Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Reasons why I practice ‘the pause’

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  1. It helps me to refocus on my priorities- When I am frantically running from one activity to another, I suddenly stop, take a deep breath and sit down for 2-3 minutes. This is the pause. I ask myself, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” It brings back attention to the most important things.
  2. It helps to slow down my mind – In the midst of a busy day, my mind runs at breakneck speed. I am constantly focusing on the next thing to do. In doing so, the present moment loses significance–it only becomes a means of stepping into a future moment. This is senseless because the present moment is all there is to my life. The pause helps me to bring back attention to the present moment.
  3. It gives me a moment to ‘smell the roses’– When I deliberately pause, it instantly gets me out of my head and makes me more appreciative of the important things in my immediate vicinity–the blossoming jasmines in my garden, the billowing clouds in the sky, the smell of coffee, and if nothing else, the sight of my pretty painted toe-nails!
  4. It gives me insight–Sometimes when I pause, I realize that what is stressing me out is not even so critical anyway. These little moments to myself have helped me get over my intense desire to be popular. They have helped me get over the feeling that I need to be doing something productive with every moment of my life. Time “wasted” when I sit and just be with myself may count towards no tangible outcome but it has rewarded me with a richer inner life. And if I am rich within, does being ‘productive’ really matter.
  5. I am more content. Case closed.

All or Nothing

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Today is June 1, 2016. Today, I made a commitment to myself to exercise for 2 hours everyday until December 31, 2016.

My weight is hovering between 62-64 kg. My knee hurts when I walk for more than 30 minutes. My lower back hurts if I sit for very long. My neck and shoulder hurt if I work for long on my laptop. I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. My immunity is low–so I have frequent throat infections. My hair is falling and for the first time in my life, I am getting acne.I don’t sleep well at night.

I would get depressed that my body is acting like my enemy. But maybe it is screaming for help. For the first time in 37 years(did I just tell you my age?oopsie), I am turning my attention inward to pay attention to my body. And with a weaker body, my mind has also lost some of its sheen. It has taken years of neglect for my body to reach where it has, so it will take some time to heal. I have decided that I am going to take charge.

EXERCISE: I started with doing yoga for 1 hour. I have an app called Yoga Studio. It cost $5.98. But it teaches each pose step by step without me having to step out of my house for yoga class. I have been doing around 15 minutes everyday. Today, I did a beginner combination series–it includes poses for flexibility, back pain, strength, balance and relaxation. Well, its a start.

FOOD: I gave up sugar today.

GRATITUDE: I read a Quora response by an online gamer who was one of the top gamers of the world in 2007. Someone asked what it takes to be the best in the world? He listed out how he sacrificed going to high school, sleep, food and even going to prom so that he could become world number 1 player in a video game.Though I am not one for extreme measures, something he wrote struck a chord with me. He said “All or nothing. You have to sacrifice everything to be at the top of the world.”  I don’t know whether I want to be the best in the world, but I do want to be the best in MY world. I am grateful for lessons learnt from random places.

There. I just posted a lesson learnt from a sleep-deprived, prom-sacrificing video gamer in my first post on commitment and responsibility and stuff. This alone guarantees the future success of my blog.

 

Valentine’s Day and Some Fishy Business

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Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Three Cheese Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

Grilled Barramundi with Vegetables

I never got around to the kitchen today. I did wake up with fantasies of cooking up a storm for L. He has sacrificed going for movies for one year to keep me company while I recuperate. But sometimes, good intentions get crushed under the weight of the pillow and the comforter! I believe extra sleep adds to the well-being of the world, so that’s my contribution to Valentine’s Day.

We made do with early dinner at Bakerzin at Vivocity mall. I tried grilled barramundi with vegetables. The fish was fresh and crisp, the vegetables were crunchy and the sauce was perfectly light and flavorful. L had a three cheese chicken sandwich. I had to exercise iron will power to not take a bite of the cheese sandwich. And I nearly cried out of sadness when I couldn’t buy one of the fluffy macarons this restaurant specializes in. We take so many little things in our everyday life for granted. Its only when they are taken away from us that we realize how many precious blessings there are in each day. I swore on those pastel colored macarons beckoning me from the display that I would never again take them for granted. But I must say, I was very content with the fish.

I hope you find contentment too on this Valentine’s Day. Isn’t that why we look for love..so that we can feel content? Happy Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I did get some shots of miniature teapots at a stall set up at a Chinese New Year Festival in the mall. See you tomorrow.

Miniature Teapots

Miniature Teapots

 

Easy Breezy Mung Bean Salad

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Mung bean sprouts salad

Mung bean sprouts salad

I couldn’t post yesterday. I had a procedure at the hospital which lasted the whole day. Yet I did manage to rustle up a quick sprouts salad. The procedure had me knocked out for a good two hours. When I finally woke up, the nurse asked me if I wanted to eat something. She gave me options of cheese sandwich and rice porridge. Rice porridge is Chinese comfort food, like our khichdi. But Aunty had packed some peas fried rice for me. Just some rice fried with very little onion with onions, whole cinnamonn, cardamom, clove and a whole bay leaf. When something tastes good even when I just woke up from a chemically-induced stupor, means it goes into my trusted recipe book, my good friend for life. Just in case you are wondering, I am better today.

Here is my recipe for sprouts salad:

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup sprouted mung bean

1 tomato, chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped

Few sprigs of cilantro leaves, chopped

Dressing

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ginger juice

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

Mix the sprouts with the onion, tomato, cilantro and green chilli. Add the dressing and toss the salad. Its ready to serve.

P.S. I saw a fortune cake at a neigbourhood bakery. The oranges on the cake signify good fortune, the whole fish signify long life and the symbol on the little square tofu representation is the Chinese symbol for wealth.

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

Fortune Cake for Chinese New Year

 

 

My Brave-heart Sandwiches

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I had no time to cook anything today. I had multiple doctors’ appointments. But I am here because I committed to writing one post everyday.

All I could do was practice some photography. So at 10 PM I brought out my cookie cutter and created these sandwiches. I then practised a few shots of taking food photos in artificial light. I have a long way to go, but at least its a start. After I finished my shoot, I convinced L to have them as dessert so that they wouldn’t be wasted.

I am calling these minis my brave-heart sandwiches. When one goes through a long-enduring difficulty, the heart must stay brave. These sandwiches are a reminder. You could also make these for your loved ones as Valentine’s day breakfast.

See you tomorrow 🙂

Lying in bed with the ‘Poet of the appetites’

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I have received warnings, dear reader, several warnings. Warnings to stay in bed. The culprit is a back pain that has had me out of action for almost two months now. I won’t go into details about the back pain in this public forum. I want this space to be about happiness and health, and gratitude and good food.

A short bout of recovery created an insatiable urge to ‘live’ life again. That led to three versions of tandoori fish (each a failure of epic proportions), half a litre of mango lassi for a potluck lunch, a jar of mango pickle, feverish activity on my blog and traipsing around in the Marina Bay Sands mall. Karma caught on quickly: my back is in pretty bad shape again. I am sheepishly heeding to the warnings now. So here I am, curled up in bed with heating pads and analgesic creams.

I am not complaining though. A super short trip to the library en route the doctor’s yielded a bunch of treasures.

8 books-all centered around food. My idea of bliss.

8 books-all centered around food. My idea of bliss.

As if savoring a new dish, I have tasted the first few pages of M.F.K. Fisher’s classic culinary essays in her “Love in a Dish”.  Each page sparkles with her philosophy that eating is inextricably tied to living well.

She combines recipes with memorable anecdotes, childhood reminiscences and passionate storytelling. You delight in the insistence of a fanatical waitress to feed her fresh pastry. You want to go back to her childhood and dip into her favorite creamy mashed potatoes and catsup, even if you are not quite sure what catsup is.

She says that the love of food builds a marriage:

“…even steak and potatoes, when they have been prepared with a shared interest and humor and intelligence, can be one great pleasure which leads to another, and perhaps–who knows–an even greater one.” 

What is left unsaid is as riveting as what is said.I always believed food creates love, but could I ever say it so subtly and deliciously? John Updike called her the ‘Poet of the appetites.’ Oh Mary Frances Kennnedy Fisher, I want to be like you. I am even willing to get two extra middle names if it will get me to write like you.

I am not complaining about having to lie in bed for one more day. After all, I have a poet for company.

 

 

Mango Achaar: Tickled by a Pickle

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I feel apprehensive and unsure but also a little excited. Nearly those feelings that are evoked on a first date. But no, these feelings are being generated by the ridiculous adventure I am on today- making mango pickle for the first time ever. It is a bad sign when the feelings that are evoked on a first date are showing up at the prospect of mango pickle.

I just don’t see myself as a pickle-making kinda girl. I like to think of myself as cool and all that. And isn’t making mango pickle something your grandmas did every summer? But here I am,dear reader, intently chopping tart,raw mangoes into bite-sized chunks to create my first mango pickle ever. Valiantly defiant that my coolness quotient is rapidly dipping southwards with every incision I make into my beautifully green mangoes.

My mango tray is precariously positioned over three horizontal bars that are used for drying out clothes in Singapore. The sun is  really hot, so hopefully my mangoes will dry before they topple down 16 floors.

My mango tray is precariously positioned over three horizontal bars that are used for drying out clothes in Singapore. The sun is really hot, so hopefully my mangoes will dry before they topple down 16 floors.

My Punjabi and Rajasthani friends used to bring a green mango pickle in their lunch boxes to school–chunky pieces of raw mango that looked as though they had tons of fun rolling around in a bed of fragrant spices and mustard oil all summer. Just a tiny bite of that pickle with some chapatis or fried rice sent an explosion of flavors through your system. Unfortunately, none of the ready-made mango pickles that I have tried buying from the Indian store ever match up to that taste. Also, they are dripping in oil and artificial colors.So the only option left for me is to make my own mango pickle. 

My masala tray. I love the contrasting colors of the spices.

My masala tray. I love the contrasting colors of the spices.

 

I will report to you in a few days how this experiment turns out.  I thought of Aita (my grandma) a lot today. Aita spent hours making large quantities of mango, lime, green chilli and mustard pickle every summer. When she passed away in 1995, I did not even know how to make a cup of tea.The kitchen was the last place I wanted to be at. Wherever she is, she must be so tickled by the idea of me making a pickle.

MANGO PICKLE RECIPE

I adapted this recipe at http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/punjabi-mango-pickle/

The only change I made was I rubbed salt on to the mango pieces and put it out in the sun to dry for 4-5 hours before I rubbed the spices on to them. The trick is to get the mango pieces absolutely dry of moisture, but the flesh should still be a bit moist. Otherwise, it is difficult to preserve and spoils in a few days.