Spooky sights in the neighborhood…

Our carved pumpkin reflecting the family’s general attitude towards the world


Dead leaves leave their marks everywhere, you only have to look close enough....

Have fun !
Diwali treat -Spaghetti squash halwa

Diwali is around the corner, many million lights will illuminate the Indian subcontinent in a week’s time, celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and life over death. This is also the time to be in India, if you are a connoisseur of fine Indian sweets, sweet shops offer their best, and households make the most compared to any other time of the year. To celebrate this season of mirth and indulgence I made some halwa with that squash which begs to be made into a halwa !

Happy Diwali

Spaghetti squash is your friend, if you wish to make a halwa like you do with the carrots-ie by starting off with grating it. All you need to do with this one is to microwave ( boil/bake) it, and then with a fork, score the flesh out. Thin spaghetti like threads you get, could easily be made into a halwa. Sources inform me that I could use these cooked squash threads as fake spaghetti when I go on a no-starch diet. I will not get there that fast, but knowledge is power!

Happy Diwali2

Spaghetti squash halwa

* Tastes like a cross between a crunchy Agra peda and moist pumpkin halwa.

Preparing the squash
Cut the squash open horizontally into two pieces. Remove the innards with a spoon. Add two tbsp water to a microwave safe plate and keep the squash cut side down on it. Microwave at high heat for 6-8 minutes. Check for doneness by running a fork deep into the flesh. If strands are falling out, it is ready. Let the squash rest for 5 minutes before you work on it.

Now, run the fork lengthwise on the flesh and you will see it falling out as fine uniform spaghetti like threads. Scoop out all the flesh this way.

Making halwa

Prepared squash threads - 2 cups

Sugar - 1 1/4 cup

Milk - 1/4 cup

Water- 3/4cup

Butter/ghee - 2 tbsp

Slivered Almonds - 3/4 cup

Cardamom - seeds from three pods -powdered

Heat a pan and add almonds, roast with constant stirring at high heat for about 5 minutes or till the pieces begin to change color. Turn off the heat, when the pieces cool grind it into a fine powder using a coffee grinder or a blender

Mix water, milk and sugar in a pan. Boil till the sugar dissolves and a syrup forms, add squash, mix very well and cook covered for 10 minutes at medium heat. Then increase the heat to high and cook till the mixture thickens. Add butter/ghee and cardamom. When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, turn the heat to low. Add almond powder in 4 batches, mixing very well in between to avoid forming lumps.

Line a baking tray with butter paper and spread the cooked mixture on top in about 1/4 inch thickness. After it completely cools down, keep the tray in freezer for 1/2 an hour. This helps in cutting through the threads easily. Cut into shapes, let it come back to room temperature and serve. You can serve hot halwa spooned in little cups when it comes out of the stove too. Make 12 healthily generous portions.

You can never say no…

to the urge to make pickles !

tomato chutney2

Pickles run in families, if you grew up with shiny little Horlicks bottles sitting around a well’s rim glaring at you, you will agree too. I cannot seem to stop pickling, while many are just ordinary some turns out to be very good enough to write home about. I literally do that- every single time when a pickle turns out good, I swiftly pass the recipe on to my mother. It is my way of telling her thank you, for passing the pickling gene on!

tomato chutney

Ripe tomatoes are easy to pickle using an Indian style recipe, you don’t have to worry too much about chopping, just cut them up, and throw into the pan, let the seeds be in there. When it cooks down to the tasty spicy mush, you will be thankful to the seeds for the added texture. The recipe that we have here is a good way to pickle cherry tomatoes if you so wish, clean them well and throw them in, no hassle about chopping and such. This pickle fares really well as a dip for some crusty bread, thanks to the olive oil in the recipe.

tomato chutney3

Tomatoes - roughly chopped – 5-6 lbs
Garlic – chopped – 1 cup
Ginger julienned – 1 ½ cups
Jalapeño- chopped – ½ cup
Curry leaves – ½ cup
Mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
Olive Oil - 1 cup
Vinegar – 1 cup
Brown sugar – 1 tbsp

In a thick bottomed large sauce pan (preferably a Dutch oven), heat 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds, when the seeds finish spluttering add brown sugar quickly followed by fenugreek seeds, garlic, ginger, jalapeño and curry leaves. Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes at high heat. Turn the heat to low and add tomatoes, and salt, stir well and cook with occasional stirring till most of the water evaporates and the mixture begins to turn thick ( This could take 1/2 to 1 hr depending on the tomatoes used) At this point, increase the heat and cook with constant stirring till the mixture begins to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add vinegar, stir very well, and add the remaining olive oil. Cook for 2 more minutes at high heat. Turn of the stove and let the pickle cool down. Store at room temperature for up to a month or keep refrigerated for long term storage.
Apricot tarts for a rainy day

Days now resemble the kind of days I was used to for a long time, sun rises around 6.3am and sets by about 7 pm, and this rings a vague bell of normalcy in my head. This will not last long, it happens during a short window of time before it gets too cold and too rainy in fall. I am an early riser, I love it when the world sleeps around me when I gleefully make my first cup of tea, and splatters it in the microwave only because I was 20 seconds too late to get it out. Now when I look through the window at 6am in the morning, the world suddenly turns into a flat familiar landscape, no matter where you are you are in the same place!


What else I see when I look out of my window on a rainy Saturday morning? The color purple, that too lots of it, thanks to perennial verbena plants blooming in this glum weather as if they are on a mission. To make the most of everything, I suddenly decide to bring some of those flowers in, and bake an open face tart to fill our kitchen with warmth and color.


A tip on storing left over puff pastry sheets

I usually cut the leftover puff pastry sheets into squares or rounds, arrange it on a baking sheet lined with parchment and freeze for about 1 hour, then transfer it to a Ziploc bag to store it in the freezer. This helps me to pull out just the right amount to use at a time. No heartbreaks over over indulgence you see! To thaw, arrange the rounds on a baking sheet; keep on the kitchen counter for 10 minutes, before using.


Decided to send the first photo for the October-DMBLGiT event hosted by My Diverse Kitchen. Thank you for hosting, Aparna.

Open face apricot tarts

Puff pastry base, cut into 2-3 inch rounds or squares 12
Apricots (thinly sliced) 4
Sugar 3/4 cup
Crushed toasted nuts ¼ cup

Arrange the puff pastry cutouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of sugar to reach all of it evenly. Arrange the apricot slices in an overlapping fashion ( 6-8 nos/base). Dust with the remaining amount of sugar on top. Bake at 400 degree C for 12-15 minutes till the base is puffed up and begins to brown around the edges.


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