Sunday, September 03, 2006

bon voyage, o auntie a!

two thoughts are chasing each other around in my head tonight, twining around each other until I can hardly separate them. But let me start happily, at least:

Tonight, we bid Auntie A good-bye. Initially named Almost-Auntie A, as she is as near to me as kin could be, by the end of the visit she was an outright Auntie, which tells you what a snobbish, exclusive bunch we are. After a week of aunite-dom, the Eldest informed her, solemnly, that he was 'really going to miss you a whole, big lot.' I am nearly certain that this isn't just because she produced a wonderful new book each day, and I'm hopeful that it isn't just because she was the alternate mother - the one who always had time to read a story, admire a line of marching trucks, or play the mysteriously named castle-ball.

She was right when she said that mothers are ridiculously easy to please - a week of unaccompanied showers and bathroom breaks has clearly done me some good. And given me the breathing space in which to see exactly where my discipline has turned into reflexive whip-cracking. I can see that now, and I am quiet enough in myself to try and do something about it. Thank you, dear A.

I'm delighted to say that we sent her off with a splendid dinner, wildly adapted from my new Indian cookery book. Here it is:

Nutmeg Potatoes (Aloo Jaiphalo), adapted from Indian Flavors by Marut Sikka, pg 22)
4 potatoes, unwashed but reasonably clean
4 Tb veg oil
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
1 in piece ginger root, chopped somewhat finely
.5 tsp coarse ground black pepper
.5 tsp nutmeg
.5 c water (or vegetable broth)
2-3 tsp lemon juice
2 Tb fresh cilantro (optional)

Cut the potatoes into thick rounds. Toss oil, cumin seeds, ginger into a deep frying pan, saute until seeds start making a popping sound. Add cilantro and potatoes, stir. Add salt, nutmeg, pepper, mix and then add water. Cover pan immediately and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
Add lemon juice, stirring gently. Serve warm.

Tofu and Tomato (adapted from Tamater Paneer Hyderabadi, Indian Tastes, pg 68)

1 block tofu, cut into squares (smaller than bite-size suited me)
handful dried gooseberries, soaked in boiling water (20 minutes? until soft), drained and cut up a bit (options: use dried cranberries instead)

Step One:
4 tsp veg oil
1.5 tsp cumin seeds
4 green cardamom pods
2 sticks cinnamon
onion, chopped
2 in piece ginger root, chopped
12 kaffir lime leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 tsp chili powder
2 c water
1.5 Tb cornflour
1 15-16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Toss oil, cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, onion, ginger into a pot, preferably nonstick. Saute until onion starts to brown. Add tomatoes, salt, lime leaves, peppercorns, chili powder. Stir. Add water, bring to a boil, the reduce heat. Stir in cornstarch, then let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a serving dish. Using the same pot, move to step two.

Step Two:
2 Tb veg oil
8 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
.5 cup coconut milk (preferably the reduced-fat)

Saute garlic, mustard seeds in the oil until the seeds start popping. Add tomato sauce from step one, stir. Add cut up tofu, gooseberries and simmer briefly. Dump in coconut milk, bring to a boil and call it dinner.
This is food as I like to eat it. Rich with flavor, surprising, strong, delicate. Ah, happy happy me - and I have leftovers, if the partner man hasn't eaten it all while I type in my eyrie.

But I also have a thought, twisting and wriggling, no matter how hard I'm trying to ignore it: the babes, who plummeted off the weight charts a few months ago, has lifted himself to just under the 3rd percentile for weight. (Note: he began at the 50 %, and yes, I know that kids change their percentiles as they settle into their true niche. This is not, alas, that.) In the process, his eczema flared and the skin around his ears had begun to crack nastily. And he'd wake up, crying and scratching at his itchy face and ears, undoing what little good we'd managed in regards to sleep training.

A consultation with a homeopath and pediatrician later, I quietly began limiting the amount of corn and soy in his diet. Half a bag of Fritos, a miserable night and a horrific diaper rash the next day, and I removed corn almost entirely from his diet. One week later, I am sad to admit that the kid looks much better.

The ears are no longer cracked and oozing, he's not scraping desperately at his skin, and the eczema does not seem to be spreading. And I'm furious. How could we possibly manage without corn? Then again, we nearly did so tonight...but still.

I'm holding fire, but I can feel the irritation bubbling up, waiting for an excuse to turn into outrage. It is time to go back to the homeopath and to talk about NAET, a treatment option that she mentioned last time, and which our allergist did not pooh-pooh. Corn and eggs - that's what I'm wanting. With those, I could do so much...


joy said...

Corn!?! I mourn your loss and hope it is temporary.

I'll also see if I can peel some recipes from the Ian.

jgfellow said...

But the tofu was most excellent.

mama o' the matrices said...

Hmm. Yes, it was. And tonight's fish? How did that work for you?

Joy, thank you for letting me pile things on top of you, dear one. I owe you a shoulder rub on account, and the splendiferous Auntie A has just taught me new tricks...

Auntie A said...

Mmm, and what a dinner it was! Ample reward (not that any was needed) for any number of book readings and back rubs. As for castle-ball, tell Eldest I'll be back someday for round 2 (since he solemnly informed me that I was not very good at it).

Hope the egg-thing works out and provides some consolation for lack of corn.

I miss you guys tremendously. And not just because of the yummy food.

mama o' the matrices said...

We miss you, too. And not just because the Eldest misses having my positive alter-ego...