Of cakes that fall and rise

It is not a secret that I love eating. Cakes are inclusive to this love of mine. In fact not just me, but so many people love cakes that celebrations are not complete without cakes. Birthdays HAVE to have cakes for everyone most (I do remember a friend from school who used to cut pizzas instead of cakes). When I was younger, I would look at mum with my innocent eyes and ask her to bake a cake for me. Nothing fancy, just a simple vanilla sponge cake would do. To this day she makes a point to tell me that her arms and elbows would ache from all the batter mixing (her method involves mixing it all with hands for at least 20 minutes), and that she would never have enough cream left to make ghee. It would all end up in my weekly share of cake.

A dear friend of mine is a voracious reader, and a magic woman when it comes to cooking. I pity her neighbors who have to put up with the delicious aromas wafting out of her kitchen. Pure torture I tell you. As  good great as she is, she cannot exert divine control upon cakes to turn out how she wants them to. Not yet, at least.

One fine day, when she was busy making lemon cakes (for some Sansa Stark fans I hope), one of the cakes decided to be more than that. After all as Petyr Baelish teaches Sansa, “In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them”. This particular cake came out with a big sunken cavity in the center.

The sunken cake

Not someone who will let food go to waste, she did what another friend suggested to her. Since this was a cake with perfect walls, she emptied out the gooey center and added chocolate to it. Instead of just a lemon cake, it was now a combination cake. Time and again I am reminded how wonders can be made of the accidents that befall us. The cake was soon packed and parceled to yours truly. I am having a bite of the solid lemon walls with a gooey, fudgey chocolate center. Absolute bliss.

Combo taste cake for the win

It is the best cake that I have ever had. I love the fact that it something that happened serendipitously. While it could have been another fallen cake, it rose to one of the first combination cakes to come out of the Weekend Kitchen. So much love for her :D. She is probably going to bonk me on the head for putting in A Song of Ice and Fire reference in this 😛

You can read her post about this cake at her blog here.

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Dear Pins & Ashes

I met Pins And Ashes in the comments section of one of my blog friends. We got along after we started talking about Cadbury Silk on her then blog post, which only had her mention it once it.
Dear PnA,

First of all, I want a Silk now. It’s almost 12 in the night, and I am craving for something sweet. The fact that I am too lazy and go get some from the store is another thing 😛 . It has been so much fun in this ride together. The times spent on chat, Whatsapp, group chats and phone were fun. What was even more fun was to have finally met you in person. I should however be thankful that I made it out of meeting you without being punched 😛

The idea of a best friend has always been interesting. The idea that a person gets along so well with another is so comforting at times. I should have realized this when you spent comments describing in detail the Silk you were eating, while I was reading that particular post. When we’re not talking about food, we still have so many things to talk about. I think this is why when we did meet in person, it wasn’t like meeting someone for the first time, but like meeting an old friend instead.

I think what I cherish is the manner in which we click together. One such moment that I am going to remember is when I was travelling from Ahmedabad to Baroda and we were chatting in a group chat and you told me that you’d message me in Baroda. What followed was a discussion about a secret trip that you had planned to Baroda, and the places we would hang out at. All this just to have fun and make others jealous. It wasn’t something that we had planned on, but something that spontaneously came to us both.

For a long time, I had been wondering what I would write to you in this letter. It is now that I realize that I am at this loss of words because we’ve never shied from telling something to the other at face (or screen). Which is why I think that there isn’t something ‘new’ for me to write to you that I wouldn’t express to you in one of our chats.

Love,

Someone who shares your love for chocolates.

Other bloggers who are participating can add their links to this linky:

A look back at the last 5 years

Inspired from the look back shared by Facebook on the occasion of turning 10, Aparna wrote a post with a look back on the last 5 years of her life. She went on tag some of her friends (including me) and I had committed to her that I would take participate and write a post of my own.

As part of the tag, I have to share:

1. Write 5 happy moments.

2. Write 5 sad/regretted moments. (Only place where you may write less – who wants to remember the sad moments)

3. Write 5 goals that you achieved.

4. Write 5 other events or moments you would like to share.

5. 5 other moments or goals you would like in the next 5 years.

Here are mine:

Happy Moments:

  1. I was promoted this year to the designation of Deputy Manager (from Assistant Manager). This was in light of the change in my job profile that had happened at the beginning of the year. The new profile has brought more responsibilities than the previous one.
  2. I finally bought a domain. Initially I wanted to by a domain based on my pen name, but it was not available. I thought over and came up with this domain name, and linked it to my blog.
  3. I made a trip to Jaipur, and spent time with my cousins. Helped mom in some holiday shopping just before Diwali, and spent quite some time photographing the streets of Jaipur.
  4. Surprised mom on her birthday by coming to Ahmedabad at midnight with a cake. Before cutting the cake, she took time to chide me for traveling at such an hour: P .After cutting the cake, she asked if I am hungry and would like a warm meal. I just ate more of the cake instead. The day was spent out, with me taking her to watch a movie and do some shopping.
  5. A friend from office invited a bunch of us to his place in the village. We took a road trip to his place. We started the day by spending time at the river bank. After all the fun and bathing in the river, I could steal some time to visit some cotton plantations, and mango orchards. We spent the evening under the open skies, in the comforts of a cool breeze. His family cooked a wonderful dinner using some traditional family recipes.

Sad/Regretted moments:

  1. I made a big mess of my personal finances. Took some stupid decisions, and some careless. The good thing is that most of it is in the past.
  2. Discussions that follow when people ask of my marriage plans. Sometimes it ends up with heated discussions with mom. The two of us have such different schools of thought about it, and I have to exercise self-control to no say something that will blow things up, and yet put my point across.
  3. Since I live in a rented accommodation in Baroda, I have to shift every year (or other year). I have lost so many things in said shifting process. A chopping board, some undergarments, chop sticks, topes, and more.
  4. I have been working for almost 5 years now. In my earlier days of the job, I had more free time and a freer mind at home to catch up on my reading and movies. I read more now than I read just after starting work, but am not able to devote as much time as I would like to.
  5. Not buying a house. When I had started my job, there were a couple of houses I could have bought via home loan. It was easier to manage the EMI than it is now, on account of their ever increasing price.

Goals that I achieved:

  1. Learn how to bake a cake. I can now bake a cake all by myself, without any help from mom. Earlier I used to help in the mixing of the dough, and everything else (including the proportions) was managed by her. Now, I do it all by myself.
  2. Learn how to use chopsticks. This has been more on account of finding a place called Jojo’s café in Baroda which serves wonderful momos and Thukpa.
  3. Restart blogging. I had given up blogging after Yahoo! 360 had shutdown. I have resumed, with this blog and one on Blogger before. While I am not posting as regularly as I did on 360 (where I posted on alternate days), I spend time reading and commenting on the blogs I follow.
  4. Running in Vadodara Half Marathon. I did not participate in the entire lap, but for the ‘fun-run’ lap. The experience was tiring, but wonderful.
  5. Buying a laptop and cell phone(s). I spend a lot of time with my laptop and cellphone, and before I started working the same were paid for by mom. It brought immense satisfaction to buy one for myself, and a smart phone for mom.

Other events/ moments:

  1. After living alone for about a year, I moved in with 2 roommates as it would mean getting a better place but at the same cost, since the rent would be divided. Have forged a wonderful friendship with one of them.
  2. After sharing a place for more around 3 years with him, I have now moved out and live in a different place alone. We didn’t have any falling out, and are still the same friends. Now that I look back, there were just so many things that I took for granted. We had a maid, so the vessels and clothes were washed by her. Sometimes he would pick up the glass I left on the table, or the pillows that were kept in the living room. It’s not that I didn’t do all that before when I lived alone, but to do so again after being used to not doing it, feels tiresome.
  3. Some of the wonderful chat sessions that I spent with blog and Facebook friends, whom I have not met in person. It is fascinating how one connects with another, and the flow of conversation that follows.
  4. After faithfully collecting issues of more than 5 years of the periodical magazine ‘Digit’ which covers computers and technology, I sold them all off. The collection was too much to manage as I was searching for things on the internet instead of going through its issues.
  5. I started watching Masterchef, and find it to be a reality show that is enjoyable because of all the food in it.

Moments or goals for the next 5 years:

  1. Learn how to swim. It seems so wonderful to be able to spend time in pools swimming instead of just sticking to the banks where the water is waist high.
  2. Learn how to drive a car. I know, this is embarrassing on account of me being an automobile engineer. I can ride a bicycle very well, but nothing more than that. It will also serve as a manner of convenience
  3. Learn to knead dough and make Rotis and parathas properly. As of now, I end up with too little or too much of it and make a big mess as well.
  4. Take a vacation to visit some of my blog and Facebook friends in person.
  5. Lose weight and get in a better shape. I am obese. While I haven’t bothered much about the appearance, but the fitness has begun to worry me now.

Monika’s Sin-A-Mon tales

Our story starts like quite a few stories­­­ in the childhood of the character. Born and brought up in Delhi along with three sisters, her working mom and hands on father gave her the ideals she lives by. When asked about her childhood, she says “The strongest lesson that our parents taught was the importance of education and being independent in life, I think partly that’s what has made me what I am today as a person and I am proud of it”. She has been married for close to nine (9) years now and has a son who is 5.5 years old. An MCA and MS in computers, and a self-confessed nerd at heart; she is Monika Manchanda.

Monika setting a cake

She has more than 10 years of experience in IT development with companies like Wipro, Nortel and Intel. She was performing a juggling act while balancing work and once her maid quit after getting married. Since the IT industry was also going through a slump at that times, she decided to take a six month break to spend time with her son. Time flew, and the six months grew into a three year long break. It was during this break that she got the idea of starting Sin-a-Mon.

One of Monika’s fondest memories from her childhood is that of her mom baking tutty-fruity cakes for the family, and the joy and excitement it brought. After she recorded and blogged about her experiments and passion in the kitchen, she received a lot of praise from her friends and readers. She decided to go back to school and did a diploma in bakery and confectionary to improve her skills and knowledge before turning her passion into a profession. When asked on how she chose the name Sin-a-Mon, she says “Cinnamon is one of my favorite sweet spices and also something widely used in baking dishes. We tweaked the term a bit and named my startup Sin-a-mon. Sin for sinning and Mon for the initial letters for my name”

It took her close to five months for Sin-a-Mon to go from concept to launch. Setup costs, infrastructure, and need for quality raw materials were the few obstacles that she had to overcome before she could find a steady business. Her first order was delivered to Chirag from Chaipatty who needed a regular supply of desserts. While Sin-a-Mon started with started with simple bakes and cakes, has now grown to a wide range of goodies from artisan breads to savory bakes to spiked bakes. Not limited to just baking and cooking, she has diversified in to workshops and food consulting which has given Sin-A-Mon an edge in the business.

monika_cup1Monika_cup2

Monika_loaf Monika_photocakes

Monika_eggb

Some months ago, she received a call from Prof Rakesh Sud who told her about the Goldman Sachs 10K woman program. The initiative is built on the premise that partnerships between education, development, and business experts can help bring about significant change through improved business education for women. It is a 16 weeks long course that is partnered with ISB in India. She has successfully graduated from the course.

monika convo

Being an entrepreneur is a tough and lonely job, and she has to spend time with her son she turns the internet on the phone off. As far as the upbringing of her son goes she believes, “When it comes to values kids learn what they see on a regular basis and one of the biggest value I want to instill in him is equality and respect for woman and for that I feel I need to be an independent strong and happy woman.”

family

Truly, Monika represents the independent woman who wants to make her own ground and first hand instill values of equality in the coming generation.

You can check out Monika’s blog here, and the website of her business here.

Written for the Indiblogeshwaris Ladies Independence Special Contest in association with http://womenentrepreneursinindia.com/

A proud owner of a custom RM painted tee

Quite some time ago I came across RM’s blog when she had commented something about Baroda on a friend’s post. RM stands for R’s Mom, simply because she has girl whose name starts with R.  Soon I began frequenting her blog. Apart from bringing up R with RD (R’s Dad), she known for blogging, reading, rolling eyes, and making awesome sambhar. Few of her blog posts also mention about her painting tee shirts as a hobby. These are in Warali designs and she mostly makes them for R, friends’ kids and nephews/nieces.
One fine day I happened to request her to paint a tee for me as well. Being the nice person that she is, she said she would do it as long as I sent her a tee of the right size. This makes sense because imagine the horror that would happen if she painted on an L size tee when I am clearly a size XXL. I would have to exercise loads and drop sizes to fit in that tee. So I promptly ordered a tee online to be shipped to her, which she painted and sent me back. Ladies and gentlemen I am now the proud owner of a custom RM painted tee shirt. *Applause**Readers look in envy**some readers will now roll their eyes*

My tee by RM
My tee by RM

Moving from left to right, on the top is a chain of people holding hands and guys on the left have started doing the wave. Below that we have an adventurous guy who has jumped of a plane, which is flying into an unsuspecting bird ahead. Now we see a bunch of balls lying to cushion said guy’s landing, a reflection of the sun and a tree of fireworks (maybe for successfully parachute jumping off the plane). The last row has a bunch of herbs which will be used for cooking a feast, a guy with a really long arm trying to empty a bottle of chilli sauce in to a pot while another person tries to stop him as a headless horse is just being itself and walking around trying to be away from whatever explodes from the cooking vessel. When I first opened the tee I had held it sideways and the last bit looked like an octopus tentacle to me, which on holding the tee properly I realized is a train on a mountain. I will still pretend that it is an octopus tentacle.

Thank you RM for such a wonderful tee, I hope you go professional with your tee shirt painting and it becomes a success. 😀