No oven? ‘Bake’ your cake in a pressure cooker

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Electricity going off when your cake is sitting in the oven and is only half-way through can be one of the worst kitchen nightmares. I was in a similar situation last weekend and did panic initially. But I managed to avert a disaster with my good old pressure cooker coming to the rescue.

It was, in fact, a pressure cooker in which cake was baked for the first time almost three decades ago in my humble small-town home with no electric oven. It had been a little burnt from the bottom, with all the raisins failing to beat the gravitational force, and not fully done in the centre. But over time our pressure cooker had started dishing out perfect looking and great tasting cakes, until an OTG finally came into the picture.

We don’t need to actually “pressure cook” the cake, so there is no need to cover it with the usual lid. Just a normal metal or glass cover will do.

Here’s is the recipe for a basic fruit cake ‘baked’ in a pressure cooker.

The raw cake batter inside the pressure cooker (Source: Sanghamitra Mazumdar)The raw cake batter inside the pressure cooker (Source: Sanghamitra Mazumdar)The cake once done, ready to be taken out (Source: Sanghamitra Mazumdar)The cake once done, ready to be taken out (Source: Sanghamitra Mazumdar)cake 3The cake — bottom side up. (Source: Sanghamitra Mazumdar)

Ingredients:

Maida: 1 1/2 cup

Sugar: 1 cup (powdered)

Butter: 1 cup

Tutty-frutty: ½ cup

Raisins: ¼ cup

Salt: A pinch

Baking soda: A pinch

Baking powder: 1-and-a-half spoons

Eggs: 2

Preparation:

Sieve maida with baking soda and baking powder.

Add tutty-frutty, raisins and salt and set aside.

Beat sugar and butter till fluffy.

Add maida mixture to it one spoon at a time and keep beating.

Mix in the beaten eggs. If it gets too dry, add a little milk (be careful with the consistency; the batter for a fruit cake should be thicker than that for a sponge cake).

Grease a cake tin and sprinkle a little dry flour. Once beaten properly, pour the cake mixture into the greased tin.

Now put a wire rack or grid (to prevent burning) inside the pressure cooker and lower the cake tin on to that. Keep the flame low. It usually takes an hour, but keep checking after first 30 minutes by inserting a toothpick.

Turn off the heat once the toothpick comes out clean.

Parents, beware. 3 hours of TV daily may up risk of diabetes in your kids

Being glued to television or video games for more than three hours a day may put your children at increased risk of developing diabetes.

Parents, take note! Being glued to television or video games for more than three hours a day may put your children at increased risk of developing diabetes, a study warns. Researchers found that both adiposity, which describes total body fat, and insulin resistance, which occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin, were affected by longer hours of watching television and using computers.

“Our findings suggest that reducing screen time may be beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors, in both boys and girls, from an early age,” said Claire Nightingale, research fellow at St George’s, University of London in the UK.

Researchers based their findings on a sample of nearly 4,500 nine to 10-year-old pupils from 200 primary schools in London, Birmingham and Leicester. The children were assessed for a series of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood fats, insulin resistance, fasting blood glucose levels, blood pressure and body fat.

Around a third of the children spent less than an hour of screen time a day, but 28% of the children said they clocked up one to two hours; 13% said their tally was two to three hours; and 18% said they spent more than three hours looking at screens every day.

The study noted that there was a trend between levels of screen time and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite. (Shutterstock )

Trends emerged between screen time and ponderal index – an indicator of weight in relation to height, and skinfolds thickness and fat mass index – indicators of total body fat. Researchers found that these levels were all higher in children reporting more than three hours of daily screen time than in those who said they spent an hour or less on it.

The team also noted that there was a strong trend between levels of screen time and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that controls appetite, and insulin resistance. The trends remained significant even after taking account of potentially influential factors, including physical activity levels, researchers said.

Ladies, having a baby in your 30s may ensure a long life for you

Women who conceive later in life tend to be well-off and educated and have healthier lifestyle, leading to longer life expectancies.

Looks like people, who are planning their family late, may breathe a sigh of relief. Earlier research said, conceiving after 30 may leave a first-time mother childless. But a new study, not only denies the fact, but also brings a good news for the older moms.

The study, by scientists at Portugal’s Coimbra University, said that women who became mothers later in life were more likely to live longer than those who gave birth in their teens and 20s, reports the Independent. “The most relevant result shows that women tend to live longer the older they are when they get pregnant (in particular, for the first child),” it said, according to a paper published in the Journal of Public Health.

Of several factors which determine women’s life expectancy, it said, “The most surprising factor is the age of women at pregnancy, which may provide evidence to promote pregnancy in the early 30s.” A second study, published in the journal menopause Menopause journal, also found that mothers, who gave birth at 33 or older, were three times more like to have certain DNA markers for longevity than mothers who gave birth younger.

But neither study provided an explanation as to why older mothers may live longer. The report further said that according to fertility expert Lord Winston, women who conceive later in life tend to be well-off and educated and have healthier lifestyle, leading to longer life expectancies.

Love your chicken juicy? You will definitely love this Whole Roast Chicken recipe

If you are a meat lover then you are definitely going to love this Whole Roast Chicken Recipe.

When it comes to Whole Roast Chicken, most people like to follow the age-old family recipes handed down to them by their grandmothers. But what about the ones who don’t have a secret family recipe to fall back on? We feel their disappointment, we do. But it’s nothing that you can’t work around. Family recipes are fine but in today’s world with gourmet food being the talk of the town, it’s just kind of silly to stick to just one.

We asked Chef Samta Gupta, Desi Roots, New Delhi, to share her recipe with us and she was more than happy!

Ingredients
1.5 – 2 kg – Whole chicken (insides cleaned)
3-4 – Boiled potatoes
1 cup – Steamed peas
1 cup – Mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp – Dijon Mustard
3-4 tbsp – Barbeque sauce
4-5 cloves – Garlic, grated
Rosemary – To taste
Worcestershire sauce – To taste
Balsamic Vinegar – To taste
Honey – To taste
Juice of 2-3 lemons
Salt – To taste
Ground black pepper – To taste

Method

Marination:
* Make sure when you get the chicken from the butcher shop, he has cleaned the insides of the chicken well. Based on your preference, you can either leave the skin on the chicken or remove it. If you leave it on, then the skin becomes crispy and the fat under it melts, thereby, adding more flavour to the dish; but if you are health conscious, then it’s advisable to get rid of it.

* Once you’re ready to marinate the chicken, place it in a bowl and add balsamic vinegar, mustard sauce, barbeque sauce, honey and lemon juice to it.

* Now, rub the chicken with garlic, salt and pepper and then add rosemary.

* Let the chicken stay in the marinade for at least 2-3 hours – the longer the better. You can also leave it overnight.

Roast:

* Boil the potatoes, take the skin off and cut them in half.

* Steam the peas. I usually pressure cook them (one whistle) and add a tablespoon of sugar in the water to sweeten the peas up.

* Place the marinated chicken in a nice serving dish.

* Stuff the chicken with the boiled potatoes, steamed peas and chopped mushrooms. If you’re doing this for the first time, don’t get stressed out. Just pack the vegetables in there.

* Whatever peas, potatoes and mushrooms are left after the stuffing, place it around the chicken ornamentally.

* Preheat the oven at 200°C for about 15-20 mins.

* Put the chicken into the oven and let it cook for about 45-50 minutes. Every oven has different heat settings so temperatures tend to vary – you will need to check for yourself when the chicken is done.

* Serve straight out of the oven with bread, some brown sauce, herb-garlic butter and mashed potatoes.

Note:
How to make Brown Sauce: Take some chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Pour in Worcestershire sauce, barbeque sauce, garlic and salt to taste. Add a blob of butter to make the sauce rich and creamy and then add a spoonful of corn flour mixed with water to thicken. You are good to go.

Make your food bloom this season with edible flowers

People love flowers for their fragrance, colour and texture and just the fact that they can ease your nerves by simply looking at them. Now, you have one more reason to stare at those pretty ferns and petals and thats food.

Mrinmoy Acharya, Head Chef, Ciclo Cafe in Gurugram and Pankaj Jha, Senior Executive Sous Chef at The Suryaa in the capital share the various ways of marrying delectable food with gorgeous edible flowers so that you never run out of reasons to woo your loved ones with flowers.

*Pansy: Mild and delicate, this beautiful garden flower with velvety petals comes in purple, yellow, blue and white and is great for garnishing. Tastes like grapes and mint, this helps adding a slight taste to the dish. You can add these pretty flowers to your salad to enhance its flavour or just use it as a garnish on chocolate tortes or add to the plating while serving pastries or puddings.

*Nasturtium: One of the most popular picks in India, with its mild peppery flavour makes for an excellent pickling and culinary component. The bright yellow, orange nasturtium flowers are easy-to-grow and one of the tastiest herbs in the world. As the leaves of this flower are also edible, simply chop them and add to salad along with the flowers. You can also make desserts and appetisers more appetising by adding as a garnish.

*Marigold: Marigold of the sunflower family or calendula adds a lot to the plate because of its bright colour. Add to salad making it a refreshing summer floral dish or include it in custard to give a citrusy touch for a change.

*Crocus flower: These are easy to grow and look extremely attractive when a dish is served. Apart from using them in salads and main course. You can also mix this bud in beverages for flavouring and can also be used in making tea and wine.

*Snap Dragon: This fragrant specimen come in vibrant colours like red, yellow, pink and adds punch to your otherwise boring food. Mix it with liqueur, cranberry and lots of ice to make a delicious drink or add to pizzas and pies to give a fresh twist to the junk food.

Here’s why you should start including a handful of walnuts in your diet everyday

Walnuts also improve heart and brain health.

There are many benefits to eating walnuts. Past research has shown that they help you control your appetite, and also guard you against colon cancer. There’s one more reason to add walnuts to your nutrition plan. Daily serving of 57 grams or 1/2 cup of walnuts may keep your digestive system healthy, finds a study. According to researchers, a diet with walnuts led to an overall significant increase in the diversity of bacteria in the gut. From animal study, walnut consumption may be beneficial for digestive health by increasing the amount of good probiotic-type bacteria in the gut.

Lead researcher Lauri Byerley from Louisiana State University in the US said that gut health is an emerging research area, but we are seeing that greater bacterial diversity may be associated with better health outcomes, whereas low diversity has been linked to conditions such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

The team analysed rats and were randomly assigned to a diet containing ground walnuts, equivalent to about two ounces (1/2 cup) (approx 56.69 grams) per day in humans, or a diet without walnuts for up to 10 weeks. Calorie and nutrient intake was similar between the two diet groups. Compared to those that did not consume walnuts, rats that ate a walnut-enriched diet saw an increase in beneficial bacteria including, Lactobacillus, Roseburia and Ruminococcaceae.

“The health of the gut is related to overall health in the rest of the body,” said Byerley. The study showed that walnuts change the gut, which could help explain why there are other positive health benefits to eating walnuts such as heart and brain health. The results of this study shed light on a new way that walnuts may be beneficial for health, but more research is needed to understand how these outcomes translate to humans. The research appears in journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Eat your leafy vegetables and eggs. It may help keep your brain healthy

Kale with poached eggs; both contain the nutrient lutein which helps in cognitive function.

Fill up on all those leafy vegetables. A research by the University of Illinois finds a difference in cognitive function between younger and middle-age participants with higher and lower lutein levels. Lutein is a nutrient that the body can’t make on its own but it can be acquired through diet. As well as green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, it is also found in foods such as avocados and eggs.

Most previous studies have looked at lutein levels in older adults, after there has already been a period of cognitive decline, however the new study recruited 60 participants aged 25 to 45. “As people get older, they experience typical decline. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s,” said Anne Walk, first author of the paper, adding, “We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.”

To measure levels of the nutrient in the participants the researchers looked at the participants’ eyes, where lutein accumulates in the tissue, asking them look into a scope and respond to a flickering light. While the participants performed a task to measure their attention, the researchers used electrodes on the scalps to measure neural activity in the brain.

The results showed that, “The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less lutein,” explained Walk, adding that, “Lutein appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete the task.”

“Now, there’s an additional reason to eat nutrient-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, eggs and avocados,” said Naiman Khan, a professor of kinesiology and community health at Illinois, adding, “We know these foods are related to other health benefits, but these data indicate that there may be cognitive benefits as well.” The findings can be found published online in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

 

5 Home Remedies to Straighten Your Hair Naturally

5 Home Remedies to Straighten Your Hair Naturally

If you wish to have straight tresses without damaging your lustrous long hair

while avoiding harmful chemicals and heated instruments, there are some ingredients in your kitchen that can help straighten your hair naturally.

You can opt for many combinations like lemon juice and coconut milk that act as cream conditioners and help in straightening your hair, or vinegar, which also helps in bringing out the perfect shine

, says Cosmetologist Anjali Chawla. She suggests that following home treatments to straighten your hair naturally –

1. Lemon juice and coconut milk paste:

Lemon juice and coconut milk are the best ingredients for straightening your hair naturally. When both are mixed together, they make a great cream conditioner.

Apply the paste and wash your hair with lukewarm water. You will notice a clear difference if done twice a week.

2. Mix of bananas, yogurt, honey and olive oil:

Mash two bananas with two tablespoons of honey, yogurt and olive oil. Mix nicely and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. Apply the paste on your hair and cover it with a towel or a shower cap. After an hour, rinse it with cold water.

3. Soyabean oil:

Mix one tablespoon of soyabean oil and two tablespoons of castor oil. Heat the mix and then slightly cool it. Once the mixture is cooled, apply the mix on your scalp and hair and massage it for sometime. Leave it for 30 minutes and later wash off the mix with a mild shampoo

.

4. Eggs and olive oil:

Take two eggs and mix it with olive oil nicely. Massage your scalp with the paste and keep it for about an hour. This will not only straighten your hair but also soften and condition it.

5. Vinegar: After rinsing your hair, mix few drops of vinegar with a full mug of water and rinse your strands with the mix. Finally rinse it with clean water. This will not only help in straightening but will also help in shining.

Language lessons for your baby may start in womb: Study

Love to speak to your unborn baby? Well he or she can typically distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born, an interesting study has shown. The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb, although the voice is muffled.

In the study, the foetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar, rhythmically distinct language (Japanese) after having heard a passage of English speech, while their heart rates did not change when they were presented with a second passage of English instead of a passage in Japanese.

“The results suggest that language development may indeed start in the womb. Foetuses are tuning their ears to the language they are going to acquire even before they are born, based on the speech signals available to them in utero,” said lead author Utako Minai, associate professor from the University of Kansas.

“Pre-natal sensitivity to the rhythmic properties of language may provide children with one of the very first building blocks in acquiring language,” Minai added.

For the study, published in the journal NeuroReport, the team examined 24 women, averaging roughly eight months pregnant. Minai had a bilingual speaker make two recordings, one each in English and Japanese — argued to be rhythmically distinctive language, to be played in succession to the foetus.

“The intrauterine environment is a noisy place. The foetus is exposed to maternal gut sounds, her heartbeats and voice, as well as external sounds.

“Without exposure to sound, the auditory cortex wouldn’t get enough stimulation to develop properly. This study gives evidence that some of that development is linked to language,” explained Kathleen Gustafson, a research associate professor at the varsity.

How can you learn to love your own fate?

How can you learn to love your own fate?
In life, good and bad happen to all of us. The good is fine but how does one deal with the bad? In Latin, there’s a word called Amor Fati, which means love of one’s fate. The philosophy says you don’t just accept your fate but learn to love it. It may sound difficult as we’ve always been told that we make our own fate. While that may be true, even the best laid plans do — and have — gone awry, haven’t they? It’s called fate. And more than believing in it, your approach to it — embracing life as a spiritual warrior — makes you come out on top. Here’s how to go about it.

– Live with no resentment: The theory of Amor Fati makes you accept good and bad experiences life throws at you. It helps you live without any bitterness or resentment, embracing whatever life brings.

– Accept challenges: If you accept life’s challenges, you accept the principle of Amor Fati by saying ‘yes’ to life and fate. The theory helps you look at the upside and downside of life, and teaches you life lessons for inner growth and transformation. Spiritualists believe this perspective helps you live in bliss. When life’s inevitable chaos throws you at a hard place, and you deal with it simply because there’s no other way, you also become aware of your own strength and the Universe’s power.

Jeff R Noordermeer, a Dutch who wrote about the bombing of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, during WWII in his memoirs, says accepting what life brings you helps you live to the highest levels as there is no conflict within you after that. Your situation is what it is. No amount of wishing for something different will change anything. If you face your problem, you begin to address it.

– Don’t fight fate: Contentment, fulfillment can only come by embracing all that life has to offer us. Being fully open to the positive and the negative is to avoid inner suffering. When we cannot change situations in life, letting go and surrendering can be empowering.

– Be compassionate to your experiences: When you accept Amor Fati, you free your mind from self-criticism. It will help you heal and move beyond the hurt. After acceptance, compassion is essential to heal yourself.