Lavender Soda

Lavender! What’s not to love! So delicate, so flavorful. Every morning, I walk past a bunch of lavender bushes on the sidewalk on my way to work. And they smell amazing!! Some times, I will pluck off a small flower and rub it on the inside of my wrist- instant perfume right there!

I always keep dried lavender buds in my pantry. They make everything smell great. A sachet of lavender in my clothes drawer makes me smelling like a lady all day long.  🙂 Did you know that in the summer months, if you tied some lavender branches in front of your fan- your entire room would be fragrant!

Lavender can have many uses- but it is wonderful to drink as a refreshing summer beverage. This recipe calls for making a simple syrup with lavender and then enjoying it over some seltzer water.

So, let’s get ready.

Combine the sugar, lavender and water and boil.

Once it comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves, let it cool.

After cooling, strain it into a bottle.

Voila!

This syrup can stay in the refrigerator and should keep for up to 2 months. This is a very versatile syrup- it can go with lemonade, teas, a great syrup to incorporate when baking cookies and cakes.

For this drink, I combined it with seltzer water, added ice and threw in some fresh mint leaves I had on hand.

This drink has the perfect delicateness of lavender and refreshment from the cold seltzer water. Homemade sodas are awesome- let’s make more!

Cheers!

Recipe (adapted from Chickpea Magazine)

Lavender Syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup raw cane sugar

1 tablespoon culinary lavender

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and let it come to a boil on medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, take it off the heat and let it cool. Strain it and refrigerate.

Lavender Drink

8 oz. seltzer water/ club soda

2 tablespoons lavender syrup

To make the drink, add the seltzer water and the lavender syrup in a glass. Serve it with lots of ice and fresh mint leaves.

Tastes great with some lemonade too!

Strawberry Blueberry Jam

I am loving the weather. It’s so much fun waking up in the morning to a bright happy sun- makes me feel like the day has so much potential..there are so many possibilities..I can accomplish so much in that day, it’s amazing! Umm..just don’t ask me what happens to that resolve by the evening..mkay? Or we can’t be friends!

Summer also makes me want to eat light meals..salads filled with tomatoes and basil and avocados drizzled with balsamic vinegar..yummm…and the fruits! There are hoards of strawberries surrounding me these days and on days when they look really good, I buy them and store them in my freezer for future use.

This jam is not really jammed..I mean it is not canned and it took me about 30 minutes to make with no prep time, cos lets face it..no one wants to spend their summers in the kitchen!

So, let’s start. All this recipe needs is about a pound of strawberries (I also had some blueberries and I tossed those in and boy, did I like the color?). Some sugar and some lime/lemon juice. The tartness from the lime juice helps the sweetness from your berries. You can adjust this depending on the sweetness of the berries.

Start boiling on a medium high flame.

Now, watch them boil…ooh..look at those bubbles!

More bubbles…

In around 10-15 mins, the liquid will reduce to about half its original quantity and you will have a jellyish consistency that looks something like this

Bottle it up and refrigerate. Mine has been finding its way to everything I eat…but I would guess it won’t last longer than 10 days, since there are no preservatives added.

Look how beautiful that is. It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart without overpowering the taste of the fruit with the sugar. Other things that popped in my head later were… how beautiful would this be with a hint of lavender, mint or even fennel! Imagine…so much potential!

Recipe: Yields about 1-11/2 cups of jam

1-1 1/2 pound of strawberries

1 cup of blueberries

1/2 a cup of sugar

Juice of 1 lime (reduce if berries are tart already)

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Let it cook for 10-15 mins. You will see the fruit breaking and the liquid boiling. Stop when the chunks of fruit are broken and the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 of its original quantity. This will be a spreadable and not too thick of a jam.

Enjoy on toast, muffins, pancakes or even with your granola. Weird? May be!

Bok Choy with an oriental twist

One of my friends absolutely loves this dish!  He will not eat anything else when I make this…so, on popular demand, here goes-

Bok choy-with an oriental twist

The best part about eating bokchoy is that it is very light and will not make you feel guilty about that pistachio gelato post dinner 🙂  Try to pick baby bokchoy that are supple and not the overgrown napa-cabbagy type ones that leave only fiber in your mouth.

I have generally had good luck in Whole Foods or other Chinese stores with bok choy.

Recipe:

Bok Choy- 10-15 (they shy down upon cooking)

Soy sauce

Garlic -1-2 cloves-minced

sesame oil

white vinegar

freshly crushed black pepper

Take your bok choy and cut off the ends, you will have a beautiful flower shaped stem in your hand (for useless garnish value).  Soak all this in water for sometime and make sure you lose all the dirt in it.

In a wok/skillet, add 1-2 tbsp of olive (or sesame oil).  I usually add olive oil and then drizzle sesame later on for a wonderful aroma.  Once the oil is hot, add garlic in it and let it brown just a tad.  When you can smell the garlic in your clothes, you know it is time for the bok choy leaves to go in.  Cover it at this point and let it simmer.  Once, the leaves wither a little, take the cover off and stir it well.  Add soy sauce (to taste) and 1 tbsp of vinegar (don’t get greedy with the vinegar, or it will get too bitter).  Don’t overcook the bokchoy or you will lose the nice crunch in it.  Turn off the heat and add freshly crushed black pepper for deliciousness…

Vermicelli Upma

Ingredients:
Vermicilli: 2 cups
Green chillies: 4
Coconut: 3 table spoons
Mustard Seeds: 1/2 tea spoon
Urad dal: 2/3 tea spoon
Sugar: 1 table spoons (This can be varied. Upma tastes best when it is sweet and spicy)
Oil: 1 tea spoon
Ghee: 1 table spoon
Curry Leaves
Salt: to taste

Method:
Heat ghee (need I say, in a pan?); add vermicilli  and roast till it turns slight brown in color (If you are going to fool around the kitchen while this is going on, like I tend to do, I recommend you keep the burner on a low flame). In an other small pan pour oil, add mustard seeds and allow to splutter, then add urad dal, green chillies, and curry leaves. Add this to vermicilli. Also add sugar and salt. Mix. Add about 1/2 cup of hot water (best to keep water to boil while roasting the vermicilli. Saves time, you see) and stir, till the vermicilli cooks. After cooking for sometime, if you feel all the water has evaporated and yet, vermicelli is not cooked, then add water in very little quantity and repeat. Very crucial part. (Statutory warning: Water in excess, even by minuscule amounts causes upma to cluster together in lumps; moist gooey lumps). Finally, add grated coconut.
Serve hot and Enjoy!

Serves: 4 (supermodels on a crash diet)
Preparation time: 15mins if you are an expert. Else, just cutting the green chillies into small tiny bits can take most of the morning.