September 10, 2014

Kitchen: Glassware

How many drinking glasses do two people need?
Need? The answer would be two….but the reality?

Four champagne glasses
Three red wine glasses. …originally four
One XL burgundy glass
Two souvenir wine glasses
Style1 Three glasses. …originally four
Style2 Three glasses. …originally eight
Style3 Three glasses. …originally six
Style4 Two small glasses. …originally four
Style5 Two juice glasses. ….originally four
StyleA Six stainless steel glasses
StyleB one stainless steel glass
Glass Total=27

And I’m not even going to mention the four matched mugs, and six assorted souvenir tea/coffee mugs
Mug Total=10

Oops i just mentioned it.

Wow…37 drinking tools for two peeps.
Why so many? Here’s how the inner dialogue between my reluctance and discipline went:

Whiny Me: But what will I serve people drink in?
Strict Me: The most you hosted in a dinner party was 13 and that was five years ago!
And you used disposable cups/plates then.

Whiny Me: But I like to have different glasses for different drinks!
Strict Me: But you only drink water most of the time, and occasionally fresh juices or smoothies.
You gave up alcohol at the start of 2012 so what’s with the wine glasses?
And champagne glasses, really…you never liked bubbles and have never bought champagne!

Whiny Me: Oh but, wine glasses make awesome parfait cups.
Strict Me: Yes, but you have all those glass bowls remember?

Whiny Me: Ok, ok, but what if I have people over, like the family…I’d need eight glasses.
Strict Me: Yes, but you have 27.

Whiny Me: Fine, I will get rid of some of the ones I don’t use.
Strict Me: Good. Say, why do you have so many sets of threes?

Whiny Me: Umm, darling hubby tends to have butterfingers around glasses and breaks one every few months.
Strict Me: So maybe get rid of all the glass made glasses and keep the stainless steel, you can get one more steel glass to have a set of eight. Stainless steel takes up less room ’cause it all stacks in the same area as one glass.

Whiny Me: Ugh! Fine! You win. No more glass drinking glasses.
Strict Me: Good.

Petulant Me: I’m not getting rid of any mugs though.
Strict Me: Not even the ones with the logo from the college career fairs and that faded souvenir picture one?

Whiny Me: Alright just those ones, but I keep all the pretty ones – my set of four and my special gorgeous tea mug and my smoothie mug.
Strict Me: Suit yourself, next year we will see how many times you had tea in it.

New Total: 7 steel glasses + 6 mugs = 13

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February 2, 2014

2014: Watch

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
(Source: attributed to Frank Outlaw and several others)

My teacher opened the first yoga class of the year on Jan 1st with these words, creating an introspective intention for this year ahead. The essence of the message is “we become our thoughts”. To choose who we wish to be, we must choose what we think.

Now at first, it seems that our thoughts just pop in and out any which way but closer observation suggests that our thoughts are the sum of our experiences. Our environment, our families, our friends, the books we read, the movies we watch, the people we follow on Facebook, Twitter, blog feeds or the news, the teachers we’ve had, the coworkers we engage with daily all influence our view of the world. Yet, we do not accept each advice we receive, each rumor we hear, we like some movies and dislike others – we choose what we let in.

Three ways to choose what we let in:
1) Start positively
Each morning, let us set an intention for one thing we will do on that day that is of personal value. Maybe it is finishing a work assignment on time, going to the gym, having a leisurely family dinner or finally returning an overdue library book. Or maybe it is a little ritual to do each morning like a leisurely cup of tea or a few pages of writing to clear thoughts. I like to read from Eknath Easwaran’s Daily Thought to set an intention for each day.
http://www.easwaran.org/thoughts-for-the-day-quotes.html Some days I read before work and some days I blog. I’ve been making myself a warm quinoa porridge or a choco-peanut butter banana smoothie for breakfast.
We create momentum by foreseeing and acting on future needs or by catching up on the tedious items long procrastinated. We form and store energy in congenial company. Allow ourselves to be happy that we have done something that was good for today and will make tomorrow better.
2) Immersion
Read more books, watch more movies about the things we care about so that we learn more, understand more and thus change more. Whatever we choose, if it is climate change, world hunger, our own health, let us educate ourselves by investigating widely and diversely on the topic. Try to spend just 10 minutes of each day in immersion or deliberation. Create a habit of thinking about what is important to us, as our thoughts align with our core values, it becomes easier to create new habits.
This year I want to create a habit of meditation. I created a personal reading syllabus of six books on meditation and philosophy. To concretize my goal I set a target date for completion by the end of the year. On the days when i find it hard to sit in meditation, I can still read about it to inspire myself and remind myself of its importance.
3) Practice gratitude
At the end of each day, let us remind ourselves of one thing that we are thankful for. A beautiful sunset, a smile from a child, a message of love, a chance courtesy from a stranger. Each day, I look forward to hearing the bird song in the trees. Some days I watch for a sighting of the moon. And then there is the serenity at the end of a yoga class. Or the days my husband cooks dinner when I am too tired. The occasional letter or call from a long time friend that warms the heart. A melody on the radio that brings forth a happy memory makes me thankful for both melody and memory.
As we begin to look for these things during the course of a day, we become more aware of the present and the opportunity to participate and create such a moment for others in our daily encounters. We become grateful for the opportunity to give.

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November 3, 2013

Diwali Desserts: Gujias

Wishing all a Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year ahead!

Now that I’ve eliminated dairy from my diet and avoid white sugar, it’s made it challenging for me to buy Indian sweets and desserts from the usual stores and restaurants. So I decided to innovate in my own kitchen and get my sweet fix my way :)

Some times called gujias, ghughras, karanjis or somasis these delectables symbolize Diwali to me. While the different names represent different regional cuisines and have their unique fillings the coconut filling is a classic memory for me. This year is the first time I learned to deep fry thanks to my mom-in-love during her summer visit and I gathered my courage to attempt this on my own so that we could have a traditional Diwali sweet.

DSC00013

The filling

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cream of organic wheat (farina, instead of rava)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 Tblsp poppy seeds
1/4 cup + 1 Tblsp sucanat ( dehydrated sugar cane juice granules)
1/2 tsp ground cardamamom
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp coconut oil

Directions:
Slow roast the cream of wheat with the coconut oil while stirring continuously.
As it begins to turn a light golden, add the almond flour and slow roast till the aroma releases.
Then add the shredded coconut and wait for its aroma to join.
Finally, the poppy seeds, and ground cardamom and nutmeg and roast the mixture.
Remove from the stove to cool and add in the sucanat and mix in the bowl.

The shell: I got the proportions of the recipe for this at Rak’s kitchen’s blog.

Ingredients:
1 cup organic pastry flour (instead of maida/all-purpose flour though I need to try a brand with a finer grind next time)
1 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
pinch of salt
pinch of sucanat (my addition)
water as needed
canola oil for frying

Directions:
Make into a stiff dough and set aside.

Assembly:

Divide the dough into approx 16-20 small balls.
Roll out each circle into thin pooris. You may need to dust a little flour to prevent sticking.
I used a calzone shape form to get even sizes.
Lay out the poori in the form and then fill with 1 Tblsp of the filling and close.
If doing by hand you will need to either crimp the edges with a fork or do a roll and pleat.
Another alternative is to simply press down and roll a cutter to trim the excess dough.
Lay each of these aside in a wet towel and cover to keep moist while you finish assembly.

Finalement
Heat up the canola oil for frying and test the heat with a tiny bit of dough.
I used a small pot to reduce the oil I needed for frying and fried the bits in batches of 3 each.
As these bites got devoured as soon as they were cool, I did not have time to soak in syrup or dust in powdered sugar
:D, which I guess is all for the best.

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July 2, 2013

32 Pounds Lighter

weight

My scale tells me I’ve lost 32 pounds over the last year! This is almost 22 percent of my initial body weight from July 2012.

01 Jan 2012¬† we stopped drinking alcohol. No wine, beer, cocktails, not at parties, while socializing with friends or even weddings. This was not a big decision for me as I’ve never had more than two and more often just zero as I always preferred dessert over drinks. It was however an intentional choice to stop completely.

July 2012, I realized I hit my maximum adult weight when I had to go dress shopping for a friend’s wedding.

August 2012, when we came back from a trip to the West Coast, my husband decided he wanted to stop eating dairy and white sugar. A week later (Aug 17th), I joined him. Now we’ve been 100% dairy-free for over 10 months. No cheese, ice cream, ghee, butter, cream, yogurt, etc. The refined white sugar elimination has been trickier. I’ve fallen off the train on this one a few times. But hey, nobody rides a steady bike the first time.

September 2012, I started having green juices to boost up my immune for the onset of winter. When I was having dairy and/or sugary items, the green juices tasted nauseating to my palate. However, with the elimination of those products I began to detox and my palate changed and actually began finding the green juices hydrating  РI felt like a sponge absorbing long deprived nutrients.

Jan 2013, after several months of juicing I began to feel much higher in energy and was looking to start some physical activity. Those who know me, know that I do not run so of course I re-initiated my yoga practice. I think the nutrients in the green juices must have helped my body to recover faster as I found my practice deepen quicker than it had several years ago. I also had the endurance to go to yoga classes more than just once a week.

Mar 2013, spring arrives and we begin seeing all the beautiful greens in our farmers’ markets. This was the perfect time to convert our weekday office lunches into salads. I would take a box of nuts (1/4 to 1/2 cup),half a tub of greens with some other chopped veggies and olives, as well as a piece of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack. I found that my work days were more productive as I could stay more focused and did not get sleepy after lunch time.

Was 32 pounds a goal? No, though I’m really looking forward to fitting into a dress I got for my 26th birthday. I’m going to be 32 years soon so the real blessing will be that I have gained back the fitness and energy that I had along with these new healthy habits to maintain them.

June 3, 2013

Snails and Baggage

Can you imagine carrying your own personal shelter with you wherever you go? Like a snail or a crab or a turtle?

Look around you – if you had to cart all your shelf with you whenever you wanted to go for a walk around the block what would you take? I bet we’d all de-clutter in a hurry if we had no surety that our treasure hoard would be there waiting for us.

We all move at some point in our lives – some from our parents home to college, from there to our own home or to a home with a partner. Sometimes we move for our careers and sometimes we move to be closer to family. Folks move after losing a loved one and others move to make room for a new baby. Sometimes we need to flee or evacuate our homes in a hurry – I think of the recent wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes . Some newlywed friends of mine lost their home to an electrical fire – no forewarning in that case.

What are we carting around with us through all these travels? How much is truly essential for our needs or even comfort? More importantly why are we carting all these things with us? Does it reflect our frustrations or unresolved business? Are we carrying our past as baggage with all the pain and disappointments or is it the ancient history of our once triumphs. Maybe instead we are holding onto those things that will be done when we have that elusive free time. Does it represent our hopes and aspirations for the person we wish to become or said another way – the person we wish we were?

Are we carrying a memorial or a to-do list?

And what about the person we are today? How much of that would we recognize in our stuff?
Is it hiding under the glossy shadow of the past and the foggy future?
Let go and celebrate who you are today.

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