Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Saga of the dishwasher

One of my daily tasks which I do everyday without fail or my kitchen goes to hell, is loading the dishwasher every night after my daughter goes to sleep. I may not empty the sink but I do load the dishwasher so that the sink is not overflowing the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, after the dishwasher was done, I noticed there was water still at the bottom of the dishwasher and the dishes had some small deposits on them like they weren't fully clean. I ran the dishwasher again - it still had water. Realizing we didn't have a plunger at home, my husband bought a plunger from the store and used it and after a few tries, the dishwasher started running again. This again happened a week ago  on Monday and we repeated the same. This time, I called our home warranty guys from Sensible Home Warranty and complained. They said they'd call back to file a claim. I called again on Tuesday, same thing - they said they'd call back.

Then last week on Friday, the same thing happened and this time the plunger did not work. I tried to call the home warranty folks many times that weekend and would get the strangest message when I tried to file a claim - it said "invalid extension". I couldn't figure out what happened and thought maybe they're closed over the weekend (though their website said 24/7) or their system was screwed up. Anyway, I washed vessels by hand the next few days, hoping to keep the sink from getting overwhelmed.

Monday morning, I go to the website which I still had open on my laptop and refreshed the page. The website says that they are shut down and thanks for your support. I was completely taken aback. We just lost $700 of our 2-year warranty and I still had a dishwasher that wasn't working.

I then called a plumber who said it's not a plumbing issue (which was strange - he told me that without even coming down to look at it) and then I called an appliance repair person who agreed to come out the next day. He came out yesterday, looked at it, said it was a plumbing issue. He fixed it - said that it looks like most probably, there was a piece of glass which he showed me which was stuck in the pipe from the dishwasher to the sink drain pipe. Once it was dislodged, the dishwasher started working just fine.

He charged me $120 for fixing the issue, which was reasonable.

Now, the next question is, should we get another home warranty or should we just forget the whole thing?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Feeding a Picky Eater

My daughter, who is 22 months old, had a lot of food allergies when she was born. As she grew older, she outgrew a lot of them like milk and soy but still is allergic to anything in the bean family like beans, green beans, lentils.

This has made me very conscious about what I feed her. We are also vegetarians. This narrows down our options for what I feed her a lot and we are Indians as well so our diet is very different from the western diet. She goes to daycare - so what I can give to daycare for lunch and snack has to be daycare-friendly (something she can eat by herself without too much involvement by the teachers, no nuts, etc).

One of the major issues I have hitting with her diet is that she doesn't like any vegetables and she's low on protein. I was reading the article linked below on What To Expect on some tips. Here's what I took away from the article.

Make food fun:- Cut sandwiches into fun shapes (though I first need to get her into sandwiches - so far she's not liked bread much at all). Put blueberry smiles on pancakes or on top of cereal. Interactive food like food with dips where they have to dip and eat might be fun. (I tried this - carrot sticks with ranch dressing. She didn't like it at all). Get toddler involved in meal prep - like getting her to help in picking veggies in the store or letting her choose which healthy food to buy. While cooking, have her do some of the small things like stirring or adding ingredients. Make small portions of food - like mini pancakes or mini muffins.

Sneak in nutrients:- This is where I'm facing a lot of difficulty. Sneak some cauliflower into mac'n'cheese (except she doesn't like mac'n'cheese). Add shredded carrots or sweet potato to pancake batter or omelettes. ( I tried this as her daycare teacher suggested - carrots in omelettes. It worked. ) And fruits are good too - if she likes fruits, let her have them. Her daycare teacher suggested making muffins with veggies and see if that works. She said she'd get me the receipe from her mother.

Be a good model:- Toddlers mimic mom & dad. So we need to eat better, at the table and eat a lot of veggies for dinner. Avoid junk food.

Let them choose:- Let her choose what to eat. Give her 2 healthy options and once she's picked one, stick with it. She'll eat if she's hungry. Don't force your toddler to eat.

Feeding a Picky Eater

Saving time in the kitchen - Chapattis Part 2

So, to continue on my with Chapattis story, (Part 1 over here), I made some dough and put it in the freezer. I took it today morning, thinking to thaw it and use it immediately. Unfortunately, even though I waited for it to thaw for 2 hours, it didn't thaw enough for me to make it.

I then put in the fridge overnight and then used it the next day evening. I waited for some time and then started rolling it out. While the temperature of the dough was still on the cold side, I was able to roll it out but I had to fight with the dough a bit. To make the dough easier to roll, I think I may have to wait for it to completely come to room temperature next time.

The chapattis, after I fried on the tava or frying pan, were ok but a litte on the thick side since I wasn't able to roll it completely thinner.

Lessons learned: Put the dough from the freezer in the refrigerator overnight or at least for 5-8 hours before using it. Wait for it to come to room temperature before rolling it out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

My plants

Here are some pictures of my plants as they are right now.

My tomato plant is already looking to be in very sad shape. It's got yellow spots on its leaves everywhere and I'm not able to figure out what is the cause.

This is my bell pepper plant. It's still in its pot from the store - I haven't transplanted it yet. 

My mint plant is doing well. So far, it seems to be the only plant doing well. 

My cilantro plant is not doing so well either. Some of its leaves have gone yellow but not as bad as the tomato plant and it doesn't really seem to be growing. 

My other tomato plant is doing ok so far. It's still in its original pot from the store and hasn't been transplanted yet. It's growing new leaves so far. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Saving Time in the Kitchen - Chapattis Part 1

I've been experimenting recently with trying to save time while making chapattis at home. Chapatti is an unleavened flat bread (also known as roti) from Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. I make it at home all the time and it's a integral part of the Indian diet. It's made of whole grain wheat flour. Here are some of the things I've tried and am planning to try to make life easier for myself. 

Making the dough: Make the dough using the stand mixer. This saves me a ton of time and energy. This is the recipe I use which I got from my sister. 



2 cups whole grain finely ground wheat flour (available in most South Asian stores)
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1 cup warm water 

  1. Put all the ingredients except the water in the bowl. Start the mixer on low and add about half the water and let the flour mix well with all the ingredients. 
  2. After they are all mixed well, keep an eye on the dough and see if it starts to come together. Add more water in small amounts and wait and see if the dough has become one big ball. 
  3. When it looks like it's become one big ball, stop the mixer and touch the dough to see if it's sticking to the hand. If it's sticking, then too much water has been added. Add some more flour and mix again till the dough doesn't stick to the hand very badly - a little sticky is OK
  4. Now cover dough with a wet cloth, napkin or paper towel and wait for 30 mins. Then use it immediately for making chapattis or put in fridge or freezer. 
  5. To make chapattis, take a small piece of the rough and make it into a ball. Use a flat surface and dust some flour on it and using rolling pin, roll the ball out in the shape of a tortilla. If the ball starts to stick to the rolling pin, dust it with some more flour and continue rolling it out till it's thin and round like a tortilla. 
  6. Now put it on a hot pan and let it cook till it rises. When it does, flip it over and let it cook on both sides.  

I've heard that chapattis when frozen don't keep fermenting but that it continues to ferment at a slower pace it is kept in the fridge. I experimented with that by making the dough and rolling it out. I put the rolled out dough onto cling wrap sheets so it doesn't get exposed to air and put it in the fridge. When I used it the next day, it didn't taste as good or look as good as freshly rolled out dough. So that experiment didn't work out so well.

My next experiment is to make the dough and freeze part of the dough for later use and see how that dough looks and tastes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Count my blessings

Today's been a hard day and while I'm trying not to be sad or upset, it is not easy. One thing that helps me is when I'm with my 21 month daughter. She makes me smile and I'm happy when I'm with her.

It makes me think of what I've heard people say helps when they're sad - count your blessings.

1. I have a beautiful healthy daughter who always brings a smile to my face
2. I have a wonderful supportive family who have always been there for me
3. I have best friends who I can always call be it to vent or share my joy
4. I have a good job which pays me a good salary
5. I have a beautiful house and fresh clean air to breathe
6. I am in relatively good health with no major issues
7. God has always been with me helping me and guiding me.
8. I am in good financial shape with no major debts except for my mortgage and have a good emergency fund.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gardening adventures

I've always wanted to grow my own food but my last few attempts at it have been unsuccessful for the most part. So, this year, I've decided to try again. I'm going to be blogging about status every week

I'm going to try the following this year:

2 varieties of tomato
green pepper
red chili
curled parsley

One of the tomato plants already was at maturity in the store. I bought it wanting to see whether I could kill an already grown tomato plant or it's just the seedlings that I kill.

And this year, I'm just going to try container gardening. If it goes well, I'll look into making a garden next year. 

I'll post photos of my plants as they grow or not grow as the case may be. 

Slid off again!

The last few weeks have been extremely busy and I have not spent much time on the computer at all. So I have not been blogging much - hope t...