Our salad love; Roasted veggie salad

We at our home love eating salads for lunch. It is light, yet satisfying. We make salads using a variety of food like grains, mixed greens, lettuce, nuts, veggies and fruits. This one is one of our favorites. It is versatile and is easy to make. You can add as many or as little veggies as you like.

Roasted Veggie Salad:  (Serves: 2)

  • 4 Cups washed and dried mixed greens (I use shredded boston lettuce and baby mixed greens like chard, spinach and kale)
  • 1/4 Cup red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 Cup butternut squash, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup red bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup yellow bell pepper, julienne
  • 1/4 Cup carrots, julienne
  • 2 Tablespoon sunflower seeds (Optional)

Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper as per your taste

Steps:

  1. Line a baking sheet with a aluminium foil and spread
    all the veggies on it. Sprinkle little olive oil, salt and
    pepper on it. Mix well so veggies are well coated with
    oil and seasonings.
  2. Preheat oven on 400 degree F and after it is
    preheated put the veggie tray in the oven. Roast the
    veggies for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. After the veggies are done roasting keep them aside
    to cool down a little.
  4. Meanwhile take all the ingredients for the vinaigrette
    in a small mixing bowl. Whisk them together to
    emulsify the oil and vinegar.
  5. Mix all the greens and cooled veggies in a salad
    bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over and mix lightly into
    the salad.
  6. Serve, and enjoy the salad!

 

Veggies ready for roasting

 

Shredded boston lettuce, baby kale, baby chard, and baby spinach

 

Roasted vegetables

 

Greens and Vegetables mixed together with the vinaigrette

Guacamole; The first recipe I learned beside my home cuisine

I first tasted guacamole dip with tortilla chips years back and I am a big fan of it since then. Mild tasting avocados mixed with different vegetables makes it so flavourful. I like to add some hot chilies too. This gives it some kick. I have tried different recipes from others as well several attempts to make my own. Below is my best attempt which has received kudos from family and friends; Enjoy!

Guacamole, my way: (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 Cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 Cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Cup corn kernels (You can use frozen or from freshly grilled corn cob)
  • 2 Hot chilies finely chopped (I use serrano or fingerhot chilies)
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes (Do not skip the lime juice as it prevents the avocados from turning brown)
  • Salt as per your taste (about 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl place chopped onion, red bell pepper, corn kernals and cumin seeds
  2. Add chopped chilies and cilantro to the vegetables.
  3. Scoop avocados in the bowl. Squeeze the lime juice and salt over the scooped   avocados.
  4.  Use a potato masher or fork to mash the avocado pulp and mix it together.
  5.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips of your choice.

Prep work for great guacamole

Corn, green chili, red bell paper, and onion

Cilantro and lime

Star of the show avocado

Guacamole

Ready to eat guacamole and chips

Cooking Method That Survived Thousands Of Years

Yes, I’m talking about cooking rice. Though this is a grain we’ve been cooking for thousands of years, how we cook it hasn’t changed much.

There are two ways to do it. The first is to steam the rice, where you would keep the rice with water in a pot with the lid on. When the water evaporates your rice is ready. The boiling method is done simply by rinsing the rice and bringing it to a boil. The rice will be very soft when ready, and then strain and serve.

Mrunal will share how she cooks the rice for her recipes included in the Cook With Me iOS app.

“I use the absorption method. To do this rinse the rice with water to wash out excess starch. Next add water, which measures twice the amount of rice. Put the water and rice in a pot on the stove on medium or low heat. Make sure to put the lid on. Once the rice has absorbed all the water, it is cooked. Let the rice sit for five minutes. After that, you can use it for whatever recipe you want.”

Thank you Mrunal. And to our Cook With Me customers, happy cooking!

Thank You European Customers

In the past two months Mrunal, cook of the recipes you are enjoying, and sales tracker has noticed app store views going up from hundreds to thousands. She also noticed increased sales in the European region. We really appreciate all the users who spent some time to view and then buy Cook With Me from the app store.

It all started in February 2016, selling 102 units in a day. For the rest of the month customers like you bought 6 units per day.

In March, Cook With Me sales went up even further. Customers in Sweden and Denmark placed our app at the top of the paid Food&Drink category on the iPhone and iPad app store. As of writing this blog post, Cook With Me app is still in the top 5 in many countries on both the iPhone and iPad app stores. Thank you. We hope you are enjoying our app.

CookWithMe ranking in Apple app store- Sweden

CookWithMe Sweden Ranking

 

Apple app store ranking for CookWithMe in Belgium

CookWithMe Belgium Ranking

Apple app store ranking for CookWithMe in Bulgaria

CookWithMe Bulgaria ranking

 

PS: We are diligently working on an update. New things include tweaks to the UI, new recipes, fast loading time, and more. Our promise is still the same, tried and tested recipes by Mrunal in a clear and simple, easy to read format. Enjoy cooking!

Personal information collected *is* the product

Do you read the privacy policy for an app or website your child uses? I do.  I don’t enjoy reading privacy policies written in cryptic legalese but I force myself to do it.  The least I want to know is how collected information will be monetized.  Is it going to be used to sell me another product or to sell my information to third parties? Selling information to third parties raises my concern, for obvious reasons.

Check out the results of  global project about personal information collected.  If you have not read privacy policies in the past, these results may make you see why it is in your interest to do so.  29 data regulators reviewed apps and websites either designed for children or popular with children.  These efforts were part of The Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) “Privacy Sweep”.

About the GPEN Privacy Sweep

The goals of the Sweep initiative included: increasing public and business awareness of privacy rights and responsibilities; encouraging compliance with privacy legislation; identifying concerns that may be addressed with targeted education and/or enforcement; and enhancing cooperation amongst privacy enforcement authorities.

What are the concerns raised?

Privacy Ranking

I am sad to see that 71%  of websites and apps don’t even offer a way to delete an account once it is created.  67% of  sites and apps reviewed do collect personal information from children.

Why is that? It is clear to me that information collected is the product.  Information through relevant advertisements turns in to money.  Have people given up on making money by selling  apps? It seems that the main source of revenue is advertising, and not just for free apps but also for paid apps.  Advertising without collecting personal information cannot be relevant, and hence is ineffective.  So you need personal information to make advertisements; a vicious cycle.  On a positive not,e at least 31% had some control in place to limit information collected.  24% encouraged parental involvement, which is also a good sign.  We need more apps and websites that behave like this.

Let’s look at US specific findings as part of this global project.  Bureau of Consumer Protection reviewed total 364 apps.  Review included 183 apps from Apple’s store and 181 apps from Google’s store.  45% of the apps reviewed had a direct link on the app store to their privacy policy.  Yet, 38 apps had privacy policy placed in hard-to-find places.  So, in essence, only 35% of the apps had a direct link to their privacy policy.  Quite alarming.  Also many apps did not inform parents about the app’s features to collect personal information.

I understand that developing software is difficult, and we need a way to monetize our efforts.  For us at “designX6” it is a simple decision.  We make money by selling software, not by selling advertisements in our software.  As an example,the  Hallows Thieves game we created in 2012 has no advertisements, or in-app purchases.  We also do not collect any user information.  Over the last few months we worked on a new version of this app, keeping our philosophy of “sell apps, not personal information.”

Pay one price, and play the game on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch with our Universal app release.  We have some improved animations this time for ghosts and candies.  We hope you will like our spin on these characters in the game.  Go get the Hallows Thieves from the app store this Halloween, and rest assured that the app will not collect any personal information from users–simple as that.

Lot of us are willing to buy an app for ad-free browsing

It is clear that there many people do not like ads on the web pages we browse on our iOS devices. Apps which provides ad-free browsing experience are always in top 10 paid app list.  The iOS9 release included “Content Blocker API” made it possible to create such apps.

iPhone top 10

As you can see, “Crystal” and “Purify Blocker” apps are still in the list.  Marco Arment though decided to pull his app Peace from the store.  For 36 hours, “Peace” was at the  number 1 position in the top paid app category.

Is this just a fad? Or is there a clear message for content creators who depend on ad revenue to figure out another model? What you think?

iPad top 10

Watermelon: anger on the inside contained by joy on the outside

We watched the movie Inside Out with Manas this summer.  After watching the movie emotions were high in our day-to-day conversations with Manas.  Last Sunday as we were having breakfast, Manas was making a weird sound, which for no good reason irritated me.  I told him that I was getting angry and on our anger scale I had reached “Pineapple” anger.

Anger Scale

As you can see, our anger scale is based on fruits.  We have used this scale since Manas was in preschool.  In our experience, it helps him (and us) calm down by talking about how you feel at the moment.  Anyway, Manas continued making the weird sound, ignoring my anger scale warning.  Finally I said “I am at Watermelon level now”, which means am going to burst.

That’s when suddenly he stopped me and said, I want to share an analogy with you.  Watermelon’s green shell keeps juicy red pulp which is anger, inside.  In Inside Out green Joy keeps red Anger inside, rather than anger showing up outside all the time.

Inside Out – Joy

“Wow, that was deep”, I thought to myself.

How can I keep my anger after that wonderful analogy? We talked again some more about emotions over the breakfast.  Kids never stop surprising you.

The Start of the Majestic World

Do you like conspiracy thriller books?  Then enjoy the new novella by a talented upcoming author from the designX6 team, entitled The Start of The Majestic World.  Here is a sample chapter reading from the book.

Below is the book description from Amazon:

Agents Maynard and Brett are no strangers to complex mysteries and morally grey assignments. When they are sent in pursuit of a mysterious rabble-rousing radio personality, however, they stumble upon a web of conspiracy and betrayal beyond anything they could have imagined. As events lead them from the brooding hills of Appalachia to the remotest wastes of Siberia to the deserts of the American southwest, they discover unlikely allies and twisted madmen, scientists bent on playing God, and mounting evidence hinting at sinister machinations that threaten the entire nation. With each thrilling episode, the ever-escalating power and scope of the danger they face forces them to call upon all their skills and experience to survive.

Enjoy!

Is iOS ecosystem healthy?

Neil Cybart’s article on declining iPad sales is astute and worth reading.  Neil in this post observes that iPad is mostly used as a device to consume contents.  To grow sales again, Apple need to transform iPad in to a content creation device.

By selling a device that is truly designed from the ground-up with content creation in mind, the iPad line can regain a level of relevancy that it has lost over the past few years. In every instance where the iPad is languishing in education and enterprise, a larger iPad with a 12.9-inch, Force Touch-enabled screen would carry more potential. Simply put, the iPad needs to stand out from the iPhone and Macbook. The iPad Air and iPad mini aren’t doing it.

Finding iPad’s Future : Neil Cybart (10 August 2015, 3410 words)

I think just new hardware is not enough for content creation.  I agree with Khoi Vinh’s thoughts on why iPad sales has declined.

To me, the central issue is whether Apple is functioning as an effective steward for the iPad as a platform. Are they creating the right conditions for it to succeed? Are they innovating iPad technology, both hardware and software, quickly and aggressively enough? Is Apple setting the stage for must-have software on the iPad?

More practically, you could ask: are developers getting what they need in order to create breakout software specific to the iPad? Have we seen iPad-specific apps that are so compelling that consumers feel that they must own iPads in order to use them?

iPad Sales on a Downward Trajectory : Khoi Vinh (1 May 2015, 1226 words)

Lukas Mathis also highlights iOS issues as well lack of interest from iOS app developers.

iOS is a cumbersome system for even reasonably complex productive tasks. Apple has started fixing the window management problem, but there’s still the document management problem1 (most real-world tasks involve multiple documents from multiple sources — there’s pretty much no way to organize and manage document from different applications in iOS), and the workflow problem (many real-world tasks involve putting the same document through multiple apps, which iOS is still not great at, albeit getting better).

And then there’s the fact that few developers are willing to invest a lot of money into productive apps on the iPad. They are expensive to create, the market is small, and Apple’s handling of how apps are sold on its devices does not instill confidence.

The thing that’s preventing people from using the iPad productively is not the small screen, it’s the operating system.

 – iPad: A Consumption Device, After All? : Lukas Mathis (14 August 2015, 1493 words)

It is clear that common thought here is lack of software innovation.  Is software really important for Apple? Do Apple believe creating good quality software takes fair amount of work? Apple is giving away their software for free for a long time now.  They also created a market where users expect either free or cheap software.  I have written about this concern earlier here and here in 2013.

Brent Simmon’s post on making living by selling apps is accurate and disheartening at the same time.

Yes, there are strategies for making a living, and nobody’s entitled to anything. But it’s also true that the economics of a thing may be generally favorable or generally unfavorable — and the iOS App Store is, to understate the case, generally unfavorable. Indies don’t have a fighting chance.

The platform is awesome. We love writing iOS apps. It’s fun and massively rewarding in every way except monetarily. As a craft — as a budding art form, perhaps — it’s juicy.

Love : Brent Simmons (30 June 2015, 850 words)

Based on our own experience, developing good quality software is difficult and definitely not free.  It is hard to stay motivated without fair return for the work involved in developing good software.  Having said that we are going ahead with our plan to release Hallows Thieves like I said earlier this month.  We believe this is the the right thing to do.  We want our app in the app store to deliver 100% of benefits and features we promised you.  It is sad that simple program like Hallows Thieves is broken within just couple releases of iOS.  Apple must pay attention to software quality as they add/update their software platform.


PS: Just noticed a nice article,

Meanwhile, the irony is that it’s not actually the gold that’s the luxury but the software – that tap on the wrist telling you to turn left. In a sense, the gold case is an accessory to the software in the same way that the strap is an accessory to the watch.

How is the Apple watch doing? : Benedict Evans (13 August 2015, 1654 words)

Well said, hope Apple has plans to make iOS ecosystem exciting, again.