All posts by Avinash

Copacabana Brazilian Grill and Buffet

Best way to eat Brazilian food.
They have the famous grilled meats, churrascaria style.
And a buffet of hot food and cold salads.

Rice, beans, and a sample of the meats, and it is a wonderful dinner.
Place is self-service for both takeout and dining-in.
ood is great.
Especially the grilled beef sirloin sliced on order.
They have both regular grilled meats and blood varieties too.
Stick to chicken and the sirloin steak for normal American tastes.
They will explain and describe all the skewers, just ask.

This place is so much better than many Brazilian restaurants in the US that only serve all-you-can-eat type of meals. Here, get as little or as much you wish without the pressure of trying to gorge excessively:-)

The name of this place is Copacabana Pizza and Grill, but that is just a name and there is no pizza available here!

New Year’s Eve Montreal

2016-12-31 New Year’s Eve at the Village Mammouth, Montreal Olympic Stadium.

DJ, Music, Skating Rink, Food Truck, Beer, Rum.

Much better than Old Montreal since the Stadium is much easier to get to using the Metro, just off Pie-IX metro station.

And while it was cold, they had a number of heated areas that provided the hand-warming when needed.
Not to mention the no-lines at the port-a-potty cabins!

Kids to adults, all can have fun. Highly recommended over the crowded and inaccessible (but more popular) Old Montreal spots.

Video: https://goo.gl/photos/g6xEsnJbd3CVzxATA

Eggplant Bhaji

vaa.ngyaachii bhaajii (वांग्याची भाजी)

Serve with rice and varan (yellow lentil soup), or with chappati.

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Eggplant – 1 large, to fill 10″ saute pan (but use larger pot for cooking)
Chop into small pieces (0.5-1″ cubes)
Black Mustard Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
Green Chilies – chopped, as needed
Garlic – chopped, if needed
Salt
Water – 1/2 cup
Oil for frying

Heat oil
Add Mohri (black mustard seeds), when pops, add Jeera (cumin seeds)
Add chopped green chilies, to taste – should be hot/spicy
Cook for a minute or so, then added chopped eggplant, with turmeric.
Coat eggplant well with the cooking oil, and then add water – half a cup
or less, cover and let it cook – 10-15 minutes.
Add more water if needed, then add salt to taste.

Sabudana Khichdi

saabudaaNaa khichaDii (साबुदाणा खिचडी)

Comfort food: Sabudana Khichdi

In Marathi: साबुदाणा खिचडी

Time: 30-60 minutes (4-8 hour including soaking time)
Serves: 3-6

Sabudana (pearl sago) – 1 pound (around 2 cups)
Peanuts – 1/2 pound
Cumin Seeds – 1 tablespoon
Green Chilles – chopped, as needed
Boiled potatoes – chopped in small cubes, two large
Curry Leaves (kadi patta) – 2 to 4
Salt to taste

Wash sabudana in water for a minute, drain nearly all of the water, level should just cover the sabudana, and leave in covered vessel for half-hour. Then drain all water, and leave covered for 4 hours or overnight. When done soaking, no liquid should be left, and all the grains should be soft but not mushed together – pressing between fingers should find no hard material in the middle, should be soft all the way.

Toast the raw peanuts in a pan, and then let them cool down. Then coarsely grind the peanuts in a blender or mixer or similar.

Heat oil, add curry leaves, cumin seeds, green chilles, fry for a minute or so. Add cubed potatos, cook until brown, around 5-10 minutes.

Add the sabudana and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the color turns from solid white to more of a translucent color, stirring frequently to prevent clumping.
Mix peanuts into the sabudana, cook for 5-10 minutes more, until color turns light-brown.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve with plain yoghurt.

Another recipe, external link: Aayi’s recipes

Sambar Recipe

Sambar Recipe (सांबर)

Turned out great. Quantity overshot a lot, did not need that much!

Probably cooked around 16 cups (4 quarts in a 5-qt pot), needed only around 6-10 cups of sambar.

This was very easy to cook using prepared sambar powder. Only thing is that it needs a number of ingredients.
Sambar is great in that one can add any vegetables. For me, drumsticks are a must. For fun and because I like the texture, I also added Woodear mushrooms from the local Korean shop!
Serve sambar with rice or dosa or idli.

The tricky thing here is how much hot red chilli to add. Chillies or chilli powder can’t be added as salt can, it requires cooking, so difficult to adjust it while cooking. I added 4 chillies, 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, along with the 2 tablespoons of sambar powder (which also has the chilli spices), and it turned out a bit on the hot/spicy side. So for the recipe below, I removed the 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, though if you like things hot, feel free to add it.

Time: 60-90 minutes
Serves: 10-16 (makes around 4 quarts or 16 cups)

Toor dal – 1/3 cup
Masoor dal – 1/3 cup
Wash dals, soak in cold water for around 30 minutes.
Then add 3-5 cups water as needed, boil it, lower to simmer and cook until they almost dissolve. No need to mash it, just fine with boiling. Takes around 30-40 minutes.

Tamarind – soak 1-2 tablespoons in 3/4 cup warm water for 30 minutes then filter it out to get tamarind juice. Or use 1 tablespoon tamarind paste and add it while cooking.

In parallel, cook the sambar. Some recipes call for just boiling all the vegetables with the spices, while some saute vegetables and then proceed to boiling. I prefer the latter, though I’m told it probably makes no difference in the final taste.

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Cumin Seeds – 2 teaspoons
Curry Leaves (kadi patta) – 10-12
Dry red whole chillies – 3-5
Oil – 2-4 tablespoons
Onion (1 large – 1-1.5 cups), chopped into around 1 inch squares, or any way you wish, just keep the pieces large or long.
Asafoetida (hing – 1/4 teaspoon)
Urad dal (white, husked, 1 teaspoon)
Fenugreek seeds (1 teaspoon)
Cumin powder (1 teaspoon, optional)
Coriander powder (1 teaspoon, optional)

Add oil to a pot, covering the bottom of the pan.
Add red chillies and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, urad dal, fenugreek seeds. The urad dal will turn a bit darker in a few seconds, add asafoetida, coriander powder, cumin powder, stir a few times, then add the onions.

Cook the onions for 2-4 minutes, until they become a bit soft.

Sambar powder – 2 tablespoons (I used MTR Brand)
Drumsticks – handful (1-1.5 cups)
Got the frozen variety, only one available in most parts of the US, I bet. Cut into 3 inch/finger length pieces if not already sliced. Thaw them for cooking (run them through cool tap water for quicker thawing).

Eggplant (1-2 small – 1-1.5 cups when cut into cubes)
US grocery stores have humongous eggplants, only used a quarter of one large eggplant for this.

Okra – (0.5 pounds, around 1-1.5 cups).
Cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Cut and discard small sections at the top and bottom of each okra.

Woodear mushroom (7-9 pieces, optional – any vegetables you want can be added to sambar!)

Salt to taste

Add all the other vegetables you want with the sambar powder and cook for 5-7 minutes.
Important to add salt along with the vegetables. 1-2 teaspoon at this time, and then later can add more to taste.

Tomatoes (1 large or 2-3 small, around 1-1.5 cups)
Jaggery (gur) – 1-2 tablespoon

Add tomatoes, tamarind juice and jaggery and cook for 5-7 minutes more.

Then add 1-2 cups of water, bring to boil, and then cover pot and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. After this, vegetables should be soft and nearly cooked.

Then add the cooked dals and sufficient amount of water to get the consistency you want. Add more salt and jaggery as needed at this point too.
Cook on low heat for another 10-20 minutes, and it is done.

Sprinkle chopped green cilantro on top, and it is now ready to serve.

Sambar tastes good even after refrigerating it and cooking it on day two and day three and so on. Vegetables taste more flavorful after soaking in the sambar spices.

Import Prices Script for Quicken

It is 2016 and I have no reason to upgrade from Quicken 2006 which works just fine fine for mw.
But the manufacturer has a tendency to periodically block functionality.

For example, Quicken 2006 has been unable to download updated stock prices since April 2009. Quicken 2006 itself installs on even the latest Windows 10 (2016) just fine. [As an aside, it is just amazing that Windows 10 has kept compatibility alive for old software – Quicken 2006, as well as the SendKeys method used by the script below! Kudos to Microsoft!]

There is certainly no technical decision to disable automatic stock price updates – it is just a marketing push, so make people upgrade even if they do not desire to move to a new version.

Quicken does have a manual “Import Prices” command seen when viewing the Portfolio. Therefore, it is not too hard to write a script that will download current prices, and import them into Quicken.

Details and scripts have now been archived here: Download: Import Prices Script for Quicken

BIXI Montreal Key and Dock

How to use the BIXI Montréal system with a subscription key.

The key is shown on the left top of the picture.

Insert the key into the key slot. The LED indicators will start blinking orange and then turn green on a successful unlock and then the bike can be removed from the dock.

Be sure to remember to take the key with you! It is very easy to forget it, and that could turn out to be a very expensive $1000+ mistake if someone uses the key to “permanently borrow” a bike

If the LED indicators turn red instead, as happened to me a many times, just remove the key from that dock and try another one.

And on returning the bike make sure the LED turns green before you leave the dock.

The BIXI smartphone app is also an essential tool, so set that up beforehand. It shows a map with available docks and bikes on a map and can also be used to keep track of all your trips in real-time so can be used to check the start time of the current bike rental.

Drupal to WordPress

This site is now using WordPress and no longer using the old Drupal 6 system.

It was not an easy process to maintain the old content! Took many iterations, trying it out a couple of times a year starting in 2014!
Creating a static drupal site.

Then in WordPress, created a plugin to customize the plugins being used and for general WordPress customization.
For example: hook into WP action to trap all 404s.
add_action('wp', 'redirect_all_404s');
This was preferable to a .htaccess redirect since I wanted to first have WordPress check whether it had a link and then look into checking if the link was a file in the archived Drupal subfolder.

It is all done now, so migration is finally complete in December 2016.