Nov 26, 2014

The "No-TV" life

It's been more than 6 months since we canceled our DTH subscription. For those of you who are thinking of going down a similar path, let me share with you how this decision has positively impacted me and my family.

Early this year, hubby dear stopped watching TV. I used to watch a few serials in Star World / Zee Cafe or amble around, watching back-to-back recipe shows in Food Food. I get this time ONLY when the little one is asleep or when she is playing.  She used to watch her rhymes DVDs back to back the whole evening. We hadn't exposed her to Cartoon Network or Pogo channels.

Then one Monday morning, when D had gone to her play school, we shifted the TV inside a closet. When she came back from school, she wondered where the TV disappeared. We were glad she didn't throw a fit. The TV was in the closet for nearly 5 months before we decided to bring it back to get some space. We own a 29" CRT TV which is huge and occupied the entire closet. The TV is back but the DTH cancellation stays put.

There were 6 positive outcomes because of this conscious change we made in our lives:

1) I started to sleep on time. We switch off from our devices by 9 PM and hit the bed by 10 PM. Earlier, I used to watch a thrilling episode of Castle from 11 - 12 which would make my mind active and disturb my sleep.

2) I have got back to reading regularly, mostly in the evenings and before bedtime. In the last 6 months, I have read nearly 6 books. For voracious readers, that might sound very less but to me, it feels like a big achievement!

3) We have also started to buy more books, given that we aren't spending money towards monthly DTH subscription.

4) Our dinner time has shifted from 9 PM to 8 PM. I started to cook dinner early these days since I don't sit in front of the TV, channel surfing in the evenings as I used to do earlier.

5) Both husband and I feel more focused and our minds are relatively calm.

6) We do puzzles together or read story books with D after dinner. So that way, we get to spend quality time with her. Earlier, it used to be "Masterchef Australia" time :-)

D still watches her DVDs on TV but the time has significantly reduced, as she is bored watching the same rhymes repeatedly. Hubby and I sometimes watch our FRIENDS DVD collection when we want to have a good laugh. Other than that, TV remains a spot where our furniture is pointing at :-) (What a line, Joey!!)

Nov 23, 2014

Venturing into baking bread

2014 - An important year as I knocked off one of the items in my bucket list !! To experience the joy of baking, to smell the aroma of butter wafting from my new convection oven and spreading warmth and comfort all around. I have been trying out different variations of cakes, muffins and cookies. Some experiments turned out really awesome while some were average. Fortunately, there hasn't been any disaster so far (Love you all, food bloggers for your perfect recipes and drool-worthy clicks).

Baking bread was the ultimate pinnacle I had set for myself. For some silly reason, I was very scared to plunge into baking bread. Maybe, it's because of reading so many recipes that I feared my pav bun would turn into a rock or my bread loaf would turn into a brick. Every time, I passed the aisle that had yeast in the supermarket, I would look at it in anticipation, only to walk away after a few minutes. Early Aug, I took the "bold" step of purchasing a small pack of "Active dry yeast". It sat in my kitchen pantry for another 2 months before I decided "Enough is enough, lady! Give it a shot". I added a goal in my Weekly to-do list - "Bake bread"

One afternoon, I pulled out a pav bun recipe from my bookmarks list and followed the recipe exactly. It came out so good to my surprise. I was elated and thrilled. Soft, light and spongy. I made a small batch and we ate the buns with jam.

Now the initial success gave me confidence to try out a basic sandwich bread recipe. Bookmarks to the rescue again, pulled out a bread recipe and baked this bread loaf a couple of days back.

Recipe adapted from: thekitchn

1.5 tsp active-dry yeast
1/2 cup (118 ml) warm water
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 cups of all purpose flour / maida

In a bowl, mix yeast, sugar and warm water, until the yeast is dissolved. Place this bowl in a warm place (I kept it inside my oven) for around 15 minutes. It should have frothed up by now. You will see some air bubbles. If you don't, then do not proceed further. Buy a fresh pack of yeast and try later.

Melt the butter, add salt and milk. Mix well. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Add 2 cups of all purpose flour and mix together. If you are not able to knead and it's too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour at a time and continue kneading for 10-15 minutes. The dough should come together nicely and form a soft ball.

Keep this dough in a covered bowl in a warm place for 1 hour.

After an hour, the dough would have risen well. Punch the dough a little bit and knead for 5 minutes.

Grease a loaf pan with some butter/oil. Shape the dough into a rectangle, so it fits into the loaf pan. Press it lightly so it fits well into the corners. Cover the loaf pan with a wet cloth and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour. It should have risen to the brim of the loaf pan.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Carefully, remove the wet cloth. Apply a layer of milk on top of the risen dough.

Bake for 25 - 30 min. The dough will start to rise in the first 5 minutes but will take another 20 minutes to get the brown crust. Take it out once you see a nice brown layer on top.

Immediately, apply a layer of butter using a silicone brush. Let it cool completely before you slice them. Enjoy with a dash of butter and a sliver of jam.

Nov 1, 2014

Tea moment

He never had tea or coffee before we met. I have always been a big fan of my dad's filter coffee. Then something changed. I don't remember how and when exactly. Maybe, It was the Bangalore weather, it was the freshly brewed milk tea at the office pantry or it was the time we spent together, talking for hours and discovering each other in our office cafeteria. 12 years later, our mornings are never complete without a cup of chai. Life has changed, a lot….But this is one ritual I love to follow every morning, wherever it is.

There were days when we weren't buying a pack of milk everyday but still the tea would be prepared with milk powder. It didn't taste good but the beginning of the day with your loved one over a hot cuppa makes you feel alive. Then I discovered the art of tea making - a simple masala chai with milk. This has always been our favorite drink every morning for many years. We used to sit on the bed, spread the newspaper and sip tea slowly, chatting about something that happened at work or about a silly news in the paper or just being quiet with each other's presence. Whether it be a busy day ahead or an early start, we never skipped our morning tea. On days when I had to leave for my MBA classes at 7:15 AM, I would still take 30 min to prepare and sip tea. He used to wonder "Can't you skip tea on your MBA days atleast?". "No, never! I can miss breakfast but no tea", pat went my reply.

The routine of preparing tea the first thing in the morning still continues but very rarely we get to share the moment together. Our 3 year old daughter seems to have understood the connection her parents have with their morning tea. She wakes up exactly at the moment when hubby takes his first sip. Then he had to rush to her room to put her back to sleep (She doesn't allow mumma in, btw!). Even if we wake up early in order to sip tea peacefully, she can sense it with her radar and give a shout-out to her dad. So we end up having our special morning tea at different times or in different rooms. Hopefully someday she would realize and let us have our tea moment!! :-)

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