Thursday, March 26, 2015
I don't know what has happened to my evening these days. With the kids getting older, you would expect that, my evenings would roll around like a glorious expanse of free time. Instead, there I am sitting at precisely 8:15 PM explaining place value to a six year old.
I have no clue how I landed in this morose place where six year olds need to be taught but apparently there is something called the common core curriculum, which is like going to make an Einstein out of each tiny tot who has ever passed through the holy grails of American Public School System. To step up to this whole new challenge, the fancy town we moved to because its schools if not best is better than many, has devised multitude of tests. These tests apparently test little children on things they know, things they do not know, things god-dang-six-year-olds could never know. You are not supposed to prep your kid for these tests but apparently everyone does. Except of course me who lives under the rock and some other hippie Mom who believes in karma.
And then I wander into one of LS's school classmate's birthday party and everyone is discussing how their first grader knows multiplication, division, decimals and what nots and I am like really, where was I all these years ? The hippie mom of course is peacefully exhaling and not taking part in this discussion about child prodigies, but she doesn't count. She has flat abs and amazing skin and her children eat flax-seed crackers.
Monday, March 09, 2015
As Big Sis and Little Sis grow older I have been trying to have them responsible for some simple chores around the house. Both are very helpful in their own ways but when it comes to chores we have not been very successful to maintain a regularity. Like say Big Sis is responsible for folding her clothes and then putting them away. She does this diligently. But, yes there is a but, when once in two weeks, I randomly open her dresser drawers, clothes jump on me and spill out in a manner they should not. Big Sis would rather make scrambled eggs than fold her clothes.
Little Sis is much more organized when it comes to folding and organizing her clothes drawer. However she does not do it in a regular manner. She would rather pull a step stool besides me in the kitchen and roll luchis. Which is wonderful but someone has to do the other work too.
To start her on a simple job routine, I asked her to clean up the shoes that lie cluttered in the laundry/mud room at the end of each week. She did it with enthusiasm for a few weeks. Mind you I do not pay them for these chores so there is no incentive other than that of a job well done. After the first few weeks, Little Sis started forgetting about her chore in a pretty regular manner. I kept thinking she would get back to it. Nothing happened. Finally after a month I decided to remind LS of the chore that she was supposed to do every week. I also decided to imaprt some gyaan.
"LS," I said, "a chore is something you are responsible for. You cannot just do it one time and think it is done. You are supposed to arrange the shoes every week but I have not seen you doing it even once in the last month. What happened?"
LS looked at me and said "But I cannot do it."
"I have been fired from the job. Now I cannot do it anymore!"
And with that she moved on to live a life of leisure.
I wish, I could have clear reasons like that to skip all my daily chores and sit down with a book. But that will not happen. And I will make soup.
Every winter I find a new soup recipe that we love. I still make the old ones but some are clearly cooked more often than the other. Like this Tomato Soup wins hands down every winter. Sometimes we add crusty bread to it. On other days some basil pesto makes it a tomato-basil soup.
Then there is this Noodle Soup in Coconut milk. I call it a Khao Soi but it is not exactly a Khao Soi. Whatever it is, it tastes glorious.
This winter we found a new soup to love. I have a book of soup recipes which I bought from the library sale many years back and every winter I spend a good amount of time poring over the book. I end up making only a couple of them every year.
This year I decided to make this Potato Bean Sausage Soup and it was the best thing that could have happened this winter. It is much loved and even when I am making other soups the girls request this again and again. It is easy and I can make it pretty quickly in the pressure cooker. With some bread it serves as the perfect one-pot meal.
I am sure you will love it too.
I have simplified and added variations to this soup for my own good.
Firs we need a few vegetables.
I have used
1 potato -- peeled and chopped in cubes
1 large-ish carrot --- peeled and chopped in cubes
half of an onion
half of a fennel bulb -- chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic
Next we need a can of red kidney beans and some vegetable or chicken stock. If you don't have stock, don't fret, you can use soup bouillons or just plain water.
The star of this soup is of course sausage. I have used andouille chicken sausages. About 4 of them. Defrost and cut up the sausages.
First heat a tbsp of Olive Oil in a pressure cooker.
Add the sausages and saute until they are browned. Remove and keep aside.
Now to the same oil add 2 cloves of garlic minced and half-of-an onion chopped. Saute until the onion is soft.
Add a tsp of Tomato Paste.
Add the potatoes and carrots and saute for a minute. If you have fennel you will add some of the chopped fennel bulb now. Saute for a couple of minutes.
Next add enough stock or water so that the vegetables are immersed. Add salt to taste.
Close the pressure cooker lid and at full pressure cook for 3 minutes.
When the pressure is released, open the lid. Now add the kidney beans and the sausage. Adjust for salt and sugar. Simmer until the flavor is well blended.
Serve with some crusty bread.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015
Around 14 years ago I was very riled up when the husband-man got me a bunch of roses on Valentine's Day. That very morning I had noticed that the nearest gas station was selling roses at double the usual price and I had wondered, "who are these fools who pay double the money to buy flowers on V Day". By evening I knew who they were. The husband-man has never got me flowers since. At least not on Valentine Day. I am more than happy.
However what with the kids and their celebrations at school, my outlook towards this day has mellowed to the point that now I accept this day as a big pink heart with a lollipop stuck to it. I actually look forward to getting the pink and red goody bags ready for the first grader who comes back with a candy loot after the V day party. Well some people have to do their business I guess.
Today I will share with you a Chocolate Cake which has a very close tie to Valentine's Day. This recipe was given to me a couple of years ago by my then seven year old niece, my friend R's daughter. She had made this cake with her mother and it was totally delicious. When I asked for the recipe, she had rattled off the exact recipe from memory and then told me that if I googled for "Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake", I would find it on internet. These kids are too smart I tell you.
Soon enough Big Sis too was hooked on to the cake. For LS's fifth birthday, both my niece R and Big Sis baked the cake. Usually they bake the cake as instructed in two 9" circles to make a two layer cake but since then they have made 3 layer cakes, a single layer large cake and even cup cakes with the same recipe. Big Sis has made it for my anniversary, for her sister's birthday and even for her own 11th birthday.
That smart 7 year old who shared this recipe with us turns nine on Valentine's Day this year. May she grow up to be as sweet and smart as she has always been and may her life be rich, moist and perfect like this cake.
The recipe is really simple and easy to follow with always delicious results. The cake is rich, moist and very chocolate-y. For most parts kids aged 7 and older can make this with some adult supervision. It does involve boiling water and using it, so that is the step when I would expect an adult to come in and grab the apron.