Sunday, February 15, 2009

Starbucks London Fog Latte & Hat/Scarf Set

I have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. I think they are way overpriced for what you get but I do enjoy a Green Tea Frappuccino on a hot summer day (I'd rather not know what is really in it). I get some satisfaction knowing how people learn to make their own versions of Starbucks favorites, which is what I tend to do because I can't stand spending $2.00 plus for a cup of tea from a bag and $4.00 for a cappuccino that I can make at home for pennies! Call me cheap, I don't care.

Take their London Fog Latte. All it is is a double-sized Earl Grey teabag, steamed milk, and a few pumps of vanilla syrup. How did I make it at home? I feel stupid explaining it as it's too easy. I steeped a cup of Earl Grey tea double strength, frothed some milk with my espresso machine and added some of my homemade vanilla bean simple syrup. I've also renewed my love affair with my Breville Cafe Roma. For the past two nights, I've been using my stove-top Bialetti Mukka Express to make my husband and me cappuccinos after dinner. I made the mistake of saying something about making them on the stove and he asked why, since he bought me this expensive machine that I haven't used in awhile. So this morning I decided to make myself a cappuccino with my machine. So easy to make, so easy to clean, very yummy! This is how I got to thinking about the London Fog Latte. Although I like Earl Grey well enough, I wonder what other flavored teas would taste good like this? I have a Caramel tea and a Blueberry Maple tea I'd like to try.

I know the Super Bowl is over, but I have a friend who is a big Steelers fan. I don't get to see her very often and we miss seeing eachother at our bi-monthly knit nites. I made her this set plus a beret in a very soft periwinkle blue yarn. Hope she likes them.

Now I can get back to watching the BBC series Ballykissangel on Netflix via XBox Live. Being able to watch movies and such instantly from Netflix is so worth the monthly fee. I consider this is what I'm paying for and getting my movies in the mail is just a 'bonus'.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Everyday Dal

Being new to Indian cuisine, I wanted to start making the most basic foods first. I tried a yellow dal, eaten with roti and rice when I had lunch with my friend Melanie. Even though we had a couple of chicken dishes, one of which was chicken korma, my favorite was the dal and roti. I've been wanting to make it ever since. The dal recipes I've seen are either made from lentils, split peas, mung beans, kidney beans, or a combination of each. In my Filipino culture, we have something that is very similar to mung dal called balatong. Besides pinakbet, it's one of my favorite meals that my mom has to cook whenever I'm visiting her. Dal is a good substitute until I can get my next balatong fix.

I found this recipe for Everyday Dal in My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King

1 cup red lentils (masur dal), husked split pigeon peas (tuvar dal), or mung beans (mung dal)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp (or more) salt
1 onion, quartered (optional)
1 green chile (optional)
4 cups (or more) water
1 to 2 Tblsp ghee or butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 Tblsp finely chopped onion or shallot (optional)

Pick over the dal to remove stones and chaff. Rinse the dal and transfer to a pot; add the turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, quartered onion, and chile, if using, along with at least 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, until the dal is tender. (Masur and mung dals soften in about half the time it takes to cook tuvar dal, which needs a good 45 minutes to 1 hour.) Watch out for overboiling, even with the heat down. It's no big disaster, but it makes an awful looking mess.

When the dal is soft and mushy, pass through a sieve or a food mill, or liquefy in a food processor or with an immersion blender, which saves you the trouble of pouring and transferring. The texture of the dal should be thick, smooth, and pourable. Taste for salt.

To finish, heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Sizzle the seeds, garlic, and onion, if using, until the garlic begins to brown around the edges and the seeds start to crackle. These sizzling seeds and garlic are known as vaghar in Gujarati, tarka in Hindi. Tip the vaghar into the dal and stir.

I found another good looking recipe with photo here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I've been battling my weight forever and have tried many diets in the past. I got to the point where I just gave up and said to myself that this is the way I am. While I finally felt free of the stress of dieting, my weight was like having an elephant in the room. Everyone can see it but no one is willing to address it. My friends are so sweet and many of us have the same problem. Usually, we support eachother but sometimes we're eachother's worst enemies since we all like to eat and we enjoy socializing around food.

Last week, I was watching HSN and they were introducing a new product called Sensa. Honestly, it sounds too good to be true but at their introductory price and their 30 day money back guarantee, I felt like I a) had nothing to lose but weight and b) I had to prove it DIDN'T work! I'm hoping that with the use of Sensa, I can still enjoy going to lunch with my friends but I'll have a secret weapon.

I just received my kit and started today. I can already tell that my biggest problem will be to remember to use it. It somehow works with the brain to trigger the sensation of satiety. All I'm supposed to do is sprinkle it liberally on my solid/semi-solid foods and over time I'm supposed to feel full faster and eliminate the need to snack. We shall see!