Reading Challenges in 2017

Below are those I read for the reading challenges hosted by Bev.

Color Coded ChColor Codedallenge (I think this is my 3rd year doing this challenge!)

  1. A book with “Blue” or any shade of Blue (Turquoise, Aquamarine, Navy, etc) –  Once in a Blue Moon Lodge. One of those books I picked up from the library- it was alright, had everything from a one- night stand leading to triplets to the reunion of a long lost love!
  2. A book with “Red” or any shade of Red (Scarlet, Crimson, Burgandy, etc). Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers
  3. A book with “Yellow” or any shade of Yellow (Gold, Lemon, Maize, etc.) – The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam. Set in Pakistan, this author weaves the lives of his characters (men and women belonging to different religions) beautifully . Loved it
  4. A book with “Green” or any shade of Green (Emerald, Lime, Jade, etc) The Green Man by Kate Sedley. Another random library pick- little did I know it would be the beginning of a series of books that I would read that were set in England, Scotland or Ireland! I thought it was a decent mystery book.
  5. A book with “Brown” or any shade of Brown (Tan, Chocolate, Beige, etc) in the title/on the cover. The Chocolate Cobweb by Charlotte Armstrong
  6. A book with “Black” or any shade of Black (Jet, Ebony, Charcoal, etc) – The Black Eyed Stranger by Charlotte Armstrong
  7. A book with “White” or any shade of White (Ivory, Eggshell, Cream, etc)- Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena. A coming of age tale of a young boy. I liked it- a short, engaging read
  8. 8. A book with any other color in the title/on the cover (Purple, Orange, Silver, Pink, Magneta, etc.) Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. A poignant WWII tale about rabbits, a.k.a experimental subjects
  9. A book with a word that implies color (Rainbow, Polka-dot, Plaid, Paisley, Stripe, etc.). All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. Another beautiful WWII tale- I had tears in my eyes.

Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt

(I may have forgotten to sign up for this challenge though!)

Golden Age Mysteries (8)

Shadowy figure- A Woman in white by Wilkie Collins (1860)

Painting: The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers (1931)

Cobweb- The Chocolate Cobweb by Charlotte Armstrong (1948)

A tree- The Blue Diamond by Annie Haynes (1925)

Telephone: Death at the President’s Lodging by Michael Innes (1936)

Chandelier, candle (Lamp)- They found him dead by Georgette Heyer (1937)

Dead Body- The Red Box by Rex Stout (1937)

A blonde- A dishonest murderer by Frances Lockridge & Richard Lockridge (1949)

Silver Age Mysteries (5)

Damsel in Distress- The Black Eyed Stranger by  Charlotte Armstrong (1951)

Spooky house- The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart, 1967

A tree- Fletch by Gregory McDonald, 1974

Revolver- The goodbye Look by Ross MacDonald, 1969

Bottle/Glass for drinking- The wrong case by James Crumley, 1979

Among these, Death at a President’s Lodging was hard to read and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did most of the others. Fletch was a surprise, since I just happened to pick up the book from the book store- it was a fast read and kept me engaged! I really like Mary Stewart, Charlotte Armstrong and Wilkie Collins books 🙂

Happy reading in 2018 everyone!

Guru ki kripa se..

Really yummy  Samosa chole- Gurukripa near Sion Station! Hot samosas are comforting even on a hot day like yesterday.

Vada pav- ghar ka bana hua a.k.a homemade

One day after I land, Maya ji made me some lovely authentic Maharashtrian vada pav (bread with potato mash, a spice mixture and hot green peppers). I never imagined that Vada Pav would be this really light meal despite being fried (so you can of course then imagine that it would be easy to shove a few down the food pipe!). That was my second breakfast by the way…
I need to get the recipe from her, will post it later.

Saying good bye to friends with handmade jewelry and cookies of course

I have left my postdoctoral positions- yesterday was my last day. I am sure most people are sane enough not to attempt making nearly 15 pieces of jewelry overnight- I did because I am INSANE but hey who cares- it  was a boat load of fun especially since I have not made any pieces recently (I had this gnawing fear of having lost my creativity). These pieces look good- don’t they!
I could not leave out the boys, could I- so they got cookies- made this seeded chocolate chip cookies (recipe from Martha Shulman, of course with my own modifications)- these cookies were delicious!!

I also made these cards- stamps and distress inks are your friend!

An awesome chocolate treat

Do you have those moments of wanting something so bad- well I had one this weekend. I was eyeing this gorgeous chocolate cookie recipe on Oh She Glows (an awesome vegan blog, might I add) all of Friday (yes, yes even while I was at work). Sunday afternoon after a short one hour nap, I woke up, went to the kitchen and made these damn yummy cookies.
Wet ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil (do not melt)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter 
  • 1/3 cup unpacked brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats, processed into flour 
    3/4 cup GF all purpose flour
  • 100 grams finely chopped dark chocolate (1 chocolate bar)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flax and water and set aside for a few minutes so it can thicken up. Whisk the flax egg again once thickened.
  2. Add the rest of the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flax egg (coconut oil, sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, cane sugar, and vanilla). In a stand mixer beat the ingredients until combined and smooth.
  3. Now, beat in the dry ingredients, one by one, as you go down the ingredient list (baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, oat flour). If your dough is a bit dry, add a teaspoon (or two) of non-dairy milk and beat the mixture again (I did not have to). The dough should be moist enough to form balls without cracking, but not super sticky.
  4. Finely chop the chocolate (it should be the size of peas). Beat the chocolate into the batter or simply stir by hand.
  5. Shape balls of dough (about the size of a golf ball or 2 heaping tablespoons) and place on the baking sheet 2-3 inches apart. Gently press down on each ball with your hand to form a disc (it should be 1/2-inch thick or so).
  6. Bake for about 12-13 minutes (I baked for 13 mins, mine took longer about 15 minutes) until the cookies are spread out nicely.
  7. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 7 minutes or so and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.
Judgement: A soft chocolatey cookie- really yummy!!! 
I took pictures, will post them soon.

A book and a recipe

As a part of our January book pick– it was time to read Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin and make something inspired by the book. While I did finish the book and the challenge a while ago, I forgot to write up a post.

Book Review: The book set in post-genocide Rwanda revolves around Angel Tungaraza, a Tanzanian who moves to Rwanda with her husband Pius and her children (well technically her grandchildren but her own kids were dead so she and her husband are raising their grand kids). She has a cake business and her cakes are pretty popular- every time a client comes in to order a cake, Angel puts on some tea, and her customers pour their hearts out before they order the cake. 
I found this book extremely cloying. Angel could do no wrong…she helped everyone, listened to everybody’s stories, made beautiful cakes, took care of her children…

 In one short sentence- I did not like the book.

I read the book while drinking chai, an Indian variation of the Rwandan milky tea. And I also made Kenyan style curried creamy cabbage inspired by this recipe.

1 small to medium cabbage head
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp chick pea flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
Remove the outer leaves and slice the cabbage in 1 inch thick strips. Slice a large onion.Grate 2 medium carrots. Heat 2 tbsp butter and sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the shredded carrot and cabbage. Cook everything, over low heat, stirring once in a while until the cabbage softens (about 10 minutes). Once the cabbage has softened, make room in the center and pour in the paste. Cook for a minute before pouring in 1/2 cup of milk, 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt and lots of pepper. Stir well, pop the lid on and simmer for another 10 minutes.
This dish was awesome though- I thought it tasted similar to pasta with bechamel sauce.

From "The Baker’s Daughter"

I love to read books and I love to cook- so “Cook the Books” event called out to me, what more can I say? When I didn’t want to just sit around and catch up Breaking Bad episodes leading up to the finale yesterday, I threw these buns and some great vegan-gluten free strawberry cupcakes in the mix.

 The book chosen for the bi-monthly event Cook the Books is Sarah McCoy’s “The Baker’s Daughter“- a story about that intertwines food, history and a great narrative (toggles between WWII times in Germany and the present). I am just about a third done and so far like what I have read. I will post the review once I am done reading but in the meantime I leave you with these gorgeous buns that are traditionally made on St. Thomas Day that falls on Dec 21st (which also happens to be the shortest day).


Thomasplitzchen Buns

1 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond milk

11/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup currants, raisins, cranberries, or whatever dried fruit you have on hand (I used raisins, currants and cranberries)
0.125 cups raw sugar

(I skipped the icing)

Mix the filling ingredients together well and set aside.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until a very fine crumb, add the milk, mix until it all holds together, and form into a rectangle.  Roll out to 1/8th inch thick on a floured board.  Spread the filling over to within an inch of the edges (it will squish out some).  Roll it up like a fat sausage, and then make one inch slices.  Put them pinwheel side up on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven 350F until barely suntanned on top.  About 15 to 20 minutes


They were a breeze to make and their somewhat of a biscuit nature appealed to my palette.