Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine With Coconut Couscous & Coconut Chutney

Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine (02) by MeetaK

Sometimes I think I might be getting old! I am, of course, but I always thought my personality and way of thinking still remained on the young side. I will be 36 in June however, I by no means feel like a 36 year old woman. Sometimes, I am surprised at the age myself and wonder in disbelief "Really? Am I 36?"

Ok so how is a 36 year old supposed to act and behave and feel? I have no idea. I just know that I have felt really good about the way I am - on most occasions.

Last Saturday though, I did question the fact if I was getting old in the way of my thinking too. A few of my girlfriends and I decided to go out on a ladies night out. On most occasions we will go have a nice dinner somewhere and then for a round of cocktails. I really enjoy these evenings and my group of girlfriends are all between the ages of 30 and 36, so we kind of float on the same wave length. Almost all of them have kids and work, therefore have a busy daily schedule, which makes us enjoy and savor these evenings even more.

This Saturday our evening started out in the same way as always. A nice long dinner with wine and a lot of laughs and gossip. Around 11 we decided to check out a disco called "Over 29", targeting that special age group. I had never been there and am always in the mood to go dancing. However a few of my friends warned me that it would be nothing like I have probably ever seen. This only made me more inquisitive and I could not wait to check this place out.

I have to say this about my friends, they are always warning me and giving me advice about this or that. Apparently they think because I have traveled and lived in so many different places, they need to warn me ahead of time if they think something will not meet my expectations. But with me it is totally the opposite. Because I have lived in so many different places, I never expect anything to be like the other and I often go into these kind of things without any expectations. I purely look forward to experiencing something new.

Well it was quite an experience. I have never been to a disco where there was such a wide span between the ages. There was everything from 22 year olds to 60 year olds. I swear, it was funny and touching all at the same time. Touching, because I found it cute to see a few 50+ couples dancing on the dance-floor like "in the old days". Brilliant - instead of spending a Saturday night in front of the T.V. - dancing is the way to go! It was funny because I have never been hit on by a 50+ year old man!!!

I guess there is a first time for everything! Then there were a few of those typically loose type girls. I believe that they were our age, which was rather horrifying to see the way they were dressed and at their behavior. Honestly, next to them I felt I was dressed like a nun. I mean, what they thought of as a mini skirt was a wider belt in my books! It was also quite vulgar the way they seemed to be throwing themselves at any man that took notice.

I am certainly no prude, however I honestly do believe the finer qualities in a lady are in the way she presents herself. Her class, style and modesty are among her best assets. It's not something I recently started to believe in, it's something I have lived by from my teenage years. Whatever happened to the pride and countenance? As these thoughts were running through my head, I wondered if my friends thought the same. I was very relieved to find that we shared the same sentiments.

What are your opinions on this? Is it "old" or "prude" of me to think women should present themselves with a bit of class? I'd also love the hear a few opinions from the men out there - what do you find more attractive?

Sexy, classy and full of intriguing flavor is this tajine. Chickpeas and pumpkin are prepared with wonderful aromas of cumin, coriander and chilies. Served with a coconut chutney and couscous, this meal presents itself with perfect harmony and an explosion of aromas to tease the senses. It is a modest looking dish at first appearance but a closer look reveals delightful ecstasy for the taste buds.


Reminder!

This month I want you to be caring, loving and comforting to yourself. I want you to make your favorite Comfort Foods and bring it along to my mingle. Look forward to seeing all there! Deadline is February 4th.

 

 

 

 

 

Eating fresh? Well share your fresh winter produce with us in the seasonal event Eat Fresh. Hope you join the fun!

A slight change to the deadline of Eat Fresh: Although I initially decided not to put a deadline on this, I was advised by a few of you that it would be better to do so. Therefore, a deadline till March 31st has been set. Please send in your emails by this date.


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine (04) by MeetaK

For the Tajine
1 onion - finely chopped
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
300 g pumpkin - peeled and cut into small cubes
300 g chickpeas - canned
3 tomatoes - coarsely chopped
1 red chili - finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds - crushed in a mortar
1 tablespoon ginger - finely chopped
300 ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the Coconut Couscous
100 ml vegetable stock
100 - 120 g Couscous
100 ml coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 lime - zest and juice

For the Coconut Chutney
Ginger - about 1 cm - finely chopped
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
1/2 green chili - finely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander/cilantro leaves - finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lemon - juice
50 g grated coconut - fresh or dried
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

 


Method

Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine - Coconut Couscous (01) by MeetaK

For the Tajine
Heat the oil in a pan, then add the crushed cumin seeds, onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. When the cumin starts to become fragrant and the onions have become transparent, add the pumpkin, tomatoes, ginger and chilies. Carry on sautéing for further 5 minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock and season with the garam masala, salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture for approx. 10 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked through. You do not want a mushy pumpkin but rather one that still has bite so make sure you check the tenderness of the vegetable. Add the chickpeas and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and a dash of soy sauce.

For the Coconut Couscous
Bring the vegetable stock to a rolling boil in a medium sized pot. Add all the ingredients, cover and remove from heat. Allow the couscous to steam for about 10 minutes then loosen with a fork.

For the Coconut Chutney
In a small bowl mix all the ingredients together. Allow all the flavors to infuse with each other before serving - about 10 minutes.

Serve the tajine with the coconut chutney and couscous.


Verdict

Chickpea Pumpkin Tajine (01) by MeetaK

This would be a typical kind of meal we enjoy on a weeknight. I love the way all the flavors come together in perfect harmony. This creation gets its impulses from several different countries, like Morocco and India and offers a lovely international flair to the meal. Tom and Soeren loved the way the zesty chutney paired so well with the spicy tajine.

From The Archives:
Chickpeas Masala
Minty Humus
Vegetable Couscous
Pumpkin Feta Tart
Turkey Breast with Roasted Pumpkin
Coconut Tropicana Cream with Summer Berries
Coconut Mango Soup

This is going over to Marta of An Italian in the US who hosts the monthly event Fresh Produce of the Month. A lovely event, which I love taking part in. However, due to time restraints I was unable to take part in the last couple of events. This month she chose Squash as the star and as I love the vegetable could not miss it.

 



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Tangy Lemon Meringue Pie

Daring Bakers January 2008 Challenge - Something Tangy

Lemon Meringue Pie (01) by MeetaK

The number 10 in my opinion is quite memorable and a number to celebrate. So, I'm celebrating my 10th Daring Bakers challenge this month. And what an awesome challenge it was.

The lovely Jen of The Canadian Baker was our hostess and her challenge was to make a simply irresistible lemon meringue pie.

After the challenge last month my family and I left to celebrate New Year's with a few friends in Switzerland. We had a ball, and for our New Year's party we made two lemon pies! So, you can imagine my smile when I returned to find I'd be making another one so soon.

Every lemon pie is different. The crust, the intensity of the lemon flavor and the topping are all versatile and depending on how you like it, this pie can be varied slightly. To increase the difficulty level a notch, Jen wanted us to top the pie with meringue.

Meringue is not always my best friend and I try to avoid it whenever and where ever I can. I don't know why, I have never really had a falling out with the meringue, but simply the fact that things could go very wrong with it, intimidates me. Normally when I make the lemon pie, I sprinkle the top with brown sugar and then brulée it under the oven grill. The result is a fantastic caramel crisp top, which cracks beautifully to allow you to discover the softness of the lemon curd.

But I am a Daring baker and I had to get over my intimidation of the meringue. As we did last time, Hilda and I had planned to do this one together again. It was all set, however, Hilda unfortunately caught herself a nasty cold, which put her out for a few days. So, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to tackle this by myself.

On the whole, I found the pie easy to make. The details were very clear and I experienced no catastrophe while making it. Not even during the making of the meringue. Phew!

This months challenge requirements were simple. Jen wanted us to keep the flavor - lemon.

Allowed Modifications:

  1. We could make either the pie or tartelettes
  2. We could complement the pie with a sauce, like a raspberry or a white chocolate sauce.
  3. We could use a piping bag to apply the meringue.
  4. We were free to decorate the pie as we liked. Lemon zest or fruit were totally acceptable.
  5. High altitude modifications were allowed as long as we stayed "true" to the recipe.
  6. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. was allowed.
  7. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in our region.

Lemon Meringue Pie (06) by MeetaK

I made one larger pie and a few smaller tartelettes. I was not too happy with the crust. The one I normally make is a bit different and more flaky. This was more on the chewy side and it seemed to absorb the moisture from the curd very quickly. The crusts on my previous pies were not like that. The curd itself was great. Lemony, tangy and refreshing, I'll be keeping this recipe for sure. As for the meringue, well it did nothing for me really. Besides look nice, I kind of found it was simply in the way of the better stuff below. Although it did turn out wonderful, fluffy and airy I could not resist picking it off the pie to put it aside so that I could get to the more delicious curd.

So, come celebrate my 10th challenge with a wonderful lemon meringue pie.


Lemon Meringue Pie
(from Wanda's Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver)

Lemon Meringue Pie (05) by MeetaK

Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

For the Crust:
175 g cold butter; cut into 1.2 cm pieces
250 g all-purpose flour
50 g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
80 ml ice water

For the Filling:
475 ml water
200 g granulated sugar
60 g cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
58 g butter
180 ml fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Meringue
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
150 g granulated sugar


Method

Lemon Meringue Pie (02) by MeetaK

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (0.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. You can also use a piping bag to pipe the meringue onto the curd. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.


Verdict

Lemon Meringue Pie (04) by MeetaK

I used chopped pistachio nuts to decorate the pie. I loved the contrast of the yellow lemon curd again the green/purple colors of the nuts. Although the crust was not much of a bringer, we loved the way the lemon curd tasted. Soeren liked the fluffy meringue on the pie too. He said they almost tasted like marshmallows. Tom and I were in the opinion that the meringue is a bit of an overkill for the pie.

Would I make this again?
We love our lemon pie. I will most probably use the lemon curd recipe here again, however I prefer the crust recipe I normally use, so I will be combining both the next time I make a lemon pie. As for the meringue - I came and I conquered - but it will be not a regular on my lemon pies.

What did I learn from this challenge?
That a crust can get so soggy so fast!!! The crusts for the tartelettes were ok and did not go from being crust to being mush as fast as the larger pie did. That was a bit disappointing. I learned that there are huge differences when making crusts - even if at first glance the recipes might look similar.

Jen thanks for this one. It was a nice easy paced challenge and one I enjoyed making. If you are looking for more refreshing lemon curd and sticky meringue, I suggest you visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll and browse through the 450+ lemon meringue pies across the blogesphere.

I would really like to recommend you to visit one particular fellow Daring Baker. It's her first challenge and she was a bit nervous making this. Shilpa, thanks for the sneak peak and your lemon meringue pie looks awesome. Well done on your first challenge.

Check out my previous challenges:
April 2007: Chocolate Crepe Cake
May 2007: Gâteau Saint-Honoré
June 2007: Real Honest Jewish Purists Bagels
July 2007: Strawberry Mirror Cake
August 2007: Chocolate Caramel Tart
September 2007: Sticky Cinnamon Buns
October 2007: Bostini Cream Pie
November 2007: Tender Potato Focaccia and Bread Rolls
December 2007: Bûche de Noël/Yule Log



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Friday, January 25, 2008

Photography: Liquid Comfort

Teatime (1a) by MeetaK
It's Teatime - for Click & Still Life With

This month both Click and Still Life With... challenged us with a rather difficult theme.

Jai and Bee were looking for Liquid Comfort while Lara shouted out "Cheers!"

Personally, I have always found taking pictures of drinks rather difficult and very challenging. My collection of Drinks & Cocktails are nice but uneventful.

What I mean by that is that they are nice enough pictures but I personally find the WOW! factor missing in some of them. Yes, I am very ambitious and aim to improve myself with every effort I make. So, although I cursed under my breath when I read the themes for both my favorite photography workshops, I was nonetheless driven by my aspiration to do something a bit bolder and shoot motives I have not quite tried yet.

I have always found pictures of moving liquid very fascinating. My previous attempts were rather poor and I was not happy with them. This time I was determined to take more time, put more thought and effort into these shots.

It's Teatime above, was very challenging and if any of you saw me taking this shot they would have been down on the floor cracking up at the site of me. As I always shoot in natural light next to a large window where the light comes in from the right, I use a bounce to light up the left side. My bounce is a simple piece of white styropor which I hold in my left hand. My right hand is for clicking. For this shot I needed another hand to do the pouring!

After thinking about it for a while, I moved up a chair next to the table where my motive was positioned. I then taped my bounce to the back of the chair and positioned it in such a way that the light reflected directly onto my motive without me having to hold it, leaving my left hand to do the pouring. Phew!

After focusing and a test set of shots where I got used to pouring with my left hand and actually managing to get the tea in the cup, I was ready. The result was really fantastic. At least, I was happy with it.

Even though I am judging this round of Click, the challenging theme was something I needed to conquer.

Details
  • Camera: Nikon D70s
  • Lens: Nikkor 18-70mm
  • Tripod: Bilora 1211
  • Focal Length: 60.0mm
  • Exposure Time: 1/80s
  • Aperture: f/4.5

Liquid Red by MeetaK
Liquid Red for Still Life With

Liquid Red is my second shot for Still Life With - Cheers. This was a fun shot as I got to play around a bit. As I did not have an open bottle of wine and was in no mood to open one at 10:00 AM in the morning, I simply used cranberry juice. I used a big wine glass, tilting it against a white colored egg cup. Can you see it in the picture?

In Photoshop I played around with it a bit, by rotating it in different angles. This shot I liked the best because it gives the impression that one is looking into the glass and the liquid is splashing onto one side.

What do you think?


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Chocolate Tart (05) by MeetaK


2008 is going to be a good year! That's what my dad promised me when I visited my parents in October.

It's not like 2007 was bad year, but it certainly will not go down as one of the best in my life. There were a lot of ups and downs and when 2007 bid farewell, there was not much of a love loss on my side. Yes, in a way I was glad it was over.

Counting down the last few seconds, I secretly wished that my dad's words would be heard from that higher force somewhere up there.

I lost my grandma in 2007 and that really put me down for several weeks. It jolted me out of my dreams and ideas I always have floating around in my head. It made me face the cold hard truth. And it was not one I liked. She never got a chance to meet Soeren and I carried that guilt around for ages. I still have it!

I had a hard time dealing with the loss and it made me change many things in my life. I decided to quit my job, to give my head time to think of what I want in life. The last few months have been good for me.

I feel a new positive energy getting stronger in me and that negative energy seems to be loosing the fight.

It also really does seem like 2008 will be a good year. There are signs at least.

Like in the second week of this month a friend, D. and I went to the movies to see the premiere of P.S. I Love You. The movie was showing at a CineLady special - targeted for ladies of course. So, we got glasses of free champagne and little snacks before the movie started and there was a raffle draw. I was just saying to D. that I never win anything, as in the very same second my seat number was called out!

I was baffled for a split second and the entire movie theater seemed to be waiting. I checked my seat number again and then timidly put my hand up. I did win - nothing big but still a sign. I won two free tickets to the next CineLady. And that is where my second sign came in. At least I believe it to be a sign.

I love Jane Austen. She is my heroine in many ways. I love her writing style, her characters and the way her stories take an unexpected turn. I have read all of her books, some even two or three times and so when the tickets I won was to go see the premiere of The Jane Austen Book Club, I just wondered if someone was trying to tell me a secret message.

Then there was the great fact that Liz Craine from Culinate contacted me and was interested in featuring me and my blog. I was stumped. This week Culinate is featuring What's For Lunch, Honey? You can read the article here. I am rather chuffed about it, especially since one of my pictures is also featured on their home page. I join a few other great bloggers, like Ilva and Pille, who have been featured in the past.

OK I know I could go on through this whole year looking for signs, but I am thinking positively because there have been other things that are showing me things will be good this year. Things that are have not matured yet for me to tell you. But I will in due time. But for now, I just wanted to let you know - my dad never breaks his promises.

This tart also does not break any promises. It's simply seductive in every way. There is rich and sweet chocolate and tangy cranberries infused with a slight hint of ginger, and with the creamy and smooth mascarpone, it promises to be addicting!

The tart is based on a recipe from Epicurious.com with a few slight modifications on my side. Hope you enjoy it!


Reminder!



This month I want you to be caring, loving and comforting to yourself. I want you to make your favorite Comfort Foods and bring it along to my mingle. Look forward to seeing all there! Deadline is February 4th.








Eating fresh? Well share your fresh winter produce with us in the seasonal event Eat Fresh. Hope you join the fun!






Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Cranberry Chocolate Tart (04) by MeetaK


Cranberry Topping
120 ml cranberry juice - divided use
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
340 g fresh or frozen cranberries
150 g sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon peel - finely grated
1 teaspoon fresh ginger - peeled and grated
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons candied ginger - finely chopped

Crust
200-250 g chocolate cookies - finely ground in processor (I used simple butter chocolate cookies)
150 g plain milk chocolate - melted (I melted a Milka candy bar in the microwave)
50 g sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
90 g unsalted butter, melted

Mascarpone Filling
250 g mascarpone cheese
65 g powdered sugar
120 ml chilled whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Method

Cranberry Chocolate Tart (02) by MeetaK


For cranberry topping
Pour half of the cranberry juice into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes.

Combine the rest of the cranberry juice, cranberries, sugar, lemon juice and peel, ginger and salt in medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer until cranberries become tender. Do not let them pop and make sure the remain plump, about 5 minutes. Strain into bowl and set the cranberries aside.

Add the gelatin mixture to the hot juice in bowl, stirring until gelatin dissolves. Stir the cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened. This will take at least at least 8 hours or leave overnight. This mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Stir chopped candied ginger into cranberry mixture.

For crust
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Combine chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry. Pour the melted chocolate into the crumbs mixture and stir to coat.

Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan. Bake chocolate crust for approx. 10 minutes until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking. Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the chocolate to set.

For mascarpone filling
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread. Do not over beat or mixture may curdle. Spread filling in cooled crust. Cover and chill overnight

Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Cut tart into wedges and serve cold, drizzled with chocolate sauce.



Verdict

Cranberry Chocolate Tart (03) by MeetaK


Sensational in every way. Crispy, chocolaty crust with a soft creamy cheese filling and the icing on the cake, literally, is the tart cranberry topping with a delicate flavor of ginger. This dessert really promises you everything you craved for. I promise ;-)

More promising desserts on WFLH:
Cantuccini Plum Cheesecake
Bostini Cream Pie
Panna Cotta with Blackberry Sauce
Chocolate Caramel Tart
Banana Brioche Pudding with Bailey's Caramel Cream


This is for this month's Sugar High Friday being hosted over at CandyRecapper with the interesting theme of Candy. My Milka chocolate bar in the crust helped make the crust crispier and chocolaty.

Latest Daily Tiffin Articles:



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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Say it with love!

Red Rose (03) by MeetaK
Red Rose


I spent a part of last week taking lovely shots for a few cards for Valentine's Day. It was fun and now looking back, also kind of sweet. Just thinking that in a few weeks time Valentine's Day will be here really put me into a romantic mood, causing me to do all kinds of mushy things when Tom was around - no details, but I think he was wondering if I had done anything wrong and needed to make up for it LOL!


That's why I love Valentine's Day. Although it might be true that we do not need a special day to celebrate love and affection for our partner, I often find that when one has been in a partnership for so long - and we will be celebrating 10 years this September - the daily routine does take over a better part of our lives. Tom and I try often to break away from that routine and try to do something special on a few occasions but, I just love the idea of having a special day to celebrate being in love.

The day gives me reason to be mushy and sentimental and dress-up and eagerly wait till the doorbell rings and my prince is standing tall with a bunch of roses, ready to sweep me off into an elegant, glittering evening of fun and romance.

Even if it does not quite happen just like that the anticipation is a lot of fun.

So, this week as I was shooting my pictures, I was in the best of spirits and, as you probably can imagine, full of anticipation.

Boxed Love (01) by MeetaK
Boxed Love


My aim this year was to take shots for elegant cards. Designs that will make the person reading the card feel the anticipation of what is to come.

It was important to me that all these cards have a certain pure and elegant feel to them and I wanted the picture to express just the way one would feel. Be it a bold red colored rose, for those who know exactly what they want to say, Red Rose will be the perfect way to express those bold feelings.

Sometimes a picture says exactly what our heart feels. It's hard to let those feelings out to truly show the other the intensity of our affection or love. Boxed Love will motivate some to let those feelings out.

Caress  (01) by MeetaK
Caress


Pure and delicate, this card is one of my favorites. Just like a delicate budding rose our feelings need to be cared for and caressed. Caress will help others to find the right words for the right person.

White Rose (01) by MeetaK
White Rose


Finally, for those who would like to show those feelings with a pure and simple charm, White Rose is an elegant way to bring over the perfect message.

I hope I was able to fill you up with a bit of warm, mushy feelings and if you want to express them to someone special, maybe the one or the other card here will help you say those perfect words.

You'll also find several other motives and products in my gallery, so have a great time browsing through it.

Special Offer
Right now you can order any of the cards and get a 30% discount. This offer is applied to orders of one or more greeting cards or note cards and applies to the price of the product, not to shipping, taxes, and other charges. The coupon code LOVECARD2008 must be entered during checkout to receive the offer. Offer is valid from January 10, 2008 at 11:59pm PST through February 14, 2008 at 11:59pm PST. Your order must be placed during that time to qualify for this special promotional pricing offer.





All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Roasted Vegetables on Garlic Bruschetta

Roasted Veg Bruschetta (03) by MeetaK


Bruschetta [brusˈketːa] is most definitely my absolute all time favorite snack. I love making several variations of this wonderful and versatile Italian appetizer not only when guests are over but often I will whip some brushetta when Tom & I decide to have a movie evening.

Fact is however, my bruschetta is most popular amongst our game night friends.


Every now and then we have game nights, when friends come over and we all simply spend an evening playing boardgames, like Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary or, our favorite, Settlers of Catan. I love these evenings as they give me a deeper insight to many of my friends inner characters and personalities.

So, I have learned that a certain friend of mine, who almost always stays cool in every situation, can really blow the fuse when we play games. Or I see how a rather quiet friend mutates into the most talkative person one can imagine. Then there is the friend I always thought of as very rational, but when we play these games, boy even we women would consider him to be totally illogical ;-). Of course watching the partners bitch between themselves is always an added highlight. Oh we do have a blast on such evenings!

Food always plays a role on such evenings. It seems like we eat double the amount as we normally would, feeding our mental spirit and nervousness to a hopeful victory. Chips, chocolates and co. are often a part of the usual food repertoire served on these occasions. However, I do prefer offering more nutritious, tasty and filling snacks. Bruschetta almost always makes it to the list of snacks, when we are hosting game night.

Bruschetta has no ends to its creativity. You can just about use anything to top the bruschetta - simple tomatoes and basil or a more elegant crab meat variation, your imagination can go to almost any extents.

Normally, one would use a larger sourdough bread, however I have made bruschetta using several different types of bread - from pumpernickel to baguette. The basic bruschetta is simply bread that has been grilled, if possible on a charcoal grill, otherwise a grill pan or even your oven-grill is close to perfect. It is then rubbed with some fresh garlic and lightly drizzled with your best extra-virgin olive oil. This is the basis of your bruschetta so do not skimp on the quality of the olive oil or the ingredients you use. Nothing like using fresh vegetables and cheeses to make a super scrumptious bruschetta.

In my version I have used beautiful fresh vegetables from my CSA box, which were gently roasted in the oven, sprinkled with some herbs and lightly tossed in balsamic vinegar. The goat cheese is like the icing on a cake. It does not have to be - but it simply tastes divine when it is there.

One of the ingredients I used here was fennel, a vegetable I totally love.

Fennel

Fennel (01) by MeetaK


Fennel is the wonderful white or pale green bulbed vegetable with green stalks, which are topped with feathery green leaves. It is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine, often associated with Italian cooking. Fennel adds a wonderfully refreshing and slightly sweet flavor to any dish and is so versatile that it can be prepared raw in a salad or sautéed in olive oil then tossed in some pasta, thrown into soup, but it tastes best when roasted.

The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds of the Fennel are all edible. Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander.

The aromatic taste of fennel is very is unique and strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise. It is often mistakenly referred to as anise in the marketplace. Fennel's texture is similar to that of celery, having a crunchy and striated texture.

Health Benefits
The seeds, leaves, and roots of the fennel have been used as medicinal agents as far back as ancient China. Used for congestion, conjunctivitis, stimulating appetite - which, by the way, is why most Italians serve fennel as an appetizer, and increases the flow of breast milk. It has also been used to treat colic in infants. Fennel also serves as prevention against muscle spasms and helps to relieve gas and an upset stomach.

Fennel seed is used for treating digestive problems such as bloating. Fennel syrup is used for the upper respiratory tract. Externally, the oil eases muscular and rheumatic pains. Fennel and its juice contain some valuable properties. The nutrients are similar to those in celery, which belong to the same family, but it is the essential oil that promotes relief for an upset stomach. It is also used for cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy treatments to help rebuild the digestive system.

As you can see, the fennel herb has a variety of medicinal properties and adding fennel to your dietary program will help you to promote good health. While fennel has long been associated with Italian cuisine, it has now become one herb growing in popularity across many cultures.

Selecting & Storing
Look for good quality fennel with bulbs that are clean, firm and solid, without signs of splitting, bruising or spotting. The bulbs should be whitish or pale green in color. The stalks should be relatively straight and closely superimposed around the bulb and should not stray out to the sides too much. Both the stalks and the leaves should be light green in color. Make sure that there are no signs of flowering buds as this indicates that the vegetable is past maturity. Fresh fennel has a fragrant aroma, smelling subtly of licorice or anise. You will find fennel in season from autumn through early spring.

Fresh fennel should be stored in the refrigerator crisper. Here it should keep fresh for about four days. However, it is advisable to consume fennel soon after purchase since as it ages, it tends to gradually lose its flavor. Although fresh fennel can be frozen after first being blanched, it does seem to lose a lot of its flavor during this process, therefore I would not recommend it. Dried fennel seeds should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry location where they should keep for about six months. Stored in the refrigerator they will last longer.



Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Roasted Veg Bruschetta (02) by MeetaK


A few slices of your favorite bread - I used a baguette here because I wanted to use it up. You can also use a ciabatta for this.
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 fennel bulb - cut into pieces, approx. 2.5 cm
1/2 yellow bell pepper - cut into pieces, approx. 2.5 cm
1 green bell pepper - cut into pieces, approx. 2.5 cm
1/2 zucchini - cut in half and then sliced
120 g herb flavored goat cheese
Handful of basil leaves - finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
Olive oil
Few splashes of balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper




Method

Roasted Veg Bruschetta (01) by MeetaK


Basic Bruschetta
Cut large bread slices in half. The slices should be approx. 1 cm thick. If you are using baguette, like I did, simply cut in half to give you two open faced sides. Then cut them in smaller pieces.

On a charcoal grill or using your grill pan, roast the bread slices on both sides. You can also use the grill function of your oven to do this.

Cut the garlic cloves in half and rub each slice generously with it, then drizzle with some olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Brushetta Topping
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.

Toss the vegetables with the basil, oregano and a good drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste. Spread the vegetables out on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are a wonderful caramel color.

Take out and allow to cool. Finely chop the vegetable mixture - you can use your kitchen machine for this but I prefer using my sharp knife. It should not be too mushy but still easy enough to spread on the toasted bread. Splash a bit of balsamic vinegar and mix well.

Spread the vegetable mixture over the pre-prepared toasted bread slices. Tear off some pieces of the goats cheese and place on top of the vegetables.



Verdict

Cannot get better than this. Crispy, garlicky bread smothered in fresh roasted vegetables topped off with soft creamy cheese - here you are experiencing the full flavors of each ingredient. Perfect for any night!

More Snack Ideas:
Pesto Spirals
Caramelized Vegetable Tart
Fritatta with Fennel and Zucchini
Italian Oven Vegetables
Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon


I am taking this over to Mansi's great Game Night Party. As I made plenty I would also like to share these with Sunita for her Think Spice event. This month she chose Garlic. Sunita, finally I get the chance to be a part of your wonderful event.




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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eat Fresh - Wonderful Winter

CSA Box Winter (02) by MeetaK


Winter brings in wonderful fresh bounties of great, colorful and interesting vegetables in my CSA box or at my Farmer's Market. Root veggies are in right now. Parsnips, beetroot, turnips or pumpkins and sweet potatoes are all being used up in my kitchen to prepare some great meals.

Ever since I mentioned the quality seal in my recent About Me page, I have been receiving many emails asking me what exactly comes in my CSA box each week.


So, I thought I would do something special. I am sharing with you a typical week of certain types of fruit and vegetables I get from my local CSA organization.

I am lucky to have a fantastic local CSA organization that take special care in their products. They are very transparent and offer a wide range of not just vegetables, but also fruit, diary products, meats, breads and other items from local, regional and national farmers. They also have European organic farmers in their organization for fruit and vegetables that are not typically grown in Germany. Immersatt.de allows me to choose between several different types of boxes.

We get the usual "guess what's going to be in the CSA box" box, where one does not know what will be in the box until it arrives. Then we also can choose a box specially put together for pregnant or nursing women these boxes have specific vegetables that are nutritious, omitting produce that are not allowed during this time. Then finally we have the box that you put together yourself. This is what I go for each week. I have a few items that I get delivered each week, like eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pears and apples. Then I choose other produce that I require in the week depending on what I want to cook. This week, I additionally had beetroot, pumpkin and sweet potatoes all to make a few great dishes.

I figured if there were so many people interested in my fresh produce just think how cool it would be to see what others have in their weekly baskets. I am very nosy and wanted to know so, I decided to make an event of it!

Eat Fresh - Wonderful Winter

This will be a seasonal event and will take place 4 times a year - once for every season.

Here is what I want you to do: simply take a photograph of your weekly fresh produce. It could be your CSA box, your Farmer's market basket or even your grocery bag. Let us see what's in season in your part of the world. Imagine what lovely fruit and vegetables Cynthia would find at her Farmer's Market over in Barbados or Joey in the Philippines. So you see I am hoping to create a wide and diverse list of fresh produce from all over the world.

How you can enter this event: once you have written your post simply send me an email. I do not want anything in the email - no link to the post, no pictures NOTHING! All I want is your email address and in the subject of your email enter "EAT FRESH - Wonderful Winter". Once I have your email address, you will be invited to collaborate on a Google spreadsheet document I created for this event. When you receive the invitation, log into the document and fill in the fields as specified. It's pretty basic stuff and you all should have no trouble with it. Do not forget to save the document before you leave it. Please link back to this page and/or use the Eat Fresh logo you see here.

Send in your mails to: blogmeeta@gmail.com

That's it.

Updated: Deadline is now March 31st!

You will easily be able to keep tabs on the list by clicking Eat Fresh - Wonderful Winter. This will also be available for easy reference on the sidebar in the events section.



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Monday, January 14, 2008

Drop In & Decorate Roundup & MM 17



It often takes a person with a big heart to do something for others, the much more needy. My mum often told us, when we were growing up and were "wanting" or "needing" or "could not live without" this or that because one or the other friend of ours had it, we should look to those below us instead of above us. By saying "below" she was not segregating anyone into a cast or level - she chose those words carefully to make an impact on us. It was her way of showing us that there are times when we should look at those who are less fortunate, but are happy and other times we should be inspired by those who are well off and set our goals accordingly.

It always worked. We stopped whining and re-organized our priorities.

I did not realize it was so hard to teach such lessons until now. As a parent myself, I am horrified when my son seems unhappy with a certain gift or thinks he deserves something just for being good. So, I have started to teach him a few of those lessons.

Twice a year we collect food for our Food Drive and bring it to the people there. Last year the entire school got involved and parents and kids collected canned food, pasta and other food stuff for two weeks. Just before Christmas we donated everything we collected to our local food drive.

Drop In & Decorate was another opportunity for us to do something for those who need it more than us. Not only that but our own cookies baking session was so much fun that we are planning to do it more often. It encouraged me to dedicate a whole Monthly Mingle for this.

It was a cosy mingle this time, with seven people joining in on this wonderful event. I thank you all for your kindness and big hearts.

Before we get into the roundup let's see what I have in store for you this mingle.

Monthly Mingle January 2008 - Comfort Foods


After all the big fancy meals we have been eating the last few months, wouldn't it be simply great to go back to the simple, undressed-up charms of comfort foods? I keep finding myself creating simpler foods right now. Food that hugs me from the inside out!

It's the type of food that picks us up when we are down, warms us when we are feeling lost and cold and blurs out the bad mood. The first mouthful takes us straight back to the familiar, the good; to the time when all was well. That is what I am looking for this month. Your very favorite comfort foods. Comfort food is not to be confused with favorite foods though. Favorite foods are more fancier like a lemon tart, mousse au chocolat or a Chateaubriand steak. Comfort foods are often simple, no frills and easy to prepare kind of foods. So, do something good for yourself and bring over your Comfort Foods to my mingle this month.

Here's how it works:
  1. Create a dish that fits this theme. Blog about it anytime from now till February 4, 2008.
  2. Email your entry with
    • your name
    • the name of your blog
    • name of dish
    • your permalink
    by February 4th, 2008.
  3. In the subject field of your email please state "Monthly Mingle - Comfort Foods"
  4. In your post please include a link to this post and/or the MM logo, so your readers get a chance to mingle with us.
  5. Please send only one entry per blog. If you do not have a blog, simply email your entry, with a picture (if you would like me to add a picture) to meetasmingle@gmail.com.
  6. Although it's great to get entries from all over the world I have to insist that they be in English. If you have a Blog in another language I would kindly like to request you to post your entries in English as well.


Please make note of the new email address for the Monthly Mingle!

I'd like to remind those taking part to please check these guidelines carefully and when you send your emails to make sure all the required details are included. Also please check the permalinks you are sending and take a note of the deadline. You will find a comprehensive guideline and event etiquettes for event participation here.


And now the lovely Drop In & Decorate roundup!

  1. Half Baked - Drop In & Decorate Party
  2. Foodies Hope - Festive Cookies
  3. Tartelette - Sugar Cookies for a Good Cause
  4. Saucy In The Kitchen - Gingerbread Cookies
  5. Dine and Dish - Strawberry Valentine Cookies
  6. Spice and Curry - Carrot Cheddar Cheese Cookies
  7. What's For Lunch, Honey? - Lime Kisses


If I've missed your submission, please forgive me! Just send me an email and I'll be glad to update the roundup. If you too have had a cookie party and you would like to share it with us add it to the comments section of this post.

See you all next month!




All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pain Crevettes: Fancy Words For Shrimp Sandwich

Pain Crevettes (01) by MeetaK


Being grown up does have it's perks! There is no one to tell you to clean up your room, be back by 11 or eat up those veggies. You decide what you want to do and when you want to do it.

Take sandwiches for instance. I love sandwiches and could really eat a sandwich for each meal in the day - without having a guilty conscious. My hot (I do not know if he is hot but he sure writes like he is one hot dude!) friend over at Blood Sugar recently called it Man’s most incredible culinary creations, which I totally agreed with. However, while Graeme's very manly sandwich contained manly ingredients like tomato and ham and of course Chinese leaf, I decided to make a woman's sandwich.

Is this the war of the sandwiches? No, it certainly is not! It intrigued me to see the ingredients used by Graeme. You see I can swear to you that when Tom makes us sandwiches, he too will almost always go for the ham, tomato and lettuce combination, although hats off to Graeme for using that Chines leaf. When I make the sandwiches I am using ingredients like avocados, tuna, shrimp, rocket leaves and goats cheese. I have nothing against ham, lettuce and tomato, I actually love a good HLT sandwich. That is not the point here - the question that I had in my head was:

Do men make different sandwiches then women?

I never came up with the answer - so I will leave the question here for you to discuss and debate.
What do you think?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Graeme also asked us if we were so weird that we would eat a sandwich for lunch, dinner AND breakfast! Well I guess I belong in that weird category. And as I am all grown up now, I can choose to do so without feeling bad about it. Yes, it certainly is liberating to be an adult. So gimme that sandwich - man or woman!

The sandwich I am sharing here is one that we all really enjoy. Most of the ingredients come fresh from the Farmer's market or my CSA box. I often make it for a quick lunch for myself or a light dinner for all three of us, varying a few of the ingredients for a different combination of flavors. This one has lovely steamed shrimps, cucumbers and tomatoes with an added bite of rocket leaves and radish.

One does not really need instructions to make a sandwich but often it helps to have it written down so that it can be re-created. So, I hope you all enjoy it!



Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Pain Crevettes (05) by MeetaK


200g steamed shrimps
Juice of half a lime.
2 rustic baguette rolls
1/2 cucumber - sliced
2 small tomatoes - sliced
Handful of radishes - sliced
Large handful of rocket leaves
100g Herb flavored quark or sour cream
Salt and fresh cracked pepper




Method

Pain Crevettes (02) by MeetaK


Cut open the baguette using a sharp knife. Spread a thin layer of the quark or sour cream on both sides of the baguette. On one side of the baguette, arrange a few rocket leaves, tomato, cucumber and radish slices. Toss the shrimps in some lime juice. Scatter a good helping of the shrimps on the baguette and then add a dollop of the quark or sour cream. Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Close the sandwich with the other half. Gently press down.

Serve immediately otherwise it will get soggy.



Verdict
Pain Crevettes (07) by MeetaK


Sandwiches rule - whether made by a man or a woman. No doubt about that. This one is always a pleasure because it combines the shrimps and crunchy cucumber with the sharpness of the radish and the herby rocket leaves making each bite a flavorful experience.

From The Archives
Garlic Shrimp & Eggs on Bagel
Calzone's Super Veg Sandwich
Pitta Parantha Fusion
Cheese Quesadillas with Two Salsas

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lime Kisses

Lime Kisses (01) by MeetaK


It's what I think I will call these wonderfully tangy sandwich cookies. Calling them macarons is too scary. It was my first attempt to make such Parisian pastry. But I think I did not do 100% justice for them to be actually called macarons. So I'll be going back to the drawing board or in this case the whisk and the whites to have a few more goes.



In the meantime thought I would tell you about a fantastic little get together we had just a few days before Christmas.

Ever since Soeren started pre-school at the International School in August, I have had the pleasure of meeting and making friends with a wonderful woman - A. Her daugther, J., is in Soeren's class and we see each other often outside of school. She runs a home for physically and mentally abused children. The home is actually a kind of a farm with horses, goats, rabbits, hens and other animals. It's a wonderful place for children from all kinds of backgrounds and we have had the great opportunity to meet a few of the caretakers that work there.

One day when we were all sitting down in their huge kitchen with some of the children and the caretakers I mentioned Lydia's fantastic cause where people get together, bake and decorate cookies and then donate them - Drop In & Decorate. As I was explaining this to them a light bulb seemed to go on in my brain. At the same time I saw A.'s eyes light up.

We both had the same idea. Wouldn't it be great to get the all the kids together and have such an event right there in the home?

The kids loved the idea and soon we were planning the best day, looking up recipes for cookies and making shopping lists. We decided to go for Lydia's Sugar Cookies and her great and easy Royal Icing. These were simple enough and would be fun to make.

Once again I really have to point out what a gift these fantastic caretakers have. They were so comforting, loving and amazingly cool. Some of the coolness rubbed off on me too and with a kitchen-load of 8 kids and 4 adults we set out to bake out own Drop In An Decorate cookies.

We made an impressive batch of cookies and each one was proud of the part they played. We were well organized and followed the tips and tricks I had written a little earlier in the month about Baking with the family on The Daily Tiffin. It really made things easier.

In the end the idea was for these lovely kids to keep the cookies for themselves and for those who were to be going back to their parents over Christmas they were to give them the cookies as a gift. But these kids, as hard a life as some of them have had, were incredible. They all decided to take the cookies to the children's ward at the hospital and donate them to the children suffering from many serious illnesses.

It was incredible to see smiles on all the kids. Soeren and J. were estatic at the thought of being a part of this. Somehow I felt proud of Soeren for simply taking part in the event. The kids at the home were excited to be the ones actually doing good for others, who they thought needed it more. The kids in the hospital - well they were simply over-joyed at not only recieving sweet and beautiful treats but also to have a whole lot of kids to play with for an afternoon.

Pictures? No, I kept my camera in the bag. Somehow I felt this was simply a moment to enjoy without having the stress of taking pictures. I think it might have also tensed up things if I had taken my camera out and started taking pictures. It was a quiet and lovely time we enjoyed.

Hope you all come back here on the weekend to check out all the other great Drop In & Decorate sessions that were happening all over the world as part of the latest Monthly Mingle event.

In the meantime I share with you some delicious and zesty lime kisses. A fantastic combination of crunchy shells, while being moist and chewy on the inside and the zangy lime buttercream filling that finally rounds up a wonderful macaron-like experience. Kisses - not macarons! From me to you!


Ingredients
Printable version of recipe here

Lime Kisses (02) by MeetaK


35g almonds - skinned and finely grounded
1 1/2 organic limes
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
170g fine sugar
50g butter
25g confectioner's sugar



Method

Lime Kisses (04) by MeetaK


Pre-heat oven to 120 degrees C. Line a baking tray with some baking paper.

Wash the limes with hot water and finely grate the peel. Squeeze the juice out of the 1/2 lime.

Beat the egg whites with the salt untile stiff, then slowly add the sugar. Beat until glossy peaks have formed. Carefully fold in the almond powder and the zest of 1 lime.

Fill the mixture into piping bags with a plain tip and pipe out small circular dots on the baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 60 mins, making sure they do not brown. Bake the baisers until crispy. Allow to cool.

In the meantime whisk together the confectioner's sugar with the butter until a thick, smooth and creamy mixture is formed. Add in the remaining lime zest and 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice.

Assemble the cookies by spreading the lime buttercream on the bottom of a baiser and then close with a second. Gently press together.



Verdict

Lime Kisses (03) by MeetaK


These were refreshing treats. Tangy, zesty and simply delicious. Leaving them for a day gave the aromas the chance to infuse well and created a softer and chewier cookie. These were very different to the other type of cookies we baked simply because of the wonderful fruity flavors.



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Monday, January 07, 2008

Hey Dude - This Blog Clicks!

Pistchios (03) by MeetaK
A Greener Shade of Purple


Finally I get to adorn my blog with one of these awesome badges. I am totally exhilarated! "A Greener Shade of Purple" was my entry to December's theme Nuts.

It not only got me going nutty over several different types of nuts but it also got my backside moving to finally put together a fantastic Nutology I have been meaning to do for ages now.

There were several fantastic entries, the gracious judges probably had a tough time choosing the winners. In the end I was honored to have secured third place for the category "Spectra". Out of all three categories this is my favorite one and whenever I am not judging (this was the first time - LOL!) this is what I aim for.

The judging for SPECTRA is based on:
Composition: Aesthetics and production values
Craft: Technical merit
Communication: Overall Impact

I thank all the judges for your efforts and of course all my readers who constantly motivate me.

Click in January takes on a rather challenging theme of Liquid. I along with a few rockin bloggers will be judging. So get your cameras out and start clicking - deadline is January 20.



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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Allow me to introduce ...

Meeta  
... myself!

It's been on my mind for a long time. But often time is my enemy and I find myself pushing such tasks to the bottom of my list. However, after just a little under 2 years, 330 posts and over half a million visitors to the blog, I seriously need to introduce myself.

So this becomes my official about page for What's For Lunch, Honey? Something that was missing all this time, making the blog and my blog personality rather incomplete. So, I start 2008 with a good resolution - a decent "about" page.



Who am I?
Meeta - that's my name given to me by my dad! I was born back in the summer of 1972, one beautiful day in Bombay, India. I was practically delivered in a hotel! It's where my father has worked for most of his life and it's what injected the hotelier's blood into my veins. This hotel lifestyle enabled me to travel the world, get close to many cultures, learn a few languages and experience many great adventures.

Knowing only a hotel life, I decided to follow my dad's footsteps and studied Hotel Management, specializing in Marketing and Guest Relations. I trained in one of the finest luxury hotels of this world in Doha, Qatar. That is when a tiny spark for food was ignited in my soul.

I now have settled down in Germany, with my two men, Tom my husband and Soeren my adorable son of 5 6 7 11 years.

Hotels are not a part of my life in Germany. After graduating I came to Germany and worked in an advertising firm, an architecture and design firm and a couple of software firms. Don't ask how that came about - it just happened!

Now I am in Weimar and for the first time in my life I feel grounded at having found a great place to lay my hat. But my travelling feet continue to itch! Let's see where life takes me.

I love photography, always have, but it was with the start of this blog that I discovered the world of Foodography. Since then the passion for photography I developed has taken a complete new angle and opened so many exciting doors. I try to capture shots that speak a thousand words, that makes one feel as if they were a part of the scene and experience the photo with their senses. You tell me if I am succeeding!



What's with the Food Blog?
Somewhere along the way I got obsessed with food. Not so much the eating it but more the cooking it. It was simply divine to see people relish the food I had prepared and then to see the perfect look of satisfaction on their faces. That was it! I did not need the compliments - it was that look that had me hooked.

You know the one I mean.
A bite, forkful or a spoonful of a dish and as you place it into your mouth your tongue begins to tingle with the burst of flavors you have been craving for all along - but simply were unable to find the perfect combination. You close your eyes because you just want to relish this one second for a moment longer.

That look on people's faces made it all worthwhile. As my recipes and creations became more elaborate I needed a way to express myself. I can talk, cook and eat food for hours. It never bores me. I just needed a way to share my passion, findings, research and experiments and that is the way I got around to creating a blog that mainly focuses on food.

I originally started with The Daily Tiffin, however I needed a more food oriented blog to satisfy my food craze and so a few days later What's For Lunch, Honey? was born.

Today, I feel quite proud with every mention, award, accolade or the results of a photo/writing job I have achieved with this blog. I never thought that What's For Lunch, Honey? would grow and become a prominent part of the Food Blogging community. And I certainly never thought I would have my own media and press page! But I do and it makes me ecstatic every time I get to update that page. LOL!

In February 2009 Times Online UK selected What's For Lunch, Honey? as one of the World's Top 50 Best Food Blogs.
Yup - you bet I feel good about that one!


What's with the name?
The name has a very simple story behind it. The blog was created within a few minutes and without much thought to it. It was actually created while I had a bake in the oven and my two men came in and asked "What's for lunch?" and right then and there I decided that, this would be the perfect name for a food blog.

I started with what now seems like a rather naive first post, but as always, once thrown in the deep water, I learn to swim on my own and fast. At that time I had no idea that there were so many other food blogs dotted all across the globe. As I discovered the wonderful world of food blogging I also discovered what an exceptional community this is. It has been a true gift to have found so many friends, support, motivation and fun along the way. Something I am always truly thankful of.

Today, What's For Lunch, Honey? has become a means for me to express thoughts, share my crazy ideas, experiment, muse, ramble and discover. I strive to share my passion and record them for myself to refer to later on in life. In the progress, I am learning something new almost everyday.

Quality Seal
Being a food blog the main ingredient of this blog is food. For me the first step to good food is knowing where it comes from. The quality of my ingredients is very important to me. I make sure that 90-95% of all my fresh produce, dairy, meat and several other products are organic. These not only taste better but it also fits into my bigger picture of being careful about the environment I live in and leave behind for my child (or children). I pay close attention to obtaining my ingredients from the local Farmer's Market or ordering them from my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization. Each week I get a delivery of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, bread and other products which come from local, regional or national farmers.

Buying sensibly is important to me and I am willing to pay an extra cent or two when I know that the product is worth it. It makes cooking with such quality ingredients a lot more fun. Although this is important to me and I do support eating organic, seasonally and locally grown food where ever and whenever I can, I will not preach about it or shove it down peoples throats.

Several posts, regularly include a section about a specific product, which takes a closer look at the product from a health and nutrition point of view and gives helpful tips on selecting and storing. You will find many fresh products in my Ingredient and Food Know-Hows category.

More reading about my thoughts on organic food:
Organic Food - What is it?
Is Organic Food healthier?



Recipes
The recipes you find on my blog are all put together with love, care and a lot of passion. The sources of my recipes are various - a newspaper or magazine, the Internet, a cookbook, my parents, grandparents, other family or friends, my own creations and experiments. I will never copy a recipe verbatim. Many a time I have altered or modified a recipe and almost always post my version of it. If I prepared the recipe from a cookbook or online food service I will most certainly recommend the book it came from or link to the online source. I do take time to post these recipes and often my experimentations are a matter of taste - ours. However, if you find something not quite right about a recipe please do let me know. I will certainly look into it.

Posting & Commenting
Maintaining a blog is a difficult job - no doubt about it. When I sit down to create a post it is a process of many steps, to describe them all here would blow this post out of proportion. But basically after a dish has been cooked, I carefully skim enough of it away and hide it in the fridge to photograph at a later time. Photographing as soon as a dish was prepared, as I did in the earlier days, was proving to be to stressful on myself and the tummies of my family and friends. Once the shots have been taken, I sit down to work out a rough sketch of what I want to discuss in the post. Thoughts, dreams, memories, venting or informative - whatever the nature of the post, I ponder on it for a while. Finally, all aspects of my post come together and in the two-three hour period it takes to finish a post I always feel elated when it is finally published. I publish about two to three posts a week.
Commenting is the most important feedback and a way for me to know which nerve I have hit with my readers. I appreciate all your comments and make sure to read every single one of them. Unfortunately, I am unable to always reply to every single one individually. Although, I do try when time allows, I am not as good as I would like to be. So I try to address the feedback in bundles. Unless, there is a very important comment or a question, I tend to reply to comments about a day or 2 after it has been published, however even here depending on time, it might take longer.

While I appreciate all feedback, opinions and arguments from both sides and do not delete comments that take on a different point of view, I am irritated when the comments are insulting, rude or personal attacks. If these type of comments cross my threshold of patience, I will delete them without any kind of acknowledgment. Promotional type comments and advertisements will also be swiftly deleted.

I also get annoyed when people leave anonymous comments. Please stand up to your views, thoughts and opinions. If you are a coward then do not post here in the first place. If you still feel the need to attack me or my views, do not be surprised if my replies, if I see fit to acknowledge it, is on the sarcastic side.

I do not appreciate people using my space to promote their own sites. Long post-like comments to publicize their own websites or blogs are uncoil and I find them suspicious. Do not be surprised if I delete them too. I do not mind links if the content of your post applies to what I wrote about and will be generally helpful to both our readers.

Your Emails
I often receive emails asking me questions and advice on many subjects. I do take the time and do my best to answer every mail I receive to my best knowledge. I admit, some are answered quickly others are tardy. It simply depends on the amount of stress and lack of time I am currently experiencing. There are also times that a certain email lands in my spam folder and your question ends up in nirvana. If I have not answered your mail within a week please do send me a reminder.
Once I have replied to your mail a short thank you would be great.

Reviews & Advertising
I never recommend anything on this blog that I am not convinced about or do not like personally. Most of my recommendations are of items I have personally tried and thought it is worth mentioning to inform my readers. I do accept products and cookbooks for review from publishers and if I think it is something worth mentioning and will appeal to my readers I may post about it. I am an honest and straight-forward person and that is what can be expected from my reviews. If I like the item, I will say so. If I do not, I will say that too.

I decided to run some ads on my blog to support a few minor costs the blog generates. I am not getting rich from it but it helps to cover a percentage of the costs for supplies and material.

I also link to websites I am an affiliate of, like Amazon.com, for the same reason. So, if you follow those links you will be supporting this blog. A tiny percentage of the purchases come my way - and I mean really tiny. But I do thank you for the support.

If you would like to advertise or sponsor this blog please drop me an email.

Copyright/Photography
All content on this blog, including the photography, is my work, which means it is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved, unless otherwise noted. Please ask first before republishing or distributing any of my work! If you are interested in using my texts or photographs please contact me. You may not use my work for commercial purposes without my permission. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work in any form.
The photos you see on my blog are not free for the picking to be republished in any form. A short email asking me to use them would save you a lot of trouble and harassment.

Freelance Work
I am available for freelance work as a food writer and photographer. Contact me for further information.

In the meantime I hope you all have a great time browsing through my blog and I hope it offers you a chance to "Experience Your Senses" like never before!

Warm regards,
Meeta

*Please note that this post is subject to additions and changes as it grows and develops.



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First