Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday Morning Waffles - guest post from Fragmentals

Since I have been talking of family and food lately, I thought I had to post this, especially for my bong side of the family. Sunday morning waffles are a bit of a tradition at our house now, established post baby with a recipe Alex found in his Grandmother's old and faded cookbook. Alex has adapted the recipe to serve the two and a half of us and to make it a tiny bit healthier. The original recipe bases portioning on the assumption that one requires a 5000 calorie (!) diet, probably from the days of trudging uphill to church (uphill, both ways). Our biggest challenge to making this tradition stick is to get Alex out of bed. It is usually a concerted and protracted effort by the girls and me resulting in a lot of bargaining, cajoling, tickling and guilting.

T in her apron

Alex must have recorded one such Sunday morning because what he reproduced in his "stream of consciousness" post at his blog, FRAGMENTALS, is brilliantly accurate and therefore hilarious. I have guest-posted his blog entry below followed by the actual recipe. The really hilarious part is that I have trouble telling myself apart from the kids in the scene below.

The waffle iron has a permanent home on the red tile trivet, we never seem to put it away except for pictures

 Sunday Morning Waffles - The Reprise - A Stream of Consciousness Conversation

What time is it?

I don't know

It's time to get up.

No it isn't.

Come on, I'm hungry.

I'm tired.


The kid's are up. The sun is up. Make some breakfast.

You make breakfast!

Daaad! Make breakfast!!

Fine. Do you want cereal?

Waffles! Waffles! Waffles!

Do we have bacon?

Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!

I think so. You'll have to check.

Why don't you check!?

Dad! Don't be grouchy!

Fine. Help me up and go to the kitchen.

We need a measuring cup...that's a drinking cup, we need a measuring cup...No a measuring...I'll get it. This is a measuring cup. Get the bowl. The plastic one. Good, now hold it.

I wanted to!

You get the flour.

I wanted to get the flour!

Fine, you take the bowl, and you get the flour. Don't spill it. Careful, grab it by the...no don't!...Get the broom. How much is left? Let me see...There's enough, we only need two cups.

Can I scoop it?

I'll do it.

Why can't I?

You're holding the bowl. How about I scoop and you pour it in?

But I wanted to do that!

You pour the first cup, and you can pour the second. One...Two...Good...Now sweep up the floor please...The floor...I'll do it. Get the salt. Stop! Don't pour it in, we only need half a teaspoon. And a teaspoon and a half of baking powder. No not baking soda, the powder...in the can not the carton. Good.

What's it taste like.

Like powder.

Can I try some?


Hey! Don't let her eat that!

It tastes funny.

Oh yeah?

Did you find the bacon yet?

I haven't even looked, we just started. Okay 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and now 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

I'll get it!

No don't! The lid's not...on...Sweep it up please. There should be enough left in the jar. Fill up the teaspoon. Good, now put it in.

I wanted to do that!

You dumped most of the cinnamon on the floor! Clean it up.


Your Dad said clean it up. I don't think we have any bacon. Do we have sausages?

I don't know. Can you get a cup of water and a cup of milk and pour them in? I need a big spoon.

I have to wash my hands.

Fine, can you do it after you clean the floor?


I'm still holding the bowl!

Good, give it here. Get two eggs, the whisk, and another bowl.

Here's the water and the milk.

Good, pour it in. Carefully, not on my...It's ok just a little spilled. Stir the rest in until everything is smooth.

Dad how do I do the eggs?

Crack them on the bowl. Now pull out the shells... We need to separate the yolks. Like this.


Look Dad, I'm stirring!

Good, now stir in these yolks.


Take a fork and whip the egg whites until they're stiff.

Ha, ha. You said stiff.

Not funny girls. Stir a little more slowly, don't spill.

Are the sausages ready?

What sausages dear?

I asked you for sausages.

You what? When?...I didn't...I think we have some bacon, just wait. Is the dog outside?

Yes, he's barking.

Let him in please.

My arm hurts.

I'll finish the egg whites, you get a teaspoon of vanilla and two teaspoons of apple sauce.

Okay now what?

Put them in.

Why do we use applesauce?

It replaces the oil.


It just does.

The dog's barking at the neighbors.

Then let him in! Can you get the bacon out of the fridge?

Fine. Come. Inside. Now. Come, come on...he's not coming.

Come! Inside! Now! Good boy.

I think I'll shower.

Good idea, pass me the frying pan, I found the bacon. How many pieces?




All of it!

Two each then. The egg whites are done, fold them in and take out the waffle iron. I'll do the bacon.

I want to!

Okay just lay them out in the pan and use the spatter shield. Turn the element to medium.

Can I watch T.V.?

What? Who? You? Yeah, go ahead.


I'm helping you Dad!

That's great, thank-you. Is the waffle iron hot?

I need to plug it in.

Fine do that. Can you set the table too please?

Can I watch T.V.?

Sure. Tell your mother I'm making coffee. Do you want syrup or jam or what for the waffles?


All of them?


Butter and syrup then. Okay get out of here I'll let you know when everything's done.

Is it ready yet?

I thought you were showering?

I was, I am, I mean...I'm going to. How come no-one's helping you?

They did. How come you're not showering?

Fine I'm going. Give me a kiss.

Is breakfast ready?

It's just started cooking. Why aren't you two watching T.V.?

There's nothing on.

Yeah, nothing.

Set the table then.

And now the recipe... if you paid attention, you could almost find it in that post above.

Sunday Morning (A Waffle Recipe)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup water

1 cup milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons apple sauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Using a large spoon mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk and water. Stir until the mixture has a creamy consistency. Separate the egg whites. Add the yolks and the apple sauce to the mixture. Mix well. Whisk the egg yolks until they are stiff. Fold them into the rest of the mixture.

Heat the waffle iron until it sizzles as you coat it with a small amount of butter. This will prevent the waffle from sticking. Pour the waffle mix into the waffle iron until it is about 3/4 full. Cook until golden brown. This mix should produce 4-5 waffles 8" in diameter.    

Fragmentals is the writing blog of Alex Jackson. Fragmental is a geological term for pieces of rock found where they shouldn't usually be found. They are incomplete and do not blend in with the typical formations. These writing fragments are just that.

Alex feeding K

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chronicles of the TO trip

I had perhaps put on record my recollections of our summer trip to TO, NJ and NY before they melt away...

Gord and Nadine’s Wedding prompted this trip to the Canadian and American Megapolis-es. Gord is Alex’s BFF, regardless of less than auspicious beginnings (that is Alex’s story to tell) and he had stood in as Alex’s Best man during our wedding and this would be Alex’s turn to do the pretty. However we were travelling with two children (one infant) and it escapes me why we decided to take the LO (little one) with us. She had three pieces of luggage all by herself and the rest of us three had two! When we arrived at the Toronto airport was when I first appreciated how good the Winnipeg airport was: child friendly, clearly labelled, free baggage carts, helpful airport security folk... Toronto airport must have made a bad impression on me because I still haven’t been able to shake off my hate on Toronto and I LIKE big cities!

We arrived in the middle of a heat wave with two children, a pile of luggage, limited smart phone access and all the stress of being the spouse of someone in a wedding party. Alex wasn’t much use other than being decorative (he is that) regarding the wedding. Inspite of the children being very well behaved the logistics of getting to the ceremony alone with two kids was pretty challenging and kept me awake at nights. Gord and Nadine had us over for the rehearsal BBQ at their place the evening before the wedding and we met some of Alex’s school friends the next day for brunch. Erin O’ came to our rescue and offered to help out with the transportation to the ceremony. Now the wedding was on a Boat on Canada Day along with myriad other harbour-front activities making finding parking a serious challenge. As it happens we were 10 minutes late getting to the boat, we had warned against it, but we got lost! Of course the bride and groom having anticipated such things had actually asked their guests to arrive earlier (unbeknownst to us!!) so nobody missed the boat. The wedding itself was one of the more entertaining weddings I’ve been to, complete with a fun and choreographed first dance. The couple got well wishes from passing boats including the Pride party boat. Tara had couple of girls to play with and do art with and she literally danced till she dropped. Alex and I probably got one dance late in the evening, on the top deck after the air had cooled down but in retrospect it was a great wedding. We had to carry Tara back a 20 minute walk and then cab it back to the hotel... that was a long day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Canada or US, which country would you rather live in?

I read this article today, probably written by a Canadian, that got me thinking of my thankfulness for having made a great life-choice and opting to go to Canada for my post secondary education as opposed to the US as most Indian middle class kids do. Here is an excerpt from the article -
Canadians receive better social benefits such as healthcare, paid maternity leave and greater subsidization of their post-secondary schools. Both countries generally have around the same annual income. However, the cost of living in the United States is remarkably less. While Canadians may pay less for larger-life events, Americans pay less for day-to-day expenses such as eating and housing costs. Maybe it all evens out in the end, or perhaps one place really is better to live than the other.
When I made that choice, some thirteen years ago, I was not thinking of settling in this cold and obscure country. Little did I know about its universal health care or care about maternity benifits. Back home if you got sick, you hoped you had a connection to get into a hospital on time and had enough money to pay for it and with maternity leave, one got 3 months unpaid leave with no job security. Frankly I was healthy, young and far from family minded. The only thing that stood in my mind back then was the reputation that the US of A had for racial discrimination, riots, profiling, ghettos. I chose Canada because the university degree was cheaper beyond compare (especially for a middle class foreign student) and I felt I was less likely to be marginalised due to my colour.
Turns out that I made a choice wiser than I could have hoped for. I arrived in a very generous country, greeted at the airport by an ex-Pakistani family(!). I have since stopped marvelling at bus drivers that smile and greet you when you get on and friends that are welcoming, down-to-earth, and more often than not, a mixed racial group.
Five years ago, my husband and I were at a McCormick and Schmick's in Denver, CO. I remember noting that I must have have been the olny coloured patron at that restaurant, barring the servers who were all visible minority. This experience was repeated in Minneapolis which I used to think was more like Canada than US. I am not sure what my friends and former classmates from India, that chose to settle in the US, have to say to that. All the ones I have met have seemed fairly prosperous and happy. But since those trips to Denver and Minneapolis I have had a couple of kids. Starting a family is an expensive time in people's lives, you have baby stuff to buy, one parent is about to lose their income and then there are the associated medical costs. How we would managed had we lived in the States, I cannot fathom. Here the pre-natal care, delivery, post natal care, vaccinations all cost me nothing out of pocket. Or I should say nothing more than my income tax of 30% marginal rate. (Apologies for not having any idea what people earning the same as I do pay in the States). Knowing we would not be left with scary hospital bills post-baby helped us start a family.
Then two years back my parents moved to Canada and from the day they arrived they were covered for health care much to their surprise, and eligible for old age security in ten years.
It makes me think of the Mastercard commercial:

Two children - $0, one professional post graduate degree - $8,000 (actually got a $20,000.0 university grant for that so was ahead by $12K when I left), dad's heart surgery that I was on the hook for - $0. Zero discrimination (you guessd it) - Priceless!.
I can safely say that I have saved enough money to buy my 4 bedroom house outright (in theory).

This is not to say Canada is perfect, for one there is no recognition for foreign credentials, so don't be surprised if you find a dentist trained in Egypt running the hygenists mini autoclave for a job. Or a Philipino architect working as a technician. Then there is the political apathy, and yes, every consumer good costs about 20% to 30% extra no matter if the dollar is at par. I do love the fabulous cities of the US, built on cheap immigrant labour (even immigrants here make the legal minimum wage (unless they work in the publishing industry)), and yes, I will be heading south of the 49th to buy some cheap winter tires and perhaps some clothing. But I will always be glad to call Canada home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ten years of being a wife...

If I was playing a word association game with the word “wife”, I’d be a mass of conflicting feelings and ideas and agendas. I write this as I come to terms with having been one for the last 10 years. Is there an ideal for this word? And more importantly, do I want to be one? (IDEAL wife, that is. I am not questioning my current matrimonial status or choice of spouse).

When I think of being a wife, the two obvious women who come to mind are my mother and grandmother. Two entirely different kinds of wives, both strong and smart women. My grandmother (Ma) was my primary daytime care-giver till I was about eight, so of course the sun and moon revolve around my memory of her. She was married at the age of 16 (most likely) and had moved to New Delhi to set up house with her new husband by the time her first child was born (my mother). I remember all my uncles and aunts being married out of her house, which back then was my second home. I still think of her food as the true bengali home cooking, not my mother’s (who could never live up to Ma’s standards of clean Bengali flavours). I remember her tiny galley kitchen with its two burner gas stove and rows upon rows of baby formula cans (probably mine) that had been commandeered as storage jars for her staples. She had this tiny wooden pantry with a mesh screen to keep prepared food for the meals. Three meals were always cooked from scratch, so refrigeration was not a big factor except for milk. Even so, with all the power cuts we faced, milk was boiled several times a day. She made a pretty mean fish (Rui or Rohu = Carp) curry that I have never had the likes of, never. I have managed to almost copy her cauliflower curry (phoolkopi), fried eggplant (beguni) and egg curry (dimer dalna). She kept to a stricter order of brahminical food, that is, she would eat fish but not eggs and I am unsure of her stance on mutton (pathaa). Inspite of her aversion to eggs she would make this amazing pound cake for me on a stove top bundt pan, of all things. My grandfather, who was a national trade delegate to foreign countries, must have brought it back from one his many trips. My maternal grandparents had five kids, all successfully launched into the world, despite the fact that my grandfather (dadu) was mostly an absentee parent. Ma must have handled all the schooling, grocery shopping, household management all by herself, on foot. I would accompany her to the library once a week, about 30 minutes walk away, I knew she was well read and very knowledgable about world events. She also introduced me to the bengali children's fantasy literature. Much, much grimmer(!) stuff than the Disney princesses. Dadu was the traditional financial provider, but Ma held down the fort as a single parent all the months he was gone on his trips. She was universally respected, but not feared, a difficult balance to master.

My mother on the other hand was a light housekeeper and a full time working mom with a rich and busy socio-cultural life. Definitely universally feared and perhaps envied at times. She squeaked-by on, what I thought then, the bare minimum of mommy-wifey things. Now as an adult, with the primary responsibility for bringing in the bacon in the family, I realize that three meals a day from scratch are never going to happen in our household, not even on Christmas! My mother was married five years before she had me and I am an only child. My father contributed to all the time honoured things (read traditional) like family finances, doing all the banking, grocery shopping, dealing with trades and them some, like entertaining and rearing the child (while mommy was at rehearsals), squabbling with the local street sweeper and starching and ironing my mother's clothes being her prep cook, and sometimes shoe-sine boy.

Our own household is rather lax by comparison, much to my parents' consternation as laundry and cleaning never seems to happen on schedule. However, every so often, I will go overboard and cook something super elaborate that I would have spent the entire friday afternoon sourcing. Running around Winnipeg trying to find fresh goat or prawns are pretty much impossible tasks and can take up all day inspite of the internet and phone. Last month I made kulfi and faluda to satisfy my craving for introducing Indian "ice-cream" to Tara. Thankfully both the little ones are adventurous eaters, I cannot abide mac-n-cheese kids. I have even gone so far as to make rava dosa from scratch with coconut chutney. Now these are things I would have never learnt to cook had I lived in India. Women like me, in far flung places away from their homeland, post recipes for all manner of tradional cooking. God (?) bless these intrepid bloggers, unknowingly following in the tradition of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management.

In the vein of word associations, Mrs. Beeton, who died of childbed fever with her fourth, brings to mind my latent armchair feminism (she died as a result of the condescension and ignorance of a breed of "gentlemen" doctors who felt they need not wash their hands before a delivery as their status as a gentleman percluded their hands from being dirty). I work in a field still rare for women and I have to admit willing oppression and callous disregard of female life brings out the tiger in me. I refer to the shooting of the 14 year old Pakistani girl for advocating education for girls. Then there is the 15 year old suicide from BC who was being bullied and blackmailed online... I hope I can provide a better world for my girls and open their eyes so that they are strong and ready to face the inequities of the real world that is still just as patriarchal and sexist as ever. This, despite the few good men in our lives. Amen, to the few good men.

About Me

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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I am a forty-something mom of two girls, an architect by profession and an avid sci-fi and My Little Pony fan. I love to cook, but only occasionally and am in the middle of rediscovering my heritage through food.