Cardamom Orange Yogurt Cake

Cardamom Yogurt Orange small cakeI promised to post this recipe eons ago (if you follow me on Facebook) and  I’m only now getting around to it. I think we have moved beyond the stage of apology at this point. One can only do as much as she can with the cards dealt to her, and mine include classes, research, interning, feeding the husband (hehe) and a growing number of extracurriculars as well. This is not to say I lay my excuses humbly at your feet, or my life has become monumentally more important than my blog. Nay, I cannot emphasize the degree to which I miss this blasted nook in my life, where I might seek escape and comfort amidst piles of books and heaps of spices.  I think grandly day and night about the possibilities that reside in this modest corner of the internet. Not even a corner, more like a floor pillow, or a footstool. A step to lead thoughts and tastes into hard-to-reach places.

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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

Gluten Free Chocolate Yogurt Cake

Yogurt gluten free cakeOut the window burns a luminous horizon, burgeoning with new opportunities on the brink of fruition. Which will evaporate and which will blossom in my grasp, I cannot say, but it’s exciting all the same. Among the not-so-likely is my upcoming trip to India with the husband, contingent upon a travel visa the country does not seem to want to grant me. I will not dwell on it, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be going in less than a month. POSITIVITY! Thy name is ALYA!

Right.

Among the more promising excursions into the promised land of the future is my newest endeavor with a local writing group sponsored by our library system. If you know me, you know I would do anything to avoid spotlight on most things, most notably direct attention upon me and my most personal ambition of becoming a novelist. But the husband dragged me kicking and screaming and heart palpitating and hyperventilating I went all the same, and it turned out to be fruitful, full of supportive people of all ages, not any of whom were likely to eat me alive with their carnivorous wit and bloodthirsty critiques.

Another promising activity was my first endeavor into the realm of gluten free experimentation! I honestly have no idea what to do with the flour; I read briefly the additional ingredients one usually needs to really lift up the dough so it isn’t dense or grainy, but… I’m not one for buying too many things unnecessarily that I won’t likely use much at all. I prefer to try out with what I have and then see from there. I had actually bought the gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill variety) because I’ve come to know a few people who either prefer it for personal reasons, or actually have wheat allergies, so this has been on my mind as a possibility for baking.

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LiterEature 101: #4 The Bell Jar

*I apologize in advance for the photos; the lighting was too low for them to come out well, and we were too eager to eat to rectify anything*

Our Fourth Session of LiterEature 101 commences with a brief discussion on The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

I could have easily done another segment on the second volume of the Young Adult Series I am reading, The Gideon Trilogy (now known as the Time Travelers, the Time Thief, and the Time Quake, respectively) but I would be doing my heart severe injustice to pass on one of the most stellar novels I have read in recent times. There are moments when I discover something so poignant, reflective, and just REAL even in its schizophrenic perspectives, that remind me why my degrees in English and Anthropology are relevant and valuable, even if I haven’t truly monopolized on them yet. The Bell Jar obviously fits that category by exposing with clarity the struggles of femininity vs feminism, identity, and sexuality that every generation experiences at some point (notably during and after college), especially girls. A synopsis does it no justice—the story of a young woman’s steady descent into depression one pivotal summer, her succumbing to attempted suicide and the journey of recovery. You might think “oh dear god!” but if you don’t fall in love with the author by the end of this experience, then we have some problems.

A most fitting Bonus: It includes, without a doubt, one of the finest short sections of “food writing” that I have ever read (other books that come to mind are Tripmaster Monkey and The Book of Salt but neither engage the reader even half the way this does). Her sweet ponderings over avocados (“avocado pears”) is remarkably endearing. Continue reading

G’s Utopian Dream Cake

When I took this delight out of the oven, my heart burst out and galloped forth through the sweet aromas filling the kitchen.
When I pulled it out as a surprise after dinner, G’s eyes drooled even more than his mouth.
When I cut a slice dolloped with fresh whipped cream and handed it over to him, the clouds parted in the wintry sky, heavenly lights shone down and angels sang from G’s rapturous face with every bite.

I have to say, this orange chiffon cake really is THAT good. Continue reading

Zesty Strawberry Cake

While I still work on developing the new direction for my site, I have a not-so-secret confession to make.  I adore peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.  What is it about the ultimate combination of savory rich PB and sweet sticky jelly/jam/or my personal favorite, preserves, slathered not too generously on soft multigrain bread that provides incomparable comfort and satisfaction?  As adults, people might look at it as a strictly childhood lunch, but I still enjoy it to my heart’s delight.

Of course I’ve expanded my tastebuds to utilize both PB and J/J/P individually (usually in decadent PB smoothies, PB an apples, or PB on a spoon!–my favorite, and by far the easiest)… and this past weekend I decided that jams are too good to use only as a decadent topper on breads.  Instead, I incorporated the strawberry jam I have at home into a moist cake recipe, making it even softer, meltier, and just downright heavenly.  I’d love to get other flavors and really experiment with fruits but for now I kept it straightforward.  And though I screwed up the icing a bit (considering I had no idea what I was doing there), it till tasted splendid too.  Even the hubby-bubby was surprised at how tasty this dessert was.

worst photo ever of a delicious cake

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