Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Hanging Gardens

Stokes Aster
Stokes Aster - recent addition (more on this in next)

When we moved, I had to leave behind my rooftop garden with most of its plants, flowers and all the birds, butterflies and other little critters.
Sad though it was, its been 2 months since the move and the lazy gardener is now officially back.

My problem ofcourse was not unique. In the region of Iraq, in 600BC (then called Babylon), queen Amytis was going through a similar problem. She missed her trees, flowers and gardens. Her better half King Nebuchadnezzar II found a solution by creating for her the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Faced with moping queen Rohini, king Keshav too applied his mind and came up with a simple solution for a 9th floor garden. Combining a need for security from monkeys(will discuss this in another post), saving floor real-estate and aesthetics.

Hanging Gardens
Our version of the Hanging Gardens :)

While moving, I took with me a baby chrysanthemum, my blue veronica, mexican heather baby plants and oregano. The black tulsi and the kadipatta did not survive the move. I also took a small cutting of a baby sun rose that was growing in our old building.

Im happy to inform that all are well and growing quite happily. I have also acquired a few more recently, here is the list:

1. Rain lily (White)
2. Tulsi (Green) my mom took a black one before we moved out.
3. White Alder
4. Stokes Aster (lavendar)
5. Star Cluster (Red)
6. Moss Rose ( really large variety - dark pink )
7. Portulaca Yellow and Pink
8. Chrysanthemum (Pink)
9. Rose (Red)
10. Song of India
11. Asparagus Foxtail fern

My parents just got back from a trip to Katpady (they were there for the Rath Festival).

Imagine their surprise when they see that the backyard of the house has been colonized by passion flower vines! I asked Mum to get me a cutting. I potted it this morning, and its blooming! ( Yes, I feel like shouting from the roof tops - but I cant obviously.. so I Twittered instead )

Passion Flower
when you wonder if there is a god, just look at this!

Urban gardening is an art and it comes with its own problems and advantages. This is my first experience with container gardening and I have a lot of new plants too, some that I'd never even seen or heard of. I will share my learnings in subsequent posts. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sankranti Cookies

Happy Sankranti!!

I have just learnt that I have to work tomorrow, on Sankranti. Sniff! :'( The thought of loosing any holiday to work is sad enough to have it happen close to a weekend is just unfair!

Faced with such a grim weekend, there was only one thing to do - Bake. Keeping in mind the festival I thought Id bake Sesame Cookies. And it had to be egg-less because of my aversion to eggs and because its a festival day.

I tried my best and came up with no eggless sesame cookies that was good enough for the lazy baker. I did however find this nice blog and this recipe which I modified.

Refer to the original site for the recipe.

My modifications:
1. I halved the quantity and made 11 cookies.
2. Substituted crushed almond skinless for cashews ( I roughly crushed around 10 cashews in a mortar and pestle - skinning almonds is just too much work)
3. I added 4 table spoons of fresh grated coconut ( which I took straight from the freezer - no time to thaw )
4. I added a few drops of vanilla essence
5. After flattening the cookie ball I dipped them in white sesame seeds to cover and placed in oven.

I baked on butter paper. Done in a jiffy and with no mess too.

Results: Crisp cookie ( soft when out of the oven, leave to cool and harden ). Sweetness is just right. I think i could have added more cashews. A kind of good-day biscuit like taste. :)
Out of the 11, there are only 3 left at the time of posting this blog - i think that speaks for itself.

Wikipedia informs us that in Karnataka it is called 'Yellu-Bella'. Yellu means 'til' or Sesame seeds and 'Bella' is Jaggery. Traditionally a mixture of sesame seeds, jaggery, coconut and groundnuts are distributed to relatives and friends. ( This cookie covers everything expect the peanuts - jaggery is basically from the same stuff as sugar - not bad no ? )

There is a saying in Kannada "Yellu bella thindu olle maathadi" which means 'Eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good'.

Happy Sankranti to you all.
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