Made With Love: Passing On The Traditions

December 22, 2010 at 11:52 am , by

717694202_09_15oprah-monicabhide_081_fullThree things the holiday season has us thinking about: family, traditions and food. Guest blogger Monica Bhide, columnist, blogger, foodie and author of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen, shares her thoughts on the close ties between love, cooking and recipes passed down through the years.

This morning I was making a lentil soup for my family, almost exactly the way my grandmother in India taught me decades ago. Or so I first thought. Her recipe used six tablespoons of butter, onions, garlic, red lentils, about eight different spices, loads of cilantro and a touch of salt. I recall my mom making this but with much less butter, baby peas for us kids and no salt as Dad was watching his sodium. As I smelled the aroma of garlic from the soup that I was stirring, it occurred to me that my soup today was in truth a reflection of my life here in the states, far away from India: butternut squash, chicken stock instead of water and no cilantro as my hubby thinks it tastes soapy.

The changes to the recipe had occurred so slowly, so gradually, that I never really noticed that I had changed it. I have to admit I felt guilty at first, almost as if changing the recipe meant I was changing the memory of a childhood taste. Familiar childhood tastes give us a place to belong: They bear witness to our lives. Changing them seemed sacrilegious. Read more

A Night In The Life Of A Working Mom

September 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm , by

I love my job and I love my kids but sometimes the two combine for nights like this:

Run out of work. Must make two subways then catch the New Jersey transit train to Secaucus so Pablo can pick me up. We have to get the girls by 6:30 p.m. because daycare closes at 6:30 p.m. Closed means closed. As in, we’ll be penalized $3 per kid—that’d be $6!—for every MINUTE we’re late. So run, run, run.

Made my trains. Thank goodness. Pablo picked me up. Twenty minutes to talk to my husband about everything else that’s happening in our lives before the kids take over. Selling the house… blah, blah blah… work…. blah, blah blah… his family, my family, blah, blah blah.

Tons of traffic. Oh my God—are we going to make it? What? The street is closed? We park nearby and Pablo jumps a fence to grab the girls with just minutes to spare. (Yes, he seriously jumped over a fence.) The girls are in the car and the chaos begins. “Stop taunting me!” Lily the 2-year-old says to her 5-year-old sister, Sophia. They’re fighting over which song they want to hear. They each want whatever the other one doesn’t want, of course. “Sophia, did you just hit her?” I ask. My cell phone rings. “Oh, hi Realtor. What? The people who wanted to come for a second showing want to come tonight? At 8pm? Okay—as long as they realize that Lily will be sleeping and we’ll be home.” Oh crap, I think. What state is the house in? Certainly not prepped enough for potential buyers!

We get home. Pablo takes the girls and starts dinner while the whirling dervish (that’d be me) bolts upstairs and begins scrubbing bathrooms and making beds (Don’t judge, we leave the house at 7 a.m. All four of us. Dressed and ready to go. That’s harder than you think.) Oh no, where I am putting this dirty laundry? I guess I’ll throw in a load. I’m hiding toys under the bed. Hiding EVERYTHING under EVERYTHING.

I go downstairs to make sure Sophia does her homework. Yes, kindergarteners have homework. (It’s usually just drawing and writing which she loves to do in her spare time but hates to do when it’s called homework.) After potty time, several books and lots of singing, Lily finally goes to bed. By the time the potential buyers arrive to see the house, it’s spotless and quiet. Dinner is cleaned up, all signs of real (crazy) family life are hidden away and we are positioned on the couch reading books to Sophia. We are the picture of calm. Just another quiet evening at home.

Phew. What’s your typical evening like?

Snow Days

March 4, 2010 at 10:53 am , by

sophiasnowmansmileMy husband and I aren’t very outdoorsy. (Recently, when a friend suggested we go HIKING on a playdate with the kids, I nearly fell off my chair!) But when Mother Nature decides it’s time for snow—which she’s done many times this winter—we always get out there with the girls and enjoy it.

We live in a townhouse which means we don’t have a big back yard but we make do with the space we have. During the last storm, my husband Pablo did an amazing job of building a winter wonderland: It had two slides, a snow fort as tall as Sophia, and an amazing snowman. As the fashion editor in the family, I’m always called on to accessorize the snowman. This time I grabbed a straw safari hat (party favor from Lily’s zoo-themed birthday party last year), an old striped scarf from The Gap, button eyes, and a lipstick nose. I had forgotten about the mouth when Sophia brilliantly suggested a cheese stick. Pablo curled it into a little smile and it was perfect. I loved seeing Sophia come up with such a creative solution.

Our new friend, Frosty, melted in a day but he sure was fun to make. And I’m sure there will be a new Frosty on our next snow day. So, tell me…how do you enjoy the winter weather with your kids?