Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy and Delicious New Year

What better way to welcome in the new year than with chocolate?


Actually there is no occasion to which chocolate is not suited - festivities are just excuses to indulge. I had planned this for christmas but the blackbuck beckoned and we had to go.

My quest for the ultimate ( ultimately easy and yummy ) dessert lead me to chocolate balls. I used the recipe from this site:

I modified it quite a bit to suit my taste and to use ingredients that were available at hand.


2 Pkts of Britannia ArrowRoot biscuits ( you can also use marie )
[ Note : any crisp biscuit which isn't very sweet - and I don't mean sugar free ]
1 tin Milkmaid ( sweetened condensed milk )
1 to 2 cups of grated coconut ( I have lots at home so I used 2 cups )

Crush the biscuits fine ( use a mixer if needed ). Add the grated coconut and condensed milk. Mix well. Roll into little balls ( ladoo sized ). And Yay, You're done.


But this did not satisfy me......

So I made my mixture into 2 parts and created two variations ( before adding the condensed milk )

Variation 1 ( Chocolate Rum Flavor)
2 to 3 Tbl Spoons Cocoa Powder ( not drinking chocolate )
Cashews Whole ( 1 inside each ball )
2 Tbl spoons - Barcadi Razz

Variation 2 ( Coffee Orange Flavour )

2 - 3 tsp Instant Coffee Powder
2 Tbl spoons - Orange Smirnoff
Handful Cashews coarsely crushed

Here it helps to dissolve the coffee in the alcohol so that it mixes well.
Place the balls in fridge overnight.


I was still not satisfied.........

So out came the cooking chocolate slabs. I melted it over a water bath, dipped each ball in with a spoon and placed it on parchment paper to set. Keep refrigerated. I made 59 balls this way.

The orange coffee combo was surprisingly fabulous. The raspberry was mildly over powering... so I think I could have added more cocoa powder.

In Container

Wishing you all a safe and happy new year!!

Don't drink and drive.

Eat chocolate!

Christmas at Maidanhalli


Keeping with the trend of having a "wild" christmas... ( last year we spent it appreciatively sniffing tiger pee and prodding at tiger poo ) this year we spent it with the black bucks at maidanhalli.

Our last trip to maidanhalli was mostly about finding the way to it and by the time we got there, we were too tired to go looking for blackbucks.

This time, we were prepared. With no map ( Keshav had it burnt into his memory ) we set out at the the unearthly hour of 4:15am. That said, we were looking at black buck around 9:30am.

Misty Village Road

Ofcourse, we stopped along the way a couple of times to stretch, to attend to natures call and to snap a few beautiful scenes. We were blessed with lovely weather, it was nice and chilly and once we had left the highway and major roads we were enveloped in a thick fog.

This added to travel time, and I am happy to say, we bumped along with a little more care on the potholed roads. Dodda-pot-hole-ana-halli is as before, so drive carefully and keep all camera equipment seat belted in the back seat to keep it from bouncing around.

Our first stop was to take in a rather misty sunrise and the next was at a lake that had a few large herons (couldn't make out which kind from the distance and fog) and a couple of painted storks.


Following this we stopped at a field of unknown grain (pls help id this ) to try and photograph a flock of weaver birds at breakfast. The poor light and fog (not to mention my incompetence) resulted in less than satisfactory photos for me. Keshav had better luck though.


Once we were past Purvara village and then off the tar and onto mud roads, our next stop was a good-sized flock of rosy pastors snacking on the Ragi (millet) ( please correct me if I'm wrong ). By now, the sun was up and the mist had disappeared and the photos are a lot more presentable.


Our first sighting of the black buck came soon after with a black male leading a small group of about 8-10 caramel colored animals across the road right in front of us. They walked off the roadside and were soon far away. We drove ahead and with not many sightings turned back and decided to park and trek after them in the general direction where they were last headed.


After a good trek, we found them again and in very healthy numbers it would appear, there may have been easily 50 or more animals in the heard. Lot of brownish males with shortish horns and the hornless does.

They were alert to us way before we had spotted them, and were probably amused at being photographed by Santa with bazooka and his chubby little elf. :)

General Info:
Mobile network is strong but I got a sms from Airtel welcoming me to AndhraPradesh while I was photographing the blackbuck.
I wore sneakers and found that little sharp seeds from the grass had latched on to my shoes and got into my socks, turning my feet into pin cushions.

Driving Directions are covered at length in previous post.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New House, New Neighbours

New House New Neighbours
First visitor to our new house - Large Pied Wagtail

We're finally moved,
and boy - it was rough!
We never even knew
we had so much stuff!

The lift is working,
the painting is all done,
All fixtures are fitted,
and the curtains are hung.

The boxes are unpacked
We've cleared all the mess,
we are now settled in
at our new Address.

For those who wondered if I was still on the planet, this is a "Here I am" post. Very much on planet earth. All I did was move house by 9kms.

Its been 2 weeks now, and things are beginning to feel like home. It has been a tough and very packed few months. The photos to process and upload are rising up like a tidal wave on me.

Getting back to the featured photo - this charming guy ( I'm assuming its a male ) is one of a happy group of wagtails that have colonized our apartment complex. Fearless little fellow sang happily on our living room balcony for several minutes, giving me time to get my camera and take just one shot before he moved on.

They have visited us a few more times, but no photo opportunities. Other visitors are swallows - wire tailed and red rumped. I had a close encounter with one the other evening, when it perched on the railing 2 feet away from my elbow. I was afraid to move for fear of scaring it away.

Other 'wild' visitors include a troop of monkeys ( yes, simians on the 9th floor! ) who stopped by the other day when we were at work and ate all of my lemon coloured marigolds. Fortunately they did no damage to the plant it self, and did not touch any other flowers.

With the year end approaching, the time has come to print our annual calendar. We're looking for new printers.. Suggestions welcome. Hoping to get back to regular posting schedule soon...
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