The book that changed my life in 2014

I read a decent number of books and have always loved reading. Maybe I do not read as much as I did before, but I still do read a fair bit. I go through phases  in the kind of books I like reading and how much I read.

The book that had a huge impact on me this year was: My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey.

Another bread making book I tried using the no knead method was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Zoe Francois  and Jeff Hertzberg.

Note – Both these books are available in the public library  in Sg.

I clearly prefer Jim’s book because:

1. It is has nice colour photographs – I personally think cookbooks without photos next to the recipe are lame.

2. Jim’s was the original guy with this idea and the story he wrote about how he got into bread making makes you enthusiastic. He went to Italy and learnt how they made their bread.  He clearly sounds more passionate. I read parts of his story to U and U insisted that if we ever went to NY, we MUST go to his bakery because here is a man who loves and understands bread.

3. His recipes use very little yeast. You save more money long term and it is good for people with any fungal infections (aka me).

4. Zoe’s book asks for kitchen equipment I do not have and I do not want to buy so many things considering I am renting.

Otherwise there is not much difference in the basic recipes of both these books. I think I am going to buy Jim’s book – which is very atypical of me! I rarely buy books.

From Jim Lahey’s book I have tried:

  • The basic bread recipe – Excellent. I used this dough to make buns as well.
  • Whole wheat bread recipe – Excellent 
  • Pizza dough – Excellent 
Note – All the bread reviews are by me and U. U is a bread enthusiast and loves bread. So, I just go by U’s reviews.

Here is a picture of pizza I made last weekend:

Pizza ready for baking

Pizza ready for baking

Hot pizza from the oven.

Hot pizza from the oven. Sorry about the dark photo. We were too hungry to wait.

Have you ever tried the no knead method for making bread?

India Trip 2014 – 1

I have been trying to get my blogging mojo back.  I have so much to say but words just don’t come out when I am typing them out.

One thing I wanted to blog about was my latest India trip. This trip to India gave me new perspective as I traveled with a foreigner [F] and it always interesting to view India from a fresh perspective. Also, it made me understand who/how I am in certain aspects.

For starters, let’s look at the Hyderabad airport:

Arrival – It is decent and clean. They have toilet paper.  Useless paper work. Many people give instructions to a foreigner when they see one, more of a “I know better” way than in a “let me help you” way. But it is not that annoying. They make you fill up some customs form but they never asked for it. So, it was pointless.

Departure They really need to work on efficient checks when passengers enter the airport. I do not know why they insist on these hand luggage tags which need to be stamped by security. Again, needless paper work. The international departure section was undergoing renovation and there were not many shops. I was really disappointed with the food selection.  There wasn’t a proper chai there and that, in my opinion, is unforgivable. I mean, even Sg airport has Anand Bhavan with proper chai and better Indian food choice. Western style café had coffees. Dosa place had dosas and coffee only. BTW, the dosa was dry and one of the worst I have eaten lately as far as my memory serves me. Some random food court seemed to have not so nice biryani and tea bags. The only decent thing was Karachi bakery and we bought a kilo of fruit biscuits. There are some handicraft shops and Lifestyle branch. Basically the airport was becoming a soulless airport – the ones that look like any other airport in the world. That is nice because I do not want crappy airports though I still feel they should retain some Hyderabadi touch.

Many people rarely queue and think they can just barge in when people are standing. A guy did that to me and got promptly told off by me ie in a nice way – Mr. I am in the queue :)

Overall, the airport is good in that it is trying to maintain global standards but a bit insipid.

Links – Gender equality in Japan

A BBC article states that Japan is one of the worst in terms of gender equality among developed countries, especially for mothers - link.

This is some thing I have been saying. We often have a tendency to assume that all economically developed countries have gender equality. They do not.  Yes, money does bring in a lot of gender equality but it does not eliminate patriarchy completely. Add to that a culture of not really being critical of your own culture to foreigners and you would barely find out unless you have really observed it yourself.

  1. I am saddened at the number of people who will have 3-4 kids because they are trying for a son.
  2. Men rarely do women’s jobs (especially the older generation) – cooking/ helping in the house unless required to and even modern young women accept it as normal that their dads do not or will not help.
  3. Sexist statements do not really strike as something offensive or wrong to many women. 
  4. Women feel the need to be defined by a man in their lives.
  5. Low confidence in women because they are women.

Your thoughts?

Life Lesson #4 – Learn MS Office basics

 I am back and I am trying to get out of my not-writing inertia. Learn MS Office Word  + Excel basics (or the Apple version).   There are so many small things to learn which we never bothered about. I learnt a lot of them when I had to format my thesis and help others format thesis and some of these tricks save you lots of time and effort. For example,

  • Sorting out things in alphabetical order
  • Aligning 3 pictures perfectly.
  • Creating page breaks so that all your contents do not move down when you add in something.
  • Adding an auto table of contents.
  • Using reference software.

One can do so much with basic Office skills!

How to remove stains from a mug

My  mug I used in office had a lot of coffee and tea stains along the walls. I remembered reading somewhere that these stains can be cleaned by all-purpose-cleaner-baking soda. I thought I could try it over the weekend. Many articles recommended scrubbing the stains with baking soda. I did not want to put in much effort and added a spoon or two of baking soda, some detergent and filled the mug with water and let it be for 2 days. 

Ta da! All the stains are gone and my mug is clean. I was not sure how well it would work and I did not take a before pic but I do have an after pic.  So, here it is.

Clean mug without stainsTry it with your mugs if they need cleaning!

Review: All Things Lavender – Lavender Chamomile Soap

I have been using this Lavender Chamomile soap I picked up from a stall at Pike Market Place, Seattle.

Pike Market Seattle


All Things Lavender - Lavender Chamomile Soap

Ingredients: Clean which is why I picked it.

All Things Lavender - Lavender Chamomile Soap IngredientsThe soap is quite a good size.

All Things Lavender - Lavender Chamomile Soap

Quite a good size for my hand.

All Things Lavender - Lavender Chamomile Soap

This soap does not dry your skin much. Foams well. What I loved the most was the scent – it is so soothing and nice. It reminds me of a sleeping baby  (in a nice way). A very gentle smell but really nice.

Overall: 4.5/5