The new every day

Tagged as: change, food

I’ve been out of the kitchen for a very long time. Aside from the occasional meals, I’ve mostly let Z handle the kitchen. Him being a whiz at cooking, also helps. I remember the last time I cooked was when we had just moved in our current house, when I was almost 6 months pregnant. We had an awkward layout. But I loved coming home, and prepping and cooking. Since I believe in mostly simple dishes, it wasn’t a chore. But then after a lengthy kitchen remodel, bebu’s arrival I’m an occasional sighting. And now even when I do cook, something is always off. It’s either the pace, the spice, or something else. But most evidently, it’s me. I’m off my game. Way off!

But now I’m looking forward to venture back in. Add to the mix the fact that we’ve to have everything ready before bebu’s 7pm dinner schedule. This is different than what my mom had to deal with. She cooked atleast 3-4 dishes every day after she got home from work at 7.30pm. But, in India we used to eat later than 7 for sure. So I’ve been brainstorming about how can I get things done. Things like freezer meals don’t really fit in with how we eat. But meal prep is something that I can get onboard with. The first time I read about it was on Shutterbean. I’ve been trying to search for more tips. So far I’ve nailed down the approach to the following things:

Grocery trip staples every week:
– Milk
– Eggs
– Bread (bebu is a huge fan of all things bread. I see a lot of bread consumption in our future)
– Chicken (this is our preferred meat)
– Frozen shrimp (I really hated frozen seafood of any kind, but I was blown away by how good the Argentinean shrimp from Trader Joe’s was. Also, they are peeled and deveined. Sold!!)
– Fresh veggies (think carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli)
– Fruits (I’m bad at eating fruits. But I realized that I eat a lot of fruits if it’s already cut. Lazy much?)

Goto dishes:
– Soups (Chicken noodle, broccoli, lentil soup, tomato to name a few)
– Dosa/Idli (this just needs some prep. And I’ve done it two weekends in a row, so I think I can do it again. And this works so well for dinners or weekend breakfasts)
– Boiled potatoes something (When I was pregnant, I craved potatoes in my first trimester. Z actually used to have boiled potatoes in the fridge)
– Boiled eggs (I’m usually skip breakfast. So this might help with some of that. And if not just boiled eggs, I like the idea of a tuna salad with egg)
– Pasta (I’ve made pasta just once or twice. But Z is really good at it.)
– Some kind of dal. Since Z generally skips the heavier stuff in favor of dal, this is a no brainer.
– Pancakes for weekend breakfasts (this wasn’t a thing in India when we were growing up. But I want this to be a part of bebu’s weekends)

Some of the recipes that I’ve on my to-make list:
Alton Brown’s pancakes
Pioneer Woman’s butternut squash & kale
Minestrone soup
Chicken Avocado lime soup
– Some kind of tomato sauce. Once a coworker gave me this amazing tomato sauce which resulted into one of my very rare pasta dishes w/ mushrooms.

We’ve always used a pressure cooker. But it was a problem if we had to use it when bebu was asleep. So we got Instant Pot last month after reading about it on NomNomPaleo. I’m a fan! So far we’ve made Sambar, Pav Bhaaji, Kale & Spinach Chicken and Mutton curry with fantastic results. I’m looking forward to using the slow cooker function. I’ve never made any slow cooker recipes, so this is going to be interesting. In a good way!

I also like Tracy’s (from Shutterbean) idea of making something to drink. I’m addicted to soda. I need my glass of Coke everyday. But this is a good way to cut that out of the picture.

Growing up we had lot of greens as part of our meals. I’m still thinking about how can I make sure that bebu also comes to love them. She’s a pretty good eater and I’m looking forward to broaden her tastes.

I realize that to succeed at this requires a lot of organizing skills. Applying them at something like meal planning is something new for me. But I think this is worth a shot.


Long distance travel with a baby/toddler

Tagged as: baby, travel

This past March we took a 8500 miles odd trip to India. Which translated to a 27hr flight (wait, we’ll get to it), multiple domestic flights within the country and several car trips without a carseat. If all this hasn’t made you question our sanity, you are a better person than I am. We learned quite a few things. We had learned a thing or two from our last trip to Vegas last year.

Long distance travel with a baby

Look for the routes with the smallest possible flying time. I cannot stress this enough. Longer layovers are fine. The baby could probably use the running around. You too!

Consider buying a seat for your kid if you are flying long distances. The bassinet seat in flights aren’t really that great. They have a weight/height limit and you’ve to remove your baby from the bassinet every time there’s turbulence and during takeoff and landing. It’s a problem if you just got the baby to sleep. Also, they don’t turn off the lights at the end of the aisles. We created a makeshift blanket fort. Not elegant, but whatever works.

If the baby is breastfeeding, life is simple. If they are on formula, the sticks (we used this Similac On the go) are super helpful. The air hostesses are super helpful. We found it was easier to use multiple bottles than trying to clean the bottles in the tiny bathroom inflight. We would just wash all the bottles during the layover.

If you are traveling to a place where there’s a lot of humidity, you might want to keep the formula in the refrigerator to prevent clumps.

Keep snacks handy. Our daughter is a huge fan of Happy Puffs. Fruits like orange, apple slices etc also work. You just have to be careful about not squishing the softer fruits.

We also ended up using the Plum Organics purees. Our daughter was partial to the sweet potato ones. If your kid hasn’t tried this before, let them try it before you leave for your trip. That ways you’d know which flavor works and which doesn’t.

Keep a track of what the temperature is like at your destination city. This seems like common sense. But we misjudged how hot it got in one of the cities that we visited. So we had to go shopping for shorts. Also, due to the heat, we needed fewer diaper changes. But the heat also meant frequent baths, so having cotton onesies on hand helped.

We went to the beach quite a few times. After the frigid waters of Northern California, the warm waters of Goa, Karnataka beaches was AHH-mazing! Bebu had loads of fun. I wish I knew about the existence of swim diapers then. Chalk that one up against rookie parents.

We didn’t really think about this a lot before. I mean, after 1 year, you think you know everything there is to know about this. Well, you thought wrong! Just try changing a diaper in the tiny bathroom in the economy section. There’s no space!! That was the first time I changed a diaper on a kid who just wouldn’t lie down. Also, as I mentioned before, if you are traveling to a warmer region, you’ll be surprised by the fewer diaper changes. We brought back a third of the diapers we took.

Out and about
Again, with the heat, using the carrier, while we were out, was completely out of the question. But it served us well in transit. Also, we didn’t take our stroller, coz we assumed that we wouldn’t use it in India. But in the hindsight, it would’ve been helpful during the layovers. We could’ve used it when the baby slept. An umbrella stroller might be a good bet.

Keeping a thermos handy helps. Especially if your babe drinks only warm milk.

The monitors were a lifesaver. You might need to get an adapter depending on the country that you go to because of the voltage difference. We used our pack & play which survived the multiple flights.

Make sure you have minimal check-in baggage. It adds up pretty quickly with stuff like the diaper bag, purse/bag which serves as a catch-all for things like wallet, extra stuff, tickets, passport. Don’t add a hand luggage to it, if you can.

Toys will go a loooong way in preventing a meltdown. Use inflight magazines. Younger kids love them.

Let loose..
Yes, you won’t be on the same schedule as back home. Yes, there will be things that won’t go the way you planned. But, when you look back at the 100+ pictures on your phone, you’ll realize that it turned out ok. Maybe better than the planned version in your head!


New paths

Tagged as: change

I thought of writing a post about my resolutions/intentions for this new year on the 1st January. But traditionally the new year has never been a monumental date for me. But my birthday which follows in the next month has been special this year. I turned 30 this year. It seems like a new beginning. I don’t think I cared much beyond how the cake tasted when I turned 10. Turning 20 was ok too. But this new decade, seems full of new promises. New exciting promises.

The part of my 20s, before I met Z, seem like a haze. It was part of my growing years where over-the-top reactions to everything seemed to be the norm. The more irrational, the better. This quote by Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy (if you haven’t heard about it, you haven’t missed much) was my status message once:

Dr. Meredith Grey: Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we’re wired that way. Because without it, I don’t know; maybe we just wouldn’t feel real. What’s that saying? Why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.

I mean, c’mon. How sad is that?!! I cringe everytime I think that I put that up! People saw that!!

But then with Z, things changed. I changed. It’s as if I finally found my anchor. And I was ready to face and reach out for everything that I wanted. Infact, for the first time I knew what I wanted. I wasn’t cruising by, I was moving towards a tangible goal.

One of the most important things that he taught me was ‘We are past the age of reacting at things’. It took me some time to wrap my head around this concept. But it’s so true. There are days where I still slip. But it’s a work in progress. I’m happy with how far I’ve come. But there’s so much room for improvement.

I can’t really begrudge my 20s. I met Z, got a wonderful job, made great friends, and to top it all, had a healthy & sweet baby, who’s almost one (that’s another post though). But I’m really excited for this new decade. There are so many things that I want to try. Knitting, cooking, getting around to making my Pinterest pins a reality and new adventures with bebu. It’s as if I’ve a fresh blank canvas & I can turn it into whatever I want. And I’m excited to start!


Takoyaki to Appe: Think differently :)

Tagged as: indian cuisine


Appe, to me till quite recently was alien and all of a sudden my facebook news feed had atleast three people posting about Appe. What a coincidence! Until last year we were crazy for Japanese street food (octopus balls/Takoyaki) and bought a Takoyaki pan as well for that but never got around making them and was lying in a corner somwhere.

Yeah thats what Appe is in a nutshell, indian octopus balls made with idli batter. It was destiny!

The following recipe makes seven delicious round crispy Appe.

You need : 

  • 1-Cup of Idli Batter : This is readily available in Indian grocery stores. If you are interested in making this from scratch folks I found this really good recipe
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 8-10 curry leaves (available in south asian/indian grocery stores)
  • 1tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 green chilli (optional)
  • salt to taste

Steps :

  • Heat the Takoyaki/Appe pan with a little bit of oil in each pocket till it smokes and reduce the heat. This step is really important as it will make the pan nonstick and the Appe will come out crispy from the outside and mushy soft on the inside.
  • Mix all the ingredients and pour the batter in each of the pockets (mine had seven) and cover it so that it steams from the top and gets golden from the top. Wait till the top steams and kind of sets itself up firm. Take a regular chopstick or a knife and flip them over to reveal the golden crisp side. This was how it looked for me.


  • Cook it on the other side as well so as to crisp it up a bit. The onions caramelize as well in the process giving a sweet note to an already slightly tangy idli batter.
  • Serve it with coconut chutney (here is a good recipe), hummus or ketchup .


Ginger, curry leaves, green chilli and caramelized onions pack a nice flavor punch.


or as is.


The Tandoori Chicken

Tagged as: indian cuisine

By far the most popular of the Indian Clay Oven (Tandoor) dishes. I am trying to put this into a simple recipe where the only thing that takes time is the marination. Three steps and that should do it.

Preparation Time:  15mins
Marinating Time: At least 4-5hrs
Cooking Time: 20mins

Ingredients: (serves 4 people)

  • 4 pieces of the chicken breast butterflied so that cooking is faster. Make slits so as to increase the surface area hence more marinade absorption and more flavor
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1tpsp coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp Shaan Tandoori Chicken Masala (this is roughly 1tbsp/chicken piece. The masala would be available in any indian/pakistani/persian grocery stores)
  • 4 tpsp cooking oil (this is again roughly 1tbsp/chicken piece)
  • 2 tpsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix all dry and wet ingredients to make a thick marinade. Coat the chicken with this marinade and let time do its job. 4-5 hrs is a minimum, and a day would be awesome. This is how the marinated chicken looks.


  2. After around 4-5 hours, its time to hit the oven.


    Every oven is different (that’s a disclaimer to say that if your oven screws up, not my headache :D) but to simulate the Tandoor, put it into roast mode and crank it up to maximum (our maximum is 500 deg F). If you have a convection oven, that would be the best. I propped the chicken on a gril to allow an air gap so that it cooks evenly from the bottom as well. This is how it looks

  3. And voila, 15-20mins later, you have a juicy, flavor-packed moist tandoori chicken.

The finale


Tagged as: change

If you’ve ever read and identified with ‘procrastination’ you’ve stumbled over this quote from Calvin & Hobbes (which is one of the greatest comics ever!)

Calvin: “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
Hobbes: “What mood is that?”
Calvin: “Last-minute panic.”

 This is so true for anyone who has put a task on the backburner just to watch that funny video or in today’s scenario catch a youtube video or see a tumblr page filled with cute kittens. You get what you were doing originally done, but there’s always something missing. But you stifle that voice saying ‘well, atleast I got it done, albeit at the last minute. But still’….

I’ve struggled with this for the longest time but never knew about it. There were always things that I knew I wanted to to. Infact, a lot of things that I needed to finish, but I didn’t get around to. The result was more often sloppy work, a growing pile of things-that-need-to-get-done-someday and sadly sometimes, missed deadlines, bad grades and unfulfilled promises. I just thought I was lazy to finish something. And that was becoming a problem. You see, since it was becoming such a regular occurrence, I kind of stopped caring about it. And that was just plain wrong in the hindsight. I abhor labeling something. The issue becomes about that label rather than the problem at hand. But in this case, it was waking up to realize that this is fixable and not something that I’m stuck with forever was a great feeling. And the turning point was having the baby. I realized that I was able to get things related to her done. Infact the things on the nice-to-have list were also getting done. And that was when it clicked. LISTS!

I realized, belatedly, that growing up I never created a list for anything. I always depended on the fact that I could remember everything that needed to be done. Which worked when I was in 9th grade, not so much after I entered college. And that’s when things started going south. Recently I stumbled over TODO lists. They aren’t exactly new. I just had my head in the sand when it came to this. I had used it before, unsuccessfully I might add. Because I was never fully invested in the idea. Earlier I had excuses. ‘Oh the app isn’t perfect’, ‘I forgot where I wrote this down’, blah blah.

But for the past few months I’ve been successfully using this. And what worked? A pen and paper. The simple act of writing down things I needed to do, not worrying about whether they are doable given the timeframe. And the act of crossing things off the list was so satisfying!

There will always be things that are more interesting than what needs to be done right now. But, that’s the key phrase. Needs to be done right now! I think I’m on a good track right now. It takes some getting used to. But so far so good.

This post was prompted by this article -> Why Procrastinators Procrastinate


January Cure – Week#1

Tagged as: home

January Cure

When it comes to home, we have a laundry list of stuff that needs to get done. But with work and grocery and other stuff, that gets these things get relegated to the bottom of the list. And the end of holidays doesn’t help either.

But January is supposed to all about resolutions. And also writing down your intentions for the new year. That’s a post for another day though. But today is about Apartment Therapy’s January Cure challenge. They have these assignments that you have to do over the week. And if you look at the way they’ve broken these down, your ginormous list of getting your home in order actually seems doable. SOLD!

As part of the first assignment, I’ve written down the things I want to tackle as part of this challenge. As with every list, this is super ambitious. I know I won’t be able to get all these things done. Also, for quite a few of these I need Z’s help. But even if I’m able to knock off half the things, I’ll be in a better place that I’m right now.

Assignment#1 – Project List

Entry way:

  • Create a foyer board
  • a catch all for the mail
  • Rehang the mirror
  • Clean the shoe stand & cabinet

Living room:

  • Pack away the Christmas tree
  • Add stuff to that corner/nook
  • Make the dining table functional
  • Add some kind of storage for blankets
  • Get a rug
  • Create a functional coat closet


  • Add shelf liners
  • Rearrange stuff
  • Add some open shelves
  • Find that elusive ‘perfect’ buffet cabinet


  • Add a functional closet
  • Clean out the existing storage
  • Create a play area
  • Add curtains
  • Wall decor

Master bedroom & bath:

  • Roman shades for the small window
  • Purge the closets
  • Clean out the dresser drawers
  • Figure out a storage strategy for the bathroom