Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sriracha Honey Almonds

Letter # 3

Dear Blog,

Today I want to write about buttons. No, not about the "small disk or knob sewn onto a garment, either to fasten it by being pushed through a slit made for the purpose, or for decoration", but about "a knob on a piece of electrical or electronic equipment that is pressed to operate it" that makes our life easy and saves our time. When I was growing up, we watched a black and white TV with shutter. It had exactly two knobs. One for the volume and one for the channel. And there were only two channels. I don't remember much but I remember that we were happy with whatever came on TV. I have such wonderful memories of that TV. When it would get too hot, the picture would shrink. Me and my sister would go fan the back side of the TV trying to cool it down, especially if there was a cricket game airing live. That TV gave up pretty soon and we welcomed a brand new color TV. With more buttons. Buttons to change the brightness, the contrast and the color of the picture. But, no remote. So, a change of volume every time would mean some one to take a long 5 feet walk from the sofa or the bed to the TV and change it manually. Whew, so much work! So, we got tired of walking that 5 feet soon enough and wanted a TV with remote. But, the TV was working great and buying a new TV just for a remote wasn't a good reason then. So, we designed our own remote. It was tricky. See, you have to choose a tree first, then an appropriate branch which must be straight and sturdy, yet not too thick. Our very own guava tree in our garden did a perfect job. Over the next few months, our thin tree branch (remote) changed in length from 3 feet to 5 feet. But, with increase in length came a problem. Lack of precision. Sitting 5 ft away from the TV, as you try to change the channel using a small little button at the bottom of the TV, most of the time we didn't hit the right button. Instead of walking 5 feet, we would still try to sit there and fix the other end of the twig to the desired button. Ha Ha. Remembering those moments is making me smile now. I am actually laughing out loud. Here, I am now sitting in front of a smart TV with two remote controls (TV and cable) and millions of channels to choose from and no visible buttons. Where does the sounds even come from this TV? Old TVs used to have ears from where the sound came. Good old TV with buttons - I will never forget you.

Missing old style TV,

Snacking on these as I write this and loving it.

Sriracha Honey Almonds

4 cups ( 1 lb ) Raw whole almonds
¼ cup sriracha sauce
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
3 tablespoon olive oil
½ + ½ teaspoon salt

This is how I made these wonderful snacks:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the nuts, sriracha sauce, honey or maple syrup, oil and half teaspoon salt properly in a bowl. Spread them in an even layer on a foil lined baking sheet.

Bake them for 10 min. Take it out, stir the almonds around and bake for another 10 min.

Cool the almonds completely. Sprinkle half teaspoon of sea salt on the almonds. If by any chance they are not crunchy put them back in to the oven for another 5 min. But 20 min should be fine.

Enjoy snacking :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Healthy Lentil Crepes

Letter # 2

Dear Blog,

Wonderful thing happened last weekend that I would love to share.

I am a scientist. Most of my friends are scientists. My husband is a scientist. My very own sister and her husband are both scientists. So, you see, I don't often talk to non-scientists about science. I did once try to explain to my dad what my research is. After about 15 min, he asked me again - "what do you do?" I figured, he did not understand me at all. My PhD adviser used to always say that scientists must be able to explain their work in words that even their grandmother will be able to understand. As simple as it sounds, it is quite a difficult task. See, if your understanding about anything is deep, it is quite a virtue if you can explain it in few words or a few simple sentences without using technical words. For example, if you know a lot about electronics- and if I ask you the question "How do smart phones work?" or if you know a lot about economics and I ask very naively "How does stock market work?", you are a genius in my mind, if you can explain to anyone in a few sentences without using any technical words. Well, I am going on about this because, last weekend, I volunteered to be put up to this test. I, along with my colleague, talked to the general public about what we do as a scientist. It was a lovely experience. From undergraduates looking for a career path to above 70 years old enthusiasts visited my lab to peek into our daily work. I was nervous at first. But, as I started to talk about things I find exciting and interesting, I saw it reflected in their eyes. And you know, how I know that they understood what I said, they asked me questions which made the lab tour so interactive. It was very rewarding.  I can't believe that I have now volunteered to talk about science to general public now on a regular basis. I am excited. And nervous. But more excited.

And by the way, I research is in the area of breast cancer.

Not-so-crazy-scientist (Thank you, The Big Bang Theory - for making us look so not-crazy and sociable!)

P.S. I love "The Big Bang Theory"

P.P.S. I wonder when I laugh at their jokes if I am laughing at them or they are laughing at me! Hmm.

Now to the promised recipe-

 These lentil crepes are made with almost no oil. They are soft, and fold so beautifully.

You need (for about 10-12 crepes)

¼ cup yellow lentils or Moong/Mung dal
¼ cup rice flour (I used Bob's Red Mill's brown rice flour)
¾ cup water
½ inch ginger
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch of turmeric (optional)
one or two drops of oil

This is how I did it-

Grind the lentils to a smooth paste with ¾ cup water and the ginger. Add all the other ingredients and mix well to make a smooth batter. Taste for salt.

Put your griddle on medium heat. When you griddle is ready, add just one or two drops of oil in the middle. With the help of a clean paper towel, spread that oil all around the griddle. The paper towel will soak most of the oil, but that is what makes these crepes healthy. DON'T throw the paper towel away.

Use an ice-cream scoop to pour batter in the middle of the griddle. Use the bottom surface of the ice-cream scoop to slowly spread the batter in circular motion starting from the middle to make a thin crepe. If you find it difficult to spread, lower the heat, so that you get more time to spread before the batter cooks.

Cook the crepe for about  30s to a minute depending on how much heat you are using. When the bottom surface of the crepe is cooked, it will come off the surface cleanly when you flip it. Cook the other side for another minute or two.

Before you pour batter again for the next crepe, just wipe your griddle with the paper towel that soaked up that drop of oil in the beginning. Continue with the wipe, pour, flip with the rest of your batter.

Enjoy warm savory lentil crepes with any curry or some indian pickle or just by itself with some ketchup. They are rich in protein and very filling.