Katahdin from Doubletop Mountain

I have always wanted to hike Katahdin (meaning The Greatest Mountain), which is the second tallest and most majestic looking mountain in New England. I vowed not to see it until I am really ready to hike it lest I might lose the motivation.

The more I read about Katahdin and its hiking trails, the more I wanted to do the Knife Edge trail and nothing less. Knife Edge is got to be the most spectacular and toughest ridge hiking in New England. But all that reading of hiker's trip reports and notes made me very nervous and unsure about the hike.

The promise to myself had to be broken because 1. I grew tired of hiking Green and White Mountains in VT and NH 2. I wanted to see Katahdin for REAL.

So, I picked Doubletop Mountain which provides less popular west-side views of Katahdin. The hike on the northern trail was 3.1 miles one-way with an easy 1.2 mile hike until the trail descended to a brook that we had to pass. The knee deep water was biting ice-cold and had to be crossed quickly.

After we crossed the brook, the ascent was quite steep for about half a mile followed by a short respite from gaining the altitude. All along we were treated to the sweeping views of distant mountains, lakes and ponds to the west while slapping ourselves furiously to avoid black flies ;-)

The last leg of the hike involved a fair amount of rock scrambling and a few steps on iron rung ladder to the exposed rock to the summit - north peak of the mountain.

A clear, sunny, warm weather after a day of 90°F and a night of thunderstorms helped make this hike a successful one. Some of the pictures I took from the summit starting with South peak of Doubletop:

North Brother, South Brother, Coe/O-J-I Mountains and West Peak in the foreground:

Katahdin itself with still some snow left:

Have a great memorial weekend ahead. Hope the weather will turn out to be great for you to enjoy the outdoors.


Baingan bharta (roasted eggplant with tomato)

On a simmering stove, the silky sweet pulp of roasted eggplant melts into the tart juiciness of tomatoes filling the kitchen and then the neighboring quarters with its piquant perfume... laced with cumin & coriander the smokiness of this relish lingers on the palate long after that first bite.

This is a north Indian dish and being from south I only tasted it when we were out one evening for dinner while living in Delhi. This burst of complex flavors took me by surprise and however much I tried I couldn’t break it down to figure out the list of things that went into it until a friend showed me how very few ingredients are actually required for this delicious confection.

Every time I make this recipe I think of my friend and the good times we’ve had together.

It tastes as good with a toasted slice of favorite bread as it does with roti (Indian bread) or rice.

Baingan is Eggplant and bharta refers to any dish where the ingredients are mashed either before or after the actual cooking.

serves 3.

Eggplant -1
Oil - 2 tbsp (olive oil works great)
Onions - 2 (medium sized) finely chopped
Tomatoes - 2 (chopped into small pieces)
Green chilies - 1 or 2 (finely chopped)
Salt (adjust according to taste)
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – ¼ cup (finely chopped)

preparing eggplant

Rub Eggplant with few drops of oil. Prick it a few times using fork throughout (this is important because it prevents eggplant from bursting in the oven).

Line a baking sheet with foil and then parchment paper - to avoid aluminum from touching the food… Martha’s tip ;-)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the baking sheet with the eggplant in the oven and bake it for about an hour or until the skin is charred. Flip the eggplant every 15 min or so to allow it to roast evenly on all sides.

When it’s done, take it out and make a slit in the middle, lengthwise with a knife and let it cool.

Once it is cool, scoop out the seeds and discard.

Salvage as much flesh as possible. Scrape the inside of the skin if there is any pulp left.
Roughly mash it or give a few chops on the cutting board.

cooking the eggplant

Set a frying pan on medium-low flame. Add oil.

When the oil is hot enough, add onions. Sprinkle salt and saute’ until tender and the edges are beginning to slightly brown.

Add tomatoes and let it cook until tomatoes are well done.

Sprinkle cumin powder & coriander powder and mix well.

Add eggplant paste. Cook it until the eggplant takes on the color of tomatoes. Stir in chili powder.

At this point you can notice oil beginning to separate from the gravy (or bubbling around the edges of the pan). This is the clue for most of the dishes that they are done.
Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve.

~This dish takes a little bit more oil than others. So I use Olive oil. I think it kind of gives an Italian touch too.
For an added twist you could sauté a tsp or two of finely chopped garlic along with the onions and sprinkle any fresh herbs you like, in the end.

~I used to roast the eggplant on stove top as ovens are not a commonly found feature in Indian homes. But here I bake it in the oven.

...and here it is, a tasty treat to go into your picnic basket on Mother's day ( ' v ' )
Have fun!


Lilacs at the Arboretum

Imagine all hues of Lilacs from pure white to pinks to dark burgundy each different from the other in shape and the fragrance they exude.

Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts has an amazing collection of Lilacs they actively cultivate and create new hybrid varieties. Though the park is open for visitors every day, the Lilac Festival on Mother's Day makes it very special for picnicking and ofcourse training your nose to try pick out the one you really like.

Here is one for those Bleeding Heart lovers:

Hope your saturday was wonderful and I hope your Mother's Day plans will turn out to be great!