Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Book Review: Real Murders by Charlaine Harris (An Aurora Teagarden Mystery)

Book Review: Real Murders By Charlaine Harris

(An Aurora Teagarden Mystery)

I was always a voracious reader and books my best friends since childhood.
I am partial towards mystery and thriller genre and have been a huge Agatha Christie fan all my life.

So I am always on a lookout for any interesting and good fast paced mysteries to read.

Being huge fan of Full House and subsequently Fuller House on Netflix, I read about Candance Cameron Bure working in Aurora Teagarden mysteries as part of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Original.
Intrigued, I googled regarding the books on which the series was based and the author Charlaine Harris since I had not read any of her books.
I saw couple of movies and really liked the protagonist and the story line and decided to read the books.

About the Author(Taken from Wikipedia) : Charlaine Harris is an American author who specializes in mysteries. She is best known for the adaptations of her series The Southern Vampire Series, which was adapted as the TV series True Blood
Harris began the lighthearted Aurora Teagarden books with Real Murders, nominated as a Best Novel 1990 for the Agatha Awards

Book Review

Book : Real Murders
Author : Charlaine Harris
Published : 1990

The first book " Real Murders" in the series has an interesting premise and would definitely appeal to all fans of mystery genre.
In this book, we are introduced to the protagonist "Aurora Teagarden"or Roe as she is popularly known. Roe works as a librarian in a Lawrenceton, Georgia, a growing suburb of Atlanta. She is a member of club called Real Murders, consisting of 12 people interested in crime and murder who meet once a month to analyze historic famous murder cases.
The members comprise of interesting mix of people in the town and are known to Aurora.
The book begins with Aurora preparing to discuss a famous murder " the Wallace case" in the monthly meet of Real Murders scheduled that evening.
When she reaches early, she discovers the dead body of a fellow member and even more shocking is the fact that the murderer has staged the dead body to resemble the famous " the Wallace case" which she was supposed to discuss that very night.
So begins series of copy cat murders resembling the famous murders to be discussed by Real Murders club members making all members a potential killers or targets and confounding Aurora, who must use her sleuthing skills to uncover the murderer before it is too late.

Fast paced and racy, the book had me hooked and needless to say that I just couldn't put it down and finished it in one go. Incidentally its my first buy on my own Kindle.

The premise and plot are extremely interesting and the author has sketched the details of the small town and all the prominent characters of the disapproving mother, fellow librarian, friends and policeman very well.
I personally loved the small town charm and feel and the detailing of characters which reminded me somewhat of Miss Marple and her small town folks.

I understand that there is a series of 2 hour movies done by Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Original based on the books and I would recommend reading the books and watching the same.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Thalipeeth / Multigrain Pancake


Todays dish is Thalipeeth.. Its traditional Maharashtrian breakfast dish and my personal favorite also is great for long travels and also extremely healthy and nutritious.

Choosing recipes for Kids Delight was done keeping in mind healthy and nutritious dishes which were tasty and enjoyed by kids

Benefits :

  • It contains nutrients, fiber and essential minerals.
  • Rich source of proteins and carbohydrates.
  • Good for metabolism.
Traditionally, thalipeeth bhajani was always made at homes and so every household had their own version and proportions.
Thalipeeth Bhajani can be made of jowar, whole wheat flour, bajra, besan and rice flour.
The ingredients are dry roasted and then grinded together in powder like consistency.
This mixture can be stored in air tight containers for months.
Nowsdays, thalipeeth bhajani is easily available in any shop or store.

                    Thalipeeth / Multigrain Pancake

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups thalipeeth bhajani
  • 1 Medium onion 
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curd (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder / finely chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • Few springs of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Oil
  • Oil for roasting

Method : 
  1. Take 1 medium onion and finely chop it/
  2. In a large bowl mix thalipeeth bhajani and finely chopped onion and mix well.
  3. Add chilli powder / green chillies, turmeric powder, coriander powder, ginger and salt and mix well.
  4. Add water as necessary to knead a dough
  5. Add coriander, 1 teaspoon of oil and curd & mix well
  6. Make a ball and flatten it with your palm on a non stick pan. 
  7. Place the flatten dough on heated girdle/tava. 
  8. If nonstick pan is not being used, ensure that some oil is spread on the girdle before you place the flatten dough so that it doe not stick. 
  9. Cover with a lid and let it cook for sometime on medium heat. 
  10. When it starts crackling, that is an indication that thalipeeth is cooked from one side. 
  11. Flip it on the other side and let it cook uncovered.
  12. Serve it hot with curds, pickle, homemade butter (loni) or chutney.
Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Methi Thepla / Fenugreek Flatbread


The dish today is Methi Thepla. Methi Thepla is originally from Gujarat and is a very popular healthy and nutritious breakfast / snack all over India.

When one thinks of travel food, Methi Thepla is one of first dishes that comes to our mind such is the popularity of this dish.

My reason for choosing Methi Thepla is due to my association with it in all my recent travels. Due to self imposed dietary constraints and not being excessively fond of in flight meals,  Methi Theplas were my saviors in all my travels especially those long journeys abroad.
They are easily available, easy to carry and eat & extremely nutritious and healthy.

Health Benefits :

  1. Fenugreek leaves are rich source of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. 
  2. Calcium helps in strengthening teeth and bones 
  3. Magnesium has anti-ageing properties 

                 Methi Thepla / Fenugreek Flatbread

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup fenugreek / methi leaves 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 2 tablespoons besan / gram flour
  • 2 tablespoons curd
  • 1 tablespoon rava (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (as per individual taste)
  • 1 teaspoon haldi powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera / cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dhania powder / coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain 
  • salt to taste
  • Water for kneeding the dough
  • Few springs of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Oil
  • Oil / ghee for roasting

Method : 
  1. Clean and finely chop methi leaves and keep aside
  2. In a bowl, mix together whole wheat flour, besan, rava and mix well
  3. Add all spices and salt and mix well
  4. Add finely chopped methi leaves and mix well
  5. Add curd and oil & mix well
  6. Kneed in a fine dough and add water bit by bit as required
  7. Make small round shape balls of this dough and make round rotis
  8. Heat pan and roast the thepla on it
  9. Once cooked, flip it and add oil / ghee as required
  10. Serve it with curd, pickle, chutney or sauce

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Amboli / Multigrain Pancakes

THE THEME FOR THIS WEEK IS KIds delight : travel food

The dish today is Amboli or Multigrain Pancakes

Amboli or Multigrain Pancakes is a dish that belongs traditionally from Konkan region.
Earlier, grandmothers would make amboli peeth or powder at home by dry roasting different grains and grounding them to make flour which could be stored for months.
Normally grains used are toor dal, urad dal, channa dal, rice, wheat.
The mixture and proportions differ as per family.
Nowsdays, there are readymade amboli mix readily available in markets like you get besan.
This is great travel food and is liked by kids.

Benefits :

  1. It contains nutrients, fiber and essential minerals like magnesium, copper and iron.
  2. It contains whole grains hence it is filled with essential fatty acids, B-vitamins, starch and fiber. Magnesium will help build strong bones and teeth.
  3. Also, it helps with metabolism.

Amboli / Multigrain Pancakes

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup amboli peeth / powder
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon rava soaked in water
  • 1 tablespoon curd
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • Few springs of coriander
  • Oil

Method : 
  1. Soak rava in water for half an hour
  2. Mix amboli peeth in water and add rava and mix well
  3. Add curd, ginger paste, garlic paste, chilli powder and salt and mix well
  4. Add finely chopped coriande and mix well 
  5. Make sure that there is no lumps and make it to batter consistency
  6. Heat oil on tava / gridle / pan and when hot, add one ladle full of batter to make pancake
  7. Drizzle oil on sides if required and oil is not needed if using nonstick pan
  8. Cover and cook
  9. Check if cooked and flip it and cook uncovered
  10. Serve hot with chutney, pickle, curd or sauce

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Groundnut Jaggery Laddoo / Shendanyache Ladu


The series finale as they say or the last laddoo on the list is Peanut & Jaggery Laddoo or as we say in Marathi Shendanyache Ladu 

This was super hectic and great fun because I was cooking and clicking and posting on same day.

Benefits of Peanut & Jaggery :
  1. Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals such as zinc and selenium.
  2. Jaggery provides resistance against infections. 
  3. Jaggery helps increase the total count of haemoglobin in the blood
  4. Peanuts are rich source of protein and vital vitamins
  5. It is excellent especially during fasting

   Groundnut Jaggery Laddoo / Shendanyache Ladu

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup crushed groundnut powder or paste
  • 1/2 cup grated jaggery
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon homemade ghee for binding as necessary
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder (optional)

Method : 
  1. Dry roast the peanuts on hot gridle or tawa or kadhai.
  2. Allow them to cool & remove the skins
  3. Grind them to finely coarse paste
  4. Grate jaggery to fine paste like consistency
  5. Mix 1 cup peanut powder & 1/2 cup grated jaggery together and make sure that there are no lumps
  6. Add ghee as necessary for binding them together
  7. Jaggery is natural binder so ghee is minimally required
  8. Add 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg powder & mix well
  9. Shape the laddoos in round shape & they are ready to eat
  10. They can be eaten during fast
  11. Alternatively roasted and peeled groundnuts can be mixed together with jaggery in a blender

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rice Flour Laddoo (Tandulyache Ladu)


Wishing everyone A Very Happy Gudi Padwa & Ugadi & Chetti Chand.
Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra is the beginning of New Year and is considered as one of the 3.5 shubh muhurats for any kind of purchase or for any new beginnings.

I feel that my blog revival is also a new beginning for the blog & what better way and day to do so than on Gudi Padwa..

My today's post is on making Rice Flour Laddoo or Chawal ke laddu or as we call in Marathi Tandulyache Ladu

Rice flour too has its set of benefits :
  1. High in beneficial fiber
  2. Excellent gluten free option
  3. High in protein
More than the benefits, the reason I particularly choose this dish is because of my childhood memories associated with it.
I have fond and welcome memories of summers spend at my Maternal Uncle (Mama) place during holidays. My maternal grandmother (Aaji) was an excellent cook and like all Aajis extremely enthusiastic about cooking especially for grand kids.. She would excel in making different types of ladus and vadis as we call them in Marathi. Aaji would especially make this tandulyacha ladu whenever we were visiting as it was my personal favorite. She would also send homemade tandulyachi pithi (rice flour) with us so that my mother who was working would quickly make them for us.
Back then she would make the rice flour at home the traditional way by cleaning, washing rice & drying it on a cloth at home. Then roasting it and making flour by grinding it to a particular consistency. 
Nowadays readymade rice flour is easily available in markets but as purists would say the taste differs...
I always lament on not noting down Aaji's traditional recipes and also not been trained by her due to my lack of interest in cooking back then.
This is my first attempt at making the ladus and I would like all of you to bear with me for the uneven shapes of the laddoos.

            Rice Flour Laddoo (Tandulyache Ladu)

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup Rice flour (tandulyache pith)
  • 1/2 cup homemade ghee
  • 1/2 cup sugar (proportions may vary as per individual taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg powder (Jalphal)

Method : 
  1. Heat 1/2 cup ghee in flat bottom pan or kadhai on stove top.
  2. Add rice flour and roast well until you smell the aroma.
  3. Ensure that rice flour is properly roasted as less roasting would result in laddoo sticking in throat and over roasting will burn the flour and give burnt taste so properly roasting is key element of this dish.
  4. Some people use less ghee to begin with and as they roast rice flour if needed add additional ghee.
  5. Once it is properly roasted, switch off the heat & wait for it to cool down.
  6. Add 1/2 cup sugar to the rice flour and mix well.
  7. Add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (Jalphal) powder and mix well.
  8. Make round shaped laddoos.

Ragi Laddoo (Nachani Ladu)

Today's post is how to make Ragi Laddoo or as we call them in Marathi Nachaniche Ladu

Ragi or Nachani or Red millet or Finger millet has great health benefits like :
  1. It is extremely rich source of fiber 
  2. It helps lower cholesterol levels. 
  3. It helps weight control, diabetes and also cools the body
  4. It is cost effective and easily available.

The Theme for this Week is" Is everything round a laddu? " 

So extremely healthly and easy to make recipe that I am going to share is Ragi Laddoo or in Marathi Nachaniche Ladu

                  Ragi Laddoo (Nachaniche Ladu)

Ingredients :

1 cup Ragi Flour 
1/2 cup Homemade ghee
1/2 cup powdered sugar (depends on individual taste)
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg / Jalphal 

Method : 
  1.  Heat 1/2 cup ghee in flat bottom pan or kadhai on gas.
  2. Add 1 cup Ragi plain flour (do not use Ragi satva) in it and roast it well until it comes together and you can smell the aroma. 
  3. Roasting the flour in ghee is the most critical aspect of making the laddoo as if it is less roasted, it would stick in the throat and would taste uncooked; whereas over roasting would burn the flour and leave bad aftertaste.
  4. When the ghee starts to separate, switch off the gas and let it cool down
  5. When the mixture is slightly cooled, add powdered sugar and mix well and ensure that there are no lumps.
  6. Add 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg and mix well, taking care that there are no lumps.
  7. Prepare round shape laddoos of the mixture.
  8. Do not wait for mixture to cool down completely otherwise it would be difficult to mix well.