northern lights

northern lights

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Plasms of life

'I wish someone told me earlier  about the  sufferings and sorrows  of  Mrs. Arora. Oh ! how much I wished  that  I  had known  what was behind  the  sad and helpless expression  of  this elegant  and sober lady who was posted to my school.  The depth  of her eyes  conveyed that deep  down  within her  heart   there was  suffering , a suffering  which was only hers  and  was purposely hidden from  the  probing   eyes  of the world.

This  graceful lady, who was posted to my school, depicted   a sober and composed  demeanour when she came to join the school. I was instantly attracted by her towering  personality.  I  had seen her some years  ago. At that time she was  a bubbly and  exuberant   young  lady.Just within a period of three years  so much change! I wondered what had happened to her during this  period!

She was a hard working and a sincere teacher.  She came to school, attended to her  prescribed  time table and left the school.  She did not  mingle with  others,  as if always  lost in  a world of her own.The outcome was,to say the least,  that staff members and students  passed unsavoury remarks about  her. Some said she was arrogant, some others said  she was  presumptuous  and brazen.  There was no end  to all these comments.  I presume that most of  these  comments reached her but she paid no heed to them.

All this ended as abruptly as it started. One day in a school function some irresponsible students openly mimicked her. They uttered  harsh words against her. All  this was too much for her to bear  and she burst into  tears.  Some  staff members escorted her to my office. I let her cry for some time and then sat by her side. I spoke very  softly  and encouraged her to speak. Ultimately she  came out  of her shell.  She narrated  to me that her husband was mercilessly killed by  an unruly mob. 

She had hardly recovered from this shock,  when  she was informed that her only son, who was studying abroad,  too became a victim  of mob violence. This was the last straw in her otherwise  life of sorrow. I let her cry. After narrating these two incidents  she  became stable.I advised her that  whatever had happened should be forgotten. I reminded her of Tennyson’s famous  lines

Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act—act in the living Present!
Heart within,and God o’er head!

Slowly she was transformed . I felt that had I known all this earlier,I would have consoled her as I did  now.

Note: This is a true incident.Only the name of the teacher has been changed to protect her identity.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

From My Kitchen Diary xi

From My Kitchen Diary xi

 Salad : mixed salad

 Salads are an integral part of a good meal.Without a salad the   dining table looks  incomplete. Salad making is  an art. With ones ingenuity and creativeness  one can  transform any vegetable or fruit  into a delectable and  presentable salad.  Today  I am penning a few salad recipes which are  not only a treat for our palates but also presentable  and nutritious.1.Beetroot Salad
Beetroot   2 medium size
Carrot       1 medium
Cooking oil  1 tbsp
Green Chillies    2 
Lemon               1
Coconut Grated   1/4 cup
Salt      To taste.
  Grate the beetroot and the carrot.Lightly mix  them together. Keep a wok on the  fire, add  beetroot and carrot and stir for a couple of minutes Add 3/4  of the grated coconut and salt  and remove from the fire. Keep it in the frig.Just before serving add  the juice of  one lemon.Make it presentable by  arranging the  remaining  coconut and green chillies on the top. Serve cold.
2.  Green salad:-
 Salad Leaves  4 or 5
 Cheese cubes ..3
Tomato       2 medium
Walnut    3
 Plum  6  (or any other seasonal fruit)
 Mayonnaise   2 tbsps
 Vinegar        3 tbsp
 Salt   to taste
  Wash and dry the salad leaves,Cut them coarselyDry roast the walnuts. Cut the cheese into small pieces.Cut the tomatoes into small  pieces Deseed the Plums.  Add salt.Mix all the ingredients,Now add mayonnaise, and in the end add vinegar.The Salad may be decorated with walnuts and fruits.
This Salad, if taken with bread slice  can be a  full meal in itself.
  3 Corn Salad :--
  Corn seeds  1 cup
  Tomatoes  2
  Onions  2 small
  Green peas  1/4 
   Broccoli      2 florets
   Salt      according to taste
   Pepper  powder  One Pinch
   Salad  Dressing(Recipe given below)  About 3 tbsps. 
  Steam  the corn seeds, Peas and broccoli, each separately.Tomatoes and onions  can be cut thin round slices. Arrange the salad in a platter in the following sequence
In the centre keep the corn. 
   2nd circle--- we can arrange the tomatoes   
   3rd  circle,,,, arrange the peas
   4th circle ,,,,arrange onions
   5th circle,,,,Brocoli
Sprinkle salt and pepper and  spread  the salad  dressing on all the vegetables. Serve cold.  
  Salad Dressing   Take 1 cup of vinegar(preferably the red one),  1/2 tsp mustard powder, Oregano 1 pinch, honey  2 tbsps. and  olive oil 2 tbsps. I use this concoction in most of the salads that I make. Its sweet and sour taste and exqusite aroma  will tempt any one to  sample it.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Clutter in the house? How to handle?

Some days  ago I saw my husband  behind a mountain  of papers.Papers, big and small, some fresh and others fading  and whithering away by the passage  of time cluttered  his table. This scene  was actually being  enacted for the last  several days.  I  just saw him everyday taking  out a  new bundle and  frantically  discarding  papers one by one and throwing back back into the same   bundle. Whenever I asked him what  was he  looking for so intently, he  did not even respond. Why was he so  desperate? Finally I could not  bear it  any longer. I pulled away the bundle and repeated  the same query. He then told me that he  was searching for a paper  which he had received from the bank and it had to be submitted  for Income Tax purposes. The main reason was that the  papers had  accumulated over a period of time.  This clutter  had not got  his attention. 

It is a basic human  nature to possess  and  not to throw away  any thing.A housewife   never likes to discard any thing. Specially  every kitchen  has the privilege to  store within its four walls all sorts of  knick  knacks.  Generally the clutter is more obvious  in  the  papers,which include bills, receipts, instruction manuals, guarantee cards,  old newspapers and magazines and what not. The kitchen clutter includes  numberless  bottles, tins and containers  which have no   use in the family but continue to exist  due to  either the family’s emotional attachment   or indifference  towards them. If we ponder how much we have  accumulated  we will be shocked at our own stupidity. The drawers are all full of unwanted things which jump out every time we  open them. Clothes spread  everywhere are a great eye sore. No space is spared. The  doors ,windows  and chairs  silently bear the burden of the clothes. All this overcrowding    is one of the reasons for    stress . A famous writer has said, ’There will be calmness and tranquillity  when external things are removed.”

Our endeavour should be not  to allow things to go on  adding, even if their date has not expired. There are many items  to which we are emotionally attached.It will only be gathering dust  lying  unused.  One must keep in mind that if an article has not been used in the last one year ,it deserves to be discarded. We keep on adding to our wardrobe.The ‘in’ window is   kept open but the ‘out’ window   hardly opens. 
One must realise  that  one way traffic  will only  result in jams.It must be a two way process.You will feel  more relaxed if you firmly discard items which are no longer relevant. 
Then peace of mind will ensue.

Use it up
Wear it out;
Make it do --
Or do without ( Alfred Einstein)
The best way to keep the house  neat and clean is  to out wit your  possessiveness and be more organised. We must ensure that house cleaning is not illusory ie. hide away things from  your sight and dump  them  in some corner of  the house.   

In the words of  Mother Teresa
The more you have, the more you are occupied.
The less you have, the more free you are."

Our motto should be-

Friday, 7 September 2012

Chocolate Pudding

In my last article ' From My Kitchen Diary ' the recipe  of chocolate pudding  could  not be accommodated due to space constraint. Today  the recipe is  being given below. 

Ingredients for Chocolate Pudding:-
1.Cocoa powder   1 cup
2.Coffee  powder   1 tbsp
3.Milk               1 litre
4.Sugar             100 gms
5 Bread slices    2 (sides removed)
6. Custard Powder   3 tbsp
7. Vanilla essence  1/4 tsp
8.Chocolate sauce   3 tbsp 

Chocolate pudding
In the milk add cocoa powder, coffee powder,  and completely  mashed bread slices. Keep it on  medium flame  till it boils. Keep stirring so that no lumps are formed.When the milk starts  boiling, add sugar and chocolate sauce. Now lower the heat and add custard powder dissolved in  1/4th cup of water. Keep stirring all the time till the the milk thickens.Remove from the fire and add vanilla essence.Ensure that there are no lumps.

Take  a bowl and pour the mixture in  it. Keep the pudding in the refrigerator. Don't freeze it. You may also pour the pudding in  small bowls  to serve individually.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Salutations to a teacher

Today, on the occasion of Teachers’ Day my thoughts go back to more than half a century when a  young  girl entered the portals of an academic institution  as a teacher. This innocent  girl  faced an interview board for which she had prepared extensively and intensively for days together.  The works of Shakespeare, Milton, Hardy.Virginia Wolfe ,,,from the ancient to modern times… you name any author…. And it was on her finger tips.  In the committee room  she faced the stern and grim faces of the members of the Board who did not arouse  any confidence in the mind of a timid looking girl.  The questions  that came out of their   minds were no questions at all. It was honestly speaking an informal  tete-a-tete. She did not understand when the interview  started and when it was over  She only knew when the judgement was pronounced “You have been selected.” The girl was flabbergasted!  Thus began  a journey  of a  an inexperienced girlas a teacher. The interview was a sort of cake walk.

For the  would-be teachers of  today, there is  tough  competition.  Those days  female literacy was just picking up. Educated  females were  inadequate  to undertake   a career. Thus  for the  girls  selection was  easier then. Now  after  a tough  interview, the teachers do not find the sailing  very  smooth,  harmonious  and  peaceful.  The pupils are no longer  meek and and submissive. Moreover the  dicta  which are laid down  for them, do not allow them to be assertive and   effective  disciplinarians.They cannot even scold the student. Even mild beating is  not permissible. Over and above, the rule  that there will be no exams  has added another confusion in the minds of the teacher community. The old saying  that "spare the rod and spoil the child" is for ever true. I don't mean that I am in favour of corporal punishment but the fear must be there. The teacher who is the back bone of the society must be given  some latitude. The Teachers bring out untamed talent of the pupils, sharpen them by imparting them  good academics.  Old time teachers will vouchsafe that  their students are holding high positions in Society. There are Administrators, Executives, Doctors, Engineers, Judges, Prime Ministers ,  and what not. The list is unending.Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.  A famous quote I read some where says"a good teacher is like a candle; It consumes itself to  make a way for others." On this Teachers Day let us  salute the TEACHER. A teacher who is even greater than the parents. In the words of Aristotle "Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well." 

(Incidentally  I may mention that the girl mentioned  above  is  none other than me.)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

From My Kitchen Diary

Hi, friends. Today  I propose to  jot down recipes of   some Desserts..Those who have a sweet tooth search  for sweets after dinner.Previously  in many  households after dinner, a sweet  dish used to be a part  of the menu. Now this practice is  not very  common. Today’s recipes   which I have selected are  Snow  pudding, Paripu payasam  and Chocolate pudding.

Snow Pudding

1. Milk  1 litre.
2. Eggs   3
3. Vanilla essence  ¼ Tsp
4. Sugar      100 gms
5. Custard powder vanilla flavour  I Tsp

Keep the milk in a heavy bottomed wok or any other  pan which is wide in circumference When the milk  starts boiling, lower the flame and add custard powder  (dissolved in two/three tea spoons of water)and sugar. In the meantime take the eggs and break them very carefully so that the yolk does not  mix with the whites. Stir the yolk and add to the boiling milk. Stir the milk. Now whisk the egg whites . till they  become  very fluffy.This is very important.  The success of the  recipe depends on the fluffiness of the egg whites. Now back  to the boiling milk. “With a tablespoon take  a spoonful of fluffy egg white  and  carefully add to the milk.”  Repeat this  from “to”till the egg white is over. The egg whites will flow in the milk like snow balls. The floating  balls look like snow. Carefully transfer the pudding to a bowl and refrigerate.

Parippu payasam

1.Yellow moong  dal ½ cup
2. Jaggery    200 gms.
3. Coconut milk 400 ml.litres(available in tetra packs or paper cartons)
4. Dried ginger Powder(sundh) one pinch
5.  Cardamoms  3 or 4
6. Fresh coconut pieces  finely cut  1/4 cup
7. Butter I tbsp.

Method :-
Dry roast the yellow moong dal   in a  pan till it becomes brownish. Then boil the dal in ½ cup of coconut milk mixed with  equal quantity of water.till the dal gets cooked. Now add jaggerry ,boiled in  ¼ cup of water. Let this cool for 10 mts   Now add  the rest of the coconut milk. Remove  from the fire after a couple of minutes. Now heat the butter in a small fry  pan and roast the coconut pieces. Add it to the payasam. The remaining butter may also be added  to the payasam. Garnish the payasam with  cardamom powder.

This Payasam can also be made with  green moong dal, chana dal and white beans.

These two sweet dishes  are relished by  every one in the family. I hope my friends will cook them and  will appreciate them. Today’s write up  has become  too lengthy so the chocolate  pudding   mentioned above, is postponed for the next  cookery  article Till then Bye.