Saturday, September 27, 2014

A trip to Cambria and Hearst Castle

It was a long, long day. The day started at 4:00 in the morning. When we woke up it was pitch dark outside, and also a bit of cold, though it was last weeks of April. We wanted to stay in Cambria at least for one night, but we cut short our trip into one day for some other reason. A place, which was 250 miles aways from our home would take time to reach.Though we tried our best to start sharp at 4:30, still we failed to that. However, we did a fair job, we were late only by 10 minutes. 

It was cold and dark outside. We just tiptoed and smoothly drove our car from our neighborhood without disturbing our neighbors. We didn’t want to wake up anybody from their slumber on a weekend morning. The roads were empty like a deserted city, rather ghost town, we feel like driving in the midnight. 

After starting from home our first job was to fill the gas tank of our car. But, the first petrol pump was closed. Thankfully after few miles we got another petrol pump, and which serve our purpose. Still it was dark,the freeway was almost empty, except some gigantic trucks were rushing. It was a very pleasant to drive in the morning, without any traffic. Suddenly my husband put a hard break and shouted “deer deer”. oh!!!! ,a big deer was just in front our car with flapping ears. Thankfully, my husband put the break just in time. The car behind us was in such a high speed, the driver couldn’t push the break, but he could manage to swerve the car and change the lane to avoid an accident. The deer stood still with grace for a few minutes there, staring at us.  We already came a long way, we passed Gilroy, the garlic city. The  soft golden light of the morning started peeking through the gap of the two hills.

As we were driving, on the right side we could see the sun, but the left side was wrapped with fog. Suddenly the sun came out with his full light. Again fog wrapped us. We were going through the roads with hills on both sides. Sometimes the hills were very barren with few trees, some times the hills were covered with big trees, and some hills were wrapped with  green grass.
Our first destination was Hearst Castle. As the city of Cambria was lack of any retail chains, we decided to have our breakfast before entering the city. 

The sun already started showing his full face. The weather was very pleasant, not so hot, not so cool. While approaching towards the castle we saw some zebras. I wondered , how could they come on a grass land. After entering the castle we came to know, they were the descendent of the zebras, from the Mr. Hearts’s private zoo. His zoo was full of exotic animals during Mr. Hearst’s glorious time, but unfortunately he donated most of them to different zoos when he suffered from a  financial crisis. Only the zebras were left there, who nicely accustomed themselves with the other farm animals in Hearts’s farm. When we reach there ,the castle had just opened in the morning for the public. The castle was built on the highest point of the adjacent hills. And how far you could see was the Hearts’s property. I wondered, during his heydays, the man enjoyed everything, a human can dream. 

Hearst Castle is an US Historical Landmark, located on the Central coast of California. It is designed by architect Julia Morgan for newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst.

Mr. Hearst  was a great collector, from postage stamps to ceilings he collected from different part of the world. We only took the basic tour of the castle, so we couldn’t see the whole castle. Only the guide told us the story about his stamp collection, his bedroom and the others. We could only see the breakfast room and the dinning room. The breakfast room had a secret door through which a lift went upstairs direct to Mr. Hearst’s bedroom.

Collections of Hearst


The Spanish style house in the premises
In front of the Neptune Pool

Though I wouldn’t tell that I had seen something amazing compared to old castle, but many of the collections really amazed me. Like the garden and the flowers. We couldn’t see other floors of the castle, because our tickets didn’t permit that. So after the ground floor tour, we went out side to see the garden. From the top of the hill the pacific ocean could be seen. It was extremely chilly and windy. We were shivering to stand outside. But we waited to hear the bell ring on the top of the castle at 12 at noon. There were many marble statues around the garden, those were also Hearst’s collection. 

The dining room, where Mr. Hearts never sat at the place where usually the head of the family sits.

Our next destination was the light house. My son was extremely excited to see that. When we reach near the light house, we couldn't find out any ways to go near the lighthouse. We could see some car were parked inside premises of the lighthouse. We didn’t know how they reach there.  Anyway, we went from there to watch elephant seals. The sea shore was fully covered with the big seals, who were basking in the sun. Most of them were just sleeping. What a life!!! No worries, nothing.

Basking in the sun


The light house, we couldn't find the entry of it.

Although it was interesting to watch them, but the chill wind was blowing so hard, made difficult to stand on the beach. Clock was ticking fast, we were already past the lunch time. All of us were extremely hungry. Cambria was place full restaurants, which you can’t find any where. So, before coming we decided the restaurant, where to have lunch. We decided to sit outside of the restaurant with the thought that we could enjoy the ocean while eating.  However, that was not a wise decision. Sitting in the strong cold sea breeze way far from any comfort and coziness. We were shivering there.

Poor man's Hearst Castle-- Made from all scraps, by architect Arthur "Art" Harold Beal 

 At last we requested to let sit inside. Inside it was warm and cozy. After lunch our next destination was Nitt Witt ridge, which was also know as Poor man’s Castle. However, after reaching there, we found that the house was closed. Other people didn’t show interest to see inside of the house except me. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beautiful Big Sur

As we entered Hwy 156, everywhere was covered with dense fog. That weather was unexpected to us. It was hard to understand what was actually existed both sides of the road. We didn’t whether there was trench, or ocean, or homestead , or something else. Everything thing was hidden beneath the fog.When we reached the Breakfast club, the weather was not chilly, but very damp. I thought that damp weather was going to dampen our day trip. Anyway, when we came out after our breakfast, the Sun also came out from behind the cloud, and it appeared a beautiful sunny day. 

On Hwy 1

Clouds were hovering from behind the mountains

Our first stop was the Garrapata State Park. It was actually by the side of scenic hwy 1. The whole journey was between the hill and the ocean. We stop at Carmel River beach. The beach was full of tiny pebbles instead of sand. In the beautiful sunny day the white cloud like cotton wool was hovering on the sky from behind the mountain. And the mountain was illuminated by the direct sunlight, which was looking stunning golden yellow. Just beneath the mouton ocean water was striking now and then at the foot and telling its presence. The cool yet pleasant breeze welcomed us to that tiny beach. The beach was almost empty, very few people were there.

Beautiful Pacific ocean
Algae are taking flower shape as water is knocking them
The lone fisherman, hope he got success

One side of the Pacific is showing beauty, another side the mountain stood firmly

We could feel the cool and calm weather and see the serenity of the place. Though our next destination was Bixby Bridge, but we stopped at another point.  Again the Pacific Ocean showed us his beauty. The ocean was far below from the mountain changing from sea green to dark blue. Near the shore water was coming in such a manner that the algae were taking a flower shape, and they were moving in a round. That was really worthy to watch. I wanted to go down to the shore, as I saw some people were fishing there. But I couldn’t found any easy path to go down there, so I didn’t dare to go. On our way to  Bixby bridge, we stopped our car, to another bridge, thinking that was Bixby bridge, but,which actually that was Point Creek bridge. It was a good decision that we stopped there, so we could see the beautiful structure of the bridge. Actually the bridge joined two mountains who were abruptly ended. In between two mountain there was a deep ditch.Next came the Bixby Bridge, which was almost same as Point creek bridge. We stopped our car there and spend some time to see the beauty of the bridge.

Point creek bridge
Bixby bridge, two bridges are almost same
Water is gushing through a small cave

In our last trip, we couldn't visit one lighthouse, this time there was also one Light house, Point Sur light house in our itinerary. This time happened the same with us. We couldn’t find our way to go there. So, we drove straight and entered Pfieffer Big Sur State park. The type of trees were totally different from the rest of our journey. Till then we saw only small tree and shrubs, here suddenly the trees changed from shrub to big tall Redwood. The entrance of the park was almost dark with the big redwood trees. 

Water is ricocheting on the shore
The enormous redwood trees welcomes us to Pfieffer state park

After entering the park, my husband decided not to go any further, but to go some where else. I was disappointed. I always love to go to any forest. Anyway, after seeing the map we decided to hike to the Pfieffer Falls. Actually we wanted to go Pfieffer beach from where we could hike to the Mcway falls, but the beach was closed. When we started the hike , we didn’t know that the hike was not so easy. It was a constantly gaining hight, and on the top of that the road was very dusty. Sometimes I felt that  I couldn’t make it to the falls. However, I won’t tell that the hike was difficult. I faced difficulty because I didn’t hike for a long time, so I lost my fitness. 

Pfieffer Falls

However, after all labor, we reached the bottom of the falls. Anyway, at least we could see some water in the falls. I thought the falls might be dry due to the lack of rain in this year. Then it was the time to return. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pencil stand

My husband wants to make landscaping for our back yard. For the he wants to draw on big white paper. I only have asked him to use colored pencil, so that he can erase and redo, if he needed. So, I bought a big bunch of color pencil. And to keep all those color pencil, I wants to make a suitable stand. Then I remember that, I have kept one 'Ginger ale' carton. Within a moment the idea came in my mind to alter the carton into a stand. The carton already had 4 block. So, it became easy for me to separate the block, and he can keep the pencils color wise.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Chicken curry and fried rice

Chicken Curry:five Chicken leg piecesOne medium sized onionTwo large tomatoTwo tbsp. of ginger pasteOne tbsp. of garam mashala powderSalt to tasteHalf tsp. turmeric powderOne tbsp. paprika powderTwo big potatoesThree whole green cardamomsThree clovesTwo inches cinnamon stickOne fourth tsp. of fenugreek seedThree tbsp. of oil

Method: Marinate the chicken pieces with one tbsp. ginger paste and salt overnight. Finely chopped the onion. Cut the tomatoes into cubes.Peel the potatoes and cut into big chunks. Heat one tbsp.of oil in a wok,  and fry the potato pieces. Keep In the same wokand add green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick, and fenugreek seeds. When the spices start crackling add the onion. Fry onion until brown, stirring occasionally. Be careful, do not scorch it in the bottom of the wok. Add tomato and give a good stir. Cover the wok and let it cook. When the tomato becomes soft and take a form of a paste add one tbsp. ginger paste. Stir the mixture , and add the chicken leg pieces. Mix the spices well with the leg pieces, cover the wok, and keep it on medium heat. After few minutes, open the lid and add garam mashala powder. Stir, and let it cook. When chickens are almost tender, add the fried potatoes, salt, turmeric powder, and paprika powder. Stir well, and cover the wok. Stir the curry occasionally. After few minutes, add two cups of water, and bring into boil. Cook the to descried consistency.

Fried Rice
Four cups of basmati rice
One green pepper (capsicum)
One cups of chopped vegetables (You can finely chop one carrot, few beans)
One big onion
One fourth cup cashew
One fourth cup raisins
One tbsp. of sugar
Half tsp. cumin seed powder
Salt to taste
One tsp of ghee (Clarified butter)
Two tbsp. of oil
One bay leaves
Few green cardamoms
Few cloves
One inch cinnamon stick
Half tsp. cumin seeds

Wash the rice and soak for minimum half an hour. Finely chop the onion. Cut the green pepper into small squares. Heat two tbsp. of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add bay leaves, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon stick and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds start to crackle, add the onion. Stir it occasionally until brown covering the wok. Then add the vegetables and cook for several minutes covering the wok. Add the salt and cumin seed powder, and cook until all the vegetables become tender. Cook the rice in a big bowl under hight heat for 5 minutes. Don’t cook more than that, otherwise the rice will be very tender, and when you stir with the vegetable they will break. Drain the water from the rice , and add it to the vegetable mixture. Mix the rice with vegetable well. Cover the wok, keep it on the very low flame for 10 minutes. 
Serve fried rice with chicken. Isn’t it a good sunday lunch?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

White egg curry

My son only like eat eggs, but in different forms I’ve to cook different kinds of egg curry everyday, to eat with rice. It is real difficult job to me. It is impossible to find out new recipes everyday. I try to twist in the same curry, just adding a new spice, or not adding the usual spices in the curry. Though I barely able to feed him the curry everyday, but this curry he loves a lot. I didn’t use much spices in this curry. And this curry is little sweet. So, the chili lovers can add as chili as they want to add in this curry. The main spice in the curry is “Char magaj” or watermelon seeds. You can find this spice in any Indian grocery store. 

Four eggs
One fourth cup finely chopped onion
One small tomato
One and hall tbsp. of watermelon seeds
Salt to taste
One fourth tsp. fenugreek seeds
One tbsp. oil
Boil the eggs. Let them cool down. Peel the eggs and keep aside. Make a fine paste of watermelon seeds. Finely chop the tomato. Heat oil in a wok under medium heat. Add fenugreek seeds into oil. When you can smell the fine aroma of fenugreek seeds, add the chopped onion and tomato. Fry until onion and tomato mix well together into a fine paste, covering the wok, and stirring occasionally. then add the watermelon seed paste. stir a little and add one and half cup water. add the egg and bring to boil. cover the wok and let it cook. after sometime open the cover give a stir to curry and boil it until the desired consistency of the gravy is reached. server hot with roti or rice.