My neighborhood is quite happening with diner and potluck plans (with/without any occasion)on, thus turning any day into a halcyon day. I am an active participant but not really a planner. While others plan, and if I am not reading, I prefer playing with my two 5 year old playmates -R’n’B (that is how I address them with the first alphabet of their first names). We play air hockey, watch Tom and Jerry or Transformers, Oscar’s Oasis and so on together. We also love running around the lawn playing picnic and fishing games. I was hosting this farewell dinner for R and family, two days before their moving out. Lots of cooking, chat, and eating went on. I could not really play that day as I was busy preparing diner. R was getting kind of bored until he discovered some stationeries and got occupied scribbling. The party went on, amidst which, I went on to pull out some soda cans from my refrigerator. Something was unusual and my eyes ran carefully through the fridge magnets trying to figure out the difference. And there it was. I found a stick note on my fridge that read,” I love you but bye.” I knew I was going to miss one of my playmates-R and kept uttering that on and off. But he never uttered until that day. A flow of emotions ran as I was waving them good-bye two days later. And everyday since then, the stick note reminds me how much I am loved.
Sketch : the author (of https://largerthanlifeblog.wordpress.com)
Despite our daily hours of conversation, here I am- writing to you.You are a mother and you have the gifted instinct of knowing me (your child) better than I do. But here are certain things that I feel, I know and I am sure of. Those certain things that I never uttered to you.
Remember how I use to flaunt my themed scrapbooks amidst my friends and they wondered if they could ever own one? those vibrant scrapbooks and their themes were your brainchild. They were undoubtedly the best. …..didn’t you ever feel you could have used your artistic skills to reach out the world beyond your children’s ?
And until I was old enough to explore the shopping malls and designer stores independently (and even after I could), you designed and stitched me those fabulous dresses that earned me compliments from all over. At that moment, I felt like Miss Universe (in my world).You even did my bridal veil that caught everyone’s eye ….didn’t you ever feel designing for the celebrities could have been an option for you?
When you chose to accompany me to the mall (that remains open all 7 days a week) and choose my outfit for my high school farewell party that wasn’t due until another thirty days……..didn’t you realize that was the last day of your favorite art exhibition and you won’t get to attend that until next year?
But you happily chose to be our (we are two sisters) mother over and above everything. You ensured we never miss our classes for music and swimming. You loved reading but spent hours to choose books for us to develop our reading habits.
I wasn’t just anyone but your not-so-girly daughter who never cared to pick up any kind of make-up ideas. But you got me one of the best make-up artists for my wedding and turned everyone speechless when they saw me as the bride.
I am grown enough and married now. But you still find ways to know if I am eating too much (like I always did), keeping awake until late (and reading like I always did). And yes! your son-in-law (who is also my husband), does update me each time you call him up to find if I am still homesick and whether I remain quite if (and when) I miss everyone including you.
Remember the elderly relative (from my in-laws’ extended family) who stayed with us for a fortnight sometimes back? She said she didn’t feel like leaving and is definitely going to meet the mother of that daughter , with whom she had a wonderful time. Yes, I am certainly the most proud daughter on this earth.
I am writing to you to express those certain things I know, I feel, but can never speak. I did these sketches for you despite the fact that a kindergarten student would draw anyway better than I can.
I can only wish to, but cannot be what you are.
Sketch : the author (of https://largerthanlifeblog.wordpress.com)
Just wanted to tell you and everyone (who knows me and who does not), that even today, you hold my hand with equal care…..just like you did when I was a toddler.
I love you.
I love to cook and eat. I have this small notebook where I enter the names of good restaurants and their signature dishes (hoping to drop by at the earliest), unique ingredients (and possibly where I can buy them) that I came across while watching a cookery show on Food Network. I can, and do spend hours in the kitchen but I do not call myself an addict because addict is such a negative word when I know cooking is like meditation to me.I get to explore my taste buds every time I cook and get to know my food-mood for the day.
Food-mood: what’s that???
As a new day begins, my appetite wakes me up and asks, “ what’s for today?”
My husbands asks the same question. Hence I set my (and our) food-mood of the day. If our hearts crave for casseroles, it is only a casserole dish that can keep my heart and my taste buds contented.
Last few weeks in my husband’s office had been quite hectic and he didn’t really get into a proper food-mood.As this week began, I decided to relax him and divert him off Monday blues, complaining that I have not been able to set any food-mood since his participation was missing. I left him a text message too. It was lunch hours at his office when my phone beeped with a text message that read,”It’s been long since we had pulao, why not have it for dinner tonight?” I was motivated instantly.
Pulao is a very popular and rich rice-based main course that is widely cooked in our households. It could be veg or non-veg. Vegetarian Pulao is often offered to Gods and Goddess during our religious festivals (e.g., Janmashtami : Birthday of Lord Krishna, Durga Puja : the famous religious festival to celebrate the arrival of Goddess Durga on earth, to name a few) and later on distributed amongst people in the form of ‘prasaad’.It is usually rich in flavor and ingredients. The degree of its richness varies according to individual tastes and preferences.Toasted dry fruits and are often used in pulao.
So here sprung my second thought : what kind of pulao should I cook? The most obvious reply to myself was non-veg, but what??? I was entrapped between my fickle minded love for meat and prawns. Finally,prawn outpaced meat and I was about to prepare Prawn Pulao. Considering the fact that I may not get much time for another non-veg side dish, I zeroed at Raita, which is a famous yogurt-based condiment.
Both pulao and raita are conventionally common and a variety of recipes are available in the internet. But the fact that home made and culture specific pulao recipes have been passed on to generations needs a special mention. My mother prepares yummy pulao, but what my grandmother makes is sumptuous beyond imagination. Every family or culture has their own version of pulao that tastes different from one another. I known the type of pulao that my mother and mother-in-law prepares. But I had to give up the idea of following theirs, owing to unavailability of certain spices at homes. Here comes my version of Pulao (which was simply made of the available ingredients, not by choice but certainly owing to necessity). I am sure whoever views this recipe would not find it uncommon, but what I felt good about was I did not have any mental blockage owing to lack of certain spices (used by my mother) and did this on my own.
The recipe here would do good for two people.
1) 15-20 medium size shrimp prawns
( I used Kirkland Raw-Tail-On shrimp )
2) 1 and 1/2 cups of (long grained) Basmati Rice
3) 2 finely chopped medium size Onions
4) Salt, to taste (for marination of prawns and to be added while cooking)
5) Sugar, to taste (I use it to get the right flavor and NOT to make the pulao sweet)
6) Few pinches of turmeric powder ( just enough to marinade the prawns)
7) Whole garam masala ( 2 bay leaves, 1 thick cinnamon stick and 2-3 pods of cardamom)
8) 6 tsp Ghee (clarified butter)
9) 2 tbsp extra refined vegetable oil
10) 1/2 cup yogurt
11) 1/2 cup water
12) Blend together following spices to a fine powder (Powdered spice)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
4-5 black peppercorns
4-5 cardamom pods (3 green and 2 black cardamom)
2 long and thin cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp dry fenugreek leaves
Method : In a bowl, mix together yogurt,water and powdered spice (according to the degree of rich and spicy pulao you prefer)
1) Marinade prawns with salt and turmeric for about 15 mins
2) Boil rice and keep aside.
3) Heat oil. Fry the marinated prawns moderately and set aside.
4) Add oil and 3 tsp ghee in a large non-stick pan placed over medium high heat.
5) Add whole garam masala and sauté for few seconds.
6) Add finely chopped onions and fry until golden-brown and transparent.
7) Add fried prawns.
8) Add the yogurt-spice mix and cook prawns for about 2 minutes. Reduce into low heat.
9) Add boiled rice, salt (to taste), a pinch of sugar and fold in the prawn gravy very well using large strokes for about 5 mins.
10) Add 3 tsp ghee and fold in well once the rice ready to be removed from heat.
The pulao is ready.
Raita (yogurt based condiment)
In a bowl, mix 1 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup water,salt, coriander paste,tomato sauce, a pinch of dried mango powder. The raita is ready.
Driving through the city of Boston and stopping by the way to capture this bridge view. It was our Day II at Boston. We checked out of the hotel at 10 45 am. Our destination for the day was Nauset Light beach at Eastham, Massachusetts.
Photographs by: The Author (Largerthanlifeblog)
I have always been a lover of cities and my husband never stops planning hill stations. Luck was my side and we headed towards Boston this time. It was an unexpectedly perfect Saturday morning (sans the rains off course )where clouds and Sun played peek-a-boo. We started at 8 45 am and reached Boston roughly at around 1 15 pm. Needless to say,we did worship our appetite with subs and shakes on our way. The Bay area was welcoming
We hurriedly queued up for the cruise. The cruise was special as it was taking us on a date with one of the cetaceans,i.e whale. But even before we reached the mid-ocean to get a glimpse of the whales, the various views from the cruise were a cynosure for our eyes. As we departed the bay area and headed little ahead, the view of Boston city across the shore was simply splendid.
And finally it the eager wait to catch a glimpse of the water mammal was over. Crew members began throwing whale food to allure them. 3,2,1….and then came the sound of whale splash over. Aah! what a delightful glimpse.
Even more delightful was watching two of them taking a plunge
As we proceeded back towards the shore, another wonderful sight caught my eye.
It was time for a snack and we went down the deck food counter to grab a hot dog
Back in shore, we decided to walk down the streets of Boston, i.e., our desire to roam freely and surfing the city was about to begin. The colorful public transports moved all over the streets of the city that had its own charm.
After roaming around the streets of Boston, we drove back to the hotel and had sumptuous dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It was time to doze off and gear up for Day 2 at Massachusetts. After a warm shower we surely did get a good night’s sleep.
Photographs by : The Author (Largerthanlife)
Everyone certainly agrees when I say there is nothing like a peaceful and sound sleep. I did enjoy such uninterrupted long hours of sleep,especially during the weekends until I found my first job. And when I look back into my golden days of school and college, I really wish life was always the same.Those days had everything that one could ask for sans worries. They were the days bundled with careless fun.The word boring did not exist in my dictionary.
We were in our final year of graduation. On a hot Friday afternoon during the summer vacation that year, my evening kick started at my best friend Sue’s . We spent the next few hours laughing and talking about not-so-meaningful and not-so-intellectual stuff but that made us happy. For instance, our discussion began with the visits to the zoo and how we hated the crocodiles and avoided the reptiles and amphibians area in the zoo. The discussion went haywire and finally ended about the irritating mosquito bites during our trip to a certain hill-station the previous summer. After a long chat, we decided to hop in to Someplace Else the same evening, to listen to Hip-Pocket (one of our favorite music band). We swayed to the tunes whilst sipping cranberry juice. For dinner, we moved to Mocambo (a well known restaurant), ordered sizzlers and Chicken A-la-Kiev (a signature Russian delicacy) and eventually wrapped the dinner with Baked Alaska. On our way back,we planned jogging by the nearby lake shore the next morning and burn calories that was accumulated at Mocambo and Someplace Else. I was home at around 10:30 pm that night.Back home, I was busy rushing through the fiction (that I recently started reading).It was roughly 11pm then. My sister was ready to doze off (as she was an early riser and was already late by then). While wishing her good night, I also mentioned about our plans to jog next morning and told her to join us. She immediately agreed and I told her to wake me up (as I was a famous late riser). After some time (I had no idea when), there was this TRING-TRING on my cell phone. It was Sue again. She was asking if we could go to Someplace Else to hear Saturday Night Blues (the after 10pm musical band performance). I hurriedly got ready. After the event, we walked down to The Deli for its mouth-watering blueberry cheesecake. As I was just about to grab my first bite, a mosquito bit my thumb. I got this itching bump in a jiffy and consequently, dropped the cheesecake. Avenged by the mosquito’s audacity, we decided to stalk the insect. Stuck by the stubbornness of getting hold of the mosquito, we actually stalked it towards the lake shore. Look at the audacity of the tiny insect that made us burn calories after it. Amidst all these, I suddenly realized Sue crying to get rescued. My attention was immediately diverted away from the mosquito and I looked back, only to catch a glimpse of Sue, who was then getting swallowed by a crocodile that was hidden somewhere on the shore. Alas! I could do nothing to save her. I was seeking assistance from the Area Wildlife Officer, who got the croc-hunters and they eventually had the croc spit my friend out. Along with my friend came a splash of water on my face.
I was clueless about whatsoever was going on. It was my sister complaining how her morning was wasted. She was angry and said she spared no means to wake me up. She switched off the air-conditioner first and then the ceiling fan, turned on the television, took away my pillow, and when nothing worked, she was left with no choice but splash water on my face. But it was 10 am by then. Up next, we all were seated across the dining table and I, after smelling the hot coffee, was wide awake narrating the entire music-mosquito-crocodile episode. The episode in my dream, and that was nothing but a complete hotch-potch of all my activities, discussions and imaginations. Hearing all these, my mother suggested that I drink lots of coconut water and eat less in the restaurants to cool off my system. Saturday morning was an explosion of discussions and laughter at the breakfast table. It was only my sister who still had a long face as I escaped everyone’s scolding even after being a late riser 🙂
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this!!!
I am well-known for being talkative and maintaining a very active social life since my school days.While in school,I was an active participant in school socials,fests,competitions,etc.I enjoyed end moment studies and loved to keep awake the night before examinations.Another add on to this were those end number of occasions in our joint family that filled the entire house with noise,music,food and lots of fun. Growing up, therefore, was fun.My house was the place to be,whether for seniors or juniors.
Growing up in a metropolitan city has its own advantages.Mainly for those who love friends and family,good restaurants,festivals,parties,shopping,etc.I am one of those metro civilians who loves city life.In fact,when i used to work,I luckily found my workplace another social hub.Perhaps I am too proud of the noise,busy roads,population of a metro city and totally love that.Whenever a vacation was planned,I ensured that was in another metro city (so technically I lived in one city and was always looking forward to move to another similar city), or crowded beaches.Despite many requests i tried to avoid or decline quite a few trips planned in calm and less noisy,less polluted places.
Few months post wedding, I had to give up my job and we (I and my husband) had to move abroad for his job purposes.We moved to a beautiful city that happens to be one of the best places to live.We breathe the freshest possible air,watch the starry (and pollution-free) sky.It is an ideal place for anyone who wishes to live and grow up in a healthy environment.
Initially I was missing the noisy streets,my job,my busy life and my family.Moreover,the place is calm and serene and that made me feel very lonely and sad at times.I enjoy cooking but was doing that half-heartedly.I was upset at times.Everyday in my prayers, I asked God for more patience,so that I can be myself and ease off in the new environment.
We had an aunt (as guest for a fortnight) in our appartment here.One evening,I promised to take her out in a nearby lake for a stroll.For our extended company,one of our present neighbours( who is also a good friend now) joined us.While taking a stroll by the lakeshore,for the very first time, i sensed proper tranquility.I never thought I could feel this way.The lake breeze touched my face and I dipped my feet in water whilst seated by the lakeside and watching those sunrays gushing mildly out of those bright clouds and making the water shimmer and play wih the embedded pebbles.That was a divine feeling.I felt God’s presence with me once again and that paved my way towards happiness.Someone like me who always avoided quite and noisy places,thinking I wont ever like a place like that,found that peaceful now.Thats the new lesson I learnt.
I realized the truth in Jamie Polinetti’s words,
“Limitations live only in our minds.But if we use our imaginations,our possibilities become limitless.”
At times,I feel like creating something by myself .Last Friday,I wanted to do something with the dessert.I needed an inspiration and fortunately my husband did it.He wanted to have some kind of strawberry dessert.I had a deadline to prepare that as we had to get-set-go for Video Chat with my family.Here is what I created.I am also adding my click of the smoothie.Have a lovely week ahead.
1)Fresh Strawberries (1 pound)
2)Domino Sugar (to taste)
3)Milk (8 tsp)
4)Vanilla Essence (3-4 drops)
5)Low Fat Yogurt (Cream can be used instead but I watch the calorie count occasionally)
6)Crumbled cookie (of own choice)…I used Chips Ahoy
1)Slice the strawberries and paste them in a food processor.I preferred strawberries with its goodness and roughage and hence did not that want a liquid state.
2) Add sugar and milk,vanilla essence with the strawberries and spin the processor for another 30 seconds until frothy.
3)Take that off in a dessert glass (or a glass of own choice which is available).
4)Garnish with Yogurt.Refrigerate for about 30-40 mins before serving(depending on how cold you want that).
5)Just before serving,top up with the crumbled cookies for that crunch and add lots of love to for that extra taste and smoothness.