Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Basic Curing Techniques & Care Tips for Traditional Earthen Pots



Cooking food in clay pots is part of many cultures worldwide. In Kerala, where I come from, it is a very common practice even in modern homes and almost every Malayalee household, be it vegetarians or non-vegetarians, to own at least one of these. It is generally called 'manchatti' or 'currychatti' and it comes in various shapes and sizes. One of the oldest methods of cooking, and the people of Kerala believe, nothing beats the flavour of food cooked in an earthen pot. :) Traditional vegetarian curries, most of which are part of the kerala sadhya, to fish curries and even various preparations of different meats are prepared in these pots. Some regions even make appams, kaipathiri and other breads in these chatties.

Well, these earthen pots require being cured or seasoned, before it is initially cooked in. The Mantra is - The older the pot, the better it gets. :)

Basic curing techniques for a traditional manchatti :

1.      Seasoning is done to conceal minute holes or cracks inside the pot.
 
2.      Submerge and soak a brand new clay pot (manchatti) in clean water for five to six hours. Then, scrub it and give a thorough rinse to remove any dust or dry residues. Never use any sort of soaps or detergents at this stage.
 
3.      Once the pot dries, pour in some kanjivellam (the left over water from cooked rice) to fill upto 90% of the pot. Place that on a low flame until the liquid heats up. Slowly increase the flame to medium until the liquid comes to a boil. Then, reduce the flame and allow the liquid to reduce to almost 50%. That should take, something around half an hour. Traditionally this is done on a viragu aduppu (a traditional log stove) as shown below. But, no harm in doing it on gas stoves as well.


4.      Once the liquid reduces to 50%, close the pot with a lid and let aside to cool. In some regions the pot is left to rest overnight. Then, pour out the liquid and rinse the inside thoroughly with clean water. Turn it upside-down until water drains completely and then allow it to air-dry.
 
5.      Then, fill the pot with some water and bring to a simmer on low heat. Increase the flame and bring the water to a complete boil. Allow it to cool and throw away the water and give a thorough scrub and rinse. Allow to dry completely and then glaze the inside with some coconut oil and leave it for a day or two. 
 
Now, your new earthen pot is all ready to be cooked in :)

Basic care tips for a traditional manchatti
 
1.      Before every use, make sure you thoroughly rinse the pot and allow the water drain.
 
2.      Sudden temperature changes will cause the pot to crack. Therefore, always start heating a moist pot on low heat and then slowly increase the temperature as required. Similarly, never pour cold water to a hot pot.
 
3.      Never place a hot pot on cold or moist surface. Make sure to rest it on the stove top itself, until the pot cools or rest it on any clothed surface. 


Hope this post was an informative read. :) Have a great day.. :) 

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Croissant Toast

Easy to make baked snack for kids
My version

                
Kids no doubt love snacks, much more than regular meals in fact. Well, I hesitate to claim a recipe to be 'the best', especially when made for little ones, since most of them are picky eaters.. Well, when I hear the word SNACKS, it's my niece I remember. She's one of those, who is subjective to tastes. She relishes good food, loves watching cookery shows, keenly observes when someone is cooking, examines ingredients, and tries her hand on simple age appropriate preparations already. She makes her own sandwiches, salads and lemonade. :) Well, I too began trying my hands on basic cooking, at around her age.. :) That makes me a proud aunt! I have someone from my blood following my footsteps.. :D


My nephew posing behind her, is another one of those particularly subjective to tastes and a ruthless critique who is very honest in giving an opinion if asked. I sometimes make cakes and puddings for them, and on a birthday, he gifted me a set of cupcake cups which he chose all on his own, saying he knew I'd love it for sure.. :) Now, those are moments that bring tears of contentment.. Kids at such a young age, being thoughtful enough in giving someone a gift!! That's definitely not typical of a boy!! Thaaat love, that kids wrap you with...... Sigh!! Those are feelings difficult to explain in mere words.. :)

Let's get started.. Trust me, it's an amazingly easy snack, if you have croissants of course.. ;)

Ingredients :









Plain butter croissants
-

4 large sized

Fresh Eggs
-

3 nos.

Sugar
-

2 - 3 tablespoons

Vanilla essence
-

1/2 - 1 teaspoon

Fresh Milk
-

2 tablespoons

Butter
-

To grease the baking dish






Preparation Method :

Cut the croissants into half. Do not forget to pre-heat your oven at this stage to 180 degree centigrade.


In a flat bowl, break in the eggs, add the vanilla and sugar. The quantity of sugar depends on the sweetness you prefer.


Pour in the fresh milk and give a quick whisk.
  


Butter the pan. Make sure the flame is on low. Now give each side of the croissant a quick dip in the beaten egg mixture and place them on the pan one by one.


Once you have finished placing all the pieces, increase the flame to medium. When egg on the sides look almost done, turn it over. You needn't cook it completely.


Arrange the pieces onto a flat oven dish.


Pour in the remaining egg mixture over the croissants. Then, sprinkle on some sugar. Do all this quickly without letting the croissants cool.


Place it into the oven. As always, I'd recommend baking in the oven and not in the microwave. If you are baking it in the oven, bake for 5-6 minutes. So, a microwave shouldn't take more than 3-4 minutes I suppose. Make sure you don't burn the top. Mine went a little too brown :/ Oops! :) But, see.. it happens :) hi hi.. Use your instincts for the timing.. All we want is the eggs to cook well. Once done, the surface should be mildly crisp, and the inside soft and fluffy.



I hope your kids will enjoy this.. Let me know how it came out for you, and whether your kids liked it. Don't forget to send in a picture.. :)


New Yeast, Better Results


Monday, October 27, 2014

Shower Curtain - Care & Maintenance


Simple Care & Maintenance Tips for an Ever-fresh Shower Curtain :

1. Rinse the inside of the curtain with water after every shower to get rid of accumulated soap residues or dirt. 

2. Always leave the shower curtain pulled, having no folds, to allow quick and easy drying.

3. Never leave them pulled off to one side of the rod. The folds of the curtain will trap moisture or water, leading to the growth of mould and mildew. Doing so would also lead to developing unpleasant odour.

4. After every shower, either leave the windows open or exhaust on for a while. Proper ventilation helps the curtain dry faster.

5. Make sure you wash the shower curtain once or twice a month using detergent. But, before doing so, read the wash  instruction label on the curtain or packing carefully.

6. Adding a little fabric softener at the end of every wash will help maintain freshness.

7. Fabric  Shower Curtains are the best for easier care, drying and washing. 

Hope this has been a helpful read. If you feel something important has been left out, kindly add that on in the comment bar below. :)




Monday, October 20, 2014

Are you measuring your ingredients right??


DRY MEASURING CUPS

These measuring cups can be used to scoop dry or non-liquid  ingredients, 
such as : flour, sugar, butter etc. 
They are meant to be filled and the flattened top allows them to be leveled off 
for accuracy in measures.


Usually comes in a set of :
1/4 cup
1/2 cup
3/4 quarters cup
1 cup

However, you could also use a measuring scale, 
if you require sharp and precise measures.




MEASURING SPOONS

Used for both wet / liquid or dry ingredients, 
such as coarse or fine sugar, liquid essence, baking powder etc. 



It also allows dry ingredients to be leveled off for accurate measures while baking.


Usually comes in basic measures :
1/4 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon

WET / LIQUID MEASURING CUPS

These measuring cups are translucent and come in the shape of a pitcher or a mug 
which also makes pouring out liquids easier. 
They have their measurements marked on the walls of the cup, 
with sufficient space left near the rim to avoid spilling or overflow.  
This cup facilitates accurate measuring of liquid  ingredients, 
such as : water, milk, oils etc.


Usually comes in plastic or Pyrex glass cups :
Pyrex glass measuring cups facilitates use in microwave 
for heating of ingredients where necessary. 
For instance, you can melt butter or chocolate, 
and at the same time never go wrong with the measures.

NOTE : Invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons. Baking is a play of precise measures and accurate proportions for successful and consistent results.. Guesstimating or eyeballing works well with many methods of cooking, but definitely not with baking!
Other than for baking, precise measurements are sometimes inevitable for certain recipes that involve cooking rice, making ice-creams, desserts etc.