Kitchen Confidential

I haven’t told anyone this, until today. But thanks to Timehop reminding me of this day, I think it’s time I admitted to this faux-pas of mine.

***

‘Counting down to Turkey Day with chocolate cheesecake’, I posted on Facebook. I was publicly admitting that I’d said I’d bake something for Thanksgiving with my family that week, even though it had been years since I’d baked anything. I had also never baked a cheesecake at that time (though I had done many no-bake versions), so I didn’t even know what could happen if I made a mistake. I, however, staked a lot on the claim that while I can’t cook, I can bake. And I’d complicated matters by asking for choices, and had landed up in this chocolate-coffee cheesecake situation. The responses on FB were not really encouraging. My ‘friends’ made fun of my cooking skills and pointed out that I’d once invited my cousin home for lunch, and made enough lady finger curry to feed half a person (in my defense, I had no clue just how much lady fingers shrink when cooked). I was mighty encouraged by the support and told everyone I’d prove them wrong, with video evidence in return.

***

So there I was, the day before my Thanksgiving trip to Portland with 6 boxes of cream cheese and a shiny new cheesecake pan. I was very careful, as I measured out the ingredients and began blending everything. It seemed like everything was going fine, until I got to the fourth box of cream cheese. As I scraped it out, I saw that there were some green dots at the bottom. I wondered if it was moldy, and sniffed at it. But it seemed fine. I knew the first three boxes had no issue. I opened the fifth one, and again, this one had the green specks, too.

Now, I was a little worried. I was baking in the middle of the night, which meant I had no chance to go out and buy more cream cheese. I also didn’t know what would happen to my cake if I used lesser cream cheese than recommended. I couldn’t show up without a cheesecake because I knew my family would laugh me out of town. Also, they’d very nicely told me that they wouldn’t take me home if I didn’t show up with the cake. Sigh.

I tasted the green-speckled cheese and it seemed fine. But I didn’t want to take a chance. I also began wondering if all the cheese was past its expiry, and what I’d already used was just not showing any signs yet. So I pulled out all the packets from the trash (yes, yes, it’s gross, but I may have already ingested mouldy cheese, so whatever!) to check the expiry date. That’s when I saw it. I had bought 3 packets of regular cream cheese, and 2 of garlic-herb flavored cream cheese. That explained the green specks, but it didn’t solve my problem. How could I make the cheesecake I’d promised if I didn’t have enough cream cheese? I evaluated the pros and cons of showing up with nothing vs. showing up with a weird tasting cake, and decided I’d take a chance.

And that’s how I made a chocolate-coffee cheesecake that included some garlic-herbs mix as well. Thankfully, my over enthusiasm for extra dark chocolate meant that the onion-herbs flavor was largely drowned out, and the cake tasted pretty alright. No one who ate the cake realized what I’d done. Infact, someone even commented on the fact that it had a slight salty taste, like really well made brownies that aren’t super sugary. I claimed that I’d used the bakers secret of a tinge of salt, without admitting just where that tinge originated.

And that’s how I invented a recipe for chocolate-coffee cheesecake, with garlic and herbs. I also got away with it, until today, because I never told anyone what I’d done. But I couldn’t help but post this when I saw the prescient comment on the FB post, that said, as long as you don’t pull a Rachel, with a link to this video.

Sometimes, you can mix up recipes, and it won’t taste like feet.

 

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Of moving, and falling in like with a place…

For the first time ever, I’ve grown to like a place. I like it so much, it’s almost ‘home’, a term that I’ve never wanted to use for any place before, ever. Ironically, I’ve only spent one year here – the least amount of time in any place I’ve lived.

Maybe it’s because it’s such a perfect mix of the best things of every other place. The weather is like Coimbatore, but better (almost Ooty-like). I like in a super quirky part of town that feels just like Berkeley. There are so many lakes, they are a great beach-substitute, so I don’t miss Madras. There’s always something or the other happening, especially in the summer, and that reminds me of Bombay. There is also nothing that reminds me of Gurgaon, which is more a positive than anything else.

Maybe it’s all of the above, or maybe it’s some of it. I don’t know why, but I really like Seattle. I didn’t even realize it, and I fell for it. It’s super ironic that I realize this today, when I’ve just finished selling most of my stuff and I’m getting ready to relocate in 9 days.

I’ve lived in many places before, but nothing ever got under my skin like this. Seattle, I will miss you.

So, I’m a Starbucks person now?

I was talking to someone at work (in India) and he was giving me an example which involved Cafe Coffee Day. Before I could say anything, he says, “Oh, so just so you know, CCD, Cafe Coffee Day is like Starbucks in India. They have cafes across the country and people can go there for coffee, snacks etc.” I would’ve interrupted if I could but by that point I was just shocked.

I’ve been in the US for all of 3 years. I spent my entire teens and early 20s in India. I was once the person who drove my friends so we could go to the grand opening of CCD in Coimbatore (and caused a giant traffic jam in the middle of RS Puram, but that’s a whole other story). And yet, I have now been abroad long enough that people naturally assume I won’t even know what that is.

I feel like a true NRI now.

Reminds me of Gurgaon…

Today, Seattle decided it was time to live up to its reputation of being rainy. It’s been drizzling through the evening. The first thing that made me feel like Gurgaon again was that buses were delayed, and the roads were packed. My regular bus home refused to take on more passengers because it was filled with people. The next bus that came by was relatively empty, so I hopped on. As always, I was busy reading when I suddenly heard people exclaim in surprise. Turns out the bus driver was super confused and he’d turned instead of going straight. This turn, was uphill. And the bus in question was one of those two buses for the price of one contraptions, with the rubber joint in the middle. At the risk of sounding click-baity, you will not believe what happened next.

The bus driver convinced traffic on the corner behind to stop. Then he attempted to reverse back into the road he came from, all accompanied by running commentary from the people sitting at the back. He nearly missed banging a car parked to the side of the road because his angle of turn was slightly off. And then he managed to go back onto the road he was supposed to be on. If you told me I’d see the day a jumbo bus reversed from a wrong uphill turn, I would’ve bet my life it would be a Gurgaon thing. Except, it just happened on Capitol Hill, in Seattle.

It almost makes me miss Gurgaon. Almost.