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Friday, May 28, 2010

Quote

"No matter how good your intentions are the  world judges your presentations, but no matter how good your presentations are God judges your intentions." 

- H.H. Radhanath Swami
http://www.radhanath-swami.net/

Friday, May 21, 2010

Drama - Lonely People



Here is an incredible drama by a troupe of talented actors lead by Bhakti Marg Swami from Canada. Check it out!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Pics of UMD cooking class

Here's a few pictures from a class I held at UMD way back when. . . . we made Peanut choc surprise cookies as the prep of the night! Thanks to Shawna for snapping these pics. :-)





Good job writing that sign, and just look at that great smile!

There you are, a happy bunch of cookie makers. :-) But gosh, our class has expanded since then, now there's 100 instead of 20 people, only those who are in the door first get to see the cooking demo these days, what to speak of practice anything!!

                    

The meal. . .well part of it anyways!


                      Serve out time. . .well, don't all rush now!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Strawberry Blueberry Crumble

Here's a tasty recipe strawberry-blueberry crumble, it can be made with apples too, but this is a nice variation. If you make it with apples, add cinnamon into the topping and or the apples. Serves six generous helpings!


Filling:

3 cups strawberries washed and halved
3 cups of blueberries washed
1 cup organic cane sugar

Topping:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup dessicated coconut (or porridge oats)
1 cup wheatgerm
1 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup softened butter
Milk/water if required

Deep baking dish

Mix fruits with sugar and place into baking dish.

Mix all the dry ingredients for the topping, then knead in the butter and vanilla essence to make a crumbly texture. If you need add a littel milk or water to moisten, it should be crumbly but hold togther when pressed in your hands.

Place topping over the fruits. Bake in preheated oven at 380 Fahrenheit for approx 20 minutes til its golden brown on top and fruits are soft. Serve warm or cooled as you like, with custard, ice cream or whipped cream, yummy! :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lunch by Two for Six

Whenever I have the pleasure of cooking together with my friend Kunti-devi, we have good fun learning from each other. We made lunch today and below are the main recipes on the menu. She is a great cook and is kindly sharing her recipe for vegan nut-loaf with a tangy barbecue sauce, and a spice cake. :-) Each preparation serves approx six people.


Kunti's Vegan Nut-loaf

2 x 14oz extra firm organic tofu
approx 4 cups wheatgerm
1 cup lightly toasted finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
2 tsp Asafeotida
4 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp soya sauce
2 Tbsp dried parsely

1 stick finely chopped celery (optional)
1 small finely grated carrot (optional)

Drain the liquid off the tofu,and place in a mixing bowl. Mash into a paste. Add the seasonings, nutritional yeast and soy sauce mixing in evenly. Then add the nuts (and chopped veg if you are using it). There is not need to add salt because the soy sauce is salty. Press mixture into an oiled loaf tin. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes til golden brown. You can test if its ready by sticking a knife in the center, if it comes out clean its ready. Serve warm with the barbecue sauce below.

Tangy Barbecue Sauce

1 Tbsp oil
1 -2 tsp asafeotida
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp all spice
12 oz crushed tomato's
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup organic brown mustard paste (Eden brand is great, it has no dodgy ingredients)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp liquid smoke flavor (salt free)
1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp organic molasses
1 tsp sea salt

Heat oil, saute powdered spices a few seconds, add the tomato's and sugar. Saute a few more minutes and then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for approx 20 minutes and then serve hot over warm nut loaf or with barbecued veggies etc.

Summer Delight Pasta Salad


Here is my Summer Delight Pasta Salad I made to accompany Kunti's vegan nut-loaf. Its colorful ingredients are aesthetically pleasing. Srila Prabhupada once said that a meal must have three appealing aspects which aid ones digestion; be attractive to the eye, have proper texture and be flavorsome. I'd like to think that this salad has all three! :-)

2 lb Riggatoni pasta tubes cooked al dente and rinsed under cold water to cool
1 avocado skinned and cubed, keep the stone to one side
1 handful cherry tomato's washed and halved
1 handful mixed salad greens washed and roughly chopped
2 handfuls green olives sliced into rings
A few sprigs of fresh mint leaves washed and chopped coarsely
2 stalks of fresh basil leaves washed and chopped coarsely
1 cup of cucumber pieces cubed small
1 handful cheddar cheese cubes or feta cubes (optional)
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Dressing:
1 cup of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
4 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp asafeotida
1 tsp black salt (optional)
1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
1 tsp brown sugar

In a mixing bowl beat together the oil, lemon, together with all the other seasonings, salt, and sugar. Add in the freshly chopped herbs, olives, sunflower seeds and cranberries. Allow to sit for 15 mins so that the herbs etc., have time to marinate. Then add in the salad greens, tomato's, avocado, cucumber, and cheese/feta cubes if using. Mix, add in the cooled pasta and mix everything evenly til its all coated in dressing. Put the avocado stone into the salad bowl to keep the avocado from discoloring - sounds funny but it works! Serve at room temperature or chilled. You can add some plain yogurt on the side if you like. Bonn Appetite! :-)

Kunti's spice cake


3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup organic natural cane sugar
 1 cup safflower oil
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream (or another egg re-placer for vegans)
Approx 1 cup warm water  -- enough to make a medium moist batter -- it should'nt be too stiff or too wet but drop off the spoon easily
Round spring form pan

Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients. Pour into a greased and floured baking pan and bake at  380 Fahreheit for  25 - 30 mins til its light golden. Test with a cocktail stick, if it comes out clean its ready. 

Strawberry Topping:

1 lb strawberries washed and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 TBSP GMO free corn starch
1/4 - 1/2 cup water

Heat  the strawberries with sugar and water in a pot and when at boiling point turn down heat and simmer until they are soft.

Brown syrup:

Approx 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup water water

Simmer all ingredients until it becomes a syrup and remove from heat.

Remove the warm cake from the pan onto a cake tray. Pour brown syrup over and allow it to cool and soak up the syrup. When it has cooled, spread the strawberry compote on top of  the cake. Cut into slices and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. :-d

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From Rajapur with Love






There are many beautiful and fascinating temples in India with timeless Vedic traditions of worship at the center of a culture of  devotional expression.







The ancient devotional traditions of India e.g. Vaishnavism recognize that God or Krishna chooses to manifest in many ways according to time, place and circumstance. One of these ways is through very specific forms which are described in the Vedic scriptures.


The Vedas explain that the Lord chooses to be present in such a form or deity for the benefit of mankind to give one the opportunity to develop a personal relationship of loving reciprocation with the Lord. To this end, devotees practice offering humble services or offering everything they do in their lives up to the Lord with the intention of pleasing Him. That means putting the Lord into the center of ones life.


This is known as as the practice of Bhakti yoga or devotional service. So in the temple one can observe how the Lord in the form of the deity is treated just like an honored guest i.e offered new outfits regularly, fresh flower garlands, water, meals throughout the day, prayers, music and dance, a bed to rest, and many ceremonies and festivals. Temples are sacred places for reconnecting with the divine and for purification of mundane worldly conditioning which binds one into materialistic pursuits.




One of these temples I had the joy of visiting is the Jagannatha Mandir nestled amongst the jackfruit, mango and banana groves in Rajapur, Bengal. Jagannatha refers to He who is the most merciful Lord of the Universe, and this particular temple houses the extraordinary forms of the Lord known as Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subadhra. These deities are worshiped by the local people of Rajapur and Mayapur and many pilgrims come from all over the world to visit this temple.















There are many stories of miracles which have occurred and continue to occur into the present day experienced by the pilgrims who come to see the Lordships in the temple. Examples include the blind having their sight returned, infertile couples suddenly able to have children, cures from various diseases, people who had giving up ever finding a partner for marriage soon finding a spouse etc after praying to these Deities for help.


I had a the wonderful opportunity to spend some time at this temple watching the cooks preparing sweets for the late noon and evening offerings. The cooks I met are an sweet elderly Bengali lady and her son who team up together to cook. Initially they seemed a little reserved and I felt shy not wanting to intrude in their meditative and devotional cooking process, but by the second day we were chatting away in broken English, sign language and my few words of Bengali and Hindi.

I was quite amazed to see how incredibly resourceful and  creative they are with the least facilities and ingredients. I consider myself to be a very creative person, so thats saying something! :-) The kitchen is minimalistic and by western standards it would be considered a bare unfinished room. But its functional, with a stone floor which can easily be washed down, a washing area with running water on one end, and a counter on the other end. A few sparse shelves hug the walls, several wicker and bamboo baskets holding vegetables, fruits and clay utensils grace the corners, and the big empty floor space in the middle is the main center of activity.


In this kitchen one cooks squatting on the floor or sitting on a small wooden chonki (wooden table) in front of several gas burners holding woks (deep bowl-like pots for stir-frying etc), a basin of water for washing on the side, ingredients and utensils on another side, all within easy reach. One person works at the cookers and another at a counter rolling and shaping various pastries and sweets from dough made with many kinds of spices, nuts etc.

The cooks here have learnt the art of making certain signature sweets of the ancient Jagannatha temple in Puri, Orissa. These recipes have been passed down through the generations of priests and cooks of Lord Jagannatha and also to these cooks who have combined these with their own local specialties. The food they prepare is offered to the Lord where upon it is considered karma free, sanctified food known as prasad or the Lords mercy. It is distributed to eager pilgrims who honor it with great eagerness.

So I will share two of these recipes with you. Have fun! :-)

Kaja - Jagannatha Tongues

White flour - use as much as you feel you will need
A little ghee - clarified butter rubbed into flour to create a fine crumb texture
Water - enough to make a stiff smooth dough
A wok of ghee or oil for deep frying

For the icing, you can either use:

Traditional glaze:
4 parts sugar to 1 part water
Cook down into a syrup - that is it falls off the spatula in thick slow drops

My own preferred glaze:
Icing sugar mixed with enough freshly squeezed orange juice to make a runny icing
Pistachio nuts crushed fine

Knead the dough for a good 10 minutes til dough is stiff yet very smooth. Let it rest for a few minutes. Then on a floured surface roll out the dough til it is approx 1 millimeter thick. Smear soft ghee over the pastry and then sprinkle it with an even dusting of flour. (This is important to create layers later).



On one end of the pastry create a ridge by turning over the side onto itself. Use this ridge to roll up the whole pastry evenly into a snake. Seal the edges by pinching the dough together all the way across and on either side. Then take a sharp knife and cut the dough into even slices approx 1 - 2 inch thick.

Put on the wok of ghee to heat over a medium flame. If you choose to make a traditional sugar glaze now is the time to put it on to cook down.


On a floured surface roll out the slices into long rectangular shapes, rolling on one side once. Turn over, sprinkle with a little flour as needed, and roll again. Repeat this procedure until the pastry is a strip about 3 inches long and the edges will look layered and fluted.


Check to see if the ghee is hot enough for use by throwing a small piece of dough in. If it sinks and immediately rises, sizzling, its ready to go. Gently slide the kaja into the hot ghee. You can fry about 6 at a time in a medium sized wok. When it rises up bob them up and down a little with the back of your spatula to encourage the layers to puff and separate a little. Turn them over when they are golden brown.When done remove from wok and drain in a colander lined with paper towels if you have. Gentle - they are fragile.

Then when cool enough to handle transfer to a tray or if you are using the traditional glaze carefully slide them into the syrup and submerge them. Remove from the syrup as soon as they are covered in it and transfer onto a tray to cool and dry off.



If you are using my preferred glaze, simply dip them into the runny icing and place onto a tray to dry off.

Jagannatha Roses

Use the same dough cut into slices and roll spiral side up into rounds. Turn over on a floured surface on each roll to prevent ghee in the layers from squeezing out. When it is an even round, deep fry the roses using the same method as for the Kaja til golden brown. Drain and follow either of the same procedures above for glazing. Sprinkle crushed Pistachio nuts over the top to garnish.


The secret ingredient to make the food you cook taste extra special is to prepare it with a mood of love, offer it to the Divine/the Lord and enjoy! :-)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gopi's Truffle Lollipops

I created this recipe for truffle lollipops today for my friend Kunti Devi, who needed a quick sweet for lunch. Give them a go, they're easy to make, healthy and scrumptious!


8-10 unsulphured apricots
4-6 dried figs
8 prunes
2 handfuls seedless raisins
1/2 handful cranberries
1 handful crystallized ginger pieces
1/2 handful organic chocolate chips
1/2 - 1 cup organic pure maple syrup as required
1 tbsp vanilla essence
2 cups wheatgerm
3 cups freshly ground almonds
 Lollipop sticks/cocktail sticks

To cover:
1 cup organic choc chips melted
1 cup organic white choc chips melted

Rinse the dried fruits under running water and drain. Chop all dried fruits fine in a food processor, add ginger, then vanilla and maple syrup. Add to almonds, wheatgerm and choc chips in a mixing bowl, and knead together. Roll into smooth balls, makes approx 16. Push the lollipop sticks into the truffles. Dip into the melted chocolates and place onto a tray covered with waxed paper. Chill and harden chocolate covering by placing in the freezer for 1 hour. Watch out they are addictive! :-D

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

King of Vegetables


Srila Prabhupada once said that the humble potato is the king of vegetables. It is so versatile and of course being Irish I'm biased! I love potato's, baked, steamed, roasted, pan fried, mashed, in salad and soup . . . I was just in Ireland and made a creamy potato soup on a cold spring day for my family and it was a hit with my teenage siblings . . . knowing how fussy teens can be, its a good one to have up your sleeve. So hope this one becomes a favorite of yours too.

Gopi's Potato Soup

10 medium sized potato's washed, peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
1 small parsnip washed, peeled and chopped
3-4 medium stalks of celery, washed and chopped
8 - 10 fresh nettle sprigs and or fresh basil leaves washed
2 cups milk
3/4 litre spring water
1/2 tsp asafoetida
3/4 tsp black salt
1 & 1/2 tbsp sea salt or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch paprika (optional)
1 - 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
few sprigs fresh herbs e.g. parsely, marjoram washed

Put water on to heat, when boiling add in the vegetables and cook on medium heat til soft. Add in nettle leaves/basil, milk, seasonings, and butter stirring over low heat til butter is melted. Turn off heat, add the fresh herbs and salt and then blend to a smooth consistency with a soup stick or blender. Serve hot with wedges of fresh homemade buttered bread. Yummy! :-)

Simple Lunch Recipes

















Hey, Im back with some more recipes to share with you! :-) Seriously, I meant to post this 2 months ago during the time I was in India, but that just didnt happen, so here it is.






March in India is the time of year where the weather begins to get hot, gradually building to the Summer heat which is intolerable to all except seasoned residents. Past midday you want to be indoors under the fan or in
the shade with a glass of cool refreshing lime water - I live on it these days. :-)

People here typically have a rest period -- something like siesta -- between noon and 4pm, because the heat just saps energy if you walk around during that time of day. If you go barefoot at this time the sandy ground -- and God forbid the tarmac road -- will burn your feet! Since I don't have much of an appetite in the heat I keep my personal cooking simple and light. So here are a few of my lunch recipes which can be mixed and matched. The portions below generally serve 2:

Lime Water

Juice from 1 medium lime
2 glasses chilled water

Mix and quench that thirst! :-) I like it straight as it is, but I you could also add some sweetner if you prefer.


Salty Lassi - Yoghurt drink

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 cup chilled water
pinch of black pepper
pinch of black salt
pinch of rock salt or real sea salt (not iodised)
pinch of dry roasted cumin powder(cumin seeds dry roasted and ground fine)

Blend everything together and pour into a glass to serve. It may seem counter intuitive to drink something salty, but this mildly salty drink actually does quench thirst and works to replenish trace minerals and salts which are lost from our bodies in hot weather.
*You can go ahead add some ice cubes if you fancy.


Cucumber Raita

2 small cucumbers washed, peeled and grated (Indian cucumbers are 1/4 the
size of western ones)
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 tsp rock salt - or to taste
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix everything evenly and its ready to serve.



Steamed Subji

2 Carrots - washed, peeled and sliced into short sticks
2 Potatos - washed, peeled and cubed
2 handfuls of fresh green french beans - washed, head 'n' tailed and cut in 1/2
1/2 handful green olives cut or broken into chunky pieces
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp rock salt
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp asafoetida
juice from 1/2 small lime
1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil
fresh cilantro leaves washed and chopped small(optional)

Steam all the vegetables til tender. Place in a mixing bowl. Add butter and let it melt or otherwise just add the Olive oil. Then add all seasonings. Pour on the lime juice and mix everything gently so its evenly coated.
Thank the Lord for what He has kindly provided and have a happy meal! :-D

Here is my 'lazy lady bread 'n' tomato' recipe which works with the above recipes, or as a lunch snack on its own! :-)

Zuchini Tomato Stir-fry on Toasted Bread

3-4 firm ripe tomatos cut into thick slices
I small zuchini washed, peeled and cut into medium slices
4 slices home made bread - cut into chunky slices
Butter as needed
1/2 tsp asafoetida
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger root grated fine (optional)

Heat a pan and melt butter - enough to generously coat the pan - on low heat. Add the seasonings and brown for a few seconds. (If you use cumin add that first, then ginger and add the other seasonings a few seconds later). Add the zuchini and tomato slices, and stir fry - when a little softened and browned turn over. Cover with a lid for a few minutes to cook. (Add a tbsp of water if required to prevent burning). When the zuchini slices are tender and lightly browned remove from heat.

Heat another pan on med low heat, coat generously with butter and place the bread slices in.Turn when lightly browned. Add a dab of butter on top of each slice to soften. Remove from heat when ready.

Place the zuchini tomato stir-fry onto the bread slices and its ready to serve.
Yummy!

(The zuchini can also be omitted, it still tastes great just with tomatos, but adjust the seasoning - simply add a little less of everything if you choose this option. And if the tomatos are very acidic then add a pinch of sugar).   

Instead of the cucumber salad you may opt for a Red Beet salad which is also delicious, it simply takes a little more time if you opt for the cooked beet salad - about 1/2 hr - 40  mins. See below.



Red Beet Salad #1

2 big red beets, washed, root and top removed
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp rock salt
pinch of sugar
pinch black pepper(optional)
Some fresh cilanto, washed and chopped roughly

Cook the beets til they are tender. Strain from water and add into a bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle remove the peel - it will come off easily in your hands if the beets are properly cooked. Grate the beets on the big grater holes. In a bowl mix beets with yoghurt and salt, pepper and cilatro. Serve room temperature.

Red Beet Salad #2

2 big red beets, washed, root and top removed
juice from 1 lime/ or from 1/2 a small lemon
1/4 tsp salt

Follow same proceedure for cooked beets as above. Instead of grating, slice into medium thin slices. In a bowl mix beet slices, lime juice and salt. Serve as is or chill in fridge before serving. This salad is so simple, refreshing and tasty!

(Lemon/lime juice acts as a preservative so you may keep it for 1-2 days in the
fridge).

Red Beet Salad #3 (uncooked)

2 red beets, washed, peeled and grated fine
juice from 1-2 limes
1 tbsp extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of sugar

Mix all ingredients and its ready!
*You may also add a grated carrot to this recipe for variation.


Potato Salad # 1

4 potatos washed, peeled and cubed
2 cups fresh plain yoghurt
2 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp powdered sugar
pinch of asafoetida

Steam Potatos til tender and set aside to cool.
Mix yoghurt with all seasoning and pour over the potatos, mixing evenly but gently to avoid breaking the potatos. Put in fridge a few hours. Serve chilled. Yummy yum!

Additional: You may add 1 cup grated fresh coconut for great flavor and nutrition (of course thats if you are in India).

Potato Salad #2

4 potatos washed, peeled and cubed
2 cups coconut cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tbsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
fresh mixed herbs e.g. basil, mint, nastursium - chopped coarsely
2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
a few black olives sliced into rings
1/4 cup cranberries - soaked til soft and drained

Steam Potatos til tender and set aside to cool.
Blend together coconut cream with the remaining ingredients except the herbs and seeds.
Place potatos into a mixing bowl, pour over the coconut cream sauce and add the herbs, olives, cranberries and sunflower seeds. Mix gently to avoid breaking the potatos. Leave in fridge a few hours. Serve chilled. De-li-ci-ous!


Green Bean Salad

3 handfuls of fresh green french beans, washed, head 'n' tailed
and halved
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
Juice from one lime
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
pinch sugar
1/4 cup coarsely crushed walnuts (optional)

Steam beans til tender. In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Serve at room temperature.


Steamed Veggies

Fresh veggies - some of my favorites are: green peas, beans, carrots, brocoli, squash
Butter or olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
Asafoetida
Juice from a fresh lime
Fresh cilantro washed and chopped

Wash and prep veggies. Steam til tender.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix gently til evenly coated in the seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Indian - Irish Mashed Potatos

4 potatos washed, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 small green chilli chopped fine
or otherwise 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp rock salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves washed and chopped
fresh lime/lemon juice to taste

Cook potato's til soft. Drain excess water and set aside. Heat coconut oil.
Add the cumin seeds and ginger and fry a few seconds. Then add asafoetida and fry about 3 seconds. Remove from heat. Mash potato's with a little of the cooking water.Add in the spice chaunce,salt, pepper, cilantro and mix well. sprinkle a little lime juice on the potato when you serve it. Serve hot with some steamed veggies and a salad.

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