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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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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 garage…life 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)…you 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 already….how have you been this past week?

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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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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, Zucchini…it 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?

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I picked up three different editions  of “Positive Discipline” this week – (a) Positive Discipline for Pre-Schoolers (b) Positive Discipline for Working Parents and (c) A-Z of Positive Discipline. I don’t know how successful I will be in reading and incorporating the principles of the book into my life but as I say to myself everyday  take”baby steps”. K2 is mostly a bright, mentally exhausting engaging and precocious precious  little boy BUT even he has his off-days. His school has a reward system : every child starts the day with a sunshine, they can over time either get a rainbow (if they did something extraordinary) or a cloud (if they did something wrong) or a storm (something really wrong and the parent gets summoned)…K2 in 50 days of school has two rainbow and two clouds and multiple off-days. I love the fact that his teacher Mrs.B lets me know of the off-days (K2 not that much)…he does not want me talking to Mrs. B about him because he knows that he “loses” some privilege on the cloud/off-days days. So here is our conversation from yesterday:
Me: So why was yesterday an off-day K2
K2: Ma, I had my listening ears sleeping and so I didn’t listen to Mrs. B
Me : You know that is bad right!
K2 : Yes, but my listening ears are all awake now with you Ma (notice the slight-a-bit brown nosing)
Me : Well, I guess then you can hear clearly that you lose TV  privilege today
K2 : What about the computer?
Me : No
K2: ipad?
Me: No
K2: Leapster
Me: No
K2 (in tears) : What can I do then?
Me: Eat your parathas and work on a puzzle and some drawing homework

 K2 eating dosas on the kitchen counter as his Ma makes them for him…one of his favorite foods is dosas.

More tears and negotiations later….K2 did exactly that. But I fear that my tough love might be psychologically impacting the brat…hence the need for positive reinforcement (the eternal Pavlovian dog)with a book like the above mentioned …what journeys has parenting been taking you in?

There is an incessant cold filling my world…it is the precursor to winter and the chills and I would trade it in any day for the warm sun…I prefer the warmth and sunshine. Both K2 and I are prone to the winter sniffles, so I am trying to bolster the immunity system with a lot of warm foods (kapha alleviating foods) and chyvanprash for K2…we will see how successful I am with this. Anyway, while I was at the library picking up the parenting books, my eyes fell on another book “Sukham Ayu“and I was hooked. According to Ayurveda, Ayu or life is a synthesis of the body,senses, mind and soul. For there to be positive synergy, there needs to be balance. Balance is delicate and comes with moderation and the recognition of what food goes with one’s system and what doesn’t…For example – I absolutely adore spicy, heavy “goat curry” but don’t have it often (think 2-3 times a year)…the reason being that my tongue rejoices at first taste while my body revolts…there is this heavy sense in the stomach followed by severe heartburn. Unfortunately, even though the head says no, there are times when I give into the temptation knowing the repercussions. The first recipe that I tried from this book was a “soopa” or a “soup”….I made the Vegetable and Lentil Soopa today and that will be our dinner with toasted multigrain bread.

 here is a picture of the soopa pre-blending….check out the beautiful orange hue from the pumpkin.


Ingredients:
  1. 2 cups cut pumpkin ( Halloween remnants)
  2. 1 cup Lauki/bottlegourd
  3. 1 cup Cabbage
  4. 1 cup Green Beans
  5. 1/2 Cup of Mung Dal
  6. 1/2 cup finely chopped Onions, 4 cloves of garlic
  7. Ghee, Salt, Pepper 

Steps:

  • Pressure Cook the first five items
  • Now fry the onions and garlic in a tad bit of ghee
  • Now take the veggies and the sauteed onions and garlic and blend in a blender ( I did it in my magic bullet)
  • Add back to the saucepan and simmer for a minute or two. Add salt ( they recommend rock salt, all I had was sea salt) and pepper to taste. I added toasted cumin powder and cinnamon powder too ( this was not recommended in the book but I felt like it).
  • Sprinkled Fresh Cilantro and enjoy with toasted multi grain bread.

Sending this recipe across to Vardhini  @ Vardhini’s Kitchen for the Zesty Palettes Series : Halloween Fiesta and Srivalli of Cooking4allSeasons for the Soups and Salads Mela  and I promise there will be more recipes to come from this book.

The truth my friends is the words of a Al Stewart song that someone had once penned for me – “Nothing that’s forced can ever be right, if it doesn’t come naturally, leave it”…different context but the words still ring true…if the philosophy of Ayurveda and mostly vegetarian eating sound strange just leave it…

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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 !!!

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With relationships,
There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found
While journeying this road –
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best.
                                      —A Wise Person

My father and my son’s father are two people I take for granted in my life. Two incredible human beings that have taught me so much in life – while my father taught me that life does make you fall, it also makes you rise, treat every adversity with a smile, courage and dignity — what the father of my son taught me is – it is alright not to be in control all the time, it is OK to let go and enjoy the moment, live in the present.

The love that I feel for these two human beings is immense- however, like the wise person above said – they are also the people I hurt the most with my criticisms, my high expectations and unreasonable demands. The truth of the matter is – without you in my life, I would be incomplete. Thank You for everything.

Happy Father’s Day to all the special Fathers in my life (you all know who you are 🙂 )


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