Sunday, 20 April 2014

Beetroot Soup

While the rest of the world enjoys their first few moments with dearest Spring, we on the other side of the world are prepped for Autumn. There are only a few ways for beat the chills and one of my favourite involves the use of my taste buds. Food! Did you know that the process of eating is one of the very few activities where we use all our five senses? Tasting, feeling, seeing, smelling and I guess even hearing. Anyway, what better food for the chills than a huge bowl of warm soup?

My mum often uses beetroots in her smoothies but today I decided to make a beetroot base soup with carrot and ginger.

Ginger goes well with a lot of roots, especially when making raw soups in our Vitamix  blender so I decided to see how it went with beetroot. And I was right! The soup tasted surprisingly amazing! My friend also told me to try adding the zest of some oranges and it did just the trick.

Beetroot soup (raw blend Vitamix)
for more raw blend vitamix recipes visit:

2 whole beetroots
2 carrots
2 small tomatoes
1/4 capsicum
2 spring onion stalks (onion for the normal method)
half a garlic
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 table spoon apple cider vinegar
half a green apple
1 table spoon ginger
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 cups water or vegetable stock

Normal Method
  1. roughly chop beetroot, carrots, tomato and capsicum and place in a pot with salt and water or vegetable stock and bring to boil
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic and ginger
  3. on low heat add a table spoon of vegetable or coconut oil and add the onion. 
  4. Temper the onion for about 5 minutes then add the garlic, ginger, and orange zest and cook, stirring now and then to prevent the ingredients sticking to the pan and burning, until onions are soft.
  5. add the boiled veggies and the stock and the apple cider vinegar and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the vegetable are just soft enough to process through your blender.
  6. turn the stove off and let it cool, then transfer to a blender and puree with the apples in batches until mixture is smooth. 
Vitamix method

  1. roughly chop the beetroot, carrots, tomato and capsicum and put it into the blender along with the spring onion, garlic, pepper, salt, ginger, orange zest, apple cider vinegar and vegetable stock or water.
  2. Turn the Vitamix on and starting from the lowest number turn the dial slowly all the way to the maximum set and then switch the second switch to "high". 
  3. leave the blender on for around 2 minutes and then add the apple and lemon. 
  4. Blend for a further minute or until steam starts escaping from the jug. 
  5. Turn the blender off and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Things to do in Winter.

Winter is beginning to settle over us now. It's actually just the start of autumn, but I can feel winter's foreboding presence. It's drifting over us, slowly yet steadily, waiting to completely cover our little heads with its blanket of dark rolling grey clouds while we rush through daily life blissfully unaware of it until bam! Rain, torrent, hail, cold nights, purple toes and forever wet shoe souls. Voila! Before you know it, autumn has passed and winter moves in like the obnoxious older brother that it is.

I never used to like winter very much. It always made me feel as if I was constantly wrapped in a large cold, soggy, wet blanket. However, with the recent breakthrough that I have had with myself, I'm beginning to break through those gloomy patches of negativity and starting to look at things in a different light.  I have learnt that there are certain recreational activities and leisurely pastimes that have been cultivated specifically for the cosy, chilled temperament of wintertime.

Things to do during winter:

1. Eat hearty, homey foods. During the season of downheartedness, and feelings of utter desolation, we come to appreciate the foods that somehow seem to pat our stomachs from the insides, almost as if they were saying "there, there, it's alright!". Thank god for Chilli and pumpkin soup eh?

2. Wrap yourself in the warmest blankets and have a day in. Read a book, watch tv, eat food, write and look through old photo albums.

3. Clean out your fireplace and have a girls night in. Roast some corn, toast some whole meal bread and some cinnamon apples on top to some of your favorite songs.

4. Shop for socks! I have fallen I love with socks. I really have. Whether it's for the cold weather or as a funky accessory, socks are now a girl's best friend.

5. Photograph!! The work looks so much more beautiful through a camera lens. Brighten and beautify your world by taking heaps of photos of the world around you. Flowers, leaves, bark, tree trunks, insects, and animals all look so fresh during winter. Some of my photos, I GOT A NEW CAMERA!!!! Canon EOS 600D. Yay:

6. Discover new warm beverages. Stop with the coffee for a while and try something different. Maybe a heart warming cup of chai, or ginger lemon tea, or English Breakfast, or an earl grey. Try something herbal like chamomile or fix something up yourself because there are literally hundreds of easy recipes out there.  I found this delicious cup of Pear and Cinnamon Almond Milk Recipe by LindaWagner. It's absolutely delicious.

Pear and Cinnamon Almond Milk 

7. Find your happy place. Go for a little walk about in and around your city in search of that perfect place to sit down and have a good read. Maybe a nice, sheltered park bench, a cute book store or a warm cafe with a bubbly atmosphere will be your little "me space". Use this space to think, drink warm beverages, (mine will definitely be a small, soy chai tea), and read your favorite book/magazine/newspaper or write something brilliant or draw a masterpiece.

Maybe you all already do this and I'm just a tad delay now have I wakened to this whole new "wintertime culture" of warm drinks, cosy blankets and hot food. But now I actually can't wait to get started on these things. Socks, hot cup of chai and blankets here I come!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wedding and whatnots: a walk through cultural traditional attire

This weekend I attended one of my very first weddings which made my Saturday quite an event. I've never really been to a wedding before, whether it be Hindu or Catholic or any other, so you could imagine just how excited I was. Growing up in a predominantly western society, I've always grown up watching English movies, and stories that revolved around the huge white wedding dress, bridesmaids and the "I do's".  Never being the one to watch Tamil or Hindi movies all that much also contributed to the factor that I didn't have much of an idea about traditional Hindu weddings. I had an idea, just not much of one. I knew all about the beautiful sarees, the flowers, the food throwing(part of the rituals), the weird hat wearing, the music and the dancing. But I was completely clueless about certain other things.

For example, what on earth is one supposed to wear? Isn't it just so damn annoying that there is such a fine line between aspects of social norms? I find it so hard to differentiate formal, semi formal and semi casual attire and what event to associate with which. And of course, social convention is always made just that much harder when you have to deal with tonnes of sequined material, pleats, shawls and head jewelry.

As a 15 year old Sri Lanka, I am in possession of a number of half-sarees (full saree's are meant to be worn by those who are slightly older), but they weren't "grand" enough. So amma and I went hunting through our suitcases for an appropriate traditional outfit and under a pile of amma's old sari blouses we found the one and only lehenga choli in my possession.

Trust me, before that day, I had no idea what a lehenga choli was! But I found out soon enough. It was heavy, obtrusive and took a whole hour to wear. But I must admit that sarees, cholies and other traditional garments all seem to have a sort of charm about them. You forget all about your abhorrence towards them as soon as you take a good look in the mirror. Maybe the sari maker wove in some sense and sensibility into your skirt, alongside silver threads and golden beads, or maybe it's the way that I am forced to hold myself in an entirely different manner. One must walk a little taller, a little slower and hold one's head a little higher when wearing a ton of sequined, sparkly material. (Women are restricted and forced to behave in particular ways through so many different methods, including the garments that they wear!). Sorry, I'm getting side tracked. The thing is, I have always felt a heightened maturity and such a strong sense of pride and cultural identity when I step out of the house in a saree, or choli or any other traditional garment. In the most comfortable shoes might I add, because let be honest, no one can see your shoes when your wearing such a long skirt.  In fact, the bride was wearing flip flops under her sari and all I say to that is, well done woman, well done!

I recently asked a few people what the first thing that comes into their minds when they think of Hindu festivals was. And would you believe it, they all said sarees! So let me tell you a little bit about what I know. 

 A half saree, like the one above, is worn by young teenage girls who are around 10-18 years old. Unlike a full sari which usually comes with just a single long piece of material that is to be wrapped all the way around the body, a half sari  comes with a skirt. The wrapping material, (called a dhavani), is shorter that the material used for a full sari because it doesn't need to be wrapped all the way around the waist and pleated. For a haf saree, the material is just tucked into the front of the skirt, taken around the back and brought around the chest and over the shoulders.  Young girls wear half sarees to Indian, Sri Lankan music concerts, dance programs, formal birthday parties and other such cultural events. 

This is a full sari. It consists of one long piece of draping material, an underskirt (not to be seen from the outside), and a blouse. The material is to be pleated at the front, and tucked into the underskirt just below your belly button, then wrapped all the way around your body, across your chest, and over your shoulders. You can either pin the material at your shoulders or leave it hanging down and draped across your arm, like the woman in the image above. Women usually wear sarees to almost all traditional or cultural gathering. For a traditional formal events such as weddings,wear a sari with more sequins and glitter. If it sparkles enough, you are all good. Try going for Twilight vampires in the sun. If you are slightly older, wear a nice silk saree, also known as a Puttu saree. For less formal events, wear something a bit less glittery and slightly more fun. Try going for Twilight vampires, half in the sun.
Puttu Sari

This is a lehenga choli. Now, I had no idea what this was until very recently due to the fact that Sri Lankan Hindus don't usually wear Lehenga Cholies. When we do, we wear them to weddings and receptions. They are almost like a half saree, except the shawl can be worn in any way. It can be draped across the front, left to dangle over a single shoulder, or draped around both shoulders and held in
each arm. Below are the different Choli styles.

Well that's all I know. That's all I'll tell. That's all you'll hear. I hope you found some of that interesting and useful. Even if it wasn't, well at least you learnt something new today :)