Monthly Archives: October 2013

Quilt in Autumn Colours

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Maple Leaf Quilt

Few years ago I wanted to quilt something unique. That’s when I came across the Maple leaf design. This large double bed size quilt is completely hand-stitched.  I know piecing the blocks, using a machine would have made it much easier and neater. However, the warm colours and the thought of a new design, kept me going.

The Maple leaf is the official symbol on the national flag of Canada. Eastern Canada is home to the sugar Maple tree. In autumn, the tree sheds its large 4- 5 point leaves, that create the most colourful, textured carpet on Mother Earth. Warm browns, rust, deep yellow, orange, fiery reds are the colours in autumn. However, for me in Singapore, its purely magical understand how seasons bring on changes in the colours of Nature.

Maple leaf king -size quilt

Maple leaf king size quilt

The block detail

The block detail

As you can see, the soft coloured leaf are at the centre, slowly bursting out in deeper colours in circular way. I wanted to create the effect of twirling leaves, undergoing gradual colour change.

Here are the details :

Total Yellow patterned blocks = 27

Light colour leaf blocks (Centre) = 4

Red colour leaf blocks ( inner ring) = 10

Deep maroon leaf blocks (outer ring) = 14

Border width = 2 inches by 10 cm. Pieces of all colours ( and more if you wish)

Finished square block = 12 inches.   9  patch square for the leaf design. Each finished small square = 4 1/2 inches.

Other maple leaf quilt patterns and block sizes are found here :

http://quilting.about.com/od/quiltblocklotto/ss/maple_leaf.htm

http://www.countrylanequilts.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/mapleleafblock.pdf

Maple leaf -Block pattern

Maple leaf -Block pattern

Uni directional maple leaf quilt

Uni directional maple leaf quilt

I leave you with few pictures shared by my friends, during their stay in USA and Canada.

My friend Medha, from India, is visiting her daughter in USA.  She loves to draw and paint. What better time and place could she possibly be in but USA ? She is having a wonderful time watching the colours of the season and collecting colourful Autumn leaves. Look how creatively she has displayed her fall collection ! Medha,I am sure you are going to paint a stunning picture on your return. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us.

Medha's collection of Maple leaves.

Medha’s collection of Maple leaves.

Medha's collection of Maple leaves -2

Medha’s collection of Maple leaves -2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janet and her baby have been busy watching the Autumn leaves change colour. Here are some photos she shares.

Fiery Orange Autumn leaves

Fiery Orange Autumn leaves

 

 

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Quilted Table Mats – Set of 4 

Few years ago I made a set of 4 table mats for the blue dinner set.  It has a star applique patched on a blue thick linen material. I used complimentary colours with small checks.

Finished Size with binding : 17 inches /11 inches.  The mats were machine –quilted for ease and I sandwiched the 3 layers ( top /batting/bottom) with simple, diagonal running stitches in deep blue thread.

If making a set today – do check the size of your dinner plate, now they come not only in various sizes, but even square shapes !

Dinner plate on quilted mat.

Dinner plate on quilted mat.

Quilted Table Mat

Quilted Table Mat

Quilted Table Mats

World Palate Series – Indian Rice Recipe

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Andhra Tamarind Rice – Pulihoara

In South Indian cooking, meals are usually rice based like Idli, Pongal, Adai, and Pulihoara. Puli or tamarind is an essential ingredient in cooking and is found in abundance during the hot summer. The sharp, tangy taste of tamarind when blended with dry, red chillies and salt –gives a unique, mouth watering, fiery flavour.  Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh has a melange of cuisines – rich, aromatic, spicy Mughlai and more subtle, vegetarian Telugu Brahmin cuisine.

Credit goes to my Mother-in-law for teaching me this Andhra (Telugu) recipe. Often, she made this for puja or prayer offerings, especially on Saturday, to Lord Perumal / Vishnu . It’s a family favourite, and I have made it for many years now – for prayer time as well as for entertaining friends and relatives.

Indian Spices for Rice preparation Indian Spices for Rice preparation

Ingredients 

1 cup Indian rice (medium grain)

1 1/2 cup water

3 tsp. cooking oil

Tamarind pulp – preferably brown coloured (small lemon sized ball)

8-10 curry leaves

2 dry red chillies (adjust to your taste)

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 tsp. turmeric

Pinch of Asatoefida (Hing) – available in Indian grocery stores

Salt to taste

For garnish: (optional)

2 tsp. roasted Sesame seeds

2 tsp. roasted Peanut seeds

Coriander stalk / Curry leaves

Banana leaf or prayer plate

Turmeric sprinkled over cooked rice

Turmeric sprinkled over cooked rice

Method

Wash rice thoroughly and discard the coloured water. Cook rice with measured water in rice cooker /stove top/ pressure cooker. Add a drop of oil so that the cooked grains are loose and fluffy. Once cooked, immediately run a fork through it and loosen grains and pour onto big, flat dish to cool. Apply some turmeric powder and salt and leave aside.

In a deep pan /wok /kadhai pour some oil and let it warm. Add mustard seeds, dry chilli, half amount of peanuts, remaining turmeric, curry leaves and splutter this. Take care! Cover quickly if necessary and switch off gas. Let cool.

In a small bowl add quarter glass water and soak the tamarind (without seeds). Microwave for 1 minute and mash the pulp. Cool it. Roast peanuts and sesame seeds, remove any skin and cool.

Next part – Mixing of rice and the mixtures is the most therapeutic and divine indulgence. Refrain from using a fork or ladle. Use clean hands  and gently mix it all.

Pour the oil mixture, tamarind pulp, half of peanut /sesame seeds onto the cooled rice. Using your hand or fork lightly toss and mix it all. Adjust salt to taste. Take a small round bowl, wash with water lightly. Pour the rice mixture into it and press lightly. Keep a large prayer plate or serving plate ready, line it with washed banana leaf, if you fancy. Invert the rice bowl on plate, tap gently. Out pops the coloured rice. Garnish with rest of the toasted peanuts, sesame and curry leaves. Place food at altar to offer, if you wish. Share and enjoy the tangy flavour with a cup of cool yoghurt. It sure drives the summer heat away.

                                                         ‘A great introduction to cultures is their cuisine.

                                    It not only reflects their evolution, but also their beliefs and traditions.’

                                                                                                                 Vikas Khanna, Michelin star Indian Chef   

Pulihoara prasadam

  
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All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.

 

World Palate Series – Thai Green Curry

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World Palate Series

Thai Green Curry

This popular Thai curry is usually a soup dish. Coconut milk and water forms the thick base and variety of vegetables, meat or fish float in it. In contrast, Indian curries have a base of puree of lentils mixed with ground spice. As a tourist, I had fun attending a Thai cooking class. Firstly, we visited the local market and introduced to variety of herbs, spices and pastes. In class we pounded, cut and cooked. Lastly, we  we sat down ‘Thai style’ to enjoy our culinary adventure.

Thai herbs and ingredients

Thai herbs and ingredients

Thai Green Curry (Kaeng khiaw – waan kai)

Ingredients for paste:

  • 7 fresh green chillies chopped finely
  • 2tsp chopped garlic
  • 2tsp chopped shallots
  • 1tsp chopped lemon grass
  • 1tsp chopped galangal (type of strong ginger)
  • 1/2tsp chopped kafir lime peel
  • 1tsp chopped turmeric pieces
  • ½ tsp roasted peppercorns
  • 2tsp roasted cumin and coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. light soya sauce (or shrimp paste) Optional

Vegetables of choice could include – small brinjals with green skin, snap peas, broccoli florets, red bell pepper and chunks of cabbage and baby corn.

Method:

Put peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a mortar and pound well. Add remaining ingredients and pound further. And shrimp /or soya sauce and blend all together. Our chef noted that Thai household ladies gather in the kitchen or backyard to pound pastes. Jokingly he added, either they share recipes, but if sharing unpleasant family matters, the pounding resounds stronger! However, on festive occasions, many hands lighten work!

 

Put oil in a pan on low heat and add green curry paste and bring to simmer, add coconut milk to stop burning and stir till fragrant. To dilute thick coconut milk add 1/3rd part water. Add vegetables and cook gently. Add some water if required. Do not make very thin. Add remaining coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and stir occasionally. Season with sugar and salt and (fish sauce – optional). Sprinkle sweet basil leaves on top and turn off heat. Garnish with diagonally sliced red chillies. Serve with hot rice.

Decorate your table with some fresh orchids. Serve food with traditional wooden ladles.

          Thai Green Curry – Home style

Thai Green Curry - Vegetarian

Thai Green Curry – Vegetarian

Somehow a similar Indian Sindhi curry comes to mind. The gravy base though is made of roasted gram flour whipped in yoghurt. Popular Indian vegetables like drumstick and okra are simmered in it. I tried making some and it tasted great.

http://sindhirasoi.com/2008/02/10/sindhi-kadhi/

Aside

My work of Art and ….Heart

Quilting is my companion, it relieves stress, brings beautiful and  fond memories, and stirs the mind to create something different.

That is what I wanted to do – make a unique quilt for my grand-daughter ! So everyday, after finishing housework, I sat quietly on the apartment balcony, sipping some warm tea, singing and chanting hymns as I quilted. I wanted my grand-daughter to have something to cherish, to learn, to share with her friends as she grows, and then begin to value the patience and labour gone into quilting.  Patience…..almost a lost word for the  young generation, isnt’ it ?

I planned the baby quilt with Alphabets and corresponding motifs – A for apple, B  for bear, C for Cat ,  D for Duck  – I used  left over fabric pieces and hand stitched.

Baby quilt  with Alphabet and motifs

alphabet quilt

Then, my daughter suggested – ‘Mummy, Why don’t you add something like Eric Carle’s theme ?’ So we planned to add numbers 1-10 and shapes. These were all made with baby’s out-growns dresses. The white all-round border is wider than the blue one. Final trimming is done with left over fabric and dress materials. Quilting was set 1 inch apart, starting from the centre of the quilt, then moving outwards into the four quadrants.

And here is  the final version – complete with Alphabet , numbers and shapes.  I hope you like my innovative baby quilt.

1st year birthday gift for baby.

1st year birthday gift for baby.

Birthday Baby Quilt

Chiang Mai, Thailand -The Silent Beauty of Flowers

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Chiang Mai, Thailand -The Silent Beauty of Flowers

Chiang Mai, Thailand –        The Silent Beauty of Flowers

On a market visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand, it was as if I was in fairy land! All I could see along the market street was a heady profusion of colours –like a big assembly of silent, beautiful flowers. They only spoke in colours. There were bright reds, butter yellows, dainty pinks, and delicate white, lavender and golden and brown hues. Flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes flooded the street market, awaiting their final destination.

Stunning splendour and burst of colour - an  Orchid bloom

Stunning splendour and burst of colour – an Orchid bloom

Flowers-  aren’t they the silent and beautiful creation of God, I mused to myself.

The bustling and popular Tom Lanyai flower market  runs along the river Ping. Taking an early morning walk down the narrow town streets, I was eager to meet some vendors and buy some fresh flowers. Seeing, flowers neatly bundled in newspaper reminded me of how new-born babies are tightly wrapped their warm blankets. I stopped to linger in the morning rays, as they gently kissed the half-open buds just about popping their heads out of the bundles.

Flower stall at Ton Lamyai flower market

Flower stall at Ton Lamyai flower market

Ton Lamyai market  is situated next to the famous Worarot market. Both locals and overseas buyers come here, claiming it was the best market in South East Asia. The market is open all 7 days of the week. Some stall owners literally sleep here, rising at 2 am to receive fresh arrivals from the neighbouring farms. After that, business is brisk -same day deliveries to any region in South East Asia is highly in demand.  Farms are located in the cool highlands of Mae Sa and Samoeng towns. Just imagine, they are home to over 300 species of orchids! Thanks to the Royal Doi Kham project. It has helped create many jobs for the rural poor and uplifting Chiang Mai’s environment. Thailand is home to largest orchid farms. In fact, the purple orchid is the unofficial national flower – airline and official uniforms, as well as fashion attires pay tribute to the deep purple orchid bloom that silently becomes a fashion statement.

Purple orchids grace uniforms

Purple orchids grace uniforms

Having purchased some purple and white orchid sprays, I asked the young Thai lady to share some tips for caring for flowers. ‘Don’t put them in ice water, they like moist climate, like dance in rain. ‘Rain falls, orchids happy ’ she replied hesitantly in her sparing English.

Lotus stems resting in tall water tubs

Lotus stems resting in tall water tubs

There were big water containers at every stall. Colourful chrysanthemum flowers in every hue -pink, deep magenta, yellow and white. Exotic flowers like Bird of Paradise, fiery red Poinsettia, pink streaked Tiger lilies sat high on the back shelves away from harsh sunlight. These flowers are mostly ordered by hotels, hospitals, corporate offices to beautify their spaces.

‘There are many beautiful things, but the silent beauty of flowers surpasses them all.’  quotes Emerson.

Flowers have lot of symbolic and spiritual meaning in Thai culture. Jasmine garlands are synonomous during weddings, carnations and roses are friendship gifts, and the popular orchid finds place in almost every thing – art and craft, souvenirs or fabric motifs. The lotus is regarded as temple flower. It’s place is at the feet of Buddha. It signifies purity. In Indian culture it signifies Moksha or salvation. The golden bunches of popular ‘yellow shower’ or Ratchaphruek is the national flower. The tree bears beautiful cluster shaped flowers in summer. The colour of flowers is shining yellow, similar to the colour of Buddhism and the favourite royal colour of His Majesty King of Thailand. In fact, during the royal birthday and wedding ceremonies streets are filled with flowers in yellow colours. People hang beautiful wreaths, flags or garlands in homage.  The culmination is heady during the annual Chiang Mai flower festival, wherein huge floats and dancers are dressed in stunning floral displays!

Fake yellow flower garlands, flags and lanterns
Fake yellow flower garlands, flags and lanterns
Bulb sized yellow buds - very peculiar

Bulb sized yellow buds – very peculiar

Walking past dozens of similar flower stalls, I stood admiring little white jasmine garlands or Phuang Malai. It reminded me of the word malai, meaning garland in South India. Special mammoth sized jasmine garlands, decorated with tiny rose buds or marigolds are customarily exchanged by the Thai brides and grooms. Their soft fragrance attracts closeness and white signifies purity.

The gentle lady, dressed in traditional Batik sarong, wasted no time. Sensing my delight, she wrapped some loose flowers in a large, green lotus leaf. Tearing away a fibre from the underside of banana leaf, she used it to string  the green bundle before handing it to me. ‘Fresh till tomorrow, put in your hair’ she said happily. Humbly, she greeted me with folded palms and refused any payment. A humble Thai gesture ! Just said with flowers. 

Well, part of the charm in visiting a new country is to find out its cultural traditions, food habits and its people up close, and where else, but in a market !

Phuang Malai - jasmine garlands

Phuang Malai – jasmine garlands

 It was now time to buy flowers to take back home. I paced back and forth visiting the stalls again, unable to choose from the variety of flowers. Yellow roses or pink carnations? Fresh flowers or dry flowers? Just bunches or a classic floral display ? Ah… I stood aside at one big stall, quietly watching the young Thai lady adjusting flowers in an arrangement, with such ease and swiftness. She must have taken a course I thought approaching her to help me. She spoke not a word of English, but quickly busied herself in studying colours and length of stalks, thinking on her toes, literally. Some carnations and yellow roses, some baby’s breath, some delicate green fern leaves she picked up, held out and observed. Swiftly using her sharp scissors to tame the length and tuck them into a sponge dripping with cold water, she let her fingers flow to arrange them.  Adding some soft sprays of jute and bamboo grass to give it an extra element and design she finished it neatly.  Voila !

Amazing, the only training she ever had, as a drop-out school girl, was her mother’s constant nagging to help her at the stall! However, if she could save enough money ‘One day I want go Singapore big school and teach flowers’ she said shyly in English. Greeting me a quick Sawadee , a Thai greeting  she prompted me to buy the two popular garden dolls. Flowers bring a meaning to her life – she earns her living. She has no money or time to gift them to anyone.

Sawadee - Thai dolls greet you

Sawadee – Thai dolls greet you

Next time you buy flowers, remember they are silent. They speak only through their fragrance and colours. They communicate love and romance, friendship and good will, birth and death.

                   Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful;

                      they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

Luther Burbank

World Palate Series

Thai Green Curry

This popular Thai curry is usually a soupy dish. Coconut milk and water forms the thick base and variety of vegetables, meat or fish float in it. In contrast, Indian curries have a lentil puree base, and mixed with ground spice. As a tourist, I had fun attending a Thai cooking class. Firstly, we visited the local market and introduced to variety of herbs, spices and pastes. In class we pounded, cut and cooked. Lastly, we sat down ‘Thai style’ to enjoy our culinary adventure.

 Thai Green Curry (Kaeng khiaw – waan kai)

Ingredients for paste:

  • 7 fresh green chillies chopped finely
  • 2tsp chopped garlic
  • 2tsp chopped shallots
  • 1tsp chopped lemon grass
  • 1tsp chopped galangal (type of strong ginger)
  • 1/2tsp chopped kafir lime peel
  • 1tsp chopped turmeric pieces
  • ½ tsp roasted peppercorns
  • 2tsp roasted cumin and coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. light soya sauce (or shrimp paste) Optional

Vegetables of choice could include – small brinjals with green skin, snap peas, broccoli florets, red bell pepper and chunks of cabbage and baby corn.

English: Thai green curry paste, made from fre...

English: Thai green curry paste, made from fresh ingredients (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Method:

Put peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a mortar and pound well. Add remaining ingredients and pound further. And shrimp /or soya sauce and blend all together. Our chef noted that Thai household ladies gather in the kitchen or backyard to pound pastes. Jokingly he added, either they share recipes, but if sharing unpleasant family matters, the pounding resounds stronger! However, on festive occasions, many hands lighten work!

 Put oil in a pan on low heat and add green curry paste and bring to simmer, add coconut milk to stop burning and stir till fragrant. To dilute thick coconut milk add 1/3rd part water. Add vegetables and cook gently. Add some water if required. Do not make very thin. Add remaining coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and stir occasionally. Season with sugar and salt and (fish sauce – optional). Sprinkle sweet basil leaves on top and turn off heat. Garnish with diagonally sliced red chillies. Serve with hot rice.

Decorate your table with some fresh orchids. Serve food with traditional wooden ladles.

Thai Green Curry - Vegetarian 

 

               

Somehow, I thought of  a similar Indian curry called Sindhi Kadhi . However, the gravy is made with roasted gram flour, whipped in yoghurt. Popular Indian vegetables like drumstick, beans and okra and carrots can be used. I tried making some and it tasted great.  Here is the link http://sindhirasoi.com/2008/02/10/sindhi-kadhi/

Enjoy !

 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) http://www.walktomarket.wordpress.com. Please see copyright disclaimer.