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Martha Stewart No More…………

April 12, 2009

I have been accused of trying to be like Martha Stewart – please note that I did not say accused of actually being like her – just trying to be.

Well, I can officially hang up that apron.

I “cooked” this past weekend for the first time in 10 weeks – yes, we have been here 10 weeks – I cannot believe it either. And in that entire time I have not cooked once. Hard to believe – sure – but true. I have made a sandwich or two or peeled an apple – but seriously, I have done nothing that has required electronic aid.

You might wonder why.

Well, in India most middle class families have cooks. We had one, then another, and next week we are trying one more. So is India making me lazier? Possibly – I am totally unmotivated to cook here.

The process is more time consuming than you can imagine. Here is why:

there’s the getting the ingredients (probably from several different markets),

there’s cleaning the ingredients (not as simple as you might think),

there is chopping/cutting/whatevering the ingredients,
much to my dismay, the markets here don’t have shredded cheese or pre-sliced apples or already peeled baby carrots or frozen veggies. Okay, maybe I was a little lazy before I got here. Sigh.

there is cooking the ingredients (this requires understanding how all the appliances work and possibly cooking food in shifts because generally the appliances are not large enough to accommodate multiple pans/pots at one time),

there is your family telling you they don’t really care for what you just cooked because it doesn’t taste like it did when you made it at “home”,

and finally, there is washing the dishes and pots and pans by hand.

Just to wake up tomorrow and start the whole process over.

Yeah, I would rather go out to eat.

But we were having a lazy day at home. I realized that we really should eat something. We had discovered frozen tator tots and mozzarella cheese sticks at Khan market the other day. Armed with all the confidence of Martha Stewart, I galloped into the kitchen. I turned on the outlet, then I turned on the oven, then I turned on the timer (it has to be on for the oven to work – yes, even though you turned the oven on already), and I set the temperature. Thankfully, the oven dial is in Celsius and the instructions were in Celsius too. No math involved. Otherwise, I might just have hung up my spatula too.

I lined the pan with aluminum foil. (Again with the laziness – I am all about easy cleaning and if I am not using the foil in the fridge, I might as well use it to line the pan.) And I put the frozen c-r-a-p, I mean snack, on the pan. I went to turn them over half-way through the process and realized I had not sprayed the foil with cooking spray. I know, I know – rookie mistake. I managed to scrape off enough pieces to make a decent sized snack. We used ketchup – so it actually became a two veggie snack – potatoes and tomatoes. And, if I remember correctly, cheese has protein. Right?

We went out for dinner.

Now, I am left wondering just how hungry my family will be if they have to wait until next Friday (when cook number 3 comes) to eat again. They can have cereal for breakfast and they will get lunch at school and they have some clothes that are getting too small. This could be a win all around.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 6:49 am

    I would like my own personal cook, too. And someone to load the dishwasher.

  2. April 14, 2009 2:18 am

    Btw, there are many markets where you can buy cleaned and cut vegetables the way you need them for your dish! The same with meat and fish. Some stores will even deliver it to you all ready for cooking. At least, it’s so in Mumbai. I don’t anything about Delhi…

  3. April 14, 2009 2:15 am

    I remember when we just got married and had all of my husband’s family over at our house and there was something little that needed to be cleaned. Ranjit jumped to do it and there were some jokes going around that in Kerala a husband would not be allowed to even touch a broom πŸ™‚ Ranjit just replied saying that there is nothing wrong in helping your wife, is there πŸ™‚ Anyway, I had a high fever and a bad throat infection and still made a Lithuanian meal for everyone so I felt like I deserved some TLC πŸ˜‰

    When I think about our friends here in Mumbai, I don’t think that any of them expect being served by their wives. Things are getting better! πŸ™‚

  4. Jasmeet permalink
    April 14, 2009 1:33 am

    @Sharmishtha: Very well said, I do agree how our mothers work from 6 in the morning till everybody in deep in sleep in the night. Untill I was changing jobs a few months back I had not seen my mom sleeping (during childhood she would ask me to sleep along with her if taking a siesta). At 55, my mum still does it all while the other (younger) women of the house still in front of the mirror/TV/computer and yes sleep endlessly, but just won’t do the chores. And these women proud themselves in being called Modern. lol

  5. April 13, 2009 11:45 pm

    Tottsmom – I know, I should put my human resources to better work. hee hee And it just depends – a lot of the cooks here can follow recipes – so if you come, bring your favs. But I also like to try the Indian fare so we do it both ways – you pick, I pick.

    Sharmishtha – your mother clearly rocks! And that article was great – a mothers love! There’s nothing like it.

    Ke – our first cook was great actually except he kept asking for more and more and more and more – then he tried to pit me against my husband – yeah, that did not work out so well for him. Our second cook was nice but she overstated her abilities slightly. She worked hard but she was not a good match for our family. Number 3 sounds really good – I am keeping my chopsticks crossed. She starts at the end of this week.

    Jasmeet – frozen are just easier! 😎

    Lola – oh, don’t forget, I don’t have a dryer. But I would still love for you to drive me around.

  6. April 13, 2009 11:09 pm

    I’ll trade you cooking for doing laundry any day. I’ll even drive you around down there if you do my laundry!

  7. Sharmishtha permalink
    April 13, 2009 6:54 pm

    Ke, Indian men and – what did you say? Actually, any man and…ugh, gulp, housework?!!!! Only the most enlightened, dear Ke, only the most enlightened, and that too when their relatives aren’t watching. I know many men who are extremely good cooks but that’s all they do – dusting, laundry, etc., is still their wives’ job. Actually, this is something that Indian women are to blame for – they take over the house so completely that men are reduced to being helpless babies, unable to get so much as a glass of water for themselves.

  8. April 13, 2009 4:35 pm

    Why have you gone through so many cooks? Do you not like what they’ve been cooking?

    Do Indian men do any housework?

  9. Jasmeet permalink
    April 13, 2009 2:06 pm

    As I said, the Americans use F and not C to measure temperatures, how come you are comfortable with C on the microwave? Do you cook Indian food for your family? In that case the problem would the preparation part and not the ingredients. And even if you cook American food, it shouldn’t be that big of a problem. You can get most of the things at Khan Market/INA/Vasant Vihar. And check out the American Embassy, does it have shops inside? They might have stuff you like. One thing more: when you have the option, try using fresh veggies than frozen veggies, the former tastes much better. Ciao πŸ™‚

  10. Sharmishtha permalink
    April 13, 2009 10:42 am

    Yeah, each time I compare my rather lazy life in the US with my mother’s daily routine back in India, I am totally convinced that middle-class, working-class and lower-middle class Indian women are the most hardworking women in the world (although definitely not the upper class women). Even with domestic help, my mother was up very early, ensuring that the house was clean, and that there were not one or two but *three* fresh-cooked meals every day (actually, make that four, given that there was always something for teatime). And she did not just leave it to the maids. She was in there, in the boiling hot kitchen in the summers, cooking, and moving around the house, dusting. There was total supervision over the household, including making sure that clothes got washed and ironed and received back in a timely fashion so that nobody went to office or school in crumpled clothes. My father’s cousin only had part time help and did all that, plus worked a fulltime job, driving herself in the chaotic Calcutta traffic. My friend’s mother did all the housework plus was very involved in community matters. I have no idea how these ladies did all that. They truly earned their afternoon naps, I think (if they took any). And the respect of their offspring. Slightly off-topic, I read this interesting article about Indian moms and sons last week in the New York Times.

  11. Tottsmom permalink
    April 13, 2009 10:29 am

    So, I’m wondering, when you have a cook, do you decide what is for dinner or do they? I don’t mind cooking, It’s the whole process of deciding what TO cook that I hate. As for the dishes, I seem to recall a pre-teen in your house, they tend to make fair dishwashers with a little instruction. lol, my tween does not do dishes that much because it takes her FOREVER and a day. But I know she can do them. Then again, homework takes so long, we would be reduced to eating off of dirty plates if I had to wait for her to do the dishes every night. oops I’m rambling again.

  12. April 13, 2009 8:45 am

    Hi Jasmeet

    I go to INA and like it – I was just glad the directions were Celsius and not Fahrenheit -other wise I would have had to do conversions – and no, you definitely cannot use foil in the microwave.

  13. Jasmeet permalink
    April 13, 2009 4:48 am

    Hi there,
    I’m not sure if you can use a cooking foil in the Microwave, it will result in fireworks, though you can when using it in an oven. Try Khan Market for again, and if you can’t get the stuff you need there, ask an Auto wallah to take you to market called INA Market. It is located across the road from Dilli Haat. Many Westerners shop for food and ingredients from there. It is cheaper than the swanky (read fancy) Khan Market and has more variety of food and raw veggies.
    But I couldn’t get this: “Thankfully, the oven dial is in Celsius and the instructions were in Celsius too. No math involved. Otherwise, I might just have hung up my spatula too.” I thought the American use Fahrenheit, so it’s the Celsius that must be a problem.

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