Finally, we have a laptop that I can use to post.
After a frenzy of packing and physical logistics of the move, wrapping up things at Microsoft and a short vacation in Dubai, we are here in sunny San Francisco. Our temporary accommodation overlooks the SF downtown skyscrapers and it’s simply mesmerizing to watch the city lights come alive at night. Bay Bridge to the right, skyscrapers in Financial district in the center and stunning sunset to the extreme left.
Varun is happy to watch the CalTrains and the MUNI run by. That has kept him occupied for a couple of days though he keeps asking to go back home – to Hyderabad – the only home he actually remembers.
This move has been a bit hard on him. He wants to go to school so he can meet other kids and play with them. He is missing his bed and his toys. Hopefully it will get easier once we set him up with a routine.
We are using the next two weeks to settle in and catch up with friends.
To find him a preschool and daycare, find a midwife for me, and tons of other things that need to be taken care of ( cell phones, apartment hunting, pediatrician for Varun, primary care physicians for us to name a few).
I promise to resume blogging once things are a bit under control here.
Till then, Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great time this holiday season. Stay safe and warm.
Shop a little and share the cheer
See you back in a couple of weeks!
Tiny Lot is becoming a lot more tinier. We are moving to San Francisco. Soon.
Lot of questions that we have been asked since we announced it to our group of friends and at work.
Didn’t we just move to India?
Do we hate Hyderabad?
Do we love US more than India?
Why San Francisco and not Redmond?
For the record, we don’t hate Hyderabad or our life here. Infact, Vipul and I think there is no other city in India we could have moved to and have a good life. We can afford a large house fairly close to work; have a cook/maid/driver and can go to any good restaurant/pub in less than half an hour. The city is mostly safe. A luxury by Mumbai or Delhi standards. Sure the weather is a challenge in April, May and October but with most of days being spent cooped up in air conditioned office it barely makes a difference.
Then why leave this all and move?
We moved here to be closer to family. Both sets of parents visited us fairly often when we first moved. But over time they visit only if Varun is not well or if we need help. They don’t really want to uproot their lives and move here. Also, due to our fast paced work schedule, we barely get much time to spend with them when they are here. Even when we visit them, Vipul is glued to the phone/email/laptop.
Also,we miss US – the open parks and gardens, libraries, museums, trails etc. I know lot of people who miss these aspects of life in US. They get hang of everything else – products, traffic, commute, social commitments, dressing etc but this is something we reminisce about.
But most importantly, we are expecting another baby and I want to deliver the baby in US.
Varun had a natural un-medicated birth with the aid of midwives. It was a wonderful birthing experience (as far as birth stories go) and I want the same again. I don’t want to go with traditional OB model but go with midwives. Certified trained midwives operating out of a hospital is not possible here. Plus the rate of Caesarean birth is very high.
The care offered by midwives in my first pregnancy is incomparable to what I am getting here now. The hygiene level, the empathy, the long wait times for appointments, scans etc is not up to the par.
Why SF and not Redmond?
We were actually all set to move to Redmond. We both had offers from our teams. We reached out to our midwives and set an appointment with them. We had started looking for a house. We knew which daycare to send Varun too.
Everything was lined up, when Vipul got an offer that he could not resist from Sony.
Luckily Sony offers a comprehensive relocation package on par with Microsoft.
So, here we are off to Sunny California.
We are very excited to move to SF.
New city, old friends, new challenges.
Cant wait to be there!
I know its been ages since I posted. My bad. I know excuses, explanations simply wont cut it. Another heartfelt attempt to start blogging at least twice a week.
My sincere apologies for the tardiness thus far.
Last weekend, I was craving donuts. Someone at work mentioned Krispy Crème donuts and I had to have donuts. Now there is a Krispy Crème in Bangalore but there isn’t one around. And when I mean I had to have donuts – I really needed them right then and there!
But we didn’t have eggs on hand. So I searched online for soft fluffy ones without eggs. And randomly picked a recipe and decided to give it a try. After all how hard can fried dough donut be?
Here is a recipe for simple eggless fried donuts. Its yeast based so it’s not instant gratification but it was fun kneading and rolling with Varun. We both waited eagerly for the dough to rise and then shape and fry them. Patience sure isn’t a virtue in my family.
I am sure the recipe can be easily used for baked donuts, but the general consensus was that baked donuts don’t stay fresh as long. I didn’t really have to worry about that as they were all devoured while they were still warm!
Homemade Eggless Donuts Recipe
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup butter ( at room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon fresh cream (optional)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon oil ( for kneading)
- 1/2 cup oil ( for frying)
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1. Warm milk and dissolve sugar in it. Add yeast to the milk and set aside for 10 minutes to froth. If the yeast does not froth, discard and repeat with fresh milk and yeast.
Do not proceed with the recipe if yeast isn’t active.
2. Take all-purpose flour in a bowl, add nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Add milk and yeast mixture as well as butter and cream. Mix and knead well for about 8 – 10 minutes.
Grease your hands with oil for kneading.
The dough will be a little sticky but resist the temptation to add more flour.
Set aside to double for about 2 hours
3. Once doubled, punch, roll out till 1/2 ” thick. Cut shapes using cookie cutter or bottle caps. We made hearts and regular circular donuts and had plenty of donut holes.
5. Set aside to puff up again for 30- 45 minutes
6. Heat oil and keep it on a medium flame. Fry donuts on low to medium -low flame till golden brown,
Adjust heat so that the donuts don’t burn / brown without cooking from inside. It took me about a min to fry each.
7. Toss warm donuts in butter and cinnamon sugar.
Serve warm. Enjoy! Nom, nom!!
When you think of Valley of Flowers in India, what comes to your mind? Uttaranchal ?
Even Wikipedia certifies this as the valley of flowers in India and there are many outfitters that offer treks to the alpine meadows in the Himalayas.
But, there is another valley of flowers in Maharashtra; near Satara. The Kaas Plateau comes alive for a short 3- 4 weeks duration after monsoon season and the plateau is covered with flowers for miles upon miles.
If you would like to visit, the window of opportunity is very short, at best next two weekends. This place is about 25 kms from Satara; with Pune being the biggest city closest to Satara. For a map link, click here.
My photography club did a weekend trip here. We couldn’t make it but I wanted to share the beauty of the place. Purples, Indigos and Whites dotted the landscape.All photographs are by award winning ( and a fellow Club member) Satish Chelluri. If his photos don’t make you want to go there this weekend, then I think you got poor taste ;)Don’t believe me, check these photos from his Flickr stream.
It was Ganesh Chaturthi on Monday…and we celebrated like every year.
Festive spirit, decorations, perfume of garlands and incense sticks and offerings of flowers, fruits and sweets marked the day.
In the evening we participated in prayers with rest of the folks in our complex.
For next 5 days, we will join them in evening prayers. The communal spirit, the decorations and festive atmosphere is novel and welcome change after the day at work.
A few pictures of Ganesh from our home….
Hope you enjoy this glimpse in our rituals as much as do!
It was raksha bandhan last week – the festival to celebrate the brother-sister bond.
As kids, we used to meet at my grand mom’s house and tie rakhi’s to all brothers. And coconut barfi was the sweet of the day. Sweet coconut rice used to part of the ensuring dinner.
I don’t know why coconut is so important but it did feature on the menu.
Varun’s cousin sisters sent him rakhi this year. To celebrate the occasion I wanted to make something with coconut. I find both coconut rice and barfi to be too sweet for my taste. So instead to make something not too sweet, I made coconut flan.
Now, flan’s, like soufflé’s, are temperamental. Sometimes they don’t set, other times they get soup-y, or they can be egg-y ( if that’s a word!). Also water baths sound very terrifying.
Fortunately, I have a recipe that does not fail. I have tried this several times over the years and it has never failed me. And if you are careful with hot water bath and caramel it is not very daunting task.
The flavors of coconut are subtle so don’t skip this even if you otherwise hate coconut. The flan is creamy but not too rich or sweet. It’s that perfect dessert , made individual servings or as a whole which never fails to impress.
What are you waiting for, give it a try!! Am sure you will make it as often as we do!
Coconut Flan Recipe
- 1/2 cup sugar ( for caramel)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup 2 % milk
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup brown sugar ( for custard)
- 1 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract ( or 1/2 vanilla bean split and scraped)
- 2 cups water (for water bath)
1. Heat the sugar with water in a saucepan on medium heat till it melts. It will caramelize into golden brown syrup. You will see big bubbles forming. Take it off the heat at this point and pour the caramel into individual ramekins or a pie dish.
Caramel is very hot, so don’t touch it. Be very careful handling it. It hardens as it cools.
Set the ramekins (or pie dish) aside to cool.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C ( or 350 F)
Set water to boil in another saucepan for the water-bath
3. Bring the coconut milk and milk to a light boil in another saucepan. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with sugar and rum. Add a spoonful of milk to the eggs mixture and whisk.
This will help the eggs consume the hot milk without scrambling the eggs.
Add milk bit by bit and whisk well.
4. Pour the custard mixture in the containers
Place the custard containers in a deep baking pan
5. Place the dish in oven and then pour the water in to the base dish till it comes up half way to the custard containers.
Be careful. Hot water and hot oven should be handled carefully!
6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes till the custards are baked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes off clean.
7. Take the custard ramekins out one by one and let them cool on counter top before letting them chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours ( overnight preferred).
8. Run a knife along the edge of the containers, invert and serve with some fresh coconut for garnish.