Recipe – Delicious Caramel Custard or Crème Caramel


 

The perfect creme caramel

Caramel Custard is one of the earliest recipes I perfected. The smooth elegant egg custard tat quivers at the slightest touch topped with soft luscious amber caramel is the most sensuous sights in the world. I started with  ramekins and slowly graduated to perfectly unmolding the caramel custard pudding from a bigger pudding pan.  Each success of a high. Making a perfect caramel sauce for topping was another thing I learnt with time. Then I learned the variations by adding orange zest , lemon zest ,  cinnamon or chocolate but the classic vanilla remains my all time favorite. Sometimes with a dash of dark rum or Bailey’s Irish Creme.

Crème caramel is the lightest of the three gorgeous custards – Crème brûlée, pot de crème and crème caramel.

Rich and creamy brûlée  is a divine dish with a sheer cracky layer of burnt caramel and can beat any desert any time but for those tender moments like mom’s 82 birthday I decided to make the lighter silkier version.

So here is my Caramel Custard recipe with some Tips. I could not take step by step pictures but I am sure this recipe will turn out perfectly for you.

Let us begin with the Ingredients

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 cup full cream milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla essence

3 eggs

A little lemon juice , say just about 1/2 a teaspoon

Now the method 

To make a perfect honey colour caramel sauce with nice texture and sweetness

Take a heavy bottom steel pan (not non stick). Put it on medium flame with 1/4 cup sugar in the middle and just a little water to wet the sugar. See to it that the sugar doesn’t touch the sides of the pan. With a clean spatula evenly wet the sugar and let it boil on medium heat till it liquefies and turns slightly golden. Do not leave the pot on stove and walk away. Keep a watch and lower the heat. Stir in the mixture till it is dark amber color. Stir gently and shake the pan slightly so the sauce becomes evenly brown.

Keep the pan in which you will make the custard ready with a towel underneath. Pour the caramel evenly and turn the pan around in circular motion so that the caramel covers the base completely and then tip it slightly so the sauce touches the sides too.

Let it cool and set.

To make the luscious custard break the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk gently. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and whisk again till it dissolves. Slightly temper warmed milk and vanilla essence to it and whisk again. Tempering (gradually adding hot to cold mixture) will bring their temperature together. The custard should come out suave, rich and mellow in flavour and to attain that one needs to pay attention to the proportions, temperature and timing.

Once the mixture is ready Put a double boiler or a pressure cooker with four cups of water in it on the stove. Place a ring in it so that you can put the pan on it to steam. You can also put a small bowl full of water in the cooker pan. Making custard over a water bath makes it soft and nice and shields it from harsh heat and high temperatures. Bring the water to boil and we are set to insert the custard pan in it.

Pour the custard mixture in the caramel covered pan. Cover it with an aluminium foil properly and place it on the water filled bowl inside the cooker or in the double boiler.

Place the lid but do not put the cooker whistle (if making in a pressure cooker). A good custard need gentle heat to keep the flame medium low. Caramel custard has egg whites in the base, which are full of proteins that coagulate at a lower temperature remember that.

Let it cook for about 30 minutes. You can always open the lid and test. The time depends on heat, quantity and thickness of the pan etc. To test if the custard is done gently shake the pan. If the mixture wobbles like Jelly O then it is ready. If not then put it back and let it cook for some time till you achieve the desired result.

Once cooked take out the pan and bring it to room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator. Refrigerating helps in setting the custard properly.

Unmolding the custard

Now slide  a small  knife around the custard to loosen it , pressing the custard against the side of the dish.

Hold a serving plate over the top of the pan or ramekin  and swiftly invert.

Set the plate on the counter and gently shake the pan or the ramekin to release the custard and the caramel.

 

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Some of that delicious caramel will remain sticking to the pan or ramekin 🙂

If you are not making individual custards then refrigerate the stunning ambrosia that you just dished out and make slices while serving.

You can decorate the custard with berries and other things but I don’t have patience to jazz it up. I just can not resist temptation . 😀

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Gorgeous, isn’t it ?

Dig in. 

Bon Appetit

Enter The House Of Stories


I live in a house of stories. In a phantasm. Here everything is made up of words. Said and unsaid. Written and unwritten. Heard and unheard. Familiar and unfamiliar. Words that are still in the nuclei and others which are decaying and dying. Dead words and their ghosts. Orgasmic words exploding at touch of a thought. All encompassing all including words. Tainted words. winged words- magical, ethereal.  Then there are the creative trouble makers. Words that will bewitch you, cast a spell and posses you. They will become your fingers and write the stories for you. You will have no control, no power. Drugged by them your stories will rise from the belly of your mind and float out of the house while you watch in helpless trance. They will be your masterpieces. Your finest creations.

Cast a net  catch a few starry words, look for those glowing words hidden in the crevices, sniff the pain and  joy, vulnerability and  passion, death and rebirth if you have a nose for it. Allow your senses to indulge. Let the words have their way with you. Let them tickle you like a soft feather, undress you slowly down  to the wire syllable by syllable, consonant by consonant. Let them undo you one vowel at a time.Lend yourself to them. Surprise your tongue as they gently push past your teeth , rejoice in the deeper play they create inside you. Watch their sweet swell. Taste the salt on their skin. Dance to their symphony of lust. Let them feed you a story or two in bite size morsels. Be part of their stories. Always searching, always needing, always wanting. There is  a beauty in staying incomplete. Hungry.

Do not be afraid. Open yourself to the house of stories and it will sing you its  siren songs, it will string together and weave fascinating tales.  It won’t lie, It can’t. It isn’t capable of deceit.

No emotion is superfluous here, everything is an all engulfing whirlpool. Everything is larger than life. Raw, naked, stripped off of all inhibitions, everything is free of boundaries reality imposes.  The boundary between the animate and inanimate is in itself animate. Walk that line.

While you do all this always have an escape route. Don’t let the words hold you captive in the house of stories. Slip away the moment you feel the cage closing in. Escape. Heaven is real but so is hell. Sometimes the word wall will crumble like cookies and the winds will scatter them. Do not despair. Other words will take their place and those flung far and wide will take roots there and lay the foundation for some other house of stories. There is always a birth in death. Nothing actually dies.

There is also a dark world lurking in here.  A house within a house where you can cut yourself on words, bleed. Weapons- sharp, loaded. Silent cold words with sharp jagged edges. Gleaming daggers. They can ravage your heart, pierce through it, nibble on it or tear it like a carnivore, throw you off-balance and hurl you down a narrow, gaping hole. They can strip you naked and whiplash you till your skin burns crimson, black and blue but as I said do not be afraid. Let them hammer on your pain points, slump you like a deflated balloon but remember it is all a part of love-making, of self-awareness, of  becoming aware.  Be aware, let them scribble on your heart, accept, relax, surrender to them as they surrender to you. Let the house of stories take you in its warm, moist fold as you take it in yours. Stay joyously drunk on them. Enjoy the fluidity. Ride through it, plunge, rise, drown and rise again. Meet those unmet passions, unbound desires, celebrations and raptures, slaughtered dreams and rejections, the end of the rope and secret shame, discover the road map of scars, heal them , touch them with love as they throb inside your being. Let them bring you to your knees as they take you on a roller coaster ride called life. Watch the swing and swirl of words as they tangle with human emotions.

Be a relentless seeker. Seek the stories hidden in the nooks and corners of this house. Reach out to them. Reach for the void at the end, look for spaces between for it is there you will find yourself. Listen to the echos of your heart. Curl up and retreat in those empty spaces. Don’t be in a hurry to fill them for they add meaning to all that is around you. The spaces between tears and laughter, silence and words, between the pieces of yin and yang that lie in your path. Nestle in the light that seeps through the spaces of darkness and dark that quietly descends between the light. Be there in the spaces between your breaths, give yourself to the space between the rising and the setting sun, slip through the spaces between your fingers, sit quietly between your illusions and delusions.

Find stories hidden in the spaces between awake and sleep, between birth and death,  in gaps where the warmth meets the chill, where yearning meets the indifference, Don’t occupy it , just be there. Dig deep into yourself. Feel the intimacy of being with oneself in these miracle moments.

This house is ever reinventing itself. You can’t live here as a whole. You are split into a million nano particles, each as complete as the other.

You are the house. The house is you. It is a maze. It is an extension of you. Add your stories to it. Write. Create. Co create. Love its solitude and yours within it. Be in love for that is what writing is all about. Become your writing and merge into the house of stories so there is no physical self, just words. Let it be an excavation site where every moment is a mystery revealed. Where in every crack lies a spring waiting to launch forth just like your heart. Don’t box yourself in for the true blossoming can occur only when you have set yourself free of everything that restrains, restricts. Explore, take risks, question, allow yourself.

I live here, in my enchantment. 

Would you like to come in? 

Proud Moment – Short Stories in Le Zaporogue 13 and MiCROW 8


Year 2013 has started on a great note. Two short stories featured in two illustrious literary publications. It is a blessing to have friends who support, encourage and unconditionally help me learn and polish my writing constantly.

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In January my short story ‘ The Bookmark’ shared space with some fine writers, poets songwriters and photographers in Le Zaporogue 13. You can click on the link and download it for free or purchase it too.

There are some other wonderful treasures in Le Zaporogue Store. Do take a look.

Le Zaporogue 11 has some of my verses and  if you are passionate about poetry please feel free to click on the link and download this edition.

I want to thank author and friend Sebastian Doubinsky  for giving me this platform to showcase my work.

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Riding on the back of  late spring  breeze came another surprise. This time a Flash-Fiction ‘Jason‘ based on the theme ‘Luminous‘ has found place in MiCROW 8 : Luminous  . This edition of Full of Crow flash fiction supplement section includes wonderful B&W photographs and some exceptional stories. You can read online , download the pdf. file or purchase the chapbook HERE . Check out the gorgeous FULL Of Crow ,a semiannual publication of very short stories and prose.

Thank you Michael. J. Solender  for giving me this opportunity. Looking forward to co creating more miracles.

This year I was able to break many mental barriers and swallow my self doubt to a large extent. I think I am more confident, more focused and tuned to myself and writing now. I am glad to have found mentors who helped me achieve this. Onward we go, one step at a time.

 

Related links :

online and print publications

Zaporogue 11

 

Photograph credits belong to the rightful owners. 

IndiBloggers Take Pledge to Ring The Bell – A Breakthrough Initiative


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On Woman’s Day I attended an event organised by Breakthrough a global human right organisation and IndiBlogger, the largest community of Indian bloggers. Breakthrough launched the #RingTheBell (Bell bajao) campaign  in 2008 .

The event for this year which was formally launched at British Council urges men to intervene and take a pledge to end violence against women with their Global campaign of  ‘One Million Men and One Million promises to end all forms of violence against women’.

Artists, NGOs, bloggers, entrepreneurs and people from all walks of life gathered to end #VAW  in whatever possible. Around 150 indibloggers participated as part of #indichange and renewed their pledge. I always thought we should have a “Bloggers writing for change” group and this initiative gives us a platform to join our voices against any kind of violence against women and children.

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I asked someone ” Were the men ever “gentle” ?” I have a problem with this poster. I think men are more sensitive to women’s issues now than ever before and yes, exceptions are always there and have been in the past too. The lady told me it is about  extending hands towards men who have that “gentle” side but just need a little nudge. Sonali rightly said that we should teach the girls not to laugh at the boys who cry. It is just about being sensitive to each other as humans beyond gender or  anything else.

“We need to tell our boys that they CAN cry.”

That brings me to other controversial statement. “Hang the rapists.” I am against capital punishment but do believe in strict law enforcement, sensitization, severe punishments even reforming the accused serving the sentences but taking a life whatever the case is something i do not agree with.The system need overhauling including the prisons. It is easier said than done but in any case my vote will always be against capital punishment. Sometime you need to forgive to stop the cycle. This is the sign of a civilized society. Why do we lose that humane touch and not give a chance to those perpetrators serving the sentences in jails of redeeming and actually doing something good with the rest of their lives if they have deep remorse and bring the change within. Is it not we want? A change from within in every man and woman in our society? Many won’t agree and have counter points so we can discuss  it later.

  Violence is not just physical, the other kinds – emotional and mental is more deep-rooted and seldom talked about for the lack of “evidence”. I have been there and know how difficult it is to take that one step in direction of finding yourself and reclaiming your dignity by stepping out of  relationship or a situation. The price sometimes is extremely high. Most of the time for many women it is not even possible. A deeper dialogue and engaging men to find new solutions and making them take the ownership of doing their bit to act against any kind of #VAW is a step I appreciate. I hope the campaign does not stay to the cities and reaches our villages and small towns too.

It was a thought-provoking evening with panel discussions based on two themes

1 Forms of responses & encouragement – social , legal and leadership taken by women

2 Portrayal of women in films, TV  and advertising

It was an enthralling experience to listen to listen to some of the women I admire Indira Jaisingh, Advaita Kala, Sonali Khan, , Priya Paul. Some of the other women panelists came from rural areas where they are doing groundbreaking work. They included Rahima Khatun and Pushpa Balmiki.

The men included Ryan Mendonca, Rajan Anandan who promised to who promises to invest in startups led by women, Rahul Bose and our very own Anoop Johnson from indiBlogger.

Topics like Objectification. Commodification. Hypersexuality, redefining ‘macho”, stereotyping in media, harassment of women on internet and many other important issues were discussed.

Some quotes from the speakers:

“People always say, we bring up our daughters like our sons.’ Why not bring up your sons like your daughters?” Advaita Kala

 “There can be no gender justice without the involvement of men,” he said. “The challenge is, how do we get men to stop seeing this as a ‘women’s issue’? We’ve completely ignored a ready constituency of men – every victim of rape, molestation and abuse has an angry father, a confused husband, a shamed brother. We can reach out to these men, counsel them, and turn them into the greatest gender warriors in this battle.” Rahul Bose 

“Boys don’t need to play with guns, there’s no need for guns in our lives. Patriarchy in staunchly patriarchal cultures reflects in the push for capital punishment, in an eye for an eye. Cultures that have moved past patriarchy have given up capital punishment, like some of the Scandinavian countries. So we must teach our men to give power, secede power, not assume it. Boys should be accustomed to telling their sisters, you stay out till 2am, I’ll come home at 1. This will form the basis of a unconditional change that can make the world a safer place for everybody.” Rahul Bose

“Women are not getting 33%reservation in parliament because there they will not be able to put us down.” Rahima

We had some brilliant video streaming of people working hard to bring the change at grassroot levels. I loved this quote from a woman activist.

Manzilen unko milti hain

 jinke sapno main jaan hoti hai

Sirf pankh hone se kuch nahin hota

 hoslon se udaan hoti hai

Performances by Swarathma , a folk- rock band from Bangalore. Sensitivity about the burning issues of our time and the power of good music can go a long way in touching human psyche.  Do we hear the sounds of change? I wish I had recorded some part of the electrifying performance.   Do listen to their music on You Tube. Their song on child sexual abuse ‘Ghum’ was heart wrenching.

Listening to Mahabanoo-Modi-Kotwal was something very close to heart and as a writer, as a woman it touched some deep chord inside. It was really a privilege. I would love to connect with her sometime. I loved the poem by Eve Ensler that she read out. Her readings from Vagina Monologue was thought provoking.

“Main Aazad hun. Aazad hun aur behad sexy . Koi problem hai ?”

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Thank you for letting me use this brilliant Photograph  IHM  . Do visit her awesome blog.

As more and more people pledged their support by ringing the bell the time came for the special guest to bewitch the gathering with her music. Watching Anoushka Shankar live on stage brought back fond memories of listening to her father. She has the same heartwarming smile and way of communicating with her team of musicians , same brilliance as she magically moves her fingers to produce the finest of Indian classical music. The raagas she chose to play were excellent.  The evening air was filled with the gorgeous music and her presence. It was simply breathtaking. She too extended her support to the cause. Some people question the role of  celebrities at such events but here was a woman who has been there done that just like me, you and many of us trying t make a difference and it takes courage to speak.. immense courage.

It is a feeling of pride  to be associated with IndiBlogger‘s  initiative #IndiChange and I thank each member of the IndiBlogger team for their unconditional support to me as woman, as a blogger. When you are rebelling against a system, defying age-old norms and breaking barriers every support counts. It made my struggle easier. I think we  as invited bloggers did not get time to express our point of views which would have been excellent because we are the voice of the internet and every voice counts. The new initiative  IndiChange is about “Harnessing the collective power of blogging to fight the evil.”

I hope more and more people Ring The Bell and there comes a time when we are able to completely wipe out VAW from the roots.

Let us aim to get 1 million men to pledge support through ‘Breakthough’ from 8th March 2013 to 8th March 2014. Spread the word and join the action.  

Here are some photographs of the event.

You can read some of my other related posts HERE 

The Things That Make Me Different Are The Things That Make Me


Thank you for recognizing that 

 You are precious.

together forever

So am I

˙·٠•●♥♥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♥♥ Happy Woman’s Day ˙·٠•●♥♥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♥♥

Quote- A.A.Milne

Here is a song I love. 

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me

(Lyrics)

The hounds are back – Dream Diary


I thought I had done away with them. The hounds had stopped frequenting my dreams after I logged in my last  dream about them in September. Not that I am perturbed by them or the other things associated with these recurring lucid images but they do leave me drained out. There certainly is a connection somewhere, maybe a past life connection. In any other situation I would have let it pass but now I want to crack the mystery. What is taking me back to old havilies, graveyards and what are these magnificent hounds doing in my dreams. Are these dreams ” a knot of concerns in my conscience. unchanging ones, unconfronted ones, ones I continue to live with every day and that the unconscious thinks about by itself, trying to alert me, control me, warn me, get me to release it from its worries.” as a friend thinks or  is there a deeper play?

Usually these are morning dreams. Mostly after 2 O’clock. so vivid that I feel I can touch and feel and smell whatever surrounds me at that moment.

This is how it all began

I am in some upmarket house overlooking a deep blue ocean. The beach has white sand. Calm and serene with million shades of green. I am in a plush room with french windows with sheer curtains pulled to the sides. There are a few more people in the room, people I don’t know from real life but they seem like a family in the dream. The only person I know from real-time is my brother, a handsome man in early fifties (he doesn’t resemble how my brother looks now but how he would have looked if he had maintained himself) He is wearing an Indian Maroon polo neck Tee with black pants. The other guy in the room, much younger, is wearing a similar outfit. Dressed in a formal off white skirt and shirt I am looking out through the window. Interestingly my hair is long and tied in a bun resting at the nape of the neck.

There is  a corpse of an old man on the beach. Naked. The waves are coming up to it but never quite touching. I watch it for sometime and then the scene shifts to a room above this one. My elder son is sitting there on a large armchair. Handsome man in his thirties.  Dressed in the same maroon polo neck and black pant. Intense and good-looking. He is flipping a coin between his thumb and finger. I ask him why he did he do it and when is he going to stop it. Some conversation as a mother which I can’t remember completely but it is formal. He pays no attention but keeps his eyes fixed on me and then the phone rings. I put the speaker on. A close friend(male) from real time is on the line. He gets mad at me about what my son is doing and blames me for leaving  the job and starting a cult. Warning me that it will destroy everything. It seems my lad has been writing rebellious stuff and offensive things about his grandfather etc on social networking sites his blog etc.

We listens to the conversation quietly then I tell this friend not to get involved in this and that I approve of  my boy’s activities and with that slam the phone.

I tell Adi that the situation is grave and he should stay put where he is.

Then I come down to the living room where we began.  I see that a large long cushion is thrown on an armchair similar to the one above. Four hounds, their coats gleaming, appear all of a sudden and I say, “Who let these beasts out?”  and then I notice what they are doing. One of them pins down the pillow to the back of the chair , the other two are on either side pulling something over it which seems like a sheet of water. One of them is just keeping a watch looking in our direction.

“What the hell are they doing?” I say as water begins to seep into the plush red carpet.

The man who looks like my brother has the same intense look as my son. He is flipping a pencil just like Adi was flipping the coin. He is silently watching the chaos and then he speaks in a gravelly voice.

“They are doing what they are trained to do. They are Adi’s beasts.” with that he gets up and so do the others. There is a complete silence.

Now I see my mother, dressed again in formal western outfit (something floral, a skirt or a dress) sitting on a rocking chair. Her palm covering her face.  Maybe going through some emotional roller coaster of  her own. She is older than she is now.

I tell the people in the room to leave and not to breathe a word to anyone.

They step out and so does the man who looks like my brother.  Our gaze locks in a  moment of understanding and am back in the room above. Adi is at the window looking out. I join him.

The police are cordoning off the area and have put the corpse in a body bag.

We stand there in silence. The dogs at our heals.

*********

When I woke up the house was in darkness so I felt a bit disoriented. I stepped out wondering whether it was morning or evening. Then I saw mom reading in her room and the doorbell announced the arrival of the cook. It was around 7:30 PM. I must have slept for about four and a half hours. Wonder if I was really asleep or awake or just not in this world.

Unlike previous dreams there was no blood on me or maybe there was some on our hands – Adi and mine.  Blood that had tainted our lives.