Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Lazy Sunday...

Dinner last night  was at P.F. Changs where I gorged myself on faux chinese food in an extremely relaxing environment ( I guess some of my relaxation was due to not having to plan dinner). Morning saw us taking a walk down the bay and there we saw a  humming bird sit in the trees waiting for something...

We had a relaxed breakfast with some cardamom chai and muesli and then we went to the Farmer's market. We get our bread, cookies, banana bread ,scones and pies from this vendor

The best ever babaganoush from here

Here are the wonderful vendors who give me my fix of purple broccolli, new potatoes, garlic, brussel sprouts, shallots and beets.

And the wonderful vendor who I have been picking up eggs from for the past 6 years - hen eggs, quail eggs and sometimes duck eggs (never baluts!)

We then went to the Whole Foods for some staples and they were celebrating their 30th B'day.  We saw some leopard sharks, touched some Star Fish who had come out to join the festivities from the Marine Institute

Krish snagged himself a melon sorbet...which he ate about 2 spoons of and then mommy finished the rest. Now back to planning for the week...

How was your Sunday?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Story of the Lost Baby Sea Lion & the Enlightened Dal

Why did they ever invent “Back to School Nights” …Yeah! Yeah! I can hear you muttering tracking social, communication and developmental needs but have you thought of all the jugglery this mom has to do to ensure that she is prepared for this above mentioned “back to school night”… finish Friday early morning calls, work on spreadsheet for a couple hours…realize it is time for lunch and grab a little something to eat…wrap up work, plan dinner, prepare snacks for K2. When K1 and K2 got home rush out with hurried instructions on dinner for the boys…pick up A and in peak traffic make it (almost) in time for the first part of BTS Night…hear the school director talk about all the Do’s and Don’ts – Do get in time, Don’t make kids wear flip flops, Don’t over pack lunches (oops!)…after which we got to meet the teachers. K2’s teacher is a DOLL…she keeps him in line teaching him important life lessons , while making sure he eats all his lunch…I am grateful for that.

Saturday Morning saw the 2Ks and me walking the dog down the bay and we spied a lost little baby sea lion…I tried the Marine Institute to see if they would rescue it, it kept ringing to no response…after which I called 911. I waited around for a while after which I needed to take K2 to the library for a late morning show. He got to watch the Red Panda Acrobats in action. It was amazing watching the talented Wayne Huey go through the act and it is at times like this that I am glad that we have access to so many wonderful activities. A quick lunch of Quesadillas and Cheese Cake and K2 is ready for his nap…

This week I tried an Express Meal and it made me feel so happy and full that I wanted to share the recipe (and the love) with you of this warm comforting dish which literally took me 10 minutes to make (of course in my trusty pressure cooker, if made in a Dutch pot it would probably take about 30 minutes)…interested in buying a pressure cooker, check out Amazon (If you have money to throw around then Kuhn Rikon is the way to go). My pressure cookers are all Indian…ones that I picked out myself and carried back from India (cost me between $20-50 and last a while). Anyway coming back to what I made, I call it the Enlightened Dal...K1...the non vocal critique said this was the best Dal he had ever had


  1. 1 Cup Red Lentils (Masoor Dal) – soaked for a couple hours will make it cook faster
  2. 1 Carton Low Sodium Creamy Organic Tomato Soup ( I used the one from Trader Joes)
  3. 8-12 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
  4. 1 Habenaro (finely chopped)
  5. 1 Red Onion (finely chopped)
  6. Spices – Sprinkle of Asafetida (hing), ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  7. 1 Lemon, Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • Heat one teaspoon of ghee
  • Add Asafetida, Cumin and Turmeric Powder, when it turns fragrant add in the onion, garlic and habenaro and slowly cook till caramelized (not burnt)
  • Add the Red lentils and mix for a minute or two
  • Add the contents of the soup carton.
  • Pressure Cook for 4 whistles or cook in Dutch Pot till the lentils are cooked through and extremely soft.
  • Add salt to taste, Squeeze lemon, Add Chopped Fresh Cilantro.
I ate this with some piping hot brown rice and a side of curried peas and cabbage.

Did you know that Red Lentils are a great source of protein, folate, iron and vitamin B1. Tomatoes are a source of lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. Cilantro fights diabetes and is widely used as a carminative much like Cumin and Turmeric is a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial agent while Hing fights flus and is yet another powerful spice…Did you do anything good for your body this week?

P.S - Pictures of the Baby Seal, Red Lentils Dal and the Red Panda Acrobats

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revisiting Good and Evil…

I saw a movie this weekend that left me with a lot of disturbing thoughts. The interesting thing is that this was a Telugu Movie, a language I am not familiar with and I mostly understood happenings through subtitles…despite this fact the movie had a deep impact on me  and it was humbling (JL, I won’t ever laugh over your tears for KKHH subtitles…I understand). The movie was Manirathnam’s famous (infamous) Villain which has also been remade in Hindi as Raavan with a famous actor son playing the lead role.
The basic premise of the movie is that ethics is very personal. As Aristotle put it,
When a person acts in accordance with his nature and realizes his full potential, he will do good and be content. At birth, a baby is not a person, but a potential person. To become a "real" person, the child's inherent potential must be realized. Unhappiness and frustration are caused by the unrealized potential of a person, leading to failed goals and a poor life. Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." Therefore, it is imperative for persons to act in accordance with their nature and develop their latent talents in order to be content and complete. Happiness was held to be the ultimate goal. All other things, such as civic life or wealth, are merely means to the end. Self-realization, the awareness of one's nature and the development of one's talents, is the surest path to happiness.
Our Indian Belief system however has very clear cut definitions of Good and Evil and it was inconceivable that what might be treated Good by one belief system could be bad in another…take for example Ramayana – Rama was absolute good vs. Ravan who was the epitome of bad. In reality, Rama lost a little bit of my respect when he distrusted his wife and asked her to go thru’ Agni Pariksha to prove her virtue…but how can the acts of a God be deemed Evil…yet by doing what he did Rama actually ensured that women were assured a lower place in the already firmly patriarchal society. The movie  strengthened my belief that there is no right answer on ethics – it is very personal and shaped by the way you have been socialized. To toast this discovery I want to share with you a very special recipe that I created this week…
Black & White Chili
Soak Overnight Black Beans (1 cup) and Canelli Beans (1 cup)
1.       In a pressure cooker or Dutch pot – Fry 2 finely chopped  Red Onions, 2-8 pods of crushed garlic (based on your preference), 1-2 Chilies ( Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano…or Habenaro depending on your spice tolerance level)
2.       When the Onions have browned, add three chopped tomatoes (you can add some veggies like Carrot or Celery but this week I decided not to add any).
3.       Roasted Cumin Powder, 3 crushed All-Spice (optional), Cardamom Powder, Turmeric  Powder (again optional and I use it for health benefits)
4.       At this stage add in ground meat if you are adding any for browning ( I usually skip this stage as I don’t add meats)
5.       I add the beans and Organic Vegetable Stock
6.       If you are simmering in Dutch Pot, let it simmer for 60 minutes to 90 minutes. If you are lucky like me and own a pressure cooker, let it go for 12 whistles on low to medium heat…trust me seems like a lot but it needs it.
7.       Let the Chili rest.  Stir add Salt to taste and squeeze in the juice of a lemon to taste.
8.       Serve with lots of chopped fresh cilantro and a piece of crusty bread
This dish is ALL good for you, with each cup of Chili giving about 15-18 grams of fiber (over 65% of DV) and 7-10 grams of Protein. I usually serve an easy tomato and cucumber salad with this chili. What beans do you have in your pantry? I currently have Dark Red Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Pinto Beans, Aduzki Beans, Black Beans, Black Eyed Beans, Black and Pale Garbanzo Beans…one of my tenets for simple living – Eat less meat, add more organic lentils and legumes as a good solid source of protein…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Change...and Ganesh Chaturthi.

I am a creature of habit – I like the same old music (think “Dil Apna Preet Parai" genre”)…I abhor the shuffle and remixes, I love to rewind and replay the originals; I love the smell of lavender, Crime Serials, my hot cup of green tea and dark chocolate pieces in the night, my landline phone and the long chats to India, my Sunday trip to the Farmer’s Market …the only area where I have gotten out of my comfort zone and accepted change is Food and my Son. No two days are the same with K2; it’s almost like living on the seat of my pants wondering what new things I will learn today.
The long weekend was relaxed. Some shopping for K2…actually a lot of it…he had his first turkey hot dog on a stick and relished it…we grilled some Salmon Burgers in the night and K2 enjoyed his burger too. On Sunday after our trip to the Farmers Market where we picked up Tomatoes, Broccoli, Carrots, New Potatoes, Shallots, Spinach, Habenaros, Eggs, Babaganoush and Scones, we went down to the Greek Festival in the afternoon, we admired the old church in the hills…listened to some melodious hymns, had some awful souvlakis and breaded fried calamaris that were being passed on as Greek cooking…came home hot and red (it was 100 degrees outside). In the evening we met R& M and A& his parents for dinner…some spicy south Indian food and animated conversations later, we realized it was midnight and time to head home. On Monday we met up with N square and B for a foodie inspired lunch cooked up by Dahling N…she had made hummus that she zussed up with Habenaro peppers, a corn relish and she grilled up tonnes of veggies along with a Moroccan inspired lamb and Salmon…we trundled home all full and happy and spend the evening getting ready for the week.
This week was a blur of early morning meetings and Friday saw us with some “big news” at work…not sure yet how this will play off but the biggest emotion I feel is – hope. As I said before, I am not big on change but in this case change is necessary for not just surviving but winning…failure is not an option and only existing is not a criterion….so we will see how this change plays out for us. I welcomed the weekend with open arms…a grounding yoga class, a trip to Whole Foods and a relaxed Friday dinner at home with the 2 A’s and 2 R’s was the precursor to a relaxed Saturday.
Saturday is Ganesh Chaturthi…a very famous festival in India. I have seen a lot of people look at the elephant pendant I *always* wear – he is Ganesha, he is the God who removes all obstacles…lore says that if you rub Ganesha’s huge tummy while you mentally ask him for a wish, he will grant it. He is my absolute favorite god. I remember spending time in the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Besant Nagar and the total sense of peace I got…anyway the morning saw K1 and me go serially to the gym…him for his workout, me for Yoga after which we went to the Sunnyvale temple with R& M and S and A and his parents. We went to a new place for lunch called Mayuri…the food was good. We will be going for puja to a friend/colleague’s house in the evening…we are looking forward to introducing K2 to Hindu rituals, pujas and things that we grew up with as kids…Sunday I hope will be relaxed – I am planning on buying this beautiful Kabocha that has been seducing me with it’s green golden beauty…reminding me that Summer is almost over giving way to Fall…hold still time…let me enjoy the last of the sweet corns, the tangy tomatoes and the delicious juicy peaches…Change why do I look forward to you and yet at times resent the very fact that you exist…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Angels have wings...

This working mom ain't that sentimental anymore...yet there are times like this when she gets introspective and pens a couple verses...for those who enjoy poetry ---  enjoy ; for the critics --- please dissect, just don't judge ; for the ones I wrote this for- Be Happy! and for the ones who  don't get it - I promise I will get back to writing in plain English...but it isn't like I tied you up and made you read this...

                                              Angels have wings

The mind is wandering a dozen places all at once…
The world seems at peace,
Yet there is a seething cauldron of dissent and disagreement.
A voice whispers – she is right
And yet another one – he is right…
A rational angel chimes in between – doesn’t matter who is right, what is key is making it right.

Voice of reason has escaped,
Tired I am, Broken I am, Frustrated I am – the tiny voices say
Running away – seeking solace and healing,
Life has passed so many of us by…seeking salvation elsewhere,
Forgetting the dormant spring within,
From wherein stems the elixir of health, wisdom and peace
And we keep searching everywhere….
And in reality much of it lies within…

We cloud our lives with many things,
Pontificating, Placating, Persuading…
Driven by ambition,
Consumed by love ,
Weakened by the need to possess, control
Yet, all that we needed is both inside and beside...

As I lie in bed today…sleepless,
Watching my family sleep…
I question my mind's flight,
And an acceptance of unanswered questions,
Some of the cobwebs in my mind,
Cleared as I write…
Yet there remains many a things unknown.

I pray a little prayer for love, hope and peace…
I sigh a little hearing my little boy’s soft snores…
As he dreams of the gentle flutters of Angel Wings…
Yes, I believe...I really do believe Angels have Wings.