019

Oodles of Noodles, Bowl Dinners, and a Crafty Tee

August was the month of blistering heat and furious thunderstorms around here. Summer is typically the time for afternoon showers, no question, but it feels like we never have normal rain any more. It is either no rain or else rain that hammers down in sheets, flooding basements and uprooting trees. 

Half a world away, people in my hometown in India had to endure weather events on a much bigger, badder scale- Southern Maharashtra experienced historic monsoon rains and unprecedented flooding- with the resulting evacuations, water-borne diseases and colossal damage. 

Climate change is here, folks. I wonder how long we will live our carefree lives with abundant food. On a day to day basis, there are a few things I try to do- eat a mostly plant based diet, be a thrifty and vigilant cook so as to minimize food waste, and enjoy food but don't consume more than you need. Incidentally, that last point- that overeating is food waste- has led to a big mindset change for me in the last few months and I am healthier for it. 

Meanwhile in mid-August, our family saw the start of a new school year. Our meals were mostly simple affairs, centered on vegetables. You know how some people don't like their food "to touch"? They want each component of the meal to be separate. I am not that person. I like my food all mixed in together, nice and happy. Bowl meals are certainly trending in my kitchen and they lend themselves to piling on ingredients resourcefully, with a sauce, dressing or condiment to tie everything together. 

Here's a look at some recent bowl dinners:

An ingredient that's new to my kitchen this month is soybean spaghetti. I found it at Aldi's, a dried pasta made entirely of soybeans, making it a high-protein and high-fiber food. I tried it two ways- first as a quick noodle stir fry with vegetables, and the other as a cold noodle salad with a peanut sauce. It was wonderful both ways. 

While I make "regular" noodles often, once in a while my daughter begs and pleads for Maggi noodles and I give in. When we made it on a particularly rainy day this month, I put some cooked Maggi noodles on a bed of baked bok choy and tofu to make a complete meal. 

This bowl was a result of a fridge-cleaning exercise. I used up half of a can of coconut milk, some eggplants and the last of a bottle of Vietnamese curry powder to make a quick eggplant curry in the Instant pot. Then added to it some cooked rice, roasted mixed vegetables and a dollop of our favorite chilly crisp sauce.

Here's a bowl of salad converted to a meal by topping it with a slice of pizza and omelet strips

My favorite salad of the month was a rajma salad, made by tossing cooked kidney beans with chopped onions and tomatoes, cilantro, shredded carrots and a lemon-olive oil dressing.

I love these bean salads but really struggle with cooking beans perfectly so they are just tender and not falling apart. Mushy beans are fine in a curry but not as good in a salad. Clearly I need to tinker with reducing cooking times. 

* * *
I made this T-shirt for V for Fathers' Day- two embroidered hand prints from our son and daughter and one paw print from the dogly son, each with a little heart. This is a quick and satisfying project and needs very minimal embroidery skills.

Trace hands onto a water-soluble stabilizer (I used sulky-solvy). While not absolutely necessary, it makes the fabric easier to embroider. For Duncan, I tried to get a paw print but he would have none of it, so I measured his paw and drew it freehand on the stabilizer. Adhere the stabilizer onto a T-shirt following package directions.

Using chain stitch (or other preferred stitch), embroider around all traced patterns.

Soak the shirt in cold water to wash off the stabilizer. Ta da!

Finally, a pic of our urban wildlife:
A pair of fawns (nicknamed Holly and Rocky by the resident critter-namer)
visit our front yard nearly every day

Tell me your August highlights! 


  1. Dear Nupur
    Yes, weather patterns have been erratic and I did think of your parents in Kolhapur during the deluge..... and how is it that I agree with everything you say - mixed food - yum! Bowl meals - heaven! And I recently bought 2 types Barilla pasta made of red lentil ( masoor) and chickpea ( must be besan, right?) flour. You know, our low carb diet has helped us so much. Always been vegetarian but now enjoying my salads and soups more than ever! In August we did a tour of Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia and loved it. The temperatures were 38 degrees on all days - unbelievable!
    The T shirt you've made is simply genius! Love it. And to be visited by fawns! Incredible. Spring is in the air for us! Magpies, cockatoos and lauging kookaburras visit us. Rainbow lorikeets are in the sky. I saw the first mangoes of the season. Buying heaps of strawberries and blueberries.....feel so blessed. May Bappa bless you and your lovely family. Look forward to more posts from you.

    1. Hi Shubha! Thanks for the lovely note. I mentioned the Aldi brand but you are right that there are many brands these days of non-traditional bean based pastas. Like you, I am finding a huge benefit from a carb-controlled diet (won't say low carb, more like moderate carbs). Being insulin resistant, it is what works for my body. Your trip to Eastern Europe sounds absolutely lovely!

  2. Cute t-shirt, lovely deer and delish food. I really like all my food in a bowl together but I have a daughter who doesn't want her food touching - it is quite challenging to cook for both of us together - my best go is to cook components that she can have a mix them for me but I wish she would come around to bowl food!

    1. Johanna- I take the exact same approach as you, cooking components so that everyone can take what they like and mix it up or not. We have dinner plates with compartments and our kids (and visiting kids!) love eating off those. They will embrace bowl food as they get older, I am sure of it :D

  3. Recently came across this business in NJ called the curry tub emblazoned on a car... When I googled it out of curiosity, turns out it's a Chipotle style Indian restaurant that is based on the premise above. You like you're food all mixed in ? Why then get a curry "tub"! You like it all " separate separate " as we'd say I'm India, then you get the curry "tray"!

    Genius idea I thought. Have yet to try it out though.

    I think I can go with either depending on the mood but am more of a tub person LoL.

    1. Janani- LOL I'll take curry in tubs or trays or any way I can get it. A visiting friend was just telling me about a fast casual restaurant that was serving Indian bowl meals- where you choose the protein, choose the sauce (coconut, korma and stuff). She pointed out that Indian food has pretty complex flavors and not everything goes with everything, which makes this a bit hit or miss.

    2. Actually there was another such place in New Haven run by one Mr. Gopi which was very good actually. And yes you are right about the combinations...not everything goes with everything.byt luckily I suppose for most of us Indians , since we have a clue about our flavours we could get the standard ones.

      He had the pretty stabdardsauce combinations...curry Madras (coconut based), curry vindaloo ( spicy with red chilli spice and vinegary), Tikka masala et. Al.

  4. Global warming is as real as it gets. A lot of my aunts/uncles in Kolhapur were affected. Had to be evacuated. Hope your folks are doing fine now.
    The tshirt and the urban wild life is so heart warming. The only wild life we get here at ours are monkeys who are eager to eat whatever plants we have in the balcony. August went by setting up our new home and mostly getting my veggie garden up and ready in the balcony. Planted a bunch of stuff, fought some caterpillars, harvested lot of greens for salad! Overall a very green month :)

    1. Neha- I am sorry to hear your family members were evacuated because of the floods. Hope they are back home safely. Kolhapur has a lot of rolling hills and my parents' home fortunately is at an elevation so they were safe, but everyone was dealing with fuel shortages, school closings and things like that.

      How interesting that you see monkeys around! My kids would love that. I know that gardeners are less enamored of urban wildlife because they eat and destroy plants. Congrats on your balcony grown greens!

  5. Hi Nupur, I had posted a long(ish) comment here, but looks like it did not come through. Is it because those comments were made through my cell phone? Because I comment on all your posts.

    Anyway! I am a mix-it-all-in person too. My Father has this habit, I guess i picked it up from him, I like to flavor my yogurt rice with pickle or vegetables, or phodni, sometimes, even a little bit of amti. My father calls it chappan masala dahi bhaat. :))

    Just sharing my experience, with beans, I cook choley, rajma, kala chana in the IP and always use Beans mode (normal) and let the IP do its job. They are always cooked to perfection!

    Love the t-shirt. You are very talented.


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