Tabouli is one of the dishes that is a definite hit or miss with me. (Is that statement an oxymoron?) I know that tabouli is a parsley-intense dish. Though not a major fan of parsley, I am okay with it… up to a limit. Sometimes the parsley in the tabouli sooo overwhelms everything else that it tastes of nothing else. In such cases, yeah, that polite one spoon is all that I can deal with.
But then, this friend of mine – she is from Turkey, where tabouli is a staple – made this amazing version, with cilantro instead of parsley. And boy, did it change everything! Never have I made a tabouli again with parsley. The main difference I feel, is in the texture. Cilantro has this delicate texture whereas parsley tends to be a bit coarse. Even when you manage to avoid even the tiniest stems and use only the leaves.
Another standard ingredient of tabouli is bulghar wheat or cracked wheat. The variety that gets cooked with just hot water poured over it. Recently, I tried using quinoa instead of the wheat. And, found it far superior.
Four bananas going south… cannot eat anymore as two already downed… don’t like to waste food either… what is a girl to do?
Make some banana muffins, of course! Especially when she is in need of some interesting breakfast stuff.
And that is how it started. But then, isn’t it too tame to go ahead and make some regular run of the mill muffins? Why not add some different stuff to make it a bit more interesting? That is the path I took. And the end result? Well worth the effort… a healthier, tastier set of muffins!
So I went around assembling the ingredients… the bananas are very sweet; so what is a fruit that is not so sweet? Dried plums! They do have a good texture too.
There is this funny story about how humans first started cooking their meat… how a barn got burned down along with the animals in it and the sad owner burned his finger when he poked a dead (and apparently perfectly cooked) animal… and put the finger in his mouth… and went yummm… but I have not heard a story about how we started eating shrimp. Only thing I can say is, whoever started the trend, he or she must have been a courageous soul! To look at one of those grumpy looking things with all spindly legs and stalk eyed stare and think… “umm… that must taste lovely!” would have taken a truly adventurous mind.
Whoever it was, I’m eternally grateful to that person. For, that indeed tastes lovely! In fact, shrimp is the favourite of a majority of pescetarians.
The name ‘shrimp’ is used to describe a wide variety of species, often synonymously with ‘prawn’, though technically prawns are the larger cousins of shrimp. These days more than half of the shrimp in the commercial market is farmed and rather than caught in the wild.
July 4th… if you grill one day in the year, this will be that day! It has become so much a part of the tradition. The weather, the food, the whole atmosphere calls for it. And that is exactly what we did for our dinner on July 4th.
The menu was quite simple. To start with, the basic of basics, grilled chicken. A simple marinade of sour cream and tandoori spice. Marinated in the fridge for two hours and straight to the grill. As simple as that.
The next item was a bit more complex. Spicy kababs! Cilantro and mint leaves, garlic and onion, and jalapenos, to add that requisite heat.
Remember those silly things that teenagers keep saying? Correction, that we all used to say as teenagers? ‘Life without you is like a night without a moon… like peanut butter without jelly…’ and so on. I got a new one… life without you is like a summer without Freon! Why this sudden focus on a chemical gas? My air conditioner is out of Freon and I’m feeling the impact of the summer heat inside the house! 🙂 It is not terribly terrible – yet – though enough to make me look for ways to minimize time in the kitchen. One solution will be to eat more salads. But the simple green salads only make me more hungry. I need salads with some heft in them… So here I was looking forward to devising some interesting salads!
When you think about salads of substance, the first that come to mind are pasta salads. Okay, actually one thinks of potato salad first, but I have written about it very recently; so let’s go with a pasta salad. Good thing about pasta salad is that you can add a lot of stuff into it to make it interesting. And I wanted them fresh.
So a saunter to the local farm market later, it was clear what was going into the salad. Green and orange peppers and zucchini… perfectly matches the colours of the pasta! And cherry tomatoes and onions are always in the refrigerator.
Frozen, the animated film that won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature last year was my viewing choice this past weekend. The film struck a chord with me, in its wonderful treatment of the story, the fantastical imagery, the soulful soundtrack, and the message it finally delivered. I couldn’t but realize how female characters are on the rise in animation movies.
Frozen is a story about two sisters who help each other find their way in life.
Another female-oriented film, Brave, won the Academy Award in 2012. It was a about a mother and a daughter who save each other from the tangles of fate.
I can’t help wonder at the meaningful messaging both these films convey. Where we were used to watching male characters that made us laugh and cry with their hilarious antics in films like Shrek, Monsters Inc, Ice Age, Finding Nemo, Shark Tale, Ratatouille, Despicable Me, Rango, I could name a zillion, here we are now onto a new dimension with female characters dominating the storyline, teaching us a thing or two about life.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely loved the earlier films that were pure fictional entertainment. That was my Friday night unwind-after-work activity. I would usually wake up the next day not remembering a thing about the film except that I had a good time watching it. The films were very creative and innovative and compared well against the real people films in several aspects. I, for one, could relate to many of the characters in certain situations. However, the way that I could totally identify with the female characters in Frozen and Brave was amazing.
Do the female-oriented thematic films winning the Oscars two years in a row portray a trend for animation movies in the near future? I sincerely hope so and look forward to more such movies. Catching up with some data from Wikipedia, Frozen is the highest-grossing animated film of all time and the ninth highest-grossing film of all time, in any category. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, five Annie Awards (including Best Animated Feature), and two Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.
Brave was the 13th highest-grossing film of 2012, the eighth highest-grossing Pixar film, and the third highest-grossing animated film in 2012 behind Ice Age: Continental Drift and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, and the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film. It is cited as the first Pixar film with a female protagonist and an audience profile that consisted of 43% male and 57% female.
I am happy to note from this that there were many more women who could connect with such films, encouraging a growing segment of female viewership. Definitely a changing trend worth capitalizing on!