Monday, March 18, 2013

The First Time Happiness Bubbled Over - The Fifty-2 Weeks of 2013

Let's call it The First Time I Remember Experiencing Total Happiness. Many people say it's the day they had their child or the day they got married or the day they got a job, a carat(s) (or carrot(s), but not a stick), or the day that was marked by similar achievements, but for me it's nothing big like this.

This is something I persevered with and accomplished. Many times since, I've thought to myself that this was one of my happiest moments. Some of you might remember reading of my foray into cooking. You can read about it here.

I was waiting to join the University and needed to do something with all the free time I had, so I took up baking. Without knowing the ABC of anything culinary, of course. There were no blogs then to tell us how fulfilling baking bread was, and the few recipe books that we had at home didn't have much in them.

So I bought a book and would sometimes try out the cakes and desserts. Apple and ginger souffle. Caramel pudding. Devil's food cake. Pumpkin halwa. One of them was something multicoloured, and involved creating a dent(s) in the pudding by weighing it down with another vessel(s) - the hollow(s) that formed after it set was filled with other colours. Something like that.

 There were other confections that needed yeast. The bakery we patronised stored dry yeast and I bought a packet. I would religiously soak it in hot water, count out the sugar grains (yes, I've been watching my weight forever), slip them into the cup and wait for it to rise. Twenty, thirty, forty minutes would go by and nothing would happen. It would stink a bit but that was it, there were no bubbles, nothing to indicate it was working. It would lie there muddy and despondent, and it mirrored my mood.

I even have a recipe that involves yeast on the blog, you can find a recipe for Qatayef, stuffed pancakes here.

 After a few tries, I asked the owner of the bakery why it wasn't working. He said, "You have to use warm water, not hot water. You're probably using hot water. If you use hot water, the power of the yeast will go away," he said in his Malayalam-accented Telugu, his hands mimicking a running-far-away action.

He was right. I had been using boiling hot water and it was killing off the yeast. I went back all recharged and followed his instructions. The yeast worked beautifully. I still remember gingerly going back into the kitchen and peeping into the dish with great trepidation. There it was, tiny bubbles on the surface, a little bit of white foam, and a smell so yeasty it seemed nothing less than fragrant in that flush of triumph. I could see some movement too! I must have used a steel katori or a cup but it was nothing less than a petri-dish that day!

I don't remember what I made with the yeast but I do remember a savarin that was a great success, it could have been that same day or later.

Now tell me, what was the first time you felt total, total happiness?

This is my entry this week to The Fifty-2 Weeks of 2013 Project.



  1. Malayalam accented Telugu with his hands mimicking a running away action - talk about painting a picture with words, Sra...I could almost see that happening.

  2. What about the rising of a cake and the appearance of the golden crust and the wafting of the wonderful aroma ! Total happiness as you say.

  3. i can really feel about that... once even i killed the yeast, it just fizzled out... after that i am extra cautious always! :)

  4. You were killing the poor creatures all along :-D Fragrance, indeed. Now,how would you rate yourself?

  5. Hahaa! you too? I killed the yeast too the first time I tried baking. From the staff library, I used to ask for the issues of Savvy, Women's Era and such magazines to keep. One magazine had a recipe for naan and I was reading while my neighbour's children were around. They suggested that we shall try making naan at home. That was it! I bought the yeast flour and whatever the magazine listed....lo! we were not destined to have naan! Even though the yeast had died with the hot water, we went ahead and made the recipe.....the outcome was something that was nowhere related to bread!

  6. I grew up seeing mom using yeast (when she didn't get anymore toddy for making appams) for apoms etc... so never killed the yeast :-)
    I don't remember exactly the first time i was totally happy, if i really think it would be probably when I was staying with my fathers sister for few days while mom went to pick my sisters from dads home town, I used to wait for every day for her to come back to pick me up, and each time i hear a bus stop in the bus stand i used to run out to see if she was getting down from the bus, and I was so heart brokken when she was not there, but then after few days she was there , i had heard the bus stop in the bust stop and ran out to look if it was here i think that must have been the first time i was really happy. I never went anyway with out mom always was behind her and mom though it would do good for me if i spend few days in that aunts place while she went and piced up my sisters as i didn't want to go there in dads place without my mom.
    It is funny i never ever went away from home anywhere unless to school trips, when ever i went anywhere mom was always there if she was not there I didn't go. And in the end I surprised my self when i left home with Hans.
    Even now when i go back to India and my mothers younger sis sees me she tell me every time I don't understan how you went off to belgium as you always was smelling mom's bumb and walking behind ( it is a malayalam saying which i translated here )

  7. Ah!!! there cant be a better tribute to yeast!

  8. Now I am very scared of you. You baked with yeast ? as a child ? OMG you are the kinds I run away from because of deep admiration

  9. Ha ha that was a great story...Love the write up!
    I had never heard about yeast in terms of cooking, before marriage.


  10. The fear of yeast sits in me too. And a packet of yeasts sits in my kitchen ... always. Until it expires and I get another ... hoping to gather enough courage to deal with it. HAven't yet. :-)