Why do we all love Grandmas cooking

Why do we all love Grandmas cooking?

In an age of ever-expanding, boundary-pushing food advances, keeping in mind previous generations’ wisdom is priceless. Several “lost foods” have been making a comeback in farms and fields and on our plates in recent years.

If you go to the farmer’s market, freeze the homemade stock in containers or a repurposed curd container or make pickles or jam, you have embraced “grandma cooking,” consciously or unconsciously. Grandma’s cooking is the frugal, intuitive, inherently seasonal, and tasty approach to food preparation—the kind of cuisine that nourishes and pleasures without extraneous flash. Local seasonal and fresh is what is recommended by dieticians across the world today. We seem to be following them religiously. This message comes with a strong lesson. We need to be in touch with our roots to be healthy.

A loving mother has been one of the significant influences on our love of cooking for many of us. This generated such a passion in some of us that we decided to make food and nutrition our life’s motto! Grandmothers cooked from scratch to make healthful and delectable meals. They grew the vegetables themselves. They received traditional wisdom and abilities, which they might pass to future generations. Putting a delicious was not complicated.

Two such powerful women, a mother-daughter duo are creating a storm with their nutritious and tasty meals. They are Laxmi Ammal and Kasturi Sivaraman. They provide guests with a taste of village life while also providing modern conveniences at Vaksana Farm Stay. Ammal and Kasturi Sivaraman prove that it is never too late to chase your passion. They have served over 200 guests since they started in 2021. They believe in providing farm-fresh meals and presenting the finest of village life to them. They are highly delighted to do what they do, waking up in the wee hours of the morning.

In recent years, heritage dishes have vanished due to nuclear families’ reliance on cheap and quick meals and newer generations of women’s aversion to spending hours in the kitchen. Kitchens are now the new area for artistic expression, thanks to the popularity of food presentation.

The essence of mothering comes from having a dedicated person in the kitchen preparing food carefully and lovingly for you. They never made lives easy by taking shortcuts. Today, we discuss women’s empowerment in all debate forums. Still, we forget that empowering women is also respecting that cooking in the kitchen is as essential as working a 9 to 5 job. Our mothers and grandmothers were proud homemakers. They loved their jobs of being at home, enjoying with the children, and preparing lovely meals for the family. The more you cook, the more patterns and a culinary muscle memory develop. This is the ethos they believe in.

Some things to know about grandmother’s cooking are:
There is always enough food to go around,
Share what you have, and serve your offerings with a smile.
Never refuse to feed a child food.
Things are less significant than people.

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Run by two grandmas, this homestay near Chennai offers farm-fresh food and plenty of stories

At Pico, Laxmi Ammal and Kasturi Sivaraman offer guests a slice of the village life with creature comforts

Summer vacations tend to bring a whiff of nostalgia along with them, of time spent at your grandma’s home, eating homemade food and listening to stories about your roots. A homestay called Pico in Tamil Nadu will take you on a trip down memory lane. Situated two hours from Chennai in a village called Rettanai, the homestay is run by a mother-daughter duo—Laxmi Ammal, 89, and Kasturi Sivaraman, 71—who promise plenty of stories and farm-fresh food.

The hosts

Nearly eight generations of the Ammal family have lived in Rettanai and the farm is an ancestral plot that has been handed down through generations. Over the years, many villagers turned to cities for jobs and the land remained barren. However, Sivaraman’s son, Kiruba Shankar, didn’t want to lose his agricultural roots. He slowly expanded the farm from a two-acre property to a 13-acre one, and began harvesting crops bringing back the greenery.

“The ground reality of running a farm, though, is it takes a lot of effort, time and money. If it’s not self-sustainable it becomes a hobby,” says Shankar. “During the lockdown, we saw a lot of demand from city folk who are just eager to step out and go to places that are green and clean. That’s when we thought of capitalising on it and the idea of starting a homestay sparked.”

You may think Shankar’s mother and grandmother would want to take a backseat at their age. But the two jumped at the opportunity and decided to take complete charge. “My mother and grandmother have always been the backbone of this home. But they’ve done it within the four walls. They’ve always had the quest to start something of their own and be independent,” says Shankar.

It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and Ammal and Kasturi Sivaraman are testament to this. Since they started in 2021, the two have hosted over 200 guests, cooking farm-fresh food and offering guests the best of the village life.

The homestay

An architect wasn’t involved in the making of Pico. The homestay that sits on 13 acres of land surrounded by orchards and paddy was built entirely by the family. Shankar and his father designed the house, with help from local masons. His two daughters overlooked the interiors, with a little inspiration from Pinterest. The result is a cosy 400sqft home, with large glass windows and doors that invite the outside in no matter which part of the house you are.

The house doesn’t have a bedroom. The living room leads to a mezzanine floor with a mattress. But the house is equipped with all mod-cons, including an air-conditioner, washing machine, oven and high-speed Wi-FI. Should you want to work from here, there are three desks. Shankar can’t promise that the views won’t be distracting, though.

The food

Although a homely meal, Ammal and Sivaram pull out all stops to lay an elaborate spread. The two wake up at 4am to prepare dishes and sometimes are also seen picking ingredients on the farm. Guests are welcomed with sembaruthi, a juice made of hibiscus flowers, and sangupoo, a drink prepared with butterfly pea flower. At mealtime, look forward to dishes such as urunda kozhambu (dal vada curry), poondu kozhambu (a tamarind-based curry), more kulambhu (a creamy yoghurt curry) and kevuru kambu koozhu (porridge), sambhar, rasam and buttermilk. Vegetables harvested by you from the farm can find their way on your plate the next day.

Running a homestay is no mean feat, but the two love their job despite the ailments that come with age. “It gives me immense happiness and satisfaction when people get to experience the local village life,” says Ammal. “And even though it can get physically draining, our energy is replenished when we see people happy.”

How to spend 48 hours in Rettanai, Tamil Nadu

Be prepared to get your hands dirty at Pico. “There’s always so much happening at the farm. Yesterday we transplanted chilli saplings. Today, we harvested mango, guava, and java apple. Anyone can hop onto the farm and join us,” says Shankar. Guests can also take a dip in the many natural ponds at the property or go on leisurely walks on the farm.

Should you want to step out, Gingee Fort is a 30-minute drive from the stay. The 13th-century fortress has changed hands from the Mughals to the Marathas and sprawls across three hills—Rajagiri, Krishnagiri and Chandryandurg. There’s also a lord Murugan temple, about 20 minutes drive from the property, and Veedur Dam, about 30 minutes away.

Pico can accommodate up to four people, and the tariff starts from Rs4,000 on weekdays, and Rs6,000 on weekends.

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Farm stays near the temple town of Tiruvannamalai

Arunachalesvara Temple, also known as Annamalaiyar Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at the base of Arunachala hill in the Tamil Nadu town of Thiruvannamalai.

Each full moon is a time for celebration, with hundreds of people flocking to Annamalai Hill, which is thought to represent Annamalaiyar himself. The Girivalam festival is a time when devotees throng the temple. During November and December, tourists from all over the world flock to this city. The well-known Kartikai Deepam festival, Tiruvannamalai, hosts several other festivals.

There are several festivals conducted in this temple, and the temple is packed with worshippers all year, giving the appearance of a carnival whenever you visit. Every year, this temple celebrates four Brahmotsavas in total. The Brahmotsava, which falls in November or December, is considered the most auspicious of the four and lasts about ten days.

It is an excellent idea to combine a holiday and a temple visit. You can enjoy the best of both experiences. Some areas offer a diverse range of perspectives. This is especially beneficial for folks who wish to spend quality time with their family without interruption. You can visit the Shiva temple at the top of the hill, surrounded by nature at its most beautiful.

If you want to combine a spiritual journey and some relaxation, Vaksana Farm Stay is the perfect place to stay. Vaksana Farm is a 13-acre integrated farm in Tamilnadu, India, located at Rettanai Village near Tindivanam. Our purpose is to share our farming knowledge with everyone. Vaksana is a WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities in Organic Farms) certified farm, and volunteers are allowed to stay and work on the farm.

Kiruba Shankar, the owner of Vaksana Farms, is a digital entrepreneur and, on the weekends, an organic farmer. His passion for agriculture stems from his upbringing in an agricultural family. Even though most of his family has relocated to the city in quest of greener pastures (pun intended), he has never forgotten his roots. He and his family are re-establishing their village life and constructing the farm of their dreams. On Vaksana Farms’ Facebook page, he chronicles his farming adventures.

Tiruvannamalai to Vaksana Farm Stay Route Map

 

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Fresh Bales of Hay for the Cows at Vaksana Farms

With severe summer and lack of rains, there is no grass for our cows to graze here at Vaksana Farms. Hence, we are forced to buy hay which becomes the main source of food for them. The hay is exorbitantly priced as the demand is high and supply is low. Thankfully a friend of my Dad recently harvested paddy and he donated a van load of hay for the cows. Bless his heart.

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