Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Paper Boats and Chocolate Cakes...

Have you had a week where all you wanted to do was crawl under the comforter and just sleep the week away...try this week for me...Monday saw K1 leaving for a trip to Europe, K2 was running a temperature and throwing up...a visit to the doctor and a prescription of antibiotics later, I decided to keep him home vs. send him in to pre-school...the rest of the day was spent entertaining the little one and keeping him hydrated...need I say the rest of the week was busy -- meetings, I lost my voice talking too much with a sore throat...Thursday saw me craving a respite and I wanted to bake a cake...I am not much of a baker but trying to bake a cake from scratch is therapeutic. My mother is old school, she really believes you need to bake a cake to perfect measurement and timing while I am a lazy baker...I throw things together and 90% of the time the end product is absolutely delicious...the other 10% of the time - talk to my dog!

I had half a bar of dark belgian chocolate ( this is 1/2 bar of a 1lb bar, so about 200 grams of pure 72% dark chocolate). I melted this first in a hot bath. I added in a pat of butter to the melted chocolate and whipped in about half a cup of all-purpose flour, then I added in some evaporated sugar (3 tbspoon), vanilla essence, Baking Powder, 3 Organic Brown Eggs and , 1 tspoon instant coffee, baking powder. Meanwhile I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees F...Grease the cake pan and pour the mix in. I pretty much bake the cake till my nose tells me its exact timing....the cake was dense and rich...not too sweet but delicious. I call this my "No-Recipe Chocolate Cake Recipe"...vs. a "No-Fail" Recipe...because honestly I don't know if I can recreate the recipe, everything was so spontaneous, random and unmeasured...

Tonight I made a paper boat for first one in 22 years. I actually had to look up the web to find a DIY instruction to make the boat, I had forgotten...he is excited and has finally fallen asleep with the paper boat in took me about 15 minutes to make the boat (yeah! don't call me artistic) but to see that smile on K2's face...PRICELESS

For the weekend I want to leave you with this poem by Emily Dickinson filled with pathos and yet a weird sense of hope
Adrift! A little boat adrift!
(I)Adrift! A little boat adrift!
And night is coming down!
Will no one guide the little boat
Unto the nearest town?
So Sailors say -- on yesterday --
Just as the dusk was brown
One little boat gave up its strife
And gurgled down and down.
So angels say -- on yesterday --
Just as the dawn was red
One little boat -- o'erspent with gales
Retrimmed its masts -- redecked its sails --
And shot -- exultant on!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meeting Mania and Making Do...

Today was rough...try 7 meetings from 11.00 AM through 4.00 PM (on about 3 hours of sleep the night before) mind kept wandering to places I didn't want it to go to...anxious, cooking up scenarios that product managers are so famous for...yet like clockwork, I was able to get done with all the tasks at hand...For a student of sociology I am really famous (or is it infamous) for shunning meetings...Enough said on meetings.

For the past couple days introspection has been my middle name...if I had to find someone I related to on TV try "Monk" or "Monica" from neatly organized, things compartmentalized...yet recent events have me convinced that the last thing any of us have is "Control"...I was watching the cartoon movie "Kungfu Panda" (yeah! yeah! smirk away...but it did keep my 3 year old entertained) and the old master -- the tortoise said something profound - Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is unknown yet you have today...that is why it is called the's a gift...unwrap it...Life sometimes becomes so robotic, we try to dissect our past and plan for our future, that today just becomes a meaningless jumble of activities...we forget to stop and take a deep breath of the clean air around us, look back at the beauty of achievements and the offerings of the present instead focusing on the unachievable...I don't want to just "make do"...I want to start living...and I hope so do you...don't get lost in the jungle of mindless activity...instead focus on making every minute beautiful and meaningful. Hug your loved ones...cherish the goodnight kisses from your little son or daughter, read them their nursery rhymes, listen to your favorite song (I did today)...don't postpone it to tomorrow...

Last Weekend was Diwali...on Friday...we hung out at home and chilled. On Saturday, we went over to S&K's place for a Diwali party. We had a wonderful time meeting friends old and new, gorging on dosas and idlis and also playing "Mafia"...Sunday was another light-hearted day spent with L&V...L is my friend from school. The week has been hectic -- mostly because K2 is sick again ( I blame pre-school) and K1 is travelling, so it has been tough juggling work and a sick child.

Has your week been meeting free...or are you having bouts of meeting mania....?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Glass Half Full...

It's Friday evening already and yet it still feels like Tuesday in my mind...when your schedule is full, you barely know where the time whizzes by. Monday was R's B'day and we marched down to R's house where M had made lovely khichadi and carrot cake...K2 was happy to see them and it felt good celebrating together. Tuesday, we took K2 to Toys R Us and he got a collection of glow in the dark dinosaurs and a v-tech story reader for his B'day. I got home late on Wednesday which was K2's 3rd B'day so we took K2 for dinner at Chilis -- he enjoyed himself especially making a mess and singing all the nursery rhymes he knew, saying Hi Uncle, Hi Aunty to all the strangers....Thursday both K1 and I got home late and the fridge had no Milk...oops! so a trip to TJ's turned into a little treasure hunt - Celery Hearts, Shelled Edamame, Multi-Grained French Toast, Mini Cinnamon Buns (frozen), Gyozas, Almond Cookies, Rice Pudding, Ghoulie Gummies with liquid tummies...Friday was a whir of activities...get up real early, get K2 ready for school with lunch packed, get self ready and try to meet a work deadline...evening saw us picking up K2 and I coerced K1 into taking me to Whole Food Markets for some unneccessary neccessary buys (pate, turkey meatloaf, thai chicken wings, greek yogurt, pumpkin get the drift)...K2 is fed and in bed watching Mickey Mouse and K1 is fed and watching some finance show downstairs and I am waiting for K2 to fall asleep to call family in India....
In India, it is Diwali already...I visualize the smoke from fire crackers, the tantalizing smells from the kitchen of Ma making Mithai, the jingle of the bells in the puja room, the whizzing of the rockets...followed by the whining of a frightened dog and the tinkling laughters of little children...I miss it and more than that I miss passing along that sense of excitement and anticipation to K2...I am sure going to try...I know he will get Santa but along with Santa I want him to get my favorite god "Ganesha"...I want him to get "Diwali" and I want him to feel a connection to his "roots"...I feel a pang but with it I know that the Glass is Half Full...yet I am content...Hope your weekend is fun filled and joyous...Have a Happy & Prosperous Diwali!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yesterday's Child...

Not long back, I was walking along the bay behind our house with K1 and K2 when we ran into this gaggle of geese, a mommy, a daddy and 14 geeselings...very cute family with the babies trying to balance themselves carefully on the slippery slope. They bought a smile to everyone's face with their antics. The next day while I was driving to work, I saw (much to my horror) that one of the adult goose had been run down by a car... and the other adult was waiting on the side with the babies...I spent time stewing on the fact that people were not considerate around where I live ( which oh! by the way has been classified protected for endangered wild species) to drive slowly and protect these beautiful birds and animals...

Reminded me a poem I had written when I was thirteen for this beautiful flower which lay in the college corridor, no one stopped to pick it up and a lot of people just walked right over it -

Yesterday's Child

Gone are the fragrances which once adorned her,
She lay wilted and shuddering...
A cast-off reminder of happy yesterday,
The breeze soon scatters her petals.
The unhappy stalk is crushed underneath hurrying feet;
As I passed her by, I saw her lying broken and torn.
I gently picked her up and wondered -
Why such a fate for so pretty a thing?
I placed her in my notebook and gave a sigh,
Because I knew she was a faded Yesterday's Child....

Past week has been rough,with K1 fighting a flu and a ear infection and I was bogged down with the same flu...we are much better now. Next week will be eventful with K2's 3rd B'day and Diwali...we went down to a Diwali Mela this weekend and K2 had tonnes of fun playing with other kids. I picked up 6 Tintin DVDs for him, I think I am probably more excited about watching them than he is...we stuffed ourselves with Indian Style Pizza, Choley Baturas and Chaat...thanks R&M for inviting us...How was your week and weekend?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Of Dings, Dents, Life’s Unpredictability and a bowl of Harira…

The last two weeks have been incessant action work wise…cranking out powerpoints, forecasts, meetings and firedrills. K2 is settling into his 2-day preschool routine and weekends are really a good time to unwind and kickback…last weekend was a little tense…don’t ask me how, why or when but my beautiful one year old Prius got a big dent in the front…all is well now, the dent is removed but it showed me how that little event had the ability to cast a shadow on my sunshine…

K2 had a very bad cold (yes! again) and very obligingly passed it on to me and K1. He refuses to eat and I spend hours trying to get him to eat something…I don’t blame him, I don’t feel like eating much of anything myself. Anyway, I had promised myself I will participate in the AWED: Morocco and time was ticking by with the last date for submission being tomorrow…I made a dish in celebration of getting rid of this cold - the hot and the spicy and comforting – Harira.

What is AWED you ask me, A Worldly Epicurean’s Delight and today’s trip is to Morocco. Want more information on AWED – Read here and the event for September is being hosted by Cook’s Hideout

1 Chopped Red Onion
1 Cup Chopped Celery
2 Cups – Fresh Chopped Carrots, Green Beans and Corn
1 can – Fresh Roasted Tomatoes
I can of Garbanzo Beans
1 cup of Red Lentils
Turmeric (1/2 teaspoon)
Cinnamon (1/2 Teaspoon)
Roasted Cumin Powder (1/2 teaspoon)
Ghee – 1 tbspoon
Ginger, Parsley, Cilantro and Lemon Juice
Organic Vegetable Broth
Salt to taste
(I left out the ground meat, vermecilli and Eggs)

In my trusty 4 Liter Prestige Pressure Cooker – I sweat the onion, celery, ginger ( umm…I admit, I cheated and added 5 cloves of garlic too) in the ghee (clarified …I had read somewhere that garlic is good for a cold and who sticks to the recipe to the “T” anyway. Once the onions are nutty brown I added in the canned tomatoes and the vegetables and let that sweat out a little bit too…then add the turmeric, cinnamon, cumin powders and let the flavors marry and create sweet music…now add in the red lentils to the mix. Saute for about 1-2 minutes – follow your nose…umm in my case I just winged it (cold does that to you)…
I washed the canned Garbanzo beans twice to remove any chemicals/preservatives and added to the pressure cooker. I added the entire box of broth (I think it was 16 Oz)…finally added in the lemon juice and let the pressure cooker go 3 whistles. Let the pressure cooker stand a while and then slowly open. Add Salt to taste and then add in the Cinlantro and Parsley…Dish up in a bowl, Add freshly ground pepper and eat with a slice of Garlic bread…I feel like my cold is getting better already….