Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving

Ok, we managed to pull off a nice Thanksgiving dinner last night. No turkey though. We hear you can find one for about $75 to $120. But without an oven, what would we do with it? After some menu planning and searching through markets and stores, here is our Swimming-In-India Thanksgiving menu:

Homemade Applesauce (made from Kashmir apples)
Stuffing - we made our own chicken broth and added pear, raisins, onion, celery and spices. The hardest ingredient to find was celery. Not a typical veg used in Indian cooking. (Also - I diced the bread and dried the cubes in the hot Indian sun).
Sweet Potatoes in brown sugar. (these are not orange, but a pale yellow, but tasted mighty good!)
Garlic Mashed white potatoes
Yellow corn (got this frozen at the market)
Green beans sauteed in butter with almonds
Jellied Cranberries (OceanSpray -found this at the INA market in Delhi)
and Pumpkin Pie (Made to order at the Canadian-operated Red Moon Bakery in Sarita Vihar)

All of this was prepared on our stove top or in our small microwave. We shared the results with our neighbors Mini & Shail, who seemed to give the menu a thumbs up!

We all have a lot to be thankful for this year. We are all healthy one year into our India adventure and eating pumpkin pie! Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Elephants in the River

We'd been hearing nice things about Jim Corbett National Park. The kids had an unexpected day off from school (not so unusual), so we headed north by car to the neighboring state of Uttarakhand. Chauhan drove us. He seemed to enjoy the drive as Uttarakhand is his home state. We stayed in a great little resort called "Tiger Camp." It's right on the river bordering the eastern edge of Corbett.
Our lodging was lush and jungle-like. Tiger Camp had great service, was very tidy and had good food. Since it was chilly at night there was a camp fire to keep us warm with guitar/singing to entertain us.Audrey and Evan enjoyed cutting loose... There were safe paths to explore in the lodge compound and each morning we walked down to the rocky shore of the river. There we would see many birds and even troops of monkeys coming down for a drink. This was by far the clearest, cleanest water we have seen in India.
While were were exploring the rocks and winding our way up the shoreline we heard an odd noise behind us.We looked back behind us and there to our surprise was a male elephant standing all by himself on the rocks in the middle of the river! As we got closer, we realized there was a second elephant as well! Their mahouts had brought them down for a drink (a very large drink) and a morning bath! video
We all stood with our mouths wide open as one of these gentle giants walked right past us, up the middle of the river. Then the two started playing in the water - splashing, and spraying, "trumpeting" and making large waves with their trunks. Such a pleasure to watch them enjoying the river.
We became alarmed when the mahouts started throwing rocks at the two elephants. They seemed to think "bath time" was over, but the elephants definitely had other plans... The elephants ignored the two ranting mahouts. Stones just bounced off the elephants' thick hides with a thud - the animals just kept right on ignoring their keepers, and continued to play in the cool rush of the water...
When we finally left the scene, the elephants were still nudging one another and splashing in the middle of the river. They seemed to enjoy this moment of freedom and defiance - turning their large elephant-rumps towards their still very upset mahouts!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Coffee Beans in Delhi

When we first moved here I think we brought about 6 pounds of coffee beans from Austin. Lesa and I love a good cup of "joe" in the morning. We were afraid we might have a problem tracking down quality, fresh roasted beans. Of course Indians love their Chai, but if you order coffee here, nine times out of ten what you get is Nescafe. Instant coffee. They often try to hide it in foamy sweet 'cappuccino'-like drinks, but it's still just bad powdered coffee.
Our coffee supply ran out in a few months and then the dilemma struck home. I thought I would try and assimilate and go with the Nescafe... It didn't work for me.
Fortunately a sympathetic Canadian friend came to our rescue. He pointed me to Devan's Coffee & Tea. This small, but tidy shop is located near Lodi Colony in Khanna Market. The market is "L" shaped and local in atmosphere. It seems to be mainly known for fabric shops, but as you round the base of the "L" you begin to smell the aroma of wonderful roasted coffee. The beans are grown in the hill stations of south India. The shop has a wonderful variety of beans (pea berry, robusta, etc) and roasts - all types from dark french to light. Devan's will sell you whole beans, or grind them to your liking. It's also a good place to find teas from all over India. Devan's also sells brewing equipment, presses, and accessories for both tea and coffee.
Remember to keep your beans at home when you come to Delhi.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lost in Translation

Communicating successfully with the children's school and teachers has been very challenging. We are confused by assignments, terminology and the names of school supplies. Typically we end up frustrated, not understanding what is required. But today's communication jumble gave us a good laugh!

All children have an almanac in which they write their homework assignments. The teachers and parents use it to exchange information. Last night I wrote this message in Evan's almanac:

"Dear Teacher,
Evan lost his first front tooth on 31 Oct. His other one is very loose. It may fall out during the school day. He must bring it home. He has a container."

Tonight, Evan reported that his teacher had the whole class look around the classroom for the tooth he lost.