Berries and Barbecue

Posted July 18th, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Food
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One of the advantages of staying in suburban Germantown is its close proximity to farms. The honest-to goodness real farms where cattle graze, fresh vegetables are grown and corn is harvested. Very close to our house, is one such farm called Butler ’s OrchardIMG_4616, which has this excellent scheme of pick-your-own-crops. Last month the crop was strawberries, this month it is blueberries. Santhoshettan, Reeja, her parents and their daughter Anjali accompanied us as we pretended to be farmers for a day. We drove to the farm which is less than 2 miles away, past the farmer’s shop and then up the gravel path looking for arrow signs that said “Blueberries”. A farm-wagon took us the rest of the way into the blueberry bushes. Armed with white plastic buckets (almost similar to the palmolin tin cans used by the budding wicket-keepers on the Bombay railway tracks) , we attacked the bushes with great enthusiasm. Blueberry grows on bushes about 3 feet in height in deep blue clusters rather like grapes.

We filled our buckets, gathering the purple berries easily, some found its way into our stomachs. The blueberries were bigger and sweeter than the ones packaged in our supermarkets. Within 30 minutes we had filled both pails and were ready to leave.

That evening , we had decided to have barbecue for dinner. The previous owners of our house had left their grill to us and we were eager to test it out. Kababs, fish and “bhutta” were on the menu. Seejo’s mom had marinated some king-fish in our deep freezer.

IMG_2446We started by pan-frying the fish in the gas grill. Then next to go inside the grill were chicken and paneer kababs. Tender chicken pieces alternated with red and yellow bell-peppers, red onions and paneer chunks marinated in a mix of spices that nobody would be able to reproduce. Each skewer had a different blend of spices. While the chicken was being cooked, I quickly grilled some asparagus and mushrooms (sprayed with olive oil, seasoned with pepper and salt). The final item on the menu was corn. It was days since I had authentic grilled bhutta….and the gas grill worked perfectly…As the corn popped, the weather darkened, and rains started to drizzle….transporting me instantly to Marine drive…So that was the menu of the day, accompanied with virgin margaritas and topped off by rum and raisin icecream liberally garnished with blubereis.

Books: No better book to read this week than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

I don’t think its possible to dislike a new HP book, at least for a Potter fan who has been waiting for 2 years to see what whether the boy-who-lived is reaching closer to killing Lord Voldemort. However this book does sag in the middle, as though it was straining to leave Hogwarts and plot did not fit into the linear narrative that the previous 5 books followed. The Dursleys-Platform93/4….first day of school…new DADA teacher…Halloween…Hogsmeade…Christmas…Big finale…end in infirmary…back to Kingcross. The most exciting moments of the book happened outside Hogwarts. Even Quidditch matches were boring (and that’s saying something), although partially alleviated by Luna’s excellent commentary. However the book picks up towards the end towards an exciting and climax with the death of Dumbledore. Rowling manages to keep the story on course. The pieces are in place for the final book, and the stage is set for a treasure-hunt sort of finale.

.Positives:

The best feature of the book is the growth of Harry’s character, from a young boy to a angsty teenager to a mature youth and finally at the culmination of this book a determined young man ready to accept reality

Fleur’s character: It rocks!!!

Horcurxes: What a fantastic idea. JKR deserves half her fortune just for coming up with that idea to end this series with.

Apparation Class: Excellently portrayed

Dumbledore’s death: Not the fact that he died… but the fact that she wrote his death. JKR wields a mean pen and she is not afraid to use it!!

Negatives:

Less screen time for Ron and Hermione: Till now the books don’t show Harry having superpowers, just good friends who help him and essential good qualities. So Ron and Hermione are important parts of the Harry Potter books. This book sidelines Ron and Hermione to romantic subplots mainly for comic relief while all the action is provided by Harry

Relationship between R/H need not to be pushed so much while H/G happenned a bit too quickly.. no scene detailing why Harry fell for Ginny, .(May be I am just hard to please).

Movies: Caught up on a lot of movies this week, compensating for not watching a Hindi movie in 2 months.

Mumbai Express: Nice story, very slow screenplay that totally ruins the movie. A few scenes however are wonderfully done.

D: Not bad

Bunty aur Babli : Rani overacts a lot, Abhishek Bachan is wonderful, the cons that they pull off are not entertaining, scenes with Amitabh rock.

Kaal: What did they think when they made this movie??

And Once Again

Posted July 1st, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Two years ago, when I was still a student at the University of Virginia I used to write a weekly mail to a few people chronicling my adventures for the week. As student life ended and working life fell into a mundane routine, I stopped these mails because after all there was no point in telling the world that I cooked methi-alu and that I discovered yet another new web-site for desi jokes on the internet. Work was interesting but I was not going to report the details there for obvious reasons!!.

Now about three years later, I feel like renewing the writing if only to create an online “pensieve” to prod gently so that it may reveal the name of the restaurant that served excellent kababs in Philadelphia and the way I rang in the new year in 2002. I have decided its time to stop thinking about these vignettes as a boring read for other people, but more as a means to record my own memories.

So here is to another beginning!!!