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CHRONICLES OF SAM Q

Chronicles of Sam Q

By Sam Q

Dearest Diary,
Festivals always get me emotional and thinking. So, this upcoming Christmas, when it is the time to be jolly, I thought let me do my bit to make you smile, with my kinda holiday humour. This is where my thinking has kicked in and you just have to grin and bear my thoughts to tide you over the holidays.

MY BEST ADVICE: I want to say, eat well, exercise and go to bed early...but...Naaah...The best advice is, do NOT give any advice. PERIOD!!

People do not like to hear advice, especially if it is free. If I had only imitated each eye roll that I had gotten while giving advice I would have developed a squint by now. But having said that, I still will not hesitate to bombard my loved ones with advice if I felt it was necessary. This sort of 'loved-up' hypocrisy works for me.

MY BEST KEPT SECRET: I want to say, a slim, sexy woman is dying to come out of me...but...Naaah...my best kept secret is that I have the best health paraphernalia, health gadgets, health books and files of health information along with a double door fridge stocked with all sorts of health food. You name it, figs, flax seed, sprouts, yoghurt, fruits...it is all there. I can give you a lecture on sculpting your biceps, to the best anti-oxidants to the most sensible diet ever. I can take on any nutritionist any time. Sadly, my outward appearance belies my true calling. Actually, that is not true. Being a health expert was never my calling, but, for today, let's keep my true calling a secret.

MY BEST LESSON LEARNED: I want to say, if you fail try again and again...but...Naaah...my best lesson learned is from my husband. Over the thirty odd years that I have spent with him, I hardly ever saw him use shampoo on his hair and hardly take any trivial medicine. Good old body soap worked fine for him to clean his hair and with a pain tolerance level of Superman, no advil or tylenol crossed his path. Well, he seems to be having the last laugh. At the moment where all his friends and his wife are sporting a bald spot, he on the other hand (Mashallah) has a gorgeous head full of salt and pepper locks to make even Salman Khan jealous. And the way my hormones are behaving, I think I should have also followed his routine and stayed away from chemicals. But, alas, such is youth. Stupid, stupid youth! You think you know better. But, actually, you know jack!!

Oh! And my husband, he was just born as a wise man, never went through the tribulations of youth. I guess some guys have all the luck.

MY BEST MOMENT: I want to say, when my son was born...but...Naaah...it has to be the moment when I realised that I could say, No! All those pesky shopkeepers, all those people who took unfair advantages, only because I could not say no. It was an amazing feeling the day I realised that I could do that and It would make me happy. Try it people. It is a bit difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, there will be no stopping.

MY BEST DECISION: I want to say, our return back to Bangladesh...but...Naaah...I think my best decision was to follow China's one child policy. This one I am going to let my mother take the full brunt for. I do not know since when she filled my head with, "only one child is enough", "nowadays children are liabilities", "we were assets for our parents", blah...blah...and more blah.

Anyway, I took that to heart and had one child, but suddenly now she has developed amnesia and all that previous blah is forgotten. Now it is my fault for not having a daughter. As if it is in my hands to decide the sex of the child. Moreover, I will truly understand the lack of a daughter's presence once I grow old. I am like...hello....how much older can I be???

MY BEST ESCAPE: I want to say something as chic as Gstaad in Switzerland...but...Naaah...it has to be my bedroom. Now-a-days, wherever I am in the world, after four to five days max, I start to pine for my somewhat lopsided pillow. I kid you not Diary, even in a seven star hotel, the pillows suck. Some go down with a whoosh, some do not fold properly to the perfect angle under the crook of my neck and some are just blocks of sponge. Coming back to my bedroom, picture this, a hot, humid, sultry Bangladeshi summer afternoon. Curtains pulled so tightly that even a sliver of daylight will not dare infiltrate my space. Eight pillows, one king size ten year old razai, chilled room (in between load shedding) my HD TV on, a good book by my side. AHH! Truly, my bedroom is my escape to paradise.

MY BEST JOB: I want to say teaching...but...Naah...my best job till date is motherhood. I loved it from the moment it happened. Exactly twenty four years, eight months and three days ago. Not for one moment did I want any respite from it and nor do I ever want to retire from it. I do not want any pension, any breaks or any days off. Me sticking to any job is a rare feat, but this particular job is right up my alley. And, I hope my one and only employer is listening and gives me a raise by giving me couple of grandchildren to show off my expertise. Remember what I said about 'loved up' hypocrisy'.....this is one of them.

MY BEST ACTIVITY: I want to say lots of...ahem! walking on the treadmill...but...Naaah...I would have to say, cooking for my friends. I go through this phase every couple of months. I collect some new recipes, call four couples, make them sit at the table, I cook, garnish and serve them myself straight from the kitchen. I get all sweaty and smelly, but my friends don't care as long I am getting some physical activity going. At the end of the day it is all about losing calories. How you do it is up to you.

MY BEST BEAUTY TIP: I want to say drink eight glasses of water every day...but...Naaah...it has to be knowing how to lead a stress-free life. Having said that, I also have to say that it is easier said than done. If you want to have a somewhat stress-free life, you have to have at least fifty percent of lady luck by your side and fifty percent of the choices you make. And secondly, if you truly let go of things which are beyond your control, the battle is won. Try it, it works. And, Oh! Having eight glasses of water helps too.

MY BEST GIFT: I want to say my new diamond ring...but...Naaah... it has to be my freaking beautiful life. Amen to that.

So, that is it Diary for today. Have a good, safe and healthy day...the Sam Q. way.

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Toffee Apples
Ingredients: 8 ounce caster sugar
4 ounce water
1 tsp white vinegar
9 small knob of butter
4 apples (red)

Method: Put sugar in a small pan and add water. Heat gently to dissolve sugar completely, Stirring Occasionally. Add vinegar & butter, and boil mixture until it becomes deep caramel color. If using thermometer, it should read 170 º c. Meanwhile push a stick halfway into the stalk end of the apple and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When toffee is ready, carefully dip 4 apples one at a time, turning to coat them, then put on parchment paper and leave to harden. If the toffee hardens before all the apples are dipped put it back on the heat for 1 minute

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
Ingredients: 1 cup cocoa, 6 oz chopped chocolate, ¾th cup boiling water, 1¾th cup flour, 1stp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 10 tbsp butter, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla, 5 eggs, 1½ cups sour cream, 1 cup chocolate chips, powdered sugar as needed.

Method: Preheat oven. Mix cocoa and chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water over chocolates and stir to melt. Let stand to cool. Meanwhile combine flour, salt, and baking soda, cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs to the butter mixture. Fold the sour cream into the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream chocolate mixture to the butter mixture and blend. Add chocolate chips and stir to incorporate. Pour into tin and bake for 55 minutes at 300·c. Cool before removing from pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Mini Xmas Truffles
Ingredients: 400g fruit cake crumbled, 2tbsp jam, 40g butter melted, 375g chocolate chopped, 200g white chocolate melted, red and green glace cherries chopped for decoration.

Method: Combine the fruit cake, jam and butter in a bowl; mix well to combine. Roll heaped tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on tray.

Refrigerate until firm.

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using two forks, dip each of the balls into the chocolate to cover. Drain off excess chocolate and place back onto tray. Drizzle the truffles with white chocolate and decorate with glace cherries.

Allow to firm and set before serving.

Rich Chocolate Cup-Cakes
Ingredients: 75g cocoa powder, ¾ cup boiling water, 250g butter softened, 2¼th cup caster sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 4 eggs, 2½ cups flour, 1½ tsp baking powder, 300 ml milk.

Chocolate Garache: 250g chocolate chopped, 100g butter chopped.

Method: Pre-heat oven to 160 º c.

Whisk cocoa powder & boiling water in large bowl until smooth. Allow to cool.

Beat the butter, sugar, & vanilla until light & fluffy. Add eggs. Mix well. Stir in combined sifted flours and baking powder and milk. Stir in cocoa mixture. Divide mixture into muffin pans and bake for 25 mins or until cooked. Cool the cup cakes.

Chocolate Ganache: place chocolete and butter in large heat proof bowl. Stir over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate and butter melts and mixture is smooth. Stand until thickened and spread-able consistently.

Spread cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Top each coke with decoration of desired.

Rich Fruit Cake
900g of raisins
125 of glace cherries
125g of any dried fruit (dates, fig)
160ml of orange juice
2 tbsp marmalade
1tbsp of vanilla essence
250g butter softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 eggs
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
1 cup blanched whole almonds

Method:
Preheat the oven to 150 º c. Line a deep 19cm square cake pan with two layers of brown paper.

Combine all the fruit, juice, marmalade in a large bowl. Beat the butter, sugar and rinds in a small bowl with an electric mixer until well combined.

Add butter mixture to fruit mixture. Mix well with wooden spoon. Mix in the sifted flour and spice. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Decorate top with almonds. Bake uncovered for about 3-3½ hours or until cooked when tested.

Cover hot cake in pan tightly with a clean kitchen towel. Cool overnight.

* Cook's tip: If you cannot find mixed spice in the market, make your own. Take small portions of cinnamon, clove, ground ginger, cardamom, bay leaf, nutmeg and mace and blend to powder. Use sparingly.

Sugar Cookies
Ingredients: 1 butter softened, ½ cup icing sugar, ½ cup caster sugar, 1 egg, ½ tsp vanilla essence, 2 ¼ th cup of flour, 1 tsp baking powder.

Sugar glaze: icing sugar and lemon juice.
Method: Heat oven to 375º F. Combine butter and both the sugars in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed.

Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour and baking powder. Beat until dough forms a ball. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. When cool, glaze with glace icing.

Take one cup of icing sugar and keep adding lemon juice till spreadable consistency. Spread on cooled biscuits.

Chocolate Tart
Ingredients: Marie biscuit, 3tbsp of melted butter, 3 tbsp of sugar for the crust.

For the filling: 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tbsp flour, ¼ tsp salt, ½ cup honey, 2 tbsp butter at room temperature, 4 oz of chocolate chopped, 1 cup walnut halves, ½ tsp vanilla, 3 large eggs lightly beaten.

Method: Preheat oven to 350º.
First make the crust. Crush Marie biscuit, incorporate butter and sugar until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Press against a 9" pie dish and refrigerate for half an hour.

Now combine brown sugar, flour & salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in honey and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter & chocolate & whisk till smooth. Cool & then add walnuts, vanilla & eggs. Spoon walnut mixture into crust. Bake at 350º for 33 minutes or until set. Cool before serving.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food prepared by Samina Quasem for Star Lifestyle

 
 
 

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