My mother bakes the best cakes I have ever had. She is one of those rare people on the planet who can taste food and figure out the recipe all on their own. I think 99.9% of those people are master chefs!!! Okay, you guessed right…I am really proud of my mom and her culinary skills. I would also like to point out that my culinary skills are…well…no where in sight, so far!
The closest I ever got to a baking dish is when I dig in to my mom’s Dates Cake! (will get you the recipe soon) However, I decided that, having a chocolate-loving daughter, this state of affairs could not go on for very long! And, I have been craving brownies from the time I knew they existed. The local bakery sells brownies, but I came very close to asphyxiation when I tried them!!! I want to live, people!
And then, there is the fact that I have no oven…yes, I know, I sound like the pathetic soul that I am… But I do have a microwave!! Yaaay! So…
I Googled, found, learnt, revised, and etched into my memory…this recipe:
(Caps lock deliberate to indicate awesomeness!) This is my first attempt at baking, EVER. So, cheer me on, okay?
This is a small serving, but you can double it and it works out just fine, as I found out yesterday. I first made these 2 weeks ago, and the pictures are from that attempt.
Things you need: (Basic, non-fancy-schmancy stuff will do for this brownie! And that’s good, because, duh, I live in Nagercoil…)
1/2 cup flour (maida)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (Note for folks in Nagercoil 😛 – I used the Cadbury cocoa powder that is available in a purple tin in local shops)
1 cup sugar (best to use powdered sugar, because the granules take a heck of a long time to dissolve in the butter – not good. If you don’t have powdered sugar, just powder the sugar you have, in your grinder/food processor!)
1 & 1/2 stick of butter (I used the Amul salted butter)
2 tsp vanilla essence
Chocolate chips (So not optional, but I could not find this wonderful blessing anywhere in this town, and I had to do without it…*sniff*)
Chopped Nuts – any kind. I used cashews and almonds
In a bowl, mix the cocoa and flour well so that both have blended in.
Soften butter and mix the sugar in with it, until soft and creamy.
Add the 2 eggs and whisk till soft and blended in well. You can add the vanilla essence too.
Now, add the dry ingredients very gradually into the liquid mixture (one tbsp at a time) and keep stirring till your arms fall out! Or, if you are lucky like me to have a sweet, patient sister, get her to stir while you casually stand by and add the dry ingredients!! 😛 Better, yet, use a hand-held or table-top mixer.
When the entire batter has been stirred well, pick the bowl up and sniff the awesome aroma of the entire thing. “People” have been known to eat a finger-full of batter right off the bowl…but that’s just “people”! You don’t have to do that…or you could, if you want to…*hint, hint*
Now, grease a round (or rectangular) glass baking dish* with butter, and sprinkle it with powdered sugar. I did not have powdered sugar, so I just powdered up some butter cookies that I had and lined the baking dish with it, over the butter! And it rocked!!!
*Use only glass dishes that are meant for microwaves. NEVER use metal, unless you plan to blow up your microwave oven!!
Now, just pour the batter into the baking dish. You might have to spread the batter equally to all parts of the baking dish, because sometimes the batter can be on the thicker side.
Now, stick it into your microwave and set it on high, and set the timer for 10 minutes.
I would strongly suggest that you take a peek at the 7th or 8th minute to check on things. Take a toothpick and insert it into the center of the brownie. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If there is almost-cakey batter stuck on it, you need it to go on for the remaining time.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule here. If after 10 minutes it still looks suspicious, give it another minute of baking.
At the end, let it sit in the oven for a few minutes. Then take it out and cool it completely, because warm brownies refuse to let go of the baking dish. They still want their mommy!
When cooled, eat the whole thing up without sharing…Oh, sorry…bad advice!!
When cooled, cut out a piece, place it on a small plate, top with vanilla ice cream and a cherry (optional)….eat and go to heaven!
Then come back and tell me how it was. Okay?? This part is NOT optional! Come one, I want to know how yours turned out!
This is the chewy, moist variety of brownie that I love! I am so not into the dry-cake kind of stuff…
Not the best picture possible, but it was after 10pm and I was not at my most patient self….
…as is obvious from this picture!
Anyway, she loved it… that’s what’s important.
Okay, I have an obsession (this blog just got dangerously personal…)…staring at food…there I said it! People make food, eat food, sell food, buy food, design food, sculpt food…I just stare at it. At the lovely colors, the lovely food photography, the chocolate cake that I can almost taste off the book or computer screen, the roasted chicken I can almost smell in that scrumptiously lighted photograph…
And the best place to appease the hunger pangs coming out of my eyes? Food blogs!! I don’t know why I had to say that with double exclamation points, since food blogs are a dime a dozen these days…! exclamation point! (I seem to use a lot of these nowadays, probably because I can’t believe myself half the time?? Question marks?
Okay, help me out people…don’t tell me no one else in the entire blogosphere has this obsession??…come on!!! Okay, I hear you back there…thanks for the support.
Anyway, I have, like, tons of them subscribed on my reader, and bookmarked left and right, that it takes me hours, every night, to finish oggling at the food. Some recipes, like a few, …okay, maybe 1 or 2 in the entire time I’ve been reading these food blogs… I have tried to make. Others, I simply look at, and wish someone would make them for me…not make by myself, mind you…but that someone would bake me that cake, roast me that chicken, saute that asparagus, get me that doughnut, give me that cookie, brew me that coffee…you get the idea ….. siiiiiiiiiighghghghgh! I am really sad now…
But WHY? Why do you obsess over food blogs? Why do you do it? My answer, (channeling Isla Fisher here), “Because when I obsess over food blogs, the world is a better place”. Camera zooming in on dreamy eyes (mine), shocked expression on face (yours), violin playing a slow tune, rising to a crescendo (orchestra…Hey, who invited them?!?!)… surreality follows…
So, maybe I am no expert when it comes to blogging (I totally wrote ‘globbing’ just now…probably delirium from staring at all that sugar!), but these are some of the best food blogs out there…take a peek, and hope you can never look away…and Hey! if you cook some of the food you see here, be nice and send me a sampler, or a big package…I’m not picky that way!
Bakerella You have got to be from some other galaxy, if you are a foodie and haven’t heard about this lovely lady. She stands for all that is sweet and cute…lotsa sweet, but the cuteness…ooohhhh, I feel faint already!!
The Pioneer Woman I wish I was one of her kids, no seriously…Ree, will you adopt me…like, not for always, or anything…but only for meal times…please…Pretty PLLLLeeaaaassssse?!?!? Could I have your Cinnamon Rolls just once, please? Then I can die peacefully… Reader, go to her website, click on the ‘Cooking‘ link, and stay there!
SmittenKitchen The only food blog whose name is a warning of your fate once you start reading the posts! I am smitten, absolutely smitten! There is always a jaw-dropping picture smack in the middle of the page, and…well, that’s usually as far as I get! Her recipes list is so long, you could put on weight just by reading it! And I am smitten…but I already said that… Go get smitten, people! You know you want to…after this picture….
Joy the Baker Can’t argue with that! What an appropriate name! What joy at looking at all those good eats, and that fabulous personality! I love the little bees buzzing around on her blog…I mean, who can resist food like that, right?
Love and Olive Oil And while we are on the ‘couples’ thing, these guys are pretty cool, too! Love and Olive Oil, two very healthy, very ‘good for you’ things…I can’t complain about this visual either!
Multiply Delicious Really huge, mouthwatering pictures of food, and this Heath Bar Chocolate Trifle pretty much did it for me! I’m a a fan for life! Mommy Heather and her family of 4, cute family picture, adorable babies, yummy color-scheme, – win, win, win!!
Fancy That…Fancy This Ameena Din‘s awesome humor, her cute little baby girl, her humor, her interesting food choices, equally interesting rants about the furniture, and humor! She has some good recipes too! But best of all, she has visited my blog..Yaaay! I have 1 reader that other people recognize!!!!
And, finally, Dad~Baker & Chef Super Dad who makes the best Chocolate Mousse in the whole world, on short-order? Bakes awesome birthday cakes? Cooks delicious Indian cuisine? Takes on a Daring Baker Challenge? Check, check, check, and check…Guilty on ALL counts of Awesomeness! Sheesh, I envy the kids!
Okay, now that I am sufficiently miserable knowing what I’m missing, I will proceed to share the miserableness with my family through dinner…Actually, I am not that bad a cook, just not ‘Food Blog’ material…so, I wrote this post to get some of that awesomeness onto my blog!!
Enjoy… But first, tell me, do you know of any good food blogs out there? Or do you have one of your own?…Tell me in your comments; I would love to visit!
I’m no good at cooking. Let me make that absolutely clear, going forward. But then, I guess, it is pretty obvious, if I have to write a post on stuff that I can’t cook without. A good cook makes a feast out of anything! Also, most daughters can never be as good as their mothers… or is it ONE daughter…. yeah, I think this rule pretty much only applies to me…. and I will stop this meaningless rambling now, thank you.
Anyway, there are some things I cannot cook without. Especially since I am supposed to create ethnic South Indian dishes which taste good, are suitable for my spice-intolerant daughter (btw, that is not a real allergy, just 2-yr-old tantrums!), and do not set off the ‘Eat Only Healthy Boring Food’ Radar of my better half! So, I have a list of stuff that always goes into my cooking…logical conclusion? We eat the same food pretty much everyday!!! This is going around in dizziness-inducing circles. So…
Onions – I cannot cook without onions. Please tell me no one else can, too…pretty please?? I have to start every meal by chopping an onion. Unless I throw some onions into cooking oil and stir them around, I feel an ominous foreboding that things will go wrong! I feel this every time I make Rasam. And I’m usually right 😦
Chilli Powder – I have to have all my food glowing red!! Otherwise, I feel it does not qualify as real food. Also, I have to have my food tasting super spicy! so, when something like Vegetable poriyal calls for green chillies only, I feel apprehensive. Some times, I sneak in a pinch of chilli powder, and usually the above-mentioned RADAR goes off.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes are so beautiful, so colorful, so necessary. And I can’t cook without them. Unless I cut up a tomato, and throw it in, squishy pulp, seeds and all, I feel I have failed myself greatly! Tomatoes were totally banned at home for a while, due to health reasons of the residents, and I WAS LOST. Yes, more LOST than the people in LOST! So, I just made rasam!! … (Go back to ‘Onions’ and read again… gaaah!!)
Cooking Oil (lots of it) – Okay, I know it is bad to have too much cooking oil. Cholesterol, and all that stuff. But, hey, try scraping burnt stuff off the bottom of your kitchenware after leaving it on the stove, to go assist your kid with potty, and you will resort to a LOT OF OIL too! I now use less oil, and more tomatoes… (go back in circles…your eyelids are getting heavy…you are feeling sleepy…you will now zonk down on your simmering gravy!) By the way, my favorite cooking oil is GoldWinner Sunflower Oil (and no, I’m not paid to say that.)
Rice Batter – this is a white batter made from rice and urad dal, used to make dhosas and idlies. And I cannot do without it. Why? Simply because we have dhosas or idlies most everyday! If you are a South Indian working mother-cum-juggler, juggling five different things…oh, you know…life and all its ingredients…well, you definitely know the advantage of making idlies! Shout out to all the mommies with whistling idli cookers…forget the iPhone, I think we should deify the man (or woman…probably a woman…Men don’t care either way, I think!) who invented the idli cooker!! Pour the batter into little idli plates, mount it on the stand, lower into said cooker, close, light stove, forget. Listen for the whistle and turn it off. DONE!! Time invested: all of 10 minutes. Result: hot idlies for breakfast, probably even dinner… Others in the house: Not Happy. Me: VERY VERY HAPPY! 😀
Spices – viz. Coriander, turmeric, chilli powder (the super 3!!!) I do not know how to make the food have any kind of flavor, if I don’t use these three…Okay, right now, I am slightly beginning to feel sorry for my family…the poor consumers of my half-hearted sorry excuse for cooking. So, invariably, everything kinda tastes the same… If I don’t add tomatoes…you see my predicament? Cooking is really hard, I tell you!!
Wooden Spoon – Okay, this is technically not an ingredient, but I hate the scraping sound that metal spoons make on cooking ware. And, when I cook, I really need to stir a lot, and peep into the dish or pot…just to reassure myself that everything is going as planned! So, I cannot do without my trusty wooden spoon. It is one of THE BEST things my Mom bought me! I love my wooden spoons, and fiercely guard it from runaway 2-yr-old hands wanting to clank wooden spoons on metal plates and generally be noisy, and grown up men who generally allow 2-yr-old daughter to make ear-splitting noise and drive mommy mad in the kitchen, so that they can get some time alone on the computer!…Sigh…where is this going?!?!?
Television – Okay, this is probably high on the quirky-bizareness meter! But I have to have the television on. I love the house we recently moved into, because the kitchen is right next to the sitting room, where the TV is situated in a nice angle, easily seen if I stand at a certain angle near the kitchen sink…rented house SCORE!! Also, the recently added soft couch means that after every paranoid stir of the gravy, I can literally run out the kitchen, directly into the said couch, sit under the fan on super-fast, wipe away the free-flowing perspiration (direct result of the sweltering South Indian heat that is sucking away my life-energy for the past few months!), and watch So You Think You Can Dance!, or some romantic comedy on StarMovies…anything goes…
So…There you have it..stuff I cannot live without, in my kitchen…What’s your favorite stuff that brings out the gourmet chef in you…or simply helps you tolerate the task of making a meal thrice/frice (my word for ‘four times’!) a day?