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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Reliving my US experience #DefinitelyPTE








Settling down today at my home in Bangalore, I am trying to recollect how exciting it was when we decided to move to USA. But the learning that came along with meeting new people and exploring places is definitely worth the mention in this blog. Also this blog was started as a venture on 14th Feb 2012 at my Levittown house.

As I settled into our newly married life, the bigger adjustment/challenges came when I decided to join my husband working on USA on a dependent visa (this visa limits the scope of finding work)

Apart from being away from friends and family, I was happy that my financial independence was not hit hard due to my savings and husband made sure I never felt it. But I did not want this temporary unemployment to erase important time of my professional career. In many industries, rejoining after a break is difficult and teaching industry was no exception

Once in USA, it was becoming difficult to get adjusted to just household chores without getting involved in any office work. As we started the process of starting paper work for getting a work permit, based on my friends suggestions I started looking for jobs on online forums like (upwork, freelancer). Having been in teaching job for a long time, I was hoping that this option would have been a cake walk for me.

It took a while to realize that kirana shops and societal life that we take for granted in india, is not available in USA. However the big malls/stores were accessible in a car. Hardly anyone used to walk. Most of the indian couples staying in our community were working. So it looked odd that i was one of the few person staying back to be at home.  I still decided to keep myself motivated 
But most of the hurdles came when everyone started looking for native English speakers or English certified course. I decided to still try and started by blog foodydelight.  Another option I tried is to join a community college so that I can up-skill myself. But they also needed a English test score for entry. They were open both for IELTS and PTE.

I choose PTE #DefinitelyPTE for five simple reasons
-      Readily available PTE Preparation Course.   This preparation material gave me the required confidence needed to clear the test quickly
-      Recommendation from my friends who had already given this exam and they had benefited from it
-      Easy availability of centers
-      Recommendation from the college (La Salle University, Burlington County college and Rutgers) where I had shortlisted couple of courses to pursue
-      My husband had plans to relocate to other international locations. Given the global acceptance of this test, I was hoping that I could quickly join the workforce and this test could act as top-up qualification
During this time i researched a lot. Talked to different people on the forums/blogs, watched youtube vidoes, connected with other housewives from my husband's company who wanted to work and also attended different meetings that used to occur in our resident community for allowing women reconnect to workforce.
Once I was done with PTE exam, it gave me lot of confidence and improved my skills. As I started pursuing my education, my freelancing career also started flourishing. As I updated my profile with this test qualification, some serious corporations started viewing my applications and gave me test jobs. I was lucky to convert them and my own career started flourishing.

The college experience gave me an idea of American culture along with the slang. The most important part was the network that it added to my career. Though I had been bought up in Indian metros, the college experience also gave me an insight into that America is not what Hollywood is. It is similar to what I guess outsiders think of india on seeing our movies.

No doubt #DefinitelyPTE provided me the much needed breakthrough. With this breakthrough I was able to successfully change my field from teaching to IT testing for few months (quit full time job due to other personal phases of life). 
The whole experience thought me many things. But at the same time it made me appreciate the Indian life much more despite all the complains that we have. I think unless we experience both sides of a coin, we can never appreciate it.



Below are some videos which will give you more information why you should definitely choose PTE


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sole Fish Curry in Karwari Style


Sole fish is the tasty delicate fish  which is mostly enjoyed in coastal region . In konkani language, sole fish is known as Lepaa. There are many dishes prepared with sole fish. But this particular curry is very popular in Karwar and Karwaris enjoy it  mainly  with hot boiled brown rice or white rice.  Do try this curry and  I am very sure you too will enjoy it...

INGREDIENTS
  • Sole fish - 10 medium nos, cleaned and washed.
  • Onion - 1 medium, chopped
  • Green chillies - 2 nos
  • Salt - 1 tsp +1&1/2 tsp
  • Tumeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Oil- 1 tsp

Ingredients for ground paste
  • Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Coriander seeds - 1&1/2 tbsp
  • Dry red chilies - 4 to5 nos
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Garlic - 4 pods
  • Turmeric powder -  1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp


PREPARATION
  • Clean and wash the sole fish.
  • Add 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of tumeric in the fish. Mix well and marinate for atleast 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Roast mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and red chillies on medium flame until you get nice aroma . I did not use oil while roasting but if you need you can roast the masala ingredients using 1tsp of oil.
  • Let the roasted ingredients cool down and then add them into the mixer along with remaining ingredients listed in the"grounded paste" column .
  • Blend everything to the smooth paste.
  • Take out the grounded paste into one pot and add about 1/2 cup of water. Check the consistency of the gravy. It should be semi thick gravy.

  • Bring the gravy to boil, then add chopped onion and chopped green chillies. Mix well
  • Now add marinated sole fish. Cover with lid and cook on medium flame till fish is properly cooked.
  • Sole fish curry is ready to serve hot with plain rice along with fish fry and sole kadi.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dudhi Sago Kheer




Sabudhana or Sago kheer is the traditional and most common Indian sweet prepared during fasting days. It can easily prepared in less than 20 minutes. Sabudhana is best at its own taste but the it further be innovated by combining with bottlegourd or mango. The fusion not only enhances the flavors of kheer but makes it different from regular sabudhana kheer or sweet. Do try this recipe and relish different version of sabudhana kheer. Lets look in the recipe.





INGREDIENTS
  • Dudhi/ Bottlegourd - 1/2 cup , grated
  • Sago/ Sabudhana  - 1/4 cup
  • Coconut milk - 1&1/2cup
  • Sugar or jaggery - 1/4 cup (adjust the sweetness)
  • Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cashewnut pieces -2 tbsp
  • Pistachios, chopped - 2 tbsp
  • Raisins - 1 tbsp
  • Ghee - 1&1/2 tbsp


PREPARATION
  • Peel and grate dudhi/ bottlegourd into cold water to avoid discoloration of shredded dudhi.
  • Heat ghee in a pan and add  dryfruits and shredded dudhi into it.
  • Stir it till the grated dudhi becomes tender and soft.
  • In another pot take 1 cup of water and add sabudana into it. Boil it till sabudana becomes soft not mushy. 


  • Then add cooked sabudana  into the cooked dudhi. Mix well.
  • Add coconut milk and sugar . Mix well and bring the mixture to boil. Cook for another 5 minutes and switch off the gas.
  • Then add cardamom powder and mix well.
  • Dudhi Sago Kheer is ready to serve hot or cold...
  • Enjoy with your family....



Saturday, March 24, 2018

I Pledge to save water and educate others in household chores #CuttingPani


Water Scarcity has become a reality. Despite so much water that is available for all of us, either we waste lot of it or do not have proper methods to save water. Recently when Bangalore city was called out as the next city to be out of water, i was alarmed that how will we survive.

The other day, my husband showed the tremendous bill our society for getting water from tankers since the bore wells have dried out. In the midst of all this, i just wondered how our kids will live. It's high time we make something.

As I just browsed through the web, I got this interesting information. 
Image credit : https://matttopley.com

Image credit : www.cityofjal.us
 Though this figures might vary based on different country, any small contribution from each one of us will make a difference since 'many many drops combined together from a ocean'.

So here are some of the things i have decided to follow daily. It's not only me but my whole family is supporting since i have decided to take a pledge to save water. 

These changes though it looks small are having a big positive impact since i am happy that i am teaching my kids and family the right thing. I am just not talking but actually doing it. It is important that we walk the talk. Steps take by me at home are

1.  No more usage of shower for baths

 All of us at home have stopped using the shower for baths. Instead we have started using the 
Image Credit : www.deviantart.com

 2. Washing of Car and bike with buckets


Whenever the cleaning person used to wash our vehicles , he used to rely on pipes and wash the vehicles. He used to take care that water does not split on other vehicles or it does not flow on the roads. Though he did not waste much water (as per his standards), we have made a decision to change the car wash using bucket. At our native, water is sourced from the well. But there also we have been able to convince our relatives to use buckets to clean/wash vehicles
image credit: http://www.agapepress.org

 3. Use tap to fill water and not let the water spill out


It is normally a habit at households, to let the water from the tap flow when brushing teeth or washing utensils. With the advent of washing machine, tap water does not flow when washing clothes at most urban households. 

But it is important, to store the water in tap or mug and not to waste it. Everyone at our house, now has started doing the same. When washing utensils, i use either bucket or big utensils to store water rather than running water from tap to clean household utensils.


Similarly while washing hands, use water from buckets rather than using flowing water from tap


4. Water plants at efficient time


Avoid watering plants with a pipe. Rather use a watering funnel so that water does not get wasted much. Also it is advisable to water during morning hours so that less water would be evaporated and plants get the benefit of water more


5. Purchase water efficient products



Goods used at home should be water resourceful. As of now, I am not sure whether they are or not, but the plan is that when we replace our taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers or anything else we will try to focus not only on energy efficient products but also on water-saving products

6. Reuse the water produced in kitchen


We have been trying to reuse the water from kitchen rather than throwing it out. For instance the water collected from washing vegetables/dal/fruits/fish etc is fed to the plants in our garden. This is actually a win win situation for the plants and for our water saving mentality.

Another example of water re-use is that water collected from washing dal and rice can be used to clean utensils used to cook fish or eggs. It helps in removing the smell faster. 

I have been learning this tricks from friends and some of them based on my experimentation. This is a small change but i hope it will make a different in mindset and will achieve the ultimate goal of saving water

7. Other interesting videos to inspire you on water saving


Here are some interesting video that spread the message of #CuttingPani



I have decided to take the battle from my house and spread the word to family and friends. We together can play a big role 

How are you contributing in saving water?

Do sign the petition - https://www.change.org/p/cuttingpaani


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Home made meals : Improve healthy food dose with Sardine Curry, brown rice and shrimp sabji

We recently were blessed with an angel. She is 4 months now. It has not only changed our life but it has also ensured that we quickly change to healthy lifestyle. One of the biggest changes has been in the choice of food. Suggestion from friends, families and google has been a big influence also. But given the busy schedule, my wife decided to finally call it quits and focus her energy on growth of our angel.

We tried different options by getting external help for food and home cleaning. But the biggest realization we had is that home cooked food is the best when cooked properly. So when baby is taking rest or when one of us is around, we decided to take back the challenge of cooking fresh food at home.
As we scanned our diet charts and cooking styles, one of the biggest things we wanted to try was home cooked fish gravy. Based on our taste and the list of fishes commonly eaten at home, we finally narrowed down on sardines as the first option to explore.

Various researchers have publicized that fish provide an assortment of nutrients that are important for baby's development since key nutrients omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – are difficult to find in other foods. Fish is also short in inundated fat and great in protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are essential for a baby's health that is passed through mother’s milk

Note : We have been advised to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile-fish since they have high mercury levels and are not good for new-borns growth
We found an interesting information about sardines at  http://www.dailyiron.net/sardine/

[ Sardine contains 2.9 milligrams of iron per 100 grams. Sardines do provide a good bit of iron. Two-thirds of a cup of sardines, about one hundred grams, provides a woman about sixteen percent of her daily iron requirement. Sardines are also a rich source of other minerals and of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids, making them a great choice in a healthy diet] 

So today's home made healthy meals is sardine curry, prawn sukka (shrimp sabji) and brown/white rice. Here are the steps i followed with guidance from my mother

Ingredients for Sardine Curry



  • Sardine -We tried this recipe with10 nos
  • Cilantro - 2 tbsp, chopped
  • Salt -1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Ingredients for Sardine ground paste
  • Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Coriander seeds - 1&1/2 tbsp
  • Dry red chilies - 4 to 5
  • Black pepper cons - 5
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Garlic - 5 pods
  • Turmeric powder -  1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp
  • Salt as per taste

PREPARATION Steps for Sardine Curry

  • Clean and wash the sardine fish thoroughly in the water. We were lucky that we got freshly cleaned fish. Do note that this fish is smelly
  • Add 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of turmeric in the fish . Mix well and marinate for at-least 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Now add all the ingredients of the "grounded paste" column into the blender and blend it into smooth paste.
  • Take out the grounded paste into one pot and add about 1/2 cup of water. check the consistency of the gravy, add in more water if needed.
  • Bring the gravy to boil, then add chopped cilantro. Mix well
  • Now add marinated fish. Cover with lid and cook on medium flame till fish is properly cooked.
Sardine fish curry is ready to serve. Now it is the time to start with preparation for
prawn sukka (shrimp sabji)


Ingredients for Prawns sukka
  • Small sized prawns, cleaned and deveined (remove the main central vein from a shrimp or prawn) – 1 cup
  • Onion,chopped - 2 big
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilly powder – 1&1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 7
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Cilantro – 2 tbsp

PREPARATION
  • Wash the prawns thoroughly in the running water after they are cleaned.
  • Chop the onion and cilantro.
  • Place pan on medium flame and add oil into it.
  • When oil heats up, add chopped onion.Fry till onion becomes soft.
  • Then add ginger and garlic paste.Fry till raw smell goes off from the paste. 
  • Add all dry masala powder .Fry for 2 minutes
  • Now add prawns and salt. Cover and cook till the prawns are cooked well.
  • You can add little water,which will help the prawns  to cook fast.
  • When prawns are cooked, uncover the pan and try to remove the water from the mixture by turning flame medium to high flame.
  • If you do not want the masala to be dry, then no need of this step.
  • Lastly mix in the chopped cilantro.
This prawns  sukka is ready. We sometimes have tried with chapathi or just with the plain white/brown rice. today we have cooked sardines curry but if you are in a hurry then dal rice and prawns sukka also makes a good combination




Since brown rice has the characteristics to inspire milk creating hormones in women, i am trying to put  a habit to it. We realized that there are many varieties of brown rice, so we finally narrowed down the organic brown rice which is easy to cook and is the healthiest.  

we did enjoy our home made sea food party. What other foods you feel is good for new mothers?
 
If you are looking for iron rich dishes, then do check here  http://www.livogen.in/iron-chef