Before chat rooms and MySpace, there were pen friends. Did
you have one? I had several between the ages of nine and fourteen,
who I wrote to diligently every month. We exchanged news and
factoids on our country, school, what we read and where are lives
were. Then life and school got hectic, took priority and I had no
time to keep in touch. Neither did they, and the inevitable parting
of ways took place without us even knowing it. Every once so often,
I found myself missing that like-minded interaction with fun
individuals I knew only through their words. I missed that, until a
few more years passed. Then there was Twitter.
Among all the social media prevalent
today, Twitter is the one that I find most creatively inspiring. It
facilitates connections so easily that finding someone interesting
and inspiring requires only that you start. This was where I
connected with Manisha. Not only is she an interesting follow on
twitter, but her blog never
ceases to inspire me. When my half-Kashmiri husband had a sudden
yearning for Haak,
it was her blog that led me to salvation. I despair using collard
greens, what one would traditionally use here. I embraced, and
enjoyed, her dandelion greens version with a sigh of relief. Her
travel photos on India go a long way in assuaging that homesick
feeling I still get sometimes.
These were the experimental chicken tacos in mentioned in my last post. They turned out pretty good for what was essentially messing around with several ingredients, but frankly the next time I’m going to turn up the heat on them a bit more. Probably Mexican oregano would add another nuance of flavour too. Nevertheless, they work on their on or a a base for more flavour.
We’ve got gas!
Alright, that was a poor dig at shcok vlue, but really we do have gas. The kind you cook with. Oh the joy of fire! Every time I see those sinuous flickering flames licking at the base of the pan, I do a little jig right there in the kitchen. No fancy pants induction stove is a match for a simple gas flame. Amey, who learned to cook only in this country, which means only on electric ranges, is a bit nonplussed at how quickly all his food cooks. He may never live in a house with an electric range again!
Oil starts to shimmer almost as soon as it hits a hot pan. Two-minute noodles actually take two minutes instead of eight. This is the best part of our move, my fabulous new kitchen with its darling gas range. Untouched by human hands before us. Well, except for the people who installed it. I have big plans for this stove. It is way bigger than my previous one. The last one matched the size of my old kitchen and was really made for people who believed cooking meant boiling water for tea. It was tiny. Our friends often marvelled that we cooked the meals on it that we did. The coils were all too close to each other to ever allow all four to be in use at the same time, thereby involving long stints in the kitchen if inviting company over for a meal. This full size range is a treat. Cooking is more of a joy than it ever was. Even the OCD-like reverential cleaning we put it through every time we use it is easier. Things are looking great in our kitchen.
Once we got here and settled in a bit, one of the first things I pulled from my files was this recipe for tacos. I’d been saving it for summer which is a bit silly considering it doesn’t call for summer ingredients or any such thing. You could just as easily make it at any time of year. To me, however, there is something inexplicably summer about tacos. The hand-held food, the riot of colour, the tongue-tantalizing hit of heat and spice, they evoke beaches and sun. I’d been daydreaming of taco picnics in the park in the cold of April. We haven’t quite gotten to the picnic yet but there have been tacos. Several experiments, like the accompanying chicken taco in the photo above; but mostly there has been a repeat of this chorizo-and-potato kind, because they are quite quick and delicious in an I-want-to-eat-these-for-every-meal-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way.
Combine a hectic work schedule with an insane social life and you find yourself staring wide-eyed at the calendar wondering where April and most of May have gone. I’m thankful for both, but various things seem to have gathered momentum at the same time and it has taken considerable effort to stay ahead of it all rather than simply hang on desperately in fear of falling off. The time I’ve gotten to spend in my kitchen has been minimal which is such a shame, considering that this is the most enthusiastic time of year, produce-wise.
For us, there has been a lot of quick food or take-out on those few days we’ve been able to sink into the pleasures of staying in (very under-rated in my opinion). There have been a few quick tomato and cheese or peanut butter sandwiches while the bread lasted, or boiled eggs and toast (easily my favourite meal-in-a-hurry) while the eggs lasted. This one heavenly indulgent night was when I didn’t have anywhere to be and could make this potato vegetable which we ate with some rotis. That is the sad state of affairs these past weeks. Amey and I haven’t been getting in early enough to spend decent quality time at the markets. It is times like this when an intelligently stocked pantry can save your life.
Living in a small apartment means that you catch on pretty quick to what is cake and what is icing, metaphorically speaking. You learn very quickly that a hoarding complex or an over-sentimental attachment to stuff is a one-way ticket to madness. Everything at our place is based on turnover. So to have something new, you have to get rid of something old. We have achieved phenomenal success in applying this rule to practically everything except books and food ingredients. I’m having a harder time with the pantry then the library really, because in a broad sense, the entire apartment is a library. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the pantry.
I was once told that you start at the beginning, continue to the end, then stop. Then you do the same with the next task. This is how things get done. Wise words, when it comes to writing, but hard to do. Especially when this bright and lovely thing that I’m sharing with you today doesn’t start at its beginning but at the beginning of my week.
It seems that griping about past weather did the trick, because what a glorious week we’ve had weather-wise. Personally, it could have been one out of those old silent era comic movies. Someone having a bad week would have been considerably cheered up with a glimpse into mine. Talk about comic relief.
An unusual bout of insomnia has me falling asleep too late and waking up too early for a couple of weeks now. Last week, this offered me the opportunity to get into more trouble than I normally do, which aiming to please, I did. On Monday morning, I woke up at five, decided to make dinner for the evening while trying to call my cousin in New Zealand. I’m probably the only person in the history of dinner who burnt it at six a.m.
Tuesday, I almost got run over. Not the driver’s fault; no one should be looking at the sky and thinking about Rottweilers and Retrievers when she’s crossing the street. Wednesday is a bit of a blur in my head. There’s a good chance I might have told someone that he sucked. Also, I missed a perfectly good chicken and waffles dinner with friends since I was otherwise occupied with trying to kill my too-slow work computer.
I did not succeed.