Thursday, May 9, 2013

Laziness unhinged

Being back to India feels wonderful even though everything is so overwhelming right now. My missing-in-office man is truly missing now as I have left him behind in another continent. The kids need to be settled in and every night during dinner the little sis tells me 'lech go baba'. She believes that if we get into a bus, we can go back to her dad. I get her onto Skype instead. The house is in a uproar  The big bro is busy studying Hindi and Maths as he has admission tests to give, a concept that has been alien to him for the last 2 years. For his last admission, he was asked to identify grapes!
There are times when even a lazy mom needs to work hard.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sandwich with instant noodles - an unusual snack

It has been 4 days since I landed in India. I am beginning to feel that packing boxes have become a part of my d├ęcor whichever continent I happen to be in. Just like every mom in the world, the first things I set up at home is the kitchen and the beds. Groceries in the kitchen are a different story. I buy the staples, including rice and bread, but forget the salt. As I set about making dinner thinking of some easy rice dish, I realise my folly of the missing ingredient. Thanks to the big bro who had thrown in a pack of Maggi instant noodles into the shopping cart, we have dinner on the table.

The next morning, as I set about making breakfast of bread and butter, the grandma-mom pipes in with an interesting idea - why not make sandwiches with the leftover Maggi noodles. I grimace and find the perfect excuse to escape the kitchen as she takes over.
She toasts the bread lightly, smears the sides with some sauce and adds the filling of some instant noodles.
As I bite into the sandwich, I am forced to smile.
What a tasty way to utilize the leftover noodles that wouldn't have been enough for even a single person if it was served on its own.

My home is in too much of a mess and my people too hungry to click a photo of this unusual snack but I will surely post a photo the next time I make this one. However, the challenge will be to have leftover instant noodles. Maggi is usually gobbled up as quickly as it is made. When will I again get jet lagged kids too sleepy to eat even Maggi properly.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Saying goodbye to Windy Wellington with jam drop cookies

Today is ANZAC day, my last holiday in Wellington. I leave in less than 48 hours. Boxes are packed and lined up against the wall. In between, packing my suitcase and taping the last of the boxes, I catch myself reminiscing about the my home here, the wonderful people I met, the amazing natural beauty that still catches me unaware, the weather that shocked me in the beginning but has won me over now. A few days ago, I surprised myself by exclaiming, 'It is so wonderfully windy today.'
Wellington's wind and rain have been instrumental in the starting of this blog. As the wind howled and rain lashed outdoors, I looked inwards and realised a long held dream of starting my own blog. 

I am in the process of packing up my entire home that involves finishing my kitchen supplies. The mood at home swings between excitement and despair. I need something to cheer the kids up. Just before packing my baking pans, I decide to bake some cookies. The decision has little to do with my dwindling supply of store-bought cookies and more to do with a desire to say goodbye to my wonderful oven, give the kids something to do, and finish some of my baking supplies before I bin them.

The cookies turn out so well that I finish almost all the flour and butter at home by baking 4 batches in 2 days. The recipe is so easy that I don't mind doing this in the middle of the packing hoopla. Sorry, I don't have any photographs but am sharing the link from which I got the recipe.

Here's the recipe for self-raising flour as all I had at home was some plain flour:

My next post will be from India. I am looking forward to going back but a part of me is a teeny weeny scared about things to come.
Hope you will keep reading as the prettylazzy adventure continues on Indian soil. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Egg and pasta salad for the school sleepover

This is the big bro's last week of school in New Zealand. It is a bittersweet time. He is happy to go back to India but is feeling a bit sad about leaving his school and friends behind, leaving the world that he has worked hard to be a part of. His mom feels the same way. It feels odd to leave the home that I have worked so hard to create even if I am going back home.
Right now, we are living in the midst of packing boxes and as I think about what to post this week, I remember one of the happy memories that the big bro is going to take with him - a sleepover at his school with  his entire class. It was on a Monday and he was excited about it the entire weekend before it and still talks about it weeks after  it is over.
I had made some egg and pasta salad for the event, one that was to be served with barbecued sausages. I have been told that the big bowl had been emptied with his classmates and teachers enjoying the salad. He seemed happy with his mom's contribution to the sleepover even if she couldn't help out with other things because of the little sis.
It is a real easy salad to make.

What we need: Pasta (I used macaroni), Boiled eggs, Shredded cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella), Sliced black olives, Sundried tomatoes cut into small pieces, a small amount of chopped red onion , chopped celery, parsley, salt, pepper powder, mayonnaise, whole grain mustard, a pinch of sugar, and bit of chili flakes / powder.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl except egg and pasta.
  • Boil the eggs first so that you can shell and chop the eggs as the pasta boils.
  • Drain the pasta and add the warm pasta with chopped eggs to the ingredients in the bowl.
    The heat from the pasta melts the cheese.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. You can add a bit of oil from the sundried tomatoes for a glossy finish.
A new recipe for pasta salad, afternoons spent taping books in the school library, school Olympics,  kids on scooters, road patrols, warm smiles, cute dogs whom the li'l sis adores, a creative Headtastic show, home and school association meetings, a smiling principal near the gate, a class teacher who had to put up with all my questions, the boys and girls of Room 8 and 17 - these are a few of the memories that I take with me. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cupcake liner butterflies

A picnic in the park for our little butterfly's birthday - that's the plan. She loves butterflies and is always dancing around the house flapping her arms and singing 'prajapati prajapati ... bataby bataby.'
A birthday picnic requires decorations and the big bro and I set about making them as we send silent prayers to the weather gods for a fine sunny day.

The amazing party blogs have given us some great ideas about making butterflies with paper doilies. I don't call myself a pretty lazy mom for nothing. I am quiet useless at anything that requires a lot of skill. I start with the paper doilies. Somehow, my efforts don't look anything like those beautiful images on the internet. Suddenly, I remember another beautiful image I have seen of garlands made out of cup cake liners. Inspiration strikes and I make these cute little butterflies out of cupcake liners in no time while the big bro cuts out butterflies out of cardstock and decorates them.

Cupcake Liner Butterflies
All we need: cupcake liners and pipe cleaners.
  • Stick two cupcake liners together applying a bit of glue only in the centre.
  • Fold them in half and cut out a butterfly shape.
  • Cut a pipe cleaner to size and fold it in half.
  • Slip the small butterfly into the folded pipe cleaner.
  • Twist the ends to make antennae.
    And you are done.    

On D-day, I plan to tuck them into bushes in the park or string them up at home just in case it rains.
Time will tell what happens!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baby wipes - a magic cleaning product

One wonderful thing about having a baby is that I discovered baby wipes once again. How I love these wipes!
Hours spent comparing prices in the supermarket aisles have taught me that supermarkets in every country store at least one budget baby wipe that costs less than wipes of all other categories, be it household wipes or face cleansing ones. With my baby growing into a toddler, I use water for her more often than wipes. However, baby wipes still figure prominently on my grocery list.
My missing-in-office man tries to buy the more expensive and established brands at times but I resolutely steer him towards the budget brand spouting gyan about frugality. What does he know about the magic of these wipes that are mostly used for everything else except the purpose for which he buys them.
Stains and spills on the carpet, kitchen counters, bathroom fixtures, my feet, my makeup, lipstick left open in  my bag, switchboards, furniture, window sills, a crayon mark on the wallpaper, the toothpaste mark on my jeans, and I could go on forever.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quick & Easy Carrot Halwa

Gajar ka halwa is a dessert that puts a smile on my family's face. It is also a sweet that doesn't require a lot of complicated ingredients. Some carrot, sugar, ghee, milk, with loads of patience and hard work. The last two ingredients are a little difficult to come by in my pantry.
When I lived in London, I was fortunate enough to befriend a few wonderful cooks. They shared recipes and tips with me along with gossip and laughter. One of them taught me her version of the pressure cooker carrot halwa. Thanks, Shubhika.
This recipe took care of the missing ingredient of patience.
However, the crucial hard work ingredient remained. Since I don't own a food processor, getting all those carrots grated seemed like a herculean task.
An idea gnawed away in my head for some time. Couldn't we do away with the grating part?  Since we are boiling the carrot, why not just mash it?
Mashed Gajar ka halwa - the very idea seemed like blasphemy. I let the thought rest.
A year passed by with me ignoring the idea on many occasions when I reluctantly reached for the grater.
It is Holi, a festival that is incomplete without some Indian sweet. We are in the middle of an exceptionally busy week and people at home aren't expecting any festive food. Talk about timing. I seize the opportunity to take my dusty idea and put it to action. I don't expect much. I reason that it is only family and I can afford to experiment. The result is a pleasant surprise. I won't say that there is no difference with the labour of love gajar halwa but the difference is minimal enough for me to ignore it. Sharing it for all those souls like me. If you like things traditional, skip this recipe.
What we need: Carrots and condensed milk.
  • Peel and cut the carrots into big chunks. I used whole baby carrots.
  • Boil the carrot. I used a mix of water and milk in a pressure cooker but the milk doesn't add anything to the dish. Water should suffice. 
  • Mash the carrot using a fork or a potato masher.
  • Use your hands to mash any little bits that you miss.  
  • In a pan, combine condensed milk and the mashed carrot.
  • Heat the pan and keep stirring the mixture every few minutes till the mixture begins come together and dries out a bit.
    I took another shortcut here. After a few minutes of stirring, I transferred the mixture to a glass dish and baked it in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 degrees.  
  • Garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios.
  • Serve hot or cold. It is delicious either way.
I don't do the taste test this time as I barely manage to take some photos before the plates are wiped clean.   
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