Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nicolette’s Closet gets a Makeover...

 One Major project is done. My major project for this holiday was finishing Nicolette’s closet. Panduka did a GREAT JOB finishing it. He had to replace the wall with dry wall as well. It looks gorgeous. I was happy it is all done everything has its place so she can organize her clothing. 
The best part is coat hooks that goes on the door where she can hang her jacket all by herself. I still have few more things to add but the majority work is done. The biggest accomplishment is she can hang her clothes. I always wanted to make a kids friendly closet for her and finally it is done. 
Another aspect of this was to make all girly and how can you do it without glitter was a challenge. I always loved the french influence in clothing. I took the liberty to accessories her closet by stenciling. 
we have come to LOVE IKEA so much. They do have budget friendly storage solutions. Since the closet was too small we decided to add a small storage unit from IKEA. The awkward space was addressed by the unit and the space can be used as well. We did add little knobs so she can open and close it by herself without getting her fingers in between the drawers. The knobs did tie in with the antique silver stenciling. I love every little detain in this closet. 

The old baskets were put to use by a fresh coat of paint. I have come to love this shade of white named Swedish Coffee.  I need few more things as a area rug inside the closet. I am planning to use her wicker chair next to her closet so she can sit down to put her pants on, shoes on or what ever the task she has. This has become a lovely project we have come to LOVE. 

Quote of the day “take care of each moment”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fish Stew

I LOVE eating fish. I wanted to say I grew up eating fish in Sri Lanka since it is a small island we had an abundance of fish. However, we did not eat shellfish much. No clams, mussels, and lobsters. I have started to incorporate shell fish into out diet not that long ago. I now love them. I do enjoy the mussels and the little neck which is always readily available local markets. I also find this a great way to incorporate minerals into our diet. 
I have posted on clam chowder and then on seafood pasta now I am into fish stew.
This is a great way to cook all your seafood together. I found this great Portuguese recipe on making fish stew. This has so much taste and the broth was infused with robust flavors of herbs like coriander/cilantro, bay leaves, and garlic. (you can use the broth to eat bread or make a completely different meal I will post on that later).
This recipe also calls for Portuguese sausage as well since this was my first time I did follow the recipe but I am not planning to use it next time around. It does add some flavor but the different fish add so much flavor to the stew itself itself.
I did change some in order to be budget friendly as well. 
This is what you need
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or sweet)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pound chorizo sausage
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless striped bass, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound mussels
This is how it is done
Sautéed the sausage with a teaspoon of olive oil and set a side. 
Now add minced garlic, onions, pepper, coriander leaves, bay leaves, and the paprika continued to sautéed on a medium high heat.
Add diced tomato, cover, and let it cook for about 10 minutes so all the flavors will incorporated into the broth. 
Now nestle the fish, sausage, and the shell fish and cook for about another 7 - minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread. 
Quote of the day “ cook with someone you love”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back to School

 This semester I am taking two classes and very excited about them. Now that I am back in school the schedule changers a little bit. More planning on preparing food gives free time for playing with kids and studying and to the stuff in between. I came across this recipe on how to make bread.  
I love making bread at home because it add so much fun to home made meals and little Nicolette takes pride in baking and cooking meals. I personally enjoys the crusty bread with warm soups and curries. When growing up in Sri Lanka we use to eat bread for dinner and breakfast a lot. Most of the times we will eat bread with leftover curries. We love eating bread with fish or meat curry.
This is a very simple recipe I got from here 
Only thing that I do not like in this is I feel like the bread is not kind of airy but the outside texture is absolutely phenomenal. When it comes to bread I am all about texture. 
Do you make your own bread if so do you have a favorite recipe that you like to share. 
I would love to hear. 
Quote of the day “ do one thing at a time”


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Break...

Sri Lankan food consist of many vegetable dishes. Some are simple and some could be quiet complicated. One of the favorite vegetables in our family is the butternut squash curry. In other words simply (pumpkin curry). 
The creaminess of the butternut squash and the spices really brings the flavor out of this dish. You can simply eat rice and the vegetable itself without anything else. 
I sometimes dream of growing my own butternut quash. I think this vegetable has a character by its own. 
I have seen the leaves, vines, and flowers they are so pretty to look at. I have introduce this to my daughter as a baby food. She loved it.  The sweetness and its texture can be very interesting. 
Well without further more intro lets get into making the vegetable curry. I personally think once you get the hang of it this could be a simple dish. 
This is what you need it may be daunting to see the list of spices once you have stock your cabinet this is a breeze to make.
Coffee Grinder (This is a must have to ground your spices)
A butter nut squash washed, peeled, cored (pulp scooped out). and cubed
2inches long piece of cinnamon ( I usually use the Sri Lankan cinnamon if you are to use American use a 1 inch piece)
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder ( you can get this from the indian store as well)
1 cup of water
3 cloves garlic peeled and cut into pieces (not minced because this is going to the blender) 
1/4 Onion diced
2-3 green chillies (depends how much heat you can handle) (you can use the thai bird eye or regular indian green chillies)
3-5 curry leaves
5-6 tablespoons of scrape coconut flesh (you can get this from indian stores, sometimes   from a well stocked grocery store freezer aisle) 
1teaspoon rice (uncooked, this makes the curry thicker)
2 1/2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of sugar
Place the cubed butternut squash in a medium pot, add turmeric powder, and the cinnamon. Place it on the stove on a low medium heat. 
Place the spices in the coffee and grind it well
Place all the other ingredients in the blender add a little bit of water and pulse it until it forms into a smoothie like texture.
Add the spices and blend well until everything incorporated well into the coconut mixture. 
Now check you pumpkin if it is cooked fork tender reduce the heat and add the mixture. If it is too thick and cannot scrape off the entire mixture add a little bit of water and pulse it.
Now pour the entire mixture and use the end of the wooden spoon to gently mix in. If you like your curry to be more liquid base add a little bit of water.
Finally add salt to taste and top it off  with a sugar and let it come to boil and reduce the heat and simmer it. 
This is a kind of base for few Sri Lankan vegetable curries. I will post some in summer when fresh vegetables in season.  
Hope you like this simple dish that houses many flavors. 
Serve warm with rice.

Quote of the day"master a new gadget"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Winter Break...

Do you like to have fresh flowers in the house. I LOVE to have them. I am in away thankful that Nicolette’s B’day falls in winter so I can get fresh flowers. It adds a elegant touch to the house. More than anything in winter it offers life. 
These colors inspired in making her cake this year. I love the whites and the pink combination. 
Quote of the day “follow your heart”


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Break...

We all went on a much needed nature walk. Being inside the house for a long time was making us crabby and we decided to hit the trails in a near by park and did some long walks for our legs. 
Nicolette did surprised me with her ability to walk for a longer period of time without being asked to carry. We did around the pond walk and had so much fun. Niegel still likes to run around the woods. I love watching his inner little boy coming out we go for a walk. He kept telling us that he is checking the path but running two miles ahead into the woods was exactly he checked the path. 
I let him and saw some snow as well. The moss is still green, part of the pond was frozen, it was windy, sunny and cold. 
Air was crisp but cold. I enjoy every bit of it. Oh! the sky was so beautiful. The moss that grows on the rocks and dead branches were breathtaking. I know we have not had a good freeze yet so the earth looks like it is sleep but light still waiting to go into the deep sleep. 
I love to come here during spring to see everything come to live the garden looks gorgeous during spring. 
Quote of the day “note how a cloud passing in front of the sun can refresh your mood”


Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter Break...

I was eager change my entryway from a longtime. I am looking ways to organize my itty bitty narrow hallway. I still have my shoes along the wall which drives me nuts. I have few ideas I want to do to get this space organized. I will try to get it done before the break. We do not have a coat closet to hang our coats or a shoe rack in our entry way.  I was able to use my old console table in this space to add some decorative items to give a fresh appearance. 
I did use what I had old picture frame, twig wreath, moss pot, candle sticks, and some knick knacks. I am pleased how it looks right now. I will continue to change until I achieved the look I am looking for. 
I did planted our amaryllis very late I hope it will bring some color to our boring entryway. Little Nicolette had fun doing this project. I will have to do another post on that. 
Terra-cotta pots have been always mine favorite item to add to home decor. I simply filled it with moss and I loved the look.  The Buddha statue does adds serenity to this accumulated objects on the console. I picked up hanging lanterns from a trip to SRI LNAKA long time ago. Ideally I was using them on our patio in VA hanging from the deck.  I did add one on to this collected objects. I light a tea light candle inside the lantern during nights. It add some charm to the objects in our entryway.
One more project checked off from the list -entryway changed. 
Quote of the day “meditate on light”