Cheese crackers

Cheese Crackers

The elastic on the socks is long gone. The socks no longer hug the little calves. They are loose and dangly. The canvas shoes are frayed in places. The brown covers on the books are tattered. I try to convince Hasini “It doesn’t matter. It is just a few weeks more” to get out of wrapping those books again in brown paper.  I throw in images of the imminent holidays, long days of playing, colouring and cartoons. She acquiesces distractedly. I cannot believe that an entire school year has passed. I cannot believe I managed to drop Yuvan exactly 5 minutes….  after the bell, every day of the school year. Hmm. It takes a lot of precision, a lifetime of alarm-abuse (snooze forever) and a supportive family. I could not have made it without the support of my family. My mother who’d shove breakfast into my mouth while I combed my hair getting ready for college, my maamiyaar who cooks when I sleep in, Jagan who sleep-competes with me and Yuvi who if I wake up early, wails, tracks me down to the kitchen/bathroom and drags me back into bed. My dad was the lone crusader. In school/college, he’d pour mugs of cold water over my sleeping head. I remember being enraged at the rude, cold awakening, grabbing a towel to wipe my face, turning over the pillow and going back to sleep, in revenge. Ha. I started out the school year vowing not to buy cookies and cream biscuits and bread loaves. I was going to home-make all of them with quality ingredients, with love and care. By end of the year, I am the single largest Oreo buyer in my neighbourhood store. I stock a miniature version of the store’s cookie shelf at home. I unthinkingly pull out a cookie packet and fill up snack boxes in the morning. Yes, me the food blogger. I am very human. There were little periods in between when I’d take time in between making dosai and rasam to bake some cashew cookies or cheese crackers that I could have with my morning lemon and honey, that I could pack for the kids snack boxes. These periods were few and far between. These cheese crackers are for the cheese lovers. It is easy, quick and totally fool-proof. Just dump everything in a mixer to make a dough, roll out, cut, bake and...

Cashew Cookies

We have a guest over one evening. I offer to make dosai for tiffen. She says “No no no, don’t bother”. I go on into the kitchen to make the dosai. Hasini follows me inside asking loudly “Why are you making tiffen, when she says No?” I can’t help smiling. She doesn’t get polite-speak, my girl. I didn’t too for a very long time. I worry about her. Her friend in school had told Hasini to stop jabbering, that she was not in the mood.   I asked Hasini “Why do you continue to talk to her if she is rude to you?” Hasini simply says “She is my friend”. How will I protect my little cream-bun? After Rajini in “Thalapathi”, Hasini. She wouldn’t show you the dance steps she learnt in her bharatnatyam class if you ask. But she’d dance while climbing the stairs, while sharpening the pencil, when she’s talking to me in the kitchen knocking over the bournvita on the counter. And we are always fighting about something. We can’t agree on lunch or snacks or TV channel or school bag or story book or jatti. I thought it must be my fault. According to an article I read, I am authoritative, uninvolved, docile, stifling, lenient and rude. I decided to take a few small steps. I am going to let her choose her “Frozen” exam board and not try to steer her to the subtler tiny flowers printed one I liked. I am going to wait till she loses her entire stash of pencils before I lose it. I am going to have to make her an eraser-holder-gripper-tracer to use during homework time.  I am going to try doing pranayama before starting homework. I am going to give her a menu card to let her decide what she wants for lunch, breakfast and dinner the next day. She cannot have podi idli every day. She can choose one item only once per week. I am going to list oothappam 3 times, sandwich 4 times and not list sambar at all. I promise to pack bourbon biscuits if she chooses them over my cashew cookies. I will not try to sell her my cookies so I can say “my kids took these scrumptious cookies to school too” on my blog. I loved these cashew cookies though. These cashew cookies are reminiscent of Kaju katlis – but in...

Easiest Parmesan Biscuits

5 signs I am getting older, acting older I gravitate to the easiest recipes (like these amazing Parmesan biscuits), the quickest recipes, the one pot ones, the pressure cooker ones. The baklavas, the opera cakes, adhirasams remain on the to-try list. I stop opening forwarded messages. I have no respectable profile pictures to update. I lose faith in the ‘like’ system and I have absolutely zero interest in selfies. A cookbook and amrutanjan (pain balm) are always under my pillow. I haven’t read a book without ingredient lists and cooking techniques in ages. I start telling myself that cakes ought to look like cakes and not so life like. I catch myself thinking – Instead of a barbie cake, why not a simple rosette cake and an actual barbie? Instead of a whiskey bottle cake, why not an undecorated rustic tiramisu loaded with rum? All this may have something to do with the fact that I am as good at cake decorating as at making small talk (no good) and gaping at the unbelievably stunning cakes on Home Baker’s guild and reality finally checking in. I order hot coffee at coffee shops and never cold coffee anymore. Invariably I have a headache too. I need a hot coffee and preferably an aspirin as well. When my friends suggest going out for New Year’s eve I say “None of these loud new year bashes. Somewhere quiet, away from the crowd and preferably early evening so that I can get back home for dinner”. I’ve got more than 5 here. I must be getting older than I think. But these Parmesan biscuits are easier than you think. These Parmesan biscuits just melt in the mouth and it is hard to believe they’re so easy.  They’re perfect as a snack or as party nibbles. What made them easier than the original recipe was that I forgot the eggs that had to be added. Another sign there. I made eggless Parmesan biscuits thanks to my absent mindedness. They were harder to cut out into proper shapes as you can see. I made rustic roundish biscuits by pinching a marble sized ball of dough and then simple flattening it out with my hands and pressing down with the back of a fork for some pattern.  I loved the biscuits. Hasini loved them. Yuvi loved them. My dad loved them. 4 of us agreed on it....

Cookie box – Choco-chip cookies & Eggless Shortbread cookies | Thank you gift for teachers

Yesterday was Hasini’s last day at school. No, she is not off to college. She has finished L.K.G and would be starting U.K.G in June this year. As a token of thanks we gifted her teachers these cookie boxes – choco-chip cookies, shortbread and tea bags in neat little Tupperware boxes topped with bows and a thank you note. I bunked office (stepped out I mean) for a couple of hours, jumped 3 red signals (not technically but almost), ran into a bike, again almost (don’t you wish I actually did instead of almost) and still arrived late at her school. But Hasini was too happy to mind – “Paravale ma, paravale ma” she said when I said I was sorry I was late. She was mighty pleased to hand over the cookie boxes herself. I made those bows myself (I am not very crafty but I like to think so. I am quite proud of these.) and downloaded the thank you note printable from the internet. I wanted to throw in a nice old-fashioned fountain pen along with the cookie-tea goodie box but then changed my mind later on. I didn’t have time to go get one and also I wasn’t sure everybody’d appreciate a fountain pen. I love them and I think they’re the best things to write with. I made the cookies in the morning. It wasn’t my plan and I am no super-mom. I am anything but that. I wanted to make the cookies the previous evening and have everything ready the night before but I was suddenly called for joint-family duty and I could not (am not allowed to) refuse. I made those bows while we travelled 2 hours (the bows take only a few minutes, mind you) to a wedding reception on the outskirts touching all the major traffic hotspots on the way. We were so late – we were just in time to stop the hosts from leaving. Anyways, we arrived home quite late that night and I overslept and woke up late. And that happens every-day, even the days I am not on joint-family duty. So it is just me. Anyways, these cookie boxes would make great party favours for small birthday parties, Navarathiri/Golu functions or as thank you gifts for teachers. I am mildly obsessed with party favours and I start planning for any party with the party favors. The recipe...

Savoury Crackers/Thins – Salty, Masala crisps/biscuits (eggless)

These salty, savoury thins are crisp, flaky and delicately spiced with lovely fresh ginger and coriander. These thins are super easy to make and they taste just as good as store bought crackers. I would go even further to say they’re better than store bought ones because they’re so fresh. There’s nothing to beat the wonderful gingery aroma that wafts all over the kitchen when these thins bake in the oven. These make excellent non-messy snacks that you can take on car trips or pack for school snack boxes. You can easily transform these into pretty party starters for a kids party – top with cheese and chopped tomatoes, or sour cream and chopped tomatoes, or mayonnaise and corn or a pani puri type potato filling topped with sev. The options are endless and you’ll have the satisfaction of making these impressive starters from scratch. This is one of the first recipes we did at Artisans Baking class in Anna Nagar, Chennai. Lisa Isaac of ArtisansBaking conducts really nice, value-for-money baking classes. This is her recipe and one my favourite biscuit recipes. The secret to crispy, flaky biscuits is the crumbing technique we use in this recipe. Crumbing is rubbing together cold butter and flour using your finger tips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. I love the addition of ginger, green chilli and coriander to the biscuits. We use yogurt at the end to bring the mixture together. I think the yogurt makes these thins even more tender and flaky. I am sending this recipe to Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon for the theme “Cooking with curds”.   Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsMakes – 25-30 biscuits Ingredients All purpose flour/Maida – 100 gm (about ¾ cup)Salt – ½ tspSugar – ½ tspBaking powder – ½ tspCold Butter – 4 tbsp + 1 tsp for greasingYogurt/Curd – 2-1/2 – 3 tbspGinger – 1 -1/2 inch piece peeled and mincedGreen chilli – 1 mincedCoriander – leaves picked from 4-5 stems, chopped fine Method 1.      Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a baking tray. 2.      Sift flour and baking powder twice. Set aside. 3.      In a bowl, combine butter, sugar and salt. Add the flour in one go and rub the butter and flour between your finger-tips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. This technique is called crumbing and this helps produce crispy, flaky biscuits. 4.      Tip in the finely chopped ginger...

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Easy and Yummy!

These home-made chocolate chip cookies are classic – crumbly, tender and loaded with chocolate chips. These are just so much better than the packaged cookies or the ones at bakeries that I promise you, you’ll never look at those again. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe from his book “How to Cook Everything” and it is fail-safe. It’s super simple, super-quick and fuss-free. You could use any good quality chocolate bar instead of the chocolate chips, just chop them into small chunks and stir into the cookie dough. These cookies are great for snack boxes, tea-time or just any of those in between times when it is not time for lunch/dinner but you fell ravenous. Happens to me several times a day! Well, these are such good fillers and so yummy too. Cookies make me thirsty. One cookie and a glass or 2 of water fill me up and keep me going until meal time. I made these for my daughter’s last day at her pre-school. She’d be joining LKG this June in one of the bigger schools. I wanted to thank her teachers for being kind and understanding and for making it her second home. She always loved going to school and once returning to school after a little vacation, she promptly ran into her teacher’s arms. I was touched by how affectionate they were. I find that in most schools the big ones especially, the teachers wear such pained expressions on their faces and snap at kids (I am not blaming them, I don’t know what I’d do with 50 or 60 such wild things around me, I’d pass out I guess. With just two, I am at my wits ends). So anyway, these were meant to be “Thank you” favours for the teachers. My daughter helped me bake the cookies and also helped me pack them. I wrapped the cookies in cellophane, she punched holes through the Thank You notes and strung the ribbon through them and I then tied them around the cookies. We did all this the morning of her last day and predictably arrived late at school just like most other days when we don’t bake cookies. My first batch of cookies, I made the colossal mistake of using my ice-cream scoop to shape the cookie mounds and I ended up with massive Oothappam sized cookies. The next batch onwards I used my tablespoon instead...
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