Strange (Amazing according to me) things that you’ve done before you turned one.

You try to hold water from the shower with your hands.

When asked where the ‘ball’ or ‘dada’ is, you take me there, you don’t know how to point and show.

According to you, any moving crawling object is a ‘daw-gee’ (doggie). You have tried to pet every dog we have seen in the neighborhood.

You have tried to touch, prod and catch a bright beam of morning sunlight coming in through our windows.

Peek-a-boo is your favorite game and you have become an expert at it now. You hide beside the couch, or a door or sometimes throw a blanket over yourself and make the exact same intonation as we do when we say ‘peek-a-boo’.

If your tricycle or toy car does not start moving (meaning we did not start pushing) as soon as you sit, you start jerking and turning the handle or wheel to make it move.

Every time a sound comes out of you involuntarily, sound due to a sneeze, burp or wind, you think it’s funny, you giggle and try to get yourself to repeat that sound.

You were extremely puzzled when I once held you in front of a fan in full speed. You eventually started groping into the space in front of you trying to catch the breeze with your hands.

You assume that all the cheese from my grilled cheese sandwich and all the chicken toppings from my slice of pizza, are part of your food and wait impatiently to be fed.

You try to grab and touch your own shadow.

You refer to a ball as ‘babba’ but you don’t know what I am talking about if I say ‘babba’ I have to say ‘ball’ for you to understand.

When you walk, sometimes you resemble a drunk zombie and sometimes a tightrope walker.

A story book will interest you, only if it has flaps that you can open. ‘Quack quack, who’s that?’ is your favorite story book.

You learnt to make an upset, complaining face when you were six weeks old. You still make that face when you get upset or you are trying to act upset.

Red is your favorite color. You are very biased towards balls, cars or socks that are red colored.

You think that I am being funny and start roaring with laughter when all I am really doing is brushing my teeth with the bathroom door wide open so I can keep an eye on you.

When you are being told something seriously, you completely ignore me. You like to look elsewhere.

You have the makings of a handyman. You are more interested in how the tabletop has been screwed or bolted to the legs rather than the glass table top itself.You like to bend under rocking chairs and strollers as though you are trying to understand their working.

You always sit like a cheerleader, holding the toes of your stretched out legs with your hands,  in the car seat.

You like toys of all kinds but you are terrified of dolls that cry, laugh, sing or talk.

You are mommy and daddy’s most precious birthday, Christmas and anniversary gift ever.

Your Storybook.

Opening a flap in your book.

Opening a flap in your book.

Moroccan Inspired Mango Chicken & Quinoa

Moroccan Inspired Mango Chicken and Quinoa

I have for sometime now been quite fascinated with middle-eastern food, especially the use of spices and herbs. In my head, herbs and spices are synonymous with magical herbs, the sort that grow in enchanted forests, have healing powers, have exotic fragrance and often bloom only once every full moon night or once every hundred years. This mental image of mine has been reinforced by mythical tales and alternative medicine both of which attribute mystical properties to spices and herbs.

This is exactly how I see 'em in my head 🙂

I think that, the fact that they are mostly available in dried, powdered, or preserved form and few of us have actually seen them in their raw natural state gives them an aura of elusiveness. Did you know our everyday staple seasoning pepper grew on a vine, like miniature grape clusters? Or that nutmeg is the seed of a fruit that looks just like an apricot? I learnt about them only a few years back, when I visited my in-laws’ family, these spices grow in their backyard. I also find that I am quite willing usually, to consider herbal remedies especially teas for sore throats and even lactating purposes. An annoying trait of mine, according to my husband is that I can never pass by a tea store without tasting their free sample herbal teas, but they have such fancy names! Chamomile and cinnamon tea, hibiscus tea with lemongrass or rose petal tea with mint leaves.

Pepper still on the vine.

Nutmeg Tree

This weekend, as I added ripe mangoes to my shopping cart, I decided to try something interesting rather than serve and eat diced fruit which is what we usually do. Since the word ‘moroccan cuisine’ has been hanging in my head for quite a while now, I made up this recipe after looking up the spices, herbs, dry fruit and nuts that are characteristic of Moroccan cuisine from Wikipedia.

Disclaimer: I do not vouch for the authenticity of this dish.

Ingredients:
2 ripe mangoes peeled, pitted and diced
2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast cut into cubes
1 cup raw organic quinoa
3 tbsp Olive oil
Spice rub for chicken: 1 tsp Paprika + tsp Cumin + 1 tsp Coriander + 1 tsp Cinnamon + 1 tsp Pepper + 1 tsp Turmeric + 1 tsp ground Ginger and salt to taste
A pinch of Saffron
1 tbsp chopped Parsley
1 diced Zucchini
1 chopped Red bell pepper
1 chopped Red onion
1/2 cup Chopped Cilantro
2 tbsp Raisins
1/4 cup Toasted Almonds
1 freshly squeezed lemon
A dash of red pepper powder (optional)
1 cup Greek yogurt

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To the chicken, add 1 tbsp olive oil and all the spices listed under spice rub, then add the mango pieces and bake for about 20-25 minutes ( in a baking tray or casserole).
Sprinkle with cilantro and keep aside.
In a saucepan, add 2 tbsp olive oil followed by onions, bell pepper and zucchini. Add a pinch of saffron.
Sauté for a few minutes before adding rinsed quinoa and 2 cups of water and salt. Quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook.
Once it’s done, seeds start to look transparent.
Add parsley, 2 tbsp lemon juice, pepper and raisins, mix and cover with a heavy lid and let stand for a few minutes.
For yogurt sauce, add to yogurt, 2 tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper and freshly chopped mint leaves ( I didn’t have any so I added parsley) and a dash of red pepper powder.
Garnish the quinoa pilaf with toasted almonds right before serving ( keeps them from becoming soft), and serve with mango chicken and yogurt sauce.

Moroccan Inspired Mango Chicken and Quinoa with Yogurt Sauce

Moroccan Inspired Mango Chicken and Quinoa with Yogurt Sauce

In the blink of an eye, a year goes by!

In a couple weeks, you my little babbler are going to be one year old. I am truly excited and as I eagerly look forward to you growing up, talking to me and calling me ‘mama’, I also look back wistfully at the past year when you were no bigger than my forearm. I miss holding that tiny infant of mine.
Every moment since the moment you entered our lives, has been overwhelmingly beautiful.

your first ever smile.

We have been reveling in and celebrating every little milestone you crossed. We waited earnestly for the day you would start smiling at us for real, and when you did, over and over, we kept looking at you and admiring you, your beautiful smile, your expressive eyes. Mommy and dada compete with each other every night, each wanting to be the last one to kiss you goodnight.

When you smiled for real.

The first time you stopped while nursing to look and smile at me was when I felt that life was totally worth living for, just to experience that one precious moment. From smiles to spit bubbles, you have never ceased to amaze me and when you made your first sound, a word, it was ah-goo, I was lost for words. Even your graduation from one diaper size to the next was an event worth noting for me. I remember how at 3 months old, you were trying to roll over, struggling and grunting as you drew your hand out from under your belly while we cheered for you. We took turns to hug you, kiss you and applaud you on your accomplishment. The day you started sleeping through the night, it happened when you were a little over 4 months, marked the end of an era for us, an era of sleepless nights, of sleeping in shifts, of sleeping in the rocking chair with you, of walking, swaying and lulling you to sleep. Still, those were fun times.

You were 5 months old when you got up one night and started saying na-na-na-na and ma-ma-ma-ma. That for me will always remain the most remarkable one of all your milestones, that was the night you became extremely expressive vocally. Your babbling has increased by leaps and bounds since then.
I longed for the time you’d stretch your arms out to me, and when you finally did, my happiness knew no bounds. Tens of thousands of times I run to your crib, car seat or high chair just to see you stretch your arms out to me. Something about the way you look at me when you want to be picked up makes my heart jump out of my body, drop everything just to hold you close.

When you first started sitting up.

we clicked pictures like maniacs, when you learnt to sit up with support. You absolutely loved being propped up. It was around this time that you got your first cold. Your nose was so congested, it worried me sick to see you open your mouth to breathe. You used to constantly put your tiny little fist to your nose to rub it.
At 6 months, you started belly crawling like a little soldier. You’d stretch out one hand and then drag yourself forward with a lot of effort. You’d crawl a few feet and then rest your head down in between your hands like a little puppy. You were only 7 months old when you had your first big fall. You fell off the bed, as soon as I turned my back. I only heard a loud thump. Mommy was terrified, we called dada and rushed you to the hospital. You were of course fine.
Soon after that, you figured out how to lift your belly and started crawling like a champ. It was funny how you assumed that if mommy was not around, you wound find her in the kitchen. You’d come looking for me, peering slowly at first and then crawling fast, as fast as you could when you caught sight of me. That was when it first hit me that you’d just taken your first step towards independence, that you didn’t need mommy to transport you from one room to another. We mostly had a great time at our lap sit classes at the library and our park dates except on days you decided to doze off in your stroller.
When you started pulling yourself up to a stand, it was pants-down time for us literally. You’d grab our shorts, pants, skirts, pajamas anywhere everywhere and pull yourself up.

Where you first learnt how to stand.

Since the time you turned 6 months old, you led us to believe you were teething, what with all the spitting, drooling and stuffing the whole planet into your mouth but it was only in your 9th month that we finally saw two tiny pearls jut out.

In the last couple months, you haven’t had a quiet moment, you started standing up all on your own and then took your first steps. That is all you have been doing, trying to stand, to balance, to walk and even run.

Look at how much fun you're having at the wheel.

This was your first time in the pool.

I doubt if there is anything in this world that you love more than cars. Once you get hold of the steering wheel, there’s no easy way of getting you out of there. You seem to enjoy the pool too, paddling your legs and arms rhythmically as though you were born to swim.

Last few days, you have been relentlessly practicing your walking skills. Now you are trying to master the art of steering yourself in a particular direction while walking. You look adorable toddling from one corner to another.

This past year flew by in a haze, I didn’t realize you were growing up so fast, I wish I could do it all over again.

Playing with the webcam

Healthy Oatmeal Flax seed Cookies

Oatmeal Flaxseed Cookies

These days, my husband’s on a weight loss body building spree, so he asked if I could make some healthy afternoon snack that he could eat at work. Oatmeal and dry fruits came to mind first, so I decided to try these cookies yesterday. This is more a mix of his favorite ingredients from the kitchen rather than a cookie recipe, but the result was yum all the same. These cookies were more soft and chewy than crispy crunchy.

Healthy ingredients:
1 and 1/3 cups Quaker rolled oats
1 egg
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup flax seed
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp honey

Not so healthy ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
Beat together the egg, butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla essence.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and powdered cinnamon.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well.
Then add the oats followed by the almonds, apricots and flax seed.
On a baking tray sprayed with non stick cooking spray, spoon small dollops of the cookie mixture and flatten them a little.
Bake till golden brown, about 15 minutes. Take them out, let them cool and store in an airtight container.