Tag Archives: holidays

{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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Making Green Beans Indian Style

I made green beans along with pumpkin curry as part of an Indian style thanksgiving menu meal. The classic green bean casserole is nice but tends to get sidelined. So how about an Indian take on this dish for something different? It’s easy and a lot healthier than cooking with cream of mushroom soup.

This recipe below is inspired by the recipe for South Indian style curried vegetables or ‘palyam’ but with a few changes that I thought were appropriate for thanksgiving.

Ingredients

(serves 6 as a side)

  • 1 lb tender green beans, rinsed and ends cut
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened grated coconut (if using desiccated coconut, re-hydrate in warm water for 5 minutes before using.)
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice

Recipe

Spread out the beans on a plate and microwave on high for 4 minutes. This greatly reduces the cooking time later.

Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the beans, over medium high heat. You know the oil is hot enough if you put in a mustard seed and it ‘crackles’.

Add the mustard seeds and wait for ten seconds or till they start popping. Immediately add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Saute till the onion is caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Stir regularly to ensure the onion doesn’t burn.

Add the green beans and mix well to coat the beans with oil. If the pan gets dry, add a bit more oil. Add a 1/4 cup water, cover skillet with lid, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or till the beans are just cooked. I like my beans just slightly crunchy.

Mix in the grated coconut. If you’re using frozen coconut, bring it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you need it. Turn heat off once the coconut has fully defrosted and mixes easily with the beans.

Taste for salt and squeeze lime juice and mix just before serving. Adding the lime juice at the end maintains the vibrant green of the beans.

Notes

Grated, desiccated coconut can usually be found in the bakery aisle in your supermarket.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Veena

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Celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Diwali or Deepavali, the festival of lights, easily the most popular of Indian festivals, is celebrated tomorrow this year. While the main festival is on Saturday, the ceremonies run for five days to commemorate various events in Indian mythology. Here are some of the stories behind the celebration of Diwali.

As told in the great epic, Ramayana, the Prince Rama having been exiled from his kingdom returns home after winning a battle with the demon king Ravana. During his years of exile, Rama, his brother Laxmana and wife Sita lived as ascetics in the forest. Wanting to take revenge upon Rama, Ravana kidnaps Sita and takes her to his faraway kingdom of Lanka. Rama and Laxmana head to Lanka accompanied by the monkey god Hanuman who had found the whereabouts of Sita. After a long battle, Rama claims victory after killing Ravana and returns to Ayodhya with Sita and Laxmana. The citizens of Ayodhya welcome their rightful King with diyas (small clay lamps) lit to show him the way home.

Many celebrate the birth of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth during Diwali. The story goes that Devas (minor gods) convinced the Asuras (bad deities) to work with them to churn the ocean to bring up the pot of the nectar of immortality. The beautiful goddess was brought forth to earth from the depths of the ocean holding the pot of nectar. She helped ensure that only the Devas were able to partake of the nectar thus restoring a previous imbalance in power between the Devas and the Asuras.

Diwali is not just celebrated by Hindus. In Jainism, Diwali is celebrated as the day the sage Mahavira attained enlightenment in 527 BC. Diwali is important in Sikhism as it commemorates the return of Guru Hargobind from rescuing 52 Hindu kings after defeating the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who imprisoned them.

The stories surrounding Diwali abound but the common thread of good over evil prevails. Since light symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, Indians light many diyas around the house. In India and other countries, people exchange sweets and light fireworks.

Here in Seattle, USA, how are we celebrating Diwali? No fireworks here but the diyas are lit at home and I will be celebrating with friends.

But I want to share one of my favorite festivals with others. I’ll be cooking up a big batch of curry from one of the Veena’s Market kits and giving away samples at the Savour store in Ballard (2242 NW Market Street). If you live in the area, stop by between 3 and 6pm and I’ll be there till I’m out of curry!  If you need more reason to stop by, there will also be wine tasting going on at the same time.

Happy Diwali!

Veena

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