Monthly Archives: March 2014

Indo-Chinese Feast.

Chinese food is wildly popular in India. Over time, what was once probably authentic Chinese has evolved into a sort of spicy, Indianized version commonly referred to in India as “Hakka” cuisine. I haven’t done my research but Hakka was probably a provincial type of cooking that whoever brought Chinese food to India really liked. Anyway, Indo-Chinese is now the second ranking cuisine in India after the ever-#1 North Indian Mughlai.

Chinese Veggie Fried Rice

Whenever we come back from vacation, I get into a cooking frenzy. This time it translated into a Chinese food craving. In our two and some years here in Northern VA we haven’t yet found a place that serves Indo-Chinese food we like. So whenever I get a hankering for the stuff I end up cooking it myself. Every time I vow not to do it again because of all the chopping and slicing that is required for this particular type of cuisine. Until I do.

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I’m loath to providing a recipe here for this Fried Rice because basically I didn’t follow one myself. My method is to toss a whole bunch of veggies in the pan (making sure to include the mandatory Chinese ones like spring onions and bean sprouts, if possible) along with salt, white vinegar, soy sauce. Adjust seasoning depending on color and taste.

A new recipe to try was Chili Garlic Broccoli. It was my first time, and it came out pretty good. The recipes I looked at asked to blanch or steam the broccoli, but I did neither. I just tossed the florets in with some sliced onions, garlic (2 cloves) and a AP flour based “sauce”.

Garlicky Broccoli in Hot Sauce

The “sauce” is made up of 1 tbsp AP flour mixed with enough water to make a watery paste. Add to it some soy sauce, white vinegar, ketchup, hot sauce of some kind, salt. Dump into the broccoli and onions and cook covered for a bit until the flour cooks out. Garnish with coarse red chili flakes. Serve hot.

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Even without MSG or ajinomoto, Chinese food is fairly salty so you can only eat so much at one sitting. It digests fast but because you down so much water while eating it, you’re bound to be full for a while. This is one food to be enjoyed while it’s piping hot. Chinese food and lukewarm just don’t go together.

On a side note, I’m going to volunteer as an assistant to the chef at a neighborhood cooking school! I’m more excited about this opportunity than I’d ever imagined. When food and its prep’s become so important to me I cannot say, but after attending their orientation and experiencing the rush of being in an actual commercial kitchen, I cannot wait to get started.

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Growing up I used to have a poster in my room. It said: I am the most responsible person in this house; whenever anything goes wrong, I’m responsible. I thought it described my daily predicaments accurately then.

Ha.

Motherhood, staying at home with kids are attributed noble motives in our society today. If a family is economically secure, the parent is expected to be thrilled to “be able” to stay home with her children. I guess I could say most days I am, but then other days I wonder what my economic worth would be in the outside world. The problem is necessity has made me good at everything. Oh, how to choose just one job to donate my valuable skills to!

Let’s just list here my (could-have-been) job titles/descriptions:

Scheduler/Receptionist/Office Manager: Salary ~ $45,000.

I manage the front of the house, so to speak. Quite admirably, I might add. I schedule playdates with or without accompanying (kid)corporate lunches, where many criteria such as age, level of pickiness, available activities while waiting for meal to arrive, the cafe’s distraction quotient, all play an important role in the decision making process. I also have to manage logistics that can make or break any appointment. What, arrive at the grocery store without snacks? Fail. Want to get your eyebrows done (an essential service for people with dark body hair) and arrived without an electronic device to keep toddler busy? Reschedule or leave salon trashed and embarrassed (you).

For the record, I also answer all telephone calls, answer in-house queries (food in my mouth, notwithstanding), provide beverages to the bosses on demand and other sundry tasks that do not fall into other listed categories.

Teaching Aide/Miss Manners/Etiquette Consultant: conservative estimate $50K.

Sure they go to school but there’s still homework, science charts, fingerprint painting, etc. to be done. Plus, life skills such as not chewing like a bull, not using cuss words like a street dweller (which, btw, they must have heard at school), speaking softly when describing a, um, big person in earshot, have to be reiterated in real-life situations many, many times. Teaching in a controlled classroom at school and having to cease and desist and distract in the grocery checkout line are a little bit different, don’t you think? Salary commensurate with experience. You betcha.

Chauffeur: ~25K.

Only the very rich can afford a chauffeur in much of the developed world. Not to mention one that will contort into impossible positions to open a juice box or dodge a shoe flung mid-drive. It’s a hazardous job, but someone has to do it or the malady of stay-at-home-parenting, GUILT!, will strike you. It is also a thankless position — when reminded that you just drove 21.1 miles to bring them to a birthday party where you didn’t have any friends to chat with, you may be rewarded with a “So? I can’t drive myself! It’s your job!”

Butler/Sherpa/Personal Assistant: 20K.

This picture on one of my favorite blogs says it all. Only now instead of a stick it may be a sticker or a sock that is absolutely too gross to be held onto for even one more second.

Chef/Caterer: ~50K.

I cook 2 meals at least 5 times a week. Plus pack lunches and snacks x2 every day. That’s a lot of multiplication ergo lots of homemade food. In addition, I provide cookies for myriad occasions ranging from class celebrations to birthday favors. In my role as a chef, I double duty as a food salesman, nutritionist, and allergist, mostly with dubious distinction.

Resident Nurse/Psychologist: ~70K.

Kisses for minor injuries still work but health concerns are more and more leaning toward the emotional rather than the physical. My services include pep talk (“I’m no good at this!” “Not yet, but you will be the more you practice!”), career counseling (“I want to be RICH when I grow up. The harder you work the more chances of that happening.“), trauma resolution (upon hearing a distressing news story on the radio we had a detailed discussion on death that ended with “When I’m as old as you, you’ll probably be dead.” Oh-kay.), and sex advocacy (“I know how babies are made!” “Oh yeah? Cool!”)

So.

I’m qualified enough to hold several degrees but I’m economically unemployed; I perform whole-team tasks single-handedly but earn no cash for it; I’m paid in kind for services rendered — many slobbery kisses, forced or requested, spontaneous hugs, “from the front and the back”, and occasional clinging to the legs in front of strangers.

Wanna switch?

Why Today is an Ideal Snow Day.

I know I have totally jinxed myself by writing this post before noon, but I feel like I need to thank the Powers for a snow day that doesn’t SUCK like other snow days in recent memory. When their school broke the news of closure last night, I admit I screamed in a pillow for 2 minutes. Apart from the fact that we’ve had more days off than on this season, the prospect of entertaining the kids for another day following a weekend was daunting, to say the least. I had visions of another day cleaning up inevitable messes, breaking up scuffles, loading/unloading the dishwasher.

Basically this:

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It’s true. I have got some clutter that is unavoidable with 4 instead of 1 family members in the house, but I’ve also got this:

  • A chance to sleep in.
  • The chance to finish my book and shower peacefully WITH kids in the house.
  • A rare glimpse into quiet child play for HOURS, yes hours. They have been playing together (without disputes) for almost 3 hours now, and counting. (I won’t get too much further in my counting though, I sense.)

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  • The H actually WORKING on a work-from-home day. Usually, because he’s so unused to the concept, he will saunter out every half hour to rummage through the pantry for a snack (or worse, ask me to fix him one), yell at the kids to keep it down (he forgets that kids are not only boisterous on weekends), check his home computer obsessively for weather updates or incessantly pester me for the lunch menu. Today, he’s been diligent.
  • The chance to try out a cookie recipe I’d been eyeing for a while.

Chocolate-chip cookie with Nutella center. Can you say Yum?! Like I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of cookies myself, but these ones looked so delish that I’d been waiting to give them a try ever since I stumbled upon its original recipe.

And, they didn’t disappoint! They’re every bit as decadent as they sound.

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We pressed M&Ms to differentiate the filled from the unfilled cookies. 4yo R and I fought over filled ones (he definitely got more than me! Boo!), while 8yo V refused to even taste them. He totally missed the sweet surprise of biting into a regular CCC (chocolate chip cookie) and being treated to a gooey hazelnut center instead. Ha, who cares, more for us!

IMG_5949R could barely control himself enough to allow me to take pictures.

IMG_5951With the way things are going, I may even be able to take a nap sometime today. After all, that’s what days like today are meant for, isn’t it?

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