Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Buying Vegetables in India - The Vegetable Wallah

Just like Fresh Direct? Well, pretty much. In India, people selling a variety of things will come right to your door. The people who sell door to door build up a relationship with their clients.

In this case, it's the vegetable wallah, delivering vegetables to my Aunt. Because of the relationship between my Aunt and the seller, it is possible for her to order what she wants and he will bring it the next time he comes. If she chose to, she could also buy other vegetables that he brings with him the day he comes to make a delivery.

The vegetables are simply beautiful, but then again, a tropical climate lends itself to producing wonderful vegetables. The vegetable wallah carries the basket on his head, and then, once he reaches a client, weighs the vegetables and bags them up.

Of course, it's very possible to buy your vegetables, fruits, meats etc. at markets. There are also a few supermarkets that have shown up recently; it will be interesting to see if they succeed in driving smaller shops and vendors out of business.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cheesy Broccoli Pasta

Yay for comfort food! My Papa was home and I wanted to cook something for him that he would really enjoy; he travels so much that he is constantly eating out and doesn't get simple home cooking. Some people would say that eating out all the time is great, but after I lived in a hotel for six weeks once, I didn't think I'd ever want to eat in another restaurant again.

This recipe is very quick, and should be ready in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta. Aside from the calories from the cheese, it's pretty healthy too.

Cheesy Broccoli Pasta
Serves 2-3 people for dinner

1 tbsp of canola or light olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2-1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium tomatoes cut into eighths, or one can of chopped tomatoes
1 head of broccoli, cut in to bite size chunks
4-6oz of half fat white cheddar cheese
salt to taste
1/2lb of whole grain penne pasta

Put the water on the stove and heat it on high. Heat the oil in another pan which is big enough to hold the entire dish. Saute the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and pepper until the onions are translucent and soft, about seven minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cook sauce on a low heat while prepping the rest of the dish, stirring occasionally.

Now the part that I find the most difficult; getting the broccoli to be at that perfect tender-crisp stage. I opted for the microwave on this occasion because it's quick and easy, but the broccoli could also be steamed or boiled. In the microwave, it'll take approximately two to three minutes (depending on the power of the microwave) for the broccoli to be cooked just enough but not overcooked. Set the broccoli aside, lid off, once it's finished so the steam does not continue to cook the broccoli.

Finally, if the cheese is not grated already, grate away! Set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce, and stir until well mixed. Then toss the broccoli in. Finally, add the cheese at intervals, stirring after every addition. This will ensure all of the pasta is evenly cheesy. Serve piping hot.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Jiffy" Corn Muffin Mix

Studying does not leave much time for cooking unfortunately. I was craving carbs last night and "Jiffy" corn muffin mix ended up coming to my rescue.

Needless to say, nothing could ever beat my Grandma's recipe for corn muffins/corn bread, but "Jiffy" is extremely good, and more importantly, extremely easy and quick to make. I don't think they've changed the packaging in my lifetime, and I don't think the price has gone up either. A box of "Jiffy" makes about 6 muffins, and it costs about 25 cents (or less sometimes!).

It's really easy to make the muffins. Just mix the dry ingredients with 1/3 cup of milk and an egg. The oven should be preheated to 400f and the muffin pan should be greased to avoid having half of the muffin stay in the pan when you try to dislodge them. I think the key to good muffins is to not over stir the batter. The moment the ingredients are blended, stop stirring! Don't be tempted to beat out the lumps, just leave the batter alone! Also, it's a good idea to let the batter sit peacefully in the muffin tin a few minutes before the tin goes into the oven. Between not over mixing and letting the batter sit, your muffins should be light and fluffy with a nice big muffin top. They take between 15 and 20 minutes to bake.

I'm Back!

I'm sorry I've been missing for the past couple of months; I've been traveling a bunch. I've been to London, Norway, India, South Africa, and Namibia. It's been great and I have a few photos to share with you in the upcoming days.

I've also been studying for the GMAT, which, if you don't know, is the exam you have to take to get into business school. I take the test in three weeks so wish me luck!!

The photo above is me standing on the top of Table Mountain, which is in Cape Town, South Africa. It was absolutely gorgeous there, and if you ever visit I suggest going when the southern wright whales come for breeding (the winter months of the Southern Hemisphere) because the whales come in so close to the shore that you don't even need to board a boat to see them. It's really stunning to experience.

Anyway, enough about traveling! More posts coming soon : )