Hello again!

Wow, I cannot believe that it’s been over 2 years since I last posted! So much has happened since then. I last posted less than a few weeks after I had a minor surgery. There were some complications, after which I began a full time job for which I had interviewed a month before my previous post, then, we moved cross-continent, to a different country, had a new baby N… In the midst of all of this, M broke her leg and was in a non-weight bearing full leg cast for 5 weeks. Did I mention that I was about 7 months pregnant then? That was fun! How did we manage at home? Why, we got a stroller! And the poor darling figured out a way to get in and out of bed and in and out of the stroller by herself. I told her never to do so without my presence, so that I could hold things like chair and stroller steady for her. We were instructed not to let her fall under any circumstances. Despite all care, she did take 2 or 3 spills, sadly.

Phew! My mother, who came to help out with the new baby, will be leaving soon and I’ll be in charge of meals. I haven’t begun a job here yet, as we knew about N by the time we moved. That does help time management but is it ever easy with small children? I intend to make it easy-er. I looked and I looked for freezer cooking for Indian dishes and vegetarian dishes (that we eat) in general, but I just cannot find much. I hit upon an idea…why don’t I figure it out myself? When we went to the hospital for N’s birth, I didn’t want my mother and M to be cooking at home. At least not more than rice and plain dal. So, starting about a month before due date, we started freezing pre-made meals. We froze various kinds of curries, south and North Indian, we froze sambar, we froze pulusu/kuzhambu… The trick is to thaw quickly, for sambar and pulusu. Otherwise, the texture becomes funny. Still edible but It looks like mush.

I could do this again now – my mother plans to stock our freezer up – but at some point, I have to begin. I would prefer to freeze prepped meals just before cooking because it is faster.

You see, I had been trying to find recipes for freezing ingredients for use in the slow cooker. But what is wrong with doing the same with the pressure cooker??? But of course! There are recipes galore for one pot pressure cooking! Even my own! As I make a method up, I’ll post it. Followed a few days or weeks later, by an update which says how it worked post-thaw.

I’ll begin with lentil soup, sambar, chole. I could cook and freeze but I’d prefer to eat out of cooking vessels and not out of Tupperware. For the illusion of fresh-cooked food… So, I’d like to prep enough to make it a dump into pressure/slow cooker on the go dish, but not so much that I have to spend a lot of time beyond cutting vegetables. Let us see how it works out.

Stay tuned!

Toddler Independence.

Post from about a month ago.

My daughter posted when she was about to turn two. Now, it is two months past that and she wants to do more and more on her own. My, mine, own, self, are constant refrains around the Wee household.

We're waiting for friends to arrive for breakfast at our favorite bagel place in our neighborhood. As we wait, M started eating her bagel with peanut butter ("on her own"), her all time favorite combination. Well, current, at any rate. As she finished and got up to go for a walk with her father, an older gentleman two tables over said, "Enjoy this stage while it lasts because before you know it, she'll be asking for your car keys."

Before I know it, my little girl will become an independent young woman. I'll enjoy this time when she wants to "help" me with everything at home. As she hangs on to the mop stick in an effort to hinder – I mean- help me, I'll enjoy the time we spend trying to mop. As she holds the hanger for me to hang shirts on, when she tucks in the bedspread for me, when she "mixes" ingredients for me, I'll teach her the importance of learning to become independent as well as of teamwork. If need be, she should be independent, if need be, she should be a good team player. These are her little steps towards becoming that independent young woman who understands the need to be a good part of a team when the time comes.

I turn 2 soon!

Yes, in India, giving birth is considered a re-birth for the woman, the mother.

But this post isn't from me as a mother.

It is a blog hijacking by my daughter. I have created a blog for her, but she insists on using mine. I'll let her take over.

I was only 1 last year. If all of you don't know, that is pretty young. Really, how would YOU know! You aren't one! I know in all of my 2 year old wisdom that when I see one year olds – no not the upper ones but the lower ones – that they're small babies. You see, I now know that I am a BIG baby. My mother keeps trying to tell me that I am a toddler now, and not too big one at that, but why would I want to go from being a big baby to a small anything, pray may I know? I'll call myself a big baby, thank you very much!

I'm here to tell you what it was that I didn't know a year ago and what these one year olds have no clue about.

Now I know my A-B-Cs. (Or does she?)

Ay-Bee-Cee-Dee-Ee-n-Gee-Hach-Ai-Jay-Kay-LiMiNOP-KooRRRa-eS-T-oo-and-Vee-dabaloo-iX and Y and Zeeeeeeeee. Next Time Know my A-B-Cs.

That is how my song goes.

I know 2 little songs in my father's mother tongue.

One in my mother's.

I know most of the common English rhymes. I even make them more interesting with my twists in them.

For instance:

Incy Wincy Spider Up A Water Spout
Down Came a Rain and Washed the Spout

I can say "NO". I can act it out too.

You want to know how, you say? I did tell my mother to leave my clothes alone, I am a big baby. I can handle this. Who cares if both of my legs sometimes end up in one leg of the pants or if they are on backwards? Will she listen? She sneakily puts them on me. What is a big baby to do! Just what any self-respecting big baby would. Lull her into a false sense of security and at the critical juncture between putting them on and pulling them up, pull them right off, run away with them, and do it MY way. It is My way or My way. No, highway doesn't appeal to me. My way or My way, it is!

I can speak in full sentences.

Why, I can string sentences together. My favourite? "I don't want it. Keep it back". Or a variation on the same theme – "I need it. Give it to me". Will someone explain to me who this please is? Why do I have to ask him or her for everything I want? "Give it to me, please!" Is it not enough to say, "Give it to me, Amma"? After all, she is the one who gives things. I'll have to please this please person.

I know that we "need to buy it first" before I can start playing with or eating things in a store. 

I can argue with my family, most notably, with my grandfather. He has a problem with my dumping my blocks on the floor. Isn't that how we play with them, before building the blocks up, I mean? Yes, I do want to play with them. In about 6 hours from the time I scattered them on the floor. I like to prepare well in advance. I thought that was a good thing. Don't know what the poorly timed clean-ups are about. Incorrigible adults!

Alpha-Beta-Gamma-Delta-Epilion That's a series of something.

As is Aidrogen-Eelium-Lithium-Berrilium-Borron-Carrbon.

And Sa-Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Da-Ni-Sa.

Oh yes, the best series of all – 1-2-3- and so on. I thought I knew them all. And then one day, Appa sprung a surprise on me. He started singing a song of numbers. And he kept going even after he reached twenty-five! Imagine my surprise when he went on and on! Amma must have been just as shocked but she didn't show it. (Yes, darling, there are infinite number of numbers, really).

I saved the best for the last – I met ALL of my cousins, aunts and uncles in the past year, along with my grandparents. You see, there is one that I haven't met yet, and guess what! I am eagerly looking forward to seeing a "veiy veiy small baby" cousin. But if I wait for baby to arrive to post this, I cannot in good conscience, claim that I have met all of my family at the time of this post. I have seen the tummy where that baby is hiding, so that counts for now! That is why, I am releasing this post in advance.

– An almost 2 year old.

PS: I love that my brand new cousin already knows about hide and seek, She's hiding now, but we'll seek her out soon, Or he and him.

Happy Almost Birthday to You, Big Baby! – Amma and Appa.

Our no cry sleep solution takes a turn

If you're a mother, you've probably heard of Sleep Theories 101. And no, I don't mean an introductory course on sleep theories. I literally mean 101 theories of sleep that are floating around the world. In the ethernet, word of mouth, magazines.

Parenting is so fraught with disagreements. "Experts" disagree more than they agree on a topic. But one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that children need to sleep. (Don't we all! But apparently, parents shouldn't, if some babies have any say in the matter). How this state of sleep should be entered into – ah! Careful now! Dangerous waters ahead! I never knew that so much controversy existed about a simple human need. Sleep. Nor so much struggle.

Parent A: Put the child in the crib and let it find its way to sleep. It needs to learn.

Parent B: How cruel! One must always parent the child to sleep. Whether by nursing or by rocking, singing, dancing, standing upside down… And every nighttime whimper attended to.

C: Co-sleeping is the best. D: NO! It is soooo bad! Crib, crib, all the way.

Somewhere in between lie the other 99 theories.

Me? I pick what I can use, discard what I cannot, and store what I may consider. Works well.

So, co-sleeping for us. With occasional but increasingly regular attempts at crib use. For she now kicks.

Lately, she's been falling asleep on her own, with one of us (read, me), lying down next to her. Knock on all the wood in the world that her sleep situation only improves.

Today, she was trying to sleep, and one of her sleep positions to try, is with her face on my face or worse, her feet on my face. It was her face today, no problem. Here I was, enjoying my baby's sweet hug… ignoring the pile of socks sitting at the foot of the bed, waiting to be sorted… drinking in the sweetness of the moment… until…

THWACK!!

She is asleep. And I still have those socks to sort.

Note to self: Baby's heads can give you a swollen lip.

Note 2 to self: Go check on it before blogging about it.

Wrangler almost hits my daughter on Stanley SIDEWALK

Just an hour ago, my husband and I were walking towards my daughter's daycare, along with his parents. All of us, happily anticipating how she would react when she saw that we were all there to meet her. Her reaction more than matched our wildest hope.

We walked back home, heads bent against the rain or covered by an umbrella. Our 21 month old fell asleep in her stroller, tired from the day's activities. My husband was pushing her. As we walked on the east side of Stanley, between Renee Levesque and Sainte Catherine, I sensed rather than saw that a garage door opened just as we were about to walk past it. Without thinking, I threw my arm out to stop the stroller. A Wrangler shot out of the garage at great speed and came to a halt only as it was about to enter the street, filled with evening traffic.

If I hadn't reacted or if we had been a second sooner or the car, a moment later, who knows what would have happened!

After the car left, we looked up, above the garage door, to see a red signal, as if pedestrians routinely look up while walking on the SIDEWALK. Granted, if someone was far enough from the garage door, he or she would be able to see it. But what of the person to whom it matters the most? The one directly in the path of oncoming ton of metal?

Do you walk with your heads pointed straight up for any red lights that may show up?

Which begs the question – how do buildings get away with such dangerously placed garage exits?

I am still shaken up. I am too numb with shock to even feel anger.

Oven-roasted cauliflower that the V family just cannot resist

This is part of my find-a-recipe-for-a-vegetable-you-hate adventure.

A very very very long time ago, my sister had a bad experience while cutting cauliflower. Let's leave it at that. But it scarred me enough to hate the buttery looking vegetable, well into my adult life. As a matter of fact, even until after becoming a mother. When I decided that if I have to make my daughter eat all vegetables, I should first learn to do so without cringing. 

Funny thing is, once I like a certain recipe, I can extend the tolerance to many other previously maligned recipes. Don't know why!

I am copying the recipe verbatim below as well, because occasionally, people decide to delete recipes and I am left without it. But the full credit goes to Manggy, the author.

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin, Coriander and Chili

  • 500g head (18-oz) of cauliflower, washed, green leaves removed and cut into florets (half-florets if you want extra crunch)

  • sea salt
  • olive oil (add a knob of butter that has been melted for serious flavor, but I wanted to keep it wholesome)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or 2 dried chilis)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • mommydiaries says: Oven mitts; fork; cool air, for you won't want to wait too long to eat it.


    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Make sure the cauliflower is completely dry by patting it in between paper towels. In a sheet pan or roasting pan, toss the florets with a good glug of olive oil. In a mortar, bash the spices with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over the florets evenly and toss well. Make sure they are laid out in a single layer on the pan. Roast in the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes, then give them a good toss to ensure even cooking, and roast for 10 minutes more or until the edges are brown and crunchy. Serve immediately.

    _______

    My 2 cents. I don't pat the cauliflower dry. I prefer not to use paper towels or anything "disposable" if I can avoid it. I leave the florets to drain in the colander if I have enough patience. Else, I start the recipe after the water has drained out but the cauliflower is still moist.

    I use coconut oil in it occasionally, or ghee. I have made it with olive oil too. It just depends on my mood.

    I can eat a whole big cauliflower by myself, prepared this way, and that's saying something.

    Today, I forgot to turn the oven up to 400 F. I had it at 375 F for 15 min, tossed the florets around, then turned it up to 400 F and left it for another 15 min. The cauliflower was damp when I started, so it was soft, but still tasted yummy enough that M wanted more of it. I had to stop because I wanted her to eat some protein too. 

    I'll save some for M's snack when out and about to buy another cauliflower this afternoon and roast it again so that my husband doesn't suspect that I ate it all. Oh I meant household supplies. To buy household supplies. Household supplies it is, I am sticking to my story.

    Shoe Size

    Baby shoes – (softly) tup tup tup tup tup tup

    Mommy shoes – (louder) tup tup tup tup tup tup
    Daddy shoes – (even louder) tup tup tup tup tup tup
    GIANT SHOEEEES – TUP TUP TUP TUP TUP TUP

    M’s version – 

    Amma shoes – daga daga daga daga daga
    Appa shoes – daga daga daga daga daga
    SOCKS.

    A’right, that being said, M just started daycare, part time. They have outdoor time for about a half hour everyday, barring inclement weather. I was having trouble as it was, trying to find warm winter boots that I can push her feet into. Now, the more laid back approach to the great boot search took on a new urgency. I sat down on the floor of many big stores, trying to find something for her. Big store, numerous shoes, right? Big store, many shoes, few salespeople, hardly any help.

    Finally, in desperation, I called Mitsy to ask where she got shoes for her now almost-preschooler, last winter. Birkenstock-Naturino in Westmount. Off I went to Westmount but sadly, the store was closed for the day. I went again the next day. It is a small store with friendly and helpful staff. They only had 4 pairs of boots in her size, but with the saleslady’s excellent advice, we found a cute purple pair. And also, indoor shoes for M to use in daycare.

    Did you know that winter boots are supposed to be 2 sizes bigger than your toddler’s foot size? I didn’t. Small wonder that I couldn’t get her feet into all of those size 4 and 5 boots!

    And if you live in the area, I highly recommend the store.