Sunday, September 26, 2021

My interview on a podcast, and 10th birthday fun

I have been blogging in this space for over 16 years, and have lost track of everything that the blog has given me- friends in different places, loads of goodwill, and opportunities to meet cool people and experience new things. The blog brought me another "first" a few months ago when a reader named Aditi emailed me and asked me to be a guest on the podcast she co-hosts with Natasha. 

It turns out that Aditi and Natasha were childhood friends in India. They both now live in the US and have stayed friends over the decades. Their conversations about life in the US turned into a podcast called Chai and Chat, in which they chat with their guests about bicultural and bilingual identities in America and swap cultural stories in a relaxed and informal way, just the way you would have a thoughtful discussion with a good friend over a cup of chai. 

I had never been a guest on a podcast and am pretty self-conscious about being interviewed, but after I listened to a few episodes of Chai and Chat, I wrote back and said I would be thrilled to meet with them. And so we had a zoom call (on a rainy Saturday, with me locked in the bedroom, hiding from the kids and hoping for some peace and quiet), and it was simply delightful. Aditi and Natasha are so warm and sweet, and they put me at ease right away. They are expert conversationalists, which is an art in itself. They know how to ask interesting questions, coax out stories and anecdotes from their guests, and steer a conversation into thoughtful territory. 

If you have 32 minutes and 10 seconds to spare, listen to the episode here. Our conversation was completely unscripted, impromptu and flowed in many directions. I'm a self-conscious speaker, often tongue-tied and riddled with verbal tics. I say "you know" 3 times in every sentence! You have been warned. If you're up for it, and want to hear the person behind this blog, go listen to the "Home on the range" (LOL) episode of Chai and Chat. And my huge thanks to Aditi and Natasha for inviting me on their podcast, and most of all, for their overall efforts in bringing new voices and stories into the world. 

* * *

Double digit excitement! The other big event in our life recently was that my daughter (whose birth I announced here) turned 10 years old. From being too small even for newborn sized onesies, she now wears the same shoe size as me. As they say, the days are long but the years are short. We celebrated her birthday in a small way, while giving her everything she requested- pizza and salad for dinner, an ice cream cake, and a sleepover with two close friends with pancakes the morning after. 

Even before the official party started, the birthday celebrations kicked off with a breakfast of pastries from a local bakery.

The pizza recipe was the crispy pan pizza from King Arthur flour. It is an excellent recipe with low effort and great results, and the recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed. I started the dough the day before the party, and made personal pan pizzas by rounding up a bunch of cake pans. Everyone got to choose their own toppings- olives, red peppers, onions and so on. I helped myself out by buying jarred pizza sauce and shredded cheese.

The pizza dough can be frozen, and prepared pizza itself can be refrigerated and reheated on a griddle. All this to say that this is a keeper recipe if you're looking to make pizza at home. 

Next up, the cake, or rather ice cream "cake". The birthday girl much prefers ice cream over cake and we looked at ice cream concoctions online as we planned her party. Ina Garten's ice cream bombe caught her eye immediately. Luckily, I own a set of nested glass Pyrex bowls which were perfect for assembling this. 

I made the bombe the weekend before the party- a big advantage of ice cream cakes is the make-ahead feature- and again, simplified things for myself by buying these three ice cream tubs. All that was needed was softening and assembly. I lined the big bowl with plastic wrap and when it came time to unmold the thing, I was glad I did that. 

I didn't get any great pictures (just that messy one below), but the ice cream bombe was a pretty grand dessert. Each wedge has mango sorbet, raspberry sorbet and strawberry ice cream, a refreshing combination of flavors and also pleasing to the eye.  This thing was about 16 servings. (We still have some in the freezer!) 

I will definitely make this again. In fact, we were brainstorming other flavor combos that would work. Raspberry sorbet, dark chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream would be nice. I would always keep the outermost shell a sorbet, because they freeze more solid than ice creams do, and make for better cutting of the bombe. 

After the sleepover, the kids were treated to chocolate chip pancakes with fresh berries. I used this recipe and the result was fabulous. 

With only 2 little guests and a birthday girl and a milestone birthday, I decide to put some effort into a party favor and made matching book pillows for the three girls. These are 18 x 18 inch throw pillows with a pocket in front, big enough to tuck some books and a flashlight, or maybe a diary and a pen, or a coloring book and a few markers, or some card games. They have a handle so you can take them on car trips or just from room to room. I used this pattern to make the pillows and was very pleased with how they turned out.

Tell me what podcasts you listen to, and what you have been making and cooking and eating!