I’ve been contemplating not doing any Mother’s Day interview with my mother this year because after having lost my dad, I realise exactly how painful it can be to be the one with NO DAD. I’m sure it feels the same to be the one with no mother. But then I thought about it for more than a second and realised another important thing: Even though I don’t have a dad now, I would still want to get to know my dad better. A few weeks after he died, I read the one interview he did for me and it brought me joy when the rest of the world was coloured in grey. For me it isn’t about grand gestures or phone calls or any of that token stuff. For me it’s just the gift of time to get to know my parents as people. A lot of what shapes us as humans are how we push through major life changes and sure enough, having kids was a pretty big one for my parents. …
There are very few things that I miss about home more than afternoon tea-time. Few things fill the spaces in our day better than this humble beverage. What was once an ideal way to break the monotony of a day job has become a symbol (to me, at least) of what it means to yearn for home. Ironic since it’s a ritual and trade left behind by our former white imperialist rulers (Hi Britain, I’m talking about you)….
It was an unspoken thing – after our paternal grandmother passed away – that we would spend that Christmas with Uncle Edgar at the home they lived and he took care of her in. She lived with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy as a result of it. After her surgery she wasn’t treated further owning to the fact that she probably wouldn’t be able to tolerate the side effects at her age. Uncle Edgar never married and so he saw his mother through all of her ailments, falls, bed sores – all the bits and pieces of getting old we talk of like we’ve lived it many times over. She laid on a bed and a long rope hung above her from the ceiling. No, it’s not what you think. It was long enough for her to reach with her hand and pull herself up so she could sit down on her own. I remember that they covered the noose that was made at the end of the rope with cloth and cloth bandages to make it easier on her frail hands. We never saw it but Uncle helped her with everything. He sat her on her bedside commode. He bathed her. He fed her. Maybe he complained but I don’t ever remember it. I wouldn’t want to think back on him as being anything but selfless, strong-willed and independent.
A few days after I celebrated my birthday, Uncle Edgar died. In a strange turn of fate, he went through almost the same things I described above except in a shorter and more sporadic way and with a different type of cancer. After 5 months of being bed-ridden at the very end, he breathed his last at a nursing home. My dad’s famous words, “I thought he was gone”, while speaking about Uncle finally rang true. It was heartbreaking. Uncle fought hard to live a life that was his own. He accepted his fate better than the modern world allows us to and he kept on living his life in the way he knew. There was so many times when we thought it was the end but he always came back fighting. This time we wanted to believe it would be that way again.
One of the heaviest weights any person who moves away from home has to carry is the one that comes with having to say goodbye. It’s especially hard when you’ve crossed continents and you know you can’t be there when you need to in a short and (emotionally) painless time. Since the last time I visited Goa, I lost my great Aunty Pacy, our 18-year-old family dog Gypsy (who was Uncle Edgar’s dog first) and my cat Bidli. When I left Goa again to come back to Washington this March, I knew I would be saying goodbye to my uncle for the last time. On the morning of the day I was to begin the first leg of my journey, I drove the nurse to his house just as I had being doing for a large part of the start of this year. I didn’t *have* to do it. God knows I had a million things on my mind but I wanted my last day at home for a while to feel like I wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to feel like I wouldn’t be waking up on an airplane that night. I wanted to know I could see my people whenever I wanted. This was maybe why I didn’t say “goodbye” the way I’d intended. How do you do it? “I’ll come back to say bye,” I told my father. I meant I would drive back after taking his nurse home but I really meant I wanted to come back in a year or two and see him there. And say bye once more.
There are many, many vivid memories I have grabbed onto and kept in the back of my mind. Having Uncle Edgar live less than a 10-minute drive from us turned them into more than I can count. Of all his nieces and nephews, it was us that had the luxury of being dropped off for the afternoon and asking him if he could find or make us fishing rods so we could go to the river. It was us that could visit and be guaranteed a bottle of Gold Spot and Thums Up (popped open and cap saved in a bowl that was too high to reach) and a slice of La Vache Qui Rit cheese. When we grew up a little, those drinks turned into Port Wine. My sisters and I played in his garden and fought to water the plants, even though we never offered to do the same at home. I got one of my worst skinned knees I can remember while running back from the gate to the house. I can’t imagine that house being empty. Part of me grew up there. It’s where we always expect to see him – sitting in the balcony, reading the paper, people-watching, scolding the help or shooing away the cat.
We got to spend Christmas with Uncle this December. My dad, mama, Jane, Sidney, Matt and I sat in the balcony as close as you can possibly imagine should you have seen how narrow it is. Uncle had his first whiskey in a year and we had the usual plate full of Christmas sweets on the table in front of us. I thought that the previous time I was in Goa would be the last time I saw him but still I told him I better see him next time. It was cool in the shade and the light breeze felt good. Gayle called to wish everyone after pulling a slave shift at work. The cat was begging for sweets. To be sitting right next to these people doing the usual was a present like no other.
Ask me what I did yesterday. Go ahead do it. I have a great answer.
What did you do yesterday, Edlyn?
I watched videos of dumpster diving. I then proceeded to imagine how I would carry away wasted (and perfect!) food in my bag. I don’t have a car or a bicycle so I would have to take the bus. I would like to do in the morning preferably even though it’s best to look around in the night. Less chance of being asked unecessary questions like “Why are you trespassing?” To which I’d reply, “I’m here to make a citizen’s arrest.” (I’ve watched TOO much Michael Moore.)
My friend (can I call you that?) Natalia is completely responsible for this. Everything she says makes me want to be friends with her and yes, she can drive a point straight to your heart. Apples and Anarchy, I like everything you say. You make me look at food as more than just food. You started me right at the beginning, from a tiny seed and mostly, you’re just very cool.
I also hadn’t heard of My New Roots until Natalia gushed about her. I looked her up and I agree, Sarah Britton is quite a classy lady. I also love that she lives in Denmark. With that, I’m allowing two Internet corners to collide (as they should) and dedicating this recipe to a friend (I’m calling you that) who perfectly described dumpster diving as “an edgier version of Christmas”.
(Though I feel it’s a lot closer to Easter that way…)
I followed this recipe I urge you to leave me enough nasty comments saying I should stop putting walnuts on everything. I didn’t even realise I did this until I looked at the picture. It must’ve been good though because I ate two whole servings.
Adapted from Sarah Britton’s My New Roots
- 210 gms baby bok choy, washed and sliced into strips
- 100 gms/20 small crimini mushroom, dirt brushed off and quartered
- 10 gms/3 cloves garlic, cut fine
- Peanut oil
- 1 tbsp lite soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- Cooked brown rice noodles
- Sesame seeds and walnuts (yes), to garnish
Cook the brown rice noodles or any Asian noodles or grains of your choice and keep aside.
Cut and have all your ingredients ready since stir-fry recipes require you to move a bit faster that usual. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat and throw in the garlic. Stir it for about a minute of until it begins to brown slightly.
To this add the mushrooms, honey and half the soy sauce. Make sure the mushrooms are coated well and cook until the liquid ingredients have been soaked into the fungi (fungi being the mushrooms). Not all of the liquid will disappear but a lot of it will.
As soon as the mushrooms are ready, add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce and bok choy. Give it about 2-3 quick stirs. Immediately take the skillet off the stove and let the bok choy wilt, stirring as it gets there. About 3-4 minutes later, the bok choy will have gotten limp and that means, it’s done.
Which means you get to mix it with the noodles.
Which also means you get to garnish it with sesame seeds.
Yes, yes, I know!
As I sit down to write, it’s already 1pm. Thirteen hundred hours in military time and I’m still not sure what to wear. I picked the dog up off the floor in the hope that a lap dog would inspire me but that only works until there’s a knock on the door. Yes, I have to go answer it which I never ALWAYS do but the UPS courier man always has such a sheepish look on his face – I see it through the spyhole on the door – that I fell compelled to.
Then he looks at me wanting just one thing: My signature. I already have 1000 excuses made up as to why I’m still in stretch pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. Nothing matches and I realise I forgot to check if I have honeydew seeds stuck on my face. Why would you have honeydew seeds stuck on your face, Edlyn? It’s a new thing I’m trying out. Ask me later if it worked?
As I sit down to write this, I turn around to look out the window. It looks deceptively warm but I won’t complain because any sun is good. Any sun after the rain is even better. The plants in the window are probably a lot happier. They have a lot of growing up to do and I have no idea how to help them with that. There’s so much to learn about new life and I tend to just step back a bit. Not out of fear. I’m just a little less bold than I sometimes feel. There’s nothing fun about being told “no”. The only fun part is I don’t mind at all.
As I sit down to write this, I should probably write it already. Nothing about a blank page overwhelms me. This is the one thing I know will never let me down. I can collect as many hobbies and people and cardigans but this ability right here, will always feel permanently comforting. It’s okay not to be read but I know I’d be committing the biggest disservice to this comfortable outfit I’m in and that light from the sky if I didn’t sit down to write.
So I did.
Rhubarb is like the made-up cousin of celery except you can eat the celery leaves and rhubarb leaves can poison you. Chop those of before you start and banish them far far away. The entire rhubarb plant is also very toxic for dogs. So for those of you who have pooches that sniff at your feet in the kitchen, you might want to hang a “No Dogs in the Kitchen” sign. And then teach your dog to read.
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 2/3 cup rhubarb stalks (320 gms, I had 4 or 5 rhubarb stalks)
- 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- Zest of half a lemon (optional)
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- 6 tbsp honey (or more if you like it sweeter)
Is everybody listening? I’m about to begin! You there at the back. Eyes on the prize!
Chop the rhubarb into small-medium sized pieces along the length of the stalk. Place the cut rhubarb in a saucepan with water, lemon juice, grated ginger root and honey. The saucepan then goes on to a stove on medium-high heat for a couple of minutes until the honey dissolves. Taste if it’s sweet enough for you. If not, add more honey. Turn down the heat to medium-low and cook this mixture of ingredients until the rhubarb is tender and the contents are fragrant. This should take around 10-15 minutes.
Take the saucepan off the heat and let it cool before pouring it all into a food processor. Turn the processor to low (“high” makes me nervous about kitchen explosions) and work it until the rhubarb turns into a smooth puree. There puree will have some stringy bits of the rhubarb stem but this doesn’t affect the texture of the final product.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and cool it in the refrigerator for no less than an hour. Once cooled, you can put it in your ice-cream maker* for 20 minutes and then freeze the sorbet in a freezer-safe bowl. If you don’t care about owning yet another modern convenience follow this link to make the sorbet without a machine. You’ll just have to pretend the ice-cream in the link is sorbet and follow the same instructions.
*My frozen dessert fiend BHF and I own a Cuisinart ice-cream maker and it’s the bomb.
I’m a firm believer in grating cheese over food that doesn’t impress me with its taste. I feel like this is how I want to live my life. Grating cheese over things and impressing myself. Yes, I do take the easy way out but that’s because not everything I make is Page 1-top post-hit publish worthy. If I was good at vomiting percentages, I’d say 60% of what I make tastes a lot like goat cheese. The rest is me being possessed by evil spirits and cooking things that see me spending 10 minutes staring at my taste tester.
“Is it good?”
“Do you like it?”
“It’s not that good.”
“Give me the truth, man. That’s all I ask.”
To tell you the cold hard truth, it hasn’t been that good this week. Either I’m realising that I wasn’t made with a flair for cooking or I just have temporary afternoon blahs. Or I feel too plain and I want to step up my game. If I have to, I have no idea how. Do you have such thoughts too? I assume it comes with the territory…of coming up with something new each week.
I thought about how I’d like to be Miss Spice of Life in this world and I came up with a few ideas. To everybody not reading this right now, this is me thinking out loud and motivating myself to focus on this experiment as a whole and not a day-day thing.
– Stay simple and true to your ingredients. It takes a lot for me to say “NO, I will let this lemon be a lemon and flavour my cold water right now” when all I can think of is “PIEEEEE”. Nothing wrong with that except you tend to scatter your thoughts to 70 different areas instead of taking a seat and sipping on you lemonade and feeling so cool that you can whatever you want if you just breathe.
– Reminisce food experiences. Those meals are the ones you yearn for. Find your own special way to recreate them and make them your own.
– Cook the food you love to eat. If this week is all about the dal (yellow lentils) and rice, then so be it. Yesterday it was slightly different. I couldn’t stop thinking about the rainbow carrots in the vegetable drawer. They were sitting there and being pretty and I was scouring the web for recipes that would do the most justice to them. I couldn’t wait much longer so I went ahead and cooked them in the way I knew best. I would eat this 10 times over if I could.
I will have this recipe up for you sooner than you think.
In other news, I have to do a test tomorrow. For a job. Spectacular. Thankfully it requires very little getting out of bed and a lot of tea on tap.
In other other news, these guys are making my life just when I was about to give up on them.
Hey little ones, I will eat you very soon. Without cheese because that’s how good you’ll be.
I’ve just spent most of today staring deep into the soul of my new laptop that I cried for these past few months. Something about watching movies and TV shows in bed just called out to me.
Okay, the real story is that I wanted it so I could write in whichever room I pleased.
Okay, the honest to goddess earth truth is I wanted it for my blog. To organise things into pretty folders and mess up my whole desktop as I chose.
I tell dudeface that this is his too and when he disagrees, I tell him to send it back. We’ve had these heart to hearts even before this being physically entered our lives so you know, we’re the master debaters.
Dear friends of my mother,
Please think of me as my own person and not as my mother’s daughter. She wouldn’t want my bad puns on her hands.
PS: I’m going to get back to normality (riiiiiight) tomorrow as soon as I move all my photos etc and instal my whatchamacalits.
See ya. Happy festival season.
Today I am grateful. I don’t think I’m doing anything special here. I write for the same reason a lot of people do — to feel some sort of human connection. The months since I’ve moved here have been mixed. I’ve felt a lot of loneliness (I still do) and the overwhelming joy as well. Last week when a neighbour came over, I never thought I’d be as surprised as I was. This was the first time since I came here that anybody has ever knocked on our door just to see how I was doing. Well, second time. The first time, Lisa just wanted to drive me home so she could see where I lived.
The people here are extremely kind. In India, we’re used to people who don’t smile in family photos or interact without a please and thank you. Here you hold doors, thank bus drivers, inquire about a cashier’s day and try not to be a general ass about everything. Park within the lines and the world loves you, cut someone off and you have no values. Doesn’t matter if you were in a hurry to volunteer in a homeless shelter, your turn signal wasn’t on. I’m made to understand that kindness goes a long way, which is precisely why I tore up a sticky note I saw on a freshly-cemented landing at the entrance to our building yesterday. “Instead of fixing the cracks, fix the damn hole”. I’d write, “thank you” but what do I know.
This is confusing.
Why can I manage to have a conversation with people I’ve never met in my life and still not feel that sense of community I feel at home? I lived away from family for 6 years (I think) but even then I felt cared about…by my roommates, by A Myra who let me stay in her house, by our neighbours who’d fill our water because we were too lazy to wake up at 6am and by the parents of all my friends. Homes were always open, as were hearts. People would say “come over” and you wouldn’t think anything strange of it.
This is in no way a geographic EQ comparison. I’m in transition so of course things stick out more for me than they would for a person who calls a place in America home. I could be speaking too soon and in a few months, I will wonder what I was even talking about. This is a new place. A place I am more than willing to give a chance. A place where it rarely snows (and definitely not in March) but a place where it still does. Nothing is set in stone. I still have dreams that Goa is just a button push away, but who doesn’t?
It’s within these (sort of) inner trials that we find how blessed we really are. And here lies the source of my gratitude. This writing space. The place where I feel so generous because all I really want to do is make someone’s day. To know that I have one person nod their head in agreement is enough. I appreciate your kindness despite us not knowing each other by face and more so if we do.
Everybody right from my lovely mother, who shares my writing with people I know wouldn’t approve of me saying “shit”, to people I know just because I found you (or you found me) on the internet — THANK YOUUUUUU!!! It requires emphasis because you went out of your way to be amazing and I love you for that.
If you’re reading this, say hi or tell me something really arbitrary about yourself. If you see any typos, tell me that too. 🙂
- How do you like the name of my blog?
Do you like it at all? At least three times I day, I feel like I have to change it. I write about food most of the time but I also do other nonsense things that have little to no connection to food. Let’s face it though — it always comes down to food. “egeedee” has no meaning apart from being a spelt-out version of my initials EGD, which when stretched out stands for Edlyn Giselle D’Souza, which means noble waterfall antelope rocks.
- Should I change the name of my blog to Noble Waterfall Antelope Rocks?
Don’t answer that.
- How important is it to title a post?
Does it really matter in the whole scheme of things? I usually just title it based on what I’m feeling. In the beginning when I posted a recipe, I didn’t state what it was a recipe of in the title. I did that consciously because I didn’t want this to be only a recipe-sharing blog. As time went on, I thought it would make life a lot easier for people who happened to come across my blog to know what they were in for as soon as they read the title. If ever I titled a post “Panties on a clothes line”, I would want it to be about said underwear and not a chocolate chip cookie…I want to be honest to my readers, ya know? Most seasoned bloggers will tell you not to be intimidated by their skills, find you own voice and just keep bettering yourself for yourself. Being myself, I can do that. The difficult part is all the second-guessing I do with snotty little things like the title of a post.
- My favourite question: Text on pictures, is it worth it?
Again, this was something I enjoyed doing in the beginning when I didn’t title my posts appropriately. As a writer, it gave me an excuse to ramble a bit and then BAM! pull the attention back to the food I was eventually going to write about. As a reader, do you think that worked? (a) Not at all (b) A little bit (c) I loved the text. Never stop.
- Does my writing leave you feeling out of breath?
I understand that my writing style breaks all the rules but this is how my mind thinks. I feel like I have runner’s brain ALL. THE. TIME. You know when you’re running and it’s like: “I think my right foot is coming down awkwardly. Why can’t people pick up their garbage. I hear a clicking sound. Pine cone! I should collect them next time. What should I eat later? We need spinach. I’ll go to Central Market later…”
You know what I mean? I’m not begging for compliments here because I know if I was the best, I’d be sitting in my “home office”, writing my first freelance piece for Edible Seattle or Seattle Weekly or whatever. Who cares. I want feedback from the Internets. Criticism too perhaps. I don’t know any writers and my friends are too nice to me. Friends, stop it. Just kidding.
Now for some answers!
- Tomorrow I shall write a fantastical recipe for my “Can’t live without Thursday” fiesta. Beans in an energy bar, with chocolate chips. Seriously? Yes. I can’t believe it either. But it existed until last week and then we ate it all. I just wish I took pictures of the almonds. It’s driving me crazy!
- Yesterday, I ate this quinoa stir fry for lunch. It was something spontaneous but it turned out to be so delicious that I must share this secret. Now as soon as this sun goes away, I might be more productive. It was supposed to rain and do all sorts of yucky things to the ground and our mostly white dogs, but no. It’s gorgeous and worthy of a dip in the ocean + some sunbathing if it wasn’t 9 degrees C.
As for the everything else in this house, it’s quiet. I’ll have some banana muffins in the oven soon and later I might bake a cake if I get over this sunshine. All I can think of is ocean breeze. How do people get stuff done?