C- Cranberry Tea from Colombo

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In January this year, a bunch of us took a girl’s trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a much needed break – filled with everything a break should- great company, a lot of fun, good food and shopping.

We went to this lovely place- a shop and cafe called Barefoot. The place was a riot of colors. We weren’t allowed any photography inside but the cafe outside was gorgeous as well.

 

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Barefoot’s got a whole bunch of interesting stuff- fabrics, linen , clothes , bags, books, and some super cute cloth stuffed toys like dinos and owls and it smells awesome.  But one of the things I loved was their collection of teas. A coffee addict , I’m game to trying anything once. So when I saw their range of flavoured teas,  I decided to get adventurous and check it out… In fact I picked up one particular box of tea bags just because I liked the brand name. It was called THE MORNING AFTER.

I’d tried mint and ginger, chamomile and basil flavoured teas before but not berry flavoured ones. So I picked up strawberry, apple and cinnamon,forest berries, raspberry and cranberry.

When I got back home, I opened up my tea loot and started trying them one by one. The apple and cinnamon smelled like I was baking an apple pie. Every evening, an hour after the kids are in bed, I stand in the balcony, enjoying my last cup of beverage for the day. it’s peaceful and my me time.  In the last month, it’s been the cranberry tea. I LOVED THE CRANBERRY TEA!!! It was tart and beautifully flavoured.

And here’s my last cup…  I just had it before writing this post this evening. 🙂

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So if you ever go to Sri Lanka, check out a little store called Barefoot. Do resist the temptation to buy the store out. And check out their flavoured teas. This recommendation comes from a coffee addict.

But I will say this.

For me, tea is good. Coffee is better. It is after all , my felix felicis. 🙂

 

 

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B- Blueberries

 

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New favourite discovery in the last two years: BLUEBERRIES.

While I’d had it in a cheesecake before, I truly discovered how much I love them only in the last couple of years. It’s not something you get in India locally and fresh blueberries are ridiculously priced.

Image : Sourceblueberry_background_186064

I found frozen blueberries on Big basket and ordered them on a lark. And then scoured the internet for recipes.

The man loves blueberries too. So for his 40th birthday last year, I baked the Pioneer Woman’s Blueberry crumb cake. If you love baking and haven’t tried this, I’d highly recommend it.

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Doesn’t this look satisfyingly crumbly?!! 🙂

Aside from the fact that they taste superb, Blueberries are highly nutritious.

So I just figured a way to go ahead and include it in our daily diet- Blueberry Chia Pudding

I love Chia Pudding. So I just included the blueberries in my chia pudding. I experimented and then found the version I liked best. I preferred to make a blueberry compote and add that to the pudding and garnished it with slivered toasted almonds.

Healthy  and fabulously tasty.

RECIPE:

Ingredients:

For the pudding:

1 cup of almond milk ( use regular milk if you want)

1 tsp of honey

2 tbsp of chia seeds. 

For the Compote:

1 cup of Frozen berries

4 tbsp water

2 tbsp or substitute sugar with two tbsp of honey

2 tsp of lemon juice. 

For Garnish:

1 tbsp of toasted slivered almonds

Method:

Pudding:  Mix all the ingredients and pour into a glass container and keep it overnight in the fridge to gel. 

Compote: Mix 1/2 cup of blueberries, lemon, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add the remaining blueberries and cook for another 5 mins. Stir frequently. 

If you are using honey instead of sugar, do not add it while cooking. Add it to the compote when warm. 

Add the compote to the chia pudding. Garnish with the almonds. 

and voilà!!

 

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Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A- April

A-Z of random thoughts and stories from my life, loves, food , family and books.

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She sat in her balcony surrounded by her plants,

listening to the wind chimes, on a cool summer evening.

Tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow, would be a new start.

Tomorrow would be the first of April.

April for her was all about new beginnings. It always was. Right from childhood.

It was the end of the school year and the beginning of a two month holiday.

It was the New year according to the lunar Calendar which was celebrated with gusto in her family.

It was the beginning of summer.

It was when she got her first job.

It was when she met the love of her life.

It was when she got pregnant.

April has always heralded new changes. Tomorrow would be another one.

A decision to take the reins of her life back .

She’d lost herself.. somewhere between work, marriage and motherhood.

to the point that she didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.

To finally accept that despite her fabulous and blessed life

she wasn’t living it fully.

The restlessness had come calling.

And it insisted on being acknowledged.

and she had to pick up those reins.

to create a destiny that demanded to be based on choice.

Not going along with a flow.

And as usual it was in April

that change came calling and she went along.

Difference was.. She took charge.

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Image :Source

 

 

 

 

 

Making peace

I lost an uncle this week. One passed away last month. Both these uncles were huge parts of my childhood. I wasn’t as close as an adult for whatever reason. The last two days I’ve just been thinking … People change.Relationships, friendships, acquaintances – all change. It’s the only constant. Not one that I like, understand or want to accept. But they do. And not all evolutions or change seem to be for the better. Some leave you awestruck while others confuse you. Some hurt. Some make you just mad as hell… But acceptance is always hard to come by. Self or otherwise.  And life brings you to the point where you just let go and make peace. This was something I wrote sometime back about letting go and when I was having a hard time with it.

Of all the things in my life

that I’d thought I would let go of,

You never figured on the list.

You never made the cut

I didn’t think I would ever

or that I could even.

But today I am

letting go of my idea of you,

And accepting the reality of you.

Letting go of my idea of the ideal

and accepting that the friendship is buried under too much baggage.

Letting go of the my idea of the way I should love you

and begin to love you the only way I can.

Letting go of the bitterness

and accepting that despite everything we were still laughing together.

Letting go of the hurt

and accepting all that happened and the choice was mine to forgive- myself and you.

And I choose that.

To forgive myself. To make peace with myself.

To let go of you.

And accept me.

For myself.

and Us- the way we are now.

Of a Hero

His mother once told me that he was stubborn (still is!)

That he got that from her.

When he was born, the oldest of 8,

His mother decided that education would be his ticket out of their difficult circumstances.

So his parents educated him. Went hungry sometimes but made sure he ate, his fees were paid and that his education never suffered.

He paid them back by making sure they never went hungry again. He went on to become the most educated person in his family. Moved out of Kerala. Took care of every one of his seven siblings and made sure that each was well settled.Made sure his parents were taken care of. Every wish his parents had, he made sure he fulfilled. Unconditionally and without expecting anything ever in return. Despite all the difficulties he’s had to face.

When it came to me, he played different roles in my life.. at different ages.

He was my elephant between the ages of 0-4

He was the master storyteller of ONE story.-of the hen who made payasam. One that he still insists on telling. It was the most important story ever since it meant I wouldn’t sleep until I’d heard it.

He was the experiment who sat patiently while I applied several coats of powder on his face, put 7-8 ponytails in his hair and three bindis on his forehead.

He was the man on my who believed that I am destined for greatness but I am also too lazy for my own good.

He was the confused relation during my angst ridden teenage years. Because he didn’t get the rebel without a cause concept, and I expected unconditional acceptance. He was the angry man and the opposition in our legendary blow-ups since we never seemed to see eye to eye on anything during this period.

I don’t know when he made the transition from angry confused relation whom I didn’t relate to, to a friend.

He was the person I talked to when I first thought I was in love.

He was the friend who made me a cup of coffee when I was hungover the first time.

He was the friend who held me while I bawled when my heart got all broken.

He once told me that I was raised to think for myself so I should use my god given brains to take decisions. To own my life and my responsibilities. If my decisions screwed me over, at least I’d know they were mine.

He’s always had my back.

Even when he didn’t understand.

Even when he was hurt and I’d hurt him bad.

Even now.

I don’t always understand him. We still argue. Fight.

But it is because of him that I am who I am. He filled the house with books when he didn’t even have a reading habit. He gave me the best education. Exposed me to things that a girl from a super conservative society in Kerala wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Told me that my grey matter and thoughts mattered and that anyone who thought otherwise shouldn’t be given any space in my life. Of course promptly regretted it when all i did was butt heads with him and his thought processes and question every damn thing. I’ve been told he was rather proud of me though thoroughly annoyed by it.

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He’s been there. Always. Counselor. Friend. Man with high standards.

He’s been there. Taking care of everything and everybody. He still does. He never gives up.

I’ve inherited quite a bit from him- my love for cooking, for good food,  and according to my mother- every single annoying habit he has.

He’s been through a lot. Hard times. Happy times. Been betrayed by people he thought were friends. Not been given his due. But through it all- his faith in people never seemed to take a beating. His love never changed.  He doesn’t hold a grudge and tends to forgive pretty damn quick. It’s taken me ( I can hold a grudge and I take a terribly long time to forgive) a long time to realize how special that quality is. That, that kind of love was a strength and not a weakness. And that forgiving meant those people never really occupied mind space. That you could continue to see the nice side to people love them for that. He was nobody’s fool, but he chose to do things he thought was right. Always. His standards were high and he upheld that- irrespective of the behavior of others. Even people who may have disliked or disagreed with him, always respected him. His work defined quality-personal or professional.

He is a person who makes the ordinary- extraordinary- just by doing it so well.

He talks to my kids everyday. They tell him stories and stuff going on with them because he lets them know that every thought they have is important to him.

He is a Hero. One that most of the world won’t meet, see or hear of.  He’s touched the life of so many people just by being the wonderful person he is.

Today he lost his brother in law. So it’s been a rough day. In the midst of death, grief and chaos-He turned 70 today. I thought it was important to celebrate life. One that has been lived beautifully so far.  Happy birthday to the first man who held my heart. My dad. I am incredibly proud to be your daughter. Whenever I meet others and see how differently and awesomely I’ve been raised- I realize I have you and Amma to be so thankful to and for. And I am. Grateful Everyday.

Happy birthday, Achan!

 

 

 

 

Hope

Looking ahead.
Sometimes
That’s all you got.
Looking ahead.
Because looking back would risk creating fresh stories in your head.
Of a rosiness that wasn’t there.
A fresh and beautiful perspective
of the past.
Because the present is just too much of reality.
But hope.
That emotion that refuses to be silenced.
That triggers a flickering flame in the heart when the mind is engulfed in the darkness.
That refuses to let you give up or give in.
That  forces you to acknowledge hidden depths in you.
Throws up reserves of strength when you thought you had no more.
That makes you truly believe that no matter what,
You will always be greater than your current situation.
And sometimes just that little bit
Is all that you need to take that next step forward.
And the next.
And the next.

Six word stories.

I recently saw a  post on Facebook attributing a six word story to Ernest Hemmingway . Every time I read that, it does punch my mommy heart.

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Marriage is the topic on my mind. In the last one year, there have been so many stories amongst friends and people I know as they struggle between creating identities amidst mid life crises or leave behind marriages that are not working, or looking for the spark that brought them together and maybe even the excitement…Some succeeded, some didn’t. We’ve all had our tough times. So if I had to attempt at writing six word stories…well here goes.

The silence. A marriage fallen apart.

Emptiness. Hollows where love once resided.

The abyss. Stuck in life’s routine.

Dreams. Internal fight against someone’s permission.

Equating money & freedom. Life’s lesson.

Marriage. Living the act of forgiveness.

Friendship. Watching your love marry another.

Discovering the depth of love. Motherhood.

Love. Soulmates. Never an easy journey.

Found my soulmate. Married to another.

Brings home the bacon. Screws colleague.

Routine. Organized home and dead marriage.

Secret trysts. Spicing up my marriage.

Years later. Kiss. Toes still tingle.

Life happened. Unbroken Spirit. Fuck You.

Getting Fit- Step one. Day 1

They say, ” Never trust a slim chef.” Well, I am extremely trustworthy. 😀

I’m not particularly big on housework (BLEH!).. but cooking- Oh that I love!

It’s fun. De-stressing.

A year ago,  a weekend when kids were on vacation with their grandparents, getting royally spoilt, the man and I were lazing around the house, enjoying the quiet with both our noses buried in our respective books. It was lunch time but cooking was the furthest thing from my mind.

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Yeah, that was my state of mind. But in the end, I did get up rather grudgingly to make something. I’d bought some Kabuli pomegranates and I decided to make a salad. I love pomegranates- it is basically little explosions of flavor in your mouth. I could get back to my book without having to spend time cooking something elaborate. And while browsing for pomegranate salad recipes, I came across this recipe from Pick up the Fork’s Allie Lazar.(Thank you!) Of course I didn’t have all of the ingredients like quinoa, parsley and herbed goat’s cheese. But, highly inspired , I made do with what I had. In 20 mins , the man and I became fans of this recipe for life. Fabulously simple and extremely tasty.

Over the last year, I’ve tried varied versions of this- adding and deleting ingredients.

Here’s my version of this pomegranate salad.

Pomegranate Broken Wheat Salad

Ingredients:

  • One Pomegranate deseeded
  • One Cucumber
  • One medium sized tomato
  • One green chili finely chopped
  • One red onion
  • Four to five rose apples
  • Two tablespoons of finely chopped coriander
  • Some shredded lettuce
  • One tbsp olive oil or cold pressed sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup dalia ( broken wheat)
  • Toasted and roughly chopped almonds and peanuts
  • the juice of one lemon
  • a tsp of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Wash and soak the broken wheat in hot water for 15 mins. Drain it and toss it into a bowl. Let it cool if it is still warm.
  2. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil  and the honey to create the dressing.
  3. Chop the vegetables and the rose apples and mix in pomegranate, dalia,the shredded lettuce and finely chopped coriander leaves.
  4. Add the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  5.  Garnish with the almonds and peanuts.
  6. Note: If you don’t like dalia soaked. You can cook it. I preferred it just soaked. You can skip the rose apples. I just happened to be crazy about them and they happened to be in season.

And this is what you get!

Voila!

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And with this absolutely divine pomegranate salad, I auspiciously started my 100 days of clean eating.

Oh, the hurt!!

So did you know that the human body has approximately 170 joints? How do you learn about all of them? How do you remember?

Well, you could read a book on orthopedics.

Or you could google it.

Or maybe.. just maybe.. you could go down the path I did- get viral arthritis.

Bone breaking fever. One that takes the joints a few months to recover from.

You’d be aware of every joint that you have… every bone that you have.

You’ll learn which joints you use for what movements…

And how important all those tiny joints in your hands and feet are. (Very)

When you read about it, you get to know that the inflammation is part autoimmune.

So you’ve just got to request the hell out of your immune system to stop attacking you.

The viral infection- the main enemy is gone.

But apparently holding identification up doesn’t help.

The immune system seems to be having a psychotic episode and harming the one thing that it’s supposed to protect- ME!

WHAT THE HELL!

One option was to subdue the immune system with steroids- which of course came with its own set of side effects.

You try it for a bit.. and the pain.. it goes away. But you don’t feel good putting strong stuff like that in your system

And then I had enough. The only way to combat this was to get seriously fit- eat healthy, eat clean, drink 3L of water a day and get enough sleep.

Seems easy enough. Except that change is hard. Change is tough. Even when you are in pain. Even when you know it’s the best for you.

I preferred reading to sleeping, coffee to water and while I mostly had healthy food, I didn’t want to think twice before I had any junk. I could operate on 2 hours of sleep. I was super mom. While my kids had fixed healthy routines, I was comfortable with crazy routines. I seemed invincible. At least to me and definitely to my kids.

That day, it hit pretty suddenly. It honestly felt like my body had just given up. And I was alone with the kids who were rather freaked out at the suddenness.

I remember a quote from Grey’s anatomy that spoke about trauma.

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Being laid up in bed with every damn joint aching like hell and dependent on someone to help you move- it is a pretty convincing catalyst for change. I was lucky. I had support. Loving parents who turned up to help, a husband who really excelled at taking care and putting up with my rather crappy mood (well you’d be .. in that kind of pain) and kids who were on their best behavior, so they didn’t trouble me.

Small changes… big rewards. The joint inflammation would go away .. in a couple of months. But I didn’t want to be in that space again. It’s scary and it was my body giving me the warning of a lifetime.

It started me on my journey. To good health. To being fit for life. To clean eating. To exercising. My immune system seems to be channeling it’s inner Suppandi and is indeed very slow to catch on and it’s still attacking my joints. So exercising would hurt more. So I started with something that was in my hands- Food. After all the journey to being fit is 70% food and 30% exercise. Might as well start tackling the 70%.

They say you do something for 28 days and it becomes a habit. Given that I was dealing with habits that have been around a lot longer than my decision to change- I figured I needed a buffer- I took up a 100 days of clean eating. Starting with one meal in the first month while slowly increasing my consumption of fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. It’s going to be a month tomorrow- Day 30. And it’s been good so far. And it’s been tough.

Change .. maybe for the better…

But it hurts.

And it’s not easy. But then nobody said it would be.