Monday, November 27, 2017

Gongura Eggplant Thokku (Chutney)

Have you driven around in the quiet country side and watched cows grazing peacefully on a meadow or on a gently rolling hill and thought to yourself how gentle and peaceful they look? Living in a farm is not all gentleness and peacefulness. The labor is hard and you should be able to get dirty and who knew that cows grazed all through the night?



So couple of weeks ago, our dog starting growling under his breath and his growl slowly started getting louder and louder. And then there was this cow who kept mooing bloody murder. All this at 2:00AM! So we come out to see that a bunch of these cows had found some grass greener on the other side of fence and broke through it. On this clear moon light filled night the cows could not resist the greener looking grass on the other side of the pasture while the grass on their side looked brown and worn out. Who can blame them?




Luckily our puppy dog who is a shepherding dog and DH got most of the cows to get back into the pasture behind the fence. We they got back and sighed and was just about to fall asleep the mooing started again. The cows had come back out. The wonderful moonlight did not help and the cows could see for themselves what they were missing.



This time the dog chased them and they scattered to the farthest side on to our neighbor's farm so the dog riding shotgun and DH on his vehicle took half an hour to herd them back. The next day was spent mending the fence. Just to set your minds at peace, no cows were harmed and the cows are not ours either.

Just another day at the farm!

Anyway now on to the recipe, this thokku or chutney was made over the summer when there were fresh eggplants and gongura leaves. Gongura leaves are new to me in the sense I did not know about till few years ago.



There were not readily available in the grocery stores so I started using them when my neighbor who used to grow them gave it to me and now that I grow it myself. It gives that subtle sourness that works its taste magic in a lot of dishes. Though my favorite is the chutney or thokku more like a pickle.



Gongura leaves can also be added to chicken, bitter gourd and many other vegetables. While I would just cook the chutney with just the leaves a friend told me that she adds eggplants to the chutney and it gives the chutney a different taste. Since I had plenty of eggplants on hand decided to give this a try.

The recipe in pictures,

Saute the eggplants and gongura leaves and add the spice powder. Cool and blend.
Heat oil and add the garlic pieces and add the blended paste and cook till the oil comes on the side.

The pickle stays good even for a month if refrigerated.



Gongura Eggplant Thokku
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 lb Gongura leaves
  2. 1/2 lb Eggplant washed and chopped into small dice
  3. 1/2 cup red onions or shallots chopped
  4. 10 green chilies chopped
  5. salt to taste
  6. 1/2 cup of sesame oil
  7. seasoning: mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves
  8. 4 garlic cloves sliced lengthwise
  9. Powder
  10. 1/2 tbsp of coriander seeds
  11. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  12. a few pepper corns
  13. a pinch of asfoetida
  14. a few mustard seeds
  15. '.

Method
  1. In a saute pan take 2 tsp of oil and when hot add onions,green chilies and saute till they are translucent.
  2. Add in the eggplant and saute till the eggplant is soft and mushy. Add salt.
  3. While the eggplant is cooking dry roast the spices in the to powder section one by one and let them cool, powder the spices in a spice grinder.
  4. Add in the gongura leaves and saute till the leaves look mushy. Add in the powdered spices and saute for couple more minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool and blend to a smooth paste without adding much water.
  5. Now in clean wide mouthed pan add the rest of the oil and when hot add in the seasonings. When the mustard starts to pop add in the blended paste. In low flame cook for about 15 minutes till you see oil pooling on the side.
  6. Cool and store in airtight bottle for a week or refrigerated for a month or more.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

New to the Farm - Goats!



The goats came to the farm 2 months ago. Jittery and nervous when they came. Taking a picture was almost impossible with their natural skittishness and also being in a new place.



Watch them run when someone approaches them. DD2 had her birthday a few weeks after they came and a group of teenagers terrorized them by chasing them and getting them to eat out of their hands. I guess the brave one among the four did eat out of their hand. You know which one is the boldest by looking at the pictures.



Now 2 months later they are not as jittery and are pretty cute. They always hang together and run away together.



See the brave one approach,



Close enough to even capture a beautiful picture.



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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Persimmon Tree bears fruit

Do you grow fruit trees? Then you will understand what I am talking about. The pleasure and joy that comes from being able to pick fruit from the tree that you saw grow is nothing short of spectacular like seeing your child becoming accomplished.

So here I am a proud owner of a fruit bearing Persimmon tree.













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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Peach Crumble - Tasty in every bite

Life has take over and my attempts to post here regularly have been thwarted. Will try harder!

Remember I was talking about freezing fresh peaches from the farm during the summer? They can be put to fun use in Fall or winter when it is hard to get peaches. I am not sure about peaches in the stores after summer. Normally I only go near the peaches in the stores if DD2 is with me. She is the peach lover in the family.

Farm fresh peaches are tasty as is, you don't want to do too much to it. Peach Crumble brings out the taste of the peaches without adding too much in the way of sugar and dough.





Martha Stewart's peach crumble is what I settled on. I followed the general recipe but while her recipe calls for room temperature butter but I used cold butter. The reason being I did not use a food processor/mixer as I don't have one but to prepare the dough with my fingers I followed the trick that was taught years ago by this lady who worked with DH when making dough for crumble, use a fork or your finger tips.



I used raw sugar instead of brown sugar. You are mistaken if you think brown sugar available here is unrefined sugar. Brown sugar is made by mixing molasses to refined white sugar. If you want to know more read here. For that reason and I simply don't buy brown sugar even if a recipe calls for it. For me just regular white sugar will work if a recipe calls for brown sugar, it will just be paler :)

Peach Crumble in pictures.

Cut the peaches into cubes. Toss with sugar, corn starch and lemon juice and transfer fruit to a baking dish. Prepare the topping with the butter, sugar and flour and mixing the butter into the flour.
Transfer the topping on to the fruit in the baking dish.
Bake in a 375F preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cover with a aluminum foil dome and bake for another 20 minutes.
Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Warm peach crumble with some ice cream. Best ever.



Peach Crumble
Preparation Time:20 minutes
Preparation Time:40 - 50 minutes

Ingredients
    For the Peaches
  1. 6 cups of peaches cut into cubes 1/2 -3/4 inch. (I used about 10 peaches)
  2. 4 tsp corn starch
  3. 3/4 cup raw sugar
  4. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  5. For the Crumble
  6. 6 tbsp of butter (cold)
  7. a pinch of salt
  8. 1 cup of white whole wheat flour
  9. 1/4 cup raw sugar

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Toss the peaches with the lemon juice, corn starch and sugar and transfer to a greased baking dish.
  3. In a wide mouthed bowl take the flour, sugar and flour for the crumble topping.
  4. Cut up the butter and add it to the flour, and with a fork mix it in so the butter starts to crumble into smaller pieces. Now use the tips of your finger to crumble the mixture so the texture feels coarse and grainy (like wet sand)
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the peach and bake for 30 minutes. Now take aluminum foil folded like a loose tent and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  6. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. With some home made Vanilla ice cream on top.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann - A Review

The Lost City of Z by David Grann was one of those books that keeps you engrossed and on edge throughout and better yet was based on a real life true story. So when I heard about the new book that the same author had written about the Osage Indians I wanted to read it for 2 reasons. There were not many books that I have read about American Indians and how they were treated by the ruling European Whites who almost succeeded in wiping them out completely and exactly how much atrocities have been committed against them in the name of protecting them.

This book offered both. America which prides itself on being the beacon of democracy with an incorruptible judiciary was not always that way. Has it changed? Have to ask the countless innocent people who were sent to jail because of prosecutorial overreach.





This book reads better than any mystery novel but the events were culled meticulously from investigative records about the Osage murders. Murders that were committed for that ancient reason - greed and coveting for somebody's wealth. All made possible by the implicit and tacit support of the federal government. Because no one other than the white man is considered capable enough to take care of their own affairs. Each Indian with rights to oil in Osage County is appointed a caretaker and had to ask permission from them for spending any of the money. The murders and unexplained killings were the result. Why? the caretakers themselves wanted to control the money. But how can this be made possible? By getting rid of the wards obviously.

The corrupt local and state officials were all in the buy so the FBI team - the fledgling bureau that was being assembled by Edgar Hoover had to come in. But did they solve all of them?

Subtler subtext also explores the slow killing of a culture and the devastation that is being wrought on them by the settlers for whom the wealth is more important than an Indian life. I will not give the plot but if you want a good read and in the process learn something about the not so great past of this country you should be reading this book.

David Grann is a mastery story teller. His writing is evocative and clear minded. You will not be disappointed I promise.

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