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The Orange Tiger with a Red Heart

Photo Credit: Chenthil

She had seen that tattoo before! If only she could remember where. There was something very familiar about it and yet every time she thought she’d got it, it escaped out of her clutches. She felt like she was chasing an imp in a gnarled forest filled with hidden places and a drifting mist.

Goddamn Imp! – she thought as he gave her the slip again. Maybe looking at the tattoo more closely might reveal something she thought. Trying to manoeuver crookedly over the basin she tried to get closer to the mirror, peering over her shoulder she squinted at her shoulder in the mirror trying to see something she might have missed before.

Trying to ignore the pain in her neck and strain to her eyes she stared hard at the tattoo. It was a simple tattoo, nothing flashy about it. No intricate designs, symbology or mythological characters. It was just the outline of a tiger filled in orange colour holding out a heart coloured red. Something about the tiger looked familiar, like it was a part of her life, something she saw almost everyday.

‘Gawd, first imps, now tigers, all this running around is tiring me out’, with that thought she slowly slid to the floor and leaning back on the door she stared at the pot. ‘Where did that black spot come from?’ she tilted her head puzzled. ‘Ah! The goobe had decided to change sides when putting out his cig it seemed’. One mystery solved her mind went back to the tiger while her eyes bored down on the spot willing it to disappear.

Orange tigers, where had she seen that. Tigers were supposed to be yellow, were they also mellow? Her mind went down a tangent, as she contemplated the poetry sprouting from her mind. Where did the mellow come from? Was the bathroom with its colours of orange and ivory that was brought out the word mellow. Was this bathroom mellow. Is this what mellow meant. So many words in her head that was just descriptions from a dictionary, now one had real meaning. But was this really mellow, could orange be mellow.

‘Ah, orange.’ She was thinking of something orange before going down the mellow road, what was it. Then it came to her, an orange tiger, there was only one orange tiger she knew – Hobbes. But what the hell was Hobbes doing on her back and that too holding a heart. Where was Calvin?

Knock, knock. ‘Hey, you been in the loo a while, you alright?’

He he, talk of the devil. ‘Yeah baby, all fine, just stoned.’

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

November 17, 2013   4 Comments

Back to My Bed and The Masters of the House

Photo Credit: Chenthil

I’ve been away from the blog for over a month now. Sorry for disappearing without notice. If you missed me, big hugs to you :) If you didn’t miss me, then I guess a hug won’t matter either 😛

Over the last couple of years it’s become a ritual that I take a holiday of my own every year. I take time off from the house, dogs and husband. This is my time and my space, completely; I love it and look forward to it.

This year things just fell in and out of place and a plan to see Historic Delhi emerged. Making a plan to travel to Mumbai to meet up with my travel partner and then head out to Delhi I booked tickets and that was that. I then got busy wrapping up everything here before I left. I almost managed all to-do’s before I left but missed the blog 😛

Cutting it, I made it to the train and was in Mumbai before I knew it. Mumbai is a city close to my heart. It’s the city that has most of my family and over the years a lot of friends too. I love the pace, the people, the life, colours and smell of the city. It sets my pulse racing. A week in Mumbai and plans changed. Ms. Partner couldn’t join me due to medical crazyness and I headed out alone to Delhi.

I had a blast in Delhi, but that doesn’t even start to describe it. I immersed and soaked myself in history and architecture. Spent hours gazing at tomb roofs and running my hands on walls as I imagined the Mughals and Sultans walking these corridors and touching those same walls a couple of hundred years ago. The things the Syaid’s, Lodi’s and Mughal’s built with just mud and stone, blew my mind. The symmetry in their architecture just left me in awe with my jaw dropping. More on it in the travelogues I’m going to write about my Delhi trip. It’s been ages since I wrote a travelogue. Kick me if I don’t get it done, please. :)

On returning hubby gave me four (yeah 4) hours to unpack and repack before we headed out on a week long road-trip with friends. After rock, mud and white plaster, I now soaked up the green as we wound our way to Chennai via Kovalam, Thenmalai, Kuttralam, Kovilpatti, Dhanushkodi and Pondichery. Oh boy was this trip fun, from F1 driving to beaches galore, it had it all.

Photo Credit: Chenthil

Truthfully I didn’t feel like returning, but I think it’s the dogs that brought me back to reality. I missed the brats through my trip and couldn’t wait to get smothered by them. Back from the trip I promptly fell sick, I guess I should be greatful it didn’t happen on holiday. But it did make the settling back in with the dogs also returning a bit difficult.

Present: I’m doing much better now, though got a few more days to go to full power, the dogs are back to being masters of the house and it feels great to sleep in my bed again after all this while.

Photo Credit: Chenthil

So much catching up to do, I don’t know where to start. Got a lot of books lined-up to read too while I’ve been gone. Authors: If I have one of your books on my TBR and I haven’t reviewed it yet. Please be patient I’ll get to it soon. I promise before the New Year 😀

This time off helped me a lot with clearing my mind and giving direction to my thoughts. I now plan to shift this blog of mine to a new domain [expect to get a reminder soon 😀 ], it’s going to get re-done with a better layout, pages, etc. There’s also a new series I’m planning. Got a lot planned and fingers crossed 😀

If you have any suggestions for my blog, can help me with the gyan on moving my blog, working with wordpress and bloggy stuff please leave me a note in comments. I’d appreciate all the help I can get. These are uncharted waters for me :)

Ok, enough about me and my mysterious disappearance :P, it’s going to take me a while to read all your missed blog posts. So, what have you been upto?

November 11, 2013   No Comments

Book Review: English Bites! by Manish Gupta

Title: English Bites!
Author: Manish Gupta
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (December 21st 2012)
Genre: Non-Fiction
Read: Paperback
Stars: ****/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Goodreads)

English Bites! My Fullproof English Learning Formula is the story of a man who goes from being tongue-tied in school to becoming a smooth talking banker. Through a series of hilarious personal adventures and misadventures, Manish Gupta provides easy solutions to problems faced by language learners. So, whether you’re a vernacular speaker, a GRE/ GMAT/CAT/XAT aspirant or just a language nut, English Bites! will expand your vocabulary and improve your verbal ability. It may even help you love the English language a little more!

My Review:

Thanks Manish Gupta for offering me your book to read and review :)

Cover: Simple, bright and eye-catchy!

Paper and font: Ebony on Old Ivory :)

Readability, language: Easy on the eyes but maybe not the mind.

Why did I choose this book: English with it’s innumerable number of words has always fascinated me but learning and remembering those words has always been difficult.

There are scores of books written on learning the English language and I’ve read my fair share over the years but English Bites! is the first book I’ve read that talks about someone’s journey in learning English while still teaching me a lot about it. Manish Gupta takes us down the path he followed starting out in an English medium school as he tried to wrap his mind around the English language gaining a proficiency that finally resulted in a book. The book covers not only words but also tips and tricks that help learn and remember words and usage.

English Bites is an appropriate title as it has multiple meanings through the book – from the painful episodes of getting language wrong to Gupta’s bite-sized bits of information. The cover is simple and bright with the orange jumping out at you and grabbing your attention. The blurb does justice to the book in terms of what to expect.

The plot (if there is one) is a simple one with Gupta as the main protagonist as he fights his way through understanding and learning a language that is constantly growing with the acceptance of numerous new words from various sources where the meaning may not always be what it seems.

The book is laid out well with meanings of words either explained in the text or as foot notes. Gupta has also included illustrations and expansions that help understand concepts better.

When I started reading the book, it felt like a drag and I couldn’t seem to read more than two pages at a time. It took me a while to realise that, that was because I couldn’t control my curiosity; I kept jumping to the foot notes to read about the words, sometimes even the ones I knew. The jumping about of course meant that I was constantly losing track of where I was in the story and had to go back and re-read parts. Once I got my curiosity under control and I accepted that reading two-odd pages at a stretch was ok, I started making progress.

English Bites! is one of the few books I have taken so long to read – 47 days! After my initial struggle I quickly realised that this book was perfect for my ‘on the pot’ reading. It was a great way to start my day as I could then spend my day mulling over the new words I learned and trying to use them through the day. I kind of believe in the saying that you have to use a word thrice correctly to make it your own.

The first half of the book is about Gupta’s initial journey into learning English with lots of helpful tips like using mnemonics, limericks, rhymes, alliterations, and trivia to learn and remember words and their usage. Some of these were really interesting or wacky and I’m sure to remember them over time, like did you know the largest eggs are not those of an ostrich but a shark or that an easy way to remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites is that stalactites grow from the roof so they have to hold on tight and stalagmites, grow from the floor and might just make it to the roof.

He also goes into types of words like isograms, palindromes, etc. and fun with words, letters and meanings like pointing out that the word ‘set’ has ’58 noun uses, 126 verb uses and 10 uses as an adjective’.

In the second half Gupta starts to focus on areas like medicine, food, coffee, etc. as he explores the words used in these arenas. I learned a lot of new words here like – abdominoplasty, chummery, hyperpagia, circumlocution, consanguine, patronymic, etc. along with learning the history or etymology of some words like expresso.

In the last chapter Gupta loops back to complete his story and renew his learning curve with new words from the mouth of a babe. At 344 pages English Bites! seems long but the end came as a surprise to me; I was looking forward to learning more.

Over all the book is well written and quite detailed. English Bites! will definitely help anyone who wants to get better in English no matter whether it’s just casual interest or a study for exams, however it will take a few reads before you make a dent in your English vocabulary. This book is going to permanently reside on my ‘pot reading shelf’. 😀

About the Author:
In my short life I think I’ve meant too many people of numbers (finance guys) who are in love with letters. It baffles my mind, numbers and letters don’t go together in my head. Manish Gupta adds to my list by being a banker. Hailing from Rajasthan, he has studied in Chandigarh and Jamshedpur, and currently lives in Mumbai with his wife and daughters. You can connect with Manish on the English Bites! facebook page.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

September 24, 2013   2 Comments

How to Make Your Dog a Chew Ring Toy From Old Pajamas

Cuckoo: Can I keep both?

Today is not such a good day for me both physically and mentally. Mentally I’m just tired and physically I’m in a lot of pain. Got a heat boil on my butt thanks to the heat this week and almost every movement causes pain, especially sitting 😀

But that’s not what my post is about. A couple of days back I came across Donna Hill’s video on making toys with cloth and wanting to distract myself today, I figured I’d make some doggie toys. I love getting the dogs toys, it’s such fun to see them play and get excited. But good strong toys for the dogs are fairly expensive and so here’s where DIY comes in.

Here’s Donna’s video on Making FREE tug and chew toys for puppies and dogs of all sizes.

Now Donna talks about using old sheets and that I didn’t have but I did have a couple of my old pajamas that I loved so much, I wore them until they got holes in them. So here’s how to make a chew ring toy with old pajamas.

The pajamas I had were of banyan material.

Cut the elastic bit off first. Then cut along the joint to separate the two legs. You could also do this by opening the stitching but I took the easy route. :)

Cut each leg along the sides or seams to get four strips of cloth.

Cut off the fork area to roughly even out the strips.

Knot two strips together, pulling the knot as tight as you can. This will make sure it doesn’t unravel easily when the dog is playing with it.

Keep tying knots with the strips to make a rope. Alternate the sides when tying to get a cleaner finish and even cloth consumption. (I did this with the second and I think it looks better.)

When you have about four inches of cloth left, add another strip to one of the 4 inch pieces and knot it as before to secure it. Kind of how you do it when braiding and adding hair or lace.

Add the last strip on the other side and tie a knot again as before. Make sure that the old and new strips are knotted together at least twice. i.e. they should both be there in two knots. This will create a little bulge in the center with cloth sticking out that will add texture to the toy.

Continue knotting until you have four inches of cloth left.

Pass one strip through between the first and second knot to make a ring. Tie the strips off with a double knot to close the ring.

And voilà! there’s your chew ring toy.

Cuckoo immediately approved of it by running away with it 😀

You could dip the ring in chicken broth, squeeze out and freeze before giving it to your dog to create hours of chewing. Remember though that you should always supervise play as some dogs can chew through anything (like my Senti) and sometimes they swallow the pieces too. Stuff getting blocked in their intestines isn’t something you ever want to experience.

What I really like about the toy is that it is machine washable. :)

I made two of the toys since I had two pajamas. Here’s the SpongeBob SquarePants Chew Ring Toy. Sorry you can’t see much of Bob, but this pajama was one of my favs. 😀

If you have material for two rings you could also loop one into the other before closing the ring to get an interlocked ring toy that you can play tug with too. I needed two rings for two dogs, but I’ll be trying to make that an interlocked one soon.

Have you made any toys for your dogs? What do you recommend I try next?

August 31, 2013   2 Comments

Book Review: Romi and Gang by Tushar Raheja

Title: Romi and Gang
Author: Tushar Raheja
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: Pirates Publishers(May 1st 2013)
Genre: Childrens Books
Read: Paperback
Stars: **/5
Buy On: FlipKart | Amazon
Summary: (Goodreads)

Unruly and reckless, thirteen-year-old Romi is the hero of his universe. His great affinity for adventure and the unknown is shared by his gang – the rascal Sukhi, the deadpan Sunny, the naïve Golu and his blood brother, Kim.

When legendary Kim disappears from Mauji, it is left to the four to conquer the maidan with cricket and the world with their wits. Of course, they must prepare for responsibility in between and, one day, go after Kim.

My Review:

Thanks to the Pirates for offering me this book to read and review :)

Cover: Eye-catchy!

Paper and font: So-so.

Readability, language: Easy language but it could have been more readable.

Why did I choose this book: It’s been ages since I read a children’s book.

Romi and Gang is a story of four school friends and the game of cricket. Each child dreams of being a Sachin Tendulkar, Viv Richards, or some other famous cricketer but life doesn’t play out that simply. Like a game of cricket, life throws a lot of googlies at the boys in the town of Mauji. Playing cricket on the maiden the boys dream of bringing back the lost pride of their school by winning the Eagle – a inter-school cricket trophy. How it all pans out and what happens in the crucial match is the story.

The cover illustration is an eye-catchy picture of children running that reminded me of some children’s books I’d read ages ago and the title reaffirms that. The blurb, well, I wouldn’t say it’s well done but neither is it bad, lets just say it’s so-so.

The plot of ‘Romi and Gang’ was new to me since I’ve not read a lot of cricket based books however the story does have more to it that cricket. There are a lot of sub-plots as Romi and his friends Sukhi, Sunny and Golu face challenges through the school year both at home and school. Then there is Kim, a character much talked about but never seen. Raheja has a lot of sub-plots in the story but I’m not sure if all of them were necessary.

Set in the small town of Mauji, Raheja has done a good job of describing the town. In my minds eye I could see the boys race down the market street knocking in to people and things as they raced against each other. It was also easy to imagine the maidan and the forest that eats up balls as they played cricket.

‘Romi and Gang’ has a fair number of characters if you include the families and teachers of the boys too. The story however largely revolves round Romi and his friends. The boys are easy to associate with as I sure knew a few boys like them as a kid. Romi is a typical 13 year old with his confused emotions and thoughts. Sukhi, Sunny and Golu are so like the friends we all have, quirky and wonderful. Then there is Kim, the boy all the boys look up to and who Romi considers a blood brother. A lot is spoken about him and his prowess, and I was looking forward to him making an entry but, he doesn’t. :(

‘Romi and Gang’ has a good story however I wasn’t happy with the way it is written. Raheja went all over the place without warning and jumped places and situations at random, leaving me all confused with most of the story. It was only towards the end, when the cricket match was looming that I could make sense of the story and that part of it was good. There are also a few loose ends in the story, Kim for one. I know I’ve been repeating myself but if you have a character that is talked about through the book, you should either give him entry or close the loop. I don’t have Romi stuck so much in my head as I have Kim.

The book also has illustrations which I liked, a good artist (Biswajit Das) but I found at least one illustration wrong. In one scene Romi tackles a tantric and pins his neck down with his legs. In my head I could so see this that the illustration of Romi holding the tantric with his hands at the throat made me go back and reread the text. The illustration felt so wrong. A little more attention to detail would have been nice.

Over all the story is a good one but I’m not sure if it’s clear and simple enough for children. Or maybe I didn’t see it’s simplicity and clarity because I’m not a kid. Either ways the language used and the topic chosen will definitely work for boys. What’s with the cricket craze in boys/men? There are other sports you know which are just as much fun.

If you have a son or are buying a book for a boy, ‘Romi and Gang’ might be worth a shot.

About the Author:
Tushar’s website is under-construction and his Facebook page says “When you read something like – TR is a bestselling author, mathematician, guitarist, musician, photographer, blah and more blah – be reminded that the tareef may just be written by him.” So if you want to know more about him, you better ask him. All I do know is that Romi and Gang was earlier published by Roli Books in 2011 under the title ‘Run Romi Run’ and that Tushar Raheja has also written another work of fiction, titled ‘Anything for You Ma’am’. 😀

Buy On: FlipKart | Amazon

August 29, 2013   No Comments

Review: Romeo & Juliet – No Strings Attached: The Play by Tahatto

Last evening I went to watch the play ‘Romeo & Juliet -No Strings Attached’ at Rangashankara and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. Now I’m no expert on plays and haven’t seen a lot of them in my life either so please, take this review with a pinch of salt or if you so like, a bucket of it.

On Monday morning I was reading Bangalore Mirror and killing time when I saw a familiar face in a play announcement. Since the paper didn’t list names of characters or give much detail on the play, I went like most of us do these days to google.

As it turned out not only was a good friend was one of the characters but the play also sounded interesting. Here’s what the Rangashankara site had to say about the play –

“Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is beyond just a love story. It’s a story of choices and their consequences. This play ‘Romeo and Juliet – no strings attached’, takes off from there. Set in a puppet theatre, 4 actors playing puppets, break off their strings, in an empty theatre after their daily show and perform their own version of the Bard’s play. The version they play out is irreverent, toungue-in-cheek, replete with pop-culture references, Bollywood and inherent Indian sensibilities.
Every scene from the original play gets peppered with layers of modern-day issues, idiosyncrasies and relevant parallels although most of Shakespearean dialogue is largely kept intact. Most importantly, unbeknownst to the puppets, the theme of choices, strings, restrictions and decisions seems to weave its own story in their lives.

‘Romeo and Juliet – no strings attached’ is also the Winner of the Hindu Metroplus Playwright of the Year Award – 2012, and featured in the Hindu Metro Plus theatre Fest 2013 in Chennai and Coimbatore.”

Puppets doing an interpretation of Romeo & Juliet sounded interesting and I figured why not, so off I went to book tickets.

Now for some details on the play. ‘Romeo & Juliet – No Strings Attached’ is a 90 minute play directed by Prashanth Nair and performed by the Tahatto troupe from Bangalore. It’s listed as a English-Hindi play but I think I did hear some Kannada too. :)

The play started off with four puppets – Champak, Panauti, Nautanki and Stringeri coming to life and doing a play of their choice – Romeo & Juliet, after some arguing of course. They divide the characters among three of them while the fourth sets it all to music and song. Champak plays Romeo while Panauti and Nautanki play a host of other supporting characters and Stringeri like I said early makes music and reminds characters to get back to the story.

Though the play largely sticks to the age-old story of love, the puppets step out of it a lot and make their own story. And that was the fun part for me. The puppets questioned the story, made references to events and news, impersonated famous people and generally had fun outside of Romeo & Juliet. It was a laugh riot. I hadn’t laughed so much in a while.

That said, I did come across a few people who found it lacking. Now the play is a slap-stick in-your-face comedy so if you’re looking for something slow, dramatic and witty, this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for fast-paced, witty, hilarious and fun, ‘Romeo & Juliet – No Strings Attached’ is a play to watch.

The puppets had great comic timing and I was in splits most off the time, but a little bit of the latter half when Juliet dies is a bit draggy and preachy, though with Juliet gone the puppets pick up pace again.

Of the four my favourite puppets were Panauti and Nautanki. Panauti speaks his mind, has a clear heart and says what he means. His simpleness, naivete and sheer cheek make you fall in love with him. Then there’s Nautanki with his gruff exterior that harbours a soft heart. He’s like that pushy bully who buckles and gets all sheepish when the right buttons are pressed. Panauti and Nautanki made for some fun moments.

Champak plays Romeo well but somehow he didn’t make such an impact on me and neither did Juliet, except for when she launched into a ‘women being ignored’ speech. That leaves us with Stringeri who hasn’t a part to play in Romeo and Juliet but his music and cues work like glue to keep it all together.

Just in case you wanted to know the cast –
Stringeri: Christopher Avinash
Nautanki: Shashank Purushotham
Panauti: Anshul Pathak
Champak: Tijul Ray
Juliet: Kalyani Nair

Summing it up, I enjoyed the play. If ‘Romeo & Juliet – No Strings Attached‘ by Tahatto is being performed in your city, don’t miss it. The play promises a fun-filled evening and delivers.

August 28, 2013   No Comments

Baking For my Dogs – How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Over the last year I’ve been experimenting with baking and trying my hand out at the oven. Some recipes that turned out well I’ve shared like pizzas, sponge cake, … but some I’m still figuring out. Need to get that Rum Rich Plum Cake recipe down to pat.

Anyway, a downside to all that wonderfully smelling baking was the dogs giving me doleful looks and I feeling all guilty for withholding that piece of cake. So I figured I’d make them something that they can eat. Yep, I thought it was that simple.

Online research found me some quick and easy recipes but it also brought up questions like – is flour(maida) good for dogs?, what could I substitute for flour?, how could I make healthy treats?,… This took me more time to figure out. After a fair bit of reading and talking to various people, here’s what I found out.

Plain Flour(maida) is bad for dogs and best not given. It can be substituted with whole wheat flour, however some dogs are allergic to gluten (and it seems the number are rising) so you need to try it out and see how your dogs fair.

Another option is coconut flour. Until recently I had heard only good things about coconut products for dogs (google coconut flour for dogs), however recently I heard of one Vet who said it’s not good for dogs. My vet though says it’s good. So well, you figure.

From what I read though coconut products seem to be working wonders in most dogs. My Cuckoo loves coconut, (you should see her excitement when she hears us breaking them) and she’s not had an issue with it yet. Of course I give it moderate amounts. That said, getting coconut flour wasn’t easy and I’d been hunting for it until Vidya tipped me off about Heather’s Coconut Flour recipe. That one was easy to make at home but I didn’t get much flour out of it.

The last option as of now that I’ve found is oats. Oats come in various forms like rolled oats, quick oats and instant oats. According to the book ‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen‘ by Harold McGee the main difference between the types of oats is their texture, thickness and cooking times. They can usually be substituted for each other as all oats have the same nutritional value.

Each type of flour also has it’s own unique properties, oat flour contains an essential fatty acid GLA (gamma linolenic acid) that’s important in the body’s production of favourable eicosanoids (PGE1 – prostaglandins). Oats is also proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease. Coconut flour on the other hand is a good source of protein, iron, fiber and it is ‘low-carb’. Coconut also contains the fatty acid Lauric acid, which boosts the response of the immune system in the body.

Something to keep in mind for all substitutions is that each flour has different properties and so the quantities you need will vary and cooking times will change. You’ll have to try and test your way to the right proportions. Also some flours don’t work all by themselves, like oats used alone will not hold together and rise well so it’s best to use it in combination with other flours.

If you’d like to read more about flours and dogs, Susan Leisure’s article ‘What Type of Flour Is Good for Dogs?‘ is a good start point.

After all that research and figuring out, I went hunting for recipes that had coconut flour and oats. I decided to start out with The Fonte’s Paleo Dog Biscuits Recipe with Carrots & Coconut,  but I found a few others too that I liked and pinned for later.

I made some changes to the original and added oats, here’s my take on it.

How to Make Carrot, Oats and Coconut Dog Biscuits

Ingredients –
(makes around 200 gms)

225 grams crudely chopped carrots
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coarsely ground oats
1/4 cup fresh coconut
2 eggs
Coconut oil

Method –

1. Preheat oven to 175 C.

2. Grind the coconut and carrot to a smooth paste.

3. In a bowl mix the paste, oats and coconut flour well.

4. Add eggs to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.

5. Pour the mix into a piping bag. (I improvised with a washed milk packet)

6. Prepare a tray with greased butter paper. (Best to use coconut oil for this if you have it, else use sesame or olive oil)

7. Pipe little blobs onto the tray keeping enough distance between the biscuits. The size of the biscuit is up to you. I wanted them small as that way I can use more of them while training without giving the dogs too much of it.

8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops get golden brown.

9. Remove and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

10. Remove the lil cookies from the paper and store in an air tight jar.

Note: I did try to make them crunchy by drying them out as much as possible but they just got soft again. I think it might have to do with the egg but I’m not sure. Do you know?

My dogs loved the cookies and they are working like a charm while training. They’re depleting fast too, which might not be a bad thing considering that I don’t know how long biscuits with eggs last outside of a fridge.

Update: The biscuits/cookies lasted about a week in an air-tight jar before I started to see fungal growth. Storing them in the fridge is one thing I can do to make them last longer. Anything else you’d suggest?

Have you baked for your dogs? What’s your take on coconut flour and oats? Any favourite recipes I should try?

August 19, 2013   No Comments

How to Make Benne Biscuit or Butter Biscuit

A couple of weeks back I got the recipe to make Benne Biscuit or Butter Biscuit from a friend but something kept coming up and I just couldn’t get any baking done. Couple of days back though I got my fix with a full day of baking. I baked over 100 biscuits (Mom was having a family lunch and wanted some for tea) and even managed to bake some cookies for the dogs. 😀

The biscuits turned out beautifully and everyone loved them. (Thanks @Kavitz for the recipe.) The recipe’s easy to follow and the biscuit dough is quick to make, of course baking takes ages but when something good is baking, it always feels like that, doesn’t it 😛 The biscuits also have besan and sooji in them and that makes for less maida which I really like, as it makes the biscuits more healthy.

Alright, a quick note before I get to the recipe. Below is Kavitha’s recipe but I’ve played and tweaked with the method a bit so, if you get good results it’s Kavitz’s doing and if not, it’s mine :) Well, not really, maybe bad biscuits just means you need to try again 😛

Benne or Butter Biscuit

Ingredients –
(Makes around 20-24 biscuits)

1/2 cup or 115 gms butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (based on your sweet tooth)
1/3 cup maida (all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup fine rava (sooji, semolina)
1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/4 tsp baking powder
Optional: Add 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Dry fruits like almonds, cashew, pista, walnut, raisins, etc.

Method:

1. Lightly roast the rava on a small/medium flame until it changes colour to off-white.

2. Crush or grind the sugar to get a mix of powder and crushed crystals. A baker once told me the secret to sugar in baking was adding it as crystals to butter and letting them melt while baking to add air to the biscuit or cake. However the regular sugar I get from the shop has big crystals that do not breakdown in the butter creaming process or fully melt in the baking so I crush them. If you’re using ‘Parry’s’ sugar crushing may not be required as the crystals are already small.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

4. Cream the butter a bit in a bowl before adding the crushed sugar. Continue creaming until the butter lightens to lemon yellow and gives off this lovely buttery smell. :) For biscuits I usually cream by hand and that means a good 20 minutes of creaming so I take breaks and do it in four parts or more. 😛

5. In another bowl add the maida, besan, rava and baking powder (and cardamom if you wish). Mix them well to get a uniform mixture.

6. Add the flour mix to the creamed butter and knead to make a soft dough.

7. Prepare a baking tray lined with greased baking paper.

8. Make little patties out of the dough. I used a 1/2 tsp measure to get similar sized biscuits. Roll and slightly flatten the balls before placing them on the tray.

9. I didn’t land up using dry fruits but at this point you can add shredded dry fruits to the top of the patties. Push them half into the biscuit to make sure they don’t burn at the top.

10. Bake the biscuits for about 13-15 minutes. If you like your biscuits being a bit moist in the center, remove them from the oven when golden. If you like them dry and crisp leave them in a minute extra so they get a touch of brown before you remove them.

11. Allow them to cool on a wire rack and then eat to your hearts content :)

I’m always on the look out for healthy biscuits; that way I don’t have to worry too much about Che’s middle of the night binges. Have you made any healthy biscuits lately? Any biscuits that I must try baking? Any suggestions at all? :)

August 18, 2013   No Comments

Book Review: The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

Title: The Homing Pigeons
Author: Sid Bahri
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: Srishti Publishers (April 10th 2013)
Genre: Romance
Read: Paperback
Stars: ***/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Goodreads)

In the middle of the catastrophic 2008 recession, Aditya, a jobless, penniless man meets an attractive stranger in a bar, little does he know that his life will change forever…..
When Radhika, a young, rich widow, marries off her stepdaughter, little does she know that the freedom that she has yearned for is not exactly how she had envisioned it…..
They say Homing Pigeons always come back to their mate, no matter where you leave them on the face of this earth. Homing Pigeons is the story of love between these two unsuspecting characters as it is of lust, greed, separations, prejudices and crumbling spines.

My Review:

This book review is a part of “The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program”. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.

Cover: Easy on the eyes.

Paper and font: Smell-worthy Ivory and Ebony :)

Readability, language: Easy on the mind.

Why did I choose this book: The premise sounded interesting.

This is the love story of Radhika and Aditya who meet as children and part, to meet again and part again, and then meet again and live happily ever after. Simply put that’s it. But the story also delves into the lives, situations and emotions of Aditya and Radhika as they cross paths through their lives. Aditya’s who has a successful career in banking, loses his job and is down in the dumps until his life takes a sharp turn, when forced into a sticky spot, he becomes a gigolo. Radhika marries twice for love but not the man she loves and has it all but still feels empty. A rich single woman again, she has nothing to do with her time and life until she discovers herself.

The cover is pleasing to the eye with soothing colours that hint at coming darkness and the blurb is vague yet catches interest and made me want to read the book. The title at first glance seemed appropriate for a book about two people drawn to each other constantly though life however after reading ‘The Homing Pigeons’ I felt Radhika and Aditya were different, unlike pigeons they weren’t trying to get together, life brought them together.

The plot is the old simple one about lovers who are separated by circumstances in life and how they finally come together in the end to live happily ever after. However Bahri adds a lot more to the story as he delves into the lives of Aditya and Radhika exploring the stigmas and tribulations of being a gigolo in India, the life of rich women in high society and the emptyness of being a young rich widow.

Set in present-day Delhi all Bahri said was believable for me from the little I’ve seen of Delhi and all the stories that I’ve heard over time. The picture he drew of Delhi’s various shades and colours wasn’t very different from what I had seen and imagined and I found myself identifying with a lot of characters.

Radhika and Aditya are the main characters and they are strong however I felt Aditya was made more of an impact. Radhika I felt for and associated with but she lacked punch, there was that something missing. Bahri also has a few other supporting characters who play their roles well but none of them are really memorable.

The story is told by present-day Aditya and Radhika as they reminisce their history in little bits until it all falls together at the end. Bahri doesn’t leave any loose ends in his story and plugs all the niggling gaps by the end. This is a story where within the first few pages you know just how the two protagonists will meet in the end and yet you read on to see how the cards will play out. The story is interesting but I do wish Bahri had written a shorter book and got to the point quicker.

All said and done ‘The Homing Pigeons’ is a book worth reading at least once. Though I’d recommend it for adults only considering the subjects it explores.

About the Author:
Born in Gauhati, Assam in 1978, Siddartha Bahri spent most of his childhood and youth in Chandigarh and Delhi. Starting out as a tele-calling executive he grew to become a General Manager before quitting the corporate world and settling down in the hills of Kumaon. He currently lives in Majkhali with his wife. ‘The Homing Pigeons’ is Sid Bahri’s first book. You can connect with Sid on his website www.sidbahri.com.

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

August 15, 2013   No Comments