22 March 2011

T-Shirt Repurpose

An old favourite t-shirt that my son CANNOT throw away, gets a new life as a drawstring bag here.
Measures  16 inches x 18 inches  - a good size to carry all his swimming stuff.
 Here's how I did this:
-I just cut out two rectangles from the front and back, cutting off the sleeves, the neckline and the bottom hem - these were put away for use later.
-I, then, sewed up the two pieces along three sides into a rectangular bag, leaving the top narrow side open. 
-I also used small bits - 2" pieces - of the hem at the sides , near the base line, to make loops to pass the string through..... I did this by sandwiching the hem bits between the two sides of the main body when I sewed them together - like you would if adding handles.
-I lined this with a green and yellow (handloom) pure cotton fabric. 
-To make the lining I sewed a bag identical to the outer black bag, pushed it into the bag and sewed with a folded hem, about an inch from the top, attaching it to the main body.
-The hem that I had cut off from the tee, I sewed it on to the edge to use as a channel for the string to go through. 
The channel was sandwiched between the outer and inner layers when they were sewn together.
If you look closely you'll notice the hem is inside-out - I wanted the serger hem to show and, frankly, who cares if it is wrong side out!
-The final step was to pass string through the channels and, viola, the bag is done!!!
Since the lining color doesn't run, I can just throw it into the machine to wash.
It was a t-shirt like this one (sorry, should have ironed it).
I would love to add your bag here if you make one....:)


20 March 2011

Green Chilli Pickle

I love this spicy green chilli pickle. My mother's been making this since forever. It's a quick to make pickle with ingredients easily available  in your kitchen. This pickle is ready to eat as soon as you finish adding all the ingredients. You can keep it for a couple of days, if you like, to improve the flavours.
Make this one if you like your pickles spicy.

This recipe uses an almost equal quantity of ginger-garlic paste as the green chillies. This helps create a nice masala  around the chillies. Cook the masala on a low flame as it burns easily. Once you add the chillies do not cook them. Turn off the fire and they will cook in the hot masala. Adding turmeric to the masala is optional - you can totally omit adding it. (I added it here).

250 gm                  fresh green chillies.
200-250 gm           ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp                   methi seeds / fenugreek
1/4th to 1/2 cup     vegetable oil
1/2 to 1 cup           vinegar
1 tbsp                   salt or according to taste
1 tsp                     haldi /turmeric (optional)

Wash and dry the chillies well. Once absolutely dry take the tails off. Chop into 1cm pieces. Keep aside.
Lightly roast the methi/fenugreek seeds in a small pan and grind into a powder. Keep aside.
Heat up the oil and add the ginger-garlic paste. Fry on low fire, stirring constantly, as this paste burns easily.
You need to fry it well to get the characteristic aroma.
When the paste is a light brown and the water has evaporated, add the chopped chillies, salt, turmeric and turn off the fire immediately. Do not cook the chillies. The heat of the pan is enough to cook them.
(NOTE: At this stage there will be some amount of ginger-garlic masala stuck to the bottom of the pan, but do not scrape this yet. When you add the vinegar, it'll all come off easily)
When this mixture cools down add  methi powder and vinegar. Add a little vinegar at first, taste and add more if you like.
VIOLA!!! Your pickle is done!! You can eat it with your next meal!! Hope you enjoy this.

19 March 2011

"Men - and their Reasons to be Cheerful"

Someone sent me this in an e-mail....
Why men are happier!!I am sure you won't agree with all of them - I don't -  but some things are meant to be taken with a pinch of salt....and a good laugh.

Men Are Just Happier People-- What do you expect from such simple creatures? 
Your last name stays put. 
The garage is all yours. 
                     Wedding plans take care of themselves.
                     Chocolate is just another snack. 
You can be President. 
You can never be pregnant. 
                     You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park
                     You can wear NO shirt to a water park.
You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. 
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. 
                     Same work, more pay. 
                     Wrinkles add character.  
Wedding dress $5000. Tux rental-$100. 
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. 
                      New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. 
                      One mood all the time. 
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. 
Car mechanics tell you the truth.
                       A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. 
                       You can open all your own jars. 
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.  
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.
                       Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. 
                       Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. 
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.  
                       The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. 
                       You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life. 
One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one color for all seasons. 
                       You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. 
                       You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife. 
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier. 

If you have any 'reasons' to share please feel free to do so and I'll add them to the post.

Adding inputs from my readers:
Your parents and parents in-law love you equally.

15 March 2011

Typically Punjabi Atta Halwa (or Wheat Flour Halwa)

One of my all-time favourite halwas. And one of the easiest to make with the minimum number of ingredients - uses just three- and requires just about 15 minutes to prepare. My kids love it and this is probably the dessert I make most often.
This halwa goes very well with chana-puri as a meal...just skip the chopped nuts as the garnish.
It is the traditional halwa which is served as 'prasad' (called 'karaah parsaad') at all gurudwaras (a place of worship for the Sikhs).

3/4th - 1 cup                   ghee (clarified butter)
1 cup                              atta (whole wheat flour-the one used for chapattis)
3/4th - 1 cup                   sugar 
2  1/2  cups                    water
1/2 cup                           chopped nuts to garnish -almonds, cashews.(optional)
As a rule this is made from equal measures of flour, ghee and sugar and almost three measures of water.
I like to use a little less sugar, but an equal amount of ghee and flour. 
When poured into the wok this might seem like a lot of ghee, but this makes it easier to roast/fry the flour faster. Start by adding half the required amount of ghee, if you like,  and then add more if you find the ghee-flour mixture too dry. Once done the extra ghee just separates from the halwa- as you see in the top picture-  which you can drain off. ( This ghee can be reused as it won't absorb the flavours).

In a pan heat the water and  sugar together till sugar dissolved. Let the mix stay on a low flame.
In a wok/kadaai add ghee and let melt. 
Add the flour and stir well so no lumps remain. 
Keep stirring on a medium flame till the flour becomes a darker brown and "you can smell the ghee-atta mix in the other room" - this is how I check for doneness!!!
Pour the sugar syrup into the wok. Stir vigourously so it becomes a smooth mixture with no lumps. Now this step requires some care. If you like you can turn off the flame for a minute as you add the syrup, but put it back on the flame soon to avoid lumps which are really tough to get rid of.
You need to step back a little when adding the syrup as this creates a lot of steam
Once you have a smooth mix, keep stirring till all the water is incorporated. 
Once it is done you'll notice the pan goes absolutely clean with nothing sticking to the sides-last picture. This means your halwa is done!!! 
At this stage I fry it for another minute or so to give it added flavour.
Garnish with chopped nuts, if you like, and serve it hot.
Great on its own, ideal with a meal of chana-puri.
Points to remember:
-Try not to skimp on the ghee and sugar. 
-Be sure to stir all the time as this mixture burns easily.
-Try not to count the calories for this one.
-When adding the sugar syrup stand away from pan and use a long handled spoon.
-Once sugar is added stir well to avoid lumps in the mix.

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