Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Lord has a Sense of Humor, This I Know

Is it Murphy's Law that states, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong?"

I think he must have been visiting our house when he came up with that quote. The day after Thanksgiving all the outlets in our kitchen blew except for one, and the sewer backed up. Thankfully, our jack-of-all-trades' son-in-law came to our rescue and quickly resolved the outlet problem. The sewer, on the other hand, was another story.

He and my husband spent Monday night snaking the pipes in the basement trying to root out the offending party. Five hours later, two badly soiled men emerged from the utility room, scathed, but victorious. The 100 ft. rented snake had finally unearthed the problem--a tree root wrapped in multiple layers of hair. Ugh!

Life on the homefront is back to normal, except for a dishwasher door that needs replaced and a dryer that gave up the ghost about a month ago. Returning to the days of hanging out laundry has been a breath of fresh air for me--literally.

Which reminds me: one of my favorite household tasks in India is hanging out laundry on the roof. It's a treat to watch the Indian women in colorful sarees with toddlers at their knees hanging their dupattas out to dry. All the brilliant colors flapping in the breeze and drying in the generous sunshine. Quite therapeutic, at least in January. Not sure it would be quite as pleasurable in the Indian summer months.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Taste of India

I'm sitting at my computer breathing in the aroma of whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, curry powder, and cardamom. Experienced fiction writers tell me that in order to place your reader into the story, a writer must surround himself with the sights, sounds, and smells of his novel's setting. Since I am currently working on a four-book project in my series, Born for India, I am trying to heed the advice. Thus, for two weeks now my office has been filled with exotic aromas wafting from a basket by my chair. So strong are these spices that my tongue tinkles and throat burns, but hey, I'm actually getting used to the fragrance! I think I might even miss it if I removed the basket.
For those out there who have an affinity for Indian food, here's a recipe you might like to try.
TARKA DAL
Serves 6-8
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
8 fenugreek seeds
1/2 inch piece of ginger root, grated
Lots of salt
1 c. split red lentils or dal
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 c. water
2 tomaotes, chopped
1 tbsp lemon joice
4 tbsp chopped coriander (or cilantro)
3 green chilies
Heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat, then add the mustard seeds. Cover the pan until the seeds begin to pop. Immediately remove the lid from the pan and add the garlic, fenugreek, ginger, salt and chilies. Stir once and add the lentils, tomato paste, and water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lemon juice and coriander (cilantro) and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the lentils are tender.
Serve with rice or naan bread and enjoy!
Interesting Tidbit: Cardamom, native to tropical Asia, is not only used as a spice or condiment, but also in medicine.