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.


2 - 3 tablespoons

Vanilla essence

1/2 - 1 teaspoon

Fresh Milk

2 tablespoons


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??


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.


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


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. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guide to washing Vegetables & Fruits

Did you know?? Every year, millions of people fall ill from food contamination, including sickness caused through fruits and vegetables. Dangerous pesticides, chemicals and substances in soil and water, poor hygiene of employees who handle them, animals and various other conditions lead to these deadly contamination. In order to help prevent food-borne illness from striking you and your family, washing these produces thoroughly before eating them raw or cooked is inevitable

I am truly grateful to the Almighty, for blessing me with a mother, who raised me with healthy eating. I hardly remember falling sick when it was she who cooked for me and fed me.. After marriage when I moved out, and had to manage both home and work hand in hand, I started adopting shortcuts to cooking, or ate out more often. :( That eventually paved way to new sicknesses and even loosing control over weight gain. Well, that made me realize the importance of her dedication to eating and feeding healthy and taking care of even the most seemingly simple things with absolute care. This method of washing fruits and veggies being one of those many things, she does scrupulously without a compromise.. :)  

Follow these five easy steps to having safe fruits and vegetables for you and your family right at home. 

If you are using your kitchen sink to wash the vegetables and fruits, make sure you wash it thoroughly, disinfect it or sterilize it with boiling water before proceeding. However, if you aren't really sure of how clean your sink may be, or you often wash meat in the same sink, make sure you use a clean bowl instead. 

Just holding fruits and vegetables under a running tap, will do no good. You do not have to spend money over expensive chemical rinses and other treatments for washing them. Though such products are often advertised as the best way to keep fresh fruits and vegetables safe, all you really require is clean water, vinegar and some salt for an effective and thorough cleaning. Cleaning them with vinegar helps kill bacteria and ensures they are safe for consumption. Turmeric powder is also a good alternative. 

Rub fruits and vegetables briskly with your hands under running water, if they are heavily soiled, before soaking them. For example, potato is one such vegetable that may require a quick rinse.  

Vegetables with a hard crust or firm skin may sometimes require a bit of scrubbing. Use a brush to scrub and make sure it is cleaned and air dried after every use.

Never wash fruits and vegetables with detergents or bleach solutions!! Some fruits and vegetables easily absorb these chemicals, and could turn out to be very dangerous when consumed. 

Vegetables and fruits that require refrigeration can be stored in clean vegetable bins or in covered containers. Do not keep cut, peeled or cooked fruits or vegetables at room temperature for more than an hour.  Refrigerate them in dry and covered containers, preferably glass.

Having said all this, it is always best to have your own little organic vegetable garden in your backyard, terrace or even a balcony. If that's not viable, though a little expensive, try to buy organic produce. Not only will it save you the cost of hospital bills, but will also save you and your family from deadly diseases. Live healthy by eating healthy.. :)

Hope this segment was a helpful read. Your valuable feedback and suggestions would mean a lot. Kindly comment below or send in a message on Facebook

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grating Garlic and Ginger

Other than for cheese, garlic and ginger you could also grate :

1. Tomatoes - for tomato pulp.
2. Apples - to make baby purée.
3. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts etc - for quick powdering.
4. Dried ginger or turmeric or nutmeg - for fresh powder.
5. Jaggery - for payasams or ada
6. Cinnamon - for flavoring.
7. Firm Chocolate - for garnish.
8. Refrigerated Butter - for quick spread.
9. Coconut - to extract milk, or for making chutney, just in case you do not have a blender.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Clean Bathroom Effortlessly in less than 10 minutes

What is a bathroom? Well, " It is a room for personal hygiene." Of course!! But, personalize that question a little more and you would have some interesting answers.. :) For almost everyone, it is more of a private space and they would have a personal reason why.. :)

I know so many who say, "I do my best thinking in the bathroom!" For some it is the place to relax, for some it is the place of retreat from the stresses of life or a place of rejuvenation after a day of hard work and toil or the place where they choose to peacefully reflect.. For yet others, it is a home spa. There are some for whom it is a safe hide-out, where they'd run to, to be with themselves.. to either sob, let out that inner frustration and anger, or excitement and thrill which they hesitate to express elsewhere.. :) For some, standing under the shower helps them wash down their tears, wash down their stresses and yet others imagine themselves  standing under the rain and dance in bliss.. :) For some - the so called bathroom-singers, :) who are usually shy, nervous or trembling in front of others,  the bathroom is their perfect acoustic studio; the shower their mic and they gleefully sing to their heart's desire.. Must say, there are some who turn out to be an utter nuisance to their housemates or neighbours too.. :) Some practice public speaking, some enjoy reading, for some it's a hideout for smoking. Some even shove down the seat of the toilet, sit on it and set off to sleep.. :) etc.. etc.. etc.. :)

Well, point is.. Besides all these, if the primary purpose of the bathroom is for personal hygiene, where one goes in to come out fresh and hygienic, then shouldn't it be the most sterile and cleanest room in the house, or for that matter anywhere??? Did you know, the bathroom harbours some of the filthiest illness-causing bacteria, lurking everywhere from the sink faucet to toilets to even the cleaning materials used to clean.  All it takes, is changing a few habits, doing some regular cleaning and practicing some basic hygiene. Training little children with such habits is equally significant. Hygiene starts at home, but our responsibilities do not end there!! It is the duty of every individual to ensure that hygiene is given the deserved significance, be it at work places, schools, colleges, restaurants, hospitals, public places etc. It is every person's right! Above all, it's high time we stop complaining or making excuses, take responsibility and make an initiative to incorporate the changes we desire. 

While the whole world goes viral over the ice-bucket challenge, I'd suggest a "CLEAN A BATHROOM CHALLENGE!" :) Trust me, it's not all that easy, but, if you are a woman  or you travel a lot, you may be able to relate to such a need! :) Well, some remote places require a toilet in the first place!! :D So, maybe it's also good to initiate a "Build a toilet challenge" too.. :) Well, my husband, and I are into the groundwork of building a toilet in one such rural area. That reminds me of a very inspiring challenge initiated by our Padma Shri Dr.Mammootty, renowned photographer Imthias Kadeer and Abdul Manaf, CEO of Easysoft Technologies who founded the "My Tree Challenge", which is indeed appreciable! The cause encourages everyone around the globe to participate by planting a sapling and challenge others (rather encourage others) to do so too.. :) LESSON : If you will, even a small initiative you take could make a big difference! :) Let's all make this world a better place.. Starting from our own homes! :)

"Bathroom cleaning!! Ughhh!! The most dreadful household cleaning chore! From soap scum and mildew to dirt and hair!! Eww!! cleaning is no easy task!!" Is that by any chance your voice?? Are you someone who spends a lot on keeping cleaners to clean your place? In that case, come join me and see how easy it is to have a Spotlessly Clean Bathroom, effortlessly, in less than 10 minutes, every single day!! :) Your outlook about bathroom cleaning will change forever! Follow me.. :)

You will need :

1.      Bathroom cleaner : Environment friendly cleaning products are available in any supermarkets today. White vinegar is a good alternative. Laundry detergents are also a good cleaner, for cleaning the bathtub, bath walls or the bowl of the toilet.

2.      Glass cleaner is Optional. Plain water and a clean towel is more than enough for a not too dirty mirror or glass. You could also use Paper towels.

3.      Towels : Keep couple of clean towels handy for cleaning. Choose two different colours, so that you know which is for the mirrors or glass and which for other cleaning.

4.      Brush or sponge : Either of the two. If you use a brush, make sure you use a soft bristled but firm brush. Hard abrasion will damage your fixtures! So, be cautious.

5.      Toilet Brush : Preferably the simple hangable and not too hard bristled one!

6.      Mop : If your bathroom floor has spaced tiles, mop wouldn't be suitable. In that case either use a towel if it doesn't get too dirty or scrub with a brush and rinse down with water.

7.      Gloves : Optional. If you have sensitive skin or you are using a sponge for the cleaning.

Before you follow this cleaning regimen, make sure you do a thorough Deep-Cleansing first. Click below to follow how..

Step 1 :

Spray glass cleaner onto the mirror, and wipe off with a clean towel. If your mirrors do not get too dirty, you just need to sprinkle some water and wipe clean. But, to get those toothpaste spittle off and odor caused by it, spray some glass cleaner. CLEAN TOWEL is a must for mirrors, glass and windows. Paper towels are also a good option.

Step 2 :

Spray the wash basin, faucet, counter tops and surrounding walls with a disinfectant bathroom cleaner. Vinegar is also a good cleanser. But, personally, I do not like the smell of vinegar. :)

Scrub the inside of the basin with a sponge or a brush including the drain top.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Wash and wring the sponge thoroughly and leave to air-dry. If you are using a brush, wash the bristles thoroughly, shake off excess water and leave to air-dry. If you are proceeding over to cleaning the bath area, you can rinse off after that use.

Step 3 :

Wipe off the sprayed bathroom cleaner and any excess water with a clean towel. Do not miss out on any area. If you give your towel couple of folds, you could turn each side over for a fresh side to wipe a new area.

Step 4 :

Glass cleaner is the best cleaner for sparkling and shining faucets that look new forever. :)

Step 5 :

Wipe down the counter-tops and cabinets. Do not forget the interiors of the cabinets too. You do not have to do this every day though.

Step 6 :

An area often forgotten is the surrounding walls. Since they aren't areas that get dirty very often, you can get away with cleaning this area once or twice a week. 


Trust me, your wash area will look stunning in no more than 2-3 minutes, that you will love doing this and will have a sparkling and specklessly clean wash area 24/7. :)

Step 7 :

Next is the Toilets. A sanitary ware that can get the nastiest if not cleaned properly. Trust me, it's no big deal if you take a minute or two every day, or at least every alternate day. All you need to do is, spray some disinfectant cleaner all over and into the bowl. Scrub the inside of the bowl and under the brim with a toilet brush. You can save money from buying harsh toilet cleaners if you do this regularly. The disinfectant cleaner will not only clean the bowl but will also clean the brush. Make sure you rinse the brush thoroughly, shake off excess water and leave to air-dry. You can buy toilet brushes that come on a hanging box, which is the best. The brush will not touch any surface and will dry out completely. Do not conceal it away in a casing. You are trapping along moisture, facilitating the growth of germs and bad odor by doing so. Once you are done, flush down.

Wipe the surface thoroughly. The surface, the seat, the cover and the flush tank. Do not  ignore or forget the area under the bowl and base as it can get very dirty. Remember, kids touch those areas with their bare hands to climb on and often walk out without washing their hands and could end up eating with those same hands.

Again.. another 2 minutes or less, is all it takes for a clean and sparkling toilet. :)

Step 8 :

Different bathrooms have different bath fixtures. Some are plain and absolutely simple, some have glass partitioning or doors, some have tubs, so on and so forth. If you have a plain bath area, very well! It's the easiest to clean!  :) All you need is a shower curtain and you are good to go. Bath areas with glass doors are definitely elegant, but, if not cleaned appropriately, it could turn out to be a total disaster with mold and mildew in the corners and the glass always dirty with soap scum and water marks. But, It's not a problem if you maintain it well. The same goes for bathtubs.

The best time to clean a bath area is while having shower! Therefore while you prepare yourself for a shower, make sure you have spayed across some bathroom cleaner or vinegar in all the dirty nooks and corners. You could spray some glass cleaner on the glass as well. As far as I have tried, the best cleaning agent for a bath area is laundry detergent. Spray some water across and with a bathroom brush and little detergent give a real quick brushing. If you do this every alternate day in the shower, the grime and scum will clean off quickly and you wouldn't have to do that dreadful and laborious scrubbing. You can brush the taps, handles, tiles, soap dish and absolutely any surface. Once done, rinse the brush, shake off the water and leave to air-dry in a clean and dry place. Then run the shower over to wash down all the lather and continue with your shower. After the shower, you could give one quick rinse down the whole area. keep a clean dry towel handy and wipe down the glasses, taps and then the surfaces and you'll have a sparkling and shining bath area! :)

If you use a shower curtain, also read Shower Curtain - Care & Maintenance.

Step 9 :

Finally mop your floor. If you have an open bathroom, and if your floor has spaced tiles, moping wouldn't clean off well. In that case, scrub with a brush and rinse down with water. If you bathroom floor doesn't have a separate drain, do not wash! Only mop!

The ceiling is not a place that gets dirty often. Therefore, you will only have to wipe it with a towel once in 6 months or even a year or maybe never! Depends on your climate and ventilation.

Step 10 :

Last but not least, the finishing touches. Keep accessories simple and modest. 

Bathroom is not a place for unnecessary decorating and cluttering! Some towels, a hand wash, a plant, maybe a picture (moisture proof) a set of hand and face towels is the maximum you will need. If you have bathroom readers in the house, at the most, a shelf or rack for hoarding the magazines or newspapers.

Do not forget the 'Keeping the bathroom smelling fresh' part. :) A good deodorizer or scented candles etc. can do the trick. But, make sure you keep them out of reach of children!

There we are.. :) This is my secret to a Clean Bathroom, Effortlessly and Happily.. :) My guests wow when they enter my bathroom, some even ask me if we use it! I have even got compliments like "can we have a bed so that we can sleep in here.." My dad frowns at me thinking I am scrubbing and polishing it all day long! :) But, trust me, all it takes is no more than 6 - 10 minutes of maintenance! :)
Hope this post helps you, or was something you were searching for to share with a near and dear. Please do feel free to share this post and help someone who is struggling with proper bathroom cleaning or maintenance. :) Looking forward to your valuable feedback for more of such posts on this blog. :)