Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tentative Parenting : Crushes and Mushes

Imagine my horror when an 8 year old tells me her 4 year old sister has a crush on my 5 year old boy...ONLY the 11 year old standing next to me saw the jaw drop, the look of utter panic...she didn't probably see the palpitations and heart "stops"...but she did give me an understanding smile. When did my little boy join a world where the girls in his class watch - Hannah Montana and talk about "girl friends et all"...Thankfully, my son is still at the stage of Diego and Caillou...he mostly ignores the comments and focuses on playing, drawing, crafts and puzzles but I know the external influences will soon impact his behavior and ideas. I won't be the mother who is the naysayer but I definitely won't say I am comfortable with this. We soon forgot about it to loud bollywood music and uncoordinated dancing (mother and son).

Today is Diwali -- yet it was a full school and work day - so we had to make do with short cuts. For food we made a wonderful "mush" called Khichidi to warm our souls and lighten our stomach. In India Diwali is all about sweets, puri and aloo, heavy dinners and lunches and we decided to go the opposite path....khichidi is like a "mush" a thick porridge like creamy consistency -- the simpler you keep it the better it tastes.

Detox Mush Khichidi
1/2 Cup Brown Rice
1/2 Cup  Moong Dal (slightly toasted)
1/2 Cup Fresh chopped veggies (carrots, beans)
1/2 Pack Pacific Foods -- Creamy Organic Butternut Squash Soup
Fresh Cilantro, 1 Half Lemon, Chili Oil (if you so please)

Heat Ghee in the pressure cooker. Add Hing (Asefotida) if you have it, when it sizzles add turmeric powder and grated fresh ginger. Then add the chopped veggies. Fry for a minute. Now add the brown rice and the moong dal --- fry it for a minute. Instead of water, I add the soup in lieu of water. I let the pressure cooker go 3 whistles....check salt and season if needed. Now squeeze in the lemon, sprinkle the cilantro and if you need an added kick add the chili oil (mine is from Trader Joes). Enjoy Mush Khichidi with a glass of spiced buttermilk....
p.s :- The Rangoli is made with sidewalk chalk and the diyas are environmental friendly tea lights.Happy Diwali !!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Touchy Feely....

What do you get when you couple an overly zealous nutritionista with an equally health conscious freak...someone who is looking at every meal that she is feeding her family with "evaluative" eyes - it was when K2 looked at me...rolled his eyes...and sighed  like the drama king that he is ---Parathas...AGAIN ( let me clarify these are not regular parathas - they are made with equal proportion of whole wheat and millet (jowar) and are stuffed with grated, cooked and lightly spiced broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes..teamed with a cup of yogurt and apple) that I realized that I needed to loosen the leash a little. An article "Food Trends Men Hate"on Yahoo brought home this point amply...if interested you can read the article here.
I have to admit to doing some of the things mentioned in the article (and then some more)...from plying reluctant K1 with Tofu (gullible K2 ate it thinking it was cheese, he still loves it...note to self - train them early) to bringing home beanitos instead of regular chips which K1 still refuses to touch....the list goes on and on. Anyway when I said I am loosening the leash...I really am (ahem! at least trying to...). When I was young my mother made a scrumptious snack called "Shakkarpara"...mostly during Diwali. Every Diwali, the house was cleaned out, the pandit ( the religious cook) was summoned and he cooked on a huge wok outside and he dished out amazing dishes like the Malpua ( a crispy fried pancake like dish) , Rabdi ( tastes like condensed milk only 1000 times better), Coconut Burfis, Gulab Jamuns, Sev....the list goes on.But I mostly looked forward to the Shakkarpara and Namakparra (nimki)...

I rolled up my sleeves and tried to recreate the magic of days past...when life was uncomplicated, carefree....there was no thought of nutrition or heath as we gorged ourselves on sweets, savory dishes, exotic meat dishes...of course, the way my mother made her Shakkarpara was this with Maida and with a sugar syrup which thickly coated the fried crisps. I made a few changes to the traditional and if I may say so, I was not only surprised but absolutely loved the recipe -- this one is a keeper.This recipe goes out to Radhika of Tickling Palates for the event : Diwali Special

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/5 cup sugar (add Stevia if you want to avoid sugar, I used Turbinado Organic Brown Sugar)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp ghee ( I make mine at home from Organic Valley Butter)
  • 2 pinches of finely ground cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt, a pinch of baking soda
  • Saffola (Canola or any healthy oil for deep frying)

Sieve the whole wheat, they usually do this in India but I skip this step. I warm the milk slightly and add to the flour and start kneading...same with the sugar and the 2 tbsp of ghee. Once the dough is pliable I covered with a wet cloth and kept aside for an hour. Then I started rolling out the dough in circles (much like a paratha)...I used a regular knife and cut it into diamond shape (or sort of a diamond with me here). Finally deep fry the diamonds. Enjoy as is (that is how K2 enjoyed his...see above). I had mine with a hot cup of herbal tea -- Mighty Leaf (African Nectar).

I know a lot of my thoughts on nutrition and health are  based as much on gut instinct as learnt knowledge from books, blogs and the internet.Unlike most other folks I know I can't  dismiss the "touchy-feely" in my life.In the business world "touchy-feely" is taboo but more often than not that primal gut instinct aids us more than most other skills...human beings have a tendency to be "organizational icebergs"...a public face and a private face...I find that pretty can you de-personalize or compartmentalize12-14 hours of your work life. I can't...anyway there my friends I give you the excellent concept of "touchy-feely" your gut, practise WYSIWYG and be true to yourself...then life will be sweet all the way...just like my awesome Shakkarparas.
p.s: k2 turned 5...another milestone, and more to come!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feeling Blue...

Some random scribbles in the notebook on a random sort of a day at a random sort of time:
What do you do when you are feeling blue
Maybe whine, frown or mope,
Or do you sigh, grieve sulk and moan?
Maybe punch a pillow (someone) real hard? 

The sky is blue,
The water is a turquoise blue
My son's room is blue,
What's the color blue got to do with a foul mood?

If you were feeling red would you still be in bed
If you were feeling green would you need some codeine?
If your feeling yellow would you go to the clinic pronto,
Blue I think is -  for jumping in and having fun all day

The past 3 days have been quite miserable, intermittent rain showers, cold and a lack of enthusiasm to do much except listen to Carpenters ...hearing the news about Steve Jobs made it worse :

The world has lost someone who has truly changed the way we live : a visionary, a creative genius...

What do you do when Life throws you a curve ball - you try to catch it aka you try to maintain a semblance of for me that normalcy meant watching - Michael Madana Kamaraj, a hilarious tamil movie from 1990 - the dvd that I fortuitously found lying in a drawer that I was cleaning and who isn't ready for a good mindless laugh at a time like this...K2 is sitting and working on his homework and suddenly he looked up and said - Ma, I am hungry, can we eat something !!!

I rummaged in my overflowing freezer. I picked the Annie Chun - Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons which I pan-fried and steamed and made a dip sauce with low sodium soy sauce, mirin, minced garlic and brown sugar. That is always a sure winner with him (he ate 8).
I also made "Muri-Mixture" -- something I hadn't had in ages but which I associated with good memories - I made it in less than a minute
  1. Muri (Puffed Rice)
  2. 2 drops Mustard Oil
  3. Haldi Ram - Navarattan Mixture
  4. Chopped Red Onions (in my fridge)
  5. Thai Red Chilly ( minced - in my fridge)
Put it all in a bowl...mix and enjoy! K2 got a kid friendly version without chillies or red onions. If I was more inclined I would have added some cilantro leaves and some fresh chopped tomatoes. Sending my "Muri Mixture" over to Srivalli's event - Kid's Delight Party

I am almost done with my movie - K2 is done with his homework and I am not so "blue" anymore...yet there is a sense of poignancy...a sadness that won't go away today and I am ok with it remaining : RIP Steve. You sure rocked my son's world with the ipad2 !!!