Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

How to Cook Slime-free Okra

How to Cook Slime-free Okra


How to Cook Slime-free Okra

 

 

 

 

 

I have been meaning to post this very quick tip on slime-free method of cooking okra for quite some time now.

This is a tip I have picked up from my mum and each time I cook okra this way, they are minus the associated slime or stickiness.

In all honestly, I have never researched how to cook stickiness-free okra on the internet since the following has always worked; if it is not new, my apologies.

All you have to do is:

  1. Have your unwashed okra in front of you.
  2. Take a very clean kitchen towel (cloth, not paper).
  3. Dampen the towel, squeezing out any excess moisture. You should end up with a piece of cloth which feels a little damp, no more.
  4. Wipe one okra at a time, placing it on a separate plate or in a separate bowl.
  5. You will end up with cleaned okra which will not turn slimy or sticky upon cooking.

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How To Preserve Dry Staple Foods In Your Kitchen Cupboard

How To Preserve Dry Staple Foods In Your Kitchen Cupboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the past couple of years, I have been trying to get better about preventing food wastage. This means cooking just enough quantity (mostly succeed although there are still times it is really difficult!), using what is my kitchen cupboard before buying new ingredients and storing grains, pulses, seeds and flours carefully so that they are not destroyed by bugs, insects and other such pests.

Red Chilli to Preserve Dry Staple FoodsBay Leaf to Preserve Dry Staple FoodsThere are plenty of natural preservatives for storing dry staples. Bay leaves and sun dried red chillies are good examples; add a few of these to your container of grains and they should keep the nasties at bay.

Parad TabletsOne of my uncles told me about Ayurvedic tablets called Parad which are commonly used in India to store grains and flours. For each kilo of your dry staple, add about 10 to 12 tablets and they take care of the rest.

I have been using Parad tablets since the last two years and they have really helped keep any bugs and insects away from my dry staple foods.

I use them in grains, pulses, seeds, dry fruits, flours, pastas, rice and even scatter them around the kitchen cupboards storing these foods. The best part is that the tablets are reusable and so go a long way.

Hope you found this useful. If you have any effective preservation methods for dry staple foods, you are invited to share them in the comment box below.

My Experience Popping Amaranth Seed, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley

Popping Amaranth Seeds, Pearl Millet, Quinoa & Unhulled Barley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have spent this Sunday morning playing around with grains in my kitchen cupboard.

Wanted to pop some amaranth seeds as I will be using them for a totally kooky experimental dinner tonight. While I was at it, I thought I would try out pearl millet, quinoa and unhulled barley as well.

The method I used was dry heat one taken from here.

The photo above shows all four grains after they have been popped. Top row: Left – amaranth seeds; Right – quinoa. Bottom row: Left – pearl millet; Right – unhulled barley.

Popped Amaranth SeedAmaranth seeds (right) popped really nicely and very quickly (compared to popcorn).

 

 

 

 

 

Popped Pearl MilletPearl millet (left) was not very successful, only a few grains popped. But even those which didn’t pop were nice to munch on.

 

 

 

 

 

Popped QuinoaQuinoa (right) made a lot of popping sound and the taste is of a popped grain although it doesn’t look popped; it looks like dry roasted quinoa.

 

 

 

 

Popped Unhulled BarleyUnhulled barley (left) was the most surprising one of the lot. It split open to reveal the white popped bits inside each grain although it did not fully pop. When you eat it, it tastes just like popcorn.

 

 

 

 

If you decide to pop these (or any other) grains, I would suggest that you try one spoonful at a time to see whether or not they pop. Also please make sure you cover the pan with the lid while the popping is happening else the grains may fly all over your kitchen (am suggesting based on personal experience!).

Method

  1. Heat a wide based frying pan with a tight fitting lid on.
  2. Once the pan is very hot, keep the heat on its highest level, remove the lid and add one spoonful of the grain of your choice.
  3. Cover with the lid and keep shaking the pan, holding the lid with one hand.
  4. You will know they are popping when they start making the popping sound.
  5. Take the grains off the heat when the popping sound stops or reduces.
  6. Tip them onto a dry plate and let them cool down before using or storing.

Note:

  1. Even the grains which remain “unpopped” after the popping procedure are quite nice and crunchy so don’t discard them.

 

 

 

Commonsensical Approach to Losing Weight & Maintaining Weight Loss

Weight Loss Tips

 

 

 

 

 

food should be enjoyed with abandon and pleasure

each morsel should be savoured

each bite treasured

and aroma remembered

So why talk about dieting and weight loss?!

According to LiveStrong, “”Dieting is a national pastime. While the number of Americans who diet varies, depending on the source, the Boston Medical Center indicates that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products in their pursuit of a trimmer, fitter body.”

Although these statistics are specific to the USA, the scenario is the same the world over. From the very real to the totally superficial, we all have our own reasons for wanting to go on a diet and lose weight.

There is so much information out there – a lot of it conflicting – that it can create more confusion instead of providing the much needed inspiration.

Having lost 32 kgs (70 lbs) in the past two years, I thought I would share my weight loss experience with you. I have no profound, new, yet-to-be-discovered, magical formula for weight loss. But if anybody out there is looking to shift some additional pounds, I hope that this post will be of some help.

The first rule of weight loss is that there are no rules. The beauty of human body being such, each one of us is unique. What works for one person may not work for somebody else. So we need to figure out what works for us and for our body instead of blindly follow some diet plan.

Diet and dieting are two words I avoid using because I think they have very negative and restrictive connotations. The way I eat food and my approach to food is a diet which I follow. But it does not mean that I am on a diet. I am not starving myself nor am I denying myself any foods. I eat what I like as part of a lifestyle I choose to lead.

The tenets of losing weight and maintaining a healthy body are very simple and if you examine closely, most “diets” boil down to the same few principles.

  1. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  2. Cut down on white sugar.
  3. Have lean meat and protein.
  4. Eat whole grains and cereals.
  5. Consume healthy fats.
  6. Moderate your intake of carbohydrates.
  7. Exercise.
  8. Enjoy alcohol within limit.

Losing weight is not rocket science. Consume less calories than you expend, exercise and make sure you eat “healthy” calories. If you follow this mantra, unless there is some underlying medical condition, you will lose weight.

The following is a list of what works for me and some of my experiences. I am not saying that you do the same. In fact, if you seriously decide to embark on a weight loss journey, you will automatically find your own rhythm and methods.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I do what works for me.

I don’t have breakfast simply because my body doesn’t need fuel first thing in the morning. I start my day with honey and lemon in hot water, followed by a huge mug of tea with milk and damerara sugar. That is the only time I have tea or sugar during the course of the day.

Mid-morning, I snack on some nuts.

My lunch is usually some raw salad and prunes.

Dinner is my main meal. I cook daily from scratch and try to prepare healthy, balanced meals.

I love my red wine and have it several times in a week so make sure that calories from alcohol are offset elsewhere.

Portion control is something that has happened automatically as my body began shrinking. I reduced the amount on my plate because I realised that my body didn’t need the extra stuff. The advantage is that I can afford to eat a variety of foods without feeling guilty simply because my consumption or portion size is significantly less.

I am like a camel, I can go for a long period of time without water. I only have water when my body tells me.

My daily menu doesn’t have much room for white rice or wheat flour. Instead, it revolves around brown rice, grains, pulses, lentils and other flours. In other words, I try to eat healthy carbs.

I make up for any indulgence or binge session by reducing calorie intake for the subsequent couple of days.

I weight myself religiously twice in a day as I find that it helps me not only monitor my weight but keep it in control. However, this is not something that I would advocate. A more sensible approach would be to weigh yourself once a week.

It is important to choose a form of exercise that you enjoy and which you can look forward to without boredom or fatigue setting in. Exercise has become an extremely important part of my daily routine; that time is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. I swim 5 to 6 days in a week with three long sessions and two to three shorter ones. If for some reason I cannot go swimming, I reduce my calorie intake for that day.

Combination of weight loss and portion control has resulted in a noticeably reduced appetite. I can no longer overeat; my body feels very uncomfortable with any excess food. So I eat till my brain tells me to stop and as soon as it does, I switch off food.

It is better to lose weight slowly and gradually over a period of time; it will help you maintain your new level.

If at all you are overweight does not mean that you are unhealthy. There is no scientific evidence which says that slim people are healthier than overweight ones. What is more important is how you feel, how your body behaves and your key parameters such a blood pressure, sugar level, thyroid and heart rate.

Each calorie matters and a human body doesn’t really need a lot of food to survive. So substitute the bad guys with the good ones.

Don’t feel guilty about the occasional indulgence.

Your weight loss journey will only start when something in you suddenly goes CLICK. I don’t know how to define that moment but unless and until that inner voice inside you tells you it is time to start shifting those pounds, it will not happen. In my case, this happened without me even realising.

Most importantly, lose weight for yourself and not anybody else.

love yourself not matter what your weight and life will seem so much more worthwhile

Caveat: I am not a doctor or from the medical profession. The above should not be construed as medical advice.

Fermenting In Cold Climate

Fermenting in Colder Climate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing as how temperatures are low all across, I hope that today’s Kooky tip will help anybody out there looking to speed up fermentation process in cold weather.

This method will work well for batters, non-yeast doughs as well as for sprouting of beans, seeds and nuts.

having successfully tried it a number of times, am tempted to say that it is fool-proof

Depending on what you are fermenting, I suggest that you have a peek at 12 hour interval to check the progress.

I call this the double-barrel method. Don’t ask me why but the name has stuck in my mind for this approach!

Equipment Required

1 Large pot with lid

1 Medium pot with lid

Method

Step 1: Heat the large pot till very hot. Take it off the heat and place it on a heatproof surface.

Step 1 Fermenting in Colder Climate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Put the food that needs fermenting in the medium pot and place this pot in the just heated large pot.

Step 2 Fermenting in Colder Climate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Cover the medium pot sitting inside the large pot. Finally, cover the large pot. Now keep the large pot with the medium pot inside in a dark corner of your kitchen. Be careful when handling the large pot as it will still be hot; use some gloves or a kitchen towel. You may want to put a heatproof plate underneath.

Step 3 Fermenting in Colder Climate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: After 12 hours, check whether your food is fermented. If you want to sprout some beans or seeds using this method, put them in a muslin before you place them in the medium pot.

Note:

  1. After 24 hours, if your food has still not fermented, follow this process one more time. Based on my experience, I would say that it works.

Happy fermenting!

Speeding up the Soaking Process for Dried Beans

Dried Beans

If you are anything like me, at times, you will forget the whole “soak the beans overnight” part of a recipe.

In such situations, I find the following helpful.

  1. Wash the beans in a saucepan.
  2. Add water (ratio of 1 part beans, 3 parts water) and put on a burner.
  3. Bring the water to boil rapidly and turn off the burner.
  4. Cover and keep in a dark place for four hours.
  5. By now, the beans should be nicely plump and swollen.
  6. Cook according to your recipe’s instructions.

You are invited to share your tips and tricks on how to speed up the pre-soak process for dried beans.

Hope this helps!