Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Perfect Sri Lankan Watalappan


You will need: ·  

  • 500g of grated juggery (I got lucky, I've found grated juggery from the indian store. Will add more pics). 
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk (I use coconut milk cans or pitikara polkiri powder)
  • 8 large eggs / 10 small eggs (or 18 eggs if double the recipe)
  • About two cloves worth of ground cardamom
  • One ground clove 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • (I know you can add cashew, I've never been a fan)
Directions: 

I like to vary it up, and try different dishes.
  • Pre heat the oven to 320F.
  • Fill an oven safe dish with water half way, and place it in the oven, one rack below where the watalappan will go on top. 
  • In a large bowl mix the coconut milk and jaggery, cardamom, cloves. 
  • Stir well until the jaggery is dissolved. 
  • Whisk the eggs with the vanilla, in a separate bowl, and add the coconut milk and jaggery mixture to it. 
  • Mix well.
  • Strain into oven proof moulds / ramekins. The straining is very important. 
  • Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Sometimes it takes me an hour or more, depending on how thick the watalappan is. It really depends on the consistency. The thicker it is, the longer it may take. I've learned to take it out when I feel like it might still be uncooked. As long as it doesn't stick, it is fine. 
  • Cool for 15 mins and refrigerate overnight. 
  • The more times you make it, the better you become! Trial and error, my friends :D 

I made so much, I even shared with neighbors!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

To never miss a sunset

Time stops still, while the sun sets every evening. I try my best to catch each and every single one of them. I am acutely aware of how little time we have, and increasingly I am reminded the finite number of sunsets in my life are constantly missed by the daily chores after work. So. I try to sit on the balcony and take in the colors of the sky, as they fade. One sunset, never the same from another. 

That is breath taking. We don't need to climb mountains or fly to exotic lands to look up at the sky every evening. This is the beauty of it all. 

Each and every  evening as I gaze west, the parking lot below in the apartment complex disappears.
Over the hill tops on the horizon , as I sip my chocolate laden milk tea (knowing the cholestrol that is going in to my system), not caring I am missing a visit to the gym and making mental notes to figure out a better schedule that includes this moment in my day, I take it all in. 

As the fading lights, dancing hues glow and fade and the twinkling lights of stars come up, the descending airplanes also appear in the sky. I think of satellites, of shooting stars and the steady blinking of the descending flights...

On cue, like clockwork, the darkness sets in. The best time of the day, as it comes to an end. It is a gentle reminder, as the night begins. In these moments, I am grateful to be alive. To breath. To be healthy. For the opportunities and priviledges life affords. I yearn to be good, to be productive, to have meaning. 
I look forward to the next day, to the sunset again, and I hope life can always be this carefree. 

I hope I never miss a sunset in my life, or the beauty of the moon, through branches of trees... 





Monday, January 25, 2016

Confessions to the blog-o-sphere

I wish I could learn oh, so many things. As I get older, I realize my time is short. Besides, having to make a living really cuts in to my free time. Plus, studying never seems to end, either. I know, personal goals and the cultural brain washing we have been through, that pushes us to gain an 'education' not knowing what that really means in terms of income and returns in the long run. Anyway. I digress. 

I suppose at this point, I will always be a life long learner of some thing or the other, and the following list, at this point has been a constant so far :

1) Learning chess - I must join a chess club. My personality does not allow me to be a good chess player. I am too impatient. I also find that I am too lazy to learn the strategies, so I remain a mediocre wanna be forever. I should find a chess club. 

2) Knitting and crochet - Something I learned from my grandmother. I have grand notions of sending scarves and new born baby gifts to everyone I know, to dazzle everyone with my knitting skills. But so far, I have no succeeded. Maybe if I tried harder to learn how to read patterns. 

3) Baking bread, cakes and desserts - Last year, I took a cake decorating class and felt very sophisticated doing it. Unfortunately, it was so messy and the cleaning up after was such a chore, I am yet to use the tools I purchased to assist me with this hobby. I do continue to bake the same things over and over, but alas. I have not been as creative as I know I have the potential in me to be! 

4) Playing the guitar, ukulele, flute, mouth organ and piano - Ah yes, the inability to master written music. I wish I had done more piano as a kid, I know my poor parents tried. Reading music, you realize as you grow older, is a gift. The fortune of being able to understand some 

5) Reading books

I feel like I could do these things, if I managed my time better. TV shows have tended to be the biggest waste of time, slowly fading away. I've been trying to blog more, and hopefully this will keep me motivated to report back to the blog-o-sohere. Goodreads helps. I want to read more sinhala literature too, I know I didn't read enough. 

6) Learn Languages, specifically Tamil, Spanish & Arabic and perfect the English language writing - With duolingo and other online applications, I have been able to work on the basics. However, got a long ways to go. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Thoughts about Random Books

It's been a while since I jotted down anything that felt like nothing. Inspirations come and go. Funny how they are fleeting. Like a feather in the wind. Once past,  it is lost forever. What ever inspired a thought and torrent of words,  never return. Disappear in to the air,  just like where ever it came.

I started writing that a while ago, and then it just stayed as a draft, like most of posts usually do.

I AM MALALA (2012)

Last night I watched the TED talk of Malala's father. Yes,  the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for education for girls in Pakistan. What an inspiration. I realize there are other view points on the issue. However,  the point is they were doing good work before the NYTimes documentary and before all the international attention. Unfortunately the same hype has helped them,  keeping the story alive,  western whatever regardless. What an amazing father. Especially his closing line. Such an inspiration for parents in general and good practices of how to teach your children to stand up for what is right.

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR (2016) 

My most recent obsession was the journey of a neurosurgeon that died at 36 years old. I googled everything there was about him, and pre-ordered his book from Amazon on an impulse. I knew it was a bit extravagant, given my current need to be financially responsible. But what the heck. This was about meaning and life. So. "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalinithi became my book #2 for my 2016 personal reading challenge. Please do check it out if you have time. Totally worth it. He died in the middle of it, so his wife finished it. Beautiful story, amazing thoughts and truly a loss to science and humanity...I wish more doctors were like him, insightful enough to understand the nature of the Doctor/patient relationship. Scratch that, I wish the world could focus on being kinder to each other, period.


THE HOUSE GIRL (2015) 

A thoughtful gift from a friend over the holidays, I did end up reading this in one go. I always consider that a sign. It is about slave repatriations, and just a story about two women from very different times. I liked it a lot.

SARAH'S KEY 

Finally got around to reading this. Have a few more books to finish.

Books in Progress : The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden,  The Historian, Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Tiger's Wife

I think I might keep coming back to this when I have time. 

Bubbles

You know, how just when the world starts to seem magical and nice...

Everything becomes hazy and confusing...you start seeing double visions
and all you can do is sleep.
Hibernate almost, completely unaware of what is going on or why it is not where you would like it to be.

But isn't everything happy, you ask yourself?

Well, that's exactly the point. It is. It is.

"Then why? What's the matter?," I ask myself.

"I don't know, I just don't know. Something just feels off."  I reply to myself.

Deep long breaths seem to help. Reading lists, on and on.

Partly it is all the things that need to get done, and things just become overwhelming sometimes.

Deep slow breaths. Short, manageable tasks.

Focus. Time management.

All this, so hard and yet so urgent.

It's ok to hibernate sometimes, I tell myself. Recharge a bit, and even collect some extra energy for times ahead.

All those people in my head, loved ones I want to send things to, send messages to, let them know I am thinking of them and sharing in their big moments. Well, it is never too late to let them know.

One day at a time, stop being so hard on oneself.

A moment, each day.




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Train Travel

"Waiting is a part of travel. We anticipate the arrival of the train."

Spotify music plays in my ears, as the train swooshes past me to a stop. The distinct two warning bells sound, warning pedestrians of the incoming train on the track (In case they try to kill themselves, I suspect).

I must blog more, I tell myself. I like the sense of belonging, even if it is only in the sphere of the cyber world. A sense of fellow beings, a spirit of kindredness. No judgement, other than sharing of opinions. Not that I was ever much of a blogger, or a bearer of any deep thoughts.

Everything is so on the surface, so, fleeting. Why is everything so,  fleeting? The iron or whatever metal footstep like things that decorate the train station platform, have been removed. Stolen, I imagine by hooligans. Sniff. Now an ugly space, on the otherwise pretty station platform. Dirty with wear and tear. Mostly, by a minority if the population tied to this limbo lifestyle, as we go about our lives.

All of us, like. Ghosts. While we have specific schedules, get off work, get on the train. We go home. Then there are the regulars. Those people who aimlessly ride the train, back and forth. A sort of refuge, to a lifestyle I hope is fleeting.

Waiting. Forever for the next thing, whatever that is. Right now, for my next stop. The next blog post. This moment, gone. 

Anticipation killing now, for later.