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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

HAPPINESS IS NOT JUST A WORD!



Women Power! Happy Moments! Me (second from right) with colleagues at a  farewell party in my college some years back.

Happiness is:


It is a conundrum. It is an abstraction. It is subjective. It is no less than a concept. It encompasses a plethora of human emotions. It is something to do with our feelings. In fact, we associate happiness with activities, which give us joy, satisfaction, confidence and positive orientation. Yet it defies absolute definition. Here is a bit of discussion about the way I take it.

Happiness is being honest with oneself. It is having some principles and a value system to lead life by. It is being better than yesterday. It is in having some goal, maybe a simple one and adhering to it. It is being unselfish but loving yourself and being you. It is not in pleasing others but helping others genuinely. Hypocrisy is its enemy. It is to try to conduct yourself righteously. It is in having convictions and sticking to them with courage. It is also in setting your priorities right and time management.
 
It doesn’t imply an absence of negative emotions. They are bound to be there. Unpleasant life situations spring up from nowhere. It is to control unfounded fears and fight skepticism. It is to shake out negations with the strength of character and catapult oneself back into the mainstream of life faster. It is to plunge into positive action braving odds.

Happiness is to be grateful for whatever one has. It is shunning impossible cravings and misleading fantasies. It is not about dwelling upon human frailties around you but learning lessons from them. It is in accepting yourself and others as they are.

It lies in being conscious of natural phenomenon in all its manifestations. It is in reading good books for inspiration, visualization, and personal improvement. It is to be polite and a patient listener. It is to respect elders and learn from their experiences. It is to indulge in positive affirmations for the good of all.

Friends these are the ideals I believe in. Don't you think, we do need such reminders periodically to prevent ourselves from straying into lethargy and mediocrity. 

Friends welcome here as always! 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

NATURE'S GREEN WORLD




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G for THE GREENERY AROUND US.

Man and nature are inseparable. Man’s relatedness to nature corresponds to his evolution through various stages of development for millions of years. His first refuge from the threatening elements was under the canopy of mammoth forests. The forest cover fulfilled his basic needs for survival.  Man kept on evolving slowly and steadily. How man reached the present state falls under the realm of history.

Wheat fields on the side of a highway
Greenery i.e. plant life is the major part of our blissful life endowed to us by nature. Life without the magical presence of green world around us is unthinkable. It is the backbone of our lives. Green crops feed us with their nutritious grains.  Green vegetables provide us with the necessary vitamins needed for our mental and physical growth. Green fruit plants bless us with their sweet and luscious fruits.


Trees standing stately in our midst clean the air we breathe. They help in balancing the ecosystem. Trees care for the safety of the avian families. Birds entertain us with their interesting sounds. Insects stay in the lap of plants. We keep wondering, how these tiniest wee bits can produce those stunning noises. 



Flowers after rain-washed nights steal our hearts away. Their lush green shoots soothe the eyes. A blade of green grass glimmering in morning light topped with its pearly dewdrop captivates our senses. The freshly mowed lawn attracts hordes of bird families. What a delight it is to watch their joyful chirps as they eagerly search for grubs! Branches of trees thickened with new leaves swing merrily in the breeze during spring. Theirs is a unique inspiration that can never be replicated.

This green repertoire of nature reflects immense life lessons. Nature has its own indivisible laws. Like life itself, it does not move continuously uphill. It has its breaks and setbacks. Winter of nature as of life is bleak. Plants seem withered. Trees look like skeletons shorn of leaf. Yet soon spring arrives with it magical apparel of freshness, new tender shoots and wraps the world in its green sheen and beauty. Likewise, in life obstacles and despair invade us suddenly and leave us heart broken. If we have faith in ourselves, we can overcome difficulties with patience and sincere efforts.

Plants as nature’s representatives follow a decisive rhythm. The flow of automatic change of seasons vouches for this spontaneous activity. Vegetation has the gift of resilience. This quality in itself gives us a lesson of hope. However bad a situation is, it will get resolved. Plants are our allies. Their bounties to the human race are free.

Let’s act responsibly towards nature. If pushed to the wall by man’s greed and selfishness, it mighty rebel.

 Friends welcome here as always!


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Thursday, February 15, 2018

FENUGREEK LEAVES AND SEEDS




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FENUGREEK LEAVES AND SEEDS


Continuing with my food trail, I thought I should bring center stage the lesser known plants and herbs, which are powerhouses of wellness but were ignored for long. Such wonders do require resurrection.

(In my write up, I’d be using the word 'Methi' for Fenugreek leaves.)

In this category, I'd place F for fenugreek leaves (methi). In my parents' household, my mother would cook methi with potatoes during winters as a routine. Once a week that is. It flourished in our kitchen garden. It is another matter that her children showed no inclination to eat it, because of its sharp and slightly bitter taste. Children anywhere in the world act squeamishly when parents cajole them to eat something hardly appetizing but considered good on other accounts. Amusingly have children ever cared about 'other accounts?’ 

However, dear mother's culinary ingenuity would make us eat the yesterday's preparation in an indirect manner. She would knead the cooked methi in wheat flour and make paranthas for breakfast, served with sweet and creamy homemade curd. The bitterness neutralized, the olfactory element enhanced, the green textured paranthas used to be delicious. Sometimes she would knead the stuff in maize flour and make rotis. The taste of hot Makki di roti with melting butter on it used to be heavenly.  

Over the years, after myriad experiments, interactions with friends, I learnt about doable extensive uses of methi with interesting results. The exercise strengthened my culinary repertoire no doubt.

New researches have shown that fenugreek leaves and seeds have multiple health benefits and should be consumed in some form or the other.

In Indian cuisine, its leaves or seeds have been extensively used in various preparations for ages. Only in our modern avatar of fast foods coupled with the paucity of time it has been somewhat relegated to a lowly position. 

However, slowly it is regaining its rightful place in the food fraternity.

Here are some of the dishes we prepare with Methi:

1. Methi with potatoes cooked as a vegetable dish.

Google images this and above

2. The real Indian curry, we prepare with black gram flour and curd, which gets its green look and mouthwatering aroma with finely cut methi leaves lightly roasted with Tadka. When fresh methi is not available seeds or dry leaves are substituted.

3. Indian style chicken cooked with methi leaves.

4. Cauliflower vegetable dish cooked with some methi leaves to aid its digestive process.

5. Methi pakoras and tikki fried after mixing with black gram flour.

 Some of the accepted benefits of consuming methi, I will briefly list below:

 1. Its regular consumption is said to reduce inflammation in the body, which causes many health issues.

2. Its water-soluble fiber aids digestion and reduces constipation and other internal inflammations.

3. Its use promotes heart health. It reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in the arteries.
 
4. Methi is the repository of most of the essential minerals and vitamins. It is a source of protein and carbohydrates as well.


In conclusion, one can say that methi is a wonder plant. If its consumption can reduce the number of countless pills we pop up as part of our routine, then why not try this.

Dear ladies, it is just an initiation or an introduction to exploring something healthy. Search the Internet. You can find the treasures of knowledge about it.  It’ll amaze you.


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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

AN EGG’S INCREDIBLE VERSATILITY




FULL MARKS TO EGG FOR BEING A KING IN NUTRITION!




 
There was a time when I’s a lot interested in cooking. My colleagues in the Home Science department of our college taught me how to bake cakes, prepare selected popular snacks, and various puddings. I loved trying all those recipes on Sundays and enjoyed my successes in the culinary art.  But that was a long long time back. In fact, so much has changed since then that fancy cooking has already been shone the door. Those experiences stay as a distant memory today.

Now I cook what is nutritious and easy on the digestive system. A sensitive gut doesn’t allow the luxury of carefree eating. Yet I thought let me talk about food and that too about the incredible egg.

This longish prologue to the post is because I have chosen E for egg to develop my narrative upon for this week. Why the word “Egg” you may ask.  My response would be that I love eggs. I’m still a good cook and my curiosity and zest for experiments are intact.

Eggs are a reservoir of vitamins and minerals.  They contain high-quality protein and are light on the stomach. To cap it all, an egg is so versatile and adapts to all types of cuisines globally. The bonus part is that they are cheap.

I cook them for breakfast almost every day. I also prepare a couple of side dishes for lunch/ dinner, when unexpected guests arrive. I’m going to share how I cook eggs differently as a routine. Here it goes.


SUNNYSIDE UP/FRIED EGG:


This is my favorite and so easy to cook. On medium heat grease your nonstick pan. Break the egg carefully into the pan, and cook until the edges become brown. If you do not like the runny yoke, then turn it upside down and after a minute or two slide it on a toast or plate. Sprinkle salt and pepper and there it goes into enjoyable bites.


OMELET:

I cook omelet when I decide to make stuffed paranthas. No more than once a week to break the monotony. Most of the time, while beating an egg, I add finely chopped fresh coriander leaves, onions and a green chili, salt, and pepper into the mixture.  Pouring the stuff onto the sizzling oil/butter in the pan on slow heat is a mouthwatering sight.


HARD-BOILED EGG:
 
It is the easiest way to eat an egg. Put the egg in the boiling water for about four minutes. Remove and let it cool. Peel the shell gently starting from the larger top downwards. Cut it into two halves or into round pieces. Sprinkle salt and pepper and lap it up. To prevent it from breaking in the water, make sure that the egg is at room temperature.

HALF-BOILED EGG:

The healthiest way to consume an egg is this one. Lower the egg in the boiling water for two minutes with the kitchen timer. Remove. Let it stand until it is still comfortably warm from the outside. Place it in a little eggcup or hold it in your left hand. Daintily break large enough part of the upper portion of the egg to allow insertion of a spoon. Scoop the insides with a teaspoon. A soft-boiled egg retains its nutritive value intact. And it gets digested so easily.


SCRAMBLED EGG:

Cooking an egg is always simple and scrambled egg is no exception. Even my granddaughter (yet to be a teen) knows how to cook it.

Have all the condiments ready.  Place the spatula near at hand.  Oil the pan evenly on medium flame. Break the egg into the pan, add salt etc. Stir and mix well. It is done very quickly. Be careful to remove the pan when the stuff is still moist.


POACHED EGG:

I needed to have an image of the poached egg. The best option was to prepare one. Therefore, I tried it today with a very good result. The method is easy but a bit tricky. Break the egg carefully in a tiny bowl. Put water in a flat-bottomed pan with straight up edges.  When the water just starts boiling, make a sort of whirlpool in the middle. This stops it from spreading in the pan. Softly drop the egg in the middle of the pan.  Keep watching. Let it cook for two-three minutes. With practice, one comes to know when it is done. Scoop it out with the tea strainer and savor it warm with some salt and pepper. 



This is a pudding made with egg and thickened milk. I cooked  it during the week. It is time consuming, so I'm giving it a miss.

We in North India also love EGG CURRY occasionally.

I prepare EGG BURJI when my children visit us. It is a tasty dish eaten with rotis or paranthas.

Just a sneak peek into my food preferences, friends. More next time! Hope to learn your simple recipes.

Friends.welcome here as always!

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