- Bright side: Gifts, some grow wiser!
- Flip side: Aging, others grow round the middle:)
On 12th I leapt a year forward - figuratively speaking - for I would have landed on my belly had this been literal. The belly is right now the high point of my life inviting doubtful glances! On the bright side, it (the belly) does pose some advantages. Once I was traveling in the 2nd class compartment of a packed local train to Churchgate, and the belly came to the rescue. I ouched because my elbow hit somewhere, and one kindly lady who was getting off, offered me her seat saying she understood how 'difficult it can be', and how selfish people had become - not even offering seats to those in need. I was taken aback for a second, and then realized what she meant. Protesting I said, "No no, it is....." but the lady would not allow me to go further thinking I was refusing her offer out of decency. I resigned myself to fate deciding to play along rather than becoming a laughing stock!! She was probably doing her 'good act' for the day, so why not give her the pleasure, I thought! I touched my stomach and gave a tolerant smile and replied, 'Hmmm...., it's OK", careful not to overdo it. I got to sit the rest of the way, and even caught a short nap!
On to the real high point of that day:
My children bought me a six piece tea set with heart shaped cups and saucers. Pretty, aren't they?:)
Jr.H slipped a lovely colorful handmade card into my hands as she woke me up. It read, "To MOM - The madam of merry," as she could not think of any better term for me:). There were a lot of other things the card had - hearts, stars and Garfield (adorable, isn't he?) stuck randomly but, what I savored was the fragrance of nearly thirteen years of love, mischief, revisits to childhood, friendship, kinship and togetherness with a wonderful 'angel with devilish horns'. I also basked under the glory of the ending - 'MOM rocks':). I hugged her and quickly blinked away the tears that filled my eyes so that she couldn't see them, lest she says - "Mummy, why do you cry so easily?"
Not for long though! The 'angel who is a pain in the @## when he is around and a pain in the heart when he is not' i.e., Jr.P - still happy to be cuddled - gave a characteristic bear hug, sat on my lap, came up close to my ear and whispered, "Please, can we celebrate your birthday with that sticky - not vegan - chocolate pudding you made before?" I hugged him close and laughed - a nine year old boy often brings reality back to the fore, and is very clear about his preferences;)!!
P bought me a pretty shirt - since the camera was given a day before - which made me wistful because it was a size small making me realize all was not nice while growing rounder in the middle! Sighhh....
I am sure it is with most of us (am I wrong?) that we tend to be less peppy about 'Happy Birthdays' when we cross thirty. When I say that, I do not mean 'not happy' but 'excited in a different way'. The 'date' is no longer an anticipatory thing for flashing new clothes or throwing a party, but a more simple celebration with family and sometimes a few close friends. My birthdays get done in phases - one with P and the kids, a small 'treat' at office, and another one with my lunching friends.
I still am excited about many things which last for a few moments but make everlasting memories - P's whisper when the clock strikes 12, the kids rushing in to wake me up with cards, tea, and kisses at the crack of dawn, they blocking me from entering their room and me pretending that I do not really know whats going on, the incessant ringing of the phone signaling calls from Parents, Sisters, Sisters/Mother-in-law, and friends!! The signs of living, and loving that give me the reason to look forward to more birthdays (aging? who cares!), and I never ever take any of these signs for granted.
As years pass I find myself more aware of the need for people, and the passage of time and its unpredictability. I make it a point to try and be more diplomatic, leave a smile on faces, accept the other's point of view just to end an argument that does not lead anywhere though, frank and rash is said to be my middle name! Ten years ago, I would have stood my ground in an argument if I was right but now I don't feel it is worth when all you end up with is a soured relationship. The world is my tapestry, and all I want is to weave in more and more beautiful threads of memories......while I do strive to live one day at a time! Sometimes, I do break the rule - what is life if full of care?:)
That is exactly what I meant when I said 'excited in a different way'. I do not wait for a V'day or a B'day having seen what isolation can do, having seen close people succumbing to death....., and I never found the time to tell them what they meant! So if you love someone express it, and if you love something follow your dream - tomorrow is unpredictable and today is the only chance you have. After all that gyaan, I did celebrate B'day with a sticky 'not vegan' pudding cake, and V'day with my family - not with roses, cards or wine but by giving an extra long hug to the kids, and a most beneficial bear hug to P - which he promptly returned and rewarded the very same evening with one of the prettiest terracotta neckpieces:)
According to Jr.H reading all this from behind:
"The gist is that we are devils, and - who is that person who sounds so good? We have never seen her around here!!" Ha ha....the girl is growing:)
Before I go into another one of my incessant rants, let me just give the recipe that I veganized long back, make occassionally, but did not want to post till it became perfect - and I think it is now!
This is more of a 'pudding cake' then a custardy pudding. The earlier tofu chocolate pudding
that featured on this belonged to the latter category. I think the tofu chocolate pudding can be easily made vegetarian (without eggs) by substituting the tofu with cornstarch and full cream milk to make a thick custard along with the same quantity of cocoa powder as I used earlier. The banana can be omitted, and instead the pudding can be generously flavored with 1/2 a tsp. of cinnamon powder, and served with a topping of whisked double cream.
The present recipe is more of an English pudding, that can be flavored with rum, and made a heavy one with dry fruits and plums steeped in rum if needed for Christmas. My version is a light one with a half-half use of oil and nutralite to reduce the amount of fat, and a personal blend of cornflour, whole wheat flour, and APF to make it a little healthy. It is my own recipe that has evolved after many sunken puddings, gooey puddings, and rich puddings!Vegan English Pudding Cake:(Own recipe)
Flour - I used a blend of 25g cornflour + 50g Whole wheat flour (Ashirwaad atta) + 115g APF giving 190g total flour i.e., 1 + 3/4 cups. (In my measurement 1 Indian cup = 110g flour)
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Salt - a pinch
Baking powder - 1 + 1/2tsp.
Cashew milk / any other toned/lowfat milk - 3/4 cup
Nutralite (softened) - 3 tsps.
Sunflower oil - 1/4 cup
Sunrise Instant Coffee powder - 2tsp.
Sugar (brown/raw is preferable) - 1 cup (I use less sweet as this is enough for me - most recipes call for more)
Boiling hot water - 1and 1/2 cup or a little more if needed.
Chopped pieces of dark chocolate/plain chocolate/white chocolate.
Stir flour blend, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and sieve once to get a uniform mix.
Grind the milk, nutralite, oil, coffee powder and sugar to get a thickish mixture.
Add the flour little by little folding it into the wet mixture without forming lumps and without beating. Only use cut and fold or stir it a little. If it gets too thick add another 1/4 cup of boiling water till all the flour is used up, and you get a thick but 'stirrable' mixture.
Scoop a tablespoon of the batter into well-greased ramekins, oven safe shot glasses or moulds. I used one medium sized pudding mould, and four shot glasses.
Pour boiling hot water over the batter - a tbsp. each in the small moulds, and 1/4 cup in the bigger one.
Since my son had insisted on sticky chocolate pudding, I chopped lots of white cooking chocolate and dark ones and folded them into the pudding. This notches up the taste high, but is optional. You may add raisins, dry fruits etc. which have been steeped in rum for two days for a more festive approach.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 to 200 (not more) deg. C. for 25 to 30 minutes for the individual moulds, and about 40 minutes for the big mould. Test with a toothpick and bake till the top is firm to touch and the toothpick comes out clean. The rims might have some stickiness but that is alright.
Serve warm with ice cream, or sprinkled with icing sugar or topped with chocolate ganache. I did not have ice cream to go with it, but it tasted great by itself. My son had it with icing sugar as he felt the sugar was less. My daughter, husband and I liked it as it was.
Next morning, I wanted to pour white chocolate ganache but 'current current' problems resulted in some overcooked ganache. The kids however liked it. (Second picture below
My white vegan topping:Cashew cream and cashew milk
I ground about 1/2 cup cashew with a cup of hot water, and strained it. The strained cream, not the residue was then whipped well with a tsp. of oil, and 2tsp. of soyvita powder to give a tasty creamy concoction which I used as a topping. (You can see it in the third picture below
). I reserved the residue in the strainer for later use. I washed the grinder and the strainer in 1/2 cup of hot water and used this as the chocolate milk in the recipe above.
This was way too tasty! The pudding is absolutely airy, so try and top it with an imaginative sauce that will seep through it. My neighbours loved it too, and my little friend (K's baby) who is all of 3years old too one piece to nursery for break:).Vegetarian variations
Instead of cashew milk use full fat milk
Instead of blend of oil and nutralite use white butter.
Omit salt if using table butter.Event submissions
This pudding cake is made at my son's request, so I am also sending it to Alka of Sindhi Rasoi for her lovely event 'Just for you'
to celebrate her first blog annv. Today is the last day:)