Saturday, July 31, 2010


In this also there are so many versions and measurements. But I am following this measurement only for the past 25 years and I simply love this! I never prefer any other version. This sambar podi and the samabr using this powder has yearned me so many appreciations among my friends, viewers and relatives!



Red chillies [ long and fully red one]- a handful
Coriander seeds-2 tbsp
Bengal gram- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp
Mustard seeds- half sp
Cumin seeds- a pinch
Black gram-half sp


Dry roast all the ingredients on slow fire until an aroma floats on air.
There is no necessity to fry these in oil or to golden brown.
If possible, after frying these, keep them under the heat of the sun for a day to get better results.
Then powder them finely.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Best Plumber In Orange County

Is this actually a title a company can have?

If there is a contest out there for this crown....... I want to enter!

What would you win?
  1. A big ol' cup with sparkles?
  2. A bumper sticker?
  3. An award?

I'm not too sure .. but I will say that is one of the best plumbers in Orange County.

We offer 24 hour 7 day a week service! We specialize in ....... plumbing! Not HVAC - Electrical - and Plumbing ...... just plumbing!

Try us out .... I like to say to most of our new clients "you have tried the rest , now use the best"!

We can be reached at 949-642-7900 or 714-688-0804 and for those that have a hard time remembering #'s 877-HEY-SPLASH

We look forward to an opportunity to earn your business!

Cheap Plumber in Irvine

I cannot believe how many people call up looking for a Cheap Plumber in Orange County ...... I have posted other blogs about this and it still cracks me up.

If someone is looking for a Cheap Plumber in Irvine, they actually "google" that heading: Cheap Plumber in Irvine - I am surprised at the results, a lot of junk to say the least!

But guess what ...... we pop up in the search results .... why you ask? Quite frankly Splash Plumbing wants to make sure we bring some relief and positive results for those searching this way. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.

We at Splash Plumbing don't consider our company to be cheap ... this would indicate ..... well ... cheap. Splash Plumbing is however, afforable. We provide VERY affordable plumbing service for Orange County.

Our affordable plumbing service also includes Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Rancho Mission Viejo (any other viejo you can think of) Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel ..... and as a reminder, we do not offer CHEAP service. If you want cheap plumbing service, may I suggest searching over on and try one of the 1000 unlicensed "cheap plumbers" looking for work!

Something to consider when hiring any contractor:

  1. Are they licensed?
  2. Do they have insurance?
  3. Are they bonded?
  4. Are they reputable and do they have references?
  5. Do they have the right equipment? (or any equipment at all)

Another PRIMARY thing to consider when hiring a plumber or contractor..... and this is something that we take very seriously. Our philosphy is simple "Splash Plumbing is dedicated to providing affordable plumbing service in Orange County while finding the proper balance in making sure our Technicians can be compensated enough to live in the area they service"

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Mission Viejo Water Heaters

Do you have a water heater in Mission Viejo that needs to be replaced?
Laguna Hills, Ca. water heater repair and replacement are very common as well.
What about the rest of Orange County, Ca. water heaters repairs or installation? If you like to take a nice hot shower, I would assume you have a water heater!

Guess what? professionally installs residential, commercial and industrial water heaters in Orange County ..... and we are always sensitive to our clients needs especially when it comes to prices! As of July 1st, 2010, all water heater manufacturers raised their prices almost 15% in some cases!

OUCH!!!! What does this mean to you? Unfortunetly this means that all plumbers in Orange County will be raising their prices as well. Here at SPLASH Plumbing we were able to negotiate with one of our primary vendors to hold the increase until August 1st .. so those of you that hired the affordable plumbing service we offer here at SPLASH to install your new water heater ...... "you lucked out"!

We will keep you posted with any other major increases in the future.

One final thought ...... if you are reading this blog and you are considering replacing your water heater in Mission Viejo, repairing your water heater in Laguna Beach or installing a 50 gallon water heater in Laguna Hills, may I suggest letting us provide you with a quote to install a tankless water heater?

Tankless water heaters in Orange County are very popular and offer great benefits! Please click here or call us at 949-642-7900 to schedule an appointment.

And remember at SPLASH Plumbing ...... "If water goes through it, we do it" ...... we are your 1 stop shop for affordable plumbing repairs in Mission Viejo and all of Orange County!

Avalose Podi & Dates Avalose Unda ~ Traditional Kerala Snack

As with many Kerala specials, I was introduced to this sweet/snack by our neighbour V aunty. I have no clue what the name 'Avalose' implies. Because it doesn't indicate any of the ingredients used or the taste of it. If any of you have any idea of it do share it with me. Whatever be the name, the ingredients used easily available ones - Rice and Coconut and a little of jeera/cumin to flavor it up.  This was not part of the traditional cuisine (Kerala Iyer) followed at home. During my childhood days, when we were living as joint family, recipes outside our traditional cuisine were not very common. The occasional indulgence was chappati/ puri with Potato masala. As always, you will yearn for the goodies which is not available to you. Later on when we moved to our own house and with our constant pestering Amma got the recipe from V aunty. The recipe is very simple but the taste is simply out of the world. This is generally made in large quantities and is taken a snack. There are some flour mills, where they pound the rice and roast coconut and the rice flour together. 

You need

  • Rice flour - 1 cup, preferable home made
  • Fresh grated coconut- 1/2 cup
  • Cumin/Jeera - 1/2 tspn



Mix flour and coconut together and keep aside for an hour or so. While mixing this way, the flour will absorb the moisture from coconut and the flour will turn fluffy. The mixture will turn dry and it will ease in roasting.

Heat a kadai. Roast jeera ad then add the flour mix to it. Roast in medium heat, till it is light brown. I love the the aroma of roasted rice and coconut. If there is any lumps, try to break it with hand. Or to get a uniform texture, just pulse it in a mixer for few seconds.

While serving, take some avalose podi and mix in sugar and eat. Optionally, you can slice some banana pieces and mash it along and serve. Personally, I like to eat with sugar only.


 Note: Roasting should be done on medium heat so  as to bring out the flavors and for even roasting.

Avalose Unda
Traditionally, avalose unda is made with jaggery syrup mixed in and rolled into balls. Here I made the balls using dates. Finely chop the dates and pulse it in the mixer grinder. Mix in the avulose podi and make into balls. This makes a healthy snack with natural sweetener.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green Cooling Ideas for Your Home

Staying cool in warm weather can be tricky business. Rising temperatures outside and strong sunlight beating down on your home and into windows make it difficult to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. Air conditioning certainly helps, but with the high cost of initial installation and mounting utility charges, this isn’t always the most practical option. Additionally, there is the issue of chemical refrigerants used by residential air conditioners that can contribute to pollution and global warming.

If you’re looking for a greener alternative to traditional air conditioning, the following common sense ideas and low-cost changes can cool your home without harming the environment or depleting your budget.

The best way to keep your home naturally cool in the summer is to prevent heat from building up indoors in the first place. The most obvious source of indoor heat gain is direct sunlight, which gets absorbed by your home’s roof, walls, and windows. Other, lesser known sources include air leakage around poorly sealed and insulated doors and windows, and heat from household appliances like dryers, dishwashers, and computers.

To keep heat from building up inside your home, use heavy curtains or blinds on windows to block direct sunlight, enhance the landscaping around your home with trees and shrubbery that help deflect or bar the sun’s rays, make sure doors and windows are properly sealed, turn off heat-generating appliances like televisions and computers when not in use, and limit the use of other appliances that use heat —- like the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher—to early in the morning or after dark when outdoor temperatures are likely to be lower.

In hotter climates or in larger homes, simply deflecting the sun’s rays and restricting the use of heat-generating appliances are not enough to cool effectively. Fortunately, there are several environmentally responsible strategies you can employ to supplement traditional air conditioning.

Any time you can reduce the strain on your home’s air conditioning system, you’re saving money and lowering your energy usage (and impact on the environment). So things like shading windows and sealing doors are a good first step in greening up your home’s cooling. Fans and evaporative coolers go even further.

Ceiling fans won’t cool a room, but they make you feel cooler. Using a fan can make a room feel up to four degrees cooler than with air conditioning alone. Installing a fan means you can turn up your air conditioner several degrees, reducing your energy usage and helping you save money.

Evaporative coolers cool the air using water vapor and are only appropriate if you live in a dry climate. However, they consume about a fourth of the energy of conventional air conditioners, which makes them environmentally friendly and energy conscious.

There are now more rebates and financial incentives than ever for homeowners who choose energy efficient options for home cooling. Many utility companies and local governments participate in a variety of programs. If you’re thinking about greening your home’s air conditioner, contact your utility company or local environmental conservation agency for information about available programs in your area.

Related Information from Horizon Services...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I always like this delicious snack. This is an ideal dish for the breakfast and a different one. For this, we have to use hand made rice flakes, not the machine made one. There are so many dishes like aval upma, aval pongal, aval apayasam, aval pulav we can prepare with rice flakes. But I think this is the tastiest of all!

புளி அவல்


Rice flakes-4 cups
Tamarind- a big lemon size
Gingelly oil- 4 tbsp
Ghee- 1 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Black gram- 1 tsp
Red chillies-6
Bengal gram- 2 tbsp
Groundnuts- 2 tbsp [optional]
Shredded coconut- half cup
Curry leaves- 2 arc
Chopped coriander- 3 tbsp
Fried cashew nuts- 3 tbsp
Asafetida- half sp
Turmeric powder- half sp
Salt to taste


Wash the rice flakes and drain all the water thoroughly.
Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of water for half an hour in warm water and then extract its juice.
Heat a big pan and pour the oil.
Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the grams, asafetida, curry leaves, ground nuts and red chillies.
Fry them on slow fire until they turns to light golden brown.
Add the curry leaves with the turmeric powder and fry for a minute.
Then add the tamarind juice and allow it to boil.
When the gravy thickens add the salt.
When the gravy thickens almost to a paste and the oil floats on top add the drained rice flakes with enough salt.
Mix well on slow fire for a few minutes until the rice flakes are coated well with the tamarind paste.
Add the ghee and a tsp of gingelly oil and cook for a few seconds.
Lastly add the fried cashew nuts and the coconut.
Mix well for once and now the tasty puli aval is ready!

Chakka Pradhaman- Jackfruit & Jaggery cooked in coconut milk

I wrote in my last post, that I used up the chakka varatti. Yes, I prepared chakka pradhaman as neivedyam for the first friday of Aadi/Karkidakam. I usually make only neipayasam on all fridays. This time I made an exception. If you have chakkavaratti and coconut milk in hand, then making this pradhaman is a breeze. In Kerala, payasam is referred to as pradhaman when coconut milk is used. Now you might think, then how come palada pradhaman where milk is the ingredient. In earlier days, Ada pradhaman was made with jaggery and coconut milk. May be later on, with the availability of milk in abundance, some chef might have come up with this version.

As in all pradhamans, you need 3 sets of coconut milk- thick, medium thick and thin. The first extract from the coconut is the thick milk and subsequent extracts are the medium thick and thin, which are called as first, second and third milk in the order of extract. Coconuts used are not very matured ones. While selecting coconut for milk extraction, look for the coconuts which doesn't have dark brown shell. The ones which has shades of cream are good. Sorry, I forgot to click pics of the coconut. It would give a better idea.

For 1 cup of chakka varatti, you will need about 2 medium sized coconuts. Take the amount of chakka varatti and coconut milk given here as an indication. You go by your instinct and it cannot go wrong. Little less or more of any quantity may not effectthe end result in a big way. So here comes the recipe



You need

  •  Chakka varatti - 1 cup, packed
  • Three sets of milk extracted from 2 coconuts.
  • Chukku podi/Dry ginger powder - 1 tspn


Grate the coconut. Pulse the grated coconut with very little water. Add water just enough to ease the grinding. Squeeze the milk out with the help of a muslin cloth lined on a strainer. For the successive extract, you can add around half cup of water. Keep each set of milk separately.

1) Take a thick bottomed vessel or kadai. Dilute the chakka varatti in a cup of hot/warm water.

2) Then add the third milk. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3) Add the second milk and simmer in medium low heat till it thickens. You can smel the flavor of jackfruit and jaggery as it thickens.

Once you add the first milk, no more cooking is done. So it will dilute the payasam. keep that in mind and let it thicken well. Finally add the first milk and remove from heat. Don't leave it on heat once you add the first milk, since there are chances of curdling. Add a teaspoon of dry ginger powder. Serve hot or cold.

You can add cardamom in place of chukku podi. Chukku/dry ginger will aid in digestion and probably thats the reason why it is added.

Monsoon munches - Urulaikizhangu chips with a difference - potato chips



Who does not like potato chips that too if it is home made? My maternal grand mother prepared potato chips with a difference. At a glance the fried chips looked like' khara sev' and no one could believe that it was all potatoes chopped so finely by my grand mother's deft hands. She cut the potatoes into thin uniform strips which resembled tooth picks! What ever grand mother prepared she did it with great passion and immense patience, turning out the best of dishes which every one in the family raved after.
After grand mother my sister has mastered the art of preparing the special potato chips. She has found a quick and easy way to prepare 'grand mother's chips' which tastes equally good. Here is her recipe for the ' urulaikizhangu chips with a difference'.


Potatoes - 4
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - for frying


1. Wash and peel potatoes.
2. Grate the potatoes using the bigger holes in the grater and immerse the gratings in cold water for fifteen minutes. 3. Mix salt and turmeric powder in 1/4 cup of water and keep it aside.
4. Drain the potato gratings and spread the gratings on a towel to remove excess water. 5. Heat oil in a kadai and drop a handful of potato gratings into the hot oil.
6. Add 1/4 tsp of salt and turmeric powder solution while the potatoes are still hissing and bubbling.
7. Stir frequently and fry the chips evenly till the colour starts changing into a deep yellow .
8. Decrease flame immediately and remove the crispy chips using a perforated ladle and drain on a paper towel.
9. Increase flame and fry the next batch. Enjoy the yummy and addictive ' urulaikizhangu chips with a difference'.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Great Energy Efficient Lighting Article

There was a fine article in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle Home and Garden section on Experts illuminate the future of lighting, wherein Jeannie Matteucci, a great journalist who specializes in home-related articles, interviews my mentor in lighting design, Randall Whitehead, of Randall Whitehead Lighting, Inc.

Randall is a trail blazer extraordinaire and I thank him for sharing his expertise with thousands of designers like me over the years.

Now we are moving into LEDs and, as before, Randall blazed the way. I was right with him too.

There will soon, very soon, be other new kinds of lighting to excite our senses and save our planet. Randall told me a few months ago about one that he has been watching:

Vu1 is a Seattle-based company creating a new kind of light bulb based upon an entirely new lighting concept:

Introducing: Electron Stimulated Luminescence™ Lighting TechnologyElectron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL™) Lighting Technology is an entirely new, energy efficient lighting technology. It is neither incandescent, fluorescent nor LED. 
To contrast: 
  • Incandescent bulbs heat a filament to generate light. 
  • Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) send a current through a mercury vapor that emits UV light to excite a phosphor. 
  • Light Emitting Diodes (LED) create light by electrically stimulating a semiconductor material
ESL Lighting Technology uses accelerated electrons to stimulate phosphor to create light, making the surface of the bulb “glow”.  ESL Technology creates the same light quality as an incandescent but is more energy conserving. There is no use of the neurotoxin Mercury (Hg) in the lighting process.

Vu1's first offering, an R30 light bulb made to fit in recessed ceiling light fixtures, is nearing production. UL approval is due soon.

Here's a video released in July 2010:

This is so exciting! I can hardly wait to get my hands on one. I wonder too what other lighting innovations are just over the horizon?

What's next Randall?


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Do You Need a Sewer Line Replacement?

The last thing any homeowner wants to deal with is a backed up main sewer line. But sewer line replacement is costly, and the repair process can be invasive. The key to avoiding a disaster is properly diagnosing the cause of your home’s drainage problems.

Slow-moving drains or a toilet that takes forever to flush are pretty good indications that something is not quite right with your home’s drainage system. Still, it’s important to figure out if the issue is simply a blockage at the fixture or a more serious problem.

Because toilets send such a large volume of water into the sewer line so suddenly, this is the most obvious place to start if you suspect your sewer line has been compromised. If your toilet is slow to flush or the bowl fills up upon flushing rather them emptying, try plunging the toilet with a handheld plunger. If that doesn’t seem to help, check the other drains throughout the house.

Does the kitchen sink fill with water when the tap is turned on? Does your shower or tub drain seem to back up when the water is running? Is there standing water in your dishwasher or washing machine following a cycle? Affirmative answers to any of these questions strongly suggest that your home’s sewer line is in need of repair.

If every drain in your house is slow to empty, you should consult a reputable sewer line repair and replacement service for further diagnostics. As long as there’s no waste or standing water build-up in your yard or around your septic tank, a sewer line specialist will likely examine pipe couplings inside your house to check for blockages in the pipes. By opening the drain line inside the house, the sewer line specialist can determine if the blockage is close to your home or further out into the sewer line. This can also help reveal how serious the blockage is—if water spills from the open coupling then it’s safe to say the problem is substantial, as standing water in the drain line nearest the house indicates that waste water has been backing up from the sewer or septic tank all the way into the home for some time.

Your sewer line specialist will also conduct a visual inspection of drain pipes inside your home, looking for evidence of leaks and overflowing water that likely indicate a sewer line blockage. In most cases, this will require a special sewer line camera that can be fed through the entire length of the sewer line.

Once it’s been determined that your sewer line is blocked or damaged, a sewer line professional can judge how far along the line the problem is. The sewer line technician will follow the piping and take into account the position of the septic tank or sewer to figure out the most likely spot of the damage.

If the issue is not in your home but further down the line toward the sewer or septic system, chances are root infiltration, aging pipes, a broken pipe, or some other physical damage has caused the line to malfunction. Repair or replacing may involve tearing up your lawn surrounding the pipe, replacing the damaged portion, reburying the site, and re-seeding the yard. Some sewer line specialists, like Horizon Services, employ a trenchless system which can repair or replace the sewer line without tearing your yard up.

Related Information from Horizon Services...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chakka Varatti ~ Jackfruit Jam

Last few posts have been more of jack fruit and mango. I have some more posts lined up on jack fruit. During my childhood days, I have spent most of my summer vacation at my maternal home. Then, only my grand parents were there. Two months of vacation was full of fun. We spent the whole day playing in the back yard with children from the neighborhood. We were never bored. Those days, mangoes and jack fruit ruled the day.. in both raw and ripe forms. My grandma used to prepare chakka varatti from a minimum of 3 jack fruits in one go. Me and my sister used to help is separating the jack fruit bulbs. In the process, we would eat few also. Coming to the present, i have at most prepared chakka varatty from one jack fruit. Though the recipe is simple, the process is very laborious, it call for great shoulder strength for continuous stirring for a long time. Most of the times, I end making chakka poornam, which is used as filling for ela adai , since it calls for less work. When making the chakkavaratti with few jack fruit bulbs doesn't take much time. I'm sure my grandma  could never imagine making in such small quantity.  Here is how I make it

You need
  •  Jack fruit segments - 20 nos

  • Jaggery - 1 cup heaped

  • Ghee - a tablespoon


Chop the jack fruit into bite sized pieces. Cook in microwave or stop top till it changes it color. If cooking on stove top, sprinkle some water so that it doesn't stick to the pan.

Cool and puree the cooked fruit.

Take a thick bottomed kadai or pan. Mix the pureed fruit and jaggery. Cook till it is flaky like jam. Finally add a tablespoon of ghee. It will stay good for a year with out any refrigeration. The shelf life increases according to the consistency of the chakkavaratty. I haven't gone to that extent since I knew I would use it in a week.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


It will be very tasty if we make this briyani with ripe red tomatoes. Everybody has a different method to make this briyani. But I add a little lime juice in the process to enhance its taste.

தக்காளி பிரியாணி


Tomatoes [medium size]-4
Basmati rice- 2 1/2 cups
Slit green chillies-6
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Mint leaves- a handful
Chopped coriander- half cup
Lime juice- 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil-4 tbsp
Ghee-3 tbsp
Turmeric powder- half sp

Powder the following coarsely:

Fennel seeds- half sp, cardamom-3, cinnamon-1 inch piece, cloves-2


Wash and soak the rice in enough water.
Heat a vessel and pour the oil and a tbsp of ghee.
Slice the onions thinly and add them to the oil and fry to golden brown.
Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry them for a few minutes on slow fire.
Then add the chopped tomato with the greens and fry them until the tomatoes are mashed and the oil floats on top.
Lastly add the powder and fry for a few seconds.
Pour 5 cups of water and add the rice.
When the rice is half cooked, add the lime juice and salt.
When the water is evaporated and the rice is cooked to 3/4th, cover it with a lid and keep it in ‘ dhum ’ in the gas oven to 160 degree C for 20 minutes.
Mix once in interval and pour the remaining ghee around the corners.
The delicious tomato briyani is ready now!

Paal Paayasam/Milk Kheer/Milk Pudding and a Celebration

Hooray!!!!! It is my 100th Post!!!! :) So Happy to Celebrate this.  What started as a Simple Time-pass, has grown into a Passion.Thanks a Ton to all my Blogger Friends/Readers for taking their time out, reading my post and  giving  those lovely, encouraging comments. It is these Wonderful Words that feed my Passion!!!
I m Celebrating My First Mile-Stone with this Paal Paayasam/Milk Kheer. 

2 Litres Milk
1 can Condensed Milk (i used Milkmaid) + 2 tbsp Sugar 
1 fist Raw Rice 
2 tbsp Badam
2 tbsp Cashew
1 tbsp Raisins
4 pods of Cardamom
Boil Milk in a heavy bottomed Pan. Keep the Flame very low. Soak the rice in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, then drain the excess water and keep the rice ready. Once the Milk Starts boiling, Add the Rice, Keep Stirring and keep the flame low to avoid burning.
Grind Badam, Cashew, Raisins and Cardamom to a Coarse Powder. Once the Rice is cooked, Add Condensed Milk, sugar and Mix well. Keep Stirring. 
After 10 Minutes, Add the Nuts Powder, Stir Well, Let it sit for 10 More minutes in a low Flame. Take it off the flame. Enjoy it Hot, Hot or Chill it for a Cool Cool Kheer!!!!

Sending this Kheer to Iftar Moments Event @ Taste of Pearl City by Umm Mymoonah
And Also to Festive Food - Rakhi 2010 @ Indian Khana by Priti

Friday, July 23, 2010

Finished Gerard Roof!

'AFTER' photo of Gerard Stone-Coated Steel Roof!

Why should a homeowner consider a GERARD STONE COATED STEEL ROOF?

1) The initial cost of installing a Gerard Stone Coated Steef Roof may be more than with other roofing materials, but the money a homeowner can save is significant because a Gerard roof will be the last roof you ever buy!!!

2) A Gerard Stone Coated Steel Roof adds to your home's beauty and to its resale value.

3) Finally, insurance companies in many states will lower your homeowner's insurance premiums by as much as 35% due to the proven protection of a Gerard Stone Coated Steel roof.

Not-So-Extreme Makeovers for Your Bathroom

New Fixtures are a Simple and Affordable Way to Update a Tired Bathroom!

Need a quick and easy way to give your bathroom a facelift on a budget? You don’t need gallons of paint, an army of friends, a three-day weekend, and a bank loan to overhaul your bathroom. Start by replacing tired old hardware and fixtures, and for about $250 you can have a bath or powder room to be proud of in an afternoon or less.

Hardware Overhaul
Mounting new knobs and pulls on your cabinetry is one of the least expensive ways to update your bathroom. For less than $100 you can completely update the look of your bathroom without the cost or hassle of replacing cabinets. Most home improvement stores offer hardware in a wide array of styles and finishes to suit just about any budget. Ultimately, the finish you choose will determine the price. Trendy oiled bronze or antiqued surfaces will cost more than more common finishes like brushed chrome and nickel.

When shopping for new bathroom hardware, look for knobs and pulls that match the existing drill holes in the cabinet and drawer face. You’ll be able to replace the hardware without having to drill new holes or fill old ones. You should also inspect the surface of the cabinetry after you’ve removed the old knobs. If there are any dings or indentations, buy new hardware big enough to cover the flaws.

Faucet First Aid:
Replacing an old faucet is a simple fix that can revamp the look of your bathroom instantly. Many manufacturers offer faucets that resemble sleek, elegant designer models for much more wallet-friendly prices. You’ll also find a great selection of finishes to complement any décor, from pewter and nickel to bronze and chrome. Your local home improvement store carries many of these budget models, with prices starting just around $50.

To ensure proper installation, experts recommend matching your old faucet style with a similar new one. If your existing fixtures are widespread—where the spout is separated from the water handles—replace it with a like model. If you’ve got a center-set faucet—where the spout and handles are mounted in a single unit—choose a similar replacement.

Shape Up Your Shower:
Enjoy a hotel-caliber shower every day by replacing your old showerhead and rod with updated models. Large, full-flow rainfall showerheads give you that luxury spa experience for about $60. A curved shower rod is another popular bathroom update that can add as much as six inches of additional space in your shower. Both fixtures are cheap and easy to install, and available in a wide range of sizes and finishes.

Toilet Tank Trade-Up:
Yes, YOU can replace the tank lever on your toilet! This is a cheap and easy way to tie the whole bathroom together after you’ve updated the faucets and fixtures. Decorative tank levers are available at most hardware, home improvement, and plumbing supply stores; you can find many of them for less than $15.

Related Information...

Vazhaithandu thayir Pachadi/Banana Stump in Yoghurt Sauce

The Biggest Advantage of staying @ Chennai for me is i dont have to cook, either it is my Amma's place or my in-law's place. The Only difference is former place i get to eat what i want, whereas the later i got to eat whatever i get!!!! :)

Even before booking my tickets, my hubby called up my Appa Amma and gave some standby instructions!!! A Strict NO NO to Coconut, Sugar, Sweets and Oil!!!! No White Rice!!! And a Compulsory 1 hr walk daily!!!! Coz we met with a Endocrinologist and a Dietician a week before i left to Chennai. So far things are going good except for the 15 days @ my in-law's place, where it is a Strict NO NO to Diet!!! :).

This Banana Stump in Spicy Yoghurt Sauce/Vazhaithandu Thayir pachadi, amma makes me often, for the goodness of Fibre. I m not sure whether this helps you in weight loss or not, but i m damn sure of the taste!!! itz yummy!!!!

1 Medium-size Vazhaithandu/Banana Stump
1 Tomato, finely chopped
2 nos Green Chilli, Finel chopped (increase this if you want it to be more spicy)
2 tbsp freshly grated Coconut (i used only 1 tbsp, since i suddenly remembered my Dietician!!!!)
1 cup Low-fat yoghurt
Salt to taste

Remove the outer layer of banana stump and Chop it finely. Grind it with rest of the ingredients to a fine paste with little water. Mix this beaten yoghurt.
Heat a tsp of oil, splutter mustard seeds, hing and add a tsp urad dal. Once the urad dal turns brown, pour this over the yoghurt sauce. Enjoy with your regular meal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Karuveppila Thokku /Curry Leaves Pickle

Curry leaves are good source of calcium and vitamins and minerals. Usually, curry leaves are used in the dishes for the flavor it imparts. And generally, these leaves are picked and kept side when served. When people discard/disown someone/something after using it for their benefit, its compared to leaving out the curry leaves while serving. (Kaaryam kazhinjal kariveppila pole)



I often make curry leaves powder and thogayal. Once I got to taste this thokku at my brother-in-laws place. My co-sister had got from her hometown. It was shop bought, probably packed by home based pickle makers. There was no ingredient list on it. Though, it was tad sweeter to my taste, I liked it. I tried to recreate it at home. It came out well. It goes well with dosa/adai and rice too. It keeps good for 2 weeks under refrigeration. I guess it will have shelf life of at least a week, even if kept outside.


You need

  • Curry leaves - 1 cup packed, separated from the stalk
  • Red chillies - 4 nos
  • Tamarind - gooseberry size
  • White Sesame seeds - 2 tspn
  • Hing - a small piece
  • Salt
  • Oil - 2 tblspn
  • Jaggery - a tiny piece



Wash and dry the curry leaves. Roast it in a kadai/Mw till crisp. Dry roast sesame seeds

Heat a teaspoon of oil. Drop the hing piece and when its fried, remove it. Then roast red chillies.
Powder curry leaves, sesame seeds, hing and salt.
When it is coarsely powdered, add the soaked tamarind and jaggery. Grind till smooth.
Use the tamarind soaked water to grind. You need to have a runny paste.

Heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add the ground paste. Simmer till it thickens

Adjust the quantity of red chilly and jaggery to suit your taste palette.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Durian Mousse Cake

It's been very long time I've not doing anything here. No baking and no blogging as I was very sick for the pass few weeks, but now I feel much better and trying to share a recipe with you - all my supporter and blog lovers. I made this last month and like the texture very much. I'm quite particular with mousse texture before too much gelatin will produce a hard jelly type which couldn't give the "melt in the mouth" and creamy texture whereas not enough gelatin would afraid the mousse will not set nicely.

This time the texture is just right to what I was looking for and really happy with the result. Airy soft, moist and creamy. For Durian lovers, you will like it. My guests enjoy it very much!

Recipe for 8 x 5cm individual cake:

For the base:
100g digestive biscuits
30g butter (melted)

For the durian mousse:
200g durian flesh (pureed)
3 pieces gelatin leaves
200ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 egg yolks
50ml milk
40g caster sugar

  1. To make the base, process the biscuits in a food processor to make rough crumbs and add the melted butter. Process again until it makes damp, clumping crumbs and then tips them into every chef rings. Press the biscuits crumbs into the bottom of the tin to make an even base and put into the fridge while you make the filling.

  2. Put the gelatin leaves in cold water. In a sauce pan, warm the milk with sugar until the sugar completely dissolved. Add in the softened gelatin and mix well. In a large bowl, add in the egg yolks then gradually pour the warm milk to mix with the yolks. Mix in the lemon juice and durian flesh until well combine.

  3. Whip the whipping cream until stiff peak. Fold it into the durian mixture and divide the mixture into every chef rings. Chill in the fridge until it set. Enjoy!

Beware of Chemical Drain Cleaners!

When You Use a Store-Bought Drain Cleaning Solution, You Could Be Playing With Fire!

Dealing with a clogged pipe or slow-moving drain rates pretty high on the “ick” scale for many homeowners. Seeking ways to clear clogs without actually having to touch any undesirable substances, most of us reach for commercial chemical drain cleaning solutions. But while these over-the-counter liquid drain cleaners may be affordable and easy to use, they can ruin your plumbing, cause physical injury to you or your pets, and may actually do more harm than good if used incorrectly.

Most drain or pipe clogs are caused by hair, grease, soap, human waste, or other debris that collects in the plumbing. Store-bought chemical drain cleaners work on clogs by creating heat that dissolves the blockage. However, if the substance gets on porcelain, stainless steel, or aluminum bathroom fixtures it can cause corrosion that will ruin these surfaces. To prevent damage, pour the drain cleaner as close to the drain as you can and never use more than the minimum amount necessary to impact the clog. Most drain cleaning chemicals require that you add water to the cleaner or put the cleaner in standing water; do this slowly and carefully to avoid splashing.

Chemical drain cleaners can also damage PVC, old, or corroded pipes. If you have or think you have this kind of plumbing, an enzymatic drain cleaner is probably a wiser choice to resolve a clogged drain. While enzyme cleaners are sometimes less effective at dissolving clogs, they are much less corrosive to pipes and plumbing. You can also try a pipe snake if you’re nervous about using a drain cleaning solution.

If you have ever used a chemical drain cleaner, you know how noxious the fumes can be. To avoid breathing in these harmful gases, open the windows and doors in your bathroom and stand back as soon as you pour the cleaner into the drain. Never stand close to a clogged drain and watch the cleaner work.

Chemical drain cleaners contain a variety of different chemicals that can react severely if mixed. If you try one brand of cleaner and it doesn’t work, don’t try another kind. You could unintentionally set off a chemical reaction, release toxic fumes into the air, or even cause a sudden eruption of chemicals from your drain. Mixing different kinds of cleaners can also create reactions inside the pipes that will make it much more difficult—and in some cases even impossible—to remove clogs later manually.

Never, ever mix chemical drain cleaners with any product containing bleach. This can create deadly chlorine gas that is toxic to people and animals.

As with many things, you get what you pay for with chemical drain cleaners. An attractive price tag often hides an ineffective product with a low strength chemical mixture or unstable combinations of substances. You may actually spend more when you buy a discount brand product, as you’ll probably have to use many applications of it before you see results. It’s better to choose a mid- to high-priced product with a recognizable name and reputation for quality. An even better idea? Call a reputable drain cleaning contractor like Horizon Services. The drain cleaning pros at Horizon Services can unclog any blocked-up household drain quickly, cleanly, safely and inexpensively.

Related Drain Cleaning Information from Horizon Services...

Some Europe Pictures

If you are a frequent visitor to my site, you must have probably gotten tired of seeing my home page that has not been updated since months. So here are some pictures from our Europe Trip! It was a great experience and I want to go there again.
I will start posting new recipes soon. Until then enjoy these pictures :)

Lucerne, Switzerland

Laussane, Switzerland

Paris, France


Rome, Italy

Milan, Italy

Venice, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Brussels, Belgium

Amsterdam, Netherlands