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Mallika Joseph's cookbook feast for the eyes:

A diverse palette for different palates

Being food frenzy or not is not a matter of concern at this point. But it definitely gives one food for thought as you would soon discover that your eyes are savouring the sumptuous dish decorating the cover. And turning over of each page opens the door to a novel cooking adventure and simply glancing at the list of recipes would no doubt whet your appetite.

Culinary Expert Mallika Joseph has cooked up her ideas which were tried and tested over many decades in the her book Cooking like Mum which saw its second edition released at the Vijitha Yapa Bookshop last Saturday. Cooking and the culinary art both sound similar but taste different, Mallika Joseph clarifies. Once it is in your hands you would realize that cooking is an artful engagement with food that onehas to take pleasure and pride in before it's gorged away in no time!

Cooking is not only mixing through a variety of spices and boiling it to soften the ingredients. There is a galore of tricks and tips to be stirred up in your gravy which gives out the mouth watering aroma and tantalizing taste not to mention the nutritional value of the food, she says.

Delightful experience

The book takes you through a delightful experience over continents and regions known for their own culinary accomplishments. Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese, Italian or anything that you wish for is included in the book. The recipes are well thought out and tried and tested. So even a beginner can now pick up pots and pans to take the plunge to a new vista of taste and flavour, Joseph said.

It took more than eight months to compile the 400 recipes presented in the book as it was a meticulous and a tedious task. Every recipe should be tried and tested to gain the best taste, colour and outlook. None of the recipes included in the book is copied from any other book, the culinary artiste said.

Food styling

Another important figure in the process of launching this tasteful experience in the form of a book is food stylist Kumuduni Dias. Food editing and food styling make the food or dish more appealing and appetizing, she said. It is very important in improving the taste and flavour of the food that you cook. Garnishing, decorating and presenting the dish that you prepared painstakingly should please theeyes of the guest before its irresistible aroma sends the tummies rumbling. This is what the Japanese call 'eating with eyes'-and food styling does it all!

Having studied the art of culinary under Mallika Joseph and later reached the professional stage, Dias now serves as a lecturer on bakery products at a multinational bakery product company. Foodstyling and editing varies on the cuisine and it has to improve the authentic taste, flavour and the outlook of the food, she elaborates.

"When compiling recipes the chef has to experiment with different measurements, equipment, and even the temperatures to acquire the best result. Colouring and flavouring are other very important 'taste factors' in food editing," she added.

Art of cooking

'Taking everything with a pinch of salt' is not an acceptable theory in the rightful art of cooking, she says. "The overuse of colour, spices and flavours to improve the taste of a dish is a myth. It only destroys the original taste and the nutrients of the food and it is harmful to health too," she explained.

Fusion cooking

Kumuduni Dias. Pictures by Sudath Nishantha

Climate is another factor associated with food. Tropical foods do not agree with the cold climate and vice versa. However, it is no bar to explore delights foreign to us as there is always room toadjust it the way you like.

"This is known as fusion cooking which is immensely popular the world over," she said. In experimenting this way of cooking one can use the ingredients that are not part of home cuisine but you finally have to name it differently. "In fusion cookery you have the liberty to change theingredients to add a new and delightful experience but it won't take the name of the original recipe," she added. Chinese food available in Sri Lanka is a good example for fusion cooking, she said.

Following the guidelines in order and using the correct equipment are the key to master the art, Dias explains.

Cooking is a science

"Cooking is a science. The correct measurement, ingredients and equipment and the temperature set everything right. Chinese and Thai cuisine widely use the wok because it regulates the right temperature required for those dishes.

Likewise, Sri Lankan cuisine is best prepared in clay pots because it is capable of retaining the taste and nutritional value of the food. Similarly the equipment used in the authentic traditional Sri Lankan cooking like the winnowing fan, grinding stone and mortar and the pestle can present a holistic Sri Lankan cooking experience," Dias said.


Daily News article lights up way for student

Education Minister Susil Premjayantha handing over the laptop to Goshini Marambage. Telecommunications Division Manager of Bartleet Electronics Limited Shalitha Dissanayaka, Information Technology Unit, Director of the Education Ministry Neil Gunadasa and Goshini’s Computer Instructor Janaka Seneviratne were also present. Picture by Hindogama Group Correspondent

'Ghoshini wins hearts with amazing new software', the article published in the Daily News Woman on February 19, 2006 has become a ladder for Goshini Dilhani Marambage to reach her dream.

The talented girl hailing from a Samurdhi family in the North Central Province won the first place at the All Island Competition conducted by the Microsoft Corporation last year, by developing a software program to view the functioning of the heart.

Despite all her success she never had a PC of her own and the article highlighted her plight and soon after it was published the response was overwhelming. Having confirmed the information and achievements of Goshini with the Education Ministry, Telecommunications Division Manager of Bartleet Electronics Limited Shalitha Dissanayaka decided to present a laptop worth of Rs.150,000 to the talented student to develop her skills. At a ceremony to introduce the Interactive White Board Program at the Royal College, Colombo, Education Minister Susil Premjayantha handed over the laptop to Goshini..

"It's a dream come true. My parents can not afford a computer. I always wanted one as I know I can improve my skills and knowledge through that. I am grateful to Mr. Dissanayaka and the Daily News paper which brought this matter to the public eye,"Gohini said.

Following the article, a Sri Lankan expatriate in Florida, USA, Hamilton Jayasekara has come forward to assist Gohini in her efforts.


Fight the sunburn

The warm sun rays are quite unavoidable these days. Even under the shade of umbrella and with a generous layer of sun screen lotion on your skin help only little but there are simple remedies for mild sunburn. Read on.

Home remedies that may provide relief from a mild sunburn.

1) Hydrotherapy

Brief baths, showers, and towel compresses can help to keep the sunburn cool and hydrated. The temperature of the water should be cool to lukewarm. Water that is too hot can strip the natural oils of the skin.For a mild sunburn, try taking a cool bath or shower. Or place wet, cool towels on the affected areas for 10 to 15 minutes, several times a day.

2) Aloe vera gel

Aloe gel is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects and is used topically to soothe burned skin and to help heal wounds. Pure aloe gel can be found in your home garden. The fresher the gel, the more effective it is believed to be. Cut off a spear, split it open, and rub the clear gel from the inside of the leaf on the sunburn. Avoid the sticky yellow latex.

Aloe gel should not be used for severe burns or wounds.

Aloe Vera cream can be applied to skin 20 minutes before, immediately after or before and after UV exposure.

3) Topical vinegar

Plain white vinegar is a popular sunburn remedy. Although there is no evidence behind this folk remedy, many people who try it say it helps to relieve pain when applied to the skin. Vinegar can be applied as a compress. Soak clean towels in a half water, half vinegar solution.

Wring the towels and apply on the affected areas, avoiding contact with broken skin and the eye area. Another option is to fill a clean spray bottle with the half vinegar, half water solution and spritz it onto skin.

4) Stay hydrated

It is important to drink plenty of fluids, because we lose more water when we're out in the heat and the sun. Dehydration can cause headaches and fatigue.

Altmedicine.about.com
 


Handy tips

Ant repellant:

To keep ants out of the house, find where the ants are entering the house and sprinkle a "barrier" of cinnamon or any type of ground pepper to block their way. The spices are too hot for the ants to cross. Cucumber peels have the same effect.

Freshen a garbage disposal:

Sprinkle baking soda in it along with a few drops dish-washing liquid. Scrub with a brush (a new toilet brush works great), getting under the rubber gasket and all around the inside. Then, turn on water and let the disposal run to flush thoroughly. For a fresh citrus scent, throw in a few cut up lemons or limes and run them through, too, using lots of water.

Bathroom odours:

Place an opened box of baking soda OR an open container of activated charcoal behind the toilet to absorb bathroom odors

Chimney:

To keep your chimney clean, throw a handful of salt on the fire.

Coffee grinder:

Grind up a cup or so of rice in a coffee grinder to clean the grinder and sharpen its blades.

Fish or spoiled food odour:

Place a bowl of white vinegar on the counter for a few hours. The odor will disappear for good.

Candle holders:

To prevent the wax from melting and sticking to the inside of a votive candle holder, pour a bit of water in the holder, then place the candle on top. If you're reading this tip too late, and there's already wax stuck inside your candle holder, pop it in the freezer for an hour. The wax will chip right off.

Candle wax:

To remove wax from carpeting or other fabric, first scrape away any excess. Then, place a brown paper bag over the wax and run a warm iron over the bag. The wax will melt right into the bag! Continue moving the bag around as you pick up the wax so you are always using a clean section. If a little grease stain remains on carpet, sprinkle with baking soda and allow to sit overnight before vacuuming, which will remove the grease residue. If colored wax leaves a stain on carpet, blot with spot remover or carpet cleaner, following label directions

Freshen laundry basket:

Place a fabric softener sheet in the bottom of your laundry basket (remember to change it weekly.) You can also simply sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your basket and that will help absorb the odours as well.


Flowers look great!

Have you been put off buying fresh flowers in the past, because you think that you need lots of skill to arrange flowers successfully?

Here are some great ideas for you, for displaying your flowers in stylish yet simple ways.

Basic household containers

Even if you haven't got a single vase in the house, you can still enjoy cut flowers. Wine, beer, and mineral water bottles come in interesting shapes and colours, and reduce arranging to its basics. Choose flowers with large heads like gerbera, lilies, orchids or sunflowers - add one stem per bottle and line them up on your mantelpiece for instant glamour.

Jugs, teapots, tumblers and even jam jars can all be used for displaying flowers.

With smaller containers such as teapots and jam jars, the flowers look better with the stems cut short, so that the flowerheads "float" on the rim of the pot.

Choose flowers with full heads like dahlias, carnations and chrysanthemums. Mass in separate colours for high style, or fill out with interesting foliages for a rustic, harvest-festival feel.

Glasses and jars can also be put inside more attractive non-waterproof containers to hold the water for the flowers.

Flowers.org.uk
 


[ Thursday delights]

One-pot chicken pilaf

Ingredients:

1 tsp oil

1 small onion , chopped

1 large or 2 small boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into chunks

2 tsp curry powder and chilie powder

1 mug basmati rice

two-thirds of a mug chicken stock

1 mug frozen mixed vegetables

half a mug leaf spinach

Method:

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion for five to six minutes until softened. Add the chicken pieces, fry for a further couple of minutes just to colour the outside, then stir in curry powder, chilie and rice. Cook for another minute.

Pour in the chicken stock and throw in any larger bits of vegetable. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, then cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, then stir in the remaining vegetable. Scatter over the spinach, cover, then cook for 10 minutes more until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Give everything a good stir, season to taste, then tuck in.


Chocolate Chip Brownies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (first amount)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup hot water

4 eggs

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (second amount)

Method:

Melt butter and two cups chocolate chips together. In a small bowl mix flour and baking soda together. Put melted chocolate mixture in a large bowl. Add sugar and beat for about five minutes until smooth.

With mixer on add vanilla, and gradually add water. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.

With mixer on low add flour mixture until blended. Fold in remaining one cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bake at 325 degrees F. for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator.

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