Almond, Lemon and Ricotta cake and a note on why ‘me time’ for mums is an important thing

It is true and I am sure most of the mums would agree that the first three years of raising a child belong to the child. Only after they turn 3, that we can look at reclaiming our old selves i.e. if we manage that. Most of us don’t. Some of my friends have changed beyond recognition and I am not even talking physical appearance. 

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I do not say this with any malice. We all change with time and more so after the birth of a child. We throw ourselves at the nurturing of our children and it is nothing but sheer privilege. But does it have to come at a price of losing our identity to the point that we don’t recognize the reflection we see in the mirror. It has happened to me. It is an unshakable feeling. There were days when I would simply shrug my shoulders and get on with my tasks for the day and on certain days, I would feel myself falling in and out of depressive spells. Not healthy, right? Something so joyful  as nurturing your child shouldn’t at any point in time feel like a burden. But then why do we feel like this ? And we all know it ends in us feeling terribly guilty for thinking so selfishly about ourselves. 

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If you continue to feel bad inside for neglecting yourself, your needs and desires, there is no way you can be your best for the people you love. Your child included. 

Three years is a long time and our habits harden and it is difficult to fall back into any kind of discipline that involves doing something about yourself. Again, even if you feel like doing something to change the way you feel, without adequate support from your partner it is quite impossible to lift yourself from this atmosphere of despair. If the partner refuses to see the use in all this need for discipline then he plays a huge rule in the act of negligence. He has a big role to play in the process of deterioration. I am sure, our partners love us too much to see us in any kind of uncomfortable state. Perhaps the only thing they need is a conversation explaining why looking after ourselves is just as important as looking after the children and them. 

What qualifies as ‘me time’?

I do not consider going to the beauty parlour, couple of hours in a month or in 6 months as me time. Well some of my friends complain that they don’t even get the time to get a hair cut! 

‘Me time’ are  those precious hours in the day where you get to do your thing – which could be reading, learning a language, meeting friends for coffee, attending baking classes or even watching back to back episodes of your favourite sitcom. 

You may be doing this in breaks – 15 minutes of reading here, purposeful baking for someone’s birthday, meeting friends at common dinners. But that in my opinion is not ‘ me time’. 

‘Me time’ should feel selfish and hence good.

Intentionally doing something because you want to do it without any interference or the burden of tasks or responsibilities. That constitutes as satisfying ‘me time’.

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Once you establish the ‘me time’ rules, see how much vigour you experience in projecting the best of yourself to others. The energy, the zeal and the enthusiasm towards all chores increases manifold. 

I had been a firm believer of spending this ‘me time’ from the very beginning and for that reason I started writing and created this scared space on the blogsphere. It is an extension of me where I shareas  much as I feel comfortable sharing.

I have and always will exercise – whether it involves going to the gym or simply going for a walk in the neighbourhood park.

Once a week – on Fridays – I watch back to back episodes of TV series that I enjoy or obsessively try and finish a book.

To me, ‘me time’ is about being shamelessly selfish and not caring whose judging you.

For all this to happen, you definitely need your husband and to some extent, even your child to understand that this is important to you – the mother and the wife.

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Baking, out of turn, just because I felt is also something that I think of as ‘me time’ and this Almond, lemon and ricotta cake was a result of such a labour of love. Only very slightly sweet and dizzying tangy, this cake a perfect treat for tea time. A drizzle of honey on top or a even citrus-y sugar syrup can make it decadent. Without any syrup or honey, you can taste the ricotta as an after taste only after you have recovered from the slight shock of the abundance of lemon goodness. The almond adds to the beautiful texture of this cake.So the next time life gives you lemons, make sure you make this almond Lemon, ricotta cake. 

Mixed fruit parfait
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 500 gm greek yogurt or hung yogurt ( preferable) else any yogurt will do that is not runny
  2. 4 handfuls of granola clusters
  3. your choice of fruits - pomegranate, mango, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
  4. honey to sweeten or any low calorie sweetener
Instructions
  1. Beat the yogurt until its smooth. Add honey as per liking and beat again. You can use a fork or a small whisk to do this.
  2. Take small serving bowls or mason jars or glasses and layer it with yogurt
  3. The next layer you can have berries or mangoes, finely chopped, followed by more yogurt.
  4. Then the layer after this can be a granola, the more fruit and you can add chopped nuts and seeds.
  5. Place it in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours and enjoy for breakfast or in between snack.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

The best of both worlds – Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta with Pistachio Rabri

Don’t we wish, that we should have it all; true love, fame, happiness, peace of mind, money and everlasting friendships. But it is difficult and probably impossible to have it all. This is primarily because our logical minds refuse to accept contradictions. If you have plenty of money, you are busy making money and hence you don’t have time to nurture your relationships. Likewise if you have peace of mind, most likely you are only moderately well -off and not stinking rich. 

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If I have to believe what I shared in this poster above, I would be trying to break – free from all the conditioning that has happened for the past 34 years.  This undoing of notions and habits is a difficult job since we all have been made to believe that though contradictions exist, we must not condone them. Somewhere in our heads, contradictions are considered  ‘wrong’ and not a part of normal course of things. But funnily, contradictions exist everywhere in life, in nature and is the very essence of the universe we live in. Yet we fight against it. 

 But as I grow older, I have started to believe in contradictions and have begun to accept it as a way of life. I have also begun to believe that even if it may not be possible to have it all, contradictory or not, it is quite possible to have the best of different worlds. 

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Lately I have been thinking about the different ways in which I have allowed contradictions to seep into my life and how they have naturally turned into the “best of different worlds”. 

– I wanted to work with more freedom and flexibility but being in a corporate profile didn’t allow that. I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, but the fast-paced consulting life left me with no time at all. Somehow, life just beautifully unfolded and now I enjoy the best of both worlds – that of being an entrepreneur (flexibility and freedom) and working from home so that I can be with my daughter all the time. 

– Being a South Indian ( I come from Kerala) and being married to  North India had always posed many challenges, culturally. Over time, I have understood that focusing on dissimilarities can only aggravate the divide. I’d rather focus on grasping the best of both worlds and offer them to my daughter, who is yet to comprehend the difference and similarities 

– Since childhood I have been educated about which contradictory food to avoid. Don’t have milk and onions together, don’t have acidic stuff with milk and so on. But I have inadvertently had these contradictory foods and nothing has happened. In fact, I quite enjoy my onion soup with some milk that allows me to skip cheese.

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I was compelled to think about contradictions and the important role they place in helping us grow when I made this gorgeously flavoured Rose and Cardamom Pannacotta with Pistachio Rabri. Rose and cardamom flavours pair excellently with the Italian cream dessert. Topped with pistachio rabri ( condensed milk), the pannacotta is a perfect example of how opposites become fuse well when we bring together the best of both worlds. Indian flavour and an Italian dessert come together to create a culinary fusion that successfully brings the best of both worlds together in this dreamy combination.

I made this show stopper of a dessert at the Diwali party where I had my close friends over. We had the most exquisite time over food and rose and cardamom pannacotta.

The leftover rabri, I froze in popsicle and kulfi moulds to have later.

Contradictions exists and to accept them is to keep growing like the poet Whitman has so eloquently stated. Contradictions can become beautiful fusions and fusions are nothing but the best of different worlds that come together. And we all have to agree, there is nothing more beautiful or harmonious than that.

Mango Cheese Cake
Serves 12
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 25 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
1 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  4. 4 large ripe mangoes, cubed and pureed
  5. 685 gm packages cream cheese, softened
  6. 1 1/4 cups sugar
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. 1. Stir together the digestive biscuits crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl; press into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 325º/ 162.7 C for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool
  2. Puree the mangoes in a blender. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and vanilla essence until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, mixing it well and finally stir in the mango puree.
  3. Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake at 325º / 165 C for 1 hour and 25 minutes. After the alloted time, test if the cheese cake is cooked in the center. If find it is still a bit raw, allow the cheese cake to continue baking in the heat of the oven after you switched off the oven for atleast another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack 1 hour.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/