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28 May 2012

Braised Broads ~ Rice

World Of India...Right In My Own Kitchen!

In my family's bid to eat a healthier diet, I've discovered an entire world of food to explore.  Indian cuisine is something I only tried a few years ago, and I loved it!  Over the last year, I've begun to add Indian recipes to my menu plans.  I was nervous to cook Indian food, thinking it would be difficult.  Not at all!  The recipes are usually quite simple, and I've discovered quickly which tastes are my favorites from the plentiful spices flavoring the dishes. 

Many people from India (and of Indian descent) are vegetarians, but don't be fooled!  There are plenty of meat dishes to try.  Because their diet is so chock-full of vegetables, it's easy to prepare a healthy meal with lots of flavor. I'm lucky enough to have an Indian market near my home, but you'll find that most grocery stores carry just what you need!

Tilda is my usual brand.
From speaking with the local shop owner, I learned that Basmati rice is the preferred grain for most Indian recipes.  It stays firmer that Asian varieties, and has a slightly nutty flavor.  It can be a tad more expensive, but not so much as to tax a budget.  I purchase rice in bulk, opting for twenty or forty pound bags - we eat a lot of rice - but you can find smaller sized bags.  Rice is a very inexpensive and versatile food.

Front Cover  Best Ever Indian Cookbook is my Indian-Food-Bible!  All recipes I'll feature are taken from it.  All the spices are explained and pictured, so it was easy to find what I needed.  Also, measurements are included in metric and standard, which erased the need to calculate conversions.  I've learned to make Paneer, an Indian cheese, in addition to Garam Masala, Curry Spice Blend, and the many pastes used as dipping sauces or recipe add-ins.  It's all well explained and the book features photos as visual aids.  The only difficult to navigate feature is the Nutritional Notes, as Energy, Fat, Carbohydrate and Fibre are calculated in grams.  Today I'll start with a simple recipe, but over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing much more.  Easy on a budget and often one pot cooking, Indian cuisine might be right up your alley!

Here's an easy rice dish my family loves!  Making rice in different ways keeps the kids from getting tired of the same old thing.   This recipe has a unique flavor :} Rice is a perfect starting place when exploring Indian food.  This dish is not spicy at all, so don't worry!

Basmati Rice and Peas

1 1/2 c. basmati rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp onion seeds
2 tbsp fenugreek leaves (I substitute dried when I don't have fresh - and you can omit altogether if you don't have it)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I substitute ginger powder when I don't have fresh.  I make this dish both with ginger and without at times.)
1 tsp salt
1 c. frozen peas
2 c. water

Wash the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes (I skip this step when I'm in a won't hurt a thing).  Heat oil in a dutch oven pot and add mustard and onion seeds, fenugreek, garlic, ginger and salt and stir-fry for a few minutes.  (Really you are toasting the seeds which give them better flavor).  Drain and add rice to pan and stir together.  Add frozen peas and water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover, cooking for about 20 minutes.  Check once in awhile to stir and see if water has been all absorbed.  Once water is soaked in and rice is tender, I crack the lid and turn heat to low, steaming the rice for at least 10 minutes.  It makes is so fluffy!  When ready to serve, fluff with a fork and voila!

Rice Basics

Rice is one of the easiest side dishes to prepare.  Here are some basic tips to ensure you have light and fluffy rice every time.  I've also added a few tricks to spruce it up.

 ♣ I use this water/rice ratio.  1 cup of rice will require 1 1/2 cups of water to cook.  So for a smaller family, 1/2 cup of rice will require 3/4 cup of water.  A large family will cook 2 cups of rice and add 3 cups of water.  Not everyone uses the same ratio, but this is what works for me. 

 ♣ I always use a dutch oven, no matter how much or little rice I'll cook.  I like the large bottom; I think it cooks more evenly.

 ♣ I coat the bottom of the dutch oven with Extra-virgin-olive-oil to begin, then add in any spices I'll be using.  Salt is a must!  I add about 1 tsp of salt per cup of rice.  I half my salt when using bouillon - as bouillon is quite salty!

 ♣ For something different, and to add a nice visual, I brown a handful of skinny egg noodles in the heated oil before adding in my rice.

 ♣ To make yellow rice:  Variation One - oil, salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp coriander ground, 1/4 tsp cumin ground. Variation Two - add all of above, then add 1/4 tsp cinnamon (a kiddie favorite).  Variation Three - oil, salt, curry.  Variation Four - toss raisins into the pot of variations one or two.  For one dish meals, add some cooked chicken after the rice is ready.   

 ♣ Once I've heated my spices in the oil, it's time to toss in the rice.  Coat the rice with the oil by stirring it around the pot once or twice.  I let it cook a few minutes to toast the grains a little.  It adds fabulous flavor.

 ♣ After the rice is toasted, add in your water and cover.  That's it!  Simmer until done, fluff, and serve. 

 Moíra ♣


24 May 2012

Brazen Review: Gaijin, Remittance Girl


Not Intended For Audiences Under 18 Due To Questionable Content

When Jennifer left the cold and damp of London for the sparkle and bustle of Tokyo, she imagined she'd find a world full of cherry blossom festivals, ancient tea ceremonies and Geishas. What she got instead was a cramped, shared apartment, harassment on the subway and a mind-numbing job as a hostess at the Blonde Chick Bar in Roppongi.

With a single, unintentional insult all that changed. She wakes up to find that she has been kidnapped by Shindo: a sadistic Yakuza demi-god who doesn't take his loss of face easily. Caught between his hatred of all things foreign and a growing obsession with this blonde gaijin, he is determined to make her pay for her rejection in sadistic and degrading ways.

`A woman's lot is to endure,' says the fox spirit in her dreams, but Jennifer wonders whether there are indeed fates worse than death. Little by little, she finds out.

My Thoughts:

Gaijin, blatent and disturbing, opens powerfully.  Jennifer awakens to discover herself bound, in pain, and immediately her fear was palpable and alive.  Every moment of weakness, despair, and hope spoke to a part of my heart as I uncovered her horrifying situation page by page.  Jennifer was real, flawed, and beautiful in her portrayal, her struggle to make sense of her abduction and rape painful to read.  Yet I did read, seeing through the lens of Remittance Girl's dark prose to the unexpected conclusion. 

As this dark tale unfolded, I was drawn into every word and action of Jennifer's captor, Shindo.  Mocking and violent one minute, almost tender the next, this character fascinated me in a way I don't fully understand, nor am I entirely comfortable admitting.  With sickening disbelief, I found a part of me wishing that this criminal would reveal some redeeming quality to explain my morbid preoccupation, my near infatuation with his strength of presence within this story.

Gaijin contrasted the reality of modern Japanese culture with the romanticised version many Westerners mistakenly perceive - revealing one possible consequence of such dangerous misconceptions.  The author, through masterful character depth, stripped away this Broad's natural instinct to hate Shindo, even as my heart broke for Jennifer, provoking more questions than answers.  I, even now, continue to comtemplate my surprising emotions and reaction to Remittance Girl's frighteningly sensual tale.

Overall Rating:  ♣♣♣♣♣

- Moíra ♣

22 May 2012

Tuesday Teaser ~ May 22, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel, Michael David Lukas

The Oracle of Stamboul: A NovelThis is another of my library finds, discovered while lazily perusing a forgotten shelf near the floor.  You know the shelf I speak of.  The lonely books at the bottom, rarely seeing the light of day outside the stuffy, creaky-floored building housing them.  Well, good deed done!  I sat my rumpus down and browsed those neglected titles...
Here's what I found...

Pg. 1 - 'The hoopoes would probably have been regarded as an auspicious sign, were it not for the unfortunate events that coincided with Eleonora's birth.'

Pg. 198 - 'Eleonora knew from Machiavelli that she should not offer advice unless the Sultan asked her.  If he did ask, however, she would tell him the truth as best she could.'

Happy Reading!  What have you discovered this week?

 - Moíra ♣

20 May 2012

Brazen Review: Love Finds You In North Pole, Alaska, Loree Lough

Instead of a regular blurb, I thought I'd share this neat book trailer I discovered.  Enjoy!

My thoughts: 

The Love Finds You series boasts an impressive number of stories set across the United States.  Loree Lough's is the only in the series I've sampled, and it was a pleasant read.
Bryce, as a hero, was far less Alpha than I prefer, a sentiment shared by the friend who recommended this novella.  But overall, he was likable.  Lough did a fair job at best of creating a back story to - er, well...back up her hero's reluctance for romance, but aside from disappointment, he suffered no betrayal - no shock worthy to cause a man to swear off women!  It was a weakness this Broad noted in the storyline; luckily, Lough's sweet romance made up for it in other areas.

The town of North Pole was well described without going overboard.  I loved being able to picture the Christmas decorations adorning each business and setting as well as the accurate description of average Alaskan homes - tiny yet cozy. 

Sam, the female protagonist balanced spunk and softness, making me hope with all my heart she'd get the guy.  Samantha and Bryce's romance developed slowly; be prepared for a chaste love story.  If you, like me, are used to a racier sort of romance - don't worry.  The characters are so lovable - especially Sam - you'll most likely enjoy this quick little story.

While I enjoyed Love Finds You In North Pole, Alaska, I probably won't seek another in the series, the main reason being I normally gravitate toward much longer, more involved reads; the second being that the Kindle formatting was awful - Summerside Press owes their author an apology. 

Overall Story -    ♣♣♣

 - Moíra ♣

17 May 2012

Spotlight On Up And Coming Author - Angela Brown

in a Pursuit of Publishness
My PhotoI am a lover of books - from classics to steampunk and everything in between. Plus, I'm in pursuit of making my full-time passion more than a part-time gig. This blog is to share about all things reading, writing, movies, TV shows, publication - I think you get the drift. I'll even share the ups and downs of my own journey. If you don't like any of these things, I appreciate your visit, but sadly say you've come to the wrong spot. If just one of these topics tickle your fancy, then please pull up a chair (be a follower of my blog), talk to me and others here (leave a comment) and know that you are always welcome.

Hi, Angela!  Thanks for taking the time to visit with the Broads today.  Your newest project, the A-Z Challenge has been a hit around the blogging world.  Tell us a bit...

The current WiP that shot into high priority status is the result of this year's A to Z blogging challenge which ended as of today.  It's a story that caught me by surprise as I originally came up with a few characters for the daily challenge and pantsed some daily drama involving them.  This morphed into a blog opera that ended with a cliff hanger.  So I've committed to self-publishing a novel/novella that includes these characters and has an ending. 

The WiP is called NEVERLOVE, a paranormal romance for a mature YA group (dark content including a non-detailed rape (can't handle a detailed rape scene...just can't), a suicide attempt and a college student who jokingly sells his soul to the devil, only it was no joke to the devil).  Here's a working blurb:

In the midst of forbidden love, a seed plants and blossoms.
From the heart of one damaged by a warped sense of love, true love springs forth.
For those destined for NEVERLOVE, can the binds of impossibility be broken?

Just started this so no cover image as of yet.  Have to work on getting that done.  For those who may be interested, I created a page with all 26 posts so they can go down the list of links to get acquainted with Abby, Basil, Father Quanon and Drakar: 

Take the time to read about Abby, Basil, and Drakar (evil personified if I've ever read it).  You'll be drawn in, just as this Broad.  Trust me.  You won't mind!
Congratulations, Angela.  The Brazen Broads wish you great success.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Q&A about me:

What are you currently reading? 

An ARC for a YA dystopian novel coming out in June.  SURRENDER by Elana Johnson, and I'm enjoying it.

Best books read this year/recently.....

Middle grade - Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
Sci-Fi/post-apocalyptic - Angelfall by Susan Ee
YA Gothic - Lacrimosa by Christine Fonseca
YA paranormal/magical - The Secret of Spruce Knoll by Heather McCorkle

How would you describe yourself? 

open-minded and easily led to giggles

Fav color?

Best line you've ever written

- This one is sort of simple, but it grew on me.  It's from my YA urban fantasy/dystopian: He locked his gaze with mine, yanking the scythe off the rack.  I hoped to one day get used to the molten silver color of his eyes. Today was not that day.

Best line you've ever read

- waaay too many to narrow down to just one.

Fav quote? 

Yoda's "Do or do not, there is no try."

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 In France so I could totally stalk Johnny Depp...but don't tell him.  Let it be our little secret

Biggest lesson learned

- Rejections are no fun but they can lead to better things in life.

Thank you again for sharing Abby, Basil, Drakar and a bit about yourself, too! 
May your pen flow easily across the page, or fingers fly across the the case may be!  See you soon, Angela.  We'll be keeping our eyes on you as you pursue 'publishness'. 

15 May 2012

Tuesday Teasers ~ May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  10 Men, Alexandra Gray

10 MenI've not started this novel yet, but it intrigued me as I browsed my local library's shelves.  The reviews vary widely, so I imagine this will be a 'loved it/hated it' sort of read.  Here's a teaser to get us all started, and I'll post a review when I've finished.  We'll see how this Broad rates this controversial read.

Pg. 1 - 'It is one of the wonders of the twenty-first century that a beautiful, brilliant and broad-shouldered man could reach almost forty without someone, somewhere convincing him it was time to drop his guard - or his underpants.'

Pg. 171 - 'And it wasn't the karate chop that worried me, as much as the man: the Billionaire was one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, but what good was that if he was a coward when it came to his heart?'

So much for that.  I'm quite interested to discover each of these 10 Men, and make my final call.  Happy Reading, All!  Thanks for stopping by.

 - Moíra ♣

08 May 2012

Tuesday Teasers ~ May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones, Book 6)
Zen And The Art of Vampires, Katie MacAlister

Pg. 32 - 'A man's voice called out behind me.  Damn that long legged Mattias.  I was already out of breath and had a suspicious pain in my side that warned of a stitch. 
"Please let me get away, please let me get away," I chanted in time to my pounding footsteps as I ran blindly through the still empty town, my brain squirreling around frantically for some way to escape Mattias.'

This is the second Katie MacAlister book I've had the pleasure of curling up with, and although Zen And The Art of Vampires was not the laugh-out-loud romp that Men In Kilts was, I enjoyed this high action adventure with a bit of steamy, albeit confused, passion sprinkled throughout.  That Katie sure can grab a Broad up and carry her off for a few hundred pages or so....

Happy Reading, All!  What's your teaser for the week?

 - Moíra ♣

01 May 2012

Tuesday Teaser ~ May 1, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Here's how it works..

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure what you share does not give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
An Oldie But Goody....

Red Storm RisingOkay.  I know what you're probably thinking.  A book about war??  Not for me.  No way.  Uh-uh.  Now, now.  Don't be hasty to dismiss this great read.  I stumbled across Tom Clancy, a master - really - during the mid 80's as a young teen.  (Ages ago, right?  Ha!)  I bought a collection of Clancy novels for my father for a Christmas gift, and a few months later, bored and looking for something to feed my voracious appetite for books, I decided to give old Tom a whirl.  What could it hurt, I thought.  Not my usual fare, but when you're hard up for a book, you'll take risks! 

What I discovered between these bright red covers was a novel that captured me, spawning a lifelong Clancy fan.  Really, I have a collection of about ten of the man's books.  This one, I have read more than once, and that makes it a must for Tuesday Teaser.  If you're ever feeling adventurous or wanting something 'different', take a chance on an epic read.  The many characters and settings kept me turning pages until wee hours - and a teen-aged girl writing a book report on Red Storm Rising left my high school English teacher flabbergasted.  Enough said.  Here's the teasers....

Pg. 22 - 'Narod, they called it, a masculine noun that was nonetheless raped in every sense: the masses, the faceless collection of men and women who toiled every day in Moscow and throughout the nation in factories and on collective farms, their thought hidden behind unsmiling masks.
"We cannot purchase oil," a candidate member pointed out.
"Then we must take it."'

Pg. 382 - ' Iceland -
Edwards could make out the machine guns in the Hind's nose, some kind of rotary gun like the American mini-gun that spat out four-thousand rounds per minute.  They wouldn't have a chance in hell against that.
"Turn, you son of a bitch," Mike said under his breath.
"Just relax.  Don't move at all."  Oh, God, don't let them see us now...'

Thanks for stopping by today!  Happy reading!
 ~ Moíra ♣


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