Monday, February 6, 2012

Microwave Dried Thyme & Confessions Of A Food Blogger


Cure for one obsession : get another one - Mason Cooley

Obsession - while this is not exactly unheard of, it gets a new dimension with food blogging. Obviously, people who are obsessed with food are the ones who write food blogs. This only compounds the obsession, taking it to greater heights. While the families do get to eat some new chow now and then, they also need to live with this species called as food bloggers. Here come some of my confessions about my passion and obsession...hopefully some common to the food blogger community and probably some specific to me(sheepish!)...

  • Food is on my mind almost 24/7, no exaggeration. Dreams feature baking that perfect flaky croissant or what I can do next with the puff pastry. Nightmares are power cuts when your rich Christmas cake is baking or your trusted brand of chocolate out of stock...
  • Storage space constraints just don't matter when I buy new baking pans or blog props. God forbid, you may see me limping tomorrow as one of these may fall on my foot - either from the overcrowded rack in the tiny dining room or from my overflowing wardrobe where I stash away some precious jumbo sized bake-ware. I guess some may be of no use to me currently, but am sure I will find it extremely useful ... may be 3 years down the line?
  • Oh yeah, talking of props, those delicate dessert glasses are more for my pictures. Once I am done with the pictures and we eat out of them, any leftover desert the next day can be eaten out of the sturdy melamine bowls which can actually be tossed into the sink!
  • My son mentioned he needed a plain white T-shirt for his school day, and I made sure he got it... after dragging the reluctant kid to may be just half a dozen shops for that perfect white shirt - he needs it you see. And may be it will also make a nice background for that ice cream in a cone shot, no?
  • Love it when folk visit us. A chance to bake something - for a new post! That cake which I want to post, but the pictures are not quite nice. Bake it again, take the pictures, quick! hide any signs of 'shooting' before the guests arrive. But save the presentation and serve it to them like I that's how I eat food everyday!
     
    • I was never interested in gardening - or may be I should admit, my only serious interest till date has been food. But I never find these fresh Italian herbs when I need them - so I grow them! Apart from oregano, basil, thyme and sage, and yeah, mint, coriander and red chillies make a great garnish, so I got to grow them all. Oh yes, I would have grown strawberries and oranges too, but I guess they don't grow all that well in a pot?
    • I plan and plan for that birthday cake for hubby and kids, as I want to bake it for them of course ( please don't hurt my feelings by even thinking otherwise!). Guess it would also double up as a nice post for the blog anniversary or Valentine's Day or some such thing ?
  • Just twice in my 2 years of blogging, I was so engrossed with hubby's birthday cake, I almost forgot to cook him a nice birthday lunch.. almost! - believe me. And when I am supposed to be happily singing the birthday song while hubby, son or daughter cut the cake (latest before 5.p.m before the sun goes down, we conspire for things to work like that ;-) ), I am more worried about how the cake will be cut. The first slice needs to pose for the pictures (a 15 minute break please) before its eaten...All food, freshly baked and cooked, will be eaten only once it gets photographed and cold . Patience is a virtue - which I enforce on hubby and kids - for my convenience, and my blog!
  • Christmas fruit cakes - I made about 4, all different recipes of course, (picture me indignant looking) in a week. I had to get the recipe which made me happy. By the time, the 4th one was baked, hubby and kids did not want to touch candied peel or fruit with a barge-pole or smell cinnamon and cloves baking for the next 6 months. Poor things, for all that trouble, power cut ruined the best cake and blogger could not post it on Christmas Day...sigh!!
  • I have more pictures of food on my computer than of my own kids. Forgive me kids - I don't even qualify for applying to be the best mother around.
  • From the time I was in school, I never was one to show any bit of interest in art and craft. I filled up one entire 6'' square cloth with cross stitches, chain stitches, crochet of that vague resemblance of a flower...all over a period of one year, in that dreaded work experience class. Forgive me Sister Susan. I can still see that disapproval in your nod for the pathetic art and craft student. I hope you will be happy if you know that today, I am really interested in something which vaguely fits this category. chocolate borders, candied roses with orange peel, painting cartoon characters, heck I even made Practice 'Buttercream' - just to learn how to pipe those borders neatly.
  • Being unable to attach a picture on the blog is a matter of emergency. Hubby is my tech support helpline, no down time please! My small expectations - he can request the airlines to delay the flight take off by about 10 minutes, before he flies to Dubai for that meeting to discuss software and other uninteresting things. Gosh, the internet is down and I need to recheck that recipe, he could quickly read it out to me? I promise I won't stop him from getting back on that con call with the waiting client soon after! 
  • The friendly neighbor with the very pretty, immaculately manicured hands could please hold a basket of strawberries for my pictures...maybe a score or more till the non-photographer finally gets it right...Hey, hang on, I will just transfer them to the computer and check, in case I need to, could we redo?
I concede that being spouse/child/neighbor of a food blogger is not always easy, but hopefully not so bad either? All said and done, what's life if you are not passionate about something? It does make life a bit crazy at times, drives folk around you crazy...but would we have it any other way?

The obsession also makes you feel insanely good about owning a pot of thyme, for stocking up on good fragrant dried herbs, something rare to find around here, something you don't get even for a price. Most of the times, I personally find the bottled ones less fragrant, the oregano seasoning sachets which come with pizza are something I love. I love thyme and when I get a packet of this fresh herb, I like to dry it in the microwave and store it.  You could dry the herbs in the sun, but outdoor space to safely dry them and good sunlight are both real luxury for a lot of us here. Alternatively you could slow dry them in the oven at a very low temperature. Here is how we do it in the microwave...


 
Idea adapted from Champa

Wash and drain the herbs in a colander. Shake off excess water, remove from the colander, shake off any more excess water. Wipe dry with a kitchen towel. Pick out the very thick stems. Spread the thyme on a microwave safe plate in a single layer. Microwave on high power for a minute. Mix the herbs, microwave again for 2 more minutes, redistributing the herbs once after a minute. The herbs will feel fairly dry by now. If your herbs are wet, it may take another minute for them to feel dry. Microwave 3-4 times on high power for 30 seconds, redistributing them once after every 30 seconds. Once the herbs are almost completely dry, remove the plate from the oven. The herbs will dry and crisp further as they cool. Once completely dry and almost crisp, crush them between your palms or grind in the smallest jar of your mixer. Store in an airtight container. I store mine in the refrigerator.

Its worthwhile taking some time and effort to dry your herbs as it adds a lot of flavor to breads, soups, pasta...


Please note: The microwaving time may vary depending on the quantity of the herbs you microwave at a time and the power of your microwave. Do experiment with what works for you best. Be careful not to overdo the microwaving, avoid microwaving the herbs for long periods at a stretch as this may cause the herbs to burn.

Just between you and me, do you have any confessions of yours to tell me?

22 comments:

Archana Chari said...

Your post was a hilarious and true read. I am not a food blogger, but sure could relate to the hoarding tendencies! Lovely changes in life are always welcomed, na :)

Divya Kudua said...

Aha..what a wonderful read:))).I want to grow my own herbs too!!

Nisha said...

I had a good laugh & enjoyed reading your post again; all those confessions - haha, sound so familiar :D
I was reading it out loud so that my husband would listen (sometimes wives love conveying a point to husband indirectly, don't we? ;) :P) & realize there ARE other food bloggers like me & that I am completely normal, though I am a newbie on the block :D
Especially loved the part
"what's life if you are not passionate about something?" how true, so true, very true :)

One of my many confessions? Sometimes when I make extra food for blogging, I freeze it to have later in the weeks/months. Without telling the hubby. Else he's the kind who'd not even touch frozen food at home! Shhhhhhhhhh! :D

Sum said...

Ha ha ha... Very good one Suma! Yup, I confess i too have most of them :D

Jayasri Ravi said...

wonderful post suma,the confession yes, absolutely right, I have stopped too much baking and participating in lot of things, because I cannot make my children eat what I don't want them to and sometimes they don't like to eat, I don't have too many people here where I could share, cakes are not my obsession any more, my family like more savoury things so I cannot keep baking or making sweets and savouries like fried food not always.. Oh! I could write a lot of things.., because of your post I am going to make a post too with my confessions.., I loved your write up and would love to meet you next time when I visit India.., your post such an insight to lot of food bloggers like us who think about food 24x7 and their consequences.., Inbtwn the thyme, growing in my garden too.., looks fabulous and the clicks are superb.., I usually the fresh ones rather than the dried ones.

zareena said...

Wow!!! lovely post Suma.. I loved reding the entire A to Z and some incidents resembled mine..:)

Sharmilee! :) said...

Haha talk abt the confessios...I can relate to all the words you have written here...Luved reading the post

Aarthi said...

very true post...Love that version of drying thyme

Aarthi
http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

Rookie Qookie said...

Girlie, you are not alone and at some point or another we all are guilty of one or the other :)

M D said...

Lovely post Suma! Had fun reading through it! :D

Poornima Nair said...

How true!! I can relate to every one of those confessions, especially the one about baking cakes and taking pictures. My husband and I are actually tired of cold food!! Have to show this to him, to assure him that I'm not really crazy:)

Deeps @ Naughty Curry said...

lol, lovely post! im still laughing bout using ur neighbour's manicured hands for pics! why dint i think of that before! :D

Pari said...

I giggled through your post and could relate so much with you. I would like to know from where you picked up the seeds for the herbs as I have not been able to get them.


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Radhika said...

I really like your blogs. I saw your blog on Microwave dried Thyme :) I would really like to know where you got the seeds/saplings for growing Thyme, oregano, basil and sage. I have been thinking of growing them at home in a pot... but just don't know how to start... Any tips in this direction will be appreciated....

Jyoti said...

I can relate to all you had to say here.. Great post and cool idea of drying herbs at home!

Rea said...

hello :) I came across your blog early last year and have been a frequent visitor ever since. I don't bake much because of an extremely cute and extremely demanding 10 month old baby :) But I do enjoy reading all your posts and bookmarking them to make someday.. que sera, sera

I wanted to ask you for some pointers on how to get started on growing your own herbs.. I live in bangalore too. Its an apartment so I don't have much space for gardening. Recently, I tried to search for some basil seedlings in stores like Namdhari's but no luck so far..

Anamika @madcookingfusions said...

Lovely post, could really relate to it...I love your blog!! It was fun reading it.

Anonymous said...

Hi suma :)
Hilariously post ! :) could relate to so many things! :D i'm new to bangalore and was wondering where could i find the seeds for all those herbs?

thanks a bunch:)
much love
ruchi

Suma Rowjee said...

For fellow Bangaloreans, I got the potted herbs from Namdharis. I have had no luck in getting the seeds though. Hope this helps!

simran said...

your post was amazing..i kept laughing throughout......you've hit the nail on the head with so many of your points!......i'm a fan:)
p.s..try growing strawberries in pots.they work out just fine.

dwaipayan said...

hi!! nice to find a food addict who grows her own herbs.. I do the same thing.. I stay at kolkata.. wanna exchange some of your sage seeds with my flat leaf parsley ones??

I am growing parsley, thyme and sweet basill.. rosemary did not grow,.. will again try oregano as I still have some seeds.. lettuce also grew well( i have a mixed bag of seeds which has 4 varieties)

Shri said...

Hi Suma, Hahah...had a hearty laugh. I don't blog but poor hubby and li'l kid both go through all (minus the photographing/re-checking on computers etc...) the hardship you confessed.
Wanted to share something similar I do with Mint and Basil, I mean McWv dried mint and basil. I wash the leaves, drain them on a kitchen towel for an hr or two and then spread them on the McWv turntable, mcwv for 2 mins on high, let them stand in the oven for 5mins and then store in a glass bottle. Works well for me...