Day 48

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Very few people would know or believe that you have had the ultimate, exhilarating experience of getting arrested on US soil. Sounds scary, but you also never underestimated the importance of having fun. So, yes we all had fun in that situation too.
It was when we were going to Canada for a holiday with my mum, dad and you. This was from our earlier days in Kenya and we were transiting through Amsterdam and US to Canada. The border security officer at Amsterdam airport was perplexed to see so many passports together and somehow missed checking if you had a US visa. We were not stopping in the US, so we did not think a visa was needed for you to switch between planes. My mum and dad had US visas, but we did not think they were going to use them for that trip!
So, you arrived in the US airport without a visa. The immigration officer simply said ”We are arresting you and you will be deported”. You just laughed and looked at us. We then explained the situation to the officer and he said they would hold your passport until we boarded the flight to Canada. Our layover was a few hours at one of the busiest airports in the world. There were no places to sit, and here you were- supposedly detained. You were held in a nice waiting lounge (though there were a couple people in handcuffs there), away from the crowds. We all followed you and the whole family enjoyed the lounge! We all had fun and enjoyed the moments when a lady Marshall accompanied you to the washroom. One could say to us- how stupid can we be to not get a visa, but no one looks stupid when they are having fun!

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I was not ready..

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I was supposed to be ready when my most loved and favorite person left us this past Sunday (October 15, 2017). We all knew she had been bravely battling cancer for three years. Her health was declining in the past few months, so I was supposed to be ready to say goodbye. After all, she was in her late seventies and had other medical conditions. I am not a child or even a young adult. At my age, I was supposed to be ready. The family and I knew the end was coming, so I was supposed to be ready. Her health was declining in the past few months, so I was supposed to be ready to say goodbye.DSC09280

But I was not.

I’m not sure how to cope with the grief of forever physically losing Sudha Mehra, my second mother, my mother-in-law, my best friend, and my favorite person in the world. I don’t know who to talk to for endless hours about everything under the sun. I don’t know who to tell about everything that I feel and do each day.

Even though we can’t see her anymore, I know that she is there with me, with all of us in our hearts. We were lucky to have such a great mother, and even luckier that we were able to spend so much time with her throughout her life and especially so much near the end.

Grief does not end. Rather, grief comes and goes. And then it comes again. The process does not have to be hurried. I will not let anyone belittle this loss, make me feel guilty for grieving deeply, or hurry me through my grief. I am entitled to feel all of grief’s intricacies and all of grief’s intensity. I want to take my time and live with her memories.

I want to remember her as the lively and loving person that she was and celebrate her life. There are so many memories of her that come to mind so it would be next to impossible for me to pick a favorite.

She was so keen to enjoy life to the fullest while keeping up with, and often exceeding, the pace at which the world was changing. She had the courage and desire to do things that even some youngsters have not done so far. A little motivation and encouragement got her to take computer lessons in a foreign land in a classroom setting, take swimming lessons at the age of 65, experience river rafting, try out a canopy walk at 200 feet above ground, enjoy dog sledding in minus 35 degrees temperature, and much more. She was one of the most tech savvy people at her age, well ahead of her time in many ways in using a smartphone, laptop and iPad. She played video games on a Game Boy almost a decade ago, and continued to maintain a profile on Facebook and Instagram as a way to keep busy and stay connected. The best way that I can think of paying a tribute to her is to post her memories each day on social networks for 77 days, one day for each year of her vibrant life.

The void created by her sudden death is still hard to grasp. She was someone that we took for granted would be around for much longer.
A vibrant soul, one who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. She was full of joy, right up until the end.

She thrived on social interactions. Her glow, her smile, her gentle touch made her friends easily and people didn’t forget her. All one had to do was start a conversation with her and she became friends with many a stranger in no time. Mumma was a popular lady and would welcome company with open arms.

Her knowledge of Hindi, the proverbs or muhavaras was simply exemplary and so impressive. She was always quick to pull one out of her memory at the right time and make the conversations even more interesting. It pains me to think that all of that is gone with her. I learnt so much from her about our family traditions, religious rituals, cooking Indian delicacies, crafts like knitting, embroidery, shuttlework (which is almost extinct now) and much more. I will miss those festival times when we would all sit together, chat endlessly and prepare sweets and savories.

Thank you mumma for everything you’ve given us and the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth.

Mumma, I know you would surely have found a way in the heavens to check your Facebook account, let me say to you- I don’t know how I will cope without you and will miss you more than words can say.

Curried Potatoes from Old Delhi- दरीबे के आलू रस

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SERVES: 4-5

COOKING TIME: 10-15 Minutes

GLUTEN FREE- LOADED WITH POTASSIUM (more than a banana), VITAMIN C, B6 and IRON

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Using Pressure Cooker will take 10-12 minutes whereas it will take 20-30 minutes in a regular pan. 

You save: 40% of fuel energy and 15 minutes of your precious time that is about 8 to 10% of the total time you spend in kitchen on an average(assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen).

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon of oil
1 pinch of asafoetida powder
½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
2 tablespoons crushed fennel seed
4 teaspoons Methi chutney masala, if available or
(1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds and 2 whole red chilli)
2 small tomato chopped
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
4 palm sized potato chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 inch frozen crushed green chilli
1 teaspoon mango powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Fresh or frozen coriander leaves

STEP 1. Put asafoetida powder, Cumin, fennel seed powder and all other seeds (if not using Methi chutney masala) in heated oil
STEP 2. Sauté for less than a minute, then add tomato and red chilli powder and cover the pan for 3-4 minutes till tomato become soft.
STEP 3. Add potatoes, salt, turmeric powder, frozen crushed green chilli and Methi chutney masala (if available)and enough water to submerge everything plus 2-3 inches, let the cooker give 2 whistles or leave the pressure cooker with whistle on for 10 minutes on fire)
STEP 4. Open cooker lid, add mango powder, garam masala and coriander leaves to garnish before you serve.

thumb_IMG_0280_1024HANDY TIPS:
1. Always wait for the steam in pressure cooker to release by itself. This is a safety precaution as well as retains all flavour of the food.
2. When done, before serving crush a few potatoes in the curry to thicken the density of the curry.

 

How do I manage excess cooked food? Freeze or not?

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Freezing food is a good way to have meals on the go! Whether it be leftovers or extra big batches made for future consumption, it is important to know how to store different foods. Here are some steps to make sure that frozen/refrigerated food is safe to eat and the taste is well preserved for your next meal:

      1. Freeze any fresh cooked food only once it cools down and reaches room temperature. You can quicken the cooling process by placing food in a shallow container on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate all around the container. Limiting the depth of food in containers to 2 inches or less leads to quick cooling.
      2. You can refrigerate practically any recipe of fresh cooked food if you are not going to use it for the next 2-3 days. If you plan to use the cooked food within this time, it is perfectly safe to keep it in fridge, it does not need to take up freezer space!
      3. thumb_IMG_0290_1024Store/freeze excess cooked food in small differently sized containers or freezer bags (not storage bags) so that you only reheat/thaw the amount needed for that meal. thumb_IMG_0105_1024

If using freezer bags try to flattened the food into a thin layer. A lumpy or rounded shape takes longer to thaw through to the middle.
Flat packages are also better for stacking in your freezer.

4. If you had to freeze a large container but want to eat a part of it at a time, be careful when refreezing partly thawed food. The thawed food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals. Try to reduce the time between thawing and refreezing to ensure that the food to be refrozen does not thaw completely.

Also check- How best to thaw frozen food? and Facts to know with freezing and thawing cooked food.

Guilt Free, Gluten free, no carb Pizza

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GLUTEN FREE, NO CARBS 

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? 

A similar conventional recipe for a home made flour based pizza base would take considerable time for yeast to work its way. Nutritional benefits of cauliflower and goodness of eggs adds to the dietary value of the pizza base. 

Vegan Option (no eggs, no dairy, no sugar)

For the vegan option replace eggs with chia/flax seeds and almond meal mixed with water. (see recipe below) 

How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

This recipe requires minimum cooking time, you save fuel energy and your precious time. You can also make 2-3 pizza bases with the same oven baking time and save them for future use.

SERVES- 2-3
COOKING TIME
15 minutes for no flour pizza base
20-30 minutes for vegan pizza base
8-10 minutes for pizza toppings

Flour free Pizza (with eggs)

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium sized cauliflower (400 grams)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Red chilli flakes (optional)
1 table spoon dill weed or oregano(optional)
Pizza toppings and cheese to taste

guilt free pizzaSTEPS:
1. Chop/grind cauliflower and squeeze all water out of it.
2. Beat eggs and add all ingredients to it (squeezed cauliflower, salt, chilli flakes and oregano).
3. Spread/pat down the mixture on parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes at 400F or until the base turns lightly brown. It usually take 10 minutes.
4. Add toppings and cheese to the pizza to your taste and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

For Vegan Option:

INGREDIENTS:
1 medium sized cauliflower (400 grams)
3 tablespoons of ground chia or flax seeds
1/2 cup of almond meal
3 to 6 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Red chilli flakes (optional)
1 table spoon dill weed or oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pizza toppings to taste

Preparation For Vegan pizza base:

Mix ground chia or flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and leave for 10 minutes for the mixture to look like thick vegan egg

STEPS:
1. Chop/grind cauliflower and squeeze all water out of it.
2. Add all other ingredients squeezed cauliflower that is chia mix, almond meal, salt, chilli flakes and oregano). You may need to add more water for the mixture to be able to spread like dough, but add as little to make the crust crispy.
3. Spread by patting the mixture on parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes at 400F or until the base is lightly brown.
4. Add toppings to the pizza to your taste and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Spread or spray some olive oil on the pizza just before putting it in the oven. This will make it more crisp and yummy.
2. You can make more than one pizza base as per your choice of thickness of the base and save them when they cool down. Wrap the base in a cling wrap and freeze for future use.

Chickpea Fish or Eggplant with Oats -अमृतसरी मच्छी या बैगुन और ज्वार का पोहा

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GLUTEN FREE

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? 

A similar conventional fried fish recipe would take considerable oil and time to deep fry the fish. Nutritional benefits of chickpea flour and goodness of veggies in the oats as a side, add to the dietary value and palate. 

How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

This recipe needs only 10 minutes of cooking time, you save fuel energy and your precious time.

SERVES: 3-4
COOKING TIME: 8-10 Minutes
PREPARATION: 10 minutes (Marination)

INGREDIENTS:

For Main Recipe
400 grams fish (or Zucchini/Eggplant for vegetarian option)
1 teaspoon of oil
50 grams frozen or fresh ginger
50 grams of fresh or frozen crushed garlic
cut coriander leaves
2 chopped fresh or frozen green chillies
2 pinches of orange food colour
1 tea spoon of salt
100 grams of chickpea flour

For SIDE
200 grams of rolled oats
2 teaspoon of oil
1/2 cup frozen green or fresh peas
1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn
3-4 nuggets of frozen spinach
10-15 craisins
10-15 pieces of pecans
3/4 glass of water

STEPS -Main recipe:
STEP 1. Mix all ingredients except oil and chickpea flour and marinade fish or Zucchini/eggplant pieces with it, leave it for 10 minutes.
STEP 2. Add chickpea flour and oil and smear all pieces well with the flour. before putting them on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).
STEP 3. Put all pieces on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).

IMG_1154STEPS for side :
STEP 1.
In another pan sauté rolled oats in heated oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
STEP 2. 
Add all ingredients including water. Let it simmer with lid closed for 3-5 minutes.
STEP 3.  
Serve fish with oats.  You can add all spice to oats before serving.

 

HANDY TIPS:
1. Cooking on high flame with lid covered will leave the fish/zucchini/eggplant juicy and tender while the chickpea flour will make it crisp from outside.
2. Be creative and replace fish/zucchini/eggplant and or marination herbs with your choice of flavour/aroma.

Spicy Sweet Tomato Chutney-खट्टी मीठी टमाटर चटनी

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Why this recipe?

GLUTEN FREE- loaded with vitamins and minerals

QUICK TO MAKE- Takes less than 10 minutes to cook to tingle your taste buds.

This recipe can replace canned and preserved tomato dips/sauces/salsa with a freshly made nutritious accompaniment.

You can be creative -add other ingredients like spring onions, nuts, raisins, berries, mushrooms or green pepper to further enhance flavour.

Cooking Time: 7-10 minutes

Serves- 3-4

INGREDIENTS:

2 big ripe tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 pinch asafoetida powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 inch of frozen grated ginger or 25 grams of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of oil

STEPS
Step 1. Heat oil, add cumin seeds and hing (asafoetida) and let it brown for 30 seconds.
Step 2. Put all ingredients except garam masala and keep stirring until chutney becomes thick to the density of ketchup.
Step 3. Add garam masala and serve warm or cold.

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