Tuesday 31 December 2013

TWFM #6 : Secret Ingredient for Non-Bitter Methi/Fenugreek : CURD

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Kids won't eat fenugreek?
Methi leaves are too bitter?
Looking for a tastier option?

As a child, we were forced to eat methi ki sabzi despite our pronounced dislike of the bitter taste, all in the name of "This is good for you"! *  This dislike carried on well into my adulthood. Well, not any longer ! I now look forward to winters, when I can buy & devour fresh fenugreek greens with relish.

For me, the easiest way to eat a dose of the good-for-you greens Daily, without tiring of it, is to knead it in dough & make chapatis, etc. And to get rid of the bitterness, my secret sure-shot ingredient is CURD ! 

Curd / Yogurt adds flavor, enhances nutrient value, And most importantly, masks the bitterness of methi / fenugreek.
Simply grind with curd & add to flour Or make it even tastier & more interesting by including a few spices, etc. a la Thepla, except with More greens than in the latter !

1. Bunch of Methi Leaves
2. Some Methi leaves de-stemmed,
washed & drained

De-stem the leaves; wash, & drain excess water; put the leaves in a mixer-grinder jar or food processor Without Any Chopping ! Add some thick curd or unflavored yogurt and grind to fine paste. 
Usually, no extra water is required.

 3. Add Curd / Yogurt to Methi Leaves & grind.

TIP : If so desired, one can pulse & grind to a coarse mixture. A coarser mixture will have bits of leaves showing in the dough, which also looks & tastes good, adding a bit of texture & crunch.

This fenugreek-curd mixture is now ready to be added to flour & kneaded. 

Grinding to a paste/mixture & Then adding to flour, ensures that More Quantity of greens gets used than if we were to coarsely chop leaves & add to flour.

However, to make it tastier, more appealing & Versatile, I add some spices to create a Thepla  style dough but with much much larger quantity of greens !

4. Combine Ingredients & Knead

TIP : Besides spices, I often add some extras such as gram flour (besan), moong dal flour, soya flour, oatmeal, etc. to make a multi-flour mix & a complete Meal. 

5. Non-bitter Methi Dough is Ready !

   Once all the ingredients are collected together, combine & knead into dough of soft consistency. Add water Only if required. The dough is ready ! Let it rest for a while before rolling out into bread that remains soft & fluffy !

This dough can be used to make rotis & chapatis, paranthas, theplas, pooris (stiffer dough for pooris), etc. 
Serve with thick curd/yogurt, chutney, pickle, curry (especially potato-tomato curry), sweet pickle, papads, dals, etc.  Simply Substitute usual whole wheat rotis/breads with this Healthier version. Keep it versatile & interesting ;-)
These are yummy, when served hot, but remain soft even when served cold, due to addition of curd.
Serve for breakfast, as a normal bread substitute for main meals, or send it packing in a lunch-box!

Refrigerate the leftover dough for later. It keeps well for upto a week !
TIP : Add or brush with some oil, if required. I usually knead a larger quantity of flour & brush a tiny amount or olive oil over the remaining dough when refrigerating. This helps the dough to retain it green color for longer.    

Instant Methi Mix :

Since I had a huge bunch of methi, not all of it        
6. Freeze leftover methi-curd mixture for future use.

could be consumed in the near future. 
Hence, I processed some more of the leaves with curd, transferred the mixture into a stainless steel container with lid & pushed it into the freezer. Whoa! It stayed good for the next 3 weeks at least. And I got myself an instant mix to use as desired.

All I needed to do was take it out the freezer, let it thaw & use the desired amount. One can freeze in batches separately as well. Simply remove one batch, thaw & use. 
Saves the time & trouble of de-stemming, cleaning, processing, etc. every time.
Photo#6 shows the methi-curd mixture that I had frozen in a stainless steel container, partially thawed.

TIP : For quicker thawing, one can place the steel container in a bowl of warm water. One can use the microwave, but then wither transfer contents to a glass bowl or freeze in microwave-proof containers. [I  Never store & microwave in plastic containers].

Go Green !                                                                   

Methi Breads served with salad
All bitterness leaves the leaves when curd is added to dough !

And here's how it looks when rolled & cooked to make chapatis & paranthas. Since I had frozen the mixture without any spices, etc., this time I added a couple of Tablespoons of besan flour along with spices to the wheat flour. Chapatis came out 'Martian' green while the paranthas (stuffed with homemade paneer / cottage cheese ) looked a bit paler (due to the white stuffing inside) ! 

Here's to a warm green nutrient-filled, tasty snack / bread for kids & adults alike, 
to keep us healthy & bright in the cold winters :-)

 Nutritional Profile of Methi / Fenugreek Leaves 

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Remove Labels with Oil

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How to Remove a Sticky Label  With Oil !
Want to Recycle, Re-purpose jars, containers, bottles, etc.?
Would like them to look ‘new’?
But the labels don’t come out easily?
Here’s an easy 2-step way with NO Effort !

There are many techniques one can employ. I’ve tried scrubbing, scouring, soaking in water / warm water / soapy water, & so on. Very rarely successful :-(Unless the label comes off easily at the first go, it is difficult to remove it & definitely not without leaving traces & (ugh!) scratches !

1. Label remnants
Like the one in image 1 where I sincerely tried to get it off by  soaking Overnight in soapy water. See the residue & traces of  the label still left ?!    
TIP  : This step is not necessary. I did it in the hopes of the label glue heeding my desire {as if !} ;-). However, it obviously helps.

2. Apply oil over label area & set aside
 Step 1: Now for the Real stuff! Apply any oil all over the surface & leave the jar aside for a few hours or longer, if the label is just too stubborn. 
NOTE :  The ambient temperature on this day was 38C & humidity just about 20%. Ideal weather conditions one might say !

TIP : You can use left-over oil from some deep frying, like I did - no need to use the hydrogenated oil for further cooking, yet a good way to 'get rid of it' ;-) 

3. After 2-3 hours, simply wipe off !

Step 2 : 2-3 hours later, after completing 
my chores, I came back to check on the jar.  All I did was rub the surface with my 
FINGER & the remnants started peeling 
off!!! The 'flakes' are clearly visible 
in pic #3. NO ELBOW GREASE !

4. Wash with warm soapy water. 

 Voila ! A label-free, squeaky clean good-as-new jar !!! 

TIP : One can easily wash the jar with a little soap & warm water if some greasiness remains.

I came across this tip somewhere on the web & tried it out Very successfully. This Worked for Me & hope it does for you too :-)
Since this First attempt with a plastic jar, I've removed tags & labels - very very old as well as new ones - from all kinds of surfaces : Stainless Steel, Glass, Ceramic, & of course, Plastic ! 

Update : I recently came across a glass/mason jar with a very old label. It required oil application Twice, but finally came out clean nonetheless !

                                       keep smiling :-) 





Tuesday 3 December 2013

Cornering An Edging : Tatting

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Tatting Tutorial
 Have a lovely straight-edging pattern?
Want to use it for a square/rectangular project?
But stuck on how to tackle the angular corner ?
Here are some very simple & easy techniques to continue without a hitch ... 

(for beginner &/or intermediate level )
One finds plenty of lovely tatting patterns for an edging, but rarely for a corner to go with the pattern, especially when one is working a square or rectangle. 

I needed 3 edgings for square cushion/pillow cases. None of the 3 patterns I chose had any corner. But, for the very first time, I made an effort to try my own hand at tackling the right angle by tweaking the patterns. Here's how they look .....

Three Edgings "Cornered" !


I. Simple Alignment

Many patterns lend themselves easily to  
a right-angled corner. All one needs to do is carefully align the edging along the periphery & corner, such that there are neither any ruffles nor stretching.   
(for complete Patterns : Waves Edging  & Crowns Edging)

I-A. Simple Corner Alignment of Waves edging 

I-B. Simple Corner Alignment of Crowns edging

TIP : Tat a length just slightly shorter than that required for the entire periphery. Do not tie/break off yarn. Tack on the edging. When you come to the end, tat the remaining short distance, Then tie off. Keeps the 2 ends joined neatly; no overlap or reworking!

Sometimes, an edging is not easily 'cornered'. It is either too loose or too tight around the right angle. In the former, one may need to eliminate or decrease some element (either a chain or ring); in the latter, one needs to add or increase a chain or ring.
But how does one decide what is required ?!
Following is the technique I used, tweaking the pattern to fit : in one instance, a chain was eliminated; in second, a ring was added.

II. Eliminating An Element

(for complete pattern : Crowns Edging Pattern ) Tat one length of edging - the approximate length of the pillow side.   

Then roughly position the 2 ends (the beginning & 'last' or  working ends) at 90 degree angle to form a corner. (image II-A) 

This will give you an immediate visual feedback regarding the gap/space to be covered, & thus help you decide whether you need any additional rings / chains / repeats or not.

I-A. Positioning 2 ends of edging to decide on cornering
     II-B. Simple elimination of chain creates corner

TIP : One can place the ends on grid or graph paper for a more elaborate & accurate designing of corner elements. 

I decided, in this case, that a simple elimination of thchain will suffice. Keeping all the rest of the pattern same, only the connecting chain was done away with. (image II-B) 

TIP : One could've added an extra connecting picot to each adjoining ring, too, for greater stability. Or a very short chain of 2 ds only.

III. Adding An Element

III. Adding an Element to Create Corner 

A similar 'positioning' technique 
was employed for the Oyster edging as well. 

A single extra Ring was added at corner & rest of pattern continued unchanged. 


Update : Last night I came across a superb technique on how to turn the edging corner using a mirror. This is especially handy for the more elaborate & adventurous edgings. Always learn from the pros !!!

I value comments with constructive feedback :-)