Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays - Tears of the Desert; July 28, 2010

 Teaser Tuesdays (TT) is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 My teasers for this Tuesday:
Their bodies had been torn apart by the bullets from above. Some of them were still alive, crawling and staggering forward. They cried out to us, holding out their hands and pleading for help. But if we stopped, the Janjaweed would be upon us and we all would die. So we ran, abandoning the wounded and the old and the slow and the infants to the terror of the Janjaweed.

- p. 241, Tears Of The Desert- a memoir of Survival In Darfur by Halima Bashir with Damien Lewis

A very powerful and heart-wrenching memoir ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Sprouted Fenugreek Salad

According to me, Summer is the ideal time for having some light, cool and refreshing salads along with our meals.... So this week I am going to share the recipe for my healthy and fresh Sprouted Fenugreek Salad....

Of late I have been trying to include some healthy ingredients in my daily cooking and what better way than to use sprouted beans!! Over the last month I have regularly used sprouted chickpeas, yellow peas and black peas to make salads and side dishes. I was casually mentioning this to my mom last week during our weekly chatting and that's when she suggested that I should try sprouting Fenugreek seeds and making a salad out of it. She mentioned that Fenugreek seeds have a lot of medicinal and nutritional value and are especially good for diabetics as it helps with the glucose control.

Though Fenugreek is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, I had never heard of it being used in the sprouted form ..... So, I immediately did a google search on Fenugreek seeds and I have to say, I did find plenty of articles stating its nutritional value and uses... If you are interested, here's the Wiki entry on Fenugreek. Anyways, I decided to try this salad since there can surely be no harm in eating sprouts and plus am a diabetic, so this salad is a must-try for me!! :)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2


Fenugreek Seeds (aka vendhayam aka uluva), sprouted - a fistful
Small White/Yellow Onion, diced - 1
Tomato, diced - 1
Green Chillies, finely chopped - 2 ( modify according to spice level)
Mint Leaves, chopped - for garnish
Coriander Leaves/Cilantro, chopped - for garnish
Lemon Juice - 2 tsp
Salt & Pepper - to taste

The Sprouting Process:

  1. Wash the Fenugreek seeds in water to remove any dirt and then soak them in a vessel with water overnight. 
  2. Next day, drain the water from the seeds, rinse them and transfer the moist seeds onto an air-tight container. Place it in a cool spot in your kitchen for a day. 
  3. Most likely when you check it the next day, it might have sprouted... if not then repeat step 2.
  4. Once the seeds have sprouted, you can store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for upto a week. 
  5. Use the sprouted seeds as and when needed, in your dishes.
  6. This is a generic process for sprouting any kind of pulses or lentils. Depending on the toughness of the skin on the lentils, the sprouting process may take anywhere between 2-4 days.
  1. Now in a salad bowl, add the sprouted Fenugreek seeds, finely chopped onions, tomatoes and green chillies and mix them with a spoon.
  2. Then add salt and pepper and sprinkle the chopped cilantro and mint leaves to the salad. 
  3. Pour the lemon juice on top (Fenugreek seeds naturally have a bitter taste and the lemon juice helps reduce the bitterness and also gives the entire salad a zest!) and give the salad a quick toss....and..... our healthy and "yummy-licious" salad is ready!!!! :)

This recipe is part of the Weekend Cooking meme hosted by Beth Fish which is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Biscuit Yule Log :)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Today I am going to share the recipe for making a Biscuit Yule Log!!! I found this recipe at Edible Garden's blog and experimented it in my kitchen last week. This is a very simple recipe and does not involve any baking but at the same time its delicious and satisfies your craving for a rich chocolatey dessert.... :) 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2

Marie Biscuits - 15 (You can get this in the International food section or in any Indian grocery store)
Cocoa/Hersheys Chocolate Powder - 1 tbsp
Unsalted Butter - 4 tbsp
Powdered Sugar - 4 tbsp
Instant coffee powder - 1/2 tsp
Warm Milk - 1/4 cup
Chocolate shavings - for garnish

  1. Add the coffee powder to the warm milk. 
  2. Then dip each biscuit into the milk-coffee powder solution and stack them on top of each other.  
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together and slowly blend in the Chocolate powder into the mixture.
  4. Using a knife or spoon, evenly apply/spread this mixture onto all four sides of the biscuit stack.
  5. Refrigerate it for atleast 2 hours.
  6. Prior to serving sprinkle some chocolate shavings on the yule-log.
Yummy and decadent biscuit yule-log is ready.... slice them and serve... :)
Now.... it can't get any easier than this...don't you agree??? Hope you all enjoy this dessert....

P.S: All credits (good or bad) for the pics for all my cooking experiments go to my dear husband... :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Review: Miracle on the 17th Green by James Patterson

Book Title: Miracle on the 17th GREEN
Author: James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-316-69331-8
Pages: 152 
Source: Local Library

From the inside cover:

Travis McKinley is an ordinary man living an ordinary life - he has a job that he despises, a marriage that has lost its passion, children from whom he feels disconnected, and at age fifty, a sense that he has accomplished nothing of consequence with his life. But on Christmas Day, he goes out to play a round of golf, and for the first time, he finds himself in the "zone". He sees the putting line that has eluded him for years. Always a fairly good golfer, he finds himself playing like a pro and is so caught up in his excitement that he continues to play, sinking putt after putt, missing Christmas dinner with his wife and family. It is too much for his already troubled marriage. 
His family collapses - but Travis is soon too busy living his dream to notice. His amazing new golf skills catapult him into the PGA Senior Open at Pebble Beach, where he advances to the final round with two of his heroes, Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd. And with his wife, children and a live television audience watching, a miracle takes place on the 17th green that will change Travis, and his family, forever.

My Thoughts:

This is a very typical Christmas story : a feel-good story that talks about family and relationships.The write-up from the inside cover of the book pretty much summarizes the story.. This is the first book by James Patterson that I am reading and I wouldn't say I looooved the book, but in all fairness, it's a light read(I finished reading this book in one sitting) and it is pretty humorous. 

The author's love for the game of golf is seen in the book... Oh ya, the book does use quite a bit of golf terminology(of-course you must have gathered from the title, that golf plays a major part in this book) but you don't have to be a golf pro to follow the book. I have grown up hearing my dad talk about golf and so I have always been fascinated by the game. But I would be lying if I said I know the game inside-out, I just know enough to understand the difference between a birdie, bogey & an eagle and that Jack Nicklaus & Arnold Palmer are some of the big legends of the game!!! Well... if any of the above words ring even a faint bell for you somewhere, then you will enjoy this book :)

My take on this book:

A light, feel-good book with a humorous angle to it, especially recommended for people who like golf (even a faint interest towards the game is counted) and believe in Christmas miracles...


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

Book Title: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Author: Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 978-0-307-58967-5
Pages: 192 
Source: Local Library

A quick look at the story:

Nujood is born in Yemen to a poor family and since her birth was not recorded in any hospital records, her mother guesses her age to be around 9 or 10 years (in 2008, when the story was written). Hers is a big family consisting of 2 elder brothers, 2 elder sisters and many more younger siblings.... One day in Feb 2008, a man in his thirties approaches Nujood's father and asks for his daughter's hand. Nujood's father agrees to the wedding without even asking for Nujood's consent thinking that it would result in one less mouth for him to feed. But in turn he extracts a "verbal" promise from his future son-in-law that he would not consummate the wedding until Nujood enters puberty. However, things are different post-wedding,  Nujood is forced by her husband into having sex and is also physically abused by both her husband and mother-in-law. Couple of months after her marriage, Nujood visits her parents hoping that they would free her from her hell-hole, but her father fails to take her side claiming that, post-marriage a girl is her husband's property and that she has to learn to adjust. The fear of having to bear any further torture at her husband's hands drives Nujood to the courthouse to file for divorce. The rest of the book describes the story of how Nujood manages to get her divorce and moves on with life, thanks to some kind-hearted people like the lawyer- Shada, the reporter - Hamed and the judges. 

My Thoughts:

I remember watching Nujood's story in the news in 2008 and I felt really sad at her plight but at the same time I was admiring her courage to stand up against her husband & father and file for divorce!! So when I saw the review for this book in bermudaonion's blog, I knew I wanted to read it and immediately requested it at my local library. 

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, is a 1st person account of Nujood's life and the abuse she suffered at her husband's hands. It's the story of courage shown by a 10 year old girl in a highly male-dominated culture. There is a proverb in India which roughly translates as "A cornered cat is as dangerous as a tiger" and that is exactly how I would describe Nujood's case - married off against her wishes at the tender age of 10, to a guy who is three times her age, Nujood was not even aware of what sex was and she was repeatedly raped and abused by her husband, eventually leaving her with just two options - either silently bear the torture all her life or defy the laws of her society and file for divorce. She was a brave girl to have chosen the second option, but how many of us would dare to take that risky path especially at the age of 10??? 

Nujood's story sheds light on the practice of child marriage and marital abuse which is prevalent in most of the middle-eastern countries and even in lot of villages in India!! There are hundred's of Nujoods out there, with no courage or option to change their situations and hence, end up silently suffering all their life. Thanks to the media coverage, Nujood has become an international figure and also a source of inspiration for lot of young girls who are stuck in similar situations, she was named as 'Woman of the Year' in 2008 by "Glamour" magazine. She is now pursuing her education and is determined to become a lawyer who fights to save young girls from abuse. Here's wishing her luck for all her dreams to come true....  

My take on this book:

This book is a memoir written in simple easy-to-understand language and gives us an insight into the plight of children/women in Yemen. It is highly recommended for both young-readers as well as adults.

Rating: I don't feel it is appropriate to rate this book. It is a must-read. period.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Review: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Book Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Emily Giffin
Genre: Chic-Lit
ISBN: 978-0312-32119-2 
Pages: 322 
Source: Local Library

A quick look at the story:

All her life Rachel's been the nice, obedient, liked-by-all kind of gal and then on the night of her 30th b'day she does the unthinkable - she ends up sleeping with her best-friend Darcy's fiance - Dex!!! She tries to put it off as an accident but realizes that it suddenly doesn't seem all that easy and simple - she seems to have feelings for Dex and it might be mutual.... the rest of the book is all about whether Darcy gets her mind to prevail over her heart or vice-versa...

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that it's been a looooong time since I read a chic-lit. Of-late I have been reading a lot of 'heavy'- content books and decided that I should switch and read a light-book and am glad I decided to pick this one....  I really liked this book a lot. The author, Emily Giffin's writing is simple & attractive and keeps you wanting to read the next page and find out what happens next... I finished this book in a single sitting!! 

The story as I mentioned in the summary, is one that tests the depth of friendship between Rachel and Darcy. All through the 25 odd years that they have been best-friends, their respective roles in the friendship are pretty clearly defined - Darcy is the pretty chick with a domineering and 'I-can-get-whatever-I-desire' attitude and she has a equally good-looking lawyer fiance in Dex, while Rachel is the smart, adjusting gal who is accustomed to always playing second fiddle to her friend and is still single.  On the career-front, Darcy is in a high-profile HR job which totally fits with her hip-n-happening Manhattan lifestyle, and Rachel on the other hand works as an attorney in a law firm which sure helps  in paying her student loans but the job as such is not something which she really cares about.  Then comes along the day when Rachel turns 30 and as the party winds down she finds herself in bed with Dex - who is not just her friend from law-school but also Darcy's fiance!

Usually, such a storyline is not the most pleasant one and the last person one would sympathize with in this scenario, is somebody in Rachel's shoes - imagine... how in the world can one justify a girl sleeping with someone else's fiance, especially if that guy is engaged with your best-est friend!!! Now here is where I feel the author should be commended - though the entire story has been narrated from Rachel's point of view, Emily Giffin has described each of the characters in depth and she has also portrayed beautifully the myriad emotions going through Rachel's mind - be it her love for Dex, feelings of affection and loyalty towards Darcy and above all her guilt at having betrayed her friendship. In the end, I have to agree that the author did succeed in making me feel sympathetic towards Rachel, infact to the extent that I even felt hatred towards Darcy for her arrogant and insensitive behavior towards Rachel!

My take on this book: 

A very nice chic-flick story, with all the drama and is surely a light-read!! Even though the entire story is not something which everyone can relate to, there are lot of aspects of the story am sure each of us can relate with.

The sequel to this book is called "Something Blue" and that has the same story as told from Darcy's point of view. Well, no prizes for guessing that I did read the sequel too, and shall be posting my review for that soon.... :)


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Beetroot Soup

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Today I am going to share the recipe for beet/beetroot soup ... okay... I can see most of you wrinkling your nose hearing the word 'beet'... well I was and still am not a big beet fan myself but my dear husband loves the vegetable a looooot and recently he put me up for a challenge to the likes of "Iron Chef" wherein my 'secret ingredient' for the three-course meal was beetroot!!! Initially I was a little shocked when he revealed the secret ingredient but then I have to say, in retrospect am glad he chose beetroot as the secret ingredient, 'coz that really made me rack my brains and look out for some innovative meal options and the beet soup was what I made for the appetizer course. I found this recipe at recipezaar and modified it based on the ingredients I had at home and the outcome was  a big hit with both my husband and me.... :)

So without any further ado lemme dive into my beet soup recipe... 

Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2


Olive Oil - 2 tblsp
Medium-sized Onion, diced - 1 
Carrot, scraped & diced - 1 
Medium-sized Beetroot, peeled & diced - 1 
Spinach, chopped - 1 small bunch
Garlic, finely chopped - 1 clove 
Orange Juice - 100 mL
Vegetable Stock - 500 mL
Salt & Pepper - to taste
Yoghurt/Sour Cream - for garnish
Coriander/Parsley Leaves - for garnish


  1. Heat a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add oil, garlic and onions and saute for 5 minutes till onions become translucent.Then add the spinach and the chopped carrots to it. Saute it for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the diced beetroot and saute the vegetables for a further 5 minutes with constant stirring. 
  4. Then add the vegetable stock, orange juice, salt & pepper and bring it to a boil.
  5. Bring down the heat to a low and let the soup simmer for around 7-8 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, drain the vegetables on a strainer and let it cool down. Retain the strained liquid in a separate container.
  7. Once the strained vegetables have cooled down, put them in  blender and blend till a coarse paste is formed. You can blend it either to a coarse or fine paste depending on how you like to have your soup.
  8. Then mix the paste and the strained liquid together and warm it slightly over the stove.
  9. Then ladle the soup into serving bowls and top it off with  a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of coriander leaves. 
 Yummy and healthy beet soup for two is ready!!! :) 

Have this soup either for a starter course like we did, or you can have it with some warm garlic bread or french bread and make it a light and healthy meal by itself.... 

Lemme know your thoughts on beetroot and whether you like this recipe or not...  Looking forward to hearing your views....

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Book Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Fiction - Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-385-34230-8
Pages: 370 
Source: Local Library

A quick look at the story:

The story is set in the summer of 1950 in a scenic English countryside, where eleven year old Flavia de Luce, the heroine of the story, lives in an old Mansion called Buckshaw along with her dad and two older sisters. Flavia is a smart and precocious child with a passion for chemistry & a penchant for poisons!!! One evening, a dead bird is found on the doorstep of their mansion with a postage stamp pinned to its beak and then early next morning Flavia stumbles on a man lying in their garden, taking his last breath ... this sets the scene for the rest of the story wherein Flavia takes it upon herself to solve the case and to find the murderer much ahead of the policeman investigating the case...
My Thoughts:

I must admit that there were two things which I found attractive the moment I set my eyes on this book on a fellow blogger's blog,
  • one was the pleasant green color of the book with a picture of a postage stamp pinned on a dead bird's beak.... and the other, 
  • was the title of this book... I felt it was a very creative title for a book especially a mystery one!!
Now coming to the actual story... no doubt that Alan Bradley is a talented writer: the story is a gripping, fast-paced one and it revolves totally around the central character - Flavia. Now here's where I have conflicting emotions... I surely do like the smart, witty and intelligent Flavia who is bursting with enthusiasm and has a thirst-for-adventure but at the same time I feel that it's a very thine line that separates a smart kid from an over-smart one and Flavia to me was leaning more to the over-smart side. I mean, she is just a 11 year old kid and I somehow can't relate to her concocting complicated solutions and toxins in a lab all by herself... infact the part of the story where I initially felt she was acting way over  her age was right in the beginning of the story..... the police come over to the mansion to investigate the crime scene and when the inspector asks her to get her dad, Flavia replies that her dad need not be disturbed from his sleep and that she can lead the police to the crime scene herself... Now, which 11 year old child would act so unperturbed and adult-like at a murder scene ... if I was in her place I would have right away fetched my dad!!! Then again, I do realize that it's just a fictitious story and character... and in all fairness to the author, his descriptions about Flavia seem to indicate that aside from her passion for chemistry, she is just like any other kid her age, seizing every opportunity to pull a fast one on her two teenaged elder sisters... :)

In a nutshell, apart from a few quirks that I had with the heroine's characterization, the plot is a good one and would surely keep the readers interested especially the way it's unravelled... I surely do plan on reading the next book in this series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag.

I am sure I fall into that minority of people who did not like Flavia de Luce's character fully.... the majority of the people in the blogosphere love her and here are couple of wonderful reviews on this book by fellow book bloggers:

My take on this book: 

A good plot with a slightly precocious and 'over-smart' lead character...  recommended for both first-time mystery readers as well as regulars.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Monthly Round-Up : June 2010

I picked up the idea for this post from Beth's blog, I felt it's a good idea to look back and see what all books I have read and managed to review over the past month... 

Firstly, my apologies for not being very active in my blog over the last couple of weeks, its been crazy busy on the home-front and I couldn't get any reviews posted, but well I still managed to squeeze in some reading this last week...

Books I read & reviewed: (My rating for each of the books are listed in the parentheses)
          ( )
          ( )

Books read but not yet reviewed: (I plan to review these books this month for sure!!)
  1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. The Weight of Heaven by Thirty Umrigar
  5. The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
  6. Stealing Buddha's Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen
Currently Reading:
  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
  • In the Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan
I have to say, the books I picked up in June were all good ones and I loved most of them, I guess the reason for that is 'coz all the books were picked up based on recommendations from fellow bloggers and friends... :-)

I am looking forward to getting a lot of reading done in July as I have a bunch of books which I picked up from my local library sale and also have another bunch of books that I won in giveaways... :-)

So what books did you read in June??? and what do you have planned for July?? Lemme know...