Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ginger (crushed or powdered) to taste
  • 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust

 

Preparation

Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin. You can easily soften the butter using a microwave.  I do so in 10 second bursts and you may need to do so differently based on the power of your microwave.

Break apart the sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mash it together well. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed ginger/ginger powder, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth using a mixer. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes (preheated oven), or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Do not get alarmed. The pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

As usual the recipe can easily be modified to suit your tastes. To me that’s the fun of it.  Taking something and making it your own. The potato is sweet enough not to add sugar.  This time I removed all the white sugar and added a tablespoon of honey. I use ginger to give it some zing.  The pie is nice without it too.  Oh, I added some liqueurs to muddle the flavors a bit, while still ensuring the “sweet potato” came through.

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Is there a way forward?

I watched a TED Talk about a week ago that I thought was helpful in explaining why we are where we are and presenting some solutions in moving forward.  Check out Can a divided America Heal?

I hope to elaborate a little more on how I think this ties in with my Catholic faith at a later date.  Look out for that.

What is My Reality? What is Yours? The Possible Limitations of Evaluation Tools.

Becoming self aware and using this knowledge helps us to lead fulfilling lives.  We have many tests/tools that evaluate personal characteristics to help with this such as EQ, MBTI and StrengthFinder so you become better at knowing yourself.  Yet, how often is it taken into account what language/culture you are part of.

Let’s look at a real life example, a colleague of mine.  You have grown up in China.  Coming to the US and doing the MBTI test in English and Chinese results in significant differences.  Then the next question is to what extent the latest MBTI test creators – originally designed by English cultural people – understand the Chinese culture and language to create an accurate test?

Becoming more self aware is great and it is nice to have tools that facilitate that. At the same time it is just as important to question the underpinnings of these tools, their possible biases and limitations.

Examples of the role language plays in behavior as well as links to interesting talks and more can be found here on the TED website.

The Every Day Festival

“The only festival you can celebrate every day is life. So, erase all excuses and get on with the celebration! Life is not a dress rehearsal, so don’t wait for something drastic to happen.”

Deepa Malik – female paraplegic motorcyclist, international athlete, swimmer, restaurateur, car-rally driver, motivational speaker…..

There is something to be said about being in the moment, in the present.

Eggless Mango Chocolate Marble Cake

This cake was made for my aunt’s birthday dinner by my cousin and I.  It came out really well, nice and light and compact.  The brown and yellow swirls provide a nice contrast, the nuts texture… A perfect recipe to share.

Ingredients:

All Purpose flour –  2 cups
Baking powder – 1 and 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Oil – 5 tbsp
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – 1/4 cup ( dissolved in 2/3 tbsp of warm water)
Mango Pulp – 1 cup ( If you use fresh mango pulp you probably should pass through strainer to eliminate fibers)
Milk – 1/4 cup
Buttermilk / Yoghurt  – 1/4 cup
Chopped nuts – 1/3 cup

Method :

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar & oil then to this add mango pulp, milk, yogurt, vanilla, buttermilk and mix well.
  • In another small bowl, combine the dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  • Add the dry ingredient mixture to wet, mixing well.
  • In a small bowl combine cocoa powder and warm water to make a paste.
  • Transfer half the mango batter to another bowl, add cocoa paste, mix well.
  • Grease and line a pan with parchment paper.  Alternatively you can grease a 8 /2 inch square non-stick baking pan well, and flour it, which we did.
  •  There are a variety of methods to get the marbling effect.  We dropped the plain mango and mango chocolate batter alternatively in a checker board pattern for the first layer.  For the second we placed the tbsp. of mango batter on cocoa batter and a tbsp of cocoa batter on mango batter.  Complete rest of the batter alternating the batters to make a checker patter. Then make a swirl. For the swirl, you can draw a vertical line from left to right, next line right to left an inch apart from the previous one and then left to right again, an inch part from the previous line. You get the idea. Similarly draw horizontal lines top to bottom, bottom to top, top to bottom an inch apart from each line. Then tap baking pan to level the batter.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you put in a toothpick and it comes out cleanly.

Notes :

We didn’t use vanilla essence and it came out well.  The nuts were our choice and not included in the original recipe.

World Consumption or Environmental Day?

“Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care,”   This is the theme for World Environmental Day 2015.

Mahatma Ghandi said, A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” And so I question the choice of the word “consume” as part of the theme. Making it careful consumption does not make it better, just like taking a life in a humane manner does not change the fact that a life is being taken.  It is an extreme example, a provocative one, I know.  Spend some time thinking about what “consume” means and what it is associated with and let me know.     

Sausage Empadas

Whether they are called empadinhas, empadas, or empanadas these pastry pockets make a delicious and easy appetizer.  This is a great recipe as it does not have sugar which many other empada dough recipes have.  We also used salted butter instead of 4.5 tsp of salt which the recipe calls for.

Dough:

  • 6 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chilled water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsps vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup amul butter (salted and cut into cubes)

Mix together the butter and flour until crumbly.  Mix together the wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry and combine.  Final dough should be shaggy.  Put on dusted flour surface and form into flat rectangle and wrap in cling wrap.  Chill in fridge for at least an hour.

Filling:

  • 2 packets of Goan sausage
  • 8 small onions chopped

Fry onions in the oil of the sausage, and then add chopped sausage and simmer for a little while so well mixed.  let cool. The empada dough and filling can be combined in different ways.  You can use small cup cake molds, roll out two small dough circles, with the first one folded into the mold and the second covering the top.  Another option is to put a teaspoon of filling on one circle, wet the edges with wet flour paste, then place the second dough circle on top.  Press around the edges with a fork to get a fancy edge.  A third idea?  Roll out dough, add filling, then place another piece of rolled dough on top,  Roll with rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes of your choosing.  You can see how diamond flats and rounds with the fancy edges look from the featured image. Brush with egg yolk before baking to give a golden brown final look. Bake empadas in oven at 200 degrees centigrade until tops are golden brown.  Tap to confirm it is baked.

Notes:  You can use a wide variety of fillings, even veg if that is your fancy.  This time my cousin Preeti and I made 26 small empada cups, 6 empada rounds, 18 empada diaond shapes flats, as well as additional dough remnants that we baked to satisfy those who wanted a taste.