Do You Know The Muffin Man

The last month or so have been unlike a previous few.

They have been rather eventful in my otherwise boring life.

No, I’m not pregnant.

I have been doing a lot of things that I love.A whole month of traveling( will tell you about that in another looong post) and Reading( I’m sure the many book reviews Ive been posting are testimony to that) .And have also been doing some writing for an online news magazine that keeps me busy all day.

Also got the news that we may be posted out of Goa to my hometown Kochi, soon.I’m still trying to decide if I’m disappointed or happy. I’m certainly not doing an impromptu tap dance . I love Goa. I have so many happy memories. Its where M and I made our first home. I love my life here.Kochi is not too bad. I have my parents living there which means I will have a lot more time to myself. But after living in the quiet happiness of a place like Goa, even the thought of the crazy roads and noise of Kochi(I’m making it sound like a bustling metropolis- which its NOT) gives me a headache.

Anyway I do have a few more months in Goa…so I’m not going to do too much thinking. What I will do is share this lovely gem of a recipe that I found on Aparna’s blog. .

Strawberry Muffin

Ingredients:
( 8 muffins)

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar*

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup strawberries, chopped into medium sized chunks

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup oil

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt lightly. Add the strawberries to the flour mixture and mix until the strawberries are coated with the flour.

In another bowl, lightly beat the egg, vanilla extract, milk and oil together. Add this to the strawberry-flour mixture and very gently mix together, in a folding motion, about 4 or 5 times.

Do not over stir. It is OK if the batter is lumpy slightly floury. Grease your muffin tins/ cups and divide the batter equally between them, so that each one is about 2/3rds full.

Bake at 190C for about 25 minutes till the muffins are done and lightly golden brown on top. Cool for 10 minutes, unmould them and cool completely on a rack.

Baking Powder on Foodista

Homesick – Eshkol Nevo

Jerusalem born Eshkol Nevo’s first novel Homesick takes place in Castel, a hilltop village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and is ostensibly about Nova, a budding Photography student and her psychologist in the making boyfriend Amir. They move into a little apartment separated from their landlords Moshe Zakian and Sima by just a thin wall. Then there is Yutam, the young boy who befriends Amir, even as he deals with the death of his brother in the war in Lebanon and his parents inability to cope with the tragedy. Saddiq is a Palestinian refugee whose family lived in the Zakian home until 1948, and who lives in an unnamed West Bank village but wants to return to his old house and reclaim what is his. Modi is Amir’s friends a wanderlust whose adventure filled life entices Amir , but who finally does pine for home.

This skillfully written book reads like an art move, a beautifully made art movie. Slow paced yet powerful , Nevo develops each of his characters with such detail that I felt I knew them all. Set against the historical backdrop of the Rabin assassination, Nevo manages to weave a terrific tale of friendship,nostalgia and longing. There is nothing very political about the novel yet the bombings, the state of the Israeli Palestinian conflict all give an underlying sense of gloom that pervades the novel. The reader is constantly aware of the state of permanent war that around them and the And more than the political struggles, it is the struggles of the heart that the novel deals with.

While not obviously tragic or sad, a sense of fore brooding hangs over the novel, like a dark cloud. When Noa and Amir first go to view their apartment , by accidentally enter the house of mourning of a family of a young soldier killed in Lebanon.The tension out in the world slowly seeps into the lives of the unmarried young couple as domestic drudgery threatens to pull them apart. Moshe and Simi too face their share of problems. Moshe, a bus driver in his 30s, longs to raise his children in a religious set u plike his older brother unlike his wife Simi who wants a secular upbringing for her children. This leads to friction in their until now peaceful marriage. The friend ship that develops between Yotam and Amir is beautifully etched as is the scene when Yotam’s family leave for Australia to make a new home and start afresh.

In all it is a beautifully scripted novel. But don’t expect it to be an easy , light read. The books narrative was mostly of inner monologue and sometimes moved between characters thoughts so smoothly that I was always on the look out for clues as to whose thoughts they were. A very compelling book and a fantastic first novel.

Paneer Pepper Masala

I’m going to cut to the chase today..its a Paneer Pepper Masala that I have to share today. My mom made it on our recent trip home( Kochi). What do I say..It was lovely…as are most of my moms dishes…

Paneer Pepper Masala

Paneer Pepper Masala

Ingredients
Paneer( Cottage cheese) -200 gms, cubed. fried in oil and marinated in 1/4 cup curds for 10 min.
Cashew Paste – tbsp
Spinach Cooked and Ground to a paste -1/4 cup
Raw coriander and Mint Paste- 2 tbsp
Yellow or Green Capsicum – 1 chopped
Ginger paste – 1 tsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Green Chillies – 2 chopped
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Freshly ground pepper – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato puree – 1/2 cup
Onion – 2 chopped
Fresh cream – 2 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp

Method
Heat oil. Add onion , ginger and garlic paste. Fry well.

Add the tomato puree and green chillies and cook for a while.

Add all the dry powders, salt with the marinated paneer, spinach paste, coriander mint paste, cashew paste and half a cup of water.

Cook till it is ready ( 5 minutes)

Add crushed pepper powder, lemon juice and cream.

Serve hot with rotis or rice.

Twelve Bar Blues

Twelve Bar Blues :The 12-bar blues is (or blues changes are) one of the most popular chord progressions in popular music, including the blues. The blues progression has a distinctive form in lyrics and phrase and chord structure and duration. It is, at its most basic, based on the I-IV-V chords of a key.

Books, Music.
Music Books.
I love them both.


And Patrick Neate’s Twelve Bar Blues is one such stupendous book that reads like great music.
It is a dazzling gem of a novel deftly moving through three centuries and exploring issues of identity, the quest of the black soul, family and sorrow amidst the background of the early days of jazz.

At the heart of the novel is Lick Holden “the greatest…horn man that was ever lost to history”. His life in Mount Marter Louisiana is recounted in the beginning of the novel as is his stint at the Correctional School for Negro Boys where he learns to play the cornet.We are also introduced to his family including his light skinned sister Sylvie(“who wasn’t no blood relation”).In telling Licks musical journey Neate insinuates lick into the history of jazz and blues in Africa interweaving legend and imagination. Buddy Bolden, Fate Marable, Louis “Dipper” Armstrong, Kid Ory, and King Oliver are all made a part of this stunning tale.

Lick’s search for Slyvie forms a main part of the novel and leads him on a journey to New Orleans. The love story between Lick and Sylvie meanders through tragedy, and lust and guilt , redemption, fate and choice and is interspersed with other equally mesmerizing magical tales. Neate’s genius is undoubtedly in his story telling. His unhurried style takes us on a tour of New Orleans, New York and Africa is a journey that is as realistic as is magical. It was not so much the plot( which was fantastic too) as was his style of writing that left me howling with laughter AND weeping tears of tragic loss..and in ONE page! Pure Genius!

Halfway into the book and almost eighty years later, we also meet Sylvia Di Napoli, a coffee-coloured British prostitute(“retired”) and singer(“unemployed”) who is on a quest to find her roots and the true meaning of her “blackness”….along for the ride is Jim, a white young scrawny big-hearted drifter, tagging along for a “drunken tour of America”.

We also travel back in time to the world of African legends and history and its present day continuation with the hilarious tale of Tongo, an African Chief and Musa his permanently stoned ,sex addict-ish witch doctor.

Neate tales are as fresh as new melody and yet each new story resonates with the older stories to create new meaning.

The brutal truths about the sufferings and violence of the black folk back then is so powerfully drawn up that it pulsates with the details and makes everything and everyone (prostitutes, pimps, thugs, jazz players, magic men) believable.

Reality and dreams, history and myth, physical and metaphysical, past and the future all combine in this fascinating book that has its soul in music.

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