Russian Baklazhannaya Ikra / Poor Man’s Caviar

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**This classic Russian eggplant spread is best served cold with Russian rye bread. The flavors remind me of Indian dishes like Pav Bhaji and Baingan Ka Bharta, and would taste great warm with roti as well! This Ikra was made using local Indian produce and will require readjustment in amounts if cooked elsewhere.**

This is a Vegan, and Vegetarian dish that can be eaten warm or cold!

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized eggplantsIMG_20151119_125950.jpg
1/4 cup tomato puree
4 tomatoes
3 onions
1 green pepper
1/2 head of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Directions:

Place whole eggplants on direct heat and roast until skin begins to bubble. Take off heat, peel skins, and dice eggplant. Dice or mince the tomatoes, onions, pepper, and garlic too.

Heat oil in a frying pan and put in onions and garlic. When translucent, add green peppers and eggplant pieces. After 2 minutes, stir in tomatoes.

Now add tomato puree, salt, and sugar. Mix, cover with lid, and turn down the heat to medium low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Your caviar is ready to eat as is (that is what I did) or refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight) before serving with your choice of bread!

Note: I tried an online recipe much like this one (no tomato puree) about a year ago and loved it, but I misplaced the recipe, so this time I made it from memory and it still tasted delicious. A lot of the recipes you will find are either pureed to a paste or a lot chunkier, but I like making mine with minced/diced vegetables so that it can evenly be spread on the wheat bread we have at home.

Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Serving Size: 4  people

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Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake

**I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com according to what local Indian ingredients are available and take into account my family’s food preferences. This delicious recipe is super simple to make and very moist to eat. It doesn’t require frosting and can be gobbled up in a matter of minute!**

This is a Vegan, Vegetarian, Egg-Less Recipe!

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake

carrot cake ingredients

5 carrots finely grated
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
3/4 Tbsp cinnamon powder
3/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/8 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 180 degrees Celsius). Prepare a greased baking pan (I used 3 small bread loaf pans).

How To Make Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake

dry and wet mixtures

In a mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, cinnamon powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl, soak flax seed meal in the hot water until it absorbs the water, then add sugar and vanilla essence.

Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake Batter

ready to bake!

When sugar has melted, add grated carrots and almonds. Now add dry mixture to this wet carrot mixture and pour into baking pan.

Baking Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake

bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius

Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the cake is cooked properly in the center.

Sliced Vegan Carrot Cinnamon Cake

sliced and ready to gobble up!

Let it cool before slicing, and it’s ready to eat!

Note: I halved the original recipe, which also suggests eating this with frosting but I found it sweet enough on its own. It was gobbled up in a matter of minutes!

Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Serving Size: 10-12 people

Writing Piece: Simplicity

November 22, 2015

**I found this little gem I wrote as a sophomore in high school and it resonates with who I am and want to be. Although my life is nowhere as carefree as it was back then, I think the true goal of “voluntary simplicity” is a high and virtuous art of living!**


Simplicity

My life is simpler than most people would prefer.  People would say I am very lazy, but it just turns out that I like to sit around at home doing what I call “nothing” all day.  My hobbies and routine fit perfectly with my way of life as well.  I am not in the least fond of shopping, computers, using cell phones, etc… and would rather spend that time watching television, reading books, eating, and sleeping.  I prefer to have as much free time as possible, instead of cluttering my schedule with classes one after the other.  As I become stressed very easily, I find no need to strain myself with things that don’t interest me.

I strongly believe that one’s lifestyle is heavily dependent on how he is raised in his childhood.  Coincidentally for me, my life has never consisted of too much busyness. As a child, my parents encouraged me to take a few classes in Japan and New York but they never interfered with my daily life.  Now, I don’t take any classes, other than joining a few after-school clubs.

I have stayed at relatives’ houses over a period of time on numerous occasions and I find their lives too fast for me.  My cousins have to run from one place to another, and literally fall asleep before their head even touch the pillow because they are so exhausted from the day.  I quickly become worried for most of the day for no apparent reason and am aggravated when put into this atmosphere.  Being a perfectionist, I find myself troubled about everything as it feels like I have no time to breathe once in-between activities.

If someone were to ask if my life could be any simpler, my answer would be absolutely not.  However, if asked what I could do to less simplify my life, I wouldn’t mind taking a few classed, the way I did several years ago, but nothing more.  I like the way my like has shaped up and find no reason to burden myself with clutter so early in life, as I will have to go through more hardships in college and later on in life.  Some people choose to adopt the lifestyle of “voluntary simplicity” and I am one of them.

UV Resin Craft: Name Charms

November 21, 2015

IMG-20150703-WA006I came across UV Resin Craft for the first time when I walked into Tokyu Hands and came upon their big counter display that looked both interesting, beautiful, and (shock!) doable. I didn’t end up buying anything from there initially, but did cave in and buy some supplies when I saw they were available at Daiso for only ¥100! I just couldn’t resist trying this fun project out!

UV Resin involves lots of hand eye coordination and working with tiny materials. It took ages (and hours of YouTube how-to-make videos), but I had fun making my first charm, and the results when I cured the resin under sunlight weren’t bad at all. Realizing I could experiment more, I decided to go back and buy a wider variety of material from both Daiso and Tokyu Hands (maybe not the best idea because I haven’t used 90% of those materials in the past 5 months).

Anyway, since these UV Resin Charms look soo cute, I decided to make and gift one each for my younger cousins who are 11 years and 9 years old. I wanted to make them something personalized, so I decided to put their names on the charms and try to incorporate fun elements into the design. It took me a few sunny days to complete them, as I kept retouching them until I was satisfied, but they turned out much better than I had ever imagined in the end! The photographs I took of them before presenting it to the girls were pretty awesome too!

What do you think?

elevator-up-button-1024x440Using the elevator isn’t as easy as it sounds. Elevator logic and etiquette are actually rather complex and forever changing, and you suddenly realize (if you’re anything like me) that a day doesn’t go by when you’re not annoyed at somebody’s behavior or mannerisms while riding the elevator that day. It’s not like lifts have directions or a how to manual that everyone is required to read. Neither does it have visual diagrams that illiterate people can use to understand how to use this machinery. On top of that, using an elevator is not taught at primary school as an essential life skill, unfortunately.

I’ve really gotten used to the non-uniformity in elevator practices among riders, but it hasn’t escaped my critical eye. I feel like today’s blog post has been waiting to be written for about 10 years now. Well, at least I finally got around to it!

I feel like its commonplace for myself and other people to make occasional mistakes while riding an elevator and getting embarrassed over our actions. However, I believed these mistakes were a rare occurrence while I was growing up. But when I moved to India, the ratio of clueless elevator riders seems to exponentially increase. (Is this why buildings still have a liftwala to guide you?) Unfortunately, since I’ve been living in India, the error in people’s thinking and ways is all-too-evident to see.  Whether it is getting on the lift without paying attention to the direction it is going in, forgetting to press the button for which floor you’re intending to get to, or not pressing the appropriate ‘up’ or ‘down’ key when calling the elevator to you, elevators are contraptions used to serve knowledgeable and ignorant folks alike.

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So let me just cut to the chase –  it doesn’t matter where the lift is at that point in time, whether you press the ‘up’ or ‘down’ button is very straightforward. If you would like the elevator to take you up to a higher floor – press the ‘up’ arrow. Even if the elevator is already on a higher floor and needs to come down to get you, you simply need to press the direction button for where you want to go. The elevator doesn’t need to be told how to act, you need to feed it information on where you want to go and it’s up to the machine to figure out how to do it. And if you want the elevator to take you down to a lower floor – press the ‘down’ arrow. Regardless of whether it is already on a lower floor and needs to come up to pick you up and take you back down, you simply inform the lift through the ‘down’ button that you’re destination is below you’re current location.

Related Sites:

How to Operate an Elevator and Make the World a Better Place (disorganisationguru.com)
How to Use an Elevator (katyjane.wordpress.com)
Nudging to choose elevator arrows correctly (mostlyeconomics.wordpress.com)
Going up in the world? Why where you stand in the lift reflects your social status (www.dailymail.co.uk)
How to use an elevator… this is silly but plz help? (in.answers.yahoo.com)
How to Ride an Elevator (www.wikihow.com)

Today’s blog post marks the 100th post I’ve made since I began writing on Manjree’s Blog! I started back in 2012 and now, 4 years down the line, I’m honestly surprised it’s still up and running despite the 3 year hiatus! Just thought I’d take some time out to celebrate the achievement and see how far the Blog has come since then! Below, I’ve compiled lists of my most popular and most visited posts to this day and even include a section below where I’ve shared some blog stats (not really important, but will probably be fun to look back on in the future!).

Before that, some thoughts. Although I started this blog with the intention of writing what I found interesting, I would sometimes fall into the trap of favoring topics that I knew would bring traffic to my blog. As a new blogger, I’ve also been guilty of obsessing over blog stats. I think I’ve reached a nice balance now. Since I returned to blogging in 2015, I’ve found that my posts are very personalized and I enjoy sharing my life experiences and anecdotes. There are times I know that topics I’ve written about (or want to write about) will barely get viewed, but that doesn’t stop me.

The only big difference is how much I share and promote my blog since its conception. In 2012, I barely promoted or announced to friends and family that I was writing. Except for a few people, no one I personally knew had a clue I was blogging. The reason I decided to keep it in the dark was possibly because I’m notorious for not sticking to my resolutions and didn’t think I’d blog for very long. But then, when I started my NaNoWriMo-inspired 30-Day Blog Challenge this month, I wanted the pressure and attention from my peers that would push and support me to write and post something everyday – even if only for the month of November. Thus, the number of people reading my writing, unsurprisingly, has risen since I started sharing my work on social media.

TOP 10 Posts with the Most ‘Likes’ by other Bloggers

TOP 20 Most Viewed Posts of All Time (and subject)

1. Book Quotes: Highlights from Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul Quote
2. Recipe: Hearty Cabbage Soup Recipe
3. The Importance of Saying ‘Sorry’, ‘Thank You’ and ‘I Love You’ across Socio-Cultural Contexts Anecdote
4. Grad School Comic Strip Relief Comic Strip
5. Film Review: Interstate 60 Film Review
6. Film Review: Way of Blue Sky (2005) a.k.a. 青空のゆくえ Film Review
7. News Review: Plagiarized Story of Naked Catwalk by Pregnant Model News
8. Eulogy: For T.H. Poem
9. Character Profile: L Actor Profile
10. Bergen-Belsen Cannibalism Quote by Lord Russell of Liverpool Quote
11. Crying Quotes – the importance of tears Quote
12. Hiroshima Peace Park Panoramas Photography
13. Poem: Henna Poem
14. Film Song Review: Katrina Kaif in Chikni Chameli Song Review
15. Reasons I Chose a Bold Buzz Cut for my Birthday! (*new*) Anecdote
16. Poem: A Junior Poem
17. Cannibalism Quote by Marvin Harris Quote
18. Children’s Skeletons and Extra Terrestrials TV
19. Book Review: Highlights of Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul Book Review
20. My Obesity Problems started with a Choco Pie (*new*) Anecdote

People I encounter often ask me what subject(s) or theme(s) I blog about and I never know how to explain other than to say ‘random stuff. just everything.’ However, looking way back at my one month anniversary post from 2012, I can’t help agreeing with my younger self when I said

I’m still quite pleased with the eclectic mix of subjects I’ve managed to include here […] I hope variety continues to play a big part in this blog…

Manjree’s Blog Stats

POSTS MADE ~ 100
FOLLOWERS ~ 43
TOTAL VISITORS ~ 10,884
TOTAL VIEWS ~ 20,346
MOST VIEWS IN A DAY ~ 136 views on Nov 5th, 2015
MOST COUNTRY VIEWS FROM ~ USA, India, then UK

You’ll find that I don’t have a post up for my green smoothie attempt #1 up because it was a DISASTER! I’ve since tried to eradicate that particular disaster from my mind (lets just say, spicy green chutney in a smoothie – even by mistake – is a sure way to die by acid reflux…).

Anyway, attempt #2 was a success and I really liked the combo of ingredients in this one! Plus, it doesn’t call for sugar, honey, or maple syrup! Unless it’s chocolate or pastries, I prefer my food & drink not too sweet anyway. So, the smoothie I made a few days ago was perfect! It was mild, sedated, had loads of texture, and tasted yum! I didn’t realize until I sat down to drink it that I hadn’t put anything other than 4-5 grapes and a few chunks of banana in for sweetness.

Try it and let me know what you thought!


Dragon Fruit and Banana Green Smoothie

Dragon Fruit and Banana Green Smoothie

**This recipe is nutritious and includes no sugar or sweeteners. It is mild and had lots of texture due to the dragon fruit and chia seeds**

This is a Quick, Sugar-Free, Raw, and Vegetarian Recipe!

Ingredients:

1/2 – 1 banana
1/4 dragon fruit
handful of grapes
small handfull spinach
1/2 Tbsp chia seed powered
1 glass (220ml) milk
ice cubes

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Serve fresh immediately.

Note: If you’d like to up the sugar content of this smoothie, just add 1 Tbsp of sugar or twice the amount of grapes and banana and that should set you straight!
Optional: simply substitute the milk for soy milk or almond milk to make this recipe vegan!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 2 glasses
Flavour: Mild Banana
Color: Light Green
Texture: Crunchy!