“I love Mondays!” That’s what Emma said earlier this week when she and Lydia and Isabelle showed up at my kitchen door for another cooking session.
It’s the highest form of flattery and makes me smile inside. But I have to agree. Mondays have become a bright spot in my week with these three enthusiastic beauties eating and talking and cooking in my kitchen. I exist in a two-against-one household, with the guys in the majority. Words like “prom dress” are simply not part of the vernacular around here, so a weekly dose of girl-energy is refreshing.
The Knight Cooks wanted to make curry this week. I learned my limited (and vegetarian) repertoire of Indian dishes from a lovely Indian lady named Santosh. But they wanted to make a chicken dish, and since I had been encouraging them to watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, we decided to test out the recipe for chicken korma in Jamie’s new book. They learned how to cook rice (we forgot to fluff it at the end, an essential part of cooking basmati rice which should not be gummy—even mistakes have their lessons,) and how to make our own garam masala. For sustenance before lunch, we made mango lassi. Oh, and we made naan, too. No slackers in my kitchen! The curry was wildly successful, and I was happy that it inspired at least one of my cooks to make it at home.
Cooking from Jamie’s new book led me to contemplate why Jamie’s Food Revolution made such compelling television watching. It is about food and healthy eating, subjects that piqued my interest. But there was so much more! Drama! And the drama was wonderful! It was, of course, embellished by clever producers, directors and editors who knew how it was all going to end, but two major themes that played out on the screen struck me. Number one: One person can make a difference. Number two: Change is hard.
Now of course, if the one person happens to be famous already and has a huge support system backing him up, you could discount the first theory. But we all saw Jamie working himself into a sweat on many occasions. The frustration he experienced and the effort he made were palpable. Jamie reinforced my belief that one person can make a difference. One person’s actions can make a splash or their actions can reverberate quietly, the way a stone in a pond sends out rings of water. It doesn’t matter how big the splash; change can happen because of what you do. A powerful concept. Now try to remember that when the cranky critic in your head berates you for all the unglamorous stuff you do. Most of it (and I mean you, moms) really helps people. Don’t underestimate the significance of small acts.
The other theme, the change-is-hard theme, is a big story of its own. I think I can safely say that human beings hate change. Even when the change is going to ultimately improve our lives, we resist. The radio announcer on the show said you would not catch him sitting around eating lettuce all day, no sireee. That was never going to happen. Better the devil we know. God forbid we should feel uncomfortable. We live in an age where comfort and convenience trumps just about everything. Most of us have to be gobsmacked* out of our comfort zones and into change. Maybe God-smacked is a better word. Or divine intervention from the universe. Whatever. It’s the surprise element—we stop paying attention to something, or worse, consciously (or unconsciously) ignore it and lo and behold! Our life is talking to us in CAPITAL LETTERS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!
My life has had its share of gobsmacking moments lately, but here’s my sage advice to myself:
It’s all good. Really! If a devilish situation shows up on my doorstep, I am trying to learn to invite it in. Have a seat, I say, but don’t get too comfortable. I accept you, even if I don’t like you. But don’t even think about wearing out your welcome!
So if you’re living through your own gobsmacking moment right now, treat yourself to a mango lassi. It’s not going to change your life, but it will make you feel just a teensy bit better to do something nice for yourself. Let the gobsmacking begin.
*Gobsmacked: to be astounded, surprised, as in, smacking your hand over your mouth (gob) in astonishment.
I think smoothies must have been invented in India. This mango lassi is like a pretty party dress: It seduces us with its girly pink color, a heady whiff of cardamon, and the mysterious flowery overtones of rosewater. And like the lovely, dewy-eyed girl at the prom, it’s both creamily delicious and refreshing. Be judicious with the rosewater, it’s powerful stuff. Rosewater is made from rose petals (duh!), which are, in fact, edible. You will find it in Middle Eastern or Indian markets and some health food stores. Frozen mango is quick and easy to use and it makes a lovely thick drink. Traditionally this lassi would be made from fresh mango and served over ice.
Mango Lassi (Makes 2 servings)
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar, honey or agave syrup
1 cup mango chunks, fresh or frozen
About 1/2 cup water, buttermilk or milk
1/4 teaspoon rosewater
1/4 teaspoon crushed cardamon seeds
Combine all ingredients except cardamon in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve over ice and sprinkle with cardamon.