A cook’s diary

A few years back, when I was in love with the couch more than anything else, we had succumbed to eating out almost 4 days a week (does not translate to a daily visit to subway! )What that meant was not only burning a hole in the pocket, but my belief that I will look 21 even at 23, was going to be proven horrendously wrong and may I say, I am still on attempts to wean away the after effects of that phase of my life!

Like they say, one bad habit leads to another. It was also the phase, when my coffee addiction started. Without amma to make milky dicoction kaapi, and having accustomed to the strong brewed American coffee with a dribble of half n half, I was turning into the 3 coffees a day, compulsory starbucks on weekends person! For most people who know me, they would vouch I am almost always the up-down person, sinusoidal curve precisely! My fighting coffee habit project is underway for almost a year now. I am getting there… more on the tricks I have learnt for a post, maybe.

Coming back to the couch potato story – after taking many digs at pressures to get married, blaming it on the 22 hour work routine and other factors that were nothing but excuses for our lazy lifestyle, we took to running one fine day. And just like that one good habit led to another and we started to cook! And since we had been terrible cooks until then, it took even longer to understand “good” cooking which didn’t have remnants of student life ( Frozen veggies in sambhar, Canned tomato pulp for gravies… you get the picture! )

Couple of things got me through all the failed recipes and self-cooking-loathing phase that followed. “Samaithu Paar” by Meenakshi Ammal in English literally “Cook and See” and watching Julie and Julia. Let us just say, Meenakshi Ammal is the Betty Crocker for the south Indian vegetarian cooks and every time someone tells me of the lack of options as a vegetarian, I like to present them her books!

Reading ‘cook and see’ is almost like being transposed to pre-independence India; Of leafing through an era I knew my grandparents had lived in and may be in an uncanny way she reminded me of my thathi who could whip up wonderful tasting food without using even an inkling of onions or garlic. And what was more amusing to me was MA’s suggestions for the young bride; of drawing a kolam, having a bath before starting to cook to name a few. The other selling point of her simple recipes were the use of kai-piddi ( a handful ), a pinch.. type measures, which nonetheless frustrating for a newbie, but sets the tone to enjoy cooking. Most of my cooking is a dribble of this and that, ending with palm-measured salt.

So while MA helped me find my groove with cooking, watching Julie and Julia set the tone. The Julie/Julia project is a an inspiring piece of writing, that makes you want to wear the chef hat and turn that kitchen into a haven amidst all the frustrations of cooking. And with that began our quest for sticking with home cooked food.

I seldom pull any exotic cuisines, much to my horrors with meat handling. But N is an upcoming master chef in that area and I help by sharing the product! 🙂 I am the everyday cook, who loves to make sure meals are happy and healthy and as freshly made as possible. And since I cook every evening for dinner and lunch for the next day, I prefer not to spend more than 40 minutes preparing the dish, for clearing the aftermath of cooking and eating is another hour’s job! This blog is to share those 40 min recipes and some elaborately prepared meals on weekends, with a few posts on the passion for running. I have a marathon dream, for now lily steps are what I am taking!

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