Apple Upside Down Cake

Easiest Apple cake I ever made-

Ingredients-
For the Batter-
2 Cups – All purpose Flour
1 Cup – Sugar
11/2 Cup – Butter
1/2 Cup – Milk
4 Eggs
2 Tblsp – Vanilla Extract
1 tsp – Baking Powder
3/4 tsp – Salt
For Apple Glaze
3/4 Cup – Butter
1/4 Cup – Sugar
3 Medium Sized Apples peeled and thinly sliced into pieces.
Method-
-Make Sugar Glaze-In a pan, on medium to low heat melt the 3/4 cup butter and add 1/4 cup sugar. Stir till sugar melts and switch off flame, but keep the pan on the stove.
-Peel and cut apples into very thin slices.Remove seeds.
-Make the batter- Mix Butter and Sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl, Mix flour,baking powder, salt, Eggs, Milk and Vanilla Extract. Add this to the sugar-butter mxture and mx till smooth.
-In a 9″ or 10″ inch pan, pour Glaze. Arrange the apple slices all over the pan Arrange them as close as possible. Then pour batter over this, and spread evenly.
-Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Switch off oven and leave the pan in for 10 more minutes.
-Remove the pan and invert onto a plate.

Cauliflower-Carrot Rice

A very healthy lunch idea. This is very easy and simple to make. Its a healthy and filling lunch for days when there is nothing much left in the house to cook. Here, I have used cauliflower and carrot. You can use any vegetables you want. Some of the good choices are beans, peas, mushrooms or even broccoli.

Ingredients –
1 Medium Sized Onion
1 Cup Cauliflower Florets(washed)
1 Cup Carrot (washed and cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 Cup Brown or White Rice
1 tblsp Ghee
1 tblsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
4 to 5 Green Chillies Chopped
1 tsp Cardammom
1 tsp Cinnamom
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
2 tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
3 Cups Water

Method –
1.Wash and soak rice in water and keep aside.
2.In a pressure Cooker, on medium heat add Ghee and when it melts, add cardamom, cinnamom and cinammon sticks and saute for a few seconds. Add onions and green chillies and saute till onions turns brown. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a few more minutes.
3.Add salt, turmeric, chilli powder and Coriander powder and cook for a minute.
4.Add cauliflower and carrot and 1 cup water and cook for 15 minutes.
5.Now, drain and add rice.
6. Add 2 cups of water and cook for another 15 minutes.
7. Taste the water and adjust salt and chilli powder as needed.
8. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles.

Once pressure is down, open and serve hot with either boiled egg or Yogurt Salad(Raitha).

Deep Fried Bananas

This a very simple south Indian sweet called “Panniyaram” . You can make this in minutes and can be served as a healthy snack.

Ingredients –
1 Cup – All purpose flour
2 Extremely Ripe Bananas
1/2 Cup – Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp – Vanilla Essence (Extract)

Method-
1.Mix all ingredients together till smooth. Use hand to mix them together instead of electronic mixer.
2.Heat oil in a pan. When oil is hot enough, drop a little batter into the oil, If it sputters, then oil is hot enough.
3.Take a spoonful or handful of batter and drop it in oil gently. Fry till golden brown on both sides.
4.Serve hot.

My Finest Chocolate Cake

Ingredients –

1 Cup – All Purpose Flour(Maida)
1/2 Cup – Drinking Chocolate Powder
1 Teaspoon – Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon – Salt
1/2 Cup – Butter
1 Cup – Sugar
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup – Cooking Oil
1/2 Cup – Milk
1 Teaspoon – Vanilla Essence
1/2 Cup – Assorted Nuts(Almonds, Walnuts)

Method –
Sieve together flour, chocolate, baking powder and salt and mix well.

In a different bowl, mix butter and sugar. Add this to the flour mixture and mix well. Add eggs and milk and mix.

Once the batter is semi smooth add vanilla essence and oil and mix till batter is extremely smooth. Add nuts and fold them in with a spoon.

Grease and flour a 9/13 inch pan. Pre- heat oven to 350F. Pour in batter and bake for 40minutes.

Turn off oven. Remove pan after 5 minutes. Wait for cake to cool and remove from pan.

Frost if needed.

Love in an Arranged Marriage – It Happens!

I recently read a blog post about being with the right partner, and how Love is a decision and not a feeling and that we need to work hard to make a marriage work. This is all very nice when the partners know each other and fall in love and then get married. But what about an arranged marriage? Where does love fit in, in an arranged marriage? In a country like ours, where tradition is more important than feelings, it is difficult to convince the family members, regarding a love marriage. So “Love” in an arranged marriage? Possible or not?? 

I am a big mills and boon reader… and of course the books are all about a handsome rich guy meeting the normal not-so-rich girl and sweeping her off her feet with roses and chocolates and diamond rings… I wanted someone like that. I wanted to be that mills and boon girl who gets her handsome prince. I was adamant, I was going to choose my own life partner, someone whom I know beforehand and whom I loved and who also loves me. My mother could not believe it.. What nonsense..? Where will you find such a guy? How can a hero from a story come to life..? You don’t know anything about it… we will find a good guy from a good family with a good job, for you, was something she said and began looking for a suitable person.  So began the process of “girl looking” …The process of the guy coming to the girl’s house and then the girl coming and meeting the guy. Uncomfortable silences, awkward questions… And then deciding whether to say yes or No finally and then of course “the discussion” about various details like where to have the marriage, engagement etc… Although I found this whole process a bit tedious, I did not want to say No and start a whole argument with my parents. I was determined to choose my life partner my way. So what if a lot of guys came home to see me? Ultimately I have to say “yes” to proceed. I was confident that nothing would happen without my consent.  

And So it went one after another proposal coming and going… until the last one.. June 18th 2011. It was a Saturday… I refused to take a day off, just for some guy coming to see me. I remember my mother giving me advice. Don’t talk too much, just answer what they ask, that’s it, no need to talk anything more.  My brother saying, At least try to pretend to be a girl, Blah blah…Blah.. I was not really listening, my mind still on that perfect “mills and boon” guy who would come into my life one day and sweep me off my feet. So then came this person whom I met for the very first time. Everyone liked everyone. I mean my family liked them and his family liked us and I have no idea how it happened, but I found myself saying “yes’ to my mother when she asked me discreetly if they should go ahead with “the discussion” and before I knew it, my marriage had been settled. I could scarcely believe it!! How in the world did that happen? What happened to my mills and boon hero? What about love? I was so confused. 

As it turns out, there was no reason to be…

Love happened, no one decided to love, but it happened. To stay in love is the decision we made. And yes, we do have to work to make it work. For better and  for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health to love, cherish and protect as long as we both shall live, were the vows we made to each other and it is very difficult to stand by them. The idiosyncrasies, the arguments, the decisions, hundred other things that make a life, happened to us too. So we fight and then we make up, agree to disagree, arguments turn into discussions, and many other things which we consciously had to do,  to make this most important relationship of our lives’ a success. Each time we fight or have a disagreement, we remind ourselves of the vows we took and whether winning this argument or this fight is more important than our vow to cherish.

Slowly day by day, we matured in the relationship, we are still learning so many things, making so many compromises and adjustments, although it does not feel like that, because Love helps overcome all that. I realized that I was so ignorant, holding on to the idea of falling in love and finding a perfect hero from a fairy tale. There is no perfect man. It is rightly said, “Marriages are made in heaven” God chooses whom he allows in your life, and he will definitely be perfect for you… But you have to make it so.

 An impossible reality of love in an arranged marriage made possible only by believing that God always chooses the right person for everyone. It is really up to us whether we want to accept that person in our life or not. I did and I have got a man who loves me more than I have ever thought…who surprises me with something new every week… who holds my hand when I am ill… who makes me laugh when I am sad… who sheds tears for me when I cry… who laughs when I am happy.. What more do I need in this lifetime… I got my red roses and diamonds too over the course of time as a wonderful surprise!! I found an amazing love in my arranged marriage, with a stranger. And it’s been more than two years now… We have a beautiful baby boy now to show for all the laughter, the tears, the  joys, the disappointment and the fun and love…so much love I still cannot believe it!!

Is there a time limit for an apology?

“I am sorry” or “I apologize” or “I am sorry for hurting you”… How often do we use these words? And are they received in the manner with which it was said? When do we say these words? Right after we make a mistake? Or after we realize that we have wronged someone? Do we wait for a while before apologizing? Or do we immediately say sorry? What happens if we wait or what if we don’t wait? So many questions regarding a simple apology… The reason I bring this up, is recently I made a long overdue apology. Well, I think it was overdue anyway.

We were classmates for more than 10 years, before we became good friends and coincidently landed in the same city while we started our careers back in 2006.Since we knew each other for such a long time, it was inevitable that we became roommates too and that brought us closer. She and I were from different backgrounds, different castes, different religions…but we did become good friends. And then, as it usually happens when you live in close proximity with someone, misunderstandings inevitably occur. I do not remember exactly, what went wrong or at what point everything fell apart. I am still not sure if the whole thing was my fault to begin with, but I do remember telling her that I am sorry and would like to put everything behind us and start again. I guess we were both too close to the hurt and misunderstandings that the apologies and the effort to make things better did not help. We have lost touch after that, moved to different places and got on with our lives. Although I tried to contact her several times through Facebook, I was never able to. I heard that she lost touch with most of our classmates over the years and no one knew where she was or what she was up to and life moved on. But I always had this small thought, that someday I would try and apologize again and mend fences.

Recently, through another classmate of mine, I got to know by chance that she is alive and well and had gotten married recently. So I wished her well through a message on FB. I knew later that though she had seen the message, there was no response. So it led me to believe, that perhaps she was still angry or holding a grudge or upset and therefore I apologized again. There was still no response, even though she had seen my apology. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said that it was all my fault for reminding her of the past and that there was no need for me to say sorry. I could have just wished her and left it at that…Why did I have to apologize for something that happened so many years ago? What good was that going to do? My motives in apologizing were only to try and mend fences and to rekindle our friendship if that was possible. I also wanted to be free of any guilt I might have had in causing the rift. Was this selfish of me? Was I being self-centered when I expect the other person to accept my apology, thereby absolving me? Am I wrong?

So I ask again… Is there a time limit for an apology? If a year or two has gone by, does that mean it’s too late to apologize? It takes a lot of character to admit when you are wrong and apologize, does it not? So when do we say sorry? And what happens when the other person does not care for your apology? Do we keep trying? How long should we try and apologize or try and mend fences, before giving up. And if there are people, who no matter what we do, or how many times we apologize, simply won’t accept it, and then what do we do? Do we just let it go? So is our conscience clear because we tried our best to fix things, with the best of intentions, but it was not received in the manner with which it was presented? SO does this mean that the other person is now at fault for not forgiving the apologizer? If there indeed is a time limit for apology, what should it be? 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? 10years? What happens after that?

I guess I am baffled at the thought of not forgiving someone or not accepting someone’s apology. Why would you not want to forgive? Why would you not want to try and mend fences? The world is such a harsh place and you need all the friends you can get. Why would you throw away years of friendship because of a fight? I mean, I have had people hurt me so many times and yes it does feel very, very bad at the time. But when someone sincerely apologizes, I feel so glad and accept their apology whole heartedly. Although the relationship never goes back to being the same, in many ways it becomes better. In some cases the relationship heals enough to be ok… but ultimately neither them nor myself, have any ill-feeling towards one another…Isn’t that a marvelous thing?

Apologize; say sorry, mend fences… You will not be here forever. In the end, the only things that matter is not how much money you have, or what your current role is…. The only things that truly matter are how much you have loved; how much you have helped and how much you forgave.

My Most Memorable Adventure!

In my previous company, I had an opportunity to be part of a 3member team to organize and arrange a fete for our entire department of about 250 employees and their families.

Robert Orben quoted “If you can laugh together, you can work together”…. We, proved this by sharing a lot of laughs over an evening of games, eats, dance and loads of excitement. It was a delightful evening of fun and frolic at Manipal County, on September the 5th,2010  for all.

I, as part of the Diversity team, had an opportunity to plan this event along with two other cohorts and what an adventure we had in doing this!!!

What’s an event without a theme? After endless discussions, we finalized on “Mardi gras”- A carnival theme with purple, gold and green as the colors of the evening. Then began our working days and sleepless nights of planning the venue, the food, the decor, the games, the entertainment and million other details for the event.

“Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t, don’t call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.”   The day before, we checked to make sure that everything was set for the event and the only thing left was last minute shopping for prizes and goodies.. Simple enough task right? Or so we thought!. Little did we know, that we had angered all nine planets and that all the Gods of the universe were displeased with us .  Everything went wrong that day!! First our bike brakes fail, we almost miss causing a major accident, then one of our cell phones gets flicked, somehow we manage to retrieve it, and the only silver lining we thought at the time, was that we managed to get a good parking spot. As fortunate as we were so far, sadly, we forgot the helmet at some store, so we then had to revisit all the stores to find it.

Annoyed and amused, fatigued and hungry, we were so looking forward to racing back to the office for a final check. But as luck would have it, it started raining and when we get back to the parking space, we found much to our horror that our bike was missing. Oh! I cannot explain the despair we felt right at that minute. How we wished we knew that bikes get towed when parked even half-an-inch outside the parking line!! Almost in tears, thinking that the bike was stolen, forcing ourselves to walk over a kilometer, we manage to bargain with the “towing team”, pay over a 100 Rupees to get our bike back. Finally, when we thought, we were in the safe canopy of our office, and were just about to sip a cup of hot tea, destiny strikes again!! The tea spills and I burn my fingers as a result. What a day! Can anything else go wrong??

The D-Day arrived!! Thankfully our bad luck did not show its face this day. The gala event started at 3 PM, with games on one side of the huge lawn and eats on the other side. Lemon & Spoon Races, 3-Legged Races, Pani Puris, Dahi chats, cotton candy, popcorn, Ice-Golas made for a very enjoyable afternoon. A kid’s corner dedicated to the kids was arranged which kept the kids busy with building blocks, modeling clay and coloring, while the parents spent the evening showing off talent at balloon shooting and other games.

A welcome speech by our director, followed by an awesome Fancy dress show put on by kids of all ages was a pleasing sight. The kids were cheered on by all and we got to see a Cupid, a couple of fairies and a Miss Universe. The highlight of the evening was the Managers’ performance and pageant where they put on a show and were asked some really embarrassing questions which they so intelligently answered and were such wonderful sports about it. The evening ended on a high note with dinner and dance.

Vincent van Gogh said “Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” I will never forget the fun we had in planning the event, or the helplessness we felt when everything went wrong and as all good things come to an end, I remember the event as one unforgettable and remarkable adventure to this day.