Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween Chalk Art Inspired by PageFrights

 Halloween Chalk Art

This is the last of Halloween Chalk Art for this year (see others here). This one was inspired by Bio Diversity Heritage Library's Page Frights, a collaboration with Smithsonian Library where ghoulish images from old nature texts were published all this month for public use. This one of a great horned owl  silhouetted by the light of a full moon is spooky enough but not quiet astronomically correct for this year. As a matter of fact, Halloween is falling a day after the New Moon.

Yesterday was cold and rainy day here. But there was a lot of action in the backyard brought in by a flock of migrating starlings that dropped by for berries and water. The resident robins got all agitated and brought in their own flock from the neighborhood to stand guard over the honeysuckle tree. Here are a few pictures of the standoff.

Linked to Image-in-ing

This little woodpecker decided to join in the fun!
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 24, 2016

P is For Peek

On a crispy autumn morning while driving to yoga class, I stopped by briefly to capture the sun peeking through the trees. It felt like sun salutation in a different way.

It is letter P on ABC Wednesday and I chose the word PEEK.

Linked to this week's Image-in-ing and ABC Wednesday

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Chalkboard Art Halloween and Fall Theme

Halloween Chalkboard Art

 Halloween Themed Chalkboard Art

It is October and pretty much all the challenges that I participate are running with Halloween theme. Which is okay because it makes making art quite fun. For some mysterious reason, I have been doing all the Halloween challenges in the form of chalkboard art. It means that I can create any amount of art using just two supplies: one chalkboard and a few chalk pieces. I really do not  have to worry about running out of paper or paint :)

Linked to: Try it on Tuesday
Art Journal Journey

October Themed Chalkboard Art
Chalkboard Art

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dyed, Painted, Doodled and Stitched Canvas Storage Accessories

Canvas Storage Accessories

I so liked the painted and doodled canvas cloth, about which I posted last week, I wanted to more of it. So, I did. This time I used Dr. Ph. Martin's India ink. I diluted the ink quiet a bit as it is highly pigmented and covered both sides of the canvas cloth with it. When it dried, I used Prisma brush pens to draw the doodles. I finished it with a lot of highlights using white acrylic paint. This time I wanted to  make a couple of storage items with it. I made a zippered pouch and a storage bin. Both came out quiet well, especially the zippered pouch. I was concerned that my junky Singer Esteem II will not cooperate using a zipper foot but much to my surprise it did. Now I am emboldened to make more of these pouches as I have about a dozen of metallic zippers left over from a previous project. I feel quiet excited about it :)

Linked to Paint Party Friday. Thanks to Eva and Kristin for hosting.

Painted, Doodled and Stitched Storage Bin

Painted, Doodled and Stitched Zipper Pouch

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Halloween Chalkboard Art

Do-Something-Everyday, Oct 19 2016

Halloween offers  such endless possibilities for making fun art using many different mediums. Here is my take using chalkboard art. For substrate I used chalkboard oil cloth and regular colored chalks for drawing. I did a lot of rubbing and wiping somewhat intentionally for a grunged up look. 

The cool thing about chalkboard art is that it is ephemeral. You can erase the old to create a new one.

Linked to Moo-Mania Halloween Party

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cooking With Okra: Tips and Techniques


Cooking With Okra: Tips and Techniques

Okra, also called ladies' finger, is a favored vegetable in Indian cuisine. My mother used to cook in three different ways: stir fried, stuffed and as crispy toppings on yogurt. As a curry, it partners well with both rice and roti.

Here in the US, it is not a popular vegetable (except in the South) and is almost never found in the regular grocery stores. Which is a pity because okra is a nutritious vegetable high in dietary fiber and rich in vitamins and beta carotene. Okra is off putting to many because it becomes slimy or gooey during the cooking process. But prepared in the right way, it can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your vegetarian options. Below are some tips and techniques for getting the best out of this vegetable.

A. Choosing the best okra at the market or Growing Your Own

Okra is a summer plant and it tastes best when it is in season. When shopping for okra, look for one that is green, immature and slender. Thick and mature pods are woody and fibrous and unpleasant to eat. The freshness of an okra pod can be determined by bending and snapping its tip. A tender okra will break cleanly whereas a mature one will not (see below).

In the late 90s, before okra was abundantly available in Indian grocery stores, I used to grow okra in my vegetable garden. If you live in a place that has at least eight weeks of warm weather (day time temperatures above 70 deg), you can grow okra in your backyard. Okra is remarkably easy to grow. All it need is lots of sun and water during the growing season. It produces multiple harvests in a single season and as long as the pods are picked frequently, it will reproduce itself abundantly. 

B. Preparing Okra for Cooking Without the Sliminess

Okra gets slimy when it comes into contact with water and becomes moist. There are several ways to prepare slime-free okra. I have developed a method that works well for me: First I wash and drain them in a colander (I do wash them to remove dirt and any residual pesticides). Then I thoroughly wipe them dry with paper towels. Finally, I air dry them for about 30 minutes. Using a dry cutting board and knife I cut them without fear of any gooey liquid oozing out.

3. Cooking Okra

I cook okras in the typical Indian way. I saute using the standard Indian spices and oil. Again, there is no water involved in the cooking. Cooking them in high heat with oil creates a texture that is wonderfully crispy outside while tender inside.

Stir Fry Okra 

Okra with Tomatoes

Yogurt Topped with Crispy Okra

If you have any questions after reading this post, feel free to contact or comment.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

InkTober 2016

Do-Something-Everyday, October 6, 2016

If it is October then it is InkTober on social media. I  heard about InkTober for the first time last year. It was created by Jake Parker in which every October artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. He "first created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits". 

I decided to join in this year and here are three of the six I have drawn so far. The top one is an inky doodle I did while on conversation with my daughter on the phone. The two below are illustrations that I took undertook in the true spirit of InkTober which was to improve my botanical drawing skills, especially herbs and vegetables. You may or may not recognize the vegetables below as they are more commonly used in Asian and African/Caribbean cooking. If you do, please put their names in the comment. 

Thanks for visiting. Linked to Paint Party Friday. Thanks to Eva and Kristin for hosting.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cauliflower Tikka: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

(This a repost of an older post with additional information).

Today is the beginning of a five-day Thanksgiving break. However, at least for today, rain and snow have kept me tethered to home. A good thing because it gave me the time to try out this recipe: baking a whole head of cauliflower in the manner of chicken or paneer tikka masala which I have wanted to do for a long time. I took a deep breath and plowed ahead.

What you will need:

1. Whole head of cauliflower (I picked a small one because I was going to bake it in the toaster oven)

2. Store bought Tikka masala to taste (I used achari masala mainly because it was free of garlic as I don't use garlic in my cooking). Use masala sparingly as it can be overpowering.

3. Yogurt, enough to smother the vegetable completely

4. Tomato puree (optional) 1-2 tablespoon

5. One lemon to give additional tartness to the yogurt (optional)

6. Salt to taste

7. Coconut or olive oil, 1 tablespoon

8. Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon

9. Chopped fresh mint leaves.

Note: If you are using tomatoes, you may want to reduce the amount of yogurt and lemon correspondingly.


1. Cut off the stalk and other green parts from the head leaving only the flower. When done, the head should sit flat.

2. Cook the whole flower in a pot of hot water. Do not cook it too soft, just al- dente. Remove it from water and drain it in a colander. Leave it for a while till it is completely dry.

3. In a bowl, mix yogurt, masala, tomato puree, lemon juice and salt. Dunk the cauliflower into the  yogurt mix till it is completely covered. Let it marinate for 1-3 hours. Transfer it to a baking dish.

4. Bake it at 350 deg for about 45 minutes. After that, broil it for another 15 minutes. As it cooks, water from the yogurt will collect at the bottom of the dish. Use a little bit of it to moisten the top to prevent the cauliflower from drying out as it is cooking, Remove it from the oven when the top of the head is completely dry. Transfer it to a plate.

5. Heat coconut or olive oil in a small frying pan. Roast the cumin seeds in the oil till it begin to crackle. Pour it over the cauliflower. Sprinkle it with chopped mint leaves.

6. Cut into wedges and enjoy with salad, rice or roti. You can eat it by itself with a dipping sauce like chipotle mayo, coriander/mint, or date chutney or any dressing of your liking.


Cauliflower is a cool weather vegetable and growing up in New Delhi I ate a lot of them during winter. It is highly nutritious and provides a well rounded meal when eaten with rotis (Indian bread) .
Here is another recipe using cauliflower

Please visit the Well-Being Secrets web site, a nutrition web site where you will find tons of recipes using cauliflower .

Thanks for visiting