Is the sun shining? Yes ma’am, it sure is…

Yes, this started as a culinary, mom and daughter blog… but at the moment, I am using this as a life journey blog with culinary sprinkled in. As cooking and my daughters are a HUGE part of my life.

I had never seen myself as a writer or reader. I know, I know, find the right book and then you’re a reader. There is truth to that. In life, we spend time doing things that we value or give us some benefit.  Reading was never an escape for me as a kid. I definitely could have used ways to escape life, but reading was not what I chose.  As an adult, work, family and other responsibilities got in my way.  Some people choose to exercise as an escape. I had no such strategies.

Today, my kids are older, 17 and 14. There’s a lot more time on my hands and less reasons to find escape routes. But now, I find time to read. Reading to gain clarity about the world around me. Reading to be enlightened about my spiritual journey and reading to become a better educator, mom, wife, daughter, human being.  So, because I am not a reader, I choose carefully. I choose books that I know I will finish. Even when I lose my concentration, I convince myself to finish. This past summer, I read.

The first book I picked up again,  after a couple of years was Hacking Leadership by Tony Sinanis and Joe Sanfelippo. I began my journey into (learning about) educational leadership a year ago. No books prepares you for all the nuances of a job. No book prepared me for teaching, I just had to do it. However, books give us language to pull from. This book also was simple, simple language and clean organization. It doesn’t need to be filled with educational jargon to be educationally sound. I like the practical advice and the overwhelming emphasis on PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS. It will be a book I go back to, often.

Then I read, On Your Mark by Thomas Guskey. In a recent educational leadership course, I met Jonah Schenker. He was debonair and dashing but most importantly, really full of heart. He is one of the leaders at Ulster BOCES and was Principal of PTECH. The way he described his work, his students, made me want to work with him. He guided us to Thomas Guskey’s work on assessment and grading. My 20 years of teaching has brought to  place of true introspection and making good choices that affect all my students positively. Guskey asks us to look at grades and the value of them. Educators give grades as “feedback” to increase student achievement. But do grades do that at all? Education is a big institution as are governments and religions. It’s hard to break down years of systemic practices.  But with one teacher at a time, change can occur. Guskey asks us to reflect on our practice and then act on it.

Launch, by Juiliani and Spencer allowed me to think about design thinking in my science classroom and has me planning some cool project ideas for my high school science classes next year.  LAUNCH is an acronym for the process and provides practical ways to boost creativity.

The One thing is a book I had to read for a class but stuck with me. We are ALL pulled in so many directions. Let’s focus on ONE THING at a time so that is done well. It allows you to be present and engaged in whatever it is that you are doing. It was liberating in many ways.

The last two books were books that had nothing to do with “work”. It had to with the most important work though…WORK on ourselves. I chose these books because working on yourself from the inside is so important. Doing work on ourselves from the inside allows us to shine brighter on the outside. IMG_5479

I bought the audiobook, From Tears to triumph by Marianne Williamson. I came across Marianne by watching Super Soul Sunday on the OWN network by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah, as I am sure for many has led me to people and places that have only allowed me to live my fuller more authentic life. Listening this book narrated by Marianne, gave me strength beyond belief. She beautifully weaves and connects the threads of the major religions together. She helps us understand the religions but more so the purpose of our own lives and understand God on a very deep intimate level. Marianne is frank, honest and extremely vulnerable in this book. Marianne who is deeply affected by the book, A course in miracles ( another book I have that I intend to read) helps us navigate his journey on Earth by getting in touch with our highest selves and shedding our ego.  Ego being the most dangerous thing on this Earth. This book is a must read…a must listen!

Finally, I read The sun does shine   and that too, because of Oprah. I taught forensics for several years and always felt uncomfortable by teaching it. The percentage of error and the number of wrongful incarcerations was too much for me to bear and then to teach it to be a science.  I stopped teaching Forensic science for a year now and that alone has been freeing. But I picked up this book because of the message of hope that it conveyed. This book will anger you at the injustices and lack of empathy and compassion in our justice system. But it will also ignite a sense of justice and compassion in you that you never experienced. Bryan Stevenson, a stellar human being whose life’s work is to free the innocent. Stevenson’s organization, Equal Justice Initiative furthers his work. This book speaks about Stevenson’s good work but mostly speaks of Hinton’s time on death row. It speaks of a friendship that all humans deserve to have. To have that experience and to survive to write about it alone is no small feat and is a testament to Anthony Ray Hinton’s spirit. However, he exposes his humanity as he writes about his days of despair and hope and the ups and downs, reminding us that we are human too. No matter how spiritual we think we are or how Godly we are, we can lose hope. But you must pull yourself back up out of that despair.

“You can’t threaten to kill someone everyday year after year and not harm them, not traumatize them, not break them in ways that are really profound.”- Bryan Stevenson. Statistically, 1 out of 10 humans on death row are innocent. Hinton spent 30 years on death row for a crime he never committed. He listened to and watched 54 people walk to get executed, mere feet from his cell. But, he remained hopeful.  Read it, and experience hope like you never did before.

So what did this book and Anthony Ray Hinton teach me? There is ALWAYS hope. There are angels that come to rescue you,  but you must look for them, ask for them, and ALWAYS persevere until…

 

 

 

 

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Comfort Pantry Pasta

I’m 13 years old, and my journey for cooking started since I was little. I’ve always loved baking, and all sorts of comfort food. From when I was in Pre-K to now, just being in the kitchen excited me. Cooking can seem intimidating, but it’s really not. One of the main reasons I got into cooking was the exposure I had to different foods. My mom being a foodie helped. She liked to cook different things and eat different foods. When my parents went out to dinner, they always took us. So, we’ve tried many different kinds of foods for many years. My sister and I stopped eating from the kids menu by the time we were 5 or 6 years old. Who wants chicken fingers  and fries when you can have a grilled ribeye with mushrooms in wine sauce over duck fat roasted potatoes?

So, whenever I feel like cooking, i will whip stuff together. Eating different foods exposes your palate to different tastes which actually helps you with cooking. You kind of know what goes with what. You’re not as afraid of experimenting with flavors or ingredients.

This is a super simple dish but super easy. This recipe can be varied with different ingredients that can be changed to your liking. The recipe shows how you don’t need the most intricate skills, but just a love for food..and maybe some salami, pasta, and peas :)! I just came home from school one day , craving a big bowl of pasta. I got started right away ready to make my creation: Pasta, with peas, Parmesan cheese, truffle oil, and some salami—that was really supposed to be for our school lunch sandwiches(mom won’t mind)! 15 minutes later, I had my bowl of pasta ready.

I hope this makes you want to  try it yourself or have your mom/dad/adult try it with you. Cooking is fun and can be relaxing. It’s a nice way to find your creative side.

Comfort Pantry Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. of spaghetti (or 1 lb. of any other pasta)
  • 1/2 cup of genoa salami sliced
  • 1/2 cup of sopresatta sliced
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2-2 cups frozen peas thawed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • small pat of unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • Parmesan to garnish(optional)

 

Ingredients:

  1. Fill pasta pot with water and wait until boiled-8 to 10 mins( according to package directins)
  2. Drain pasta( reserve a bit of pasta water) and turn on nonstick pan on med-low heat.
  3. Add olive oil and pat of butter.
  4. Cook salame in oil/butter.
  5. Once salami/soppresata crisps up-about 2 mins, add in frozen peas
  6. As soon as peas heat up,add in cooked spaghetti, or pasta of choice
  7. Stir pasta, and let pasta crisp up if desired-about 3 mins
  8. Drizzle truffle oil on top.
  9. Sprinkle Parmesan and enjoy!

 

Rainy Sunday eats…

This blog started back in June with the intention of finding ways to connect with my daughters over things we enjoy together, CSA, cooking and food. Hence, the name OOHMOMME. However, as life got busy, somehow the blog just turned to OOH MOM, the ME( my daughters) took a hiatus. But…we’re back together on the blog.

We have been cooking together and enjoying our CSA together but the blog together just wasn’t happening. So, here we are together on  a very rainy Sunday. We now have time to sit and share our fellowship with you. We are back together sharing not one recipe, but, two recipes. It’s your lucky day.  The second recipe will be on the next post.

Rainy Sundays during the fall always bring a sense of yearning for comfort food.  Today, my daughter made a yummy chicken pesto grilled cheese sandwich.  I made a yummy pumpkin dal soup in my Instapot( my favorite kitchen gadget yet) for lunch.  This dal can be eaten alone as a soup or poured over rice or quinoa.  My recipe instructions are for insta pot but the directions would be the same on stove. just watch it as it boils and it would take more time until  fully cooked.

Last week my daughter made the comfiest food of all, pasta. This pasta oozes comfort with peas, truffle oil, genoa salame and soppresata(whatever we had at home), and Parmesan cheese on top… what more says comfort? MMMM, Comfort pantry pasta.

 

Recipe 1 :Instapot Pumpkin Dal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow split peas(rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup of pumpkin/acorn squash cut into small chunk( 2 inch pieces) – you can buy frozen, we had fresh from CSA
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of mustard seeds( black)
  • 2 serrano peppers( eliminate if you don’t like heat)
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves, discard stems, just use leaves(optional)
  • salt to taste
  • water- minimum 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut(optional)

 

Instructions:

  1. Turn instapot on and click  saute function. (on the stove take a heavy bottomed pan and turn to med high heat).
  2. Add 2-3  tbsp of coconut oil but you could use any other oil.
  3. when oil is hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds until they sputter.
  4. Add chopped onions and the 3 garlic cloves chopped.
  5. Stir and 1 tsp of salt to accelerate browning and 2 tsp of turmeric powder.
  6. Stir until onions start to brown. Add cury leaves and serrano peppers( sliced).
  7. Stir while adding pumpkin. Within a few minutes, add the rinsed split yellow peas.
  8. Add water to instapot or pot on stove until the dal is covered. Add another tsp of salt. Stir and click manual on instapot(this should get it to low pressure). Press + to add time until it say 10 minutes).
  9. Close the lid and make sure the pressure valve is facing sealing not venting.
  10. The dal will cook for the next 10 minnutes. Let it nautrally release pressure.
  11. While the dal is cooking, you could puree the grated coconut( I grate in a food processor and freeze and use as needed. You could buy from the store-make sure it’s unsweetened). Puree the coconut with  a bit of water, one garlic clove and a pinch of cumin seeds).
  12. When the dal is completely cooked and the pressure is released, add the grated coconut mixture to the instapot. Close the lid and let everything melt together.
  13. ENJOY as is- a soup! Or pour over rice or other grain. Make a grilled cheese sandwich and dunk away. So many options!

 

16071 Sunsets later…

IMG_3235October 18 marked 44 revolutions around the Sun for me. It’s been such a ride. This past week,  2 of my favorite people in the world who also happen to be my colleagues were discussing, just this with me. Life is such a journey, ups, downs, twists and turns. It’s hard work. That whole stupid saying, ” You won’t work a day in your life, if you love the work you do.” BS! It’s still work, hard work, but you still love it. Marriage, life, kids, jobs…it’s still work. I love what I do, but it’s still work. I love my family, but it’s still work. I love cooking but it’s still work. When we use sayings like that, it gets people feeling like they are not following their true purpose in life. Following one’s purpose REQUIRES WORK.

16071 sunrises and sunsets later, maybe 15000 sunsets later, I realize what my highest calling is. To JUST BE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE. If I do that in all that I do, then anything I do seems fulfilling. Showing a vulnerable side of myself to my students has helped me become a better teacher. Showing that side to my own children and husband has helped me become a better mother and wife.

How does one get to this point? I don’t know. We all have heard that life is a journey. It truly is. When you become your authentic self, the right people are gravitated towards you, allowing you to flourish in your authenticity. It’s hard to say what comes first, the right person coming into your life allowing you to radiate in your uniqueness or your uniqueness attracting the right people into your life. Chicken or the egg debate still remains.

Finding the right friend who appreciates your truth and allows you to bask in that truth, be it ugly or pretty is what it took me to find  and BE my true self.  Having the right people that surround you allowing  you to take risks that test your true potential. Starting this blog with my daughter felt like a challenge. Professional risks I am taking are because of the friends that  expand my thinking about myself and my reality.  I am grateful for these sunrises and sunsets that  allow me to know that I can always start a new tomorrow and tomorrow the sun will rise yet again. Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

To CSA or not to CSA

 

 

This last week, work and life have been quite complicated. So many work obligations, children’s extra curricular activities. Life has been busy, to say the least. My husband, who was hesitant  about joining a CSA at first, a few years ago became a staunch supporter in the last couple of years.

Last week, my fridge was overflowing with produce. I couldn’t keep up. Then, he uttered the dreadful words, “Hey, let’s cancel our CSA for next year.” That tore me up. It made me feel like I wasn’t holding my end of the bargain, using up all the vegetables and making the most of all the bounty we received every week. I had to think fast. SO, this past week, I became even more creative with new recipes for the numerous vegetables I had on hand. There are many options- you could split a share where you share every week or pick up alternative weeks with your partner.  I am determined to be quite resourceful with my entire share.  Every tomato that I can’t use I freeze, I make many greens into my APP.  I give away some to friends and family and then some gets composted.

This week, I made eggplant 3 ways. Eggplant and mushroom thoren( South Indian dish with grated coconut and mustard seeds and garlic).  Panko breaded eggplant, and eggplant& lamb ratatouille. I will share recipes soon.

I made a Thai red curry with chicken last night. It’s pretty easy and a great way to use many greens and things in your pantry.  The best part of cooking is trying new things, putting flavors together that work for you and your family. Play in the kitchen.  I use ingredients that I have on hand, if it calls for spinach,  and I have kale, that’s what I’ll do.

SO I SAY, CSA all the way!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. of coconut oil
  • 2 lbs. of boneless chicken thighs cut into small chunks(typical size found in Chinese take out)
  • 10 shishito peppers(optional)
  • 5 pieces of kale( ribs  removed) chopped
  • one small red onion chopped or one large leek chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped/minced
  • 1 tbsp. galangal or ginger
  • 2 -3 green peppers( you can use any color you have) sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp. red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. of fish sauce
  • salt to taste( 1 tbsp.)
  • soy sauce(optional)
  • a dash of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped

Instructions:

1. Take a large sauté pan and heat coconut oil in pan.

2. Sauté chopped leek/onion, garlic. When slightly translucent, add galangal.

3. Add salt to soften further, and then add chicken. When chicken is almost cooked( about 10-12 minutes)

4. Add red curry paste. Stir.

5. Add kale, green peppers and shishito peppers. Typically, 1 in 10 shishito peppers can be hot, otherwise they are as mild as green peppers.

6. Sauté further for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk.

7. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

8. Add fish sauce and sesame oil and stir.

9. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over jasmine rice or quinoa.

 

 

 

Where does the thyme go?

 

I feel I have been in a writer’s block because I thought all I could write about were my culinary attempts with my CSA. I think I have more stories to tell …. This last summer was the most magical but also a whirlwind.  My daughter did some research over the summer taking us to New Hampshire for a few days. Enjoyed the nature hikes and King Arthur Flour Bakery. Everything baked at the bakery, I kid you not, was buttery scrumptiousness.

After a few days in NH, we made our way across the USA to Houston, Texas. After all of that, our trip of a lifetime was going to commence. We were returning the MOTHERLAND, India, after 8 long years.

NY –> INDIA–> DUBAI–> NY(Aug 2017)

3 weeks of food, family and adventure. Really a trip to remember – people and places to feel nostalgia over and food to savor, over and over again.  This trip to India is in typical Monsoon season. We heard from everyone, how difficult it was going to be on us. We heard that we were moving in the direction of the monsoon rains as we would be going North, 10 days after our arrival.

Some divine energy (God) looked over us. We had some rain, but most of the torrential downpours were overnight. Every food we ate was mouthwatering and painstakingly prepared with love. Every person we met treated us as we were their own. The Taj Mahal is more magnificent than we ever expected.  I have so much to share about the food and our experiences but here’s a taste… The kheer and gulab jamun were desserts we had at Bukhara Hotel in New Delhi was one of the best dessert combos we ever had, maybe one of the best foods, we ever ate.

Easy like Sunday morning Frittata

In a household with two working parents and kids who seem busier than the adults, easy Sunday mornings are such a treat.   Usually, my husband and I wake up and catch up over chai. This is super special because my husband makes the chai. Some Sunday mornings, we all congregate in our kitchen.  Our kitchen table was made for a family of 3. So in our family of 4, three  people sit and one stands. Not the best way to have a four person conversation. For the last two weeks, Rachel went away to a 2 week pre-college program. It was the first time for her to be away by herself  for an extended period of time. We had a lot to talk about. Today, we all spent the morning chatting and catching up as a family. We all sat on the sofa over chai. What a great way to start the day!

After our leisurely catch up, it was time for breakfast. We needed something quick , filling and nutritious. A frittata is just that! Frittata  is basically a crustless quiche. What you put in a frittata depends on what it is that you have/want. I make a frittata based on ingredients I have on hand. So the ingredients listed are based on what I have from the CSA or what’s in my fridge. It’s really a nutrition packed meal. It’s so easy and filling too. Always make in a cast iron pan. If it’s seasoned correctly, it’s better than non stick and you don’t take the risk of ingesting those harmful non-stick chemicals. It’s a great way to get kids to eat veggies. you can add different types of vegetables, peppers, spinach, mushrooms. Today’s frittata includes kohlrabi, kale and corn. Kohlrabi is a vegetable that was selectively bred by farmers years ago from wild mustard. Crazy to think that one plant could be selectively bred to produce cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kohlrabi. The idea of kohlrabi was scary to us. Never ate it , let alone never saw it before our CSA adventures.  According to  Food facts, Kohlrabi is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as B-vitamins. It also contains copper, manganese, iron, potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, and is rich in antioxidant compounds like phytochemicals and carotenes as well.Simply put, kohlrabi  tastes like a potato that has a hint of sweetness. Erica loves tortilla española, which is  a Spanish frittata made with potatoes. Substituting potatoes with kohlrabi is a sneaky and creative way to get kids to eat cool foods like kohlrabi. It does taste a bit different from potatoes but not much.

Food always brings families together. Usually we are eating and running.  Sunday morning breakfasts always get us to sit together and connect over that meal. Farm fresh frittata, chai, family, fellowship and love- a perfect Sunday morning.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 kohlrabi( peeled and chopped) ( optional or use potatoes instead)
  • 1 cup lacinato kale chopped finely
  • 1 small onion ( or two shallot stems the flowers)
  • 1 garlic scape/2 cloves garlic
  • 3 strips of uncured nitrate-free  bacon(optional)
  • 1/2 cup sweet organic corn
  • 4-5 basic leaves finally chopped/julienned(ribbons)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs beaten
  • paprika- a few dashes for color(optional)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 365ºF.
  2. In a cast iron pan(there’s no other way to make an amazing frittata) on medium heat on stove. When pan gets hot, place chopped bacon into pan. When fat is rendered,  and bacon is crisp, remove pieces from pan.
  3. You may remove all the bacon fat and cook with EVOO or leave bacon fat to cook the vegetables.{ There are many schools of thought, animal fat should be eliminated. Animal fat consumption should be limited. I am of the second school of thought- limit the consumption. Know how the animals are treated and buy locally.} If you don’t want bacon or its fat, just use EVOO and eliminate bacon altogether.
  4. In the oil/bacon fat, add onions and garlic( shallot flowers and garlic scape). Add two pinches of salt to mixture to accelerate browning.
  5. Next add, chopped kohlrabi and saute( 2-3 minutes).
  6. When browning of kohlrabi has started, add chopped kale. Saute and cook down vegetables.( 3-5 minutes)
  7. Add sweet organic corn, I had in the freezer. I used the corn after defrosting.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add paprika( optional).
  10. Add eggs into mixture in cast iron pan. Sprinkle basil , mix in. Sprinkle cooked bacon on top. Turn off heat in 5 minutes.
  11. Place pan into oven for 15 minutes until center of frittata is set( doesn’t jiggle).
  12. ENJOY! ( I like a little hot sauce drizzled over it)