Of late, I have been having a lot of conversations with friends about food and cooking. I really love cooking, but more than that, I love good food. So much so, that I'm not even particular about eating it. I can read cookbooks to pass time. (We all read each other's blogs, don't we?) I think about meals (though I don't really plan ahead) and food combinations a great deal. I also wonder about food habits and how they come to be what they are. The other thing I wonder about is the "I'm a working girl and so I can't cook" syndrome. Now, I don't believe that cooking is a woman's job. But I also don't believe that a woman who goes to work cannot manage the kitchen. Maybe it was because of what I saw growing up. Amma had a full time job and yet she managed to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Back then, "home delivery" and "take away" weren't exactly commonplace. And even if they were elsewhere in the city, the IIT campus allowed us no such luxury.
Life has fallen into a routine for most of us. And I am no exception. Cooking our meals is a part of that routine in my case. It irks me no end when I see young colleagues run into the office huffing and panting from barely 2 km away because they "had" to make lunch. I asked one such what the big deal was and she said, "I don't know how you manage to cook and reach in time. But I can't. I don't know why I am expected to. At my mother's place, education was given importance, not cooking." That usually does it. End of conversation. Because in a way, it is as though in my house, I was made to cook instead of study.
I think there are several issues here:
- The feeling that girls "have" to do the cooking
- The myth that education and cooking run as two parallel lines
- The bigger myth that a working girl cannot run a home
- The biggest myth that cooking is laborious, boring and time consuming
I hear things like, "Oh, we never cook in a pressure cooker. My mother is very particular about cooking things the right way." Excuse me! Who decides the right and wrong ways? I am also told, "You can get away with pasta and all that, my husband has to have rotis, rice, dal, vegetables and salad at every meal." I have not been able to understand how "I get away with pasta". But more importantly, even that entire meal is ready in less than 30 minutes in my kitchen. With some prior planning of course. I have been baking for 22 years and cooking for about 19 years now. Did it interfere with my education? Maybe it did. But it didn't stop me from being a gold medalist at University. Does it interfere now with my career? Maybe it does. But it hasn't stopped me from enjoying what I do for a living or giving it my very best. I have never thought of these as chores. On days when I really don't feel like cooking (and S is also knackered!!), we eat out. I don't fuss over our food or our mealtimes. I merely enjoy them. And there's every attempt to eat right. (Mangoes and icecream do make a meal, don't they?)
Food Bytes. I have not yet read the newspaper clipping, but my dear friend, Aarti, told me about it in the morning. Appa has kept aside a clipping and will show it to me when I meet him in May. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the internet edition. So, I made this fat free Passion Cake because I firmly believe that the proof of the passion is in the cake!
I baked a little cake today. I'm on cloud nine. Why, you ask? For a multitude of reasons. I got a raise and I got a bonus at work. But why would I talk about that here? This has to be about food, right? Yes, you're right. This is not only about food. This is about this very food blog. The Singing Chef was featured on Page 10 of this morning's Metro Plus, a supplement of The Hindu under
1 cup Carrots, grated
1 cut Zucchini, grated
3 Eggs, separated
2 tbsp Almonds, ground
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
Zest of 1 Orange
1 tbsp Icing Sugar (for dusting)
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line a square baking tin.
Sift the wheat flour along with the baking powder and cinnamon.
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks along with the brown sugar, orange zest and almond powder. Fold in the flour mixture and the grated vegetables alternately. Fold in the egg whites carefully. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. When done, sprinkle icing sugar through a sieve over the cake.
Cooking and baking aren't as tough as they're made out to be. I've said this before and I'll say it again. I'm about the laziest person you'll ever meet. So, if I'm saying these aren't tough, then you have no choice but to take my word for it. In the words of Peter Pan, "All you need is faith and trust... and a little bit of pixie dust!"