Versatile Blogging and time for some Link Love

{Luscious red raspberries we enjoyed snacking on, these organic ones were especially delicious..}

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.” ― Charles Morgan

It came as a pleasant surprise a couple of days back when Shira of In Pursuit of More, a blogger, writer and founder of a new non-profit organization called Not So Fast, nominated Just Homemade for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Just goes to prove that Love can come from anywhere.. Thank you sweet Shira!

The award rules for those about to be nominated are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 15 more bloggers that you enjoy.
  4. Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated!

And now, It’s time to show some link love:

15 bloggers who inspire me , those I adore or fantastic new (to me) blogs are:

 YOU’RE IT! Ladies..

Pure Vegetarian by Lakshmi – Pure, Pristine vegetarian food coupled with ethereal photography transporting you to another world

India Simmer by Prerna – Indian food made approachable for everyone with eye candy photography She has an Indian food event IndianFoodPalooza going on from 1 Mar – 31 Mar 2012. Join the fun!

Tongue Ticklers by Harini – Delcious and satiating Vegetarian and Vegan food with vivid photography

Love Food Eat by Chinmayie – Simple yet yummy home style local vegetarian food from South India

6 Bittersweets by Xialou – Baking and food DIY, especially macaroons

Passionate about Baking by Deeba Rajpal – As the name suggests, a blog dedicated for baking, drool worthy!

Divine Taste by Anushruti – as she says “to feed the mind body and soul”

Veggie Belly by Sala Kannan – Vegetarian and vegan food with bright natural light photos

Spice Foodie by Nancy – Fresh and delicious food from an Mexican expat

Foodiecrush by Heidi – online magazine that loves food bloggers, their recipes and more..

eCurry by Soma Rathore – Indian food, more than just a curry, soulful writing and rustic photography

Journey Kitchen by Kulsum – Lovely food (includes Bohra Cuisine) and even better photography

Sips and Spoonfuls by Sukaina RajbaliGorgeous food and photography all the way from Dubai

Gourmande in the Kitchen by Sylvie Shirazi – Picture perfect healthful food

Peppercorns in my Pocket by Pia Ghosh – Fresh poetic writing

That wasn’t easy to just put down 15, there are many many more wonderful blogs out there that I check out if not frequently…

Be sure to also check out Sunshine and Smile as well as Vegetable Platter by my good blogger friends Kankana and Deesha

Of course, it isn’t mandatory, but it it sure FUN! And, I’d LOVE to see your selections and learn about your 7 things!
Now for the difficult part,

And for my 7 random things:

  • I was born and raised in Mysore, the royal city of Mysore palace and the renowned Dasara Festival
  • I can speak 5 languages which includes four Indian (three South Indian)
  • I can read and write in Sanskrit and speak a little too (forgotten mostly). I studied Sanskrit for 5 years in school and college.
  • I have a special affinity for bitter foods like bitter gourd, fenugreek etc
  • I never knew swimming until last summer
  • I don’t like to mix sweet and hot foods. In general, I try to avoid any two food items touching on my plate when served (Weird! Hmm.. now I know where my little girl gets the picky palate after all!)
  • I absolutely love “FRIENDS” television show. In fact, I own their whole series in DVD and even quote scenes sometimes in conversations (god help those who didn’t watch!). And most often, my OCD for cleanliness and orderliness comes close to Monica’s!
That was about me, What are you up to today?

Treat yourself to more:

  

Welcome 2012! Adieu 2011 with the year’s favorites..

Wish you all a wonderful New Year 2012 full of much love, health, peace, joy, bliss and everything you need!

Hope the New Year has started in a very nice way for all of you! I somehow just cannot believe that 2011 is over and 2012 hasn’t sunk in yet – I’ve been typing 2011 still and correcting it to 2012 every single time.. Time just flies, isn’t it?

2011 has been crazily unforgettable and a tremendously eventful year, leaving the earth shaken and the world frazzled. I don’t know what 2012 has to offer to all of us, but, I’d love to share a quote from my all time favorite movie Shawshank Redemption:

Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Here’s hoping that 2012 will be a much better year in every way for every one.. and bidding goodbye to 2011 with a peek into the year’s favorites – yours and mine, on Just Home Made. Thank you for your love and support all year through..

Benne Murukku – Crispy, crunchy savory spiral lentil snacks (was also featured on the kitchn) 

Bisi Bele Baath – A signature rice and Lentil one pot meal from Karnataka (in a guest post for Sala Kannan of Veggie Belly)

Raspberry Pear Hazelnut Tart to celebrate Just Home Made turning one!

Mango Strawberry Honey Yogurt Granola Parfait (in a guest post for Kankana of Sunshine and Smile)

Meyer Lemon Paanaka Saffron and Cardamom flavored Indian lemonade for the scorching summer

Mawa Gujiya – Deep fried pastry purses with a nutmeg flavored filling, an Indian cousin of the empanada

Blueberry Aamrakhand – A Blueberry twist to the typical Indian flavored Mango yogurt

Rave Unde – Saffron and Cardamom flavored sweet Semolina balls, a humble sweet

Zucchini and Carrot Garlic RasamGarlic Rasam with vegetables included

Easy Eggless Chocolate PuddingYes, an indulgent pudding is possible without eggs!

Come see who else is joining in the virtual party #Welcome2012 Blog Hop being hosted by Sanjeeta at Lite Bite

Mysore Mithai or Haal Khova | Sweet Nostalgia

Cottage @ Lake Ouachita State Park, Arkansas

I have been away for a while now, to begin with, it was for a lovely fall vacation with friends in Arkansas. (BTW, Don’t miss the state park cottages, they are worth every penny). Then, it was to San Francisco to meet friends who are embarking on a “round the world trip” this weekend starting from Bogota, Colombia to cover the whole of South America and North Africa later. (Curious cats can track their adventures on their blog Crave to Travel). Also, very unexpectedly, a sweet co-incidence it was to meet up with the lovely ladies Sala Kannan of Veggie Belly and Prerna of Indian Simmer, thanks to a quick burst of tweeting! YAY! to Twitter.. Meeting them in flesh and blood over a lovely Thai dinner felt like a dream come true.. After that, in a much unexpected turn of events I spent the whole of Thanksgiving weekend in and out of ER nursing my injured back to normalcy until now..

With so much to share and not being able to communicate with you was difficult enough.. Thank you for your understanding unbeknownst my saga, staring at the same page of Curry Leaf all this while..

So I am back to writing this special post. No recipes this time, but I bring you “this” something very close to my heart, with a big grin and sparkly eyes..

It arrived by mail in a brown box from an unidentified address.

It couldn’t have been any kind of factory made commercial product. It looked very familiar as though something long lost from my childhood. It had been much more than a year since the two of us had met each other. They were about eight geometric packets nicely wrapped in a bling gift wrap, contents playing peek-a-boo from the insides of the rectangular cuboid carefully hand wrapped in see-through wax paper wound with delicate white cotton threads securely knotted at the top.

I smiled.

There was a familiar comfort at sight. How could I know so much about this sweet unless…. I grew up eating it?

My eyes lit up like that of a small child handed with a bar of her most favorite chocolate, only it wasn’t this time.. But I knew exactly what it was and where it came from and perhaps who had taken the pains of mailing it in a box to me. What a splendid surprise!

It was like the most unexpected box parcel that one dreams of getting, when one sees a mail van passing by, thinking wish it was me. This day, it was mine..

If you are a Mysorean, most likely you know it.

If you have grown up in Mysore or have gone to school or college in Mysore anytime between the 80s and now, you might have even guessed what it is when you read the post header.

Haal Khova, Haalu Khova, Mithai – call it by any name and this humble geometrical sweet miracle never fails to melt in your mouth the moment it lands there..

On a small indistinct street somewhere in the heart of Mysore, a pious Brahmin family churns out this sweet daily in pre-fixed number of carefully hand made batches from scratch in their own home all by themselves, using the freshest ingredients. All just home made, Ahan!

“Mithai” as they call it, is their way of life and a sweet packet of bliss for others who get to enjoy it!

By now, the skeptic in you (or at least some of you) might have a question – how can a milk sweet survive travel by mail for so many days and still land in good condition? Yes, this sweet has a decent shelf life – two weeks if it is nowhere near water.. Not bad huh?

If you plan to visit Mysore soon and simply can’t wait to get hold of this sweet, drop me a comment with your email id and I can share the details with you..

And some of you with relatives in Mysore, you know what you can do.. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did sharing a sweet piece of nostalgia from my childhood days.

Also, don’t miss to read how calling it a “piece of paradise”, Ramya Krishnamurthy waves her verbal wand of magic in a heartwarming write-up on this humble Haal Khova on Churumuri.

Hope and Healing for Japan with Love

First thoughts of spring to me invariably are of the serene sights of Japanese Cherry Blossoms, yes – the ones celebrated during the famous cherry blossom festival in the east coast especially in Washington d.c and New York. Each time I witnessed them, it felt as if there is nothing more pleasing to the eyes to ring in the spring  as much as the pretty in pink petite blossoms on long almost-chocolate-brown stalks.
Spring this year however seems far removed from pretty even amidst the freshly blossoming trees. I can barely think of the cherry blossoms as there’s only one thing on my mind, Japan.
Even as I go about my daily routine, my heart is heavy with pictorial rewind of  a catastrophic disaster struck Japan, lurking threat of a possible nuclear meltdown, pain and loss of the people as they struggle for existence. At times, I am even stricken with guilt for my own safe-being, for the food on my plate, for the comfort of my home.
It is hard to even fathom what they are going through even as we witness on TV. I have no words to express how much their fortitude amazes me. My salute to the resilient people of Japan for their ‘Gaman‘ even amid life threatening crisis, to the virtuous Fukushima Fifty dubbed ‘The Suicide Squad’ for their self-less larger-than-life act of courage of conviction and character.

forjapan_250_600_badge

For Japan with Love a blogger movement started by the thoughtful bloggers of Ever Oursand Utterly Engaged is in two parts – Blogger’s Day of Silence (March 18th) and Fund Raising.
Touched by their gesture to reach out, help and spread the word in a sincerely thoughtful way, I felt the urge to do it myself. I could not express my support through participation last friday, so I simply observed ‘Blog Silence’ (no posts).
For the Fund Raising:
Excerpt from Ever Ours For Japan With Love has a direct link on the website to our fundraising page for ShelterBox. ShelterBox was one of THE first organizations asked by Japan to help and were on hand on the Saturday after the quake. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.”
If you have felt the need to do something for Japan in crisis, please join us there and help. No contribution is small.
Last but not the least,
Let us pray for love, healing and hope for a better tomorrow for Japan, Libya and wherever crisis prevails..
Here’s a small prayer (in Sanskrit), also a profound vedic chant brimming with a meaning deeper than its translation.

असतो मा सद्गगमय

तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय

मृत्योर् मा अमृतं गमय

ॐ शांति शांति शांति – बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28.

Transliteration
Asato Maa Satgamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotirgamaya
Mrutyor Maa Amritamgamaya
Om Shantihi Shantihi Shantihi
Translation
Lead Us From the Unreal To Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,
Aum (the universal sound of God)
Let There Be Peace Peace Peace. – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28.
courtesy: vedantabheri.com