Chandana Banerjee’s Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle and Pumpkin Muffins

Chandana Banerjee’s got style and pizazz. She is after all a military wife. Her book Queen Of The At-Home Lifestyle is written for these uncertain times and don’t military queen bees understand unpredictability well, with countless postings, sometimes to places in the middle of nowhere.

She gives you tips on how to create a cozy home and how to become an entrepreneur from the comfort of your home. How to follow your passion, become successful at it, and importantly, not get caught up in the rat race. And she gives you sane advice on homeschooling, not without first hand experience, she’s been homeschooling her son for the past three years. She is a successful home entrepreneur and I’m sure she has a beautiful and clean home. She’s got her head and heart in the right place, and her writing too, isnt preachy or boring.

The author has her own YouTube channel and her blog at www.chandanabanerjee.com where she talks at length about how to main the work from home life and manage time as homemakers and small business owners.

She uses the word ‘nurturing’ in her book often as opposed to running a rat race or keeping up with the Joneses.

“When you’re creating your world in your home, there’s a lot of wisdom in investing time, care and effort in nurturing the house and family that lives in it”.

I love her take on homemaking, borrowing the age old wisdom of our moms and grand moms and mixing it with a large dose of common sense and some new ideas too to bring a new perspective to homemaking in these fickle and crazy times. Slow down a bit, she says, don’t pack yourself with more than you can handle.

The short and sweet book packs a punch, with an added list of resources at the end, with of course the author’s YouTube channel and blog that you can go to anytime for more advice. I’m sure you’ll be returning to this book time and again whether you’re a military or a civilian queen bee!

Here’s the link to the author’s book that you can purchase from Amazon. https://www.amazon.in/Queen-At-Home-Lifestyle-working-home-ebook/dp/B08C5HMX3V/

And now for the recipe. Make these lusciously scrumptious pumpkin muffins for you and the family to eat.They’re from a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking, From My Home To Yours. I prefer to use a fork and a spoon for the beating and mixing.

If you try making these muffins with bottle gourd or zucchini instead of pumpkin please let me know how they turn out.

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

A pinch of all spice

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin purée

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

About 1/3 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds, for topping

Instructions

1 Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the muffin molds or fit them with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

2 Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

3 Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until smooth. One by one, add the eggs, beating fro a minute until the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and beat in the pumpkin and buttermilk. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing lightly, only until they disappear. Stir in the raisins and the nuts. Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups and spread a few sunflower seeds on each of them.

4 Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean. Cool the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove each muffin from its mold and finish cooling on the rack.

(The Amazon book purchase link is not an affiliate link and I dont get paid a commission. I dont do affiliate links on my blog).

The Good, Bad And Ugly, Eggless Brownie Muffins, And A Song

I’m opinionated they say. It’s always the right thing to have an opinion and not be a suppressed doormat. Here are some words that I’ve compiled listed in no particular order. They’re divided into the good, the bad and ugly.

Of course, we’re not going away without a delicious recipe, so later on I have for you dark, really dark, luscious chocolate brownie muffins made from a Tarla Dalal recipe.

At the end is a lovely song that all of you must have heard some time or the other. Imagine, originally sung by John Lennon, and this one put together by the Quarantine Music Project, The Better Half Production and made even more beautiful by the dancer Vrinda Chadha.

The Good

Humane, Justice, Humanity, Neighbours, Democracy, Kindness, Help, Generosity, Love, Cook, Bake, Cake, Sister, Brother, Family, Friends, Relatives, Mom, Dad, Daughter, Black is beautiful, Peace, Tolerance, Nature, Vegetarian, Communal harmony, Small, Love, Equality, Old people, Teachers, Astronomy, Aliens, No borders, No walls, Unity, Write, Read, Music, Food, Local, Politics, Anti-war, Simplicity, Roots.

The bad and the ugly

Us and them, War, Hate, Clannish, Racist, Casteist, Classist, Polarize, Kill, Arms race, Environmental pollution, Corruption, Wishy washy, Violence. Inequality, Injustice.

Recipe

Brownie Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup condensed milk

3/4 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Butter for greasing.

Instructions

1 Melt the butter and chocolate over gentle heat and mix well so no lumps remain.

2 Remove from fire, add condensed milk and mix well. Cool to room temperature.

3 Add the flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix gently.

4 Add the walnuts and vanilla essence and mix gently until the batter is just combined.

5 Spoon the mixture about 3/4 full into the muffin moulds.

6 Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C, or 360 degrees F for 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the brownie comes out clean.

7 Cool the muffins, unmould and serve warm

Song.

Banana And Honey Teabread

I never wanted to get married, not desperately anyhow and definitely not to have kids. I love the way I am, not just child free, but single and unattached. I’ve never been able to figure out why people want to get married, and then to top it off, have kids! I think we’re doing an injustice to kids by bringing them into this terrible planet that we’ve made of the Earth. It’s most unfair to bring children into such suffering.

For those who think kids carry forth the family name and legacy. Do they really? They’re their own individuals who eventually go out and do their own thing, or at least should do so. So haven’t felt the need for that either.

If we must bring kids into this world let it be one worthy of them. We’ve messed up the world and we’re still unthinkingly enthusiastic about procreating.

Frankly, I’d rather bake. I love the idea of creating a batter and then putting it in the oven, then waiting for the batter to cook and rise into a beautiful cake with an even more beautiful aroma that fills the home. That’s homeliness for me, that’s togetherness and family. I don’t need children to complete my home, baking is just fine. At least I don’t bring children into a world full of plastic, pollution, water and resource scarcity, landfills……

So here is my recipe today. It is a recipe of a banana and honey teabread by Mary Berry. I love baking cakes and breads with bananas, and seek out different combinations of bananas and other things, so I was thrilled when I came across this one of bananas and honey! I improvised and decorated the cake with sugar and banana slices and then baked it. You can do that too, or just leave the cake without adding the banana slices on top.

Here is the recipe.

Banana And Honey Teabread

225 gms (8oz) self raising flour

1/4 level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

100 gms (4oz) butter

225 gms (8 oz) bananas

100 gms (4oz) caster sugar

Grated rind of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons thick pale honey

For the topping

A little sugar

Banana slices

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/Fan 140 degrees C/Gas 3. Grease a 900 gm (2lb) loaf tin and line the tin with baking parchment.

2. Measure the flour and nutmeg into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

3. Peel and mash the bananas and stir into the flour mixture, along with the sugar, lemon rind, eggs and honey. Beat well, until evenly mixed, then turn into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Decorate the banana slices all over the cake and sprinkle sugar on top of the slices.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover the Teabread loosely with foil during the end of the cooking time, if it is browning too much. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out, peel of parchment and let cool on a wire rack.

Eating My Cake And Having It Too

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You all must wonder why I write so much, I write posts for my blog, I write posts on Facebook, I write all the time. I virtually drown myself…..and you in my writing. To tell you the truth I love writing, in fact before I started blogging about food, I used to be a content writer, writing articles for the net and writing content for websites.

Until of course I realized that I wanted to start my own food blog. So now I can eat my cake and have it too, pursuing my twin passions-writing and cooking.

I’m as passionate about adding delicious spices to my cooking as I am about punctuating my writing, after all, spices make cooking special and punctuation is the jewel in a written piece. In fact I’m currently rereading a funny, rib tickling book on punctuation called Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Oh, by the way, that is  my third pleasure-reading. I absolutely must read a large chunk of pages from my current favorite of the day. I’m not crazy about books with pictures, I want good writing, although cookbooks with lovely photographs are welcome. But I do so love to read cookbooks that are interestingly written too. I love reading food memoirs.

If you visit Ahmedabad you’re welcome to come over to my place and share some of the food I cook. You must also check out my library. It’s got books on every subject and I also have a wonderful collection of cookbooks.

Those of you who read my Facebook page will know that my friend from school Manisha, who I haven’t met for 35 years now and who I got in touch with via Facebook, thank you Facebook, recently gifted me some lovely cookbooks to add to my collection.

So now, I’m ravenous and am going to raid the fridge. And munch on something tasty with what else but a book to read, while I watch the view from my window.

Savvy Indian Cooking Tools

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When I googled ‘Indian Kitchens’ while writing this article, the page that popped up had articles on modern Indian kitchens and urban Indian kitchen design. Nowhere the old fashioned kitchens that we had in our parent’s times. However, kitchen tools haven’t changed much, except for a Teflon coating here and a plastic handle there, and the Indian housewife plays savvy magician with all these at her disposal.

There are so many cooking tools that I can’t explain all of them here but I’ll write about some of them.

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Rolling pin- Also known as the belan in Hindi, it is made of wood or plastic and used to roll chapatis, parathas and puris (Indian flatbreads eaten with meals). It’s better half is known as the chakla and is the base (made of marble, steel or aluminium) on which the flatbread is laid out and rolled.

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Tongs- Tongs or Chimta or Chimti, as they are called in Hindi, are used to lift hot vessels that don’t have heat resistant handles on them. Another lighter variation of tongs are also used to delicately flip chapatis on the gas stove and cook them. This flipping of chapatis is quite an art in itself.

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Slotted spoon- This kitchen tool is usually used to drain out fried puris or pakoras from hot oil, and it an important Indian kitchen essential.

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Tadka pan- This is a beautiful invention, a small pan with a long heat resistant handle attached to it which allows one to make tadka, or sauté spices to add to curries , dals and vegetables.

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Frying pan, wok, or kadhai– This is a deep bottomed pan, used to cook different dishes such as vegetables or biryani or even fry stuff.

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Thalis– Now a days most Indians eat out of plates made of glass, ceramic or melamine but on festivals they bring out their beautiful steel, silver or mixed metal thalis(plates) to eat meals from. These also have katoris which are about the size of 1/2 a cup each, to fill with dal and curries and sweet dishes.

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Spice box- The masala box is every housewife’s favourite companion in the kitchen. It has small katoris within it to store different everyday spices in it. It has a tightly fitted cover to keep the spices fresh.

There are many more kitchen essentials that play a part in the Indian housewife’s kitchen. Her kitchen is versatile, imaginative and a paradise to make magic while cooking for family and friends.

 

 

 

Cookbooks That Bring To You The Wonders Of Gujarati Cuisine

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Did you know that Madhur Jaffrey the queen of Indian cookery once proclaimed that Gujarati cuisine is the haute cuisine of vegetarianism? Yes she did! Gujarati cuisine is suave, elegant, and tasteful. The different regions of Gujarat, Kathiawar in western Gujarat, South and Central Gujarat, have each of them, different tasting foods. Surat’s   Undhiya is a delicacy you must have. The Gujarati thali with its full lunch or dinner meal is famous. And what about the  farsan or snacks that we have at tea time? They’re fantastic, including Khaman dhokla, Handvo, Paatra and Muthia, not to mention the delicious Khandvi.

Many of the recipes I’ve posted on the blog are Gujarati ones, handed down to me by my mom and in turn, her mom. These are mostly undocumented and so they come down from generation to generation, changing a bit along the way, with that special Indian way of andaaz or approximation, making them taste even better.

I am giving you the names of some books here that have delved into the wonders of Gujarati cuisine.

Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian but you will find non vegetarian recipes too in Bhanu Hajratwala’s Gujarati Kitchen- Family Recipes For The Global Palette.

Tarla Dalal’s The Complete Gujarati Cookbook is the Indian diva’s take on Gujarati cooking. And the book has all the classic Gujarati dishes. It’s fantastic for a lover of Gujarati food.

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Bhojan no Anand-Your Friendly Guide to the Gujarati Thali- Compiled by Anjali Mangaldas, are all the absolutely delicious recipes of the food served at The House of MG, her son’s hotel in Ahmedabad. This series of books is a must have.

Master Chef’s of India- Gujarati Kitchen is from the Master Chef series of cookbooks and it won’t let you down. The book is a small pack of dynamite.

So those are some of the books that will give you a taste of the richness of Gujarati cuisine. I promise you can make many of these recipes at home, because Gujaratis have a knack of making delicacies out of the simplest of ingredients!

 

The joys and pleasures of a food lover

Thank you for joining me as I embark on a journey to write my food blog. There is so much that I wish to share with you. I’m excited. It’s a great time to start a food blog, I feel, because winter is the time when fruits and vegetables are at their freshest and available in abundance too.  Other times we must bear with cold storage foods.

This blog as it says in the subtitle is, From India With Love. I’m excited about sharing the family recipes, my mom’s and my masi’s (mom’s sister) with all of you. My masi who is no more was a great inspiration.  I got bitten by the baking bug because of her. My mom is my biggest critic. I adore her cooking. Dad is always willing to be my in-house food taster.

There is a great pleasure in cooking, especially new dishes, and especially still for family and friends. Food shared, with a loved one, a cake when an elder is sick, or when it’s a little boy or girl’s birthday, or with a neighbour, is extremely gratifying.

From time to time I will also share recipes by well known chefs from around the world. I will share tips on cooking, stories about food, fun and friendships, and I hope you will enjoy this journey as much as I am sure I will too.