Easy tips to cook for your family

Cooking for family can be a challenge for many. Heirloom recipes might not satisfy your family’s tastebuds unless it is modified to suit their preferences. Here are a few tips that make cooking easier for a family.

1. Understand personal taste preferences of the family.

Some people prefer subtle foods, many prefer spicy and tangy foods, other might prefer healthier low fat foods, while a few others prefer classic traditional dishes. So, understand what kind of food is preferred by your family.

2. Striking a balance if individual tastes clash.

Often, in large families, individual tastes clash. One person might prefer red meat while the other cannot have it daily. One might have a craving for rice or pasta while the other might prefer juice and salads. The solution here is to strike a balance in the daily menu. Introducing new dishes on a regular basis would encourage family members to appreciate and accept a wide variety of tastes.

3. Plan your menu the previous day.

Planning your menu the previous day gives ample time to make sure all ingredients are available without frenzy last minute shopping.

4. Adapt your cooking to suit digestion problems of your family.

Ensure your cooking is adapted to suit your family’s digestion problems, if any. Choosing the right kind of oil, meat and vegetables will help ease digestion problems and take care of your family’s health.

5. Change recipes to suit personal taste preferences.

Remember that recipes are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Change recipes and ingredients to make it your family’s favourite.

6. A generous hand and mind make your dish taste good.

A common mistake of newbies is to follow measurements given in recipes and cookbooks to the letter. Trust your eyes and mouth more than the recipe. Add oil, toppings and sauces after frequent tasting of the dish. Trust your tasting during cooking instead of strictly following recipes.

7. Serve in style to make every day dinner enjoyable.

A clean table, simple menu and generous helpings make family dinners fun and enjoyable. Many dishes but moderate or limited in quantity will remind the family of formal dinner outings. Simple menu with personal favourites and generous quantity is the mark of family dinners.

Regardless of what you cook, how you cook and serve matters when it comes to cooking at home for your cherished family. Happy cooking!

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Business avenues – Bake Cakes & Confectionery from home

Baking is fast becoming a sought after hobby. For the experts, it is a risk free business with good returns. People looking for early retirement from corporate jobs increasingly choose baking as an alternate career.

Learning skills and tools are an important requirement for any career. For baking, this starts from learning the basics of baking to specialization in cakes and pastries. There are short term, long term and even crash courses for baking.

For beginners, there are short term courses that teach the basics of baking, including cakes, buns, breads and biscuits. For advanced and pro level bakers, there are numerous short term and long term courses specializing in cakes, cup cakes, pastries, etc.

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Baking is a field where new tools and techniques keep evolving. So, the best institutes have long experience, as well as teach new tools and techniques of baking. Starting with a good beginner course is mandatory. This can be followed by multiple courses covering cakes, and a host of other confectioneries.

Tools required for baking depend on what specialization is opted for.  Cookies require industrial sized ovens to bake large numbers. Cakes require a host of accessories and embellishments for icing and decorations. Cost of baking courses, and materials are on the higher side. But this is one field where returns are guaranteed even during the initial stages.

Party and celebrations are the trend of the day, especially in big cities. If you live in the middle of a city, with access to a social circle that loves to celebrate, baking at home would be a lucrative business opportunity with good returns.

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For those who enter the baking business as a solo person, planning for a way to deliver baked goods is important. For many bakers, baking is the best part of the job, while delivery remains a nightmare. Delivering baked goods requires handling with utmost care. Outsourcing delivery or hiring outsiders to deliver may not be a safe option. So, plan for the delivery facilities before hand, to ensure customer satisfaction,

Many bakers start by taking up customized orders for cakes and cup cakes. Colleagues, friends and relatives who love to celebrate would be prospective customers at this stage. Once returns start flowing in, you can take up daily orders for bulk baking of cookies or pastries from local hotels / bakeries. A few successful bakers with good time management skills do bulk daily orders, in addition to highly customized (meaning, high priced) cakes and pastries for parties.

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A good online presence will help baking businesses by leaps and bounds. Online gives the easiest means to reach out to event managers, partying circles, and caterers and hoteliers. The second best means is word-of-mouth. Nothing works as best as a satisfied customer when it comes to marketing.

There are dozens of new bakers coming up every month, but there is space for more and more as the demand is high. A good field by all aspects if your heart is into baking and your brain is sharp in business acumen.

Cook and see – Meenakshi ammal

This is the oldest and most authentic guide to the dishes of Tamil nadu. It is the first published cook book in Tamil. First version of this book was published in 1951 by S Meenakshi Ammal. This book was originally written in Tamil, titled Samaithu paar  meaning cook and see. It is also available in English translation.

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Author:

The author was born in a traditional Tamil family in the early 1900s. She started helping with cooking during child hood, as was the norm for girl children in her time. By the age of 8, she was well versed in all traditional recipes. She wrote down her recipes for relatives who went to the USA and other countries after marriage. Her recipes were famous for their authenticity and simplicity. Later on, her recipes were collected and published as a book.

Book:

There are 4 volumes of this book by the same title name. Volume 1 covers the basic everydaydishes like sambar and rasam. The author starts with the basic recipe of sambar, and follows it up with different varieties of sambar. The same style of writing is followed through out.

Volumes 2, 3 and 4 cover festival dishes, sweets, pickles etc. Volume 1 is for beginners, while rest of the volumes are for well experienced cooks.

Meenakshi ammal makes cooking simple. She sticks to the basics. Her measurements are visually indicative like a fistful of coconut, pea sized tamarind, etc.. making it easy for beginners. Her recipes give guaranteed results.

Each recipe takes no more than half a page. She focuses on the basic aspects of every dish, leaving it to the reader to customize recipes according to their taste. A must have for anyone interested in Tamil dishes.

This book is a wonderful reference and glossary covering every possible authentic dish of Tamil nadu. 

 

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Recipe – Tulsi Rasam

Tulsi rasam is a quick, home made solution for common cold and cough. Tulsi (basal) forms the base for this rasam. Most important of all, it tastes as good as the normal yummy rasam! Read on…

Ingredients:

  • Tulsi leaves – 1 handfull (Remove the stems, flowers, seeds. Retain only the leaves and rinse well in water)
  • Tomato – 2 medium sized
  • Rasam powder – 1 teaspoon full
  • Garlic – 6 pods, crushed
  • small (pearl) onions – 3 (peel the skin, and cut into small pieces)
  • Coriander leaves – 1 bunch (cleaned, and cut into small pieces)
  • Black pepper – 10 corns, crushed
  • Ghee / Vegetable oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt , Turmeric powder

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Process:

  • Cut the tomato in to pieces.
  • Grind the tomato, tulsi leaves with water into a puree.
  • Filter the puree. Retain only the filtered water.
  • Add crushed garlic and cut onions to this water.
  • Place a vessel on medium heat. Add ghee or vegetable oil.
  • Add mustard seeds. Wait till they crackle.
  • Add the filtered puree.
  • Add a pinch of turmeric powder, salt and 1 tsp of rasam powder.
  • When it starts foaming, add cut coriander leaves and crushed pepper corns.

This tulsi rasam makes a good soup, if served hot. It is also a tasty combination with rice. And, yes… it keeps the family healthy.

Happy cooking.

 

Image courtesy: http://collectivelyconscious.net