Sunday, January 31, 2010

SpotLightBlog - Shoba's Anubavathi ~ Eggless Zebra Cake

Beginning the month of February, I am starting a new series called SpotLightBlog. My bookmark folder is overflowing and I wanted to do some justice to the bookmarked recipes. My first idea was to try one recipe each week and post it subsequently. But choosing one recipe was not easy as I thought to be. Instead, I thought of selecting a blog and trying four recipes and post one every week. I felt that to be a better option and in a way I can show my appreciation to my fellow blogger too. So from this month onwards, one blog will be chosen as SpotLightBlog and I shall showcase once recipe per week and will be posting it every Monday. I had this project in mind for sometime now and wanted to start from January. But the month of January had something else in store fro me in the form of relatives, festivals etc. So it starts from February.


The first blog I have chosen is my dear friend Shoba's Anubavathi, which has lot of traditional recipes and eggless bakes. Recipe for this week is a Zebra cake following Shoba's recipe. I know this is a signature cake of Shoba among her friends and she is quite an expert in baking this cake in various flavors. I didnot make any changes to the recipe. It came out very well. The cake was very spongy and moist and was a winner for an eggless cake. To make Zebra cake, any recipe can be followed. Is the pattern that matters. It comes in practise. First time when I made, the lines were very thin and hardly the pattern could be made out. The second time I made, the patterns were visible, though I felt I could improve better in terms of pattern, since taste wise, the cake was very good.


All Purpose Flour / Maida - 2cups
Baking Soda. - 1 tspn

Baking Powder -1 tspn

Oil - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 1/4 cup
Whole Milk - 1 3/4

Vanilla essence - 1 tspn

Cocoa Powder - 4 tblspn

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients - Maida, Baking soda and baking power. Mix well.

In another bowl, mix oil and sugar. Wisk well to dissolve the sugar. Add milk and whisk everything together. Slowly, add the dry ingredients to the wet mix little by little. Mix well after each addition with out forming any lumps.

Remove half of the batter to another bowl. To one half add vanilla essence and to the other, add cocoa powder and mix well.

Take a greased and flour dusted pan. Take a ladle which can contain around 4 tblspn of the batter. Add a ladle of chocolate batter on to the centre of the pan. Next add a ladle of the vanilla batter onto the centre of the chocolate batter. Don't try to spread or shake the pan. The batter gets spread on its own. You keep adding both the batter alternatively until you finish all the batter.

The amount of batter added to form a ring is important to get nice and clear pattern. If too little batter is added the lines formed will be very thin and the patter doesn't show well.

Bake the cake in preaheated oven at 170 C for 35 minutes or it passes a toothpick test.
My eldest co-sister had sent me mini cake moulds and I wanted to use that too. So I made 3 mini cakes and used the rest of the batter for the bigger one.

The patterns have come out better in the mini cake mould. The amount of batter added for each ring was little more here.


Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficient Products

Homeowners who purchase energy efficient products save money by reducing their utility bills. The U.S. government provides additional incentives for green improvements by offering income tax credit on energy saving products. Eligibility for tax credits requires that improvements are made to the homeowner's principal residence. Unfortunately, rental properties and new construction do not quality. Offers expire between December 31, 2010 and December 31, 2016, depending on the product.

Home owners should apply for a tax credit - up to $1500 or equal to 30% of cost - on energy saving products for their existing, primary residence on the following qualifying items:

  • Biomass stoves, which burn biomass fuel (wood, grass, and other plant fiber) to heat water and provide home heating
  • Energy efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) products, such as:
  • Advanced main air circulating fans
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Central air conditioning
  • Hot water boilers used for residential heating
  • Gas, propane, and oil heaters
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Insulation
  • Water heaters
  • Windows, Doors, and Skylights, including storm windows and storm doors
  • Small residential wind turbines
  • Solar Energy Systems, such as: solar panels & solar water heaters
  • Fuel Cells

For more information about government tax credits for green home improvements, including qualifying product specifics, please visit Energy Star's Tax Credit Index.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Kashmiri Pulav ~ Guest Post

I never knew about Anu, a silent reader of my blog, until when I received a query mail from her. After exhange of few mails, the relation ship blosommed from reader to a friend. When I requested her for a guest post, she was happy to play along. Please welcome Anu to Kailas Kitchen and she comes with a plate of delicious looking  Kashmiri Pulao.


Basmathi Rice – 1 cup

Ginger garlic Paste – 1 spoon

Cinnamon – 1 inch piece

Cloves – 3 nos

Cardomom – 3 nos

Cumin seeds – ¾ teaspoon

Aniseed – ¾ teaspoon

Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

Ghee – 2 spoons

Yellow food color – as preferred

Fruits cut into equal sizes( Apples, Pomegranate, Grapes, Pineapples) – 1 cup

Dry fruits (Pista, Cashew, Raisins, Badam) – ¼ cup

Salt – As required


Rinse and soak the Basmathi rice for 5-20 mins

In a kadai, pour a spoon of Ghee and add cumin and aniseed first. Subsequently add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, grounded pepper(can add green chilli if preferred).  Also add ginger garlic paste. Just fry for 30 seconds and add the drained rice. Fry for 2 more minutes

Stop the flame, pour the rice and masala mix in the Rice cooker and add 1 and ½ cups of water along with required amount of salt and cook. Pour the rest of 1 spoon of Ghee.

Fry the Dry fruits with just little ghee and keep it aside

Once rice is cooked garnish with the fruits and dry fruits. I had made Onion Raitha and cauliflower pakodas to serve with the rice.

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

I would like to store some homemade vanilla ice cream in the freezer because sometimes I need it to serve with crumble or some hot desserts. Rather making a plain one, I was thinking to make the raspberry ripple so that it's also can be served straight. This is a recipe of Nigella Lawson but I've modified it a bit as I feel the custard is quite rich and thick. So, by reducing the sugar and adding some yogurt with fresh milk make a slightly light and refreshing ice cream. I like the sourly of raspberry, it served so well with hot chocolate desserts, crumble or cream puffs!
600g single cream (I used 300ml whipping cream & 300ml fresh milk)
6egg yolks
120g caster sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoon plain yogurt
100ml fresh milk
125g raspberries
  1. Warm the milk, whipping cream and half of the sugar in a saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.

  2. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir in the vanilla extract. Mix it into the yogurt and fresh milk, then whisk it vigorously. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

  3. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  4. While the ice cream freezing in the ice cream maker, put the raspberries and the remaining sugar in the processor and puree, then push through a nylon sieve to remove the pips. Then pour into a small, airtight container and stick it into the freezer to thicken but not to set hard.
  5. When the ice cream frozen, but not solid, put one third of it into a container and then dribble over a third of the semi-frozen raspberry syrup. and repeat with another two layers of each. Take a wooden skewer and squiggle through so that the syrup ripples through the ice ream, Cover and put in the deep freeze till set. Enjoy!

Mexican Wedding Cookies for Global Kadai Event and Thai Velli Kolam

The idea behind the Global Kadai event announced by Cilantro interested me - indianizing the recipe. One is free to make any changes to suit the availability of ingredients in India. the first recipe is the popular Mexican wedding cookies. Since no egg in the orginal recipe, I  didnot have to look for an egg replacer. No leavening agents like baking powder or cooking soda. I opted for coconut in place of pecans and used cardamom for flavor instead of cinnamon. Though i love cinnamon, to give an Indian flavor, chose cardamom. Coconut and cardamom paired well with the cocoa and its a keeper recipe. I had only 1/2 cup of butter so halved the recipe. I got 2 dozens of cookies.

Baking Temp : 180 C
Time              : 15-18 minutes
Yields            : 2 dozen

You need

Butter, softened - 1 cup

Powdered Sugar - 1/3 cup

Vanilla essence - 2 tspn

All purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup

Fresh grated coconut - 1 cup

Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup

cardamom - 3/4 tspn

Salt - a pinch

1/2 cup powdered sugar for coating the cookies


Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients and slowly add to the creamed butter and sugar mix. Gather the ingredients and make a soft dough. Chill the dough for 1-2 hours to firm up. I chilled for 2 hours. Pinch off the dough and make small balls. Line it on a greased baking tray and bake at 180 C for 18 minutes. When warm, roll it on the powdered sugar and leave it to cool.

Though the cookies were less sweet on its own, the sugar coating makes it up. It was very tasty and could not stop with one. I baked it one evening and on the second day only 10 was left.

Here is the kolam for this Friday.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A 'No Grinding' Dosa Sandwhich for A.R.Rahman's Concert

A 'No Grinding' Dosa Sandwhich for A.R.Rahman's Concert

A.R.Rahman at the Sydney 2010 festival!!! This was reason enough to stir out a flurry of excited activities among the Indians here. My daugther and son in law were eager to go with the entire family. Hubby and I however, decided to pass the noise, the rush and the waiting, and stay back home with our little grandaughter instead. My daugther’s friends had gone to the venue at Paramatta grounds at 11:00am itself to book spaces, for the show that was to begin at 7:00pm in the evening. They were undeterred by Sydney’s scorching Summer Sun beating down relentlessly! Such was the enthusiasm for the event!

They had all decided to carry some homemade eats along, so that everyone could enjoy the assortment of home food while the ears feasted on the mesmerizing music of the century’s most celebrated maestro. After pondering on a tasty, filling, and yet ‘fast’ food, I suggested they take the easy to handle dosa sandwiches. Grinding batters with my daugther's small mixie is quite a task, and so I decided to do away with the grinding, and prepared these dosas for her by using flours that are readily available in the Indian stores instead. It turned out quite well and the group enjoyed their pot luck along with AR’s best music. Here is how I prepared it without grinding.
Rice flour – 3 leveled cups
Urad dal (Black gram dal) flour -1 heaped cup
Beaten rice – 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1tsp
Butter milk – 1 cup
Salt – 3 tsps
Oil- for cooking
1. Mix rice flour, urad dal flour and salt together.
2. Finely powder beaten rice and fenugreek seeds, and add it to the flour mixture.
3. Blend in butter milk.
4. Keep blending with a clean hand, adding water little by little until you get a smooth and thick dosa dough consistency.
5. Cover and keep it in a warm place to rise for 8 hours or overnight.
For preparing the dosas:
6. Heat a greased tava. Sprinkle little water to test the temperature. If you get a hissing sound the tava is ready.
7. Pour a ladle of the batter on the centre of the tava and spread it into a moderately thick dasa.
8. Dribble oil around the dosa.
9. When lots of small holes appear, cover with lid and decrease heat.
10. Cook on low fire for a minute or until the top surface looks cooked.
11. Flip the dosa to the other side and cook for four seconds and remove from pan and leave it on flat surface to cool.
12. Increase heat and pour the batter for the next dosa.
Mix one portion of dosai molagai podi (also known as Gun Powder) with one portion of sesame oil, and apply liberally on one side of the dasai. Fold the dosai in the middle and stack it up in a dry container or pack in a foil. Ideal snack for picnics and take away. You will get twenty five palm sized dosais for the above mentioned ingredients. A standard size drinking water glass was used to measure out the flour.

The Zen Perfection of Mal Corboy

I have just been on a web trip to New Zealand to view the work of a groundbreaking kitchen designer, Mal Corboy, who won the 2009 Australian Kitchen Designer of the Year award for the kitchen below.

I am blown away by his deft integration of materials and lighting, and use of Corian and stone in unexpected ways (yes, that is stone UNDER the counter/table in the kitchen below).

Take a look.


Lois DeDomenico

We were just sent a blog post about Lois DeDomenico, who we interviewed for our Hidden Kitchens story, Rice-A-Roni. Lois will be a judge at Ultimate Chef America, "Iron Chef for the senior set." Read the post here (which includes Lois' Crunchy Granola recipe).

And listen to the Hidden Kitchens story with Lois here.

Christina Kim Installation at the Brandenburg Gate

Designer Christina Kim, one of the artists we are following for our new series about girls around the world, sent us this photo from Berlin of the epic curtain she is creating using recycled movie posters hanging at the Brandenburg Gate for the 60th Berlin Film Festival.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wheat & Nut Laddoo

These delicious laddoos(fudge) just melt in your mouth. They are low fat, guilt free, super easy to make and wholesome. If you have a sweet tooth, you will love it.

Makes 5-6 laddoos

Whole Wheat Flour-1/4 cup
Assorted dry fruits & nuts-1/4 cup(to be ground) + 1 tsp(to be added while rolling into balls)
Butter-1 tbsp
Sugar-1 tbsp(powdered or granulated)
Cardamom-1/4 tsp

Melt butter and prepare ghee. Add the flour and roast on low flame till golden brown(about 3 minutes).
Grind 1/4 cup of assorted dry fruits & nuts without adding water.
You can use any nuts of your choice. I used a mixture of almonds, walnuts, roasted cashews, raisins, dried apricot, sweetened coconut flakes, dried pineapple.
When the flour is still warm, add the ground nuts, cardamom, sugar and a tsp of broken nuts. Mix well and shape them into small balls.

Note: Use dry roasted unsalted cashews. Other nuts can be added raw.

Take a Close Look at a Clogged Sewer Line!

Brace yourselves, folks! You're about to go where few men (or women) have gone before...inside your home's main sewer line!

If you've been experiencing slow running drains or backups in your sewer line, chances are that you have an obstructed sewer line. All manner of disgusting things can block up your sewer line: tree roots, scale, sludge build-up, food and other waste to name a few.

Often sewer line back ups cannot be detected until it is too late. But with a special sewer line camera, a reputable plumbing, drain and sewer contractor can detect any potential problems with your sewer line -- from blockages to cracks to collapsed pipe.

Below is an actual cross-sectional view of a main sewer line taken with one of our cameras. Just take a look at the tree roots which have infiltrated the pipe and all the sludge and muck that has accumulated along the walls of the sewer line. It's like having a clogged artery!

Blecch! Pretty disgusting, huh?

If your main sewer line is obstructed to this, your home is just like a heart attack waiting to happen. Sooner or later, you will have sewage backing up into your home or seeping through your property. Not a pretty picture.

If You Suspect a Potentially Blocked or Damaged Sewer Line:
  • Call a reputable sewer line contractor. Schedule a camera inspection. It only takes 30 minutes.

  • Most obstructed sewer lines can be cleared easily with a simple rooter procedure. It's kind of like an angioplasty for your main sewer line!

  • If obstruction and damage to your sewer line is extensive, the sewer line will have to be replaced. Horizon Services uses a state-of-the-art "trenchless" method that allows us to replace your sewer line without having to dig up and destroy your yard, landscape, driveway or sidewalk. And it can be done in less time than conventional sewer replacement.

More Information:

Let's work together to lower your water usage!

Its simple, inexpensive and really makes a difference.

Let's schedule a time to sit down and see how much water you are really using in a year. By using a Household Water Usage Audit Checklist formulated by the United Association of Plumbers & Green Plumbers, we will determine your annual usage and how to make some simple changes to your plumbing system to lower water consumption and your utility bills.

No doubt the results of this water audit are eye opening to say the least! I am continually amazed at how much water we use on a annual basis. I don't pay directly for my families' water, we receive ours from a private well. Nevertheless, we stand to save significantly in water heating costs throughout the year due to our lowered usage. This not only lowers our household budget, but, also has a positive impact to our environment.

If your water is supplied by a municipal source (city water) you will see savings from three main areas. Your monthly water billing is based on gallons used, added to this bill is a sewer usage fee. This fee is based on the metered water usage...Lower the metered usage; lower your sewer & water heating costs.

Give me a call, let's talk.
Eric Aune, Owner
Aune Plumbing, LLC
(763) 238-2385

My Buddy

Hey guys! Familiar with these goodies? Haha.. guess what!? It's time to meet up with my buddy. I've got these lovely goodies from her. All are yummy indeed! Again, we've a fantastic day with lots of chatting, laughing, walking and shopping. She had given me a wonderful day with lots of baking experience and advises. I was truly overwhelmed by her friendship! Brilliant thanks to you, buddy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kappayum Kadalayum ~ Mashed Tapioca with curried brown chick peas

apioca in any form is welcome at home. The most common one is plain tapioca cooked with salt and a pinch of turmeric with a dip of fiery shallots chutney. Me and my sister are big fans of this combo. Even now when I prepare this combo, I ring up my sister and tell her just to salviate her. During our Alappuzha trip, last year, one late evening,when we stopped for tea , we were offered kappa puzhingiyathu and kadala curry, since that was the oly vegetarian option available that time of the day. Since we were hungry, decided to try the combo.It was a winner. During this year's harvest of tapioca at home, husband reminded me to make this for breakfast. The tapioca harvested at my home cooks pretty quick that it doesn't take more than 10 minutes on stove top.

Tapioca, peeled and chopped into big pieces - 1/2 kg

Turmeric a pinch


Cook the tapioca in enough water with turmeric added to it. Add salt when its almost cooked. If you add salt in the beginning, cooking will take more time and may not cook soft. You can see cracks on the surface when it is cooked well. Drain and leave it for 5 minutes. Just mash little with a potato masher or back of the ladle. Serve with kadala curry for a filling breakfast or a spicy chutney as dip. The recipe of my kadala curry is same that I make for Puttu. Here I added less of coconut in the ground masala.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Six Guidelines for Choosing the Right Heating System for Your Home

Buying and installing new home heating system is an extremely important investment. The proper heating system for your home will not only keep you and your family warm and safe, it will also run smoothly with minimal problems. It could significantly reduce your monthly heating costs, and it can even enhance the value of your home. And, since investing in a new heating system is a decision you will have to live with for many years, you’ll want to put a lot of thought and legwork into your decision and choose wisely.

Here are six basic rules, concepts and considerations to guide you in the process of shopping for and choosing the right heating system for your home and family.


In order to get the most heat and most efficiency, you should invest in the biggest heating system possible, right? WRONG! One of the most common and most costly mistakes customers make when buying a new heating system is getting one that is too big for their home. For most people, an oversized heating system will cost you more to purchase and to operate...not to mention leave you less comfortable.

If your heating system is over-sized, it will overheat quickly, cool down, then overheat again. Your house will cycle between feeling too warm and feeling too cool. This wastes energy, increases your heating bill and results in a home that is less comfortable. Plus, it increases the wear and tear on your heating equipment and shortens its life.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly half of all existing heating systems sold are over-sized, and this results in 20% wasted energy each year! How does this happen? Many heating contractors simply replace an old heating system with one of the same size or larger. Or they’ll make a rough, ballpark guess on how large the system should be based on the square footage of your house. Or they'll simply go along with the homeowner who unknowingly asks for a bigger system, thinking that “bigger is better”...even though the contractor knows otherwise.

Rule #1...don’t buy an oversized heating system just because you want to make sure your home is warm. Choose a heating contractor who will take the time to help you determine the heating system that best fits your size and style of house to keep the home at a nice even, comfortable temperature, with the most efficient effort, the least waste of energy and the least wear and tear on equipment.


Another common mistake is to buy a new heating system that is too small to keep your home warm and comfortable. There are two reasons why this happens.

One reason is because a heating contractor may recommend a smaller, less expensive heating system so that he can underbid everyone else and get your business. He’ll look like a hero, because his price will be so much lower...but you'll be left shivering on cold winter days.

Another reason may have to do with improperly sized and installed air duct and forced-air systems. The National Comfort Institute says that as many as one-third of the nation's air duct systems are improperly sized and installed, and many return air systems are undersized by up to 30-50%! If you’re air ducts are too small, your furnace will have to work harder to push the air through them and this results in equipment problems and system breakdowns.

Rule #2...make sure you buy a big enough heating system to keep your home warm and comfortable without straining your equipment.


Any heating contractor you work with should study your home thoroughly before giving you a proposal. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you should only hire a heating contractor who asks questions; measures windows, doors, floors and ceilings; checks insulation; calculates system load,and fixes system problems that may compromise comfort and cost you money. More specifically, you should make never purchase a heating system from a contractor unles he first completes an analysis of your home and checks a list of factors that include:
  • The size and style of your house
  • How well insulated or airtight your home is
  • How much useful sunlight comes in through the windows
  • How much heat the lights and appliances give off
  • The condition of ducts and pipes
  • Your typical thermostat settings
  • The number of occupants in the home
Your contractor should take all of these factors into account by doing a computer load calculation. This calculation helps the heating contractor determine how much heat the heating system must generate on the coldest days in order to keep you comfortable. The heating contractor should measure all rooms, check insulation, check windows and doors, and input all data into special industry software to calculate heat loss/gain.

In addition, your heating contractor should ask you a lot of probing questions, such as:
  • Are there any drafty areas in the home?
  • Do you have moisture problems?
  • Do you have hot or cold rooms?
  • Are you about to make any changes to your home?
  • How have your heating bills been the last several months?
  • Has anyone in the home been sick or had trouble breathing recently?

Finally, you heating contractor may perform tests to check for drafts and measure indoor air quality. These tests help determine exactly where and how your house might be leaking air, and what you can do about it. They should also check for carbon monoxide, dust, pollen, allergens and other invisible air emissions that can cause respiratory and other health problems. These tests will show you ways to make your home safer and more comfortable while lowering your monthly utility bills.


How well your heating system is installed is as important as the quality of the system itself. Even with the right equipment, if your heating system is not installed properly, you could end up with higher energy costs and a less comfortable home.

According to industry data, about 65% of how well a heating system's performance is directly related to how well the heating system is designed, installed, and calibrated. Bad installation accounts for the loss of 30% to 50% of the heat in most homes. And over 66% of equipment failure is a result of poor installation and lack of proper maintenance.

When installing your new heating system, your heating contractor should make sure all the elements of your heating system are tuned and adjusted to work together properly. Your heating contractor should balance the airflow by making sure that the setting on the furnace fan is matched to the size and specs of your ductwork and furnace; this ensures that air flows smoothly and consistently through your home without annoying hot and cold spots.

Your heating contractor should also customize and calibrate the setup and operation of your new heating system so that it operates at peak performance and efficiency within the unique conditions of your home. After installing your heating system, your heating contractor should always tune your furnace or boiler and test for efficiency; this is very important because heating equipment which was tuned and adjusted at the factory is probably not attuned and adjusted to work in your home's environment.


The ongoing costs of operation of your heating system are as important as the upfront costs of purchase and installation. To determine which model is the best buy for your needs, you need to compare not only the initial cost to buy and install the system, but also how much it will cost you to operate your system. Your heating contractor or technicians can help you determining which make and model is the most cot-effective to operate andhelp your calculate how much your can expect to save in monthly heating costs by upgrading to a more efficient system.

Make sure you know the energy efficiency of the system you are purchasing. Older, conventional furnaces or boilers can often have an energy efficiency rating lower than 65%. Today’s more energy-efficient heating systems have efficiency ratings that range from 78% to 97% for forced air systems and 80% to 95% for hot water systems. Upgrading to a new, more efficient heating system has the potential for reducing your monthly heating bills by 20-40%.

The extra money you spend for a high-efficiency model will pay you back in energy savings in a relatively short time. For example, suppose you are choosing between a unit with an efficiency rating of 78% and one with a rating of 93%. The higher-efficiency system will cost $500 more, but will probably save you, on average, about $137 each year in operating costs. So you will recover the $500 additional upfront cost in less than five years. If you are not planning to stay in the home long enough to reach the payback point, you may wish to choose a lower-priced model. But remember...a high-efficiency heating system can be a good selling point when it comes time to sell your home.


Try to think about home heating as an integrated system rather than as pieces of equipment. Many heating contractors focus on getting the sale by pricing “boxes” (heating equipment only) instead of offering total heating solutions. But to get the heating system that is just right for your home, you have to realize that there is a lot more to your heating system than just a “box in the basement.”

When getting bids from companies, don’t just get a bid for installing a new furnace or boiler. You should also get bids on the cost of buying and installing a complete new system, including any fittings and adjustments required and any changes to the ductwork and piping, plus balancing and adjusting the whole system to work together. It may cost more to have everything done right, but the benefits and the payback are almost always well worth it. Remember: you are investing for the long term. The heating system you finally get will affect your comfort and your heating bills for years.

More From Horizon Services...

If you're thinking about installing a new heating system or replacing your existing heating system, Horizon Services help. Horizon comfort consultants and installation technicians follow all of the guidelines described above. A FREE In-Home Energy Analysis from Horizon is your first step in finding the right heating system for your home.

Events Hosted

Milkshakes, Juices, Hot Drinks and more
Soups, Rasam, Veggie Salads, Fruit Salads
Rice, Rotis, Chutneys, Side dishes

    2. Cakes and Cookies
    Part 1-Easy Recipes
    Part 2-Intermediate Level Recipes
    Part 3-Advanced Level


    3. Cooking Basics 
    Learn how to make simple dishes


    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Peanut Butter Buns

    I still feel that this water roux recipe is great! With the same recipe, it could makes different kind of sweet buns including this peanut butter buns. There turn out real soft! I used my homemade sugar free peanut butter so I find it not sweet enough. Please use a good peanut butter like the brand of PLANTERS (oh..I love it) or any organic 100% pure peanut butter for better texture.

    (A) 210g bread flour / 56g plain flour / 20g milk powder / 42g sugar / 1/2 teaspoon salt / 6g instant yeast
    (B) 30g eggs / 85g water / 84g water roux (refer to water roux recipe)
    (C) 22g butter
    (D) some peanut butter and chopped peanut

    Recipe for the water dough "water roux": Cook 125 water with 25g bread flour at medium low heat, keep stirring until it become thicken and no lumps left (please don't over cooked it!). If you've a candy thermometer, measure it until the temperature turn to 65C then turn of the heat. I didn't measure it with thermometer, so I cook it until like a baby porridge. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover with a cling wrap to avoid skin forming. The amount of water roux here would be more than a recipe required, please according to the amount of the recipe required and do not add more or less.

    How I made it:

    1. Put all the ingredients (A) and (B) for kneading until it form a dough. Add the butter (C) little by little and continue the kneading process until smooth and elastic and the dough no more sticking at the side of the mixing bowl (this method for dough hook kneading mixer, if using bread machine, add all the ingredients (A)(B) and (C) together. Let it proof for 40 minutes in a clean bowl cover with cling wrap.

    2. Divide the dough into 9 portions. Round them into small balls and rest for 10 minutes.

    3. Flatten the dough with your a rolling pin and roll it out in longish shape. Spread some peanut butter jam and use a sharp knife to cut 4 to 5 lines then twist it and tight them up. Place them into muffin cups and proof for 40 minutes.

    4. Egg wash the top of the doughs and sprinkle some chopped peanuts.

    5. Bake at a 180C preheated oven for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

    Saturday, January 23, 2010

    Sambar Sadham

    Sambar Sadham is a quick and delicious one pot meal adapted from Edible Garden. Thanks for the recipe Nags. I modified the recipe to suit my taste. Piping hot sambar sadham with ghee drizzled all over is very satisfying and comforting any time of the day!

    Serves 3

    Oil-1 tbsp
    Mustard Seeds-1 tsp
    Fenugreek Seeds-1/2 tsp
    Curry leaves-a few
    Ginger grated-1 tsp
    Hing-1/4 tsp
    Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
    Tamarind-small lime size ball
    Thur dal-1/3 cup
    Rice-2/3 cup
    Sambar Powder-2 tbsp
    Coconut grated-2 tbsp
    Ghee-2 tbsp
    Coriander leaves- to garnish
    Veggies I used:
    Onion Sliced-1/2 cup
    Peas-a handful
    Capsicum-1 small

    Of course, you can use any veggies of your choice.

    Soak tamarind in 1.5 cups of warm water.
    Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
    Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and fenugreek seeds.
    When mustard seeds crackle, add ginger and all the veggies one by one.
    Sprinkle salt  and hing.
    Fry for 5 minutes.
    Extract 2 cups of tamarind water and add it to the veggies.
    Add sambar powder, turmeric powder, coconut and salt.
    Rinse rice and dal and add.
    Add 2.5 cups of water.
    Close the lid and pressure cook for 6-7 whistles(till rice and dal become mushy).
    When pressure is released, open the lid and garnish with coriander leaves.
    Drizzle ghee just before serving.
    Serve with raitha and chips.
    Note: I have used 2 cups of tamarind water and 2.5 cups of water for 1 cup of rice and dal mixture.
    You may soak thur dal in warm water for 30 minutes before pressure cooking just to make sure it is fully cooked.

    Lightbulb of the Future?

    Philips Electronics has submitted the first entry into the Department of Energy L Prize Competition for a replacement for the ubiquitous 60 watt incandescent lightbulb. And here it is!

    This is an LED entry.

    The criteria to win the coveted prize are:

    * Efficacy > 90 lumens/Watt (pretty bright)
    * Power draw < 10W (very low power consumption)
    * Output > 900 lumens (pretty bright)
    * CRI (color rendering index)> 90 (tomatoes will look like tomatoes)
    * Color temperature 2700-3000K (warm white)

    More entries are expected by DOE, which will award up to three winners in the 60W category.

    The first to meet all competition requirements will receive the cash prize; all three winners will be eligible for federal purchasing opportunities and promotions and incentives offered by the L Prize partners.



    I am beginning this blog with a tasty Briyani recipe.


    Chicken pieces-750gms
    Briyani rice-2 ½ cups
    Ginger paste-1 tbsp
    Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
    Chilli powder- half sp
    Turmeric powder- half sp
    Salt to taste
    Ghee-half cup
    Finely sliced onion-3
    Finely crushed tomato-2
    Slit Green chillies- 5
    Chopped coriander-1 cup
    Chopped mint leaves- 1 cup
    Curd-3 tbsp

    Powder coarsely the following ingredients:

    Cinnamon-1” piece, cloves-3, cardamom-3. fennel seeds- half sp

    Grind the following ingredients to a fine paste:

    Cashew nuts-5, poppy seeds-1 sp, shredded coconut-4 tbsp
    Lemon juice-1 ½ tbsp


    Wash the rice and soak in enough water.
    Heat a vessel and pour the ghee. Add the onion and fry it to golden brown.
    Add the ginger garlic pastes and fry them well.
    Add the ground powder and fry for a few seconds.
    Then add the tomatoes with the turmeric powder and fry them until the tomatoes are well mashed and the ghee floats on top.
    Add the washed chicken pieces with enough salt and cook on medium fire.
    Add the curd, greens and the chilli powder.
    Cook the chicken until it is done and all the water is evaporated..
    Lastly add the lime juice and cook for a few seconds.
    Add 5 cups of water with the rice.
    When the rice is half done add enough salt.
    When all the water is evaporated keep the briyani in dhum for 20 minutes in the gas oven.
    Pour ghee around the sides in intervals.
    Serve hot with onion curd salad.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Thai Velli/Friday Kolam and By the Book

    During the month of Thai/Makaram, every one cleans their courtyard on Thursday evening to decorate with the kolam. So when you see everyone in your neighborhood indulges in the cleaning and decorating, even someone who has not mastered the art of kolam, will be inspired to try your hand at it. Its infectious. Here is my attempt for this Friday.

    (9 dots 9 lines)

    My dear friend Jayashree has tagged me to show the most loved cookbook. Few years back, if someone has asked me about cookbooks, I would have had a  look like 'Me cooking from a book' kind. I never thought I will follow a cookbook, may be because I have not seen anyone in my family following one. Its kind of passing the recipes from Mother to daughter kind. I was under the impression that cookbooks are for the newbies who are to learn even  how to light a stove too.  After marriage too, I didnot feel the need for one. Whenever I had any doubt regarding any of our traditional recipes, I could call my Mom . (Then she was staying at local call distance). My MIL used to tell she learnt most of the traditional dishes from Meenakshi Ammal's book way back in 1950's.  Later when I heard my co-sis swearing by Mallika Bhadrinath often, I was inspired to buy one for myself. Mallika's 100 Vegetarian recipes (II series) was the first book I got.  It took sometime for me to start trying from the book. After blogging, things have changed in a big way. I got to know about various cuisines, cookbooks. I keep a diary of the recipes I try and now I have close to 15 books. I still have somebooks where I haven't tried even a single recipe. 


    Those of you who wish to showcase your most cherished cookbook, feel free to take up the tag and link back to Jayashree's post

    What You Need to Know About Buying a Space Heater

    Rising home heating costs have many homeowners scrambling for affordable heating alternatives. If your utility bills skyrocket when cold weather strikes, you may have considered purchasing a space heater to offset the cost of whole home heating. Using a portable space heater can definitely help you save money and energy -- especially if you generally spend time in one room of your home or office. However, there are some very important points to consider before you buy a space heater.

    If energy efficiency is a top concern for you, go with an electric space heater. These units don’t lose valuable heat through ducts (like central heating systems) or combustion (like gas-powered space heaters). This means that every bit of heat produced by the electric heater goes into the room, making the temperature comfortable for a longer length of time. Different types of electric heaters include radiant space heaters, convection space heaters, ceramic space heaters and micathermic space heaters.

    Portable gas heaters run on a variety of substances, like natural gas, propane, kerosene and butane. While they lose a lot of heat during the combustion process, they warm up quickly and heat evenly. Many people rely on gas space heaters in emergency situations—power outages, severe winter storms, main heating system failure, etc. The major drawbacks of using gas space heaters are the very real danger of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

    To make sure you’re getting the safest, most energy efficient heater, purchase a unit that is appropriately rated for the room in which you plan to use it. Using the wrong size space heater can increase utility costs and risks for things like fire and air pollution. All manufacturers include clear, reliable square-footage ratings on their product packaging.

    Convenience is important when using a space heater, so look for units that have decent temperature controls. Choose a unit with a digital temperature setting or a programmable thermostat. Automatic turn-on and shut-off are nice features, as are timers and multi-temperature settings.

    More than anything, though, you want a space heater that is safe. Any portable heater is a potential fire hazard so minimize your risk by looking for appliances that have been inspected by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, organizations that standardize and certify electrical components; this designation will be clearly visible on the product packaging. Other safety features to look for are automatic tip-over shut-off, heat resistant exterior casing, front grill touch sensors, and internal overheat protection switches.

    To estimate the average daily cost of using a space heater in your home, all you need are a few simple formulas (and maybe a calculator). First, divide the heater’s wattage by 1000 to get the kilowatts used per hour. Then find your cost per kilowatt hour of electricity on your last bill. Finally, multiply these two numbers by the number of hours your heater will be in use each day. The result will be the amount you can expect to pay per day of operation. For example:

    1.5 kilowatts per hour x $.15 per kWh x 8 hours a day
    = $1.80 a day or about $54 a month to operate

    Completing research ahead of time will ensure that you’re buying the right space heater for your home.

    Related Information...

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Samosas-Quick and Easy Recipe

     I bought wonton wrappers from an american store and filled each of them with spicy potato mixture and deep fried till golden brown. Making Samosas can't be any easier than this.

    Makes about 25 samosas

    For filling:
    Oil-1 tbsp
    Jeera-1 tsp
    Garlic-2 pods
    Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
    Chilli powder
    Kitchen king masala/garam masala powder-3/4 tsp
    Peas-a handful
    Coriander leaves-a handful

    For outer cover:
    Store bought wonton wrappers-25

    To make the filling:
    Pressure cook the potatoes. Peel the skin and mash well.
    Heat oil in a pan. Add jeera. When it crackles, Add chopped garlic and fry for a minute.
    Add rest of the ingredients and mix well. Fry for 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be dry.

    To assemble:
    Thaw the wrappers.
    Place some potato filling in the center.
    Lightly wet the open edges of the wrapper with a drop of water and fold it into a triangle. Seal well.
    Repeat these steps for other wrappers.
    Deep fry the samosas till golden brown.
    Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

    Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency:Energy Star

    Right now is the time to consider upgrading your home appliances

    • Hot Water Boiler (95% AFUE rated Boiler)
    • Heat Pump Water Heaters
    • Domestic Water Heater (change to a tankless model)
    • Solar Domestic Water heating
    • Wood/Biomass Outdoor Boiler
    The U.S. Government has never given this much of a credit before!
    If you were to upgrade your existing Hot Water Boiler to an Energy Star rated unit you would receive a tax credit for 30% of the cost and labor. Outside Wood Boilers included.($1500.00 Max)
    Homeowners installing Solar Panels for domestic water heating will receive a credit for 30% of the cost & labor with no limit.

    I believe it is our responsibility to use less energy. Now we have an incentive (tax credits, all-time high fuel costs) to make the changes needed.

    Eric Aune, Owner
    Aune Plumbing, LLC
    (763) 238-2385

    Mutton Gravy

     Mutton gravy
     Mutton - 1/2 kg
    Onion- 2
    Tomato - 2
    Chilli powder -2 tsp
    Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
    Salt -To taste
    Curry leaves
    Coriander leaves

    For Grinding :
    Coconut Grated - 4 tsp
    Pepper corns - 1/2 tsp
    Poppy seeds - 1/2 tsp
    Cloves - 3
    Cinnamon - 1'
    Fennel  seeds (Sombu) - 1/2 tsp
    Ginger - 1'
    Garlic - 8 cloves

    Preparation Method :
    1. Wash & cut Mutton into Medium pieces.
    2. Add salt,Turmeric powder,Chilli powder,Coriander,curry leaves & required water along with Mutton.
    3. Pressure cook for 10 min or 6-8 whistles.If mutton is hard cook for another 4 whistles.
    4. Heat the oil in pan,add onion,saute until become golden color.
    5. Add chopped Tomatoes,cook til it will become soft.
    6. Now add Grounded masala,fry for 1 min.
    7. After that add mutton pieces ,Mix well & cook for 5- 10 min.
    8. Garnish with coriander & serve with Rice,Idly or Dosa.

    Mutton gravy

    I am sending this recipe to EFM  MUTTON SERIES    conducted by Srilekha

    efm series

    I prepared these dishes for Pongal celebration. Have a look & Enjoy.I will give recipe details Later.

    Pongal special

     Carrot Sambhar,
     Coriander Rasam
     Puli sadam (Tamarind rice)
     Sakkarai pongal(Sweet pongal)
     Semiya payasam (Vermicelli kheer)

    Pongal special

    Parangikai pachadi ( Yellow pumpkin)
    Kathirikkai masiyal (Brinjal Ghostu)
    Vazhaikai poriyal ( Plantain)
    Sarkarai valli kizhangu fry (Sweet potato)
    Paavaikai pachadi (Bitter guard)
    Avaraikai poriyal ( Broad beans)
     Finally plain Vadas.