Category Archives: Newsletter

{Dec Newsletter} Breaking Bread with Family and My Wish for You

Can you believe it’s December already?

Time seems to be flying faster than ever before. People are busier than even last year and many are working longer hours. There is less time to relax and get together with loved ones. I worry about the impacts of our busy lifestyles on our health and relationships.

In my past life in the corporate world, getting people together over food was always a salve for a busy work week. When I worked 15-16 hour days, taking a lunch break to get fresh lemonade and pretzel at the local Amish market was a much needed mental break. I made lifelong friendships over impromptu invitations to simple pasta dinners. Now, as the founder of Veena’s Market, food plays a more central and conscious role in my life. I take pleasure in cooking for others. Nothing makes me happier than having a dinner party where guests arrive early and help me finish cooking. But in our ‘on the go’ society, how many people have the time to regularly cook from scratch? For those that are interested in cooking and learning something new, I sincerely hope I’m making your task a little bit easier with our recipe kits.

Author and social activist Bell Hooks wrote, “In evoking that sense of breaking bread, we call upon the various traditions of sharing that take place in domestic, secular, and sacred life where we come together to give of ourselves to one another fully, to nurture life, to renew our spirits, sustain our hope”. My wish for you this holiday season and in the New Year is to be able to take back some time and get together with loved ones more often. Perhaps over a dinner that you prepare together, drinking a glass of wine while chopping vegetables and catching up on news. Or perhaps over a long and relaxed meal at a restaurant.

Either way, let’s break more bread with our loved ones and renew ourselves in the process. And when you do, bon appétit!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and safe travels!

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{June Newsletter} Four Reasons to Cook Indian food

“Why cook Indian food when you can buy a pre-made curry from Trader Joe’s or get takeout from a restaurant?” Not many people have time to cook anymore so it’s a good question. It’s a question I get asked occasionally. Thankfully, I have an answer, four good reasons to cook from scratch.
#1 Experience something new with family and friends
I recently got back into Moroccan cuisine after my wonderful neighbor lent me her tagine to cook with. While the lamb was simmering away on a rainy day in Seattle and the sweet aroma of spices enveloped the kitchen, I daydreamed of meandering around sun soaked desert dunes on a camel and shopping in a Marrakesh souk for the best Ras El Hanout. My husband and I have attended community kitchen events where people from the neighborhood get together to cook. Everyone picks a group and each group is assigned a recipe and given ingredients. You might be meeting these people for the first time, as we did, but at the end of the evening after you have cooked together and sat at the same table to eat, you share a mysterious bond. So if you haven’t spent time recently with your friends, invite them over and cook something new together and renew those bonds.
#2 It just tastes better
The packaged stuff has been made not with optimum taste in mind but with optimum shelf life in mind. It just doesn’t taste right. Eating out at a restaurant is hopefully better. There are plenty of Indian restaurants nowadays, even in smaller towns. But not all of them are good. Many of the curries taste exactly the same. There is a clear trade-off between convenience and taste.
#3 Knowing what’s in it
If you have gluten or dairy intolerance or allergies, eating out at Indian restaurants can be difficult. Even if you have no allergies, perhaps you are concerned about the amount of oil or the presence of preservatives. Cooking at home gives you full control over what goes into your food. (Our website shows allergy information and a full list of ingredients for each kit if you are wondering…look for this information under the tabs on each kit’s page)
#4 Bragging rights
And lastly, let’s face it, you don’t get any bragging rights for opening a packet and heating up curry or getting take-out!
There are lots of reasons to cook more at home. This is where, at least when it comes to Indian food, I hope that Veena’s Market makes it easier for you to cook from scratch.
Signing off to make Daal for dinner…and as always,
Happy Cooking!

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{April Newsletter} What I Learned in Guatemala

This post just went out as part of my April Newsletter and I thought I’d share it here as well.

It has been about six weeks since I launched (Veena’s Market) in mid-February. And what an interesting six weeks it has been. Everyone I talk to loves the concept behind Veena’s Market – recipe kits that make it really easy to cook something from another cuisine and get good results. And many are curious about how I came up with the idea.

It was July 2009. With Yadira in the lead, we stopped by the local market to pick up herbs and vegetables and then caughta packed mini bus and held on for dear life till we reached her village a short distance from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city. Once there, we stopped by the butcher’s to pick up fresh chicken before walking up the steep cobblestone pathway to her home – a farmhouse built into the hillside with spectacular views of the village below and volcanoes in the distance. Rows of planted corn, barking dogs and clucking hens completed the pretty picture. Yadira had ambitious plans for us. We learned that the secret to home-made tortillas lay not just in getting the right ratio of masa flour to water but especially in forming the tortilla. You hold the little ball of dough and slap it back and forth from hand to hand to create an even and round tortilla, something that is easier said than done! We learned how to thicken the sauce for Pepian (an orange-red sauce that is usually made with chicken) with rolls of white bread and how to make tamalitos (little tamales) to go with the curry. Finally for dessert, we learned how delicious plantains stuffed with sweet black bean paste can be and how easy it is to make them. Well, it is easy enough when you know to buy plantains that are just the right shade of green – ripe but not too mature.

My husband and I were lucky to arrange this culinary adventure with Yadira, a friend of our Spanish teacher. I loved every minute of this wonderful afternoon and was so grateful for the insights not only into Guatemalan cuisine but also into Guatemalan culture. A couple of months earlier, I was trying to decide between going back into the corporate world or pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor related to food, something I’ve always been passionate about. It was an easy decision to make. I wanted to create Veena’s Market and give people similar insights into other cultures and cuisine as what I received in Guatemala. Helping people connect to other cultures through food; I couldn’t think of a better job description!

I’ve loved reading your emails and comments sent through the website. As we continue on our journey to improve and grow, I hope you will stay in touch and share your thoughts on recipes, cuisines or anything Veena’s Market can improve on.

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