Homemade Nutty and Cinnamon Muesli

I had been wanting to do this for the longest while. Make a batch of  muesli at home. It sounded so simple. And thanks to the in-laws trips from India, I seemed to have every kind of dry fruit at home. So what was stopping me?

My inherent laziness. That’s all.

And also, the fact that at any given time we have 3 types of cereal lying at home. There’s the healthy bran flakes that Arjun Singh gets home, the Chocolate Pillows (from Aldi) that we both love, and the whatever-be-my-fancy-that-month batch of muesli/granola that I get from the supermarket (this month I am tripping over a dark chocolate and cranberry oat cluster pack from Carman’s Kitchen.. it’s supremely blissful).

I love milk and cereal for breakfast. And especially cold cold milk and a crunchy bite to my cereal. So last week when we ran out of our truck load of cereal (gasp!) and I didn’t want to make a trip to the market JUST for cereal, I decided to make some at home.

And trust me, it’s one of the easiest things on the planet. Plus super healthy too.

You need good quality oats, your choice of dry fruits, seeds, and nuts, honey/maple syrup, sugar, cinnamon and you are good to go. And because you are making this at home, you can control what goes in, the amount of sugar level, the level of crispiness or smokiness you want the cereal to have. It’s all super easy and simple.

Oats:

The thing with making muesli at home is that there is no fixed ratio of ingredients. Obviously the oats are the most in quantity, and it is better if you make it with traditional rolled oats. You can always try making muesli with quick cooking oats but do remember that if you are aiming to make granola (muesli that is baked for longer and thus chewier) and/or granola clusters, then traditional oats get better results. They change texture which quick cooking oats don’t. That’s what gets the oats to bind together and form those yummy crunchy clusters.

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 The Add Ons

This is where you make up your muesli mix. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, dried figs, dried prunes, dried apricots, seeds, coconut flakes, raisins. Put them all. Or put none. Okay, put some of these at least. It’s not muesli if its just dried oats and milk!

Word of advice: If you plan on adding chocolate chips, fresh fruit etc, do so in the last 5-10 minutes of the bake. Not from the very beginning.

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The Sugar and Syrup

This is the part where you add the honey or maple syrup or both and mix up everything. I sprinkled some vanilla sugar and a touch of cinnamon.

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The Bake

After giving it a thorough mix, lay it out on a baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven to bake at 180 C for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, take them out and swirl the mix around with a spatula and put it back in the oven to bake for a further 10 minutes. This is so that the entire mixture gets baked evenly.

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I baked this batch for about 25 minutes, mixing it up twice, and then taking it out of the oven to cool down. Once cool, store in an air tight jar. The smell of the nutty baked muesli will enliven the house.

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I can’t wait to make my next batch of breaky cereal. This one got over in 3 days. Hope you try it too. And hit me up with  a comment below if you have any questions, feedback, criticism or just want to say hi.

Happy munching!

:)

 

Markets of Melbourne: The Esplanade Market, St Kilda

Hello there, lovely people. I realised that in all the absence and then some action, my Markets of Melbourne feature has been very badly ignored. And I feel horrible. Truly, I do.

So keeping you all as witnesses, this I solemnly swear that henceforth, I shall not ignore this series. As promised, every 2 months, I shall take you all on a jaunt around Melbourne via its charming and vibrant market life.

The weather hasn’t been all that great these last few weeks, and try as I might, I hadn’t been able to make a trip to the market that I really wanted to share next with you all. However, the gods were kind, and finally the week before last, the sun shone through and I ran to get my fill of the Esplanade Market. 

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With a location that adjoins St Kilda beach on one side, and the bustling Acland Street with its cafes on the other, the Esplanade Market couldn’t be a more fun experience for a Sunday morning. So read on for some of the things that make this market different from some of Melbourne’s other markets.

Esplanade Market, St Kilda

 Established in the year 1970, the St Kilda Esplanade Market was originally known as the Art Bank,  serving as a showcase venue for art and craft. The market is held every Sunday from 10 am onwards, and is one of the best places in Melbourne to source curios and souvenirs which are different from regular commercial establishments. Being purely an arts and craft market, you are bound to find interesting knick knacks as people showcase their super creative talent. Seeing all those wonderful stalls, I was quite amazed that there are such myriad ways of showcasing your talent to the world. Just goes to show that no idea is too big or too small. 

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Read on for the things that caught my eye at the Esplanade market. There were tons of delightful things but these were the ones I found the most unique. Head on over to the market in case you feel curious enough to discover the other quirky curios.

What I Discovered at The Esplanade Market:

I. Woodooldo

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Creative artist Imbi makes these cute and super quirky pieces from natural material like wood, gum nuts, and seed pods. She fashions these raw materials into cute little animals like owls, rats, or even little fairy huts, and mushroom homes.

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How cute are they? And in case you’re wondering how the heck do I pronounce the name of the shop, just wood will do real fast and you are there my friend. thatoldo too.

II. Jolly Wagtails

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Aah, the pets my dreams are made of.. Dogs. Whenever I come across anything pooch related and cute, I feel so happy. And the Jolly Wagtails (how adorable is that name) stall at the Esplanade market offers a myriad of all things nice, and all things bright for our pet pooches. Described as a Moroccan bazaar for dogs, the stall offers customised collars, pet coats, pet soaps, and the like. But what caught my eye was this colorful holdall that actually serves as a bed AND carry-all for your pet.

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Simply lay it down for your precious (and tiny) dog to lie down in, and when you want to stroll down the market, just pick ’em up. Brilliant. And so pretty!

III. The Timber Shack

Enlarged photo prints on recycled wooden frames. How ingenious is that. And environment friendly too. Plus looks quite vintage too. And that is all the rage nowadays.

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I want the one with the superheroes on them. How old am I!

IV. This yummy looking Banana Milkshake candle

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V. Anatolian food

Image Source: Kurbside Kravings Facebook Page
Image Source: Kurbside Kravings Facebook Page

Are you thinking what I was thinking? What is Anatolian food?? Well, I had no clue too. But there was a food truck there called Kurbside Kravings specialising in Anatolian food and I was curious. One look at the menu and I knew I wanted some. They were serving Anatolian street food with a twist, and the options were a good mix of lamb and seafood with the middle eastern type yogurt based sauces that I really love. I got me a grilled fish sandwich with tons of salad and a sauce that was very much like tsatziki, while Arjun tried a chicken and cheese burek from another stall. One bite of the sandwich and I was hooked. Anatolian street food has a new fan, me!

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VI. The Mug Men

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The market website says that these mugs are Lord Of The Rings inspired but you know what they made me think of? The little tea cup in Beauty and the Beast. I know I am definitely picking one of these up in my next saunter to the market.

VII. Flamin’ Signs and Boxes

I love wooden boxes. And especially wooden boxes with carvings. Reminds me of the stuff I used too buy with my mom in the markets of Srinagar, or the ones my aunt and cousins would buy for me from Lakkar Bazaar in Shimla.

But at the Esplanade market, I discovered a whole new type of carving on wooden boxes. Flamin’ carvings, made right there in front of you by Mick, based on a design you want or customised to any of the multiple stencils that Mick has to offer. The designs are carved on to the boxes and signs by using a hot wire, so we have a bit of the theatrics happening as designs are being made too. Quite unique, I must say, and definitely a good idea for a birthday or going away gift. Mental bookmark made.

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VIII. Flattened Glass Bottle Art as Cheese Boards

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I saw these flattened bottles way back in 2012, in a craft market at London, Camden if I remember correctly, and went crazy about them. Got them back for friends, got one back for my future house (unfortunately that broke :( ). However, at the Esplanade market, I saw them being used in a novel manner: as a cheese board.

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Looked gorgeous. My only concern was how functional were they really. While Arjun Singh was more curious about how they managed to remove the labels so neatly off the bottle and then adhere them back to the flattened bottle. (yeah, my husband has a thing for taking off bottle labels and pasting them all over the house. He was just trying ti get more professional about it!)

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So there you have it. My trip through one of Melbournes favorite crafts market, the Esplanade Market at St Kilda. If you liked what you saw (and read), and are curious for more, head on over there one of these Sundays.

Have any of you been to this market? What did you like the most? What all did you buy?

If you liked this post, please do let me know by leaving a comment below or sharing this on social media. I might be lazy but I do make it a point to acknowledge your appreciation.

I am  linking this post to the #TheWeeklyPostcard hosted by the lovely Lyn. This week she talks about beautiful Venice and you have to show her some love.

 

A Hole In My Shoe

Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award

“Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award recognizes the unique voices of women bloggers around the world.”

 

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My first blogger award! yayiie! And boy, it feels good. So good!

I used to keep seeing others around me get the Liebsters, the Sunshine awards etc and I knew I was missing out on all that fun. Primarily because if I am being honest, I wasn’t very regular in my blog posts (I still am not, but I am trying to improve haha). And also, because I wasn’t making much of an effort to know more about other wonderful bloggers out there who are travelling the world, sharing their stories, sharing family recipes, forming new friendships. But the moment you take that extra step, they welcome you right in. And that’s what is incredible about this community and these forums.

These wonderful bloggers and their stories make me realise that I am not alone in a far away land, away from best friends and family. Thanks to this sisterhood we are all a part of. And I won’t have it any other way.

And an even bigger thanks to Lyn for welcoming me right in by sharing the Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers Award with me. I heart you Lyn.. and your super blog. It’s such a fun read, eevry single post of yours…You’ re my Oz neighbour too :D

After looking into the rules I must acknowledge the blogger that nominated me, answer her 10 questions, nominate 10 worthy bloggers and ask them 10 questions. I accept the conditions, so read on.

  • What is the most memorable food you have had while travelling?

Food is always such a highlight for me in my trips. I don’t think I have bad memories of food at all. But one of the most memorable food memories for me was this incredibly soft, and fresh blueberry scone I had in Lake District, when my friends and I were on our way to Edinburgh. I wasn’t particularly hungry but these guys wanted to have breakfast. We stopped at this lakeside cafe, and ordered food. I ordered the cafes famous homemade scone with freshly whipped cream, not expecting what I got.

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I took a bite and I was in heaven. It was soft, just the right amount of sweet, and that combination of fresh cream and juicy blueberries. When I did the trip with Arjun Singh, a year later, I actually took him back to this cafe just so he could partake in my food-orgasmic memory too. ;)

  • If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?

Italy, methinks. They love food, I love food. The weather is Mediterranean. I think I would settle down very comfortably in Italy. Under the Tuscan sun, perhaps? :)

  • Where is the one place on your bucket list that everyone asks why you want to go there?

This is tough because I don’t have a travel bucket list yet, but the one place I probably am questioned about is Valley of Flowers, in India. It’s supposed to be a treacherous trek, at the end of which you are rewarded by beautiful panaromic views of alpine vegetation and flowers. I am not highly athletic and just the fact that I want to do this trek and trip so bad makes people wonder why do I want to do that.

  • Have you met anyone famous while travelling?

Oh YES. This has to be one of my epic memories while travelling. Infact, Pooja and I were in Hyde Park in London sigh, and I was on the phone with Arjun Singh, when this super pretty girl ran past me, and I said to him, I think Katrina Kaif just ran past me. He did not believe me, but I turned around and there she was playing cricket with a bunch of her chums. And then a few minutes later, Shah Rukh Khan turned up. Pooja and I went crazy and literally staked out there for the next hour, after which their bodyguards had promised us that they would pose for pictures once play time was over. We nerded out completely but it was so worth it.

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  • What is the most risky thing you have done while travelling?

Hehe. Tons. But the one that I will share with you all is this story. I was working in the UK and had a work permit. And  I really wanted to visit Ireland on the Easter break weekend. With my work permit I could travel anywhere in the Uk and Northern Ireland, but not Ireland, for which I needed a tourist visa. However, it was a week to go and I hadn’t gotten the tourist visa. But then someone told me that that they had taken the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin, on their way to Belfast. So you could spend a day in Ireland in transit on your work visa but would have to travel onwards the same day.

Well, I took that to the next level. I took the ferry, yes. Reached Dublin in the wee hours of the morning. Passport was checked yes. No one said anything. In fact the officials at the ferry station saw my visa and asked me if I was a student. hehe. I told them I was on my way to Belfast from here. And they believed me. And then I stayed 3 nights in Dublin!. The first day I was petrified that someone would know I am not supposed to be here and ask me to leave. But the Irish wouldn’t do that, nahhh, they are too nice. They know when someone is there for a genuinely good reason.

I wanted my Guinness and I got me some. And no one was caught or deported. Phew.

  • Where do you want to travel to the most?

Himachal Pradesh, my hometown. It’s a dream for me to do a backpacking trip across my home state in India, meeting the people there. Visiting their homes. Collecting recipes. Making jam from the fresh fruit. Spending a winter there. Spending a summer there. Maybe settling there? Who knows.

  • What is the best advice you can give a new blogger?

Write for yourself. Don’t write to increase the hit counter, or increase followers. Write about what you believe in, what you love, what delights you. And trust me, the appreciation follows. Because people know a good story when they read one.

  • What is your most read blog?

My own. haha. No, I am not kidding. I keep revisiting my blog posts because I am super critical about my own posts. and super narcissistic too.  But apart from that, definitely Life On My PlateA Bit Of This And a Lot of That, and Slightly Astray.

  • When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Doing things that I would forego in a heartbeat for more travel and blogging. Just kidding. Maybe not. I have a full time job as a consultant and it pays the bills and the travel tickets so wouldn’t really want to forego that now. Or would we ;)

  • Is there anything you collect from your travels?

I collect tons of stuff. I am one of those shopaholic travelers for whom yes, the experience of visiting a new land is magnificient but then I want to remember it furthermore by buying things from there. When I was younger it used to be postcards. And now, I have added shot glasses as a must from my travels. There is a bunch of them with me here, a bunch lying back in India. I miss them all.

 

Now time for me to share this award with 10 increeible bloggers out there. My list is as follows,

  1. Pooja, A Bit Of This And a Lot of That
  2. Upasna, Life on my Plate
  3. Bharti, Suitcase of Stories
  4. Anna, Slightly Astray
  5. Laia, Colibrist
  6.  Mabel Kwong
  7. Andrea, Cooking With A Wallflower
  8. Nandini, Goanwiki
  9. Rachel Mankowitz
  10. Edlyn, Egeedee
  11. This one is not needed, but just right back at you, Lyn, thank you SO much :)

My questions for the ten amazing women I nominated for Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

  1. What is the most memorable food you’ve had while travelling?
  2. If for some reason you couldn’t return home and could no longer travel, where would you settle?
  3. What is the one surperpower you wish you had?
  4. Have you met anyone famous while travelling?
  5. Is there anything you collect from your travels?
  6. What is the best advice your Mom ever gave you?
  7. What is a recipe you wouldn’t part with.. ever?
  8. What is your greatest fear?
  9. What is the inspiration behind your blogs name?
  10. When you are not travelling and blogging you are… ?

Hats off to all the nominees. Each of you have been chosen because of the unique individualities in your blog style and photography that makes each of you wordsmiths and inspirational bloggers. The reason I keep visiting your blog is beacuse it’s honest and that reflects in every blog post.

I appreciate you are all busy and may choose not to accept the award, and that is ok. I just want to thank each of you for taking time away from your blog to assist with a like, a comment, a retweet, hosting or participating in a Link Up

 

If you liked this post, please share or like via the buttons below or if you have something to say please leave a comment.

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#BlogAlong + Things That Defined My Growing Up Years

drumroll Aaaaaaand it’s back… the monthly #BlogAlong link up. The 3Girls thought a lot about this months topic.. a lot! There were so many ideas in our head. We wanted to celebrate the fact that each of us is in a birthday mood, as Upasna’s went by last month, and Pooja’s is just around the corner, and mine will round it off closer to the end of the month. So we wanted to have a birthday flavour to the post. We oscillated between birthday parties, birthday cake (yumm), birthday memories, and from there we went on to places you celebrated your birthday. But try as we might, we just could not zero in on any one idea.

And then we decided to have a post around memories. We talked about comfort food last month, and it was such a greedy yet nostalgic ride through the memories of home, travel and leisure. So it kind of made sense to continue the nostalgia of our last months #BlogAlong by asking all of you lovely people to share some more memories with us. Hope you don’t mind :)

This month the theme is THINGS THAT DEFINED YOUR GROWING UP YEARS. The idea behind the theme is to share the poster moments in your mind-map of your growing up years. You can take this theme and go anywhere with it. Talk about the pop songs of your childhood, the movies that drove you crazy, the fashionistas you followed, the family moments, the vacations, the games we played, school times, college times. Whatever are the things that defined your growing up years, the things that you recall as the best times of the years gone by, let’s talk about them. It could be one, it could be many.

As I was getting down to write this post, I happened to see this video that asked 3 generations what they did for fun, when they were growing up. The answers that came from the youngest generation were sad but not unexpectedly so. The grandparents talked about blueberry picking, going fishing with friends, while the parents were in raptures talking about the forts they built in their backyards, or rounding up their friends and playing hours of catch, hide’n’seek and sports. But their kids talked about video games, texting, watching videos, using their tablets, and it conveyed an overall lack of curiosity about nature, and just experiencing the physical joy of being a child. I don’t want to sound boorish but I was quite dismayed about it.

Don’t know what the future holds for the kids of tomorrow, but I really want to keep holding on to my childhood memories that are a part of me. And bore my kids with them, when I have them (the kids, not the memories).

Read on for the Things That Defined My Growing Up Years:

1. The fauji trunk

Steel Trunk
Steel Trunk

I am a fauji kid. And a proud one at that.

My dad is an officer in the Indian army (army = fauj), and I am an army kid, and the most indelible part of my childhood years has to be this important piece of luggage. As is the custom with defence families, we had to travel to new locations, or postings as we called them, every 2-3 years, and these trunks carried all our precious belongings and the assorted paraphernalia. The most exciting part of a new posting would be when we started packing up the house (I am sure my mom would not agree). I would wait for the trunks with my collection of books to be opened, and then get lost in them for the next few days. My Grimms fairy tales, the Potter series, the classics….My brother and I would also attack the ‘toy trunk’ as we called it because it had such treasures that we hadn’t seen in ages (as per us, even though it was just a year or 2 since we had seen them last).

The other thing I remember about these trunks were that before every new posting, they would be repainted and my dad’s name and rank, along with details of previous posting and the new one would be painted on. Our very own steel boarding passes or travel diary. These trunks used to be all over the house and the balcony and the garage, and for me, when I look back to my growing up years, I always remember these trunks very fondly.

2. Chacha Chaudhary

Books are probably my first childhood love. My earliest memories in life are of reading. I would read everything and anything. The first classic I fell in love with, at the age of 7, was A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And I will never forget the first signs of empathy that stirred in my heart when Sydney Carton sacrifices himself.

However, growing up, I was obsessed with Chacha Chaudhary comics.

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As a kid, I had the biggest collection of Chacha Chaudhary comics, I kid you not. For those of you who don’t know these comics, Chacha Chaudhary was an Indian comic legend, created by Pran. Chacha means Uncle and Chaudhary was his surname (given name). Chacha was the smartest man on the planet, and his ‘mind worked faster than a computer’  and  along with his sidekick Sabu (the man from Jupiter), used to solve problems and hunt down the bad guys. Sabu was so much fun too; every time someone made Sabu super angry, he would lose his cool and somewhere on the planet of Juipter, a volcano would erupt. Hah, what FUN!

My mom actually told me that the reason I had such brilliant Hindi speaking and writing skills at that age was because I used to devour the Chacha comics. So there you go, some good DOES come out of reading comics.

3. The Harry Potter series

How can I talk about my growing up years and not talk about the Harry Potter series, my first initiation into the world of a series of fantasy fiction and alternative realities. Of course I had read Enid Blytons Wishing Chairs, and Faraway Trees,, and then there was Tolkiens LOTR but Potter was the iconic read for me, the one that got me hooked to the whole concept of reading series and trilogies. I will never forget the memory of the first time I read it, back in 2000. And till 2007, when the Deathly Hallows came out, it was a constant companion from teendom to early adulthood.

The midnight discussions of whether Harry would survive, is Snape evil or good (I was always in his corner), are Harrys parents alive, crying my eyes out when Sirius died ( I am welling up now too).. Potter is such an important part of my growing up. And I can’t wait to share the excitement with my kids, when the time comes.

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4. The mandatory summer vacation trip to visit grandparents

As I told you before, my dad is in the Indian Army and we would be staying in far flung places all across the length and breadth of India. But come summer vacation time, and we would pack our bags and go visit the grandparents. One trip to Delhi to meet the maternal grandfolks, one trip to Shimla to meet my massi (mom’s sister) and cousins, one trip to Yamunanagar to meet the paternal grandfolks and my chachu (dad’s younger brother).

Summer days filled with reading, eating yummy food, listening to mom, my maasi and naani (maternal grandmom) gossip, getting pampered by the grandparents… aah, those were the days.

5. Madhuri Dixit

Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahti thi. There… it’s out now. For the unintiated, Madhuri Dixit is a Bollywood star and she was gorgeous. Brilliant smile, excellent dancer, and gorgeous, she was just perfect. Still is for me!

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And for those of you who don’t know Hindi, I just admitted to the whole wide word that I wanted to be Madhuri Dixit. Like totally! But so did every other girl in middle class India back then. I used to dance in front of the mirror, on her songs and copy her expressions and dance moves. Ha-uh she was perfection to me. Still is. They don’t make them like this anymore.

6. Indi-pop

‘Made in India, made in India, ek dil chahiye that’s made in India’  Alisha Chinai was da bomb back then! The 90’s had some incredible pop music by Indian artists. Okay, maybe not incredible incredible, but that’s what I remember. Songs by Alisha Chinai, Biddu, Dj Aqeel, Bally Sagoo were what we danced to in our kiddie and teen birthday parties. The music used to be so funky, and on top of that the videos were so exciting. They would feature supermodels like Milind Soman,  Arjun Rampal, Jas Arora…. sigh all those dreamboats!

This is what I am talking about (Check out at 2:26 and 3:39)

I wasn’t into international music as a teen but give me a cassette (remember those?) filled with chartbusters like Boom Boom, Gud Nalon Ishq Mitha, O Sanam and I could dance on for hours. In fact I still can :)

7. My dogs

I miss having a dog around. A big part of my growing up years was the company of my dogs. I have always had a dog in the family, from age 5 when we got our first Pixie the dachshund, till age 27, when I lost my old cutie Caesar.  These Dachshunds and Dobermans of mine were family and I miss them so. Even my grandparents had dogs so these woofy brethren of defined a big part of my growing up years. I would talk to them, confide in them, clean up after then, and in their last days have taken care of them.

My brother has a Great Dane now, Mufasa, that even I stake a claim on, but for me the childhood years were about the family dogs. And sometimes it feels that with the passing away of my Caesar, the last of my memories of my childhood went by.

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I miss having a dog around….

Phew, so my childhood was defined by pop songs, gorgeous actresses, even gorgeous supermodels, books, and dogs. And I work in IT. Haha.. If there was ever a mismatch.

Anyhow, hope you enjoyed my ramblings on The Things That Defined My Growing Up Years. Now I can’t wait to read yours. So add your post now to the monthly #BlogAlong and let’s have a party this month.

I am going to leave you with another Indi pop classic until then

This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That  and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month’s theme is  Things That Defined Your Growing Up Years  and it’s time to dig out the treasure troves of memories and iconic moments!

BlogAlong

To #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish a new post or share an old post on the monthly theme
  2. Link for posting remains open from the first Sunday of the month to the following Sunday, till midnight
  3. Don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog or here itself, and it will lead you to the image URL
  4. We would also appreciate if you link back to your hosts, and follow us too. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, and ofcourse on WordPress :)
  5. Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
  6. Comment on each others posts and spread the love
  7. Promote yours and others posts on social media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls

 

Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under

#BlogAlong April 2016 invites you to share food stories. This post has been one of my most favourite ones to write and got so much love so I had to share it again with everyone. Come along and #BlogAlong and share your FOOD stories, no limits or holds barred :)

Continue reading “Eat Your Way Through Australia: Seven Snacks From The Land Down Under”

Wines of Barossa: Visit to the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre

Wine wine everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

That’s what Arjun Singh must have felt when we were in the Barossa because guess who was the designated driver? Hehe…But it was either him or me and ummm, I don’t drive that well, so poor him. So he kept up the conscientious resolve…. Until we reached the Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre. And I signed us up both for the Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting, which included a tour of ….the vineyards (duh!), and a complimentary tasting of 7 of their premium blends. He was not going to give up on THAT.

Look how happy he is
Look how happy he is

Jacobs Creek is one of the biggest wine makers from Australia, and their wines are grown and made all over the South; Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra. However, it is at Barossa that their visitor centre is located and where you meet the elves in Jacob ‘Claus’ Creek’s wine workshop. Haha, I wish there were elves. Maybe there are. But we’ll never know ;)

The centre offers a host of tours and tasting experiences to cater to all types of visitors: the foodie, the history-buff, the environmentalist, the wine-lover. The photographer? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong.  The premises are beautiful, the setting is elegant and scenic.

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You are treated to views of the grape plantation spread over the rolling hills. It’s quite a sight. However visitors aren’t really allowed to visit the plantation in Barossa. You are only allowed access to the visitor centre, and a dedicated green patch where you can relax on picnic style benches, and leisurely take in the views, while lying back on super comfy bean bag style mattresses. There is also a special area that is exclusive to the vineyard tour groups which is cordoned off from the rest of the visitors. This has a sample of each type of the 14 grapes that Jacobs Creek growers cultivate.

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The Vineyard Tour and Tasting tour starts off with a bit of history, a tour of the visitor centre which takes you via an informative display. The gallery has an interesting display of the wine bottles, the corking and bottling techniques over the years. You then move onto the vineyard, or in this case the exclusive tour-special vineyard, with the sample crops.

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Once there, you are then allowed to roam around, check out each type of grape and even taste some. That was my favourite part. Most of the whites had dried up but the reds were plump and ready for picking. They were like super sweet raisins, the kind you want in christmas cake, except that they were fresh, and ripe for picking. And I picked a lot. Yay!

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Look at how ripe and juicy the Grenache is

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It was here that I discovered a new grape called the Grenache. The time we visited the valley, it was end of harvesting season already, so most of the crops were bare, but there was a particular grape that was still on the vines, and looked ripe and ready. This was the Grenache, a red grape that ripens late and typically has a high tolerance for heat and drought. True that, because given the hot hot days we encountered and the heat the area is prone to during end of harvesting season, the Grenache was doing spectacularly well. Typically used in blends (mixing with other grapes), you will most likely not find a grenache wine on it’s own, as they have high oxidation levels, which leads to a stronger tanin flavour on the palate as the wine ages. The most favoured blend for this grape is a GSM: Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre.

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Happily posing away with the Merlot, thinking it was the Grenache.. oops

I am not a big fan of red wines, however there are certain reds that I do like, a good Shiraz makes my day, a Merlot not so much. However, the idea of a GSM sounded very enticing (I had already tried the dried grape, I was sure the wine would be delicioussimo too :D) And it totally was. We tried the St Hugos GSM as part of our tasting, and WIN for the red wine corner. (Don’t worry, white, you are still my favourite)

The wine tasting was quite a lovely experience. As I mentioned before, you get to try 7 of their best wines, and they are superbly generous. Arjun Singh tried his reds, and I the whites, and ofcourse the GSM. By the end of it, we were in a state of delicious bliss, and the bean bag hammocks were calling out to us. So we put up our feet, gazed out at the fine Jacobs Creek plantations, smiled indulgently at everyone around us, gazed adoringly at each other, and even snoozed a teensy bit. (Hey, it’s us, we LOVE to sleep).

Things You Must Know About The Jacobs Creek Visitor Centre:

The Good:

  1. The Vineyard Tour and Tasting allows you access to the exclusive sample crops of the Jacobs Creek wineyards, where you get ample time to explore, taste, touch, and click
  2. A generous sampling of some of their best wines. 7, to be precise, for AUD 15 is a super good deal
  3. There are also free samplings of the chosen wine of the month, which happen every 2-3 hours
  4. The premises are gorgeous. The outdoorsy deck, the plantation views, everyone is allowed to visit and relax.
  5. An amazing variety of tours offered for the wine lover

The Bad:

  1. I felt it the setup was a bit commercial, especially the special plantation area open only to people who sign up for tours. Without that you aren’t allowed access to the crops at all. The only place you were allowed free access too was the bar and the restaurant and the picnic area.
  2. Too much paranoia. We had to sanitise our shoes before entering the sample crop area, which was essentially a gated and boxed crop patch. Maybe my displeasure stemmed from the fact that we had visited many other wine growers and makers who were far less paranoid about people checking out their crops, or bringing in the dreaded phylloxera pest.

The Ugly:

Nothing at all, I just wanted to use the headings in the post :)

Fun Fact:

The family behind the Jacobs Creek wines are actually the Grampp family. Jacob was the land owner, from whom the Grampps bought land for commercial cultivation, and the creek running beside his house was named after him. The bottles carry the Gramps family signature, of Johann Grampp.

All views expressed are mine. I had a yummazing time at the visitor centre, however did not get a detailed look at the brand and its wines. But that is purely because I chose the tour but wasn’t too well informed about it. Make sure you pick the tour that appeals most to you, and what you want to do at the centre. Eat, drink, be merry, learn, bike around, and even cook. It’s all yours for the picking :)

If you want to know more about Jacobs Creek, you can visit their website here 

Also, this is an extensive and uber-gorgeous post by Katie from What Katie Ate, where she was a guest of Jacobs Creek (sigh). Read on here to marvel at her photography and learn tonnes more about the behind-the-scenes plus the magic behind Jacobs Creek.

I am linking this post to #TheWeeklyPostcard link up that happens in some super fun blogs hosted by Lyn and her pals. Head on there to check out her fun blog.

A Hole In My Shoe

Scarecrows of Barossa

Scarecrows? Really? THAT’s what I choose to talk to you about from my trip to the Barossa? You know, the valley which is the Napa of Australia! Gazillions of vineyards all across town and I am posting about scarecrows.

Of course I am posting about scarecrows. Because they were colorful, creative, and all over the place, I just HAD to tell you about it too. See, everyone knows that Barossa is home to some yummazing wines. Jacobs Creek, Seppenfelts, & Penfolds come from this valley, people. And I am guessing the serious Masterchef Australia fans know that Barossa is also home to Maggie Beer and her lovely farm/cafe.

But you know the first thing I saw when I entered the town centre of Barossa?

This.

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As we drove past this, for a split second Arjun Singh and I thought that these were very colorful people, just sitting about and doing nothing. But hold on, those were not people dressed in overalls, and that was not a woman who had crashed into a tree. We stopped and went close for a look. This was definitely not a woman who had crashed into a tree.

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Witch: Scarecrow Garden

Waitaminnnit, I screamed, these are PUPPETS. Arjun Singh is like, ermmm, can you not read, it says the Scarecrow Garden. Oh ya, it does. Okay, I screamed again, these are such COOL SCARECROWS.

There was Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall.

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Humpty Dumpty: Scarecrow Garden

This puppet (see, there were puppets too) was taking his scarecrow to the market, or farm maybe.

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Farmer and Scarecrow: Scarecrow Garden

We drove on and in the next few miles, found another scarecrow, this time at the entrance to one of the wineyards

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So of course the curious cat that I am, I checked Google, and was informed that this was the time of the year when the residents of the Barossa Valley celebrated their end of harvesting season with the Barossa Vintage Festival.  (See, lazy plan-da me, comes to know of something after I get there.. eeps) And as part of the celebrations, the residents come up with these scarecrow montages all across town to participate in the Barossa Scarecrow Trail. It’s a real thing, yep, with a prize worth AUD 1000 to the winner. And boy, do these guys get into with unbridled enthusiasm. Men and scarecrows, alike.

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Hangover: Part Scarecrow anyone?

These scarecrows were all over. On the streets, at petrol stations, on telephone wires, in the back of a truck, outside of family-owned vineyards.

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Drunk (I hope) Wedding Party
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Medic Scarecrows
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Fuel Station Attendant Scarecrow

We found a dedication to Red Riding Hood and 3 Little Piggies, with the big, bad wolf as their big bad villain, in the middle of a recently harvested vineyard. How creative is that!

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collage

 

Wasn’t that the cutest?

What say you tell me which ones you liked too? Would be fun to see what tickles your scarecrow-appreciation bone.

If you want to know more about the Barossa Scarecrow Trail, you can click here. Plus here’s another great post about these scarecrows, from Fiona.

We were lucky enough to get to see this when we visited because the festival happens once in 2 years, and the next one is now in April 2017. So, do plan accordingly.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you did, please do subscribe to this blog. I only share fun stories, so you won’t get bored. I promise.

Pssst, and don’t you worry. I am going to be gushing about the Wines of Barossa soon enough. I HAVE TO.

 

I am linking this post to the Wanderlust link up party hosted here

Wanderlust

And also to the #WeekendWanderlust link up party. To know more about the #WeekendWanderlust link up party, you can click here:

#BlogAlong + My Top 5 Comfort Foods

Hello Hello,

It’s blog party time.. whooop dee dooo, and this month I am so excited because Upasna, Pooja and I are talking about FOOD!!

I love food, she loves food, we all love food.

This month’s theme is comfort food, soul-food, food that you eat while sitting in your pjs wrapped up in your blanket, food that reminds you of home, food that makes you sigh in food-gasmic delight…. food that makes you feel downright good!

For me, all food in itself is such a comfort. Actually, it won’t be a lie when I say that for me the fascination with food borders on the obsessive. I am one of those peeps who is ALWAYS thinking about food. What I am eating, what I am going to be eating, what others are eating… gahhhhh! My favorite activity on weekends is going grocery shopping at farmers markets! I can make everything about food. Childhood memories, vacation stories, people stories, weddings, visits to friends and family, days at work, outings to the park, day out gallivanting, gymming. People who know me well know this to be true of me, and love me for it. Hopefully. Or they are too sweet to say otherwise. Errrrr…

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Anyhoo, the 3Girls want to share their list of the 5 favourite comfort foods with you, and hoping we get to know yours too. I compiled my list of 5 items and felt bad for the ones that didn’t make it in. Because I love all food equally. Except for karelas. eeyuck

I. Kadhi Chaawal: This used to be the first thing my mom would make for me whenever I came home for a vacation during my grad and post-grad. She used to make the most amazing pakoda kadhi and would always fry up some extra pakodas which I could and would hog on later. For me, the best comfort food will always be ma’s kadhi chaawal, served with her freshly whipped white (unsalted) butter and pakodas.

Image Source: sinamontales.wordpress.com
Image Source: sinamontales.wordpress.com

II. Dal Chaawal: I am such a Desi, because when I crave comfort food I crave dal and rice, maybe some onions and some pickle, and I’m sorted. Ahh, the slurpaliciousness of it all. I love rice, and I could eat it with anything, and a big bowl of dal-chaawal hits the right spot. Always. Remember my obsession with pahaadi dal recipes, here and here?

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III. Seviyan: I debated a lot between halwa and seviyan. I could eat both by the bushel. However, when I was compiling this list, I was also making a batch of seviyan for breakfast, so knew which one was the winner. Sweet vermicelli roasted in ghee and cooked with water and sugar, mmm mmm mmm… I love it. I prefer the drier version to the milky one.

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IV. Muffins: Blueberry, raspberry, chocolate chip, apple, carrot-cake, healthy, savoury… I want ’em all. I see a muffin and I Have To T.R.Y it!

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Image Source: http://www.threecheeses.com

V. Cheese

This is how I am with cheese…

eat the cheese

‘Nuff said!

Turns out my love for food is surpassed by my love for writing and gushing about it. Methinks we should do a list of comfort drinks too. Remember when I wrote this love song to Hot Chocolate? Or devote a section only to kebabs, maybe. I could add SO much to such lists :D

Now come on over and tell me what floats your comfort boat… is it a big bowl of soup, creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, mom’s yummy chocolate cake, or a big pint of guinness, whatever be your fancy, I’am all yours, dear blogger.

This post is a part of the 3 Girls and a #BlogAlong monthly link-up party, co-hosted by Upasna from Life On My Plate, Pooja from A Bit Of This And A Lot Of That  and Shruti from MszKnowitall. This month’s theme is  Your 5 Favourite Comfort Foods  and it’s time to listen to your tummies!

BlogAlongTo #BlogAlong with us, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish a new post or share an old post on the monthly theme
  2. Link for posting remains open from the first Sunday of the month to the following Sunday, till midnight
  3. Don’t forget to include the #BlogAlong badge in your post. In order to get the code, click on the 3Girls and a #BlogAlong image in the sidebar on my blog or here itself, and it will lead you to the image URL
  4. We would also appreciate if you link back to your hosts, and follow us too. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and ofcourse on WordPress :)
  5. Join the party by clicking on the inlinkz button below any of our posts, and adding your post to the blogroll
  6. Comment on each others posts and spread the love
  7. Promote yours and others posts on social media using #BlogAlong with the 3Girls

Meetha

The last few weeks have been maddeningly hectic. Family came visiting, I went vacationing, then Arjun Singh fell ill and time was spent in nursing.. all in all, action on the blog was lessening.

I'm a poet and I know it.

Anyhoo, I needed to reduce the count of draft posts vs published posts. And I thought I would start by sharing a simple pahaadi recipe with you all. It’s a sweet dish; the simplest sweet treat that anyone can whip up in 10 minutes.

Meetha, or as they say it in our side Mitha. Mitha feat

Mitha is essentially a sugar syrup cooked with fennel and boondi, and the memory of the first time I had it is so vivid in my head. The whole family had gathered together for a family occasion, and my naani had called a pahaadi cook to make the meal. We were eating on pattals (plates made out of leaves) and after finishing the main course I went to have the dessert, which was mitha. My mom told me to have it with some rice, and not knowing the right proportion of eating the dish, plus the fact that I eat rice like a truck driver, I took a ton of rice, and then poured an equal amount of mitha on it. Wrong idea. It was too sweet and too syrupy and too thin for my liking. And I complained. That’s when my mom showed me the right way to eat it. She took about a ladle of rice, and about 2 spoonfuls of the mitha and served that to me. What a world of difference THAT made. The mitha was not overtly sweet, and I could taste the fennel more than the sugar. And the whole dish was sweet rice rather than being sweet syrup with bits of rice.

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And as is true everywhere, every household has their own way of making this dish. But my father, the awesomeness that he is, has an APL and BPL version of mitha. For those of you who are still figuring that one out, APL is Above Poverty Line, and BPL is Below..  :/ (yeah, I don’t get his sense of humour too at times)

He actually shared the BPL version with me first because he said it’s not that I am poor, but so lazy that I won’t spend more time than needed in the kitchen. How well he knows me. Hugs to you, dad!

I am going to share both the versions here, and depending on how much time and resources you have, take your pick :)

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Version 1

Ingredients

  1. Ghee, 2-3 tbsps
  2. Cloves, 2
  3. Cardamoms, 2
  4. Cinnamon stick, 1 small
  5. Sugar, 10 tsps
  6. Water, 250 ml
  7. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  8. Boondi, 2 tbsps
  9. Dry fruits (sliced almonds, raisins)

Method

  1. In a pan, preferably with a thick base, like a wok or kadhai, heat the ghee
  2. To this, add the cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, and dry fruits. Roast them for a minute or 2
  3. Add the fennel
  4. Then add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil
  5. After one boil, simmer the mixture until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  6. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha1

Version 2

Ingredients:

  1. Sugar, 10 tsps
  2. Water, 250 ml
  3. Fennel (saunf), 1/2 tsp
  4. Boondi, 2 tbsps

Method:

  1. Heat a kadhai, or work. Add sugar, saunf and water.
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until it reaches the desired thick consistency of a syrup
  3. Add the boondi, and serve hot with steamed rice

Mitha3

 

I am sharing this over at Angie’s amazing blog party Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener