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Showing posts from July, 2007

Eating habits

Both Ash and Mira enjoy the bottle! Of milk, that is! I dunno how to effect the transition to the cup, since both refuse milk in anything other than the feeding bottle. (My mom tells me I went to nursery school with milk in the feeding bottle, and that it was with great difficulty they managed to stop the habit by the time I was 5.) Guess it runs in the family.Ash was indeed using a cup for taking milk but it was with great difficulty that we could get him to finish his glass of milk. And at some point he decided to try the bottle again. We let him, since he is a picky eater and milk was the only thing he would have without much coercion.
As messy as it can get... Mira shows an inclination to feed herself - steamed rice and green gram thoren abandoning the rice gruel (left) I made for her - though cleaning up the table and her special chair and the floor is my liability. High chairs for kids are not in vogue in India though I find a few restaurants have them.
p.s. I am on leave since As…

Fowl moods

An old published piece of mine (coincidentally this day in July 1995, Indian Express), which I had promised to put on my blog when I blogged about my granny ...

Much ado over an egg
It all started when grandma caught hold of a hen sneaking into the storeroom and shoved her under a wicker basket. These hens relish the idea of being chased, all in the manner of avian courtship, before giving way to capture.
All was quiet on the kitchen front for another half and hour. Then emerged a human form from the kitchen, lifted the hen by its tail feathers and made a quick exit. Either the hen took a moment to register the fact that she had lost an egg, or she took a few minutes to come to terms with her surroundings as she stood still gazing upwards. Then she started wailing miserably, protesting against the inhumanity of humans.
A rooster wandering close to the house heard the alarm raised by a worthy member of the fair sex, and he crowed in unison to sympathise with the unlucky female. Confusion r…

Ash's Eiffel tower

HE gets mad when the footwear keeps falling. But he did manage to pile them up at last! As a result the shoe rack is generally practically empty.

Dinner worries

Yesterday I reached home at 9 p.m. to find that father-son-and-daughter had finished off the yam fry (which got overcooked and almost looked like mashed yam with a sprinkling of chilli and oil in it) and buttermilk curry I had painstakingly prepared (the yam leaving me with two itchy palms) for lunch and dinner. I had calculated that the serving would see us through dinner too, but I was in for a shock. I should have been pleased that it denoted the success of my culinary venture, but at that late hour I couldnt be less than irritated. The marinated fish needed thawing, the milk for the kids remained frozen and to top it I had to think of some vegetable to make.
"You could have at least taken them out of the freezer," I grumbled to hubby who had come in over an hour before me.
"How am I expected to know. You could have phoned me and told me," he countered.
I decided enough was enough and went off to peel potatoes. That is the easiest dish I can think of. Potato fry. O…

Blog sabbatical!

A friend emailed to ask: No blog today? She does that whenever I dont blog. So I have this excuse that I blog for her sake.
Well, the fact is there has been nothing interesting happening in our uninteresting lives these days other than the usual monotonous things. That I eat, sleep, bathe, cook blah blah...
I have decided that I will check at least the headlines on newspapers before I embark on cooking - since Monday. Which means I get only breakfast ready (out of ready-to-cook idli batter from the supermarket or Two-minutes noodles or 1-minute Oats - I must try ready-to-serve chapati and idiappam from the stores next!) before the kids and their father leave. The bulk of my cooking comes after, and when I am through with it by 11 am to have a kaaka-kuli (crow's bath) and rush out myself - after checking whether the balcony doors have been closed, the gas cylinder has been switched off, the maid's lunch is served on a platter etc. etc. "All that hardly takes a second each,&q…

Kerala chicken stew

I am not planning to turn this into a food blog. But I thought the appam recipe was not complete without the chicken stew to go with it. This is something I picked up from my mil soon after marriage - though my stew never tastes as delicious as hers.

Here is what you need:
1. A few cinnamon sticks, star anise, 3-4 cardamom pods and clove.
2. 2/3 onions sliced long.
3. 2-3 green chillies cut lengthwise.
4. Chopped ginger and garlic - 1 teaspoon each
5. A dozen pepper corns and curry leaves.
6. Potatoes (2 no.) and carrots (1 big) cut into medium sized cubes
7. Tomatoes (2) sliced longish
8. Thick coconut milk - 1 pouch/ or use coconut milk powder to make the milk. Back home, we squeeze out the milk from grated coconut. The first thick milk is kept aside for the final flavoring while the 2nd and 3rd milk which is watery is used for cooking the vegetables and chicken.

Pour 3 tablespoons of oil (for the health freak - others can afford to put a little more oil) and throw in Item no. 1 in to the pan…

Then and now

A couple of things I want to expatiate on yesterday's post. It is too long to go in the Comments section.
Things have changed a lot in the nun's college I went to. The girls have become so hip that young men looking for coy, well-behaved girls brought up in a god-fearing, Christian environment no longer consider the college girls marriage material. The girls go for movies on their own (not herded like we were) and wear mini skirts and jeans (the change was visible even when we were about to leave college). Since the college now offers a fashion designing course (as opposed to just a Home Science course for girls who had no better ambition than to land a good husband when we were there), girls can afford to be dressed like the models on fashionTV. In our days, it was only traditional Indian attire - full skirts and blouse, salwar-kurta with duppatta and sari.
When I was there, 1st PDC/First-year Predegree course/Class 11 girls were not allowed out, even for shopping - church was …

Tagged! College & me

Joyismygoal tagged me for this college edition - 8 random things about me. Here are the rules!
1) Each player must post these rules first.
2) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3) Tagged people post their eight things and these rules.
4) End your post by ‘tagging’ eight new people to play.
5) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog for these instructions.
1. I spent five years in the jailed confines of a convent college close to V's place.
2. I had probably seen the house of my future husband on my way back to the college hostel, after a weekend at home, but I had no inkling that I would become a part of that house then. If I did, I could have stayed there instead of at the hostel! (just kidding)
3. V studied in the men's college nearby at about the same time and also went to the same church as I did (but then I went to the Orthodox church only once in a blue moon). We were allowed to enter the men'…

Of Mangoes and Cakes

The mango season in the city is getting over - we had our fill of Banganapallis (pictured above), Hima-pasants, Malgoas, Jawads, Alphonsos and Peethar mangoes. Now the tail-enders are batting - Salem mangoes and Neelam mangoes.
Now with the rains on, it is the season of flies and the dreaded mosquitoes. Which means back to mosquito nets and liquid mosquito repellants and Mortein mats and coils (we swear by the first two, though the doctor has advised us against using any repellents near the kids to prevent wheezing and watery eyes).
Burnt hopes
Yesterday afternoon while the kids and my parents enjoying were their afternoon siestas, I decided to try out a Readymix Chocolate Cake sacrificing my own siesta.
As instructed on the pack, I preheated the oven to 180 deg C, put in the dough in the paper baking tray provided and set the temp again to 180 C for 25 minutes. I went for Microwave + Convection since Convection alone has not been getting me the best results.
I saw the dough rise a bit …

Pink tide

.. not the Latin American Pink Tide!
My selection of frocks for Mira was overwhelmingly pink (the peach being V's selection) at the aadi sale in Pothys. Shoppers in Chennai have an added excuse to go on a buying spree - the month-long discount sale in the inauspicious month of Aadi. A month when a newly married woman is sent home so that she doesnt conceive in this month to give birth to a kid in the hottest month of the (next) year. And a month when people did not make any purchases - until shops conjured this clever idea of sale.
My parents got back safe and sound from London early dawn today, despite the Glasgow and London bomb scares. But there is a greater scare awaiting them when they land in Kerala - chikun gunya and other mysterious fevers. There seems to be onion fevers and tomato fevers - named after the kind of skin rashes that accompany these fevers.
Thankfully, I have help with the kids until they leave for Kerala on 20th.

The making of appam

This is a recipe I got from The Epicure Cookbook by Ummi Abdullah. I cant find the book but this is what I remember of it. I (a mediocre and reluctant cook) dedicate this recipe and the visuals to a fellow blogger, who wanted to know what an appam looked like.
You will need:
1/2 kg raw rice soaked in cold water for 4-5 hours
1/2 a shell coconut grated
6 tablespoons cooked rice
1/2 tsp of yeast granules dissolved in a little lukewarm water OR 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast
salt and sugar (4 tsp) to taste
Drain the soaked rice and grind it along with the coconut and cooked rice to a fine thick paste. Add instant yeast and mix lightly. (If you are using the other yeast, mix it in water and 2 tsp sugar, cover and keep till it rises. Allow to ferment at room temperature for at least 6 hours or keep overnight and make the appams in the morning for breakfast. A pinch of soda bi-carb helps, if the batter hasnt risen yet. Add the sugar and salt. Keep aside for another hour.
Heat a small no…

The growth chart

A few habits of my kids I have noticed of late: Ash does not throw a tantrum about wanting to go out when we go out. Instead he says: "Appa, buy ice(cream) and balloon" (translated from Malayalam). Today, he insisted on his dad going out when he was using the pot! He even wanted him to close the bathroom door. Mira stashes away her potty under the cot after she uses it and I clean it. She is getting more interested in using the potty. She can lift each leg to get into her bloomers/shorts - no more a passive participant in the dressing up. She puts on her shoes ever so often hoping she can go out. She however hates her school bag and going to school, and tells us to keep it back as she prepares to go to school with her dad. The separation is making her show more affection towards us. Both insist on washing hands after eating. In fact they drag a cane stool/plastic chair to the kitchen/washbasin tap, lean over and wash it themselves. Only, you cant get them to stop wasting the wate…

Two leaking roofs

I am like a cat who likes to catch fish without getting its feet wet. I mean, I like to watch the rain but I dont like getting wet.
And yesterday was one day I got caught in a heavy downpour. It has not been easy not getting my feet wet since it has been raining most evenings this week. But I had started out during a spell of cloudy calm, hoping I could catch an empty bus. But no sooner had I spent 5 minutes there than I felt the raindrops. A drizzle that soon became a sharp shower accompanied by fireworks in the sky.
The two-dozen commuters waiting at the bus stop ran to the dark bus shelter. Unfortunately for me, I chose a spot where the roof was leaking. I held my folded umbrella over my left arm which was all but wet. Another lady had her right arm all wet.
I let the first two crowded buses go. The third came with many a vacant seat and I waded through ankle-deep blackish water. I gleefully jumped in only to find that the seats were almost unusable - they were wet through and through…

Parent Tips

A couple of things I have learnt on the job:
Keep at least two combs/hairbrushes for yourself. If your little Mischief Personified has misplaced one, you will always have a backup one to comb with when you are heading out of the house in a hurry (such as to office).Buy a TV with the on/off buttons at the top, not at the bottom where your toddler can reach. We didnt, and hence have to put up with Mira's frequent switching-off pastimes. Remove the bottom latches of doors until the babies are old enough to understand things or are so busy with their lessons at school that they wont have time for such activities. I have been locked out on the balcony twice by Mira while Ash locked out the maid and Mira a year ago. The other day V had to kick open a bedroom in which Mira had locked herself in. If there is a latch on the outside of the bathroom door, beware! Your toddler can pull up a chair and lock you in. And there you will remain until an adult in the house decides to take a TV break …

Burdened lil shoulders

Our lower kindergarten scholar has 11 books, including 2 notebooks - one a 4-line book and the other for learning to write numbers, I think! The text books and workbooks include Books on Fruits, Vegetables, Alphabets, Rhymes and ABC writing book! All for Rs. 300.
I am too shocked for words! I thought there was no rote learning and just mix-and-match learning and chapati rolling using all the montessori stuff. But the receptionist tells me the montessori materials (she fooled us with when we went seeking admission) are for special needs kids. There are a few of them attending the class from the director's treatment session.
Anyway it is too late to change schools. He can start afresh in LKG next year. But the coaching seems to be ok - he can now tell his name. I guess there is more attention from the 2 teachers since there are so few (10 in all ) students.
Every weekend he has homework to do - the past 2 weekends, it has been coloring exercises. And he doesnt even know how to hold a p…

Blog bleat

61%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

I had been meaning to write on this, but this quiz I did today hastened it. And anyway, I had no specific theme to write today - why bore others every Monday with accounts of my going to the church, to Loyola College for a walk or to one mall or the other with the kids or eating Schezwan noodles at a Chinese restaurant or just that it rained or the sun shone brighter than ever?
I had started out as an anonymous blogger, keeping my blog on and off the Blogger radar and the Google Search machine. I first had my brother alone reading it, then my cousin Ranjith who decided to give me some visibility by giving a link to my blog in his blog, and then my friend Usha. After some initial confusion about what intellectual and philosophical stuff to write about, I thought I should focus on my kids. And I changed my blog's name from Food for Thought to Mary has 2 little lambs.
Then came the first comment from a stranger - Brandy of Crochet Nut, now renamed. T…

Mushroom gal

Mira got a mushroom cut today, more like a navy cut.

p.s. That's the kiddie haircutting zone at Dreamz Skin and Hair Salon. They have a special section for men and another for ladies. Maybe I will treat myself to an aroma facial therapy and pay through the roof!

Lucky 7/7/7

Close to my apartment, there is an institution that caters to the needs of underprivileged, economically backward and also orphaned teenaged girls. The girls, probably in the 15-19 age group, are trained in tailoring, nursing, computer courses and other vocational skills in the recently inaugurated, swank College next door. Until then, it was probably held in the building near ours.
Some of the girls are meant for only the hostel chores - sweeping, cooking - but all of them come to the underground sump in front of the building to draw water for their daily needs. My Kerala maids, for want of some spice to their lives (coming from a State where people are inquisitive and like to know what goes on in other people's lives) kept a tab on the activities and informed me when some function was on. Or when foreigners come visiting - the centre has branches abroad. The foreign visitors have airconditioned rooms to the right of the building. Whereas the old watchman bathes in the open in a c…

Truly Indian

Mira now looks like a proper Indian girl with her silver anklets and a hip chain I got her yesterday from GRT (apart from a pair of baby studs that is pretty microscopic). Until now, you couldnt really make out if she was a boy or a girl when dressed in Ash's hand-me-downs, mostly shorts and t-shirts, and a short hairstyle. Now you can hear her a mile away when she comes jingling her anklets - it has caught her fancy so much that she kept shaking her leg the whole night. The hip chain has 3 small bells too, unlike the Kerala ones which come with a leaf motif for girls and a linga motif for boys.

Mira's day out

Today was Mira's first day at the pre-school cum daycare. She only did an hour today, though the pre-school session is from 9 to 12. The moment she saw me, when I went to pick her up, she started sobbing. She was seated on the lap of Shobha, one of the ladies who run the school, eating banana chips. Shobha told me that M had been crying and that they pacified her with the chips - she had refused the bread toast I packed in her snack box.
Mira clung to me and refused to go to the watchman's wife and daughter, who normally keep her entertained when she goes down.
I guess I will have to send her for 1 hour this week, till she gets used to being away from us and the house. Here I was hoping I could leave early for work now that Mira started pre-school and that my partime maid could come at 12 and pick her from school... Maybe from next week!

Yesterday, on my way home, I did a quick tour of Landmark in Spencer Plaza to buy nursery rhymes DVDs (my first buy last week has been a major h…

Ode to an old friend

As Americans celebrate another Fourth of July, I celebrate an old friend who was born the same day over three decades ago - does that make her sound ancient?!! - and who was upset about my cooking travails (upon reading yesterday's blogpost) that she had to call me early in the morning from across the seas.
A friend who thought she owed some kind of allegiance to the US because she was Born On The Fourth of July, while the rest in her clique favoured the USSR - two of them freshly awakened to the communist ideology and the third because her name somewhat rhymed with Russia. We animatedly took sides as we read the morning papers at our college hostel in the late 80s-early 90s.
We shared our dreams, our aspirations and our fears as we lived five years in the closed confines of a convent hostel and the college in the same premises. Though we were in the same class for our Plus Two college program, it was not until we were thrown into each other's company when we began our undergrad…

Candle in the kitchen

It is back to my bread-butter and oats-for-breakfast days at home. I cant be bothered with cooking elaborate, time-consuming Kerala dishes for breakfast. Today's breakfast cooking was relatively easy too - the 2-minute Top Ramen noodles.
V has told me that I neednt bother about churning out Malayali bf in the absence of a maid but I feel guilty. So on most days last month aproned Mary made a valiant attempt to produce on the breakfast table, our staple idli/dosa and sambar, appam-stew, puttu& kadala curry etc in between cleaning poop and pools of urine (an un-diapered Mira being the culprit), sterilising the bottles (both refuse milk in glass, anything else they are willing to drink from a glass), getting Ash's snack-box and school bag ready and putting up with various degrees of toddler tantrums. The less said about the lunch, the better.
But I am slowly getting burnt out. And bread-butter is one way I can keep myself burning.
Reading the newspaper is a luxury at home. I …