Guilty Pleasures Series: #1 – Food Shows

Kicking off the Guilty Pleasures series with my #1 guilty pleasure: Watching food/cooking shows on TV. With the restrictions on travel in recent times I am sure everyone has sought comfort in hobbies and activities that have a comfort feel to them. In the past couple of years I have taken to watching food and cooking shows. The language of food is probably one of the most universal and nothing beats the fun of drooling over a well cooked and well presented dish 😊 Apart from the creativity, passion and skill of talented chefs what I like about cooking is the fact that in its own way cooking reminds of software development with the chefs bringing in different components in a way they all work well together and are presented in a eater friendly manner: in short making it a memorable user experience!

Some of the shows I have watched and enjoyed are “Beat Bobby Flay”, “Chopped”, “Diners, Drive-ins and Drives”, “Hell’s Kitchen”. Like different foods for different seasons different shows for different reasons.

“Beat Bobby Flay” features chef Bobby Flay, who is a beast in the kitchen, taking on challengers and trying to beat them at making dishes they are known best for. Majority of time Bobby emerges as a winner because he keeps it simple. Makes flavor, texture and taste as highest priority and making sure the dishes work in a cohesive manner as well as focusing on the presentation. What that calls for is time management discipline, not going in for anything overly ambitious if it increases risk. Even if it’s a dish that Bobby is not familiar with he ends up winning many a times making sure that the ingredient which is supposed to be the star of the dish does stand out while the competitors may fall into the trap of either going in for something quite ambitious or try to do too many things ending up with not enough time to present well or the star ingredient getting lost with all the other flavor profiles at work.

“Chopped” features 3 courses: Appetizer round followed by EntrΓ©e and finally the Dessert round. Chopped is like watching an Agile approach project at work. It’s iterative in that there are multiple courses and it’s adaptive because contestants get feedback after each round which they can use to deliver a better eating experience in subsequent rounds.

“Diners, Drive-ins and Drives” features restaurants in different parts of the country offering their own specialities. Good to see chefs that may not be very well known outside their own immediate vicinity get exposure to show their passion and creations to a wider audience. πŸ‘

“Hell’s Kitchen” and other Gordon Ramsay hosted food shows feature talented chefs offering their own creative take on different dishes with the bonus possibility of the host of throwing in some F-bombs in the show πŸ˜€

What makes it a guilty pleasure for me? With the amount of food tasted by the judges not being much I always hope that no leftover food or ingredients are wasted. For the effort that goes into making the dishes and the fact that quite a few people do not have the means to afford a decent meal it would be criminal if food gets wasted. I have never experienced food insecurity but volunteering couple of times in a food pantry is enough to understand how many people may be struggling to put food on their table and the effort that goes into making food available to people who need it. It’s a humbling and learning experience πŸ™

R-R-R-Raj and the naan pizza!

Hey kids, are you hungry?
Raj is putting it all together, cooking something
That’s been known to perk up the mood
Especially when it’s cold weather
He’ll kill it when it’s done, so stick around
You’re gonna witness something special
Encased in dough walls of round!

Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen it yet?
Ooh, the veggies are well spaced out
Oh it’s quite weird but wonderful
It’s got the cheese and tomatoes
It’s got the olives and bell peppers
You know you saw it here first, ohh-oh
R-R-R-Raj and his naan pizza creation! πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘πŸ˜‚

– Lyrics sliced from Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” πŸ™

I am doing my job, you do yours!

As I looked out the window this morning my heart sank. The rose plant in the backyard had a trimmed look, dreams appearing to be nipped in the bud 😭
The culprit: Rabbit of course 😑
Tried to reason with the rabbit. This is how the conversation went.

Me: Hey rabbit, what have you done to my rose plant? Do you have an explanation for your action?
Rabbit: I did what I normally do!
Me: Which is?
Rabbit: Doing my job!
Me: And what is your job?
Rabbit: What you see!
Me: Eating whatever is in sight?
Rabbit: Listen, you are doing your job, I am doing mine. You are trying to put food on the table, I am trying to put food into my mouth. We are both doing our jobs. Do I complain to you about how you do your job?
Me: Can we work out a solution where you do your job part-time so that the plants can survive too, you still have your job and I can stay in the business of growing plants? πŸ™‚ The rabbit ran away before I finished what I was saying 😠

I learned my lesson the hard away though. The great outdoors belong to the flora and fauna of that place. We are probably lucky to get a lease on something that doesn’t really belong to us πŸ™

Mother’s Day special: Falafel pita sandwich

Celebrated Mother’s Day at home today with family and it was fun. To make it special and a little different we decided to go with falafel pita sandwich with the guys (me and son) actually assisting with the falafel pita sandwich making process!

The ingredients: Pita bread (whole wheat and white), hummus (store bought), avocado dip, falafel balls (home made with chickpea flour), cucumber, tomato, zucchini and onion all chopped to small pieces, cilantro cut fine, green chutney.The result: yummy!

Lest you doth protest too much saying “That ain’t no falafel pita sandwich” I say “Hey, if you can slap anything between 2 loaves of bread and can call it a sandwich why I can’t I stuff the pita bread with falafel and other sandwich wannabe ingredients and call it a falafel pita sandwich πŸ˜€

P.S. It was a different day in terms of weather too. Was snowing quite hard for more than an hour. Enough for it to stick to the grass for a nice coat and force me to cover the pants or keep them inside the porch. Later when the snow had stopped it was time to unwrap the cover off the plants soon after unwrapping the lid off falafel pita sandwich πŸ™‚

Australia omelette

This morning’s breakfast turned into an Aussie revelation!
Final shape of omelette looked like aerial photo of Australia after the recent bushfires. Red and black portions appeared like areas affected by bushfires covering most of the country 😦 , rest of the mainland looked yellow due to dry grass 😦 Only Tasmania seemed less affected by fire πŸ™

Therapeutic value of dishwashing :)

Let me start with a confession: I don’t cook.
Now that the confession is out of the way time to talk about what I do: I prefer to do the dishes πŸ™‚
Is there anything special about doing the dishes The Raj way? Yes, if you are The Raj πŸ˜‰ Otherwise it is just a fancy way of describing a routine task πŸ˜€ Let’s get down to the details. Our current dishwasher has 3 racks, the top one is for cutlery, knives and other relatively flat objects used for cooking and eating. The bottom rack for the biggest dishes, pots and pans with a side basket for cutlery, the middle rack for beverage containers and room for smaller utensils. Yours truly likes to approach dishwashing as a problem solving exercise to be solved aesthetically, efficiently and completed in time before the next cooking cycle, which if it is Indian cuisine, can be quite involved. Now you know why I don’t cook πŸ˜€

Talking of aesthetics I like to see symmetry and balance. If I see dishes/utensils/cutlery arranged in a haphazard way my OCD-like tendencies kick into high gear πŸ˜€ In the bottom rack the eating plates have to be arranged in an order of increasing or decreasing size. If there are eating plates of same size with different patterns the order in which the plates go in will be determined by # of each plate type. Also not for me dumping of cutlery in one or two of the pockets of bottom rack basket. Justice has to be done to each pocket so that they carry similar load. Objects with sharp sides like cutting knives have to go flat in the top rack to minimize chance of accidentally cutting one’s finger while setting up for wash or when removing after the wash. Spatulas and other objects that are tall and flat also have to go to the top rack.

Moving on to efficiency the idea is make proper use of all the space available in the 3 racks and the cutlery basket. What does this mean? With a 3 rack dishwasher additional rack translates into lesser height for each individual rack as the overall dimensions remain the same as 2 rack models. So, one has to recognize the possibility of the rotating fan blades below the middle rack coming in contact with taller utensils or frying pans of greater circumference. One way to minimize it by placing those in the corners where the rotating blades can’t reach. Another thing I prefer to do is to have the pointed end/sharp side of forks and eating knives facing upwards in the dish basket of bottom rack. This is to avoid gravity and sharp sides/edges carve out a nice hole at the bottom of the plastic basket πŸ™‚ The top rack cannot have objects bulging too much as there is a rotating fan over the top rack.

Getting dishes washed in time: In models with that are not entry level the heating coil has been replaced by a mechanism that is supposed to use the heat of the water at the bottom in a more efficient way reducing power consumption. While it makes the overall dishwashing quieter what it translates into practically is doubling up the time for entire wash cycle. What used to take 90 minutes max end to end now takes 190+ minutes of interminable wait. So, it’s better to start dishwashing prior to going to sleep.

Finally the therapeutic value of dishwashing: Doing the dishes brings its own sense of calm and relaxation. At night I can watch TV while setting them up. The process of arranging all the utensils is also akin to bringing different pieces of a solution together for one full working solution or assembling a jigsaw puzzle from pieces cluttered around. Removing the dishes the morning after the wash allows me to catch up on the weather and other news on TV briefly. Also lets me think of the tasks due at work for the day, resolution for issues in the calm of early morning after an overnight sleep. Of course before removing the clean and dry dishes they get an admiring look and yours truly self complimenting for successful project implementation πŸ˜€ The ultimate benefit of course is getting all the pots and pans and cutlery ready for wife to serve up piping hot, yummylicious food before leaving for work. For someone that doesn’t cook there can’t be a better reward πŸ™‚

Like Indian food

I am like Indian food.
Most people either love me or hate me.
For the same reason: The way I appeal to their senses!
People who love me overlook all my flaws.
People who hate me can’t look beyond my flaws.
Am I concerned? Not really.
Take it or toss it, this is who I am πŸ™‚

Sorry if you feel I tricked you here by posting food photos πŸ˜€

If you wanted to read about food, below links from yours truly πŸ™‚