Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tentative Parenting : The Other End of the Leash

It is close to 1.00 AM...I should be sleeping...I really should...however, staring at market statistics and reports on some things unfamiliar has been exhilarating and at the same time exhausting. Yesterday, was a holiday - K2  had ski break and yet we had signed him up for camp at school, so I got time to catch up on other parenting duties. You see -- I mostly write about the child I gave birth to 5 years back, most of the time forgetting the child (not human) that I had adopted at 2 months,12+ years back...this black, cuddly puppy who grew into the sweetest,possessive loving, precocious precious dog....J. In fact K1 in a particularly contentious mood is known to comment : All I got out of this marriage is the damn dog, which I have to walk and feed and take care of ( Yeah Right! But I gotta give it to him, that I slowly transitioned to bystander and K1 into the primary caregiver for J when K2 was born...)
Do I feel guilty about it? Yes, sometimes!
Can I live with it? Absolutely!
I won't make excuses, but life is kinda sorta full for me right now: a full time job, a full time toddler, add to it the incessant 101 commute( 2 hours if you please!)  and countless errands that life throws my way...
Take my day Sunday :  I wake up hazy due to the multiple cold/cough reducing medications I am on, not feeling particularly my best (add to it a toddler who insists on sleeping on my back = sore back), a sick dog who is crapping n number of times in the ain't looking all that bright. J is getting old....90% deaf, 40% blind, I see the effort it takes him to go about his daily routine and sometimes the thought crosses my mind...when will it be the time to call it quits....and then I call myself all sort of mean names and deflect the noises in my head
Monday : I spent half the day on the computer working, 2 hours in the vet taking J through a battery of tests (blood, urine and ahem! everything else) can't imagine how stupid I looked (and felt) with a test tube stuck behind J's behind in the parking lot at the hospital...I just pretended the world didn't exist !!!

Anyway yesterday, while I was going through this mental boxing match, I read a beautiful poem by poet unknown that grabbed my heart and held on to it :
Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. 
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. 
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. 
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. 
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. 
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. 
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. 

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. 

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

The good news is J is alright...he is begging for meds (his vitamins, his antibiotics, heck even the LIV 52 that I started to give him to strengthen his liver) like they are treats...he is enjoying his long walks without laying down on the ground and groaning like something hurts real bad...he has some minor issues (apart from the biggie : Old Age) and we are working through those...

Sorry this blog hasn't been about food this post - I haven't thought of food much this week...yesterday was  Maha Shivaratri and I fasted much the same like last year...made Payesh which was gobbled up by both the K's. It feels like it should be weekend have you been this past week?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Bytes : Lessons, Learnings and Tribulations

I always hug K2 before school  and tell him - I love you! and he tells me - Love you too Ma!
Sometimes I wonder if we understand the depth of feelings and emotions a mother feels when she says those words to her offspring...a yoga teacher Nicole once said Love is about Kindness, Respect and Empathy...and to learn how to love others we need to learn to love ourselves. I find the negatives in myself first vs. the positives...maybe it is the Indian way of socialization, but slowly I have started reversing that cycle and the focus is on the positives. Nicole gave us a homework : jot down one thing that you love about yourself daily.
Today, I love the fact that I care enough to want to feed my son a healthy, local and a balanced meal. To some mothers who are kitchen goddesses this may be something very basic and rudimentary...however for a woman who learnt to cook just a dozen years back, this is a journey in experiments - some huge successes others abysmal to K2, who brings out the creative chef in me - I dedicate this  recipe that I call : Peas of Mind Pizza
You need for the pizza dough :
  1. 1 1/2  Cups Sprouted Organic Whole Grain, Stone Ground Wheat Flour (Arrowhead Mills)
  2. 1 packet yeast ( I used the fast rising yeast packet from Trader Joe's)
  3. 1 Cup homemade Pasta Sauce (recipe here)
  4. 2 tbsps Local Honey
  5. 2 tbsp EVOO
  6. 1/2 Cup Ragi (don't know what it is, then Read here...don't want to use it, no worries, go with the wheat flour)
I used the Pizza Dough cycle on my bread maker (Cuisine Art) and let the dough rest two hours. Take out the proofed up dough, Flour and knead...roll the dough out. I cut the dough into heart and round shapes using cookie cutters.I par baked on 450 degrees F for about 7 minutes and then froze the pizza base.

To Assemble :
  1. 1 cup pasta sauce ( recipe above)
  2. Mix of Mozzarella and Sharp Cheddar
  3. Shredded Carrots, Mushrooms or Salami  if you so desire
Assemble on the pizza tray and broil in the oven or toaster oven till done.

My pasta/pizza sauce really do double/triple duty as  pasta sauce, instead of water  I use this pasta sauce in my pizza dough (thanks to this company for teaching me how) and as the pizza sauce...when I am lost for ideas I will add a little bit of vegetable/chicken stock and heat up the sauce and give it to K2 with a slice of toast ( think soup). K2's dinner tonight was the pizza with a Beckmanns Cookie from the Farmer's Market : Almond Orange Sunrise and a Go-Gurt.
In our Zumba class today, the teacher ended the class with a favorite song of mine by Whitney Houston (RIP you poor soul !!!)
Hope your Valentine's Day is Healthy and Happy and love brings with it kindness, respect and empathy into your lives...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Daffodils and New Beginnings

My son grew a Daffodil from scratch...I remember the day he got home an ugly pot with nothing in it and insisted on keeping it in front of the house, he would run out every day and check his plant...see the end product...

I read Wordsworth's poem to K2  today and we are left with a  vision of  the pretty daffodils defiantly dancing in the cold and the rain:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:

I gazed--and gazed--but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 
Dinner was a healthy salad with Farro (Cooked) with veggies sauteed in EVOO and tonnes of garlic....use whatever veggies you like : I used Broccoli, Mushrooms, Brussel Sprouts, was light and yet quite filling. I topped it with sun-dried tomatoes and shaved pecorino. I think the key is I used seasonal vegetable from my farmer's market. One little step we can take towards sustainability and good health is eating local and eating seasonally...

This dish goes out to Recipe Junction where Indrani is hosting a Spotlight on Winter Vegetables

Done anything good for your health this week?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Airing my dirty laundry and a bowl of pasta

There are a few constants in my not so predictable life every week : I can count on having to prepare dinner, clean the house at least twice a week, do homework with my son most days, grocery shopping, K2's bath and how can I forget the 3 LOADS of laundry that I wash, fold and keep away week after week after week...this along with a 50+hours work week for most wonders how a woman is expected to juggle multiple balls in the air and not come undone.I feel a deep sense of envy as I see the perfectly dressed mothers with not a hair out of place come in drop their kids off at school,  fly a kiss good bye and then calmly walk to their shiny washed cars while I rush in flustered --- is the homework in the backpack (check), snack (check), lunch box (check), kid (thank god!check)...we have avoided getting tardy slips in the first 100 days of school but I am wondering how the next 100 days shape up...there are days when I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up...
Brings more credibility to an interesting talk I heard by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook - some stats she shared:
  • Only 15% of the C-Level Executives are women ( numbers haven't moved since 2002 and are trending the wrong direction)
  • Out of the married executives polled 2/3rd of the men executives had children and only 1/3rd of the women executives had children
But she didn't stop at the statistics, she gave working women 3 things to think about:
  1. Sit at the table : women systematically underestimate their own abilities, is it surprising that even today a woman with the same experience as her male counterpart makes 15%+ less ( hard statistics my friends!). Success and likability is positively correlated for men vs. women (meaning the more successful a woman, the less they are liked).
  2. Make your partner a real partner : If a woman and a man work full time and have a child, the woman does twice the amount of house work the man does and the woman does three times the child care ( don't know where Sheryl gets her stats from but I think they are spot on...)
  3. Don't leave before you leave : don't lean back and take your feet off the gas pedal...
I do believe there has been progress in terms of women crossing the traditional boundaries and moving in different positive directions yet I also think that despite all this progress there has been undue stress on the woman in general...having to keep both the home front and work front running smoothly....and more importantly feel like they are not shortchanging one for the other.
Anyhow getting off the serious horse....I wanted to share this yummy pasta I make for my son for all you busy moms :

I buy the whole wheat Ravioli from Butoni ( boil as per instructions)
I make the sauce from scratch - 4 large cloves of garlic, 4 Campari Tomatoes, 2 Carrots, 2 Zucchini, Chicken/Vegetable Stock .
  • Saute the garlic in EVOO
  • Add tomatoes, roughly cut carrots and zucchini ( I use whatever vegetables I have on hand - beans, cauliflower, broccoli,beans)
  • Add stock as per thickness desired
  • Pressure cook for 1-2 whistles
  • Blend, Add salt towards the end...I usually don't need it
  • Freeze or Use
Take the sauce in the pasta bowl. Add some shredded mozzarella cheese. Heat in the oven or microwave. Add the cooked ravioli....start to finish, I can have this meal on the table in 20 minutes (I usually make enough sauce to last me three meals - so yes I freeze the sauce).
K2 helped me prepare this pasta and he did try to help me fold some of the here's to raising a boy who will be an equal partner in every sense...;-)