I walked to our old apartment place yesterday. Monday, actually (I’m writing this on Tuesday, so technically yesterday is correct). Ever since we moved in August I saw our old neighbours/friends less than I’d like. Each day on my way back from work I’d think about getting off a stop earlier and walking there and each day I’d put it off to the next. I do that…a lot. On a scale of making excuses for life things, being dependent on buses makes it to the top as being a valid one in my mind. Yes, if I change my course I will get home an hour later. No, it’s not a big deal. Do it anyway, Edlyn.
I had called her the week before to say in my apologetic voice that I meant to keep in touch. They helped us move so selflessly and they were the first and only people we knew to show our home to. They would’ve been the people to take a photo of us in front of the new place with keys in our hands if we did that sort of thing. She was happy to hear from me but she was happier to tell me that she and her daughters were going to India in a week. Their coming back would be totally dependent on whether the husband still had a job in December. For those of you that don’t think about immigrant workers in the US, the annual uncertainty of contract work is not for the weak. Then again, nothing about being an immigrant is for the weak. I was sad. Which brings me back to the start of this story
Their apartment was almost the same except that they no longer had a couch or a TV. Both were paraded on craigslist and went fast. Their daughters – 3 and 5 – were the main reasons I was going back anyway. The 3-year-old’s (or is she 2?) vocabulary seemed to have grown and the 5-year-old was happy to see me and then she went straight back to her books, flipping through pages and reading. Actually reading. Content with her choice of saying few words and absorbing those floating in pages. Months before I left for Goa for my vacation last year she was just starting to read the alphabet. She was learning the sounds and trying to make sense of it all. I read with her sometimes and tried to help her break down words, unsure when realisation would ever hit. How does one explain the “K” and “C” sounds without concluding that English is weird? I got her a Dr Seuss book for her birthday and wondered how I ever came to read. How did the words become words? If I could go back to one thing from my childhood, I’d love to know how I started to read. I remember reading Chicken Little and the word “environment” at 6. That’s it. I was very proud of that “environment” part.
In a week, they’ll be in India. Today all I could think about was how I wanted to buy her all the books (though that might not be a good idea for a family in transit) and a pin for her backpack that said “bookworm” and had a drawing of a worm with glasses. She needs to know Shel Silverstein and The Little Prince. Dr Seuss will charm her if he hasn’t already and eventually, Jane Austen will become ol’ reliable….if Carolyn Keene or Enid don’t strike first, that is. Now that I think about it, they probably will. In true literary terms, they’re just badasses that way.
I take books for granted. I forget how powerful they are until I catch myself thinking about characters weeks after I put a book down. Sometimes months. When you can create a whole world inside your head without going anywhere, that’s a gift. That’s reading. We got that! A part of me wants my 5-year-old friend to come back soon. If she doesn’t (and even if she does) I hope she knows she has a friend for life and a perfectly appropriate reason to stare down in a quite corner or a sunny spot by the window.
Savoury carrot pancakes
If you follow me on instagram, you might have noticed that I posted a photo of these pancakes the day after Halloween. This was my first Halloween dressing up (thanks co-worfreinds!) and yes, I ate a lot of drunk person food too. No shame. The next day, I felt I needed to eat all the vegetables. Since I’m a savory breakfast person, these pancakes are what I made up. They are vegetables and and savory. You could even sandwich it between two slices of bread, with some spinach leaves and hummus.
- 2 cups (248 gms) carrot
- 4 tbsp (56 gms) chickpea flour
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger, finely grated
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 tsp kosher salt)
- 4-6 tbsp olive oil, to fry
I finally figured out the grater attachment on the food processor and I am confident life (in that specific department) will never be the same again. When I first made this, I grated every single carrot by hand. This is me trying to tell you to do it no matter what. Work with your hands. It’s magical.
Grate the carrots and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chickpea flour to it and toss the shredded carrots around, allowing them to be coated well. You should see no traces of the flour. Beat two eggs in a cup and pour it over the carrots, stirring it to mix completely.
Add the parsley, onion, ginger, lemon juice and spices and mix well. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper once you’re ready to fry the pancakes.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan/or cast iron skillet. Scoop about 2 tbsp of the pancake mix in to pan, flatten it and shape it into a circle. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side. The first batch might take a little longer but once the pan get to a good temperature, you will need 4 minutes on each side.
Serve warm, with your favourite condiment/hot sauce.