The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

I’ve been fascinated by the chir pine Pinus roxburghii (Pinus longifolia) for quite some time and realised that I haven’t yet put down a post on it. I’ve marvelled at its beauty both at Sattal and also Mussoorie in Uttarakhand, India.  Unfortunately it is sad to see villagers set whole slopes of the forest on fire which is taken up by the layer of dry pine needles covering the mountain slopes. The villagers do it so that grass would grow again on the ground between the trees for them to take home back to their cattle. It is also suspected that the land mafia does this to deliberately deforest areas in connivance with the authorities which they can then encroach upon and sell. This is easy to do as the pine is rich in resin and catches fire easily even when wet. Continue reading The Chir Pine: Pinus roxburghii

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Trek: Kedarkantha peak

I’ve been importing Trekking/Camping equipment for years now and I’ve barely managed to put it to use because of not finding like minded people to trek or camp with. This was my first major trek, so I thought I’d better pen down my experiences for others to read before they head out on their own or make the same mistakes I did. It is easy to dump a large sum on some tour organiser and let them handle all the logistics like food, water, transport etc, but there is a lot more adventure (and sometimes danger) when heading out on your own. Sorry for the lack of photographs as I lost most of them when my laptop hard disk suddenly stopped working. Continue reading Trek: Kedarkantha peak

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Review: Tecsun PL-380 DSP Radio

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An old gang condenser which uses air as its dielectric medium

I love radio. I’ve wanted to be a Ham since I was a kid and ordered numerous resources, however due to cost constraints, nothing worthwhile happened. Later on, I took up electronics and assembled two of my own radios, the old ones -not the very old ones with valves, but the analogue pre-IC ones using transistors, coils and transformers and a polyester gang condensor for the tuner. I have older memories and remember my ex-army uncle from EME who had once given me a gang condenser with plates which used air as its dielectric medium but Iost touch after IC’s became standard and replaced discrete components. Even though I had a Sony ICF-F12S radio, my heart longed for something which used PLL tuning and had a DSP and digital tuning and storage. Continue reading Review: Tecsun PL-380 DSP Radio

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Why I don’t tithe anymore

I’ve always been uncomfortable about “tithing”. Not because I was a slacker at giving, it is just that at the back of my head I’ve had doubts of whether tithing still applied in/after the new testament. In addition, I’ve become wary giving to insatiable churches and fly by night standalone preachers and miracle workers and am tired of hearing how financially beneficial and blessed it is. I’m also pretty sure that getting returns on your giving is not the primary purpose of giving. The best way to know the truth would be to study the word of God by yourself as in this case, it is better to not let people on the receiving end interpret it for you. Continue reading Why I don’t tithe anymore

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Extracting coconut milk

 

Back to the main post on the coconut tree

Whenever I think of coconut milk, my mouth waters. Although she is no more, three dishes prepared by mum come vividly to my mind and I can almost taste it in my mouth as I write. The first is a common breakfast dish of steamed/boiled sweet potato served with salted coconut milk sweetened with a bit of  jaggery. The other dish is peppered (black pepper) mutton stew with green pumpkin and coconut milk and of course the payasa or kheer made from padengi (green gram), coconut milk, clarified butter and dry fruit.
Continue reading Extracting coconut milk

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Using a banneton to bake bread

In my previous post on How to bake your own wholewheat bread, I have not told you the whole story of my my bread experiments. The goal was to get the loaf done right, and the only way to figure out where I was going wrong with sourdough was to go back to the basics and use easier instant yeast. Once the output confirmed that my techniques and timings were right, I went back to my struggle with sourdough. Continue reading Using a banneton to bake bread

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Home made whole wheat bread

This has to be one of my longest experiments ever, partly due to me getting the baking bug only in the winters. The first two were disastrous failures and the end product could have been the choice of weapon used by Cain to kill Abel. The first one, used -wait for it… Champagne yeast and placed in a pressure cooker which doubled as an oven. It was pretty cold too -around 2 deg C in Delhi and the bread never rose. If I had saved the baked bread it could have replaced a brick in my garden wall back home. Continue reading Home made whole wheat bread

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