Black Bean soup in InstaPot

imageBlack bean and potato soup in #instapot – sautéed onion, tomato and potato for a min and added a can of Trader Joe’s organic black beans; added salt, red chili 🌶 powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom powder, pinch of dhania powder and cooked in manual mode for 10 min. I really relished the flavors of all the spices 😋😋 added the spaghetti to it and it tasted so good 😊 especially the potato is cooked very perfectly 👌🏻 kind of very nostalgic feelingimage

 

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Majjiga Pulusu in Instapot

imageIngredients

  • Plum tomatoes 2
  • Red onion medium size 1
  • medium size carrots 2
  • string beans 1 cup – keep them long rather than having into small pieces
  • daikon 1/2 of medium sized one
  • bottle gourd – 1/2 of medium sized one
  • drum sticks (frozen vegetable)
  • okra – 10 to 12  cut it into small pieces
  • green chilli – 6 (add more if you want more spicy)
  • ginger small piece
  • coconut – small pieces measured into 1/2 cup
  • roasted chenna dal – 1/2 cup (putnala pappu) or use besan powder (gram flour) –  I personally prefer roasted chenna dal, but I used besan in the dish being shown in the pics  – besan gives it little thicker texture.
  • yougurt 1 to 2 cups
  • little oil or ghee to sauté the vegetables
  • seasoning – little bit urud dal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chilli, curry leaf and asafoetida – use little bit ghee for seasoning
  • cilantro
  • salt
  • turmeric

Preparation in #InstaPot

  • imagesauté  all the vegetables with little oil or ghee for a min or two
  • add all the vegetables except green chilly
  • Add salt and turmeric to the vegetables
  • grind ginger, green chilli, coconut and roasted chenna dal into fine powder and add yogurt and grind it for few seconds
  • add that mixture to the sautéed vegetables
  • add 1 to 2 cups of water
  • check the salt
  • Set manual, high pressure for 10 min
  • i let it cool normally
  • once it is done do the seasoning  – add all the seasoning stuff to little ghee (always use ghee for seasoning for yogurt based foods) and mix it to the cooked food
  • then add cilantro leaves

image

A reflection on 2016

A reflection on 2016
All good memories – dreams came true in a blossoming way, discovering inner strengths and talents, taking paths those I even didn’t know they exist, all positive vibes.

pongal-2016Just to showcase my hidden talents – Pongal 2016 at Ramana’s place – I have practiced birds muggu as we planned to have muggulu on that day, but after I had that one, got so much inspired and checked for radham muggu on iPad and just put it on the spot, felt very much blessed.

It all startnagarjunaed with a memorable India trip in Feb/March – I met Nagarjuna (on 5th March) which I never ever dreamt of. Praveen has been asking me and I was asking praveen too about meeting him. But some how in my earlier trips, when ever Praveen asked me and he was shocked  when I was telling him that I was not ready to meet him yet. I truly admire him for many of his qualities and a day in my life wouldn’t pass on without me remembering him atleast once. But i really do not know what I should talk when I had lot to talk and for sure I did not want to meet him for just a photo op. I want him to know atleast a little bit of who I am when I know (I think) so much about him. So I have been postponing this for almost 5 years I think. This imagetime I have mentally prepared to meet him (even though i was not sure what I would talk to him 🙂 ) and I have decided to make a scrap book with some pictures starting from his parents’ pics to his kids’ pics and those all in between – from his real and reel candid shots. I had tons and
tons of his pics on my iphone and iPad – wherever i see a pic I like, I SAVE it. It took me a few days to select the pics from my humongous collection and got them printed. I have ordered scrapbook stuff from amazon.in and took some from here too and bought some stuff at Waldens. I also added some of the articles from my blog. I guess I need a separate blog article for this whole episode as I want to write every little thing related to this event. I got an apt prescription from him.

End of April – we had a baby shower for Prashanthi at my place – the first event that has brought out my hidden talents – I, Prashanthi and Chaitanya unknowingly each other’s ideas thought of Peacock theme for the baby shower. I had to thank Lakshmi Gonji immensely for bringing her artistic mind into this to make this venue a perfect Peacock land. One day, few weeks before the party ,  Lakshmi and I were talking on phone about this theme and in the next 15 min, she has sent me photo of a bird she made with paper (of course that one looked like a turkey, that is a different story) and then we  shopped for some nice paper in peacock colors.prashanthis-baby-shower

We made some banners and the day before the event Lakshmi with the help of Prithi and Babloo made some more peacocks. I was able to buy the gift bags designed with peacocks for return gifts. I found those online a week before after an intense search on the web and we were able to get those just on the day of the event. I even printed the labels with a thank you note with peacocks on it. With out any idea of this theme nor any planning, the sari I got for Prashanthi (my sister’s gift to her) is peacock colored shades one. I have ordered some sweets from Vellanki in Hyderabad and they have sent ladoos in hard boxes so that they won’t break into pieces have big peacock on each of the boxes. Of course, nevertheless to say that the flowers, eucalyptus stems  we used for decoration, the cake and the cup cakes everything is peacock themed.prashanthis-baby-shower1

When Prashanthi and Chaitanya walked into the party room around 4 pm while we were still decorating it were so amused (Prashanthi even complimented that she was feeling like walking into a Peacock land with eucalyptus and fresh flowers aroma is spreading the whole area). Chaitanya felt like he should hire an official photographer to make and preserve the event even memorable. But he could not find any in a short notice and Lakshmi gladly took that responsibility.

Wittheteamh the confidence that we have gained from Prashanthi’s baby shower, we (I, Prashanthi, Lakshmi, Babloo) have established our ‘theTeam – an event management group‘ and initiated this on Guru Pournami day with Baba’s blessings at Flushing Temple

Then came Tanvi’s langa voni event.

tanvi-langa-voniI have asked Sekhar whether we could decorate the party hall (for Tanvi’s langa voni ceremony) and it was confirmed 5 days before the event – the event was Saturday lunch and we were given a green signal on Monday morning I guess. We plunged into the opportunity and had conference calls everyday and with whats app group, Lakshmi, Prashanthi and I came up with ideas and ordering stuff from amazon with prime. We were asked for center pieces on tables – Prashanthi came up with the idea of small dolls garned with langa vonis and lakshmi got the idea of making lotus flowers with paper so that we could keep the dolls on the lotus flower and we could use them as centerpieces on the tables. We have ordered barbie dolls and we used old pattu blouses to make vonis for them and decorated them with some jewelry and bindi etc. We bought a stand for the photo backdrop and some sarees were used as drapes and I made garlands with fresh flowers (carnation and mums in pink, yellow as the color theme for the event was pink and mustard).

Then Vinayaka Chavithi
vinayaka-chavithi-2016
Some how few days before vinayaka chavithi – I had some images in front of my eyes – to arrange flowers in circles and keep Vinayakudu in the center. I had another vision to celebrate Vinayaka Pooja in an open farm amidst nice plants – may be Vinayaka would bring this dream materialize soon as I have a passion for farming and am looking for the options to start something in those lines.

I usually keep some books when I do Pooja on chavithi, and since I am not studying anything new by attending schools, I have just picked up a book from husband’s humongous collection of books. That is another story for my blog (my husband’s voracious passion for books, and music ) and I realized later that the title of the book I picked was Now, discover your inner strengths, so surprised and happy that Vinayaka’s blessings are with me always.
Then Rachana’s sweet sixteen

rachana-sweet16for this event Prashanthi and I have worked with Ramana (Rachana’s mom) to make the decor as beautiful as we could think (dream) of. For this event we had ample time, almost close to a month. The color theme for the event is Aqua Blue – Rachana’s dress color. We have completely taken ownership and used our creative abilities to bring beauty to – Welcome Table, Photo Booth, Sweets Stall, Guest Book, Papers Used for Guest Book, Printing Rachana’s 17 photos (16 birthday pictues + the one on the day she was born). For all the banners we made – Rachana’s Sweet 16, Guest Book, Sweets Stall, Photo Booth – we tried to stick to the theme colors – shades of Blue and white. These banners literally takes several hours to make those big circles with floral arches and the letters – thanks to Martha Stewart Arts and Crafts tools.

#Photo Booth – This one was an instantaneous hit. 1. Hand-made paper flowers – one big blue, two medium sized blue and 4 small white flowers 2. A backdrop for Photobooth 3. Hand-made floral props (became very popular) 4. Sweet Sixteen props designed and printed 5. Small slate.

#Guest Book 1. Hand-made banner ‘Guest Book’ glued to a Blue tulle and put it nicely in a photo frame 2. Printed various pictures of Rachana as watermarks on various colored papers so that guests can write their wishes and those papers would be nicely bound for her to keep it as a beautiful memorabilia.

#Sweets Stall 1. Hand-made banner – Sweets Stall 2. Cup cakes, Cake pops and Cake cones baked by Prashanthi and those are nicely wrapped in fancy decorative paper. We have placed a cherry Blossom tree on the table to bring elegance to the Sweets table.

Printed ‘Thank You’ labels to be affixed to the return gifts. Designed the labels with the birthday girl’s attire, shoes etc with a nice message.

Printed 16 birthday pics of Rachana with an extra one that has been taken on the day she was born which goes on to the 16 Candles table and the rest are nicely positioned on the walls of the party hallrachana-sweet161

Diwali – Worked with some mason jars – nicely wrapped with jute ribbons placing LED light strings inside. Also made paper lanterns with a string of LED lightsdiwali-2016

My office Christmas party –  Everything is hand made except for the raw materials. The decor completely reflects the holiday spirit. Made food place card holders with glass candy canes; Printed some food (our menu) labels with all Christmas based images;

oppba-christmas-party-2016decorated Mason jars which reflect the holiday spirit – lights, snow, pine cones, leaves and the red fruits; Made #GrinchFruitKabobs, Bombay Halwa (an Indian sweet) with Christmas colors; Made a beautiful garland with 100 multi colored lights string by knotting different colored ribbons (red, green, blue, silver, gold, white and jute). Made cotton ball garlands for bringing the snow effect; Made photo props; and finally the backdrop for Photo booth. Used meshed ribbon (close to 2 ft wide), with cotton ball garlands and the lights floral garland as the border with some Christmas decorations. Of course I was there with Canon DSLR and became the official photographer of the event and won the appreciation from many including the admiration and recognition from Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas (Assistant Secretary-General, Controller Department of Management)

New York Cares giving gifts to kids project – with the help of family, friends and colleagues was able to answer 105 kids’ wishes. New York Cares – Give Holiday Gifts 2016

My floral Christmas Tree – read about my passion for having a Christmas Tree at home christmas-tree-week-2

my-christmas-tree-christmas-week

On my birthday – I have been seriously thinking of celebrating my birth in a different way from next year onwards (regretted for not doing anything constructive this year) _ iad a a beautiful experience at the place I go to volunteer two days of a week – teach Math and English to students (adults) who are preparing for college entrance exams.

birthday2016“The place where I go to teach (through New York Cares) is 1199 medical insurance company
. They had a tutor appreciation day dinner a week before my birthday and I could not attend that one. Today when I was working
with my two students, the coordinator asked me to see her supervisor after the class as she had some gifts for all the tutors (I went to the class yesterday but she did not say anything) I wasbirthdat-gift-2 with the students and her supervisor came to me and handed over this to me in a small gift bag, I thought there were some cookies, I came home and opened it and to my surprise I found a data bank and on that engraved Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, very emotional moment to me, a perfect birthday gift from Baba, my parents and my beloved husband, I was in tears 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻”

Taking all these beautiful memories and with the confidence and strength they have provided, and with Baba’s protection, guidance and grace and the love and support from my dear parents and my beloved husband, walking into 2017 to unveil more talents and to blossom into a better human being 

New York Cares – Give Holiday Gifts 2016

imageThis year with the help of friends, family and colleagues, we as a team answered #105WinterWishLetters from kids, teenagers. Very happy and an emotional moment for me. Thanks everyone who has been part of this happiness – Geetha akka and her colleagues around 36 letters), Karthi, Prashanthi, Chaitanya, Arya, Tinku, Radhika, Ramana, Radha, Radhalakshmi, Girija (Sirisha), Kameswari, Sarada (Prashanthi’s friend) and my colleagues – Gilbert, Dawit, Eswaran, Joseph, Rama Krishna, Monica, Liz, Mario, Michael, Nicole, Eline, Cheryl, Marta, Brenda, ever thankful and grateful to everyone who has faith in me and supports me in this journey ❤ ❤ ❤ #NewYorkCares

Usually New York Cares posts this project for us to request the letters around 3rd week of October, I logged into this site around 24th October and I did not see any letters for senior citizens. I sent them an email inquiring about senior letters and to my astonishment I was told that those letters were taken away already. I could not believe it and I was arguing with them with exchange of emails. I am disappointed a bit that I could not answer their wishes but I am very delighted that people are more aware of this project and embracing it with so much grace.

One of my colleagues who was a major support to me in this project for almost 7 years had left the United Nations and I was little worried that I might not be able to answer my usual 100 letters goal. But I have full support from Baba and love you sister’s colleagues were very enthusiastic and took almost 36 letters vs. 20+ letters in the past. And some new colleagues and family members joined me in this journey and helped me reach my goal and we collectively made some kids smile on that day and tried to support their belief in giving – Believe

one of my supervisors said that he was glad that I had asked him to be part of this project and thus was the most rewarding thing he had done during this Chritmas season and another colleague complemented my efforts by thanking me by letting him to be part of my humanatarian efforts.

thanking Baba for every opportunity that is coming in my way to make me grow into a better person 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻