Friday, December 31, 2010

And it's a wrap...

In the past two years, I have tried hard not to make any resolutions...I feel intense remorse when those resolutions are broken...Let me give you an example - one of my constant resolutions was - lose weight and of course despite fad diets, complicated yoga poses and beating myself over eating caramel popcorns - the stubborn weighing machine refused to budge an inch...yet the year I stopped making resolutions I saw 15 pounds magically slip away and I fit into my skinny jeans from 14 years back. The important lesson I learnt was letting go...the maxim that a lot of people apply to love actually applies to real life...if you really love/want something, let go; if it was meant to happen for you/or love you back it will definitely come back, if it doesn't...move on with life buddy :-)
Yet with 2010 hours away from vanishing into oblivion, I am taking a couple minutes to reflect on the highlights and low lights -
  • Ill health of loved ones was a constant this it Bapa, Baba, Ma or K2...even K1 has had one too many a viral fevers...he is the strong one in this house and it is very disorienting for me when he falls sick
  • Anomie came and went...a state of inertia that I constantly had to jerk myself out of...questioning the purpose of life and the role I played in it...honestly who has the time for such deep introspection anymore...
  • Lack of patience with K2 - but honestly that kid with his high pitched voice ( say like mother like son...just say it to my face and watch my reaction...don't say I didn't warn you); his utter disregard of authority;his refusal to sleep; his impeccable sense of logic, his trying to wheedle his way thro' hugs and kisses...just gets me every time. I tell myself it is a phase...but patience is a scanty commodity around here
  • A loving family, an understanding husband, an adorable kiddo, Quality Time spent with Family, an interesting career and how can I forget GOOD FOOD...the list of good things go on and on...
Yet, the biggest learning from 2010 is that life is transitional, what is reality one day, no longer exists the next...BUT without hope there is no life. Planning is good but it is important to Let Go where it makes sense ( I am an OBC when it comes to cleanliness...I pride myself on a clean house but that clean house comes at a price, my peace of mind...nope I don't think I can let go of  keeping a clean house...however I do believe that I can (and should let go a little bit).
My game plan for 2011 is -
  1. Work Hard but play harder
  2. Eat Healthy
  3. Spend quality time with K1 and K2 without losing my patience with K2
I don't see these as resolutions rather as a reminder to myself that Life Happens. On the food front, keeping with the healthy theme, I made a killer vegetarian wrap yesterday.

Stuff Needed
Spinach Whole Wheat Wraps (Trader Joes)
Refried Beans ( Canned, Fat Free & Organic Whole Foods)
Organic Spinach
Cabot (Habenaro Cheese Spread)
Tabasco (Habenaro Hot Sauce)
1/2 Red Onion - Finely Chopped
Fresh Chopped Cilantro
Newman's Organic Cilantro Salsa

Warm the  Wrap. Spread the Cheese Spread on the Wrap ( it is not the low fat kind but unimagineably spicy & delicious). One (or two)layers of Spinach Leaves. Spoon on the warmed refried beans (squeeze on some fresh lemon juice if you have it). Layer on the Red Onions and Fresh Cilantro. Spoon the salsa on the Wrap...totally put as much or as little of it as you want.  I lay the salsa on thick...We added a dash of the hot sauce and wrapped it up. We enjoyed these wraps with Terra Chips (Original). Each wrap was roughly 300 calories with 10+grams of dietary fiber.  Took me and K1 about 5 minutes to assemble these wraps....

So guys...I guess this year is a wrap. Here's wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year - lots of good health,  love, laughter and of course good food. Keep visiting me in 2011

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Break of Dawn…

A couple days of sleepless nights due to a sick toddler…cinematic dreams (did I tell you I dream in vivid technicolor)…almost like watching a reel life movie and then suddenly I wake up…duty calls – cough syrup for the little guy, a glass of water...; and I am left wondering how that dream would have ended. This week is whizzing past at breakneck speed.

I had an amazing lunch from “Curry up Now”…Goat Curry over Rice. It was totally rocking & satisfied the carnivore in me.
I shopped at the Semi-Annual sale of Bath and Body Works today – I am stocked up on my home fragrances, lotions and hand soaps

I baked a chocolate cake filled with Almonds, Raisins, Cranberries and Blueberries. The 2 K’s are still enjoying the cake.
A lot of introspection happening this week about the year that’s gone and the year that is to come…however there is a hope that tonight is a different one and there will be a deep restful sleep with no getting up at the Break of Dawn.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New Offices, A Baking Extravaganza & A Christmas Tree…

Is there anything more satisfying than a hot cup of cardamom tea (brewed extra strong) with a toasted English Muffin stuffed with an Omelette made from Egg whites, Red Onions, Jalapeno and Peppercorn Parmesan on a cold, blustery rainy day…I think not. My calls yesterday were scanty and it looks like the entire office is getting into the holiday spirit. We moved into our new offices last week. They are in the heart of Sunnyvale, very swanky and well put together. There was a welcome reception on Tuesday…and it was a good chance to meet old friends and re-acquaint with colleagues while we were stuffing our faces with catered goodies – Mushroom Ragu over silky mashed potatoes, pot stickers, shrimp salad, crostinis, different cuts of cheese and some red meat stuff I didn’t venture near…overall an extremely pleasant experience.

We also got a Christmas Tree (fake kind) for K2. He was so excited; that he kept singing all the Christmas songs – Jingle Bells, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer etc…his Christmas list to Santa includes a Rocket Ship, an elephant with a remote control and a giraffe with a remote control (too many animal toys with remote controls I say…).

K2 and I baked sugar cookies using the TJ’s DIY packet…my arms still ache from all the dough kneading and cookie cutting. We ate a couple of the cookies and honestly they weren’t that great (did I just admit to messing up the DIY sugar cookies :) )…
I was reading the book the “The Giving Tree” to K2…he is at an age where he is not too much into sharing. His BF A was visiting him this week and K2 had to play with any and every toy that A wanted to play with…A’s frustration was palpable and understandable.

The story is about a tree and a little boy who loves to climb onto the tree and rest in its shade. As the boy gets older, the tree gives him anything he wants – apples to sell, branches to build his house, even its own trunk to carve out a boat to sail away to seek his fortunes. After many years, the “boy” comes back, now an old man and the tree despairs that he has nothing left to give him…I do not need much now, just a quiet place to sit and rest,” the man replies. And so the tree, now a mere stump, asks him to sit,” and the tree was happy. The idea that one could give so selflessly and expect nothing in return is baffling and thought provoking.

Sending this over to Priyanka's Blog Asan Khana for the event "It's time to jingle" visit her.

K2 has been sick the past 2 days…so Christmas time for us is a quiet time at home.How are you spending Christmas Eve?

Friday, December 10, 2010

About a Lauki Tari and a Hysterectomy

I am in a pensive mood today…Ma had an operation less than 24 hours back. I am more than a little bummed that I wasn’t with Ma during this time yet she was adamant that she do the operation only after we left for the US. Her logic was – let me enjoy this one month with K2 vs. lay in the bed and wish I could be playing with him. Good News is that the operation went smoothly, my MIL (she is an anesthesiologist) was in the operation theater and there is no one else I would rather have with my Ma than my MIL. Bad News is recovery will take time…at least 4 weeks. It is ironical; that the very organ that expands to fit an 8 pound child, once you get older is deemed vestigial and atrophied and 50% of the time needs to be removed for different reasons...ain’t being a woman grand?

When, I was a teenager, I had many a likes and dislikes when it came to food – one such vegetable I did not like much was Lauki better known here as Opo Squash. Ma used to cook it in creative ways just to get me to eat Lauki a little bit more. Little did I know what a wonder vegetable Lauki was and how much I would grow to like it. Some of the health benefits of Lauki from an Ayurveda Book I am reading are listed here –
  • Cooked Lauki is cooling, calming, diuretic and anti-bilious. It makes you relax after eating.
  • Lauki plays a very important role in treating urinary disorders as it acts as an alkaline diuretic.
  • Lauki juice is an excellent remedy for excessive thirst caused by diarrhea, over consumption of fatty or fried foods, and diabetes.
  • A glass of Lauki juice with a little salt added to it prevents excessive loss of sodium, satiating thirst and keeping you refreshed in summer.
  • Massage a mixture of Lauki juice and sesame oil on the scalp each night to treat insomnia.
  • If you are on a low calorie diet, suffering from digestive problems, are diabetic or convalescing, and then Lauki is must for you as it is easily digestible and low in calories.
Now I can safely say that Lauki is by far one of my favorite vegetables…and one of my very favorite things to do with Lauki Is a simple Tari (thin curry). This will be our dinner today with some brown rice and yogurt on the side… (A Thank You to my Ma for making me love my veggies especially Lauki…)
Lauki Tari
1 Medium Opo Squash (peeled and cubed)
½ Onion (chopped), 1 Large Jalapeno (chopped) 1 Tomato (chopped), Grated Fresh Ginger
In a medium pressure pan – heat a teaspoon of oil, add a pinch of Hing, turmeric powder, chilly powder and let the spices foam and perfume the kitchen. Now add in the Chopped Onion, Ginger and Jalapeno. Saute till the Onions are translucent. Now add the Tomato. Cook for about 2-3 minutes till everything is well mixed and there is a wonderful Masala smell in the air. Now add ¼ spoon of roasted Jeera Powder (Jeera = Cumin). Add in the Lauki, Salt to taste and ½ a cup of water. Mix well. Set the pressure cooker to one whistle. When you remove the pressure, check the salt and add in some Dalchini (Cinnamon) Powder from the top …this is a special touch from my Ma. I usually forget to do this, but not today. Add some fresh chopped Coriander (Cilantro) and Enjoy!!!
Ma, hope you feel better soon and I wish I was in Pune with you.
P.S: In the picture above, the beautiful woman is Ma and the dorky kid with the thick glasses is Your's Truely

Thursday, December 9, 2010

She is losing it...

When she gets up at 3 AM…

For five days in a row.

To a cup of tea that tastes like dirt,

And a wooly taste in her mouth…

A feeling that the entire world is out to get her…

She is losing it…yeah she knows she is losing it

Quick get me the mood improvers – Oatmeal, Chocolate, Walnuts…Too late, I just lost it and blew up. This is how it went. K2 got up at 4.00 AM, we dragged on till 5.00 AM and I realized he probably wasn’t going to go back to sleep. I took him downstairs got him his Pediasure and we started playing with his Lego…maybe it was jetlag, or lack of sleep but K2 got frustrated with a Lego piece that he couldn’t complete and dumped it in the garbage. What followed was a major explosion, a sobbing kid and a long time-out. Maybe I overreacted…and then again maybe not? But now there is a cranky toddler in school and a semi-guilty mom trying to focus on work…

How has your week been thus far?

Monday, December 6, 2010

East meets West...

I am bone tired...weary... like a marathon runner who knew that she had to make it just till I had fed and put K2 in bed. I have been up since 3 AM today , not because I had to but because K2 couldn't sleep due to jetlag- started my day making old fashioned Oat Meal and Eggs for the little tyke, packing lunch boxes for the 2K's, cutting fruit and catching up on after vacation work. I spent half the time in the office, packing and preparing for the move. I also met up with H&P and we enjoyed a wonderful Japanese meal in a small place - the food was simple and good. Yet, there was this craving for something sweet...and it had to be something quick and simple -and the winner was Chenna Poda

Oriya food is not very well known, yet it is a food were there is attention to detail, superb execution and pure singular flavors...most of the sweets are made from Chenna (  Chenna means Child of Milk) and Poda is Burnt...simply put Chenna Poda is  India's answer to America's Cheese Cake and I absolutely adore it. I grabbed some Ricotta Cheese from Trader Joe's and was ready for some kitchen action.

  1. Ricotta Cheese (1 Lb)
  2. Sugar (1/2 Lb)
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. Sooji/Semolina ( 3 tablespoons)
  5. Cardamom Powder ( 1/2 teaspoon)
  6. Optional - Raisins
Add the sugar, baking powder and the sooji  and blend in the blender
The dough with have the consistency of a smooth cake batter
Mix in the dry fruits if you want them at this point.
Pour into a oven safe dish and bake at 350 °F for about an hour.
The baking times will vary based on the dish. So start checking around 40 minutes into the baking time.
To check poke a fork into the middle and see if you come up with syrupy batter or comes out clean.If it comes out clean,take it out of the baking dish and allow it to cool before serving. I get experimental sometimes and add different flavors -- like once I added in 4-5 table spoons of Rooh Afza was a refreshing change but most times I want to stick to the simple classic taste of Chenna Poda.

The house smells amazing and I am on my 3rd slice of this Indian Version of Western Cheesecake. Try it and I am sure it will get you hooked...

Passing this along for the blog event  Celebrate Sweets  hosted by PJ @ This event was incidentally started by Nivedita @

Let me know how this recipe turns out for you...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jetlagged and Going Overboard...

A 18 hr flight that was actually more like a 22 hr flight - our first flight from Pune to Frankfurt taking an unscheduled stop in Armenia for refueling giving us a nail biting 6 hrs debate as to whether we would make our connection...K2 pretty much slept through 80% of the flight...yes that is a good thing. We got back dazed and a little nostalgic about our India trip.K2 has been sleeping days and waking up nights and I am hoping his body clock resets soon otherwise I am in big trouble, K1 goes on an offsite in a couple days and I don't relish being the sole warrior in this "keeping awake" quest.

Seeing an empty fridge had me go overboard on a food shopping binge -
From Whole Foods - Brussel Sprouts, Apples, Fresh Pack Soups ( Creamy Tomato, Chicken & Veggies), Sour Dough Baguette, Organic Brown Eggs, Kefir, Fat Free Milk, Terra Chips, Bossa Nova Acai Juice, Genesis Today Acai Juice, Hillshire Smoked Turkey Breast Slices
From Trader Joes - Organic Spinach, Organic Carrots, Bag of Lemons, Navel Oranges, Bananas, Truffle Mousse Pate ( Chicken Liver), Sweet Stick Swizzlers, Dark Chocolate Marshmallows, Almonds, Walnuts
From the Farmer's Market - Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes, Garlic, Sun Chokes, Cucumbers, Opo Squash, Grapes, Plums, Satsuma Mandarin, Asian Pears, Apples, 2 Bags of Raisins, Honey Sticks, Sinbad Market (Chicken Kabab Wrap, Babaganoush, Chickpea Salad)

I am watching the final episode of "Dancing with the Stars" that I had DVRed...super excited that the star that won was my very favorite "Baby" Grey. Her struggles with health and her insecurities and her sheer grit to keep going on were inspiring -- my caveat, I have never watched this show before. I watched  this season for the sole reason of watching Grey dance.

Missing India. Missing Ma's Dal and Badi Chura. Miss the hugs from Ma and Bapa...miss the squabbles and discussions and warmth. K1 and K2 are in the same place and we are slowly settling back into our old routine. How is your weekend?
Picture was taken on a trip with the parents (mine and K1's) to Lavasa. There were some picture perfect moments though the trip to Lavasa was bumpy :)