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Happy Memorial Day

When you’re BBQ’ing this weekend and enjoying the company of loved ones in the safety of your home, please take a minute to think about those that paid for in blood for this freedom. Also please remember to send a prayer to that families left behind. And finally a prayer for those families who do not enjoy the Liberty that we do.

Be good to each other.

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The Mama Diaries

Its funny how much of your like isn’t about you after having children.

Last night I dreamt my 6yrs old’s afterschool teachers where skipping and jumping down the school hallway chanting spells. They stopped and started making circles around me like I was a cauldron.  Yes it was a perfect scene out of Macbeth’s Double Double Toil and Trouble.

I never did like those three. They seem to have little or no interest in children but work out of necceccessity and convenience.

I think the dream was triggered when I went to pick up my child and he was sitting empty handed at a table of full of children snacking near tears.  I asked what was wrong and he said he didn’t want a snack and that some girls at the next table were bullying him.  Knowing the teachers were useless I asked the girls what happened — unfortunately there was no resolution reached when four 6 yrs old girls talk to you at the same time.  To me there are two layers of problems here: first that the teachers didn’t notice my son was that upset, and second that they have no problem (or didn’t notice) a parent trying to resolve the issue.

*sigh* I want to put my son in a bubble, take him away from this cruel world. But I know I have to teach him to fight his battles.  No one told me parenting was so hard.

May God bless mine and yours. Amen.

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FIP Book Review: Exquisite Corpse by Pénélope Bagieu

Name: Exquisite Corpse

Author: Penelope Bagieu

Pages: 128

Summary: Zoe is a car show girl with little or no aspirations.  Her life consists of an ill-mannered boyfriend, no real friend and a dead-end job. Until one day she stumbles upon a man who could possibly be the man of her dreams. He’s astute, literary and gentlemanly — but he’s got plenty of skeletons in his closest. For instance, why he pays the delivery man through a closed door. And why does his ex-wife visit him at night?

FIP Summary:

Two words “culture shock!”  This is my first ever graphic novel. I enjoyed it. I missed the details (his broad shoulder’s held up his trunk of a neck perfectly while his arms glistened showing the definition of his muscles as he chopped down my cherry tree) but enjoyed that the illustrations told a story of their own. Thomas and Zoe looked allot different in my head. Agathe looked about the same.

I was also shocked at the usage of bad language, I think I read to much rate PG YA, this incapacitation could be mine alone.  Also, maybe because I was so busy looking at the pretty pictures, I totally bought into the whole false clues about the ending. When Zoe landed where she did and with whom- I was totally surprised. And then I chuckled and outright giggled. And loved it! Like “A’t a girl!”

Overall, I enjoyed the book allot. I would recommend it for a quick short 30 minute stint.

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Written in the Stars Recipe: Chicken Biryani

Written in the Stars reminded me of Pakistan, it was only fitting that I went back to the roots.  I decided on Biryani – a spicy rice pilaf with your choice of meat.  Sort of like a Pakistani version of paella.  I am super excited about this recipe.  I must mention, this took me several times to get right.  The recipe doesn’t come easily to someone fairly new in the kitchen. I would love love love to see pictures of anyone whose tried it at home.

Here we go!

Biryani is pretty much assembled. You cook the rice in one pot, the chicken and masala in another pot and then layer them in one happy huge pot.

biryani-edit

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups washed basmati rice (soaked 30 min)
  • One Chicken cut into medium pieces (go for cubed chicken breast if your squeamish like me)
  • 4 Large Onions – sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder (increase to 1.5 if you like spice)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 bay leaves

Rice

Fill large pot  (very large you want room to work in this pot) 3 quarters of the way with water. Bring to boil then add a heaping tsp of salt, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp oil.

Add rice, stir to make sure your rice isn’t complacent.  Be gentle you don’t want to break the rice either. Cook until rice is starting to become translucent but about 70% done.  Drain and set aside.

Meat & Masala

  • Pour quarter cup olive oil into a pot
  • Add onions, fry until soft and translucent
  • Add tomato sauce / ginger paste/ garlic paste / salt (to taste)/chilli powder/cumin/turmeric. Let everything marry for about 2-5 minutes
  • Add Chicken and cook until the chicken changes color – probably around 2 minutes
  • Add whipped yogurt
  • Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes checking intermittently to check progress
  • You’ll know its done when your sauce is breaking.  (the oil comes to surface)
  • Here you can add thing strips of green chillies if you’d like – they add to the over all look
  • In a separate frying pan, add a tbsp. of oil and fry half an onion to a crisp  drain in wax paper

Layering

Drizzle the bottom of your now empty rice pot with oil.

Layer the bottom with half your rice, on top layer half your chicken mixture. Then layer — you guessed it… the rice and finally on top the last of the chicken.  Once you’re all layered add the fried onion as garnish. Seal the lid and leave on the stove at low flame. The idea here is to let the rice finish cooking and let the chicken masala marry the rice. Usually about 20 minutes or so.

The layered pot looks something like this:

biryani cooking

Open up and mix well. I usually use the handle side of my kitchen utensil – this helps not break the rice further.

Add egg, garnish with mint leaves or leave it as is.  Enjoy!

Feed back is very much appreciated.

PS – Also please feel free to comment on the picture editing – trying to improve on my photography skills.

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Recovery Mode

What a fantastic, joy filled busy weekend.

There were weddings, Birthday BBQs wedged in between Mother’s Day.

I think I got about 4 hours of sleep the entire weekend. Morning morning is a happy hangover (of joy not alocohol, I don’t drink at all) — but a hangover non the less. #tired.

I do have picture of the blueberry french toast and left over blue berries for my mid afternoon snack.

Look out of a review soon.

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Book Review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Title:      Written in the Stars

Author:  Aisha Saeed

Pages:   304

Synopsis:

A story about a conservative Pak-American teenage girl named Naila.  Life is good for Naila, her parents the picture of love and compassion; doting over her, providing her with everything that one needs to live a happy full life. She’s on her way to college; her parents have even agreed to let her room with childhood BFF.  Everything is perfect, except Naila lacks the most basic of all necessities, freedom.  What will Naila’s fate be when she chooses to go against her parents’ wishes and fall in love.

FIP Review:

Boy do I have a few (or more) bones to pick.  Back story, I am Naila.   I was raised in the good old USA with immigrant parents who worked harder then possible to support my brother and I.  They had similar expectations of me, but [spoiler alert] they didn’t caste me away or disown me at the sight of the first suitor. We fought, we kicked we screamed but we worked through it, like every family does. It boils down to teenagers testing limits with parents.  Every blue blooded parent has dealt with rebellion – it is not a phenomenon relevant only to Pakistani (interchange for South Asian) people!

That was my rant on culture biases being promoted from within the culture being biased against.

Good lord – that’s like a woman saying women only get 0.70 to every dollar a man makes because she deserves it for paying equal parts attention to her family life.  *insert angry face here*

Now let us talk about the book from a slightly more literary POV.  The events almost seemed like accusations; the characters predictable and black and white. There was no grey. I feel like there was zero research done. Had this story taken place in 1980 I would have bought it. What the author very conveniently forgets to account is that a large number of immigrants are now 2nd and some 3rd generations in the USA.   The struggles aren’t the same as they were for 1st generation immigrants.  We (2nd 3rd geners) are a million times more understanding towards our children’s needs.

Let’s take it to the flipside – the ‘homeland’ Pakistan.   You really want me to believe, that in today’s Pakistan where social media is twice as popular as the USA, where the media enjoys freedom of speech greater than the USA — it was absolutely possible for a girl to be entrapped as such?  Pakistan homes daughters who’s humanitarian efforts have been noted internationally (Bilquis Edhi) who’ve won Oscars (Sharmeen Obaid)and flown fighter jets (Ayesha_Farooq)– but this one poor girl had to endure marital rape (at the hands of her mother in law no less) and entrapment.  I’m sorry I don’t buy the damsel in distress thing.  Heck – if news of her talking to guy publically traveled that fast, how fast do you think news would have traveled if she told one of her neighbors that she was being held against her will? Or a taxi driver, or one of the helpers in the house? Tell someone – anyone.

I’m saddened that the author chose to feed into the typical stereotypes placed on the Pakistani people. I’m saddened to see that a woman in her position who has the power to enlighten; chose the opposite. But I guess she wrote what sells. Who wants to read about happily ever after?

PS – Apologies if this sounds more like a rant then a review. Some things that I really needed to get off my chest. I love forward to reading Aisha Saeed’s next book and hope with all my heart that it’s a more accurate picture of Naila in 2015.