Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to peel a pomegranate

A good friend asked for the method I use to peel pomegranates. I told her it was quite easy but I don’t think she believed me.

Pick your pomegranate by weight not color. The heavier the fruit, the juicer it will be. Color will range from light pink to ruby red. 

First, using a sharp knife, cut about a quarter to half an inch from the top and bottom of the fruit, until the ruby red gems are just visible.


Score the skin of the fruit into sections using the tip of your knife.

Scoop out the core with the tip of your knife.

Insert your thumb into the scooped out core and gently pull the sections apart. You might want to do this over a large bowl the first time, as the gems will want to escape your  greedy clutches.

Gently thumb off the gems from the pith into a small bowl.  Discard pith. Enjoy your pomegranate gems.

Now that you know how to peel pomegranate, peel some and take it to your next party. You will be surprised at how many people will come up to you and compliment you on your culinary prowess.  Don’t tell them how very easy it was to peel.  Just pretend you slaved for hours to get those ruby gems out and you will be the star of the party. 
My boys love to eat them just as they are as do I.  Sprinkle a few on your salad to add both sweetness and crunch.

Pomegranate gems will last about three days in the refrigerator.  However, that information is not from experience but from the internet.  In our house, pomegranate gems last only until the kids or I get to them. 

Do you know how to peel pomegranate? If so, how do you do it? How do you pick your pomegranate? How do you eat the juicy ruby red seeds?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indian Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)


2 teaspoons loose tea, or two bags of unflavored tea

6-10 whole cloves

2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken

6-10 green cardamom pods, opened

2 teaspoons ginger peels, or four 1/10th of an inch ginger slices

2 teaspoons lemon grass(optional)

1 cup water and 1 cup milk (substitute water for milk, if you don't drink milk)

4 teaspoons of sugar

Put all ingredients in a pot that will allow for the mixture to come to a full boil. Bring to a full boil and then use a fine strainer to strain into teacups.

Makes about two 8oz cups of tea.

Note 1: Chai means “tea” in Hindi. If you ask for chai, you are asking for tea made with tea leaves, water and milk, sometimes sweetened.

Masala Chai, on the other hand, is tea made with tea leaves, water, milk and what we might call baking spices in the US, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and green cardamom. Green cardamom and lemon grass can be found in Indian and Chinese grocery stores. Use the spices you have handy, it is not necessary that you have all the spices every single time.

Note 2: I tend to drink Masala Chai without milk because I am lactose intolerant, so this recipe might be milder and sweeter with milk added. I sometimes use plain non-dairy creamer, if I want that traditional feel.

Note 3: I use ginger peels in my tea. I buy a hand of ginger from the store and wash it thoroughly. Then I peel it. I save the peels on a plate, in a place where I won't disturb it. It takes about 7 days for the peels to air dry in Oklahoma's dry weather. Then I put them in an air tight container. If the container starts showing droplets of moisture, the peels are not completely dry. I take them out again and air dry them for another 3-4 days. Depending on the moisture in the air, the peels should take 7-10 days to dry.

You can substitute fresh ginger slices for the peels, if you like. Use about two 1/10th of an inch per cup of tea you plan on making.

Especially when I have a cold, I increase the ginger in my tea. It helps to open up stuffed nasal passages.

Note 4: I don't throw away my tea ingredients after the first tea of the morning. If it turns out to be a cold day, I add more water to it and make more tea, that I drink through the day. I only throw them out the next day and start with a new batch of tea leaves and spices.

If making a new batch in the evening, start out with decaff tea or you are likely to be up late into the night.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

18 year old Marceline “Marcy” Murphy returns to Boston after five years to be courted by her best friend’s older brother Sam O’Rourke and his best friend, Patrick O’ Connor. Both men are “rogues” in Marcy’s eyes but she finds herself attracted to both in spite of her reservations. Will Marcy’s dream of marrying Sam come true or will she pick Patrick instead?
Of the two men, Patrick appealed to me the most. While Marcy judges him based on her prejudices, Patrick decides to be generous and sacrifices his love for her happiness.
With such wonderful family background, Sam should have made better decisions. (I saw too much of myself in him.) I hope the author has a feisty heroine in the works for him.  
The characters are written well, with real dilemmas, real virtues and real faults.  While I didn’t feel preached at, I did continue to think on the applications to my own life. What I realized about myself made me decide to work harder to make the necessary changes. 
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I will be reading her other works as soon as I can. 
I first read this as a judge for the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s (OKRWA) 2013 International Digital Awards (IDA). I was glad to see Julie Lessman’s A Light in the Window  win the first prize in the Inspirational category.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chennai Express Review

In his ordinary life, Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) is a 40-year old bachelor who still lives with his grandparents in Mumbai, India. After his grandfather’s death on his 100th birthday, Rahul decides to join his friends in Goa for some “fun”.  His grandmother asks him to fulfill his grandfather’s last request by immersing his ashes at Rameshwaram. 

Rahul hops the first train going to South India and plans to join his friends at the next railway station. Rahul forgets his grandfather’s ashes on the train and hops back on to retrieve them.  However, before he can get off again, the train starts and Rahul, kind soul that he is, is delayed while he helps a girl and four men on to the train.  

The girl, Meenamma (Deepika Padukone), has run away from home to avoid an unwanted marriage.  The four men are goons of a powerful Don who also is the girl’s father. Rahul is forced to accompany them to their village when he witnesses the ticket collector being tossed from the train by one of the goons. 
Shahrukh and Deepika have fabulous comic timing.  In the scene where Meenamma teases Rahul about his age, the twinkle in her eye and his outrage as he becomes aware of what she’s just said looks completely genuine.  

Some of the other comedic bits that added to my enjoyment of the movie: the songs and other movie references, the Nokia Lumina 920 gratuitous product placement scene and the snarky way Deepika says her lines. 

Meenamma and Rahul converse in famous Hindi songs with modified song lyrics to keep their conversations private. When the villainous fiancĂ© starts singing as well, it’s just icing on the cake. 

All I know about South India I learned from Bollywood and Tollywood, the Hindi language and Telugu language movie industries respectively. 

I loved the fact that Deepika was dressed in langavoni, traditional “southern” dress for unmarried girls, throughout the movie. 

Other “southern” tropes that felt like old friends and comforted me with their presence: the sickle-carrying goons, the curled tongue and neck slashing gesture that one of the goons makes to Rahul and the long line of Sumo's that make the procession back to Meenamma’s home.  

The item song “1 2 3 4 Get on the dance floor” with Priyamani is going on my workout playlist as is the title song, “Chennai Express”. 

 “Titli” is dreamy, falling-in-love song I’ve been humming since the first time I heard it. 

“Main Kashmir tu Kanyakumri”  in which Shahrukh rocks a lungi.  Squee.

And “Tera Rastaa Chodu Na” is a haunting, beautiful accompaniment to Rahul’s decision.  

“Lungi Dance”, a tribute to Rajnikanth, was a fun surprise during the credits.
The only “southern” thing I missed was Prakash Raj.  He would have completed the movie. 

On a personal note: One, the first few scenes are so reminiscent of the RNBDJ fan fiction I wrote about Suri’s family, I squealed when I saw it on screen.

Two, on our trip to India last winter, we went to see the fifth highest waterfall in India, Dudhsagar Waterfalls. We only saw it from ground level but our guide pointed out the bridge the train travels on and the fact that we missed the shooting on the bridge by about three days.  Seeing the aerial view in the movie brought back wonderful memories of our time in Goa and India. 

Since I’d only watched the cringe-worthy “All the Best” by the director, Rohit Shetty, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one. As a masala romantic comedy, this works well. However, if you are expecting a deep, profound, moving movie, you are in the wrong theater.  Leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride that is Chennai Express.