Thursday, March 26, 2015

Aloo Chingri PeyajKoli Chorchori -- those were the days

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.

Armed with the knowledge that the new-age first grader needs to know, the next day, I try to sit with Little Sis after she is back from her taekwondo to do "some" math. She is clearly not happy about the arrangement. She wants to go back to her relaxing evenings of "Curious George" and "doing-nothing". I myself want to go back to those evenings. Instead I steel my nerves and  sign into her math book, for which the school gives us online access, and then I propose that we do the next math lesson they would do in class. LS refuses.

"I will do it when Mrs.T does it in class", she says

So I say, "Okay, let us do some fractions."

"That is not until 2nd grade. What will I do in 2nd grade then?", she declares.

Valid point but I don't give up.

I suggest several other things, which might or might not have included integral calculus, and then suddenly she wants to do place value. So we get out Lego blocks to comprehend what it means to have 5 tens and 3 ones. At the same time Big Sis is trying to find the volume of triangular prisms. I am struggling to get dinner to the table in the midst of all this lego, prisms and maths.

Even five years back when Big Sis was in first grade, things were not so bad. No one I knew did division or calculus in first grade and none of the kids would touch flaxseed cracker with a pole. Things were so much more simple. And I had time.

Sigh! But no point moping about golden days. Similarly no point thinking of the real onion greens, the peyaaj koli. We make do with scallion which we get in plenty. This aloo peyaaj koli chochhori is based on a aloo peyaaj chingri (potato onion shrimp fry) in Pragyasundari Devi's book, thick volume of two books that a dear friend of mine gifted me on this India trip. I will write more on those books soon, as I cook more recipes from them. Until then here is quick, simple dish to tide you on a week night.

Chop two bunches of green scallion

Chop One large potato in long slices

Chop half of an onion in half moon slices

De-vein and clean about 10-12 medium sized shrimp. Toss with pinch of turmeric powder and a sprinkle of salt.

Heat 2 tbsp Mustard Oil

Lightly saute the shrimp and just as they are turning golden yellow, take them out.

Add 1 tbsp more oil. Temper the Oil with 1/2 tsp of Paanchforon and 2 dry red chilli.

Now add the sliced onions and fry until they turn translucent with brown edges.

Add the potatoes. Sprinkle little turmeric powder and saute the potatoes.

Once the potatoes start turning golden add the green scallion. Saute for a minute. Add salt to taste and 1/4tsp of red chilli powder. When the scallion wilts, cover the pan and let the potatoes cook.

Remove the cover and give an occasional stir. Sprinkle little water if necessary. This is going to be a dry dish and so don't add too much water.

Once the vegetables are cooked, mix the fried shrimp, drizzle few drops of mustard oil and cook for a minute.

Serve with rice or roti.

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  1. Grade ones are not expected to know multiplication or division... They are supposed to complete addition and subtraction with the stacked algorithm if they are advanced! Don't let her think she is behind her peers in class, it might lead her to think that she is no good at math>> Self fulfilling prophecy.

    1. sorry, my posts have bit of exaggeration ;-) But a few in her class do know multiplication and they claim so themselves. My little one thinks she knows everything too so there is nothing more to learn :-)

    2. But I have to tell you this, testing is becoming insane where I live. It must be different in Canada. I see the kids taught more to test than spend time over a subject and enjoy learning it. Particularly painful in elementary level kids

  2. I will try this on weekend or maybe tonight!

  3. My husband I often talk about the parents' ambition to make the kids super achievers. It's painful for the kids and they grow up tired and unhappy but successful. The trends are alarming. Kids are losing their childhood pretty quick.

  4. Hi Bong mom - don't fall into trap of know it all moms and kids club- of all kids your LS will turn out to be most smart girls - her spontaneity and problem solving skills are amazing - don't burden her with commoners things :) they are learning life skills like cooking and swimming - maths also they will learn on the way- once a mother told me what is the need of learning mLs and hectagram etc for kids- they are only used by Scientists - in our life we are fine with knowing litres, grams and kilograms. I liked that comment. It is time we learn smart and not all what is in the syllabus because we are learning so many things more from other areas..also our kids have the armour of google so don't worry at all :) let them enjoy the curious george and 'doing nothing' phase for a while- my 11 year is spending her summer vacation by reading, watching, getting bored and doing nothing in cycles...

    1. Honestly I would have loved that. Usually the work load in elementary is low and at first grade they get only 20 mins of home work. Plenty of time for free play.
      But alas the school and college system here is becoming increasingly competitive. A higher concentration of Asian and Indian parents in our town means almost every kid is a super achiever. I see the pressure in high school kids, for getting into a good college, is not easy anymore.

  5. Wow could relate to this post as my son is the same have to run. After him to make him study and he gives me various reasons for not studying curry looks delicious

  6. I'm sure LS knows fractions. Just give her a cake and ask her to divide among 'x' people and she'll show you how :) Classroom arithmetic is overrated though I understand the pressure to conform to common core. My little boy (5) likes math stuff and can do simple additions but has the attention span of a gnat - so we try to do 'mental math' while I make dinner like my Dadumoni taught me to back when I was a kid. Exercise or even pottering around the house really seems to help kiddo.
    I wish he'd eat the variety of food your kids do. Which kid does not love alubhaja? mine, that's who :(

  7. I'm in the same boat with my lil one and our school district seems just like yours! Full of Asians who are over competitive in every way. My lil one is happy doing nothing just as a kindergartener should.... while I worry how to teach her theorems!
    Jyo - Currybazaar

  8. Hey Bong Mom! Please do tell us more about the Pragyasundari Devi's recipes. My boyfriend and I love this preparation.


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