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Archive for the ‘Movies & TV’ Category

Talking of addictions…apart from the gym and grocery store I have been addicted to the “good ol’ telly” and for the past month or so have been watching “Prime Suspect” (1-7) with Helen Mirren. I was hooked…K1 lost interest somewhere around Episode 2 and to be fair to him, the storyline was slow moving, procedural and focused on the struggles of the female protagonist against the misogyny and sexism of her male colleagues during the investigative process. I watched “The Final Act” and as it ended there was a sadness that I won’t have any more episodes to look forward to and a resentment at how it all ends for Jane… who was in most circumstances a police officer first and a woman second – leaving us an impression of a woman dependant on alcohol, who was losing her identity (she was retiring from the job that consumed her life)…broken, lonely, lost….and trying to survive. I try to tell myself things have changed and there has been a lot more progress now since the 20 years back that they first conceived the idea of “Prime Suspect”…but then has it really?
 Last week I was reading  an eye-opening report “Stemming the Tide” by professors at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – the study focused on women in Engineering (but I would put forward that this would broadly apply to  roles in technology companies/start-ups in the Silicon Valley). They found that just one in four women who had left the field reported doing so to spend more time with family. One third left “because they did not like the workplace climate, their boss or the culture,” while almost half departed due to “working conditions, too much travel, lack of advancement or low salary”….Cultural Stereotypes have women branded as “nice and compassionate” and men as “aggressive and competitive” and if a woman exhibited the latter traits – the behavior is considered inappropriate and presumptuous (Note: I didn’t say this the Dept. of Sociology at North Western makes this claim).

Reality is I have never really thought about it being a man’s world and have always believed that you focus on the tasks at hand and delivering results and then demand expect the appropriate rewards. I have been exposed to situations where my belief system has been shaken and questioned BUT then again I have been in multiple situation where I have discovered that actions do get rewarded…however for the most part I think what is key is the following : a woman needs to balance her personal goals  with her professional goals and prioritize the must- haves for success. I know that I want to get home  to a kindergartner and I choose to cook dinner for him every night vs. do take-outs. Yes, that means more chores (cooking, grocery, clean-up) but it also gives me a peace of mind and satisfaction that I am making healthy choices for my family. It also makes me more efficient at work because I focus on getting the task at hand completed vs. taking coffee breaks, lunch breaks, walk breaks (all of these principles fly out of the window if there are no tasks on hand 🙂 )

 Balance in my mind is not a resting place. It requires flexibility, adaptability, strategy, intuition, moving quickly and yet keeping still. Perhaps this balancing act is the ultimate art of the feminine, reflective of our daily quest to juggle family, career and self. So yes, I  understand it is a Man’s World  but I choose to play work in it on my own terms. There might come a time in my life when I question my decisions and reprioritize but for now…life goes on…

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Over the long weekend, we took it slow – we strolled in the mall and bought nothing, just walked around people watching, we hung out with A whom we hadn’t seen in more than 2 months. We spent Saturday with good friends C and P over a pot of delicious Paella and store bought Dhoklas…C I hadn’t seen in over 2 years and she was (is) one of my closest friends,so catching up was great.We went to the library on Sunday and picked up a bunch of movies…K2 is in the Berenstain Bears phase and I scrounged in the kids section for  their DVDs and  found Get Organized and Mind your Manners…and while I was on this hunt for K2’s DVDs I spied on  “Fast Food Nation” and picked it up. A long hike down the bay trails later, K1 and I sat down over a relaxed dinner and watched Fast Food Nation – let me tell you I was glad we were eating a vegetarian meal that day (and even more glad that I didn’t eat hamburgers…ever!)…the movie was a candid view at different issues that plague the American Society – Conformity, Apathy…among others and interwoven is a killing story about   America’s fast food industry – when a marketing executive for the Mickey’s burger chain is told there’s a nasty secret ingredient in his latest culinary creation – The Big One, he heads for the ranches and slaughterhouses of Colorado to investigate…but discovers the truth a bit difficult to swallow….

In this country where we find it easier to just dress up, pick up the car keys and run out to pick up some food…or even better order take-out with the press of a few phone buttons – it is hard to cook food from scratch — and who am I to judge, there are days when I come back all tired from work and all I wish for is a warming bowl of Khichidi with some spicy achaar and all I have on hand is zippo…we do try and make healthy choices then – a creamy organic tomato soup from TJs, or a burrito from Amy’s or a Naanwich from Sukhi’s.

There is a joy to slowing down and enjoying a stroll down the farmer’s market while sampling their fresh produce and buying local, buying a beautiful mint plant and planting it in my backyard  and watching it grow and planning a meal with my family (a salad made with leaves from that mint plant)…and most importantly watching my son’s interest in food grow and his food knowledge and horizon expand (he tried Ethiopian food last month and pupusas and tamales the month before and empanadas this week)- so with a commitment to trying to cook more I brought myself this weekend – a beautiful Le Creuset Cookware set (I have waited  awhile for this beauty).
At our place we are having  tonight a spicy Zunka (made from Jalapenos) and saucy Usal with rotis – a maharashtrian’s dream meal…what is cooking in your kitchen?

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Ok…so I have a confession to make. The genre of movies I like run along the lines of psychological thrillers and suspense. One such movie that I watched many years back on a cold rainy day was called “Seven”…I get chills down my spine even now as I think of that movie – the seven deadly sins (Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Pride. Lust. Envy)…the brilliant,elusive serial killer targeting the so-called sinners.
Truth be told – these seven sins are an integral part of my life at some point or the other. Put your hand to your heart and ask yourself and you will see what I mean…I will give you an example : when I was pregnant with K2, I polished off an entire fruit cake (from Passage to India) in one sitting with a big glass of milk…if that isn’t gluttony…don’t know what is.I have very exacting standards for myself and my close family and friends …unfortunately life is not always as black and white as I make it out to be in my head. Why this sudden flashback on Se7en, just that I am dealing with a lot of the above-mentioned  in so-called near and dear ones and the temptation in my mind is a “singular disconnect”…(a concept I coined in my exploration of all things mind…but not one I want to delve into today 🙂 ).

 Life has been busy in a vacuum the past week – K2 is sick (yet again)…and we are spending the long weekend quite quietly…tempers ran high, temperatures ran even higher – life is a constant wheedle, needle and whine with K2 right now and my hope is that he out grows this phase soon. I can’t wait for him to start school near our house…

Today I want to give you the butter chicken recipe I have been titillating JL and M with –

You Need –

  • 1  Large Onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 small knob of Ginger, 4 cloves of Garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 8 Tomatoes (ripe and juicy)
  • 2 Jalapenos (roughly chopped, more if you want more of a kick)
  • 2 pounds of Grilled Organic Chicken ( yes, for me it was the short cut 🙂  – shredded and de-boned)
  • Spices – Roasted and Ground Powder (Chilly Powder, Cinnamon,Clove,Nutmeg,Cumin and Coriander)
  • Kasturi Methi Leaves
  • Salt to taste, little brown sugar
  • Organic Valley Sour Cream – non fat
  1.  2 spoons of  Olive or Saffola Oil – add the spices . Add a pinch  of brown sugar, when the sugar caramelizes add the Onions, Jalapenos Ginger and Garlic. Cook till golden and fragrant and then add the tomatoes – when the tomatoes are cooked and the oil separates (takes a lot of TLC)…turn your cooking range off and add the kasturi methi leaves and salt.Let it cool.
  2. Now take your food processor and grind to a smooth, creamy paste with some water ( I used my Magic Bullet, less clean up).
  3. Put the mixture back in the pan and gently heat, add the chicken pieces, 2-3 spoons of the OV Sour Cream (go as per your taste). Keep it on low heat – as it comes to a rolling boil, add 2 table spoons of tomato ketchup (my secret weapon !!!) and check the salt levels. Turn off. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Enjoy with a bowl of hot steaming rice.

I am hoping to finish this book that K1 passed along to me – A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink…and when K2 is feeling better watch Kungfu Panda 2. How has your weekend been treating you?

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Have you ever picked up a movie not expecting much and then getting blown away…with the intent of full disclosure K1 and I have been trying to cut K2’s TV time down…however, as I was picking up the organic eggs and yogurt and a chocolate pie my attention was riveted by the redbox vending machine. I went there fully expecting to pick up an action thriller like “Knight and Day” or “Salt” for some mindless entertainment with homemade popcorn…I ended up picking up “How to Train your Dragon“. K2 and I have already watched the movie twice in the past 20 hours…the storyline was great…the special effects amazing !!! Mea Culpa! I have already exceeded K2’s TV quota for the week…but there was nothing else I would have rather done on a cold blustery Sunday morning, than sit under a warm quilt with a cup of chai, watching the movie with K2.
How has your weekend been thus far? I made my 20 minute Saag Paneer which turned out excellent and a repeat of the whole wheat cheese pizza from the TJ’s pizza dough for K2. I went for a 90 minutes Yoga class and my muscles are still complaining…

Here is a recipe for my quick cooking Saag Paneer. Try it and let me know if it worked for you –

Stuff Needed

  • 1 LB Clamshell Organic Spinach
  • 200 grams Paneer (Indian Cheese available in any indian store)
  • 1/4 Carton TJ’s Organic Tomato Soup
  • 1 tablespoon Hot Sauce ( I used the really hot hot sauce from “Curry Up Now”…what can I say I hate wasting)
  • 1 small red onion, little knob of ginger and 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala

(A) In a glass container put the spinach in the microwave for 3 minutes
(B) Cut the Paneer into small cubes, put on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and chaat masala. Sprayed with Canola Oil and broiled in the oven for 5 minutes till golden brown.
(C) Fry the onions, ginger and garlic in minimal oil. You decide how much. I added maybe 1/4 tsp.
(D) Blend the wilted spinach with the tomato soup, hot sauce, garam masala and the fried Onion, Garlic, Ginger.
(E) Add the blended mix to the pan and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Now add in the broiled paneer and simmer for another 5 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Add the salt to your taste.

Enjoy the dish with a warm whole wheat naan or some hot brown rice. This dish is rich in protiens (from the paneer), iron (from the spinach) and has high fiber content.

I will now stop flogging myself over “too much TV time” for the young un and focus on enjoying the rest of my Sunday.

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