2012 Wrap Up (and yes, I’m Still Here)

Oh my! How many months have gone by! Ay, I really did begin a few posts in October… and November… but fine, perhaps not in December. I just suppose my follow-through hinges were a tad rusty (*sigh* my old tennis coaches would be ashamed to hear that). I also had a bit of a balancing act to contend with. Oh but guess who survived her first semester of graduate school?? Sweet bubbly goblets of Martinelli’s! Oh wait, that’s my new year’s treat. Still, I did manage to trespass into the academic world once more and not only emerge unscathed, but with a banner of flying colors undulating behind me. Another time I’ll share details about some of my most interesting projects, but for now let’s just raise our voices in a collective “Huzzah!” that 2012 culminated in good vibes, despite all the heaviness of personal and national calamities that may and have befallen many. A new year emerges, not that I really buy into the “new year” mantra of resolutions and whatnot. I don’t deny that it’s an astronomical miracle of science to behold the world completing another revolution around the Sun, but… well, if it lends a sense of motivation and control over the limitless track of time and circularity for the greater population, then so be it. How about we all endeavor to make 2013 a wee bit more consistent in all our pursuits then? I for one have epic visions of “litereature” posts galore (since I basically read nonstop now, much to my glorious delight). Let’s see if I can maintain an evenly scheduled serving of these posts for you in general, sprinkled with recipes, stories, and reviews.

Now that 2013 is well upon us, I do want to move forward afresh and new, focusing on upcoming recipes and exploits, but I would also like to recap the last few months with a sampling of the goings on down here in San Diego. Admittedly I fell off the virtual map because of academic commitments and personal events that elicited monumental distraction and required a steely grasp on focus–occasionally the hand does slip from sweaty beads of nerves and anxiety, but so it goes. Amidst all that, I did remind myself to cook well, eat well, and try to live well. I wonder why that has to be such a struggle; for something that brings so much harmony, it is painfully difficult to maintain isn’t it?? Don’t digress, Alya! The point is, I did some fun little concoctions, culminating in a swirly cake of fruitastic proportions. So for now, let me hearken back to those simpler times, when the raw pulse of 2013 did not beat upon my weathered head with demands for more work, more stress, more pursuits, more projects, and hopefully more accomplishments! Continue reading


Blueberry Spinach and Chocolate Cake… What?

What with books upon books upon articles upon blogging upon events upon books upon trying to drum up the courage to speak up more in class, it’s no wonder I’m under a wee bit o’ stress. Also hasn’t helped that the husband has been away but he shall return in the offing, so at least that bit is solved. Now, what to do with all the other stress… I know! Sweets! Sweets and cakes and cookies and fruits and ice cream and brownies galore! Well, it surely hasn’t been a dining extravaganza the likes of Willy Wonka around here, but I have had my fair share of comfort food in the guise of delectable goodies. But since my regular running regimen isn’t quite up to snuff yet (ok regular has become thrice weekly? That’s improvement from nil eh?), I figured I ought at least try to make something semi decent without a thousand pounds of sugar and other monstrosities for my health.

And so… I googled. Naturally. And sure enough came across a recipe that was easy (and easily adaptable) and which I already had all the ingredients. Don’t be alarmed by the … well, the blues and greens. Trust me, this cake is all chocolate by the end of it. If you like richer or sweeter cakes, you might not go for this. But it turned out perfect for me, fluffy but with the right amount of density to lend a rich factor, not overly sweet but that can be adjusted to your liking. And best of all, not a scant hint of spinach whatsoever. I might try just a berry mixture or something next time, just for kicks. But for now, if you or someone you love won’t eat his or her veggies, you might as well try this. No harm. And Really, it soothed my soul. Continue reading

Plum Vinaigrette and Summer Salad in tow

Between the husband and I, salads have become a much more frequent main dish of the dinner (and/or lunch) time. I have to give the boy some props for being open to trying new flavors and realizing the salad is so much more than just some lettuce tomato and cucumber tossed in lemon and olive oil. There aint nothin’ wrong with that, but… it’s boring. Thankfully he married a culinarily curious food lover who likes to try and learn new techniques, resulting in such beauties as the orange vinaigrette and soy ginger and chili lime dressings. We have discovered that he prefers the tangy and spicy versions more than the fruity but as I am the predominant cook I get to decide. And lately what I wanted was something that spoke of summer, of sun, of the fruits of the season.

As it happens, I have seen plums everywhere and naturally surmised the most obvious and pleasant route would be to endeavor a taste of the plum vinaigrette. I’d never tried anything like this, and while it wasn’t heard, it certainly took more labor than my dressings usually require, but I daresay for the eyes alone it was worth it. The colors I was left with took my breath away. I’m only disheartened I had to leave this beautiful concoction in Maryland when I moved this week. Did that come as a surprise? Yes I am currently in CA now, temporarily with la familia before I settle down in San Diego. It is with a heavy heart that I must bid adieu to all the great food and great people I encountered, along with the lush majesty of trees galore, but new adventures await! One cannot sit idly by and moan about the past whilst the present offers a smorgasbord of delights.

Anyway, here I am now reminiscing about the bright, sweet, and rich homemade vinaigrette which really was worth the effort! I am ready to explore with other fruits soon, now that the basic technique has revealed itself to me with delightful clarity. I implore you to do the same, lest the fruits of summer pass you by with nary a glance from your direction. What better than an ideal summer salad to live through this horridly hot days? Continue reading

Fennel Spiced Daal and Brussel Sprouts

The perils of fasting: exhaustion, wonky sleep schedules, possible indigestion from eating so early and so late, abnormally delusional behavior at work, Charlie horses, massive stomach aches and unseemly consequences that render one unable to fast for a day or two…

Oh, those last two aren’t very common, at least not to the level of severity that keeps one from completing her fasts. Ohh but life ain’t a bike ride through the park. More like a merry go round, without the merry and more of an abundance of ups and downs to make your inner self disoriented at best, nauseated at worst. My inner self let my outer self feel that too closely today, which is why I stayed home to weather the after effects. Finding time to rejuvenate my strength, replenish my stomach’s acceptance of food, and banish the pain from a stupid charlie horse (or muscle spasm in the calf for the unawares) that had to hit at the same time. Continue reading

Transition #1, or a Lesson in Checking the Weather Before You Move

Just wanted to give a brief update to the blogosphere on this hot and sultry night of which I am thankfully not a part as my sister-in-law puts her A/C to SUPERIOR use.  Why go the funky route of blue nail polish when you can turn your whole toesies icy instead?  I don’t have my main lappy set up yet (it needs to resurface from amidst the frantic packing that ensued this weekend) and upon that mighty machine resides the bulk of my photos, so instead how about some highlights of what passed this weekend?

As you may have read, we moved out of our apartment and into the husband’s sister’s home.  This is a temporary shift, for the next 6 weeks or so until other plans come to life (ie I figure out where we are living!!) but temporary or no, it still required completely wrapping up my homely comfortable life into too many boxes and not enough suitcases. And a few plastic bins. And trash bags. You get the idea.  The move itself was already a strain, but neither of us have been heeding the weather channel as of late, much to my most chagrinliest of chagrins. I can only say now how incredibly relieved I am that this sucker didn’t try to break through on that random lightning storm that bombarded the East Coast.

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Mornings in Madras

We have returned! What began as the trip-that-wasn’t-to-be turned into that-which-would-never-end, but all things, good or not, must come to an end.  Overall, it was an amazing, exhilarating, eye-opening experience, worth every penny spent.

Currently I’m under house arrest due to an infernal cold, the expected result of fatigue and weary traveling, and this time to myself and my thoughts has allowed the opportunity to reminisce over the glorious morning treat I had nearly every day in Madras—the most fulfilling chai in the universe. I know a lot of the husband’s friends, whom I met for the first time and whom he hadn’t seen for seven or more years, are probably wondering if/when they will be the subject of a post, but I must save their rapid fire speaking and relentless desires to eat out for later, my mind cannot stray from that glorious milky drink that brought a sunrise to my soul. Continue reading

Beyond the Blog: October Dining

First Anniversary.  First birthday actually spent solely with my husband.  First time I experienced the magic of Ethiopian injera and Cuban cod fritters.  I marvel at how swiftly time has flown and how miraculous it is indeed that I have survived living in this apartment beneath a demon child who runs rampantly with cinder blocks for feet.  Not the point, Alya, not the point.

I realize I have been away for far too long than any responsible blogger ought to be if she desires to travel the gastronomical seas with her readership.  So, to make up for the loss of intrepid adventure time let me take you on a journey into the past to uncover the foodly treats that played magnificent melodies on my heart strings. I may even be so daring as to let the photos do (most of) the talking. Continue reading