Chocolate Marie treats ...

... or Quick 'n easy recipes for the Lazy Papaya!

Summer holidays are almost at an end here. This weekend I was thinking nostalgically of my own short lived, much enjoyed summer holidays and of driving my mom crazy with endless refrains of I'm-bored and Is-there-something-to-eat when I remembered the simple treat mom used to make for us to shove into our gullets the minute we brought up the eating question.

You will need: Digestive (Marie) biscuits and some squares of bitter cooking chocolate (use milk/semi-sweet, whatever you like). Please ignore the interesting looking bottle of alcohol in the background - more on this later.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (or if you are fussy use the double-boiler method). Spoon a largish blob on one biscuit and then spread all over the surface. Repeat for all. Harden in fridge and enjoy.

What I love most about this treat is it's potential, you can dress it up or down as follows:

The Sophisticated - First, spread a layer of marzipan on the biscuit, then add the layer of chocolate. Or else, spread the chocolate on the biscuit and layer some crushed praline/ sliced strawberries/ raspberries on top.

The Kiddie Version - Spread some peanut butter then spread the layer of chocolate. Thinly slice apples/ bananas and add over the layer of chocolate.

The Simple - Sprinkle powdered sugar/ cocoa over the chocolate covered biscuit.

However, due to my inability to learn from my mistakes I tried to add rum to the microwaved chocolate. It promptly seized and the resulting biscuits looked like they were covered with dog poop.

Hence, the intentional blurry image of what was meant to be the money shot. They taste great though, and since it's just B and me (or I) and our tummies we were all completely satisfied!!

The other fun thing we did last weekend was watch District 9. Produced by Peter Jackson, it's part sci-fi, part political commentary, part action flick and totally amazing!! Do watch if you enjoy the genre.

How was your weekend folks?

Julia and Julia/ Cheeni Kum and the food!

When the Julie and Julia buzz began making the rounds sometime last month I knew I would watch it. However, my reasons to watch it were because it was a movie about cooking, not because of any familiarity with Julia Child. The only things I knew about her are that were that she is a culinary icon, her cookbook is seminal in publishing and I had watched an episode of hers with Emeril Lagasse way back when on Food Network.
Julie and Julia- the book- is a personal memoir of Julie Powell who decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year and maintains a blog about it.

The movie splits Julie's experience with stories from Julia Child's memoir and so we get a charming story of two women separated by time and place who embark on a culinary voyage - Julia because she needs to find something to do after her husband Paul Child is transferred to Paris and Julie because she is an under-achieving, failed writer stuck in a desk job and nearing her 30th birthday and, again, needs to find something to do.

I'm not reviewing the movie, I just want to say it is perfectly charming. Julia Child and Paul Child are played by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci respectively and they have an amazing chemistry - during the romantic moments or even when they are sitting quietly together. Julia's portion makes the movie, it's charming and vibrant with Streep's larger than life portrayal of Julia. Julie Powell and her husband are played by Amy Adams and Chris Messina and their portions, while not as vivid as the rest are quietly engaging proving a testament to Ms. Adams charm in front of the camera.

The movie is written and directed by Nora Ephron, so yes it's chick flick territory but largely unlike the regular fare. I guess the difference here is that the couples are already in love, Streep and Tucci especially, and while they have their spats they are still supportive of their spouses. And just in case it wasnt clear already, I loved the movie.

But coming to the point of the post - the food. The food was all that I had expected and more. From the first shots of a perfectly browned fish sputtering in butter sauce which is Julia's first meal in Paris to Julia's famous boeuf bourguignon the food was the unacknowledged star. Needless to say I was drooling and I dont even like stews much. Thank God for my BIG tub of popcorn, I doubt I could have made it through the movie without it.

While there's ample movies with Western food, J&J, the recent Catherine Zeta-Jones starrer, even the highly entertaining show Kitchen Confidential (why do all the shows I love end up getting cancelled??bah!) it's much rarer to see Indian food treated like the star in Bollywood.

So imagine my surprise when the opening shots of Cheeni Kum (the Tabu- Amitabh Bachchan starrer, a May-December romance) showed colorful spices being roasted, onions sizzling in oil, coriander garnishes, all exquisitely framed in a pristine kitchen with chefs in pure-white smocks and caps. The opening sequence was so enthralling, it made me realize that I've rarely seen Indian food presented so beautifully as it is here.

And my enjoyment of the movie was guaranteed once the Hyderabadi zafrani pulao made it's appearance, looking so perfectly saffron tinged I wanted to eat it- RIGHT away! Coming to the movie, Tabu and AB were amazing, AB especially wonderfully eccentric in the scene where he lists the ingredients of the pulao right before being slammed with the knowledge that it was made by Tabu. It's not a perfect movie by any means, melodrama taking over the latter half but I came away with positive thoughts about it all because of the first few scenes.

Watching these two movies recently has just made me realise that it's very rarely I absolutely dislike movies about food or based on food. I loved Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate, liked No Reservations, even enjoyed Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle. Sadly, that's all the food movies I've seen.

How about you? Do you have a favorite food movie? And I'd love any recommendations, especially for Bollywood.

However right now, I'm going to go raid the piece of emergency dark chocolate I hide in my cupboard for just such occasions. All this talk of food has made me ravenous!!


Thanks avdi for tagging me. Like I said, I haven't been feeling like reviewing so atleast I get a post out of this :)

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4.
As always on chilly mornings many people had stopped off for something to eat before making their way home.

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can & catch air?
My coffee cup

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Starship Troopers

4. Without looking, guess what time it is?

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Fan whirling away in the august heat

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Went to ride my bike, found B had put a big, fat lock on it and taken the key with him ... grr...

8. Before you started this Q&As, what did you look at?

On sale now .... am sooo buying them :D

9. What are you wearing?
Cropped pants and a fire engine red shirt

10. When did you last laugh?
This morning as I watched a lady walking her dog in a pram ....

11. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
errr... paint?

12. Seen anything weird lately?
See 10.

13. What do you think of this quiz?
Slightly voyeuristic no?

14. What is the last film you saw?
Starshop Troopers

15. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?
A pair of Manolo's, guilt-free!! Other things will be done with much thought of boring finance mumbo-jumbo.

16. Tell me something about you that I dunno!
I hate to drive.

17. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Hmm I'll go with Avdi's answer ... poverty.

18. Do you like to Dance?
I have two left feet, but yes !

19. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

20. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

21. Would you ever consider living abroad?
haha Yes, India.

22. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
After handing me the welcome drink with an umbrella; bar to the left, dance floor to the right and the beach shuttles leave every hour.

I'm going to tag Bouncing Bubble, Angel's Flight, EISI and Samir!

The Time Traveler's Wife movie trailer ....

Smita's comments got me thinking about this book again. Anyways, I'm less excited about the movie after watching the trailer, but I think the background music is to blame. And what's with the cheesy special effects for the disappearing!!!

How about you? Planning to watch?

Oh, and if you have not read this book, please do! It's excellent!! A review can be found here, but if you can read the version on That-Other-Site, it's far better than this one.

Review: The Heretic's Daughter

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I tend to dig out stories of the Salem witch trials, so when I heard about this book I had to read it. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent is a richly drawn and captivating tale of a family uniting through love in the midst of a terrifying ordeal.

The book starts as a letter from Sarah Carrier Chapman to her beloved grand-daughter in an attempt to clarify their family's history - a history shrouded with whispers, gossip and most of all fear.

The Carriers, Thomas and Martha, and their children 4 boys and two girls Sarah and Hannah move to Andover from nearby Billerica to escape the small pox which has caused a large number of fatalities in the village. Unknown to them their son Andrew already carries the virus and before long there is a small pox epidemic in Andover, which causes more deaths. The townspeople slowly come to hate the Carriers for bringing the disease in their midst.

Martha Carrier, an outspoken and fearless woman rubs against her neighbors the wrong way with her honesty and Thomas Carrier is feared for the role he played in an English uprising. Since there is already bad blood between the neighbors and the Carriers because they do not submit to the religious beliefs of the village, the Carriers live a solitary life. A property dispute arises between Martha Carrier and her sister's family for the house in Andover.

It is in the middle of all these events that a group of girls in nearby Salem Village accuse people of being witches. Very soon, the fear ripping through the counties of Massachusetts reaches Andover and the Carriers are caught up in it's wake.

The story is told through the eyes of 10 year old Sarah, a prickly child not easily loving perceiving herself as unloved because her mother is a cold, no-nonsense woman. I loved her voice observant with the odd maturity of childhood.
A seeping wound can be bound. Salve can be dabbed to a burn of a swelling bubo. Poison can be drawn with a leech, or a lance. But guilt is a ghost that takes the shape of the body it inhabits and consumes all that is tender within its shell: brain, bowels, and heart. I cannot pluck it out like a splinter of glass or treat it with herbal brews.
Sarah's loss of innocence leads her to the understanding of a parent's love and that it need not always be outwardly manifested.

With the subject and the fate of Martha Carrier being well documented, the beauty of the book lies not in the tension of the final outcome, it's the starkness of the prose and simplicity of a harrowing tale told through a child's eyes; of the events as they might have unfolded during that bleak period of 1692 which makes this story so readable.

This book carries some vivid historical detail from the ordinary chores of a farming family, Puritanical beliefs, to descriptions of the prisons where the 'witches' were kept and the horrifying conditions and torture they have to live through. Ms. Kent has done her research, but the story became additionally compelling for me when I learnt that Martha Carrier is her ancestor.

For me I'm fascinated with the psychology by which entire counties, priests, lawyers and judges came to participate in what is a dark period in American history. The author puts forth some theories, the Puritans having their rigid social patterns, fear-mongering due to disease, religion and Indian raids and finally the much too familiar motives of jealousy, greed and hate accompanied with mass hysteria.

The sole criticism I have is that the history of Thomas Carrier isn't clear. He's widely feared and has occupied a pivotal part in British history and this is the major reason he escapes when most men who supported their wives were also accused. But since I'm unfamiliar with the history I didn't really understand his notoriety or his political beliefs.

However, it doesn't take much away from the story and if you are interested in American history read this book. It's unputdownable.


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