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The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing – you must be the change that you want to see in the world

For me to quote Gandhi is an irony – I respected him but was never a pacifist, I abhorred any form of injustice and could never keep my big mouth shut…be it slapping someone  double my size who was eve-teasing a timid classmate on the bus to refusing to bribe a police man who had wrongfully confiscated our kinetic honda….there are “n” number of incidents in my life where my choices decided my place in life and it is a place I am happy in…of course there are moments where I have the “what if” questions in my head but I am happy with the majority of the choices I have made in my life…I am ok with not grazing with the herd…and standing out, if  I believe I am walking the right path…

A realization I had late in life in my 8th week of pregnancy was that my baby was what I eat…so I started my treks to the sunday farmer’s market…slowly as my pregnancy progressed I made new friends in the market, people I knew by name – who sold me the freshest eggs, the sweetest strawberries, the strangest looking sunchokes, sumptuous pies, locally sourced honey, and many other things…I learnt that Zucchini flowers could replace pumpkin flowers in the fritters I made that reminded me of home…for the past 6 years I have been mind fully moving a lot of our eating habits to organic foods…watching Aamir Khan’s “Satyameva Jayate” made me feel good about my decision. To A my brother who tells me I have a tendency to over-correct…whatdya say now? This week has been mind-opening  food wise with a constant deluge of movies like : Food Fight, Ingredients and Toast

Why do we revisit our life as we know it at least twice ( for sure) in our lives :

  1. On New Year’s Eve
  2. On our Birthday’s

The years are galloping by – don’t know when I left the teenage and hit adulthood and have been officially middle-aged for a while now…any regrets, of course a number but my perspective now is to look at the glass half full vs. half empty. Does that mean I have become Ms. Sunshine & Sweetness….not really — I still terrorize K2 to write a journal, take a nap, eat healthy stuff….and nag K1 to take the garbage out, listen to me (yeah like that’s happening),  cut the veggies etc….but I do believe this year I learnt to prioritize what matters most and I think what matters most is My Family — I love them and I know that they define me and my existence. I have prioritized happiness – I know life is not always fair and maybe I don’t get what I want or deserve, yet when I take a step back and get a handle on where my life is, I feel grateful…I feel blessed and I choose happiness. I have prioritized inner peace – I choose to kick out that ANT  that was trying to make a place in my mind…making me question the purpose of living, futility of existence etc. etc…I have prioritized health be it my weekly treks to the Farmer’s Market, my foodie adventures in my local market, cooking grains with weird names ( quinoa, farro, amaranth…) or my energizing Zumba classes, relaxing Yoga classes and nature walks with the 2 K’s…

Breakfast yesterday was a blast from the past…something Ma used to make time and again for  me and I am keeping the cycle going –  the little guy loves all things eggs. I am sure y’all have your own version of good old scrambled eggs and toast.

For akoori (parsi scrambled eggs) and Toast

  • 2 Organic Jumbo Brown Eggs ( Olivera Egg Ranch)
  •  4 Egg Whites
  • 2 Thai Chili Peppers (Teng Lee Farm) – finely chopped
  • 1 vine ripened Tomato (Rensendiz Farm) – finely chopped
  • 1 Purple Spring Onion (large) (Rodriguez Farm) – finely chopped
  • Fresh Cilantro (Rodriguez Farm) – finely chopped
  • EVOO
  • Organic Turmeric Powder, Roasted Cumin Powder
  • Beckmann’s Oat Bran Bread

Add 1 tbspoon of EVOO to wok. When the oil heats — add the turmeric and cumin powder – it hisses and sizzles. Then add the chopped onions and the chillies (no chillies for K2). Once it has browned ( go with your gut, its all about the smell and the look). add in chopped tomatoes and cook. While the tomatoes are cooking I break the eggs in a bowl and lightly whisk with some salt ( I used some pink australian sea salt that I had, that I needed to use). Add the eggs to the mixture. Stir till the eggs reach the consistency you like ( I like it really well-done, not soft and runny). Add some organic TJ’s Ketchup (maybe a spoonful, don’t ask me why, I just like it this way).  Sprinkle the cilantro on top.

In parallel make your toast -I usually enjoy my toast with my akoori…one bite of toast and one bite of the egg — some kind of heaven that is. K2 likes his toast with Nutella or Chocolate Peanut Butter and K1 with regular peanut butter 🙂

For me the meal takes me back to childhood but I am conscious that every bite of this meal is locally sourced/pesticide free/organic . This is one of the fool-proof meals that K2 will eat without a single complaint. I usually pair it with a bowl of cut peaches or strawberries to make it a breakfast-dinner kind of a meal for him (when I am unusually tired or usually lazy 🙂 ). Sending this over a topic close to my heart : Let’s Cook: Kids Specia being hosted by Tickling Palates

How do I plan to spend my birthday – work, hug my son, work some more, talk to Bapa, work some more, hug K1, work some more….have a really lovely meal ( I am really craving Ethiopian….why is it that the Peninsula has no good Ethiopian?)…So Another year goes by and life goes on too…

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I was not exactly thrilled when I went to drop K2 in his KG class today and I felt a tug on my tee…it was his worldly classmate L (who almost feels like a mini adult)…she said um…k2’s mom did you know A is K2’s girlfriend, I didn’t know how to react to that statement and yet again did something atypical of a mom (or typical, you tell me)…like an ostrich I stuck my head in the sand. K2 looked embarrassed and looked everywhere but at me…and quickly ran into his class his ears red. Have I grown so old, that I can’t relate to the affections and affectations  of our young ones…when we were that young, we were not so worldly wise…I pray for a few more innocent years, spent laughing and playing with friends, watching birds and loving toys, chasing after bunny rabbits and negotiating for fossils from amazon.com…

K2 has been bugging me for cupcakes the entire month of may…and most days I have been so tired that I have pretty much lay on the sofa like a log watching mindless TV …with an extra appendage my laptop…dinners cooked few and far between, treats – none…so this long weekend, I took the box of pancake mix that was staring accusingly at me and threw together a spectacular muffin — want to have it for breakfast…be my guest, dessert…but of course!

You Need for “Think in the Box” Muffins

  • 3 Cups of Fiber One Complete Pancake Mix
  • 2 cups of Apple Sauce (Santa Cruz Organic)
  • Handful of Chopped Almonds (as much or as little as you can take)
  • Handful of Blueberries /Cranberries  (as much or as little as you can take)
  • 2-3 Tablespoon Honey
  • 8 oz Silk Almond Milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F Mix in a big bowl till all ingredients become one …add to a greased muffin pan. Bake till done…about 25-30 minutes. K2 had 3 on the first day…this recipe goes out to “S”…who reminded me of me from 21 years back… It also goes to Divya’s Culinary Journey  for her event “Showcase : Desserts”

Sometimes thinking within the box  is as creative and fulfilling as thinking outside the box…

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Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

                                                                                                                        —-Winston Churchill
I have some grand illusions that there are people actually reading this blog and when there is no post for ten days someone actually misses it…reality check M..the only person reading your blog is probably you, your dad, K1 (after you remind him) and you (wait…you already said that). Winter and the rainy season is not a good time for me — the sun makes me smile while the rain makes me grumpy…and the last 3 weeks have been very generous with the water works. To make it worse my viral fever gave me neck spasms (think doctors, muscle relaxants, pain killers…and something called a Chiropractor…tried even that twice)…the pain in my neck continues (now you know why I was staring at you from an ackward angle…it wasn’t you it was me). The sun has been out the past two days and I have been pretty laidback about getting dinner on the table, focusing on walks with the 2K’s. So our dinner menu read something like :

  1. Monday : Annie Chun Udon Noodles with tonnes of vegetables
  2. Tuesday : Veggie Pizza from Costco (my first pizza from Costco and pretty damn good)
  3. Wednesday : Take Out from Tava Palo Alto (Thanks A !!!)
  4. Thursday : South Indian – Sambhar, Rice, Cabbage Poriyal, Bhindi Fry (all made by your’s truely)
  5. Friday : leftovers I guess

Last weekend, I was feeling down and out and what perked me up was a super simple “Chinese Soup”…this is my version of it and it is awesome and awesomely simple to make (don’t judge me for the shortcuts…) but I know you will thank me when you have a hot bowl of soup in front of you in less than 10 minutes.

You will need:

  • Half a red onion or handful of scallions ( I used what I had on hand which was red onions)
  • Chopped Fresh Garlic (about half a head)
  • Annie Chun’s Chicken Pot Stickers 
  • Imagine Chicken Broth (low sodium, organic)
  • Shitake Mushrooms (about 4 oz)
  • Bok Choy (about 4-5 big ones or half a dozen little ones)
  • Shredded Carrots ( Trader Joes)
  • Rice Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Chilli Sauce (if you want it)

Saute the onion and garlic in a neutral oil.Add the mushrooms, bok choy, shredded carrots and fry for maybe 2 minutes. Now add in the broth  and the dumplings. Simmer for 5 minutes, add soy sauce and rice wine vinegar to taste…go easy on the chilli sauce if you are recovering from a viral flu :-)…Take a huge bowl, spoon and start slurping…

This recipe goes out to The Spanish Wok for the The Soup Kitchen Event : Chinese Soup

What are your plans for Earth Day?

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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 failures…so 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…

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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 women…one 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 laundry…so here’s to raising a boy who will be an equal partner in every sense…;-)

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It’s been 5 days since I got back from India…things have been busy and more than a little hectic. Two not-too-subtle reminders from Bapa to “blog”…and my repartee – but I call you every day, my head is empty…let’s just talk… Yesterday, K2 woke up again at 4.00 AM – I made Oatmeal, packed our lunch boxes and cooked dinner ( what does one do with so much empty time 🙂 ) and went to a Yoga class. 
The days in India were complex and yet so simple – every day a routine yet the time spent with family filling the heart with emotions that I will cherish. K2 blossomed in the love of the two sets of grand parents absolutely taking to India like fish to water…no sickness, affectionate, voracious for learning and Indian food — his absolute favorite – Desi Chinese – golden fried shrimp and american chopsuey. 

I had mentally prepared myself to eat to my heart’s content and be ok with gaining a couple pounds along the way — however, even though I ate to my heart’s content ( and it was a lot of food)…my walking almost 150 kms with my father in 20 days, 8 Yoga Classes and 2 Aerobics classes seems to have helped me lose weight…who would have thought that !!! My most memorable food experiences for this trip had to be most of my mother’s meals (especially the begun bhaja and the badi chura), the kathi roll from Faaso’s, the dhoklas from Kaka Halwai and the Hurda (thanks V for turning me on to them).
Coming back has been difficult – the weather has been nothing short of temperamental this week what with the sunny days followed by incessant cold and the thunderstorms…a child who has been waking up at 2.00AM, then 3.00 AM…then 4.00 AM…then 5.00 AM, today was the first day he slept in…read as I got to sleep in…I didn’t have the energy to cook the first couple days so we survived on take-out, trader joe’s frozen section and pasta pomodaro. When I did start cooking what a meal we made (it was a joint effort you  see, today while I was away to Yoga, K1 and K2 marinated the salmon and cut the cauliflower)…

If you are curious it is – Tandoori Salmon, Roasted Cauliflower and a California Red Quinoa Salad (courtesy whole foods). My resolution for this week is to Eat Down the Freezer. No good time to start practicing it than now…we have a lot of hidden goodies in our freezer from Wontons and Potstickers to Seekh Kababs to different kinds of breads (including GreenLees Cinnamon Bread), frozen vegetables to Aidells mini-sausages (spicy and mild)…so I am sure this will be an easy win for us this week.
I have been in an introspective mood for the past some months…too much thinking yet since I came back from India – the blur of activities, the time spent with family and jet lag has really emptied my mind…in a good sort of way. Brings to mind a very pertinent passage by J.Krishnamurthy in his book the “Book of Life”
There is no path to truth, it must come to you. Truth can come to you only when your mind and heart are simple, clear, and there is love in your heart; not if your heart is filled with the things of the mind. When there is love in your heart, you do not talk about organizing for brotherhood; you do not talk about belief, you do not talk about division or the powers that create division, you need not seek reconciliation. Then you are a simply a human being without a label, without a country. This means that you must strip yourself of all those things and allow truth to come into being; and it can come only when the mind is empty, when the mind ceases to create. Then it will come without your invitation. Then it will come as swiftly as the wind and unbeknown. It comes obscurely, not when you are watching, wanting. It is there as sudden as sunlight, as pure as the night; but to receive it, the heart must be full and the mind empty.”
Things are quiet on the home front…I have in front of me an interesting novel – Chankya’s Chant and in my hand a cup of Tulsi Chai (organic india) sweetened with honey…a softly snoring K2 on my side and K1 in the gym…how is your weekend shaping up?

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Covered in a blanket of fog,
As the wind whispers sweet nothings in my ears.
The crisp scent refreshes the senses,
From the stately eucalyptus tree.
A slight shimmer in the air from the raindrops,
The smell of earth envelops the air.
The snow covered peaks resplendent,
Untouched in their beauty…
Am I in love with these foothills…
Or is this a brief interlude, to be replaced again by the random busy life?

My visit to Kalimpong is etched in my mind – so much so that I had written this poem about that visit in 1995. Four days of quietude spent with my parents in beautiful Dak Bunglows …quiet elegant beautiful buildings from the pre-Independence era with lots of character and sumptuous meals cooked and served by the  attentive messman, trips to the monastery and the vast tea estates, not to forget the flea markets. We never did get to try any of the ghati cuisines which would have exposed me to a multitude of international flavors – Burmese, Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepali….truth be told even until last week I was a stranger to most of these cuisines…but not anymore. Last week on a relaxed trip away for Thanksgiving I got to try Nepali cuisine twice (in four days).

The food was simplicity …very close to Oriya /Bengali cuisine yet with difference. The dal was channa dal simply laced with cumin, hing and ghee…there were 2 tarkaris/curry ( one vegetable, one chicken), Mango and Cilantro chutney, Rice and sookhi chapatis…a meal to remember. Do you know what K2 polished off – the Momos…they are very pot-sticker like.
Given K2’s intense love for all things pot-stickers and the chilly, foggy weather I have made this quick soup to warm us and ward away the chill…

What you need?

  1. 1 package of Annie Chun Pot Sticker’s – with shitake mushrooms
  2. some fresh veggies – I used shredded  carrots, edamame (soy beans), enoki mushrooms and some campari tomatoes ( go with whatever veggies you like that fits into this recipe : bamboo shoots, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli etc.)
  3. Minced Garlic, Chopped Scallion, 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar, 1 tsp Soy Sauce, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  4. Pacific Vegetable Broth
  5. Cilantro to Garnish
  • Combine the Vegetable Broth, Rice Wine Vinegar, Soy Sauce and Minced Garlic and bring to a gentle simmer
  • Add the vegetables and the potstickers
  • Simmer gently for about 5-7 minutes. Add the Chopped Scallions and freshly chopped Cilantro

I didn’t add any green chilis to the soup as I was sharing it with my little boy. He slurped up his share, it was the second soup after the cheesy tomato soup that I have seen him enjoy so much. This recipe goes out to Vardhini @ Zesty Palette for her event Dish it Out ( featuring tomatoes and soy) and to Kalyani @ Sizzling Tastebuds for the event “Flavors of China” ( Kalyani is guest hosting Nayna’s event).

Hope you got a breather with the holidays…do “flirt with the foothills in your life”…you can find them in the most innocuous of places. Life feels like an adventure whether it is one with travelling, the gym, reading, doing homework with my son, food and work…and I am glad I am able to be a part of so many new experiences and drag the 2K’s with me…



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