Sunday, May 16, 2010

A pot full of Barley and Taking a stand

The past 2 weeks have pretty much whizzed past non-stop. Workwise things were busy. I spent a week in Finland and the weather was cold and sort of waiting to welcome trips to the farmer's market for 2 weeks (which is a pretty unusual happening for me)...I did go down to the Farmer's Market today my picks - half a pound of fresh walnuts, organic brown eggs, peaches, strawberries, Jicama, Brocolli Crowns, Carrots and Mushrooms. Last weekend was also pretty hectic. I got back on Friday...realized that there was no milk in the picked up milk and a zhu zhu hamster for K2. We spent the evening eating Indian take-out and me catching up on some down time with K2. Saturday saw us at a Kiddies Concert in the morning that K2 seemed to enjoy...dinner was at Yan Can Cook = Sizzling Sichuan Shrimp, Kung Pao Chicken and General Tsao's Chicken (so meats galore)...On Sunday we went down to L's son's 5th B'day. It was wonderful seeing my college friend (even weirder seeing her sister G after 17 years...I don't think she recognized me...). L had organized a fun animal show which the kids absolutely loved. K2 got to touch an Albino python (see picture) and a lazy tortoise...he was so excited.

The week saw us get some news on the office logistics (our new offices will be in Sunnyvale). K1 and I get to carpool again...he is not too excited about carpooling with me but I am glad to have a carpool partner. I met a "good friend" for lunch one day in the week. A question she asked me has kept playing in my mind most of the week - Are you not uncomfortable with conflict?

I think we human beings have conditioned ourselves to play nice and avoid conflict. I think when the situation warrants it I am usually very even keeled and amenable. Yet one thing I learnt pretty early in life was that when it comes to Ethics there are no shades of grey...I have over years conditioned myself to not give people BS or I don't tolerate BS. Let me list the pros and cons of this approach -
  1. I have been happy with my personal and professional choices as I have stuck by what I believed in
  2. Long Term Peace of Mind
  3. Confidence
  4. Belief in one's own personal integrity (and that contributes to 3.)
  5. Long-Term Happiness
  6. Stable Blood Pressure :)
  1. Conflict
  2. Some Awkward moments
  3. Perceived Political Harakiri (usually worked itself out and did not have a long term impact)
Yet, I think to sweep issues under the carpet and not address them is unhealthy to our self esteem and mental balance. We do not deem ourselves important enough to "treat ourselves right". So to my dear friend (you know who you are) - Take a stand! Yes it is uncomfortable, hard too...but in the long run it is the ONLY way forward.
My weekend was relaxed - I watched 2 wonderful Miss Marple movies - Murder is Easy and Why didn't they ask Evans? I have a 10 Disc Poirot collection to go through that I am super excited about. I cooked us a pot of barley today...truely a labor of love. I washed and soaked "long cook barley" in a pot of cold water. I put it in my multi-purpose fuzzy logic Rice Cooker for a quick cook (which takes an hour). I make enough to last through 3-4 breakfasts. How do I like to eat it?
Slightly warmed with warm Almond milk, toasted walnuts and almonds, date pieces, a dash of cinnamon and sweetened with agave is really something else!
How was your weekend?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Story of a Degchi....

It was a cold blustery sort of a day…a day when all you wanted to do was leave the heater on and curl up under the warm down comforter…wishing for a cup of garam chai laced with elaichi and adrak ( cardamom and ginger). Not typical of the sunny California mornings promised when you try to justify the abnormally high state and sales taxes for living here…this spring has been a rainy one. And I for one don’t like the rain too much…at least not all the time. I needed some comforting, so I reached for my wonderful “degchi”…what is a Degchi you ask me? Well a Degchi is one of those earthen/brass/copper pots not very deep but wide dishes used for cooking the most delicious foods …mine is made of anodized iron but is as reliable as the one my grandma had….and I can also broil with it in the oven …so perfect for those desserts, frittatas and curries which need to go into the oven.
Honestly I was in no mood for spicy food…I needed something sweet. I did have a gallon of Organic Whole Milk in the fridge….so with no thought in mind, I soaked a handful of basmati rice in water and let the gallon of milk simmer in the degchi…after about an hour on simmer, I roughly ground the rice with a mortar and pestle and put it into the milk along with a small spoon of ground elaichi powder (cardamom powder) and sugar to taste…I let it boil and then brought it down to simmer…it simmered for almost 4 more hours on the range…simmering down to 1/5th the quantity from before….the consistency almost one of rabri…thick, creamy…soul satisfying. I took a small bowlful and came back for seconds and thirds…honestly I had made this dish as a treat for K2 but I kept going back for more ( so did K1)…at the end of this endeavor, we had warm creamy wonderful “Kheer” which took us back to the festival days in India.

Speaking of K2, I wonder where he learnt his negotiation tactics from …from negotiating toys, candies, DVDs from the libraries….the little guy has it down pat…when all else fails he turns on the water taps…which works 100% of the time on Dad and 50% of the time on Mom. I have a few ground rules I operate under –
  • I set clear boundaries and limits for K2 – For eg. He can sit on the counter and watch me cook and talk to me but he can never ever touch the cooking utensils or the range unless I am in sight and I let him. And he is usually very good about it

  • I give him options – even for something as simple as dinner, I give K2 3 choices and let him pick what he wants to eat. Takes the negotiation element out of the mix, as I let him pick what he wants to eat and he feels sort of in control – and honestly I offer options that are easy for me to whip up -- his current favorite food is Egg Dosas

  • I treat him like I would an Adult – K1 laughs at this tactic of mine…but honestly I think this 3 year old gets things better than K1 gives him credit for…I just wish he wasn’t a sponge for my wonderful word repository while driving --- he seemed to latch on to the S*** word very quickly. I am trying very hard to stop cursing and I think I am succeeding a little bit

  • I am consistent with him – consistent eating and sleeping time…there are certain behaviors which get him praises and certain which get him time-outs. He doesn’t like me being unhappy with him and tells me constantly – Don’t worry Mommy (I have graduated to Mommy from Mama…don’t know how much I like that) I will be a good boy.

  • I try to make it a win-win situation for both of us. At the end of the day, I feel crappy if K2 is sad…so I try to make it work. There are times when I have to say “Enough Already” and walk away…but he has taught me patience.

I think my lessons in negotiation learnt from this precious and precocious 3 year old will hold me good stead in “getting to yes” in my job.

What are your weekend plans? I just plan to chill at home. I will probably stock the fridge for K1 and K2 for the week as I am travelling this week to Europe on work. I made a spicy Corn Salad yesterday with Fresh Corn from the Farmer’s Market and Grilled Poblano Chilies. I also picked up a pound of Fresno Chilies that are destined to become “Chili Pickles”. The fridge is stocked with Apples, Strawberries, Mangoes and Grapefruit…so hopefully the boys will not starve. I am sure K1 does not stress out so much when he has to do his business trips….I am looking forward to being back home the next Weekend for Mother’s Day. Happy Mother's Day in Advance to all you wonderful Moms out there...