Eleventh hour edible holiday gifts

(Copyrighted) Bill Watterson

Precocious Calvin and his wise toy tiger Hobbes. I’ve been obsessed with them for as long as I can remember. Apparently with good reason, since it looks like I’ve been applying Calvin’s philosophy covertly in some areas of my life without being aware of it. Last-minute panic is an intermittent state of being for me around the holidays. I find myself there in either the matter of holiday cards or holiday gifts. It is rather sad really to discover yourself in this position year after year, surprised to find it is December, even when it shows up without fail, right after November. As it turns out, last-minute panic also led me to realize I had not said a word about holidays on here so far.

All my good intentions pave my path to panic hell when I find my Christmas cards haven’t been bought, let alone mailed. Or we find ourselves with an invitation to a party and have no host gift handy. Then we show up with an apologetic bottle of wine, a default gift I have mixed feelings about, especially around the holidays. There are a couple of reasons for this.
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Parsi Sambhar Masala

When you wandered over to read this post, bet you didn’t think there would be spreadsheets involved. There are. Relax, there are no numbers involved. But if you just hate spreadsheets at their core, numbers or not, then sadly we must part ways for today. Because I got a little too involved and went pseudo-technical. But as a bonus, I also created a nifty “What-do-you-call-that-spice-in-Hindi/English?” solution. Everything in one nifty little table.

In other news, I think my need to organize absolutely everything has gone all OCD.

One of the things I meant to do last month was compare Parsi Sambhar masala (PSM) to South Indian type sambhar masala (SISM? Let’s go with it). My daily posting schedule, however, kept me too busy for the research. I knew they are different, but since I’m very interested in the nature of spices, I wanted to understand how they were different. I looked into it over the past weekend.

While each southern state of India – heck, probably each province in those states – has their own special and secret recipe for their SISM mix, it is for the most part widely agreed that there are certain ingredients to be included. Curry leaves have to be part of it. So do various split lentils. PSM does not have these. But then, SISM has cumin and mustard seeds, which PSM has too. The similarities don’t end there.

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Saveur’s Rainbow cookies

NaBloPoMo 2012. Thirty straight days of postings. We did it, you guys!

When the month began, we were fairly certain this could go either way. Work schedules can be unpredictable and life always is. The cooking didn’t worry us since we do that most days, but writing every day and worrying about things like daylight for photos; this did have us concerned. But we figured we’d give it a go.

So why did I sign up for this anyhow? For me, it was mainly to challenge myself to write under the constraints of time. I’ve been known to agonize and linger over posts for hours. One of the few reasons there was a lull on this space was because I just didn’t have that kind of time to devote to it after. But I knew I didn’t want to give up on our little world here, because even through the lingering, I enjoyed the writing. NaBloPoMo forced me to be disciplined about it. This may not be my day job, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some sense of ritual about it. Work and life are important, but so is this wish to keep writing. I also needed to find out if I just imagined I wanted to write or if in fact, I could write if it was required of me. It is the work that is put into it and the telling of the story that matters.  It doesn’t matter if I misspell words. (What nonsense are you talking, girl? Sacrilege!) Then there was the self-imposition I had about posting at least five recipes a week. That was the plan I stuck to, somehow it worked. But ultimately, what mattered was that I want to write and that I do it. Nupur said it perfectly. Writing allows you to work things out. You can be your own therapist and best friend. Most times you just need to be able to write your heart out. Write my heart out, I have.

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Thursday Three – Pizza

You know that universal appeal that pizza has for kids? I can say with some amount of confidence that I did not see it as a child. Amey, on the hand, is crazy about it, on all counts has been crazy about it even when all he had access to Smokin’ Joes in Bombay. For a guy who basically argues for a home-cooked meal over eating out every time, he is ready to compromise pretty quick if pizza is involved. Initially I was astounded by his ability to be this excited about it each time. But then, a few years ago, San Francisco started to outdo itself in the pizza department. Now I’m hooked.

There are some fantastic options for pizza in the city now. The following three are our favourites. We proclaim them the best pizza in the city. Based on what, you ask? Based on the fact that Amey can eat here several times in a row and it doesn’t cause death by pizza.
All three of these place feature great thin-crust pizzas. We aren’t fans of deep-dish pizza. What we also love about these three pizza joints is that they don’t load up that crust. They each have a superbly calibrated crust-to-toppings ratio.  They are certainly worth your while if you are looking for a good pie.

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