Loaded Baked Sweet Potato – My Way

In my attempt to eat healthy, I always pick produce I have never cooked before and try to make something tasty out of it. This time it was sweet potato. My sister used to absolutely love it as a kid! In fact, we used to receive buckets of sweet potato from my grand parents home after Diwali pooja. And all for her!

I have never liked sweet potato because there was only one way I saw it cooked back home and I dint like the taste of how it turned out. So this time I scoured the web for a new and original twist to cooking sweet potato and landed at the right place with a twice-baked loaded sweet potato recipe. I have modified this a little for my preference. So lets see how this went.

Ingredients –

Sweet Potato

Oil

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and clean your sweet potato for any dirt. Rub it with some oil and put on a baking tray. Bake it for 30-35 mins or until it turns soft and tender. Mine took 40mins in total. I turned it midway for even cooking.

While it bakes, prepare the stuffing.

Stuffing ingredients –

Diced Bacon strips

Thinly diced onions

Thinly chopped Green onions/scallions

Roughly chopped coriander

Diced cucumbers

Diced green peppers/capsicum

Cook the bacon until all fat is rendered. Turn off the heat and add onions, scallions, coriander and peppers. The heat from the released fat will cook the veggies and also retain their crunch. You can go wild here and add whatever veggies or toppings you’d like in your stuffing.

Once the sweet potato is cooked tender, let it cool down a little. Cut out 1/3rd of the potato from the top and scoop out all the flesh in a bowl. Also take out some of the flesh from the 2/3rds portion but make sure to leave some around the skin so as to keep the shape intact when we bake it for the 2nd time.

Seasoning ingredients –

Salt

Pepper

Cheese blend

Mixed herbs

Mayo/Sour cream

Mash the flesh so as to not leave any lumps. Add all seasoning ingredients and mash together. Now add the cooked bacon and veggies and mix lightly. Add a few drops of lemon juice and mix again. Your stuffing is done!

Fill the stuffing into your 2/3rds of the baked sweet potato. Top it with some cheese. Bake again for 10-15 mins or until the cheese melts and the potato is heated-up throughout.

You could garnish with some coriander or scallions before serving but I was too tempted to wait 😀

And thats how its gone in minutes!

It turned out absolutely fabulous! So much better than I expected 😀

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Being Mindful of Individuality

One of my friends had a big argument with her betrothed (reading English classics these days ;)). Among the myriad of issues, a few revolved around their expectations of each other in terms of their lifestyle.

Although friends come to me very easily to confide, I am very cautious about giving relationship advice. I have learnt the reasons over time but its surprising how easily others forget and get carried away while dealing with other peoples issues.

  1. Every relationship is unique – I might be someone’s best friend of years but no one can claim with absolute authority to completely understand their friends equation with their spouse. They might have a unique history that you are not aware of and there might be events not in the purview of your knowledge. Theres a lot going on when two people are together and every minute of their time together forges some new information.
  2. Every person has multiple distinct personalities – No, this is not a disorder. Most people’s behavior change with change in the audience. They appear to act differently in front of their friends than as they do with their families. Personalities also change with different groups of friends or between close family and relatives. Similarly, with spouses. Its confounding to accept this realization but its infact true that you never really know a person. No, not even your parents. So how I view my friend’s nature could be poles apart from how her partner assesses her.
  3. Every story has another side – This ones easy to identify and even easier to forget. People always tell stories portraying them as the victim. Its nothing criminal, just human. Thats how we are made to think. Its important to visualize the problem from a neutral ground and find perspective. More often than not, just empathizing with how the other party might be feeling gives a fresh angle to the whole issue.
  4. Individual is always before couple – Forgetting this fact is most common with my girlfriends. We forget everything about the individual and all our advise is based on how to save the relationship. We have been compromising so much for so long that at times, no one realizes that the pitfalls we take to save our relationships end up making us the most miserable souls. Many times, its compromise with our freedom, other times its compromise with our wishes. Almost always, its compromising our individuality.

So the next time a friend comes to you for relationship advise, remember its only your opinion on the matter and theres a good chance your assessment is absolutely trash. Make them aware to take it with a pinch of salt. Be cognitive of the fact that not all relationships are meant to be and its not fair to guilt someone into it.

But also, sometimes all your friend needs is for you to lend an attentive ear.

P.S. – Dont confuse Individuality with Being Special. No one’s special. Thats just a way we are coddling kids these days.

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Reclaiming my Space

So I got this message in my MeetUp Inbox the other day –

Kapil 9:19 PM
Sent from Desi Connections – Raleigh-Cary-Morrisville
Hi Priya, This is Kapil, 39 yrs, Raleigh/Cary area looking for finding life partner. In case if you looking to find , then you can message me back. Thanks.

Infact, it turned out this dude had sent the same message to all females in that particular group, without ever having met them or spoken to them, without knowing if they were single, engaged, married, divorced, straight, gay, uninterested or anything else. Basically, saw a female looking name and attacked the inbox.

This isn’t new. Every female gets atleast one proposal every week on MeetUp. Only, this ones language is better. Annoying proposals on MeetUp is so common that most times we don’t even join mixed groups so as to save ourselves the hassle. I had the same thought when I got this message; to leave the group because the frequency of such unsolicited msgs was increasing day by day.

And then it hit me. Why? Why should I be the one leaving the group? Why should I have to tolerate this stupidity? Why should I ignore these lewd messages? Why should I have to deal with the consequences of someone else’s actions? Why should I give away my space?

So this time I decided, NO! Enough is enough. If these guys don’t know what MeetUp is for, its their fault. They need to educate themselves, take responsibility of their actions and be answerable to the consequences as well.

I posted this msg on the group –

Issued in Public Interest.
Mr. Kapil – If you don’t know, MeetUp is not Tinder/Shaadi.com/Bumble or whatever hookup app is trending these days. I have had enough of this so the next such unsolicited msg I or any of my friends receive from any guys on this group will be posted here with the perpetrators name.

You would imagine guys would take a cue and stop. Instead, another guy responds back with – “that was rude. he wasn’t asking for a hookup. he is looking for a life partner. if you’re not interested, then just say so or ignore. have some empathy. everybody wants to be loved.”

I was appalled at how much liberty guys give themselves. This person wants over 50 females to empathize with a stranger on the web and ignore his unsolicited message instead of agreeing that its easier for that 1 guy to not broadcast a template proposal to over 50 females. So I should keep getting my inbox flooded with atleast 1 msg everyday and ignore them because I need to empathize with those guys sending lewd messages since they haven’t found love yet. Wow, bullshit level infinity!

Now it was my turn. I thought and thought and thought. Was I being judgmental? Was I being rude? Was I being inconsiderate? As many times as I tried, none of these ringed true. Because this isn’t the first time this has happened. Our inboxes are flooded with such romantic grandiosity which I dint even subscribe to! So finally, this is how I reclaimed my space –

“There are specific meetup groups and other platforms to help people find love. I did not join this group to become a database for people to send me proposals and open my inbox to over 100 guys. Contrary to what you are dreaming, this is not a dating group. Open your eyes, look around, think before you act and stop with the ridiculous excuses to your stupid actions.”

P.S. What was this guys gameplan anyway, I am more interested in that! That he would send this romantic message and girls would respond excitedly to this stranger on the web saying she’s also looking for a life partner and they should definitely hookup? Hmm…over-optimistic thinking much?

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Green Peas Stuffed Poori – My Way

Winters always make me nostalgic about a few recipes we used to have back home in India, relishing the afternoon sun in the backyard. It brings back some very fond memories. So I am always trying to recreate some of those recipes here. So far, they have never turned out anything like Mom’s but it tastes just ok to keep me happy thinking about home and family and those days.

So heres my trial at making green peas poori. This used to be a staple winter brunch accompanied with some pickle or curry and definitely, oh most definitely, ginger tea!

Ingredients :

  • Wheat flour
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Warm water
  • Ajwain/Carrom seeds

Mix all of these and knead to make a soft dough. Keep it covered and resting for 15-20 mins.

  • Boiled Green peas
  • Oil
  • Green chillies
  • Jeera
  • Panchforan/Allspice
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Coriander powder
  • Garam masala

In hot oil, put the whole spices, ginger, garlic and chili. Once cooked, add the boiled peas and all powdered spices. Cook for a few mins to get rid of the raw spice smell. Try to mash the peas so as to make a coarse paste. Alternatively, you could grind the peas and cook the paste with the spices instead of whole peas. Either way they have to get mashed. Let the mixture cool down completely.

Meanwhile, prepare small dough balls and roll them a little to a size which can fit the peas filling. Similarly, prepare small balls of the peas mixture and place them onto the flattened dough balls.

Roll the filling in and roll out the ball into small pooris.

You could either shallow fry these in oil or cook them on a flat pan with a little butter. Either way, they taste great!

Enjoy with a steaming cup of tea or your favorite pickle 🙂

Winter Wishes
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To-Dos and CheckOffs

I am just going to go ahead and confess – I LOVE CHECKLISTS! I love making them, I love ticking them off and I love looking at them multiple times through the day. Yes, there, I said it.

At any point, I have atleast 5-6 checklists on my phone – 1 daily task list, 1 grocery list, 1 travel list for the year, 1 items list to bring from my next trip to India, 1 long vacation packing list, 1 short trip packing list and maybe a couple temporary ones as per need. Its one of the best lifestyle changes I have made in the past couple years. I regularly update them and its now become absolutely essential for my day to day activities.

The task lists are very basic but I add each and every task I need to complete, be it weekly grocery shopping, yoga, returning things to the store, returning an important call, replying to an important email, paying bills, booking flight tickets/AirBnB, everything goes and also time them for a reminder; sort of a reminder list.

Infact I have also started to add simpler things which I might forget more easily like taking printouts, calling my insurance or maintenance guy, plug off wifi before leaving for work etc.

These lists not only help me keep track of my chores but also take my mind off constantly having to worry about forgetting doing something, especially me being a total organization freak.

Its my best week when I am able to checkoff all my to-dos.

This week, I had 3 personal mini projects on my task list which I was progressing little by little everyday but not able to mark done just yet. Finally, today was the day I was able to close off 3 of those. What a way to end a Friday and welcome the weekend!

Call me lame but thats what I call a great productive week, folks 😀

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Indian Media Circus

So apparently people have stopped reading newspapers altogether (paper or online) and getting their news ‘bites’ from Twitter. Moreover, forming strong snap judgements based on those trending stories unapologetically.

While expressing my disappointment on the shameful state of our country in terms of freedom of speech, two of my colleagues went berserk. They thought I was joking (because of course all those international reports are conspiracy theories). Instead, they were fuming about how this ‘standup comedy thing’ is getting popular in the country and comedians are getting away saying anything about any politicians; imagine no restraint at all!

I was confused so I asked what were they talking about. And learnt that this story was trending on Twitter, which was nothing but someone’s clickbait opinion. Media calls it ‘Hot Button’ these days.

As I continued prodding, neither did they know comedians have been jailed for making jokes about politicians, nor that journalists are being kidnapped and/or killed everyday for scandalous (read unbiased) reporting. They thought our might government is bravely taking the brunt of these jokes. And of course they thought India’s shameful rank of 138 (just above Pakistan) on World Press Freedom Index was another fake propaganda.

If that wasn’t enough, they thought international media making a joke of that scientist at the Science Congress a few days ago for making ridiculous claims about the Hindu mythology and science was just a scam to ridicule Hindu religion so as to glorify Christianity. O My F***ing God!!! What size has the human brain shrunk to? And whats really happening over at the mainstream media? Are they really getting away with these kinda stories?

O right….I completely forgot they also reported the new 2000/- Rupee note will have a GPS chip to help track each bank note and people bought that too. Who am I kidding!

Thank God I do not have a TV!

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One Day At a Time

I have often gone out of my way and helped people but every now and then comes along an ungrateful persona who forgets everything and doesn’t spare 2 secs before pushing you under the bus or shifting over the blame onto you very subtly. Most times I give them the benefit of doubt and assume there’s a good chance that person did that subconsciously or maybe I am misreading it all.

You cant control the situations/occurrences in your life. You can only control how you react to them and every one of those choices define you as a person.

In any case, that doesn’t put me on the moral high ground, but it does give me peace. What doesn’t give me peace is negativity and anxiety and wasting time analyzing other people’s actions, the whys and the hows.

Since this is one of my goals for this year, the chance to practice what I preach presented itself right away. It took all the self-control I had and more to not reply to that email defending myself. That would have resulted in more anxiety and impatience and I would have continued to overanalyze my reply and overthink what people might be making of it, wasting the entire day not able to concentrate on anything else. Just like every single time I have done this in the past.

Instead, I chose to ignore it. I decided that its not important for me to defend myself every single time and keep proving myself in front of the same audience over and over again. Let actions speak louder than words. This was a first and I am so glad I was able to make this distinction today.

Because, this single inconsequential choice transformed my day from being terrible to super productive! I was able to push that thought aside and concentrate on more important tasks for the day. And you know what, it felt great! It felt great to not succumb to that temptation of taking things personally and making it worse in my head.

A small win but hey, we are all taking it one day at a time 🙂

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