I’m a stay-at-home mom to an endearing 16-month 21-28-month-old boy, also working as a freelance writer with a women-centric website. I've previously worked for almost a decade as an editor, quality analyst, and trainer in the medical transcription field. I've recently enrolled for a full-time course in early childhood development-Montessori teacher's training. I'm now working as a Montessori teacher in a preschool. Trying my best to remain calm and tranquil while I go about balancing my toddler, job, studies, and home!

The one thing I will be doing on a daily basis will be cooking and by extension, baking. For me, cooking is a necessity (my family and I have gotta eat, right?!) but baking is a passion. So I thought, anyway I’ve gotta cook, so why not turn a chore into a blog (yes, it feels like a chore on some days, even for someone who is a foodie!). I’d be combining my love for food with my love for writing. I absolutely love to share what I know with the people in my life and hopefully, some more people outside of my known circle may also get into my world and become friends through my blog. What could be better?

If you are a parent to a toddler, or have been, are you wondering how I'm planning to do all this? Well, the cooking and baking I always do with Riyaan assisting me in the kitchen-otherwise he'll be wrapped around my leg and nothing will get done (think he's going through the separation anxiety stage, which should hopefully pass!). So he sits on the kitchen counter with assorted pots, pans, and spoons of his own and pretends to be a world-renowned chef....I try to keep television to the minimum, and although I admit it's a great babysitting aid when you are sometimes the only adult at home, I use it only during mealtimes, when he's particularly fussy about eating. This too, is something I wish to wean him out of gradually- as in my mind, enjoying food and television just don't match! As for blogging and studying, I do that when he's asleep, either during his two one-hour naps in the day or after he sleeps at night....so that's how I juggle things around here :-)

So here, you’ll find recipes and photographs of dishes I cook and bake. The photographs won’t be professional-looking as I’m still very, very much an amateur in this field and also a tad lazy when it comes to setting up props for the shoot! The recipes will be those that have either been cooked in my family for years or brand new. Many of them will be from my inspiration and role model-my mother; others will be from my extended family and friends, some from cookery shows on TV, and some definitely from magazines and other blogs. The only problem is that I usually just note down the recipe if I’m browsing or watching it on TV, and until this time I’ve never made note of the source, which would be a huge problem now in giving credit where it is due. I will definitely do that when I remember the source, but if I don’t and if by chance you have a blog and you’re reading this and have found a recipe of yours on this blog, please email me and let me know, and I will definitely put up the correct source on the recipe concerned.

I couldn’t start this blog without a word about my mother, who has been a major influence in my attitude towards food. A working woman (she’s a doctor) who still found time to cook and indulge us in our culinary delights, she helped me see how important and central food is to a family (maybe another expression of love?). She taught me, by example, that you don’t have to slave away for hours in the kitchen to come up with an unforgettable meal. We always ate (and still eat) our meals together, when we are together. Never in front of the TV and never separately.  There’s a joy that comes from sharing a meal with the whole family around the dinner table that makes the time spent cooking the meal worth it. On Sundays especially, she always took the time to cook our favorite dishes AND a dessert (which explains my sweet tooth). She always has been open to experimentation and has bound volumes of recipes and handwritten recipes running into several books, from which she still regularly cooks. Also, since my mother had to make the best use of her time, when she had no help in the kitchen, she found many creative short-cuts that helped her put delicious food on the table in the shortest time available…Even during those times that she did have help in the kitchen, she showed me how to train the help, supervise things, and get things organized so as to make life all the more easier.

My Bible for cooking is a collection of recipes handwritten by my mother for me, in a diary, just before my wedding. She neatly organized the recipes in each monthly section by topics such as meat, poultry, seafood, vegetarian, desserts, bakes, cakes, snacks, breakfast dishes, etc. If there’s one book I would take out of a house on fire, it would be this!

Her instructions on making dosa/idly batter-"make idly on first day. remaining batter, add water and make dosa next day"!! (She knew I would be clueless, having been away from her for studies and work since I was 16!)
Of course, how could I not mention my dad-all the cookbooks he has gifted me over the years (can't forget his witty comments on their inside pages!) and his honest, constructive criticism (even when I didn't want to hear it!). From books like "The Foolproof Cookbook For Brides and Bachelors and Those Who Hate Cooking" (in 2003-here's what he wrote on it-"To add more spices to your already expert culinary talents?!") to other Reader's Digest collections on desserts, bakes, vegetarian dishes-the list is endless. And assisting him in the kitchen while he cooked would have prepared me well to participate even in the Top Chef :-)

Other than my mom, the one other woman I admire the most and who really inspires in me a refreshing attitude to cooking, is Nigella Lawson. Although she is someone I admire from a TV show, the internet and books, every time I watch her cooking, I feel a renewed zest for something that can sometimes feel like a chore. What I have taken away from Nigella is a new perspective on food, its colors, textures, tastes, and how cooking can truly be a warm, touching way of showing your family how much you love them.

I’m a big believer in the adage “there’s more to life than the kitchen” (ok, I made that up now, but it’s true!). Even though I collect recipes, watch cookery shows, buy cookbooks, browse food blogs, try out new recipes, I just don’t like spending more time in the kitchen than is absolutely necessary-because then it becomes a chore and not a passion. This has led me to collect and try out recipes that are quick and uncomplicated, hence the name for the blog-Effortless Cooking and Easy Baking.

That said, I’m a very hands-on cook and I don’t follow measurements strictly, unless it’s a baking recipe (I never ever tamper with those!).  This leads to a lot of improvisation and substitution, but the end product always gets rave reviews (that was said without a touch of arrogance, mind you!). I know most of you reading this will be seasoned cooks, and with that assurance in mind, I’m not going to bother with exact measurements in my recipes unless it’s absolutely necessary. This means you can use these recipes just as an outline and come up with a finished product that’s your own and yet, stay close to the original!

I may, from time to time, give detailed instructions or measurements which might irk the more seasoned cooks, but that's only for the benefit of certain friends of mine (you know who you are!) who are just starting off on their culinary explorations!

I'd like to thank all of you, my dear family and friends, who have so lovingly shared your recipes with me over the years. They will find a special place here, with credit given where it's due! I would also be delighted to share any new recipes, suggestions, shortcuts, etc., with due credit given, of course! Nothing would encourage me more than your comments (and subscriptions!) so do try to take the time out to give me your feedback.

So, see you around :-)....I would love to hear from you, so if you feel like writing to me, here's my email-karishmavp (at) gmail (dot) com

Bon app├ętit and here’s to enjoying our time in the kitchen while keeping it to a minimum :-)