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And I Came Home...

And I Came Home...

Just over a year ago, I decided I needed a hiatus. A change. A chance. Something new. Utterly different. Something to slap me in the face and wake me up. A few months ago, an opportunity landed on my lap; it sounded too good to be true. And, it was! Too Good and Too True! :)

The long and short of it, is that I spent 9 months living outside US, for the most part based in Italy, traveling Europe, Asia and collecting information about cultures, peoples' values, real life experiences, what food means to people in different spaces in life and the world,.... and, yet how similar we all are.

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Does it exist? Is it really there? Or, is it all a metaphysical haze?

Life disproves it time and again. Yet, why do we live in its hope?

Every heart ache proves otherwise. Yet, why does it spring again anew?

Perhaps, some things are... I suppose the question is figuring out which?

Or perhaps, it is the bliss of ignorant yearning?

Do we live for just the chance of its ideal?

Does it matter, after all, that it isn't?

Where do we go from here?

I don't know.... do you?

About Not settling in....

Umbrian Salad

It has been almost a week since I returned to New York...

Ostensibly, nothing had really changed around me. My neck of urban woods was barely touched by Sandy. As much as I missed the actual event, being thousands of miles away at the time, I had even little reminders of it in the UES life that is my everyday.

But... Something was different. I usually feel an overwhelming feeling of homecoming when I cross through customs and look at the familiar lines of yellow cabs ready to whisk me away back into the comforting folds of my home. This time, I felt none of that rush of relief or the happiness of being back. I was strangely empty....

British Afternoon Tea at Home

And, the feeling of the detachment continued as I tried to get back into the normalcy of my routine (or whatever little structure I can induce in my scattered and unscheduled day..). Running in central park was a non-event... Hosting friends didn't do it... Ok, going away on a trip again (I am in New Haven right now) does not help but that is just an excuse...

While i wallowed in this state of dis-belonging, i read some of my own previous posts that in some strange way journaled my metamorphosis of sorts. The reality, as it struck me in an epiphanic moment yesterday morning, is that I have changed..... I have grown.. Up!

Orange and Thyme Scones

In so far as I have tried to lead the last 20+ cognizant years of my life  with a rational and logical outlook, it has not really worked especially now... I have tried to tame, control and frame my life based on subconscious social norms, fear of failure and an yearning to break away without the courage to do so....

But, I am not that person.. I am quirky, crazy, emotional and quite irrational!! Yes, I am logical and rational too but I am more all of the former kept in balance by the latter. So, how can it possibly work if I try to make my life just the latter without much trace of the former... Repression... Bondage... That's how :) .. Yes, it's all clear now, isn't it?! I have to stop fighting myself!

Swiss Chard, green onion and Leek Tart

Fortunately, in a strange way, I am in the best city to do just that. New York is relentless in her pursuit to drive you into constant reinvention. So, guess what, my not feeling at home is good after all... I have to make a new home.. I don't what or how but I am going to find out by doing and NOT thinking... That is new for me and I am looking forward to it! :)

And, I know I can because of this. So wish me luck!! ;-)

Orange and Thyme Scones based on this recipe

Swiss Chard, Red Pepper and Spring Onion Tart based on these recipes

Blueberry Coffee Squares based on this Cranberry version

Buttermilk Strawberry Cake here - Always a perfect bake.

A Simple Salad in Umbria

Handful of fresh lettuce (I love Bibb lettuce for this), torn up
Handful of arugula or rocket
1 tart apple (like Granny Smith), diced
1 mostly ripe pear, diced
chunk of really good parmesan, crumbled
Handful of hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

For the vinaigrette
juice of half lemon
1/4 cup olive oil (fresher the better)
salt and fresh cracked pepper

Umbrian Salad

Toss together the leaves and fruits and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice while slowly pouring in the olive oil until it emulsifies. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss. Sprinkle the parmesan crumbles and nuts generously and serve.

Of expectations... failing... and living...

Spelt Croissants grey
I am Asha. A blogger, a foodie, a photographer, a writer.. oh so many things... But really, I am a girl who wants life, love and happiness... Nothing more, nothing less...

I rarely speak about myself in public, here or elsewhere. People think I am a closed person. I think you don't know. I think I don't know.. But I want to...

Growing up in India is simple, yet very complex. In a land that excels in "behind closed doors" and "within four walls" a lot happens, a lot felt, yet little seen or shown.

Tea and Cookies

A land of billions is a land of many hopes, more expectations and perhaps, a lot of failures. Those are the lucky ones. There are some who don't fail, are not allowed to fail, cannot feel failure..

A collage of achievements is how I described myself. A poster child for my family.. Good grades, best schools, top universities, nothing shy of reaching for the stars.. and I did... As did a lot of kids along with me.. We were pushed, prodded and encouraged in one direction and one alone.. academic superlative-ness guaranteeing a good life

Uni-dimensional, repressed, silent for fear of offending... Afraid of failure...

Spelt Croissants (color)

Yet, how can you live if you don't fail. If you never tripped and fell, you never know how to pick yourself up, take another step and reach higher... A lesson preferably learned sooner than later. But not all of us are that lucky. But, learn we do because life is not singular in any respect...

And, that's what makes it worth living!! Finding oneself and finding happiness when the mask slips... So, I am try! :))

Fennel Anzac Cookies

The only link to these rambles to today's recipe is my experimenting with spelt flour and attempts to make croissants with them. It failed horribly but I am ok. Because really the croissants became like cookies, crumbly and nutty in flavor (spelt is a nuttier grain). Then the Anzac ones happened and later, I found an even better use for the "croissant" dough and learned something that will make spelt flakier without adding gluten.

Fennel and Spelt Anzac Cookies
(adapted from here)

3/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup oat flour (ground oats)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 T fennel seeds
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 T unsalted butter, melted and hot
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 T boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flours, sugar and salt. Mix in the coconut, fennel seeds and oats. Place the butter and the golden syrup (I used corn syrup) in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the boiling water. Stir the baking soda mixture into the melted butter mixture and stir to combine.

Mix the wet with the dry ingredients until it forms a sticky dough. Using a scoop, roll out balls of the dough and place on a baking sheet, 2.5 inches apart. Flatten each ball with your palm. until most of the dry mix is incorporated and moist.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Cool on rack and serve warm with tea!

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK