Monday, November 26, 2012

Life of Pi: The Movie

The summary on the book jacket never intrigued me enough to make me want to read this one, but the promos of the movie that I saw on TV were definitely more interesting.

People are talking about the graphics and animation in the movie but that is really the kind of thing I notice when I watch a movie again after someone has talked to me about that stuff. What I really appreciated about this movie is how strongly it portrays one boy's will to live, to simply beat the odds and survive. It makes me appreciate how easy we have it in life and how we have never had to deal with that kind of constant struggle for days (weeks?) on end just to stay alive.

Not very long ago, my husband and I went out for a walk around the neighborhood on a relatively warm evening. Now most of the houses around here don't have fenced-in yards, and people with dogs often just let them roam free in the yard. More often than not, though, these dogs are well trained and will not step out of their owner's yard. But that particular day, a St Bernard came running towards us from across the street. We were somewhat scared, but we just stood still, because my husband reminded me that it is unwise to run from a dog. The dog went from barking to whimpering and sniffed at our feet for a bit before it went back to where it came from.

I mention this because that incident is the closest I have come (and the closest I will ever come, I hope) to feeling that kind of fear of an animal with sharp teeth. But this movie takes that kind of fear to a whole other level. The boy is afraid of the tiger, but knows that he will definitely die if he does not try to defend himself. If he tries, he has at least a chance at saving his skin. That is the kind of attitude we all need in the face of adversity, large or small.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fudge Brownies - My way

This is a recipe I tweaked from the original recipe here to make it healthier and fudgier. The end result doesn't have a brownie like texture, really, but is mostly like fudge. Gooey, sticky fudge.

I took about 9 oz (that would be about 250 g, give or take) pitted prunes and pureed them in a food processor. You can also put them in a small saucepan first, add maybe half a cup of water and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then puree. The second method gives it a smoother texture and makes it easier to puree them. But I have done it both ways and both work. Dates would also probably work in this recipe, but I have not tried that.

Add to the prune puree 1 1/4 cups of cocoa powder (A cup in America is 8 fl oz or about 237 ml) and 1/2 cup of flour. I always use whole wheat flour. People tend to use refined flour in baking but whole wheat is so much healthier and in a recipe with this much cocoa, you will not taste the difference. Throw in a cup of sugar. The original recipe has a total of 2 cups of sugar but I like more of a dark chocolate flavor and the prunes do add some sweetness so I find that one cup is enough. If you are a milk chocolate person, you may want to use more sugar.

You may or may not want to add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and a pinch of salt. I sometimes add those, sometimes not. I can't really taste the difference.

That's it. No butter, no eggs, no baking soda. Just prunes, flour, cocoa and sugar. Bake in an 8 x 8 square pan at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes. They will look a little under baked when they come out, that's okay. Cool completely and refrigerate overnight. If you try to eat them soon after they come out of the oven, they will taste very prune-ish and not too chocolaty. But after being tucked away overnight in the fridge, you will taste only the chocolate and the fudgey texture. They are best eaten at room temperature, but also take good straight out of the fridge.


I've had a few people ask me why I haven't been blogging in recent times. I have had a lot going on that is not the subject matter of a public blog, and it is difficult to put all of that aside and write about random things. I do write privately about things that are on my mind, but I write a public blog post only when I feel a real need to do so.

On a more positive note, I started a new job about two months ago and it is the best thing that has happened to me in the last year or so. After almost four years, I once again have a boss I can respect and look up to. He is a very bright, brilliant man who is always willing to share his knowledge. Plus, my coworkers here are friendly and willing to help and collaborate whenever I need them to. A very pleasant and much needed change from my last job.

A random thing that I noticed recently. I have a bunch of different blogs on my RSS feed, some written by people I know, some by those I don't. But in recent months, I have noticed that I tend to read only the ones that are related to food and recipes, such as the Food Network Healthy Eats blog. So here's what I'm thinking I'm going to do. I am going to blog every now and then about my own experiments in the kitchen. Don't expect me to post neatly and systematically written recipes, because that's not how I cook, but I'll share general ideas about what I do with my food.

I never, ever follow a recipe exactly the way it is written out. But I do look for new recipes of all kinds just to get new ideas. Then I tweak it, to make it healthier, or fuse in some Indian flavor if it's not an Indian recipe (so that my husband will be more likely to eat it), or just to substitute some fancy, difficult to procure ingredients for ones that are easier to find.

Monday, April 16, 2012


I realize I have been away from this blog for way too long this time, and I have also been even less communicative than usual with a lot of people. I have just had a lot going on that has not been easy for me over the last few months. It is not something I would like to talk about on a public blog at this point of time. I am still not in a very happy place, but I believe that time can and will heal most wounds and things will get better. But today I am just feeling very nostalgic for my last workplace, where I had a boss who was genuinely concerned for the well being of his employees, and coworkers whom I could actually be friends with.