About Me

Hello. I started this blog to write about what I do in my chosen profession : a housewife. Some day I might cook or bake something interesting and enlist my 2 year old to help, on another day I make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store and sometimes I craft with my daughter. Once in a while, we travel or have a fun day outside. I am also doing what I can to recycle and reduce waste. I am still learning all of this and documenting my journey through this blog

Weekend trip - Myrtle beach

The next weekend after our Washington DC trip, we went to Myrtle Beach. This trip was much more planned. The weather was beautiful that weekend. It was perfect weather for a beach trip.

We started on Saturday morning, a little after 7. It is about a 3 hour trip. We had packed some breakfast to eat on the way. I made vegetable patties or puff (whatever you call them) and zucchini pineapple muffins. For the puffs, I used frozen puff pastry and filled them with a samosa type filling of potatoes and peas before baking them. I used this recipe for zucchini bread but made it in a muffin form. Muffins are easier to travel with and eat on the go. We also had some good ol' chai in a thermos. Our friends got potato masala sandwiches.

After our tea and fuel break, we reached the hotel around 12 in the afternoon. We went straight to the beach which was about 2 blocks from the hotel. When the daughter first stepped in the sand, she was uncomfortable with the sand sticking to her feet. After a while when she saw everyone walking around with sandy feet, she got used to it and then she went all out playing in the sand.
getting water for sand castle
Playing with sand toys
in the water
flying kites
I forgot to pack her beachwear partly because I was pretty sure the water would be too cold to go in. But turns out, the water was not all that cold. She really enjoyed splashing in it and jumping over waves. She also enjoyed looking for shells, which is also one of my favorite things to do at the beach.
We just ate the leftover puffs and muffins with some biscuits and bananas and called that lunch. We went back to the hotel after 4:30 to clean up and go out for dinner. I had brought a small cooler full of food for the daughter. After her stomach episode last week, I did not want to risk her eating out. She ate her "soup bhata" (dal and rice) before we left the hotel.

Being in a group with mostly vegetarian people makes it hard to choose where to eat. The Market Commons which is a shopping + restaurant complex with nice landscaped gardens, was very near our hotel. We had planned on PF Changs which had the most options to suit everyone in the group. But it being dinner time (6 pm), there was an hour long wait. We decided to go around the block to Nacho Hippo which is one of the so-called "hippie" places serving, u guessed it : nachos, tacos and the like. They have really huge plates of nachos which are good but they definitely need to be shared between 3 people, because for me nachos with so much cheese is best as an appetizer in small portions. The server did tell us to share them between two people. We shared the tree-hugger nachos and a lobster taco with a spicy mango margarita. We usually don't drink margaritas and the like but being in vacation mood we decided to try it. It was great with a spicy kick. The daughter was fast asleep on the way here and slept through the dinner. The service was pretty slow but all of us enjoyed the food.

After dinner, we decided to go check out the Skywheel. It is one of the biggest landmarks in Myrtle Beach. After parking in a public parking garage, we walked down to the Skywheel. There were some other amusement park type rides on the way. But they were not suitable to ride on after dinner. We went on the Skywheel which has climate controlled gondolas. The wheel goes very slowly stopping many times, presumably to load people. The main purpose is to get a sort of birds eye view of Myrtle Beach. We saw the lights and buzz of activity on the very busy street.
the skywheel
reflected on a glass building
After that we went back to the hotel for some much needed good nights sleep. The next morning we checked out of the hotel and went for brunch at around 11 to the nearby Woodhaven Pancake House. These kind of Pancake Houses are all over Myrtle Beach and most of them are packed in the mornings. We had a big brunch of eggs, waffle, french toast. Then we headed to Broadway at the Beach which is a big complex built around lake Broadway with lots of entertainment and dining options. We went to the Mirror Maze which is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. The daughter loved feeding the huge fish at the lake with the fish food stations on the bridges. The fish are a little bit scary and always seem so hungry for food. One of the friends tried ziplining across the lake.
We left Myrtle Beach around 4 in the afternoon after a round of Ben and Jerrys icecream. We reached Charlotte after 7:30 and went for dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant "The Blue Taj". It was the rare occasion when the restaurant was practically empty, maybe due to it being Sunday. We had our usual order of Chole Tikki, Shahi Paneer and Naan. Everything is just so good there.

Weekend trips - Washington DC museum trip

The last two weekends were spent travelling and the weeks spent being busy cleaning up after the trip while preparing for the next one :)

The first trip to Washington DC was pretty much an impromptu one. We had been thinking about Washington for a while, mainly for the cherry blossoms and to show the daughter the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. On the first Friday of April, we decide in the afternoon to leave in about 3 hours. I scramble to pack up, have lunch and we book the hotel right before heading out the door. First, we need to get the rental car from the airport. We load our car and head to the airport. There is a long queue and then the car that we get isn't great so we change it. All our stuff is transferred to the rental car. Our car is parked at the airport parking and we leave the airport at 6 in the evening; 2 hours later than we thought we would. It is a 7 hour drive. With a quick stop to pick up Subway sandwiches for dinner and to fuel up, we reach the hotel a little after 1 in the night.

We were ready to start our day the next morning at 10 when we left the hotel after breakfast. After getting lost on the way, we reached the East Potomac Park an hour and half later. The entire parking was full and we had to circle around waiting for someone to leave so we could park in their spot. We were finally walking towards Smithsonian Museums by 12. We stopped a lot on the way to see the Spring colors which show themselves so beautifully in DC. The cherry blossoms were not out in full bloom yet but the trees all covered in flowers were so beautiful.
We got into the Natural History Museum just before 1 in the afternoon.
The elephant that greets you as soon as you enter the Natural History Museum
We went straight to the dinosaur exhibit. That was one of the big reasons why we had gone to DC. The daughter is a big fan of "Dinosaur train" on TV. She can name most of the dinosaurs and understands the word 'fossil', all thanks to the show.
triceratops bones
T-rex bones
Pteranodon model
When I showed her the Pteranodon model and said hes the dad from the dinosaur train; she said "But these are not real dinosaurs". So I guess she was expecting something like a real-life Jurrasic Park :)

Time for a lunch break. We were surprised to see an Indian food stall at the museum cafeteria. The husband tried out their chole aloo which was quite ok. I loved my tomato and fresh mozzarella sandwich which also had some pesto and arugula. The kid had her favorite chicken nuggets.

After lunch we saw the animal and marine life exhibits; during which the daughter decided to give us a scare by running away in a crowded museum. We found her in the gift shop with a toy animal.
We left the museum around 5 in the evening and spent some time at the sculpture garden which was a good place to sit for a while.
3D house
It was quite cold and windy by then. The daughter fell asleep, cozily wrapped up in the stroller, on the way back to the parking. We sat for a while at the base of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial overlooking the Potomac River. This is a nice spot for people watching, river watching or for just being with yourself.
At about 6:30 in the evening, we left the parking lot. When we had lost our way in the morning, we were passing through Vienna when we saw "Amma Vegetarian Kitchen". We did a quick Google search to check if the place was good. Turned out it had good reviews so we decided its dosas for dinner. The lost wandering in the morning did not end up being a total waste of time because otherwise we would never have found this place. We stuffed ourselves with idlis and dosas. The food was not bad at all but not mind blowing either. It served to satisfy the craving for simple Indian food and the place was quite busy too.

The next morning, we checked out of the hotel at 10 in the morning after breakfast and headed back to the East Potomac Park. This time however, we did not get lost. We even found a parking spot quite easily. We were already walking towards the Museums at 11. The weather was better too; not cold or windy like yesterday.
Enjoying DC architecture
The daughter loved the Air and Space Museum as soon as she entered it. It was more open with a lot more room to move around. She immediately noticed the escalator and went up and down a few times. She had a lot of fun at the "How things fly" hands-on interactive exhibit. Pressing buttons and watching things move is what makes kids like her the happiest.
We also liked the space and early aviation exhibits. The lunch here was not that good. I had a chicken wrap from mcdonalds while the husband and daughter shared a pizza and icecream.
We left DC around 4 in the afternoon. We stopped for a nice Mexican dinner at Little Mexico in Richmond, VA. We reached home around 12:30 in the night; completely exhausted from the trip. The next day was spent just sitting around trying to get the energy back :) And then in the evening, it started. The daughter started getting sick. I got pretty nervous because this was the first time she got a stomach bug. I guess all that eating out and the junk food caused it. It took her nearly 4 days to get normal again. We had already planned for a beach trip the following weekend with a few friends, one of whom was coming in from Texas. It is a good thing she got back to normal just in time for the trip which she really enjoyed a lot. More on that in the next post.

Shrikhand and Potato Sabzi with spring onions

Gudi Padva was on Monday. Last year I did not get around to making Shrikhand so this year I was determined to make it. Although this year I did not make puris. After an unusual busy weekend of socialising and food, our tummies were in no position to eat anything fried. So, I stuck to rotis.

Shrikhand is one of my favorite dessert and I was very glad that my homemade version tasted just like the real thing (Amul Shrikhand is the gold standard, atleast for me, being from the land of Amul). I had not realized before I tried my hand at it that Shrikhand would be so easy to make. It also has to do with the fact that I made a small quantity. Larger quantities will take a bit more effort. I used my favorite and most traditional flavoring for the Shrikhand : kesar (saffron) and elaichi (cardamom)

Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand
Serves 4


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp coarsely powdered pistachios and almonds
a pinch crushed saffron threads
3 cardamom pods
Method
  • Place a sieve line with paper towel over a bowl and add yogurt to the sieve and let it drain for a couple of hours.
  • You should get about 1 1/2 cup of drained liquid and 3/4 cup solid yogurt. The yogurt would be the consistency of very soft butter.
  • Add the sugar, crushed saffron and nuts. Add powdered cardamom seeds. Mix everything together and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
Notes:
  • I used homemade yogurt for the shrikhand. Storebought yogurt can also be used. But since the water content in the yogurt differs, you might get more or less than the 3/4 cup of solid yogurt that I got. Adjust the sugar accordingly.
  • Greek yogurt is already strained so it can be used instead of the extra step of straining the yogurt.
  • I used milk masala from a Parsi dairy in Mumbai instead of saffron and nuts since it already contains saffron, almonds and pistachios.
Shrikhand goes best with puri and batata bhaji (potato sabzi). Since we had already ruled out puri, I decided to atleast make the potato bhaji. I tried a different version which has fennel and spring onions.

Dry Potato sabzi with spring onions



Ingredients:
5 potatoes
5 spring onions
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp asafoetida
3 green chillies
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp amchur powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
Method
  • Boil, peel and cube the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Smaller pieces allows more surface area to coat the potatoes with the masala.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil and add a teaspoon each of cumin and fennel seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder and finely chopped green chilies.
  • Add the cubed potatoes and coat with the oil.
  • Add coriander powder, grated ginger and salt. Add about half a teaspoon of sugar if you like a bit of sweetness.
  • Add chopped spring onions, amchur powder and garam masala.
  • Saute on medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes. The spring onions should be soft and the potatoes should be nicely coated with the masalas.