Author Archives: Isha

In Summation

Process Post 12

Throughout the entirety of this course, I feel as though I have been very lucky to get to work on a passion project of mine while also working towards a potential future career. I’ve enjoyed the process of getting to sit down and actually write out these posts, though it took me a while to get into the swing of things. You never really realize how much work goes into something until you actually give it a shot yourself. I certainly have a newfound appreciation for all the cooking blogs I mercilessly scrolled through in the past, wondering why they haven’t posted anything in six months. I know that I had it easy, given the fact that I’ve been posting tried and true recipes that have been handed down through my family. Even then, I wasn’t able to get something up every single week like I had wanted to at the beginning. I also think that being able to have an independent, online space for me to work through my personal musings has been incredibly helpful. I didn’t realize how much of my experience with online spaces involved being saturated with targeted content and algorithms until I took a step away from it to create a digital garden space of my own.

Furthermore, I’ve really appreciated getting to learn about each individual aspect that goes into running a website. From the ground up, how business construct their sites can make or break the reach that they might attain. Using keywords, SEO, ads, and looking up the name of your website before settling on a domain are all key parts of making sure that you’re going to be recognized based on what you actually want to represent in your work. Ads themselves are an entirely different ball game, it was incredibly interesting to see a little of the process of how ads come to be and the thought processes behind them. Additionally, I’ve gained so much more experience with running a site through WordPress, and I’m very happy to have re-familiarized myself with the tools given the fact that I will be working with them again next semester in my co-op position.

PUB 101 has been a wonderful class overall, I’ve gained a lot of valuable knowledge and insight on how to best present myself online, and represent the versions of myself I want to be visible. I really enjoyed running Considering Cardamom this semester, and while I know that it will be difficult for me to continue to run the site while in school, I wouldn’t mind having the opportunity to come back to it every now and again to pick up where I left off.

The Mainstream

Diversity is always something of a tricky question for me. I find it odd to think of myself as diverse, considering how I just exist. I never really thought about how things like representation or seeing my culture appreciated by people outside of it might be important until recently. As I’ve mentioned before probably countless times, I grew up in a very white environment. We lived just off of the Bible Belt in the Lower Mainland. All my neighbours were white or mixed, most of the kids I went to school with were white, and all of my friends were white or East Asian. Whenever there were kids of South Asian descent in my classes, I always felt like I had some weird obligation to be their friend, even if I didn’t like them very much, based solely on the fact that we shared a culture. In the fourth grade, there was a new girl who came to our school, and she was from Sri Lanka. Even though we did not look anything alike, we had entirely different names and I had been in the same class as most of my peers for four years up until that point, we would get confused all the time. It was as though we were synonymous with one another. I’ve only recently started to look back at such interactions and think about how that probably should have bothered me.

I couldn’t blame the kids, of course, they had no way of knowing the difference between India and Sri Lanka. First of all, they were fourth graders. Aside from a Diwali presentation that my mom sometimes would give to my and my sisters’ classes, they really had no knowledge of Indian culture. Unlike my isolation from people who shared my heritage, this phenomenon lasted a little while longer. I remember being in high school and bringing daal to school only to be asked excitedly what it was that I was eating. It blew my mind to think that people had no idea what it was. Even further back, we had family friends that would come over every year for New Year’s to have my mom’s butter chicken, because they had never had it anywhere else and swore that hers was the best.

Nowadays, things are slightly different. Indian culture is not at the forefront of many people’s minds, but it is not as invisible as it used to be. I’ve seen characters in popular fictional works that are coded as being South Asian, like Inej from Leigh Bardugo’s books. South Asian beauty rituals such as hair oiling are going viral on social media apps. Even the restaurant where I work has added butter chicken to their menu! There is still a long way to go when it comes to the representation of South Asian people in popular media, but I’m optimistic given the changes I’ve been seeing in the past few years, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Comments, Questions and Concerns

The concept of a comment section on the Internet is generally a scary and overwhelming place and for good reason. The more that we have been allowed free rein of anonymity on the Internet, the more and more people start to feel free to express some of the more controversial and hateful opinions that they harbour with little empathy for others, as is seen particularly with articles and content created by women. Aubrey Hirsch in particular writes about her experiences in receiving online vitriol for content that she has created, and the ferocity that was in some of those comments was quite honestly horrifying. I knew in my brain that those types of things were being said on the internet, but to see the real screenshots of what people have to say when they are given the appropriate environment was jarring at best.

When I was designing Considering Cardamom, the template I picked out for my site had comments automatically built into the post formats. Initially, that was something of a turn-off for me. The last thing that I wanted was to have to potentially deal with disrespectful comments or people criticizing my content. Furthermore, reading more and more about the backlash that women experience when writing articles was overwhelming even just to think about. I’m not a professional journalist, I am not writing this blog intending to reach the masses and educate them about my opinion. The posts I write are for personal reasons, whether those are for internal reflection or just to have a record of some of the recipes that I’ve learned from my family.

Ultimately, I did decide to leave the comment sections open. Logically, it makes little sense that there would be a large amount of political debate or harassment within my comment sections given the content of my blog. I highly doubt that people are going to be sending me death threats or sexual harassment over my chai recipe. The context of a site is so important to consider, and it put my worries at ease to realize I wasn’t going to be linking my real full name to any highly controversial content. Additionally, while checking out other recipe blogs that I have used in the past, one thing I noted was that most of them had open comment sections. Most of them that had significant activity allowed users who made the recipes to offer suggestions and personal anecdotes that could facilitate new users’ experiences while cooking. I wanted to provide that possibility for a community and figured that I would handle any unrelated comments as they arose.

Works Cited

Becky Gardiner, Mahana Mansfield, Ian Anderson, Josh Holder, Daan Louter and Monica Ulmanu. 2016. “The dark side of Guardian comments

Hirsch, Aubrey. 2022. “That’s How it Works When You’re a Woman on the Internet

Transmedia Marketability

Creating Considering Cardamom has been a learning curve on just about every front imaginable. I always used to think of blogging as something easy to do, that you could just sit down and write whatever came to mind and people would give you money for it. I never really understood how someone could make a full living off of something as simple as that, and I will be honest, I definitely thought that bloggers were a little bit ridiculous when they complained about how much work they had to do. However, being on the opposite end of things now, I can see that there is a whole lot more to blogging than just writing.

One thing that I know I’ve definitely taken for granted is the presence of an audience just waiting for content to be distributed to them. On most social media platforms that I’ve participated in with a public account, it has not taken long for me to develop a relatively large audience with very minimal effort. One funny Tiktok using a trending sound could get me over 16K views. Running a blog is very different, as I’ve noticed from looking at my analytics. The last time I checked, the high point of traffic on my site was a grand total of 11 people. Judging from the fact that they logged in on a Monday and the class for which I am developing this blog had an assignment due on Tuesday, it was no great surprise to me that my fellow students might want to see what I had done to gain inspiration for their own assignments.

I think that in the future if I choose to continue this blog, I would want to incorporate social media into my blog to help grow my audience. When it comes to recipe sites, I rarely seek specific blogs out on Google. More often than not, I end up finding a delicious-looking recipe by scrolling through Tiktok or Instagram and getting a link back to the site where the recipe is hosted. This idea of transmedia storytelling is something that I know I have experienced several times from a consumer perspective, but was not aware of the name or intention behind it. The use of different mediums to appeal to different audiences all contributing to the same overall brand is something that’s seen in social media, entertainment, fashion and more. From a back-end point of view, this is a brilliant strategy and one that I myself would love to give a shot when I have the time available to film and edit social media videos.

The Perfect Roti

Roti are a staple in Indian cooking. Just about everything that you eat could be improved with the addition of a roti next to it, from curries to sabjis and sometimes even dessert! I know that when she was younger, my mom would break off little pieces of her roti and use them to eat kheer, which is almost the Indian equivalent of rice pudding. Roti is such a permanent fixture in both our diet and our culture that oftentimes, mother in laws will judge their son’s partners based on how round their roti are before the two can be married. Hopefully my mother in law is not that traditional or judgemental, or else I’d be in hot water with my lopsided roti!

When I was a kid, I used to love helping my mom making rotis to go along with dinner. We still have baby videos with me and my sisters playing in the flour while my mom portioned out dough next to us. We even had a little baby sized rolling pin so that we could copy what she was doing. I remember getting bored easily, thinking that making roti was so boring and time consuming, and not understanding why I couldn’t just eat white cheddar mac and cheese for every meal.

Now, given that I’m a little older and have much more experience in the kitchen, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how easy making roti can be, and I hope to practice my rolling skills a little more!

A puffed up roti sits on a metal rack above an open gas stove element. Behind it is a half cooked roti on a tava.

The Perfect Roti

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes roughly 12 roti

1 cup durum flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water + more as needed
1 tbsp oil

1. Mix together durum flour, whole wheat flour and water. Knead until the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl, add more water as needed to achieve this.

2. Drizzle oil around the outside of the dough and then knead again to combine.

A top down view of a lump of whole wheat dough in a silver bowl.

3. Let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.

4. Portion out dough into small balls, roughly the size of a golf ball. Roll between floured hands to make round and push down to form each ball into a little disc. Coat lightly in flour and set aside as you portion out the rest of the dough.

Five small balls of dough next to a wooden rolling pin with red handles on a black countertop. Behind them to the left is a container full of flour, and a dusting of flour speckles the countertop.

5. Roll each disc out flat on a lightly floured surface, trying your best to ensure that it maintains a round shape. The flat roti should be about 1/4 of an centimetre thick.

6. Heat a tava or a flat, non-stick pan on medium high heat. On another element, either place a small heat proof metal rack as close as possible to an electric element, or on top of the gas flame.

7. Flip a rolled out roti onto the nonstick pan and let cook on one side until it changes and darkens in colour. Flip the roti then, and use a spatula or tongs to push down the edges to ensure they are cooked evenly. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds or so before transferring onto the metal rack.

A top down view of a half cooked roti on a nonstick lava.

8. Turn the heat on to high below the metal rack and allow the roti to puff up. If you notice only one area of the roti is bubbling, lightly press on it with a spatula or tongs to encourage the spread of the air. Once one side has some nice charred colour, flip to the other side and cook again until the colour matches before removing from the heat.

9. Repeat the same process until you run out of dough. Serve with your favourite Indian dish, or slap some butter on it and enjoy!

Peer Review #3

This week I had the opportunity to look over yet another website of one of my peers. Caffeinated Tammy is a personal and lifestyle blog run by Tamanna about her daily life, the things she enjoys, and her experience as a first generation Indian immigrant. As a child of immigrants, it was wonderful to read through her blog and see someone who had such similar and still opposite experiences to myself. There is a refreshing overlap between our content, with both of our blogs being dedicated towards remaining in touch with our culture.

In terms of marketability, I think that Tammy has done an excellent job in ensuring that her site can be discovered by her intended audience. She has links to several different social media platforms indicated clearly at the bottom of her site. One thing that I would recommend in terms of social media links is to have the social media links and icons also listed at the top of the site as well. The lists of pages on the menu are on the right side of the header, leaving space for social media links on the left side. In general, it is generally unlikely that readers will read anything that is “below the fold” unless they are given sufficient motivation or are looking for something in specific. Following this logic, we can assume that they will not be scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page and therefore it is likely that the social media links will be missed.

A screenshot of the Caffeinated Tammy's blog. Icons for Instagram, Twitter and TikTok line the footer, with the title Socials above them. Above that are the bottoms of several images from the blog.
A screenshot of the header of Caffeinated Tammy's blog. On the right hand, a menu reads "home", "about me" and "blog". On the left side is a smaller version of her logo.

The social media platforms themselves are as well quite well chosen in regards to Tammy’s intended audience. Her choice in uploading posts to TikTok, Instagram and Twitter make logical sense given that the user demographics of each of those sites are generally younger audiences. Based on how the algorithm on TikTok in particular works, those who interact with content that is similar to Tammy’s will be more likely to see her posts. The title of her website is also both distinct and inoffensive enough that a Google search will lead to the intended blog, and there is little overlap with other platforms. Furthermore, Tammy’s use of social media operates in the same fashion as transmedia storytelling, in that each platform linked can be consumed almost entirely on its own, however they all contribute to the same overall story. Overall I have little to suggest, and can’t wait to do more stalking into her site!

Putting Yourself Out There

Aside from the astronomical amount of homework I seem to have collected in the past two weeks, I’ve really been enjoying running this blog over the past few months. It’s a really nice creative outlet that allows me to reflect on my own experiences as well as a reason to kick myself in the butt a little bit in terms of leaving my room and learning to cook with my mom. I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and having the opportunity to share that through this platform is actually a lot less nerve wracking than I thought it might be. Furthermore, as I’ve been applying for co-op jobs, this site has been an invaluable resource and incredibly helpful in demonstrating my experience and skills with website design and copywriting to potential future employers.

Something that hasn’t really crossed my mind in the past little while is the concept of SEO. In my past job when I worked for WIFTV, the site I was running had a built in SEO plugin. It would scan each page of the site and provide suggestions in order to make the site more SEO friendly and easier to find for the general audience. It was a super useful tool, and something I’ve been considering downloading for my own site. While for me, my site has been wonderfully easy to run, I have not really done much to make it easily discoverable. As Sam Hollingworth outlines in his article “15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO“, there are numerous benefits to using SEO for your site.

Some of the reasons outlined in Hollingworth’s article I already knew, such as the idea that SEO can help make your site more discoverable through organic searches by an audience. What I was not necessarily aware of was how SEO can provide information on audience preferences, which is something that I believe would be well worth knowing if I want to keep this blog going in the future.

Works Cited

Hollingsworth, Sam. April 13, 2018. “12 Reasons Why You Business Absolutely Needs SEO.”

Chai Cookies

This week, I decided I wanted to try something a little different than my usual recipes, and give a shot at a remix of an Indian classic. Chai is a staple in every Indian and South Asian household, and is commonly served with an assortment of sweet or savoury goodies to keep your guests entertained. It stands to reason then, that combining the flavours of chai with a cookie would result in the most perfect and delicious fall treat!

For the majority of this recipe, I used this recipe from Ginny over at In Bloom Bakery! It’s one that my sister has used before to great success, though I wanted to try and tweak it to see if I could recreate the flavours of chai that I love so much. For the spices, I cut back on the amount cinnamon significantly in comparison to the original recipe, using about 2 teaspoons instead of an entire tablespoon and a half. I also increased the amount of all the other spices, leaning a little more heavily on the cardamom since that’s the flavour I prefer to taste most prominently in my chai.

A diagonal shot of a sheet of cookies in rows of 2 and 3.

I was super happy with how they turned out for the most part, they’re absolutely delicious cookies with crisp edges and a soft pillowy interior, but there was something missing in the flavour profile that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t until I pulled them out of the oven that I realized there was no flavour of real tea in them! Next time I make them, I think that I will substitute out one of the egg yolks in favour of a couple tablespoons of strongly brewed orange pekoe tea to see if I can impart a little more of that chai flavour.