Looking for a cook

Why I need a cook

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Bayda Bai the cook has gone home on leave. Not only has this left me in charge of the kitchen but it has also left me with the realisation that I need a cook.

But I don’t need a live-in or full time cook because we don’t really eat all the time. Yes, we do spend more than half the day doing other things like sleeping, reading, writing, walking, working and other things that one does when one is not eating.

Surprisingly, I like to cook. This is because I like to eat. But I don’t  eat just anything and all the time. I only eat the things I like to eat. However, cooking every day can become a drag especially when our food factory starts at 6 am. That’s when we all wake up and start in the direction of the kitchen to have our morning wake up brew. ( Mine is coffee while the rest of the household has various teas – some Chinese, some Indian and some Green)

Even before this unearthly hour, the kitchen light comes on and Bayda is busy boiling the milk, chopping the fruit and making oatmeal into porridge and pancake. She is also busy boiling an egg and brewing a huge pot of tea.

While the breakfast is underway, she is busy getting ready for the first lunch box that has to be packed before 8.30 am. After this is done, she makes the lunch and or dinner for the rest of the household. Between 1 and 4, our kitchen is officially closed and the only reason we venture in its direction is to get a glass of water or raid the stash of biscuits/nibbles for a quick snack.

At 4 we all go through another round of teas and coffees before we start discussing what we would like to eat for dinner.

Then from 6-10 begins the preparation, serving and clearing up after dinner.

Having done this for the past one month, I am now quite exhausted.

Looking for a part time cook

Lest you get the impression that Bayda Bai does all this unaided, let me correct you. She has a sous chef who is otherwise her boss i.e. me or Yours Truly. While she does the grunt work, it is often left to me to provide the gourmet touches.

Undoubtedly, our meals have become more simple since Bayda Bai has gone with everyone’s wish list whittling down to the basics. Gone are the varieties of teas and different kinds of oatmeal. Gone too are the multiple spoons and forks that were laid out at each meal. Instead we have become terribly pedestrian and actually help ourselves from the kitchen and make multiple trips to the kitchen for more. Needless to say, the urge for a second helping has miraculously vanished .

It would seem that we are all better off without a cook. We are eating less. We are eating healthy. And we are eating fresh.

Besides within a week or two Bayda Bai will return back with better vision than before since she has had her lenses implanted.

But I still need a cook – at least a part time one so that the next time she goes on leave, I don’t have to double up as cook, waiter, shopper, cleaner and doer of other household chores like laundry, baby sitting, chauffeuring and banking. I thought a part time cook would be a great long term solution.

So I put out the word that I was looking for a part time cook.

The Interview

As with all jobs, I had a job profile and a list of prospective candidates. I also had a list of questions. But I was shocked that instead of the cooks, it was ME who was being interviewed!

The questions I was asked were :

How many people live in your house? 

When I mentioned the number, they would cautiously look around just incase there was someone else I hadn’t accounted for.

How many dishes do you want me to make?

When I mentioned that our normal meal consisted of rice, chapati, vegetables and daal, they were horrified!

How many meals do you want me to make?

I expected them to make two meals because that is precisely what I do.

So does that mean you want to make twice the quantity at one time or two different menus?

In our home with its erratic eating patterns this is a hard one to answer. Whatever it was, my family expected two wholesome meals twice a day.

These women were aghast when I mentioned that they had to clear up and wash the cooking utensils after they were done cooking. They were horrified when I told them that meals should be ready before lunch time ( we serve lunch at noon). But what shocked me was the fact that they wanted a salary of Rs.10,000/- for a mere 1 1/2 hour job! 

Am I delusional or is Rs. 10,000/ a month the right salary for a part time cook? 

image for Blue Apron

Chicken & fresh Basil Fettuccine with #Blue Apron

Discovering Blue Apron

image for Blue Apron

I am currently in New Jersey helping my daughter settle in. We are staying in what would be termed a well appointed serviced apartment till she identifies an chooses a suitable house.

While cooking is a breeze, shopping for ingredients with an infant in tow is quite a difficult proposition . This problem was easily solved using Blue Apron whose mission is

to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone

Chicken & Fresh Basil Fettucinne

image for chicken & fresh basil fettucinne

So how does this work?

This is easier than ordering from a restaurant because all you have to do is download the App, register yourself and voila – you get a meal delivery service for a week.

The recipes come with all the ingredients and clear instructions on how to make the dish.

So this morning I made the Fettucinne with minced chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. Needless to say, it took the stress out of deciding what to cook and worse still shopping for the ingredients .

While Ms Papaya was playing with her mother, I got out all the ingredients, followed the recipe card and within minutes our dinner was ready to eat !

I can’t wait for Blue Apron to deliver the next box of meals that will come neatly packed with ice packs to ensure that the fresh produce stays fresh!

 

 

How is your kitchen organised?

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Many years ago, almost twenty years to be precise, I was frantically looking for the plain flour in my pantry or store room. I have the luxury of having a small room off the kitchen where I can keep my provisions . This way they remain easily accessible. But being the impulsive cook, I often begin cooking without getting all the ingredients together. This was one such day when I had cracked the eggs into the sugar and was looking for the flour to make my cake.

Daughter No 1 was observing my agitation when suddenly with the sagacity of a 10 year old, asked me ” Why don’t you organise your kitchen.” I wa in no mood for advice from someone less  than half my age so I told her to do it herself if she was som smart.

And surprisingly she took it seriously.

How would you like to organise your kitchen?

I was a bit stunned at this question. What exactly did she mean?

Reading my mind she continued:

Do you want to organise it by bottle size ? i.e   keep the large jars behind ? Keep the smaller jars in front ? Or line up the jars from big to small ?

Do you want to organise it alphabetically ? i.e A is for atta , B is for Besan, C is for channa dal?

Do you want to organise it according to usage? i.e. Keep the sugar that you need close at hand and keep the rice that you use once in a while in the pantry ?

I was simply stunned!

Here was my little auditor in the making all sorted out .

I realised that she was talking sense.

How do you organise your kitchen ? 

Image for Bellybytes

Alas! You can see from my own shelf that my kitchen is still not organised as per her recommendations 🙁

 #QuakerBowl at JWMarriott Juhu

#QuakerBowl

#QuakerBowl? What’s that? A bowl of oats? A bowl made by the Quakers? A contest of Quakers?

The answer to the question is none of the above.

#QuakerBowl was an event organised by PepsiCo and Indiblogger to promote the awareness and goodness of oats.

Oats have been around for yonks and Quaker Oats have been around since 1870 (according to the label) so why are they suddenly making news?

Well ever since diet has become the buzz word, anything that helps in weight loss without compromising on nutrition, oats has come on the radar as the ideal food for dieters.

The event

Sunday morning at the JW Marriott, Juhu was a big ask for me but since my mornings usually begin with a Quaker Oats Uthappa I thought I’d see what it was all about .

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Team 10 won the prize for the most attractive and nutritious dish

 

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After a long session we finally broke for lunch where surprisingly , oats were only used in a miniscule quantity to thicken the gravy for paneer makhani. Brownies made with oats featured in the dessert section but the less said about them the better

 

image for Vikas Khanna
Undoubtedly, The highlight of the function was truly Vikas Khanna ,Michelin Award winning chef who kept the audience engaged with his light and easy banter. He has been appointed brand ambassador by Pepsicoand has pledged to help fight the problem of malnourishment in India.

 

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Even though I had a seat in the front, it was at the side and we literally had to move up and down to catch chef Vikas’ s attention. I was lucky to catch it at the moment it mattered and enjoyed my 5 seconds of fame when my Tweetworthy quote was tweeted live with Vikas. That made my day!

 

 

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And the stage is set for the # QuakerBowl hosted by Indiblogger and PepsiCo.

 

Image for dish made by Team 1
i had an enthusastic bunch of bloggers on my table and as Team 1 made a dish that came a close second. Sadly, no prizes were given to the runners up , not even a box of tissues;)

 

image for Team 10
The crowd was split into groups and were given 10 minutes to come up with a dish using oats and a whole heap of other ingredients to make something nutritious and attractive. This acrivity took a lot of time as we had to use the starions in batches. This is Team 10 with Vikas Khanna.

The verdict

Over all the Indimeet was a fun event but quite unlike what I was expecting. For one there wasn’t any company spiel about the product etc . But it was good to meet up with old acquaintances and make new ones.

See my Tweetworthy tweet

Christmas is over and this goose is still getting fat

  
Christmas has long been over and this goose is still getting fat! 

Not surprising since Christmas morning was spent gorging on the most lavish breakfast yet. 

The family got together to watch the grandchildren open presents. While only one is old enough to understand what’s going on, the adults watched with glee and helped him pull the bonbons apart like the Teletubbies, his favourite show. 

And of course, to sing carols and EAT. 

So here was the sumptuous feast of assorted croissants, cold cuts,quiche, Plum pudding and fruit juices.

Now with New Year’s Eve fast approaching,another feast awaits. 

And after that, I promise to eat healthy in 2016. 

What is your eating resolution for the New Year?