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Surviving Emotional Abuse

Initially when I found out that my mother is a narcissist I grieved the fact that my entire childhood was a lie and I was robbed of everything that a child should have rightfully been given. I have even wondered if I would have been better off emotionally and mentally had I been an orphan! Because 38 years of silent and hidden abuse is no joke. I always knew something was amiss but I never figured it out, however, I never agreed to support the wrong that was going on either, which is the best thing I had gifted myself, though I realize it only now. Rather, I isolated myself and distracted myself sometimes with good things or bad things. But today, I realize that even the bad things were a blessing in disguise only because God had my back through it all. Because when I read or listen to more and more stories of abuse victims and how brutally they were tortured and have gone so deep into the mire emotionally, I feel God has truly been gracious to me. There were a lot of things that I was blessed with unknowingly during the course of my adult life, especially in my late 20s which were the reason why I didn’t crash completely. Had I solely relied on my parents I would have been vanquished by now. I am so thankful to my paternal grandparents whom I never had the chance to love and bond with on a deeper level due to my mother’s manipultion and false accusations she cast on them on a regular basis. However, they have done so much for me, especially my grandfather. Had he seen me with my husband and kids today I would have seen his biggest smile of satisfaction. But sadly he passed away before I could get married. He put in his best efforts and had my well being at heart. Most thankful to God who had everything covered behind the scenes. If it weren’t for Him, I don’t know where I’d be. Despite being 38 and discovering the complete truth now, it is the best thing that could have happened to me. Because I don’t want to be the emotional fool I had been in 2017 and 2019 wrecking my own health. My mom has cancer and will eventually reach the end of her life when God decides it’s time. And though I will be grieving the mother I wished I had, I will not be grieving the one who simply birthed me to abuse me and let me be abused at the hands of multiple people. Thank God for that!! God is good all the time and there is no doubt about it. We may not always understand what we go through when we go through it, but we will surely understand at some point in life.

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Barnyard Millet Sweet Pongal

While living with multiple health issues, to balance everything is always a challenge. Recently I craved something sweet but it also needed to be gluten-free and low on the glycemic index. Sweet pongal was one sweet I really enjoyed when I worked in Chennai. I remember grabbing it from friends who got it to work and belting the whole tub, refusing to share it. I think I went mad after such stuff because back in my home I wasn’t exposed to these wide variety of traditional dishes.

There was minimal variety and I felt like we always ate the same stuff over and over again. Cooking something healthy was definitely not on my parents’ agenda. They never had the awareness nor did they bother to educate themselves until my dad started having all sorts of health issues at the age of 50 plus. By then it was too late. We had given up tradition for heavily processed food. I grew up on the worst kind of junk and processed foods available and eventually by the age of 32 years I lost my health as well.

If there is one thing I learnt in the midst of all of this, it is to follow our ancestors. Eat organic, unadulterated and process-free produce. They ate themselves to health and longevity, while now the world is eating themselves to sickness and death.

One of the things I’ve heard my ancestors consumed were millets in the form of ‘kanji’ (porridge). I’m taking about when my grandmother was a litte girl. Even in my mother’s time that traditional practice was done away with. Now the benefits of consuming these tiny seeds are being considered once again.

Also, I’ve never heard of sugar being used regularly in my grandparents home. It was ‘karpetti’ (palm sugar) for coffee and daily use or ‘vellam’ (unrefined cane sugar) for sweets like pongal. Snacks using sugar were made probably when there were festivals. But that was about it. That very sugar became a big part of my daily life from the time I was born till I touched my late 30s and started to deal with health issues. Thanks to that wretched ingredient I lost 30% of my teeth to caries and dental decay. After marriage I drastically cut down on our sugar usage just because we didn’t like things that were extremely sweet, like overly sweetened tea or coffee.

Fast forward to now, my household is 95% sugar-free. No, we don’t use low calories sweeteners either. Nothing is more worse for your body than something man invented. I try to stick to traditional sugars like palm sugar, cane sugar or ‘pana kalkand’ (for which I don’t the English name).

Sweet pongal is traditionally made with rice which is high on the glycemic index. I recently saw many posts where I read that both sweet and savoury pongal can be made using millets as an alternate to rice and hence decided to give it a try. I really thank God for women who try to cook healthier dishes. I truly believe it is up to us to teach the right things to the next generation so that they don’t end up making the same mistakes our previous generation did. Recently, we even started making our traditional upma using millets. We have also started adding millets to our dosa batter. I am so glad it doesn’t disturb my gut in any way.

I’m sharing the recipe I tried at home and you can modify this to suit your taste buds especially the amount of jaggery you use. This recipe does call for the use of copious amounts of ghee. There is a reason our ancestors used ghee. The fat helps reduce the rate at which the sugar levels spike in the blood. Of course our ancestors used high quality ghee made at home (cows were raised at home and fed clean food back then), not the crap that comes from the food industry, adulterated with loads of vanaspathi (hydrogenated vegetable oil). Even famous brands like GRB are utter crap. All this has been learnt the hard way. I have finally mastered making ghee from butter at home. It’s the first time I’ve eaten real ghee after the one I’ve had at my grandma’s home as a young child. So here’s the recipe. Hope you find joy in discovering hidden treasures from the past.

BARNYARD MILLET SWEET PONGAL

INGREDIENTS

  • Barnyard Millet (or any millet of your choice) – 1 azhakku (small cup)
  • Moong Dal – 1/2 cup
  • Jaggery – 200 gms
  • Saffron (optional) – few strands
  • Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • Ghee – 7 tbsp
  • Raisins – as desired
  • Nuts (blanched almonds, pine nuts/ cashews) – as desired

METHOD

1. Wash the moong dal thoroughly. Wash the millets in a really fine sieve.

2. Add 3 tbsps of ghee to a heavy-bottomed pressure cooker and roast the moong dal. As it starts to turn mild brown, add the millets. Roast well and add 7 azhakku or cups of water, the saffron strands and cardamom powder, mix well and seal the pressure cooker.

3. As the steam starts to release through the vent, place the whistle on the lid. Keep the flame on medium-low and wait for 6 whistles. Switch off the flame and let the pressure release on its own.

4. In the meanwhile, heat the jaggery in 1/2 cup of water until it completely dissolves.

5. Once the pressure has released, open the pressure cooker, strain the jaggery syrup into it using a stainless steel sieve to collect any impurities. Stir well and check the level of sweetness.

6. Heat the remaining ghee in a small skillet, roast the raisins, as they start to bloat, add the nuts and roast until they turn mild brown and crisp.

7. Add these roasted raisins and nuts into the sweet pongal and stir well. You can add more ghee if you like. Ghee enhances the flavour of this dish.

We enjoyed this sweet pongal a lot and could hardly make out any difference between the traditional one made with rice and this one. You can use any millet of your choice. I have a whole variety of millets stocked up so I keep alternating. I’ve already spoken about the Tamil measurement of an azhakku in one of my previous blogs. I’m so used to that measurement since my childhood days, I can’t seem to let go of it now and move onto English measurements. I’ve used blanched almonds and pine nuts as I’m trying to keep the entire dish as low FODMAP as possible. You can go ahead and use the usual, cashew nuts which are delicious. Definitely do give this recipe a try if you’re keen on healthier versions of traditional dishes. Happy cooking!

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The Great Vaccine Dilemma

It’s been a year since the pandemic started and my views on the whole matter have drastically changed from a year ago. What I thought started out as a normal, natural virus, now seems to have some mastermind behind all of it with a definite motive. The more and more I read, I find nothing natural about it. What breaks my heart is the fact that many good hearted people have miserably lost their lives to this mini monster. News of deaths, of both people from known circles and prominent people keep popping up on a daily basis. It is very distressing to wake up to another day and hear of heart wrenching stories.

From my younger days growing up in the church, it was not uncommon to frequently hear preachers stating that the world would one day be brought under a central control system and that those who refused to comply would be put to death. The Bible says that true believers in Jesus Christ must not take the mark of the the beast which would be forced and made mandatory to execute basic day to day activities like trade. I recently read in the news about vaccine passports and how those who did not take the vaccine would be restricted from accessing certain services and this was something happening at a global level. I couldn’t help but compare the similarity of what I had heard predicted as a child and what is currently going on in the world.

I am not an anti-vaxxer but I’m definitely not an advocate of the covid-19 vaccine. Why? Simply because it came out too soon and the general population has become the lab rat in this experiment for the so called greater gain of humanity. I already have a myriad of health issues which can’t be sorted by doctors. So I can’t imagine adding another one to that list. I’d rather live the rest of my life indoors or die early than inject some unknown chemical into my body and live another 50 years of misery. Besides, I would like to see actual proof that this vaccine is going to prevent serious infections. I am guessing we will know a bit by the end of this year. With the speed at which this created virus is mutating, it’s sounds like all we are going to be injected with is an outdated medicine. Also, I am highly skeptical about these new MRNA technology vaccines which haven’t even been tested for at least 5 years before being declared safe on humans. What is astonishing is the fact that people are ready to load anything into their bodies. I think they don’t understand the pain of living with health issues. I’ve lived like that for 3 years now and when doctors can’t solve those issues we are left to be miserable day in and day out. But it is such a horrible way to live and that is all I can say. Instant death is better than living life with debilitating infirmities. At least the Chinese vaccines are old technology based, which have been around for centuries. They sound a lot less harmful than these new fame-fetching vaccines. To me all that the new MRNA technology spells is trouble.

What’s not fair about this whole vaccine passport system is the fact that people like me don’t even step out. It’s been a year since I’ve stepped out even for grocery shopping. Yet, because I’m not vaccinated I’m a possible threat to human life. However the vaccinated folks who are having parties and gathering needlessly are no threat whatsoever. It’s the most preposterous thing I’ve heard of! When my dad passed away, I thought humanity was dead in India. I have now come to realize that humanity is dead globally. There is no justice anywhere and the only way to survive this human life seems to be at the feet of Jesus.

May God heal the world from this man made catastrophe. May the humans on earth be blessed with divine wisdom to do good for everyone alive and not live selfishly to fulfill their disgusting motives. And if this is truly the beginning of the end may every Christ-believing Christian be ready to meet with the Saviour. That will surely be the best day of our lives!

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Inipu (Sweet) Paniyaram – Gluten Free Version

Traditional recipes have always been buried and new modern ones have come up to replace methods that have been followed for years. However it is a joy to dig deep and find those buried treasures, because there is a remarkable taste in traditional recipes, one that cannot be replicated by modern replacements.

By the time I was growing up, paniyaram at my place and at my aunt’s home was made with wheat. Traditionally it was a mix of fermented rice and urad dal. Why was that replaced with wheat? To make things easy and less painstaking. With wheat it became an instant paniyaram. Little did we know then that gluten was an absolute poison to the system. Anyway years later, after I got diagnosed with celiac disease and had to go gluten free, I’ve discovered the harm gluten can do to ones body, not because gluten itself is bad but because modern wheat is so modified and processed that we’d dare not compare it to what our ancestors consumed decades ago.

Since I needed a gluten-free version of my favourite paniyaram I started my search and came up with this recipe, adapted from here and there with my own tweaks and twists.

So let’s dive right into the recipe. DISCLAIMER: This recipe needs a hell lot of patience. Please skip if you’re looking for something simple and compromising.

INGREDIENTS

Raw Ponni Rice – 4 cups or aazhaku

Urad Dal – 1 tbsp per cup

Karpetti (Palm Jaggery- 2 1/2 blocks or discs

Ripe Bananas Big – 5 nos.

Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp

Organic Coconut Oil

METHOD

1. Wash and soak the rice and urad dal together for about 4-5 hours.

2. Grind to a fine paste using a high speed processor or mixie. Use minimal water for the grinding.

3. Transfer to a steel container, add a pinch of salt, mix well and leave overnight on kitchen counter for the batter to ferment.

4. Take the palm jaggery in a steel vessel, add minimal amount of water and melt the jaggery till it dissolves completely. Allow it to cool.

5. Grind the bananas into a smooth paste using a blender or processor and add it to the batter. Also add in the cardamom powder. Mix well.

6. Filter the melted jaggery into the batter. Mix well and check the consistency of the batter. It should be slightly more thicker than dosa batter. Also check if the batter is sweet enough for your taste.

7. Heat the paniyaram pan. Grease each pit with 1/4 tsp of coconut oil. Keep the flame on the lowest possible setting. Pour 3/4th of each pit with the paniyaram batter. Close and cook for about a minute and a half. Flip the paniyaram in the pits, close the lid again and cook it for a minute. Once the paniyaram is golden brown on both sides it is done.

This paniyaram is the softest and fluffiest sweet you’ll ever eat, if you have the patience to prepare it.

You’re better off getting a 12 pit paniyaram pan. I made the mistake of getting only a 6 pit pan and that makes it all the more slower.

Keep the flame low. If you increase the flame be ready to savour some burnt paniyarams.

Fermenting the batter is important. If it doesn’t ferment properly the entire recipe becomes a flop.

Adjust the sweetness according to your taste. My family does not prefer cloyingly sweet stuff.

You can store the leftovers in a steel container and store it for upto 5 days. One heated for a minute in the microwave it becomes soft again.

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This life or the next?

1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

This verse has been stuck on my mind for over a month now. Initially it started with extremely missing my dad. Then realizing that none of us are here for good. We are all just here for a while. That’s why man is compared to the grass of the field that today is and tomorrow withers and dies and to a vapour that suddenly vanishes. It’s such a humbling thought. However, despite knowing all these things, so many people live as if they’re going to be here forever. They fight, war and compete for things that will eventually perish forsaking the greater virtues of life, love, sacrifice and forbearance.

Nothing in this world is ours, the people we love, the land we claim our own, not even our own breath. A very humbling thought. In this life, at the end, all we inherit for our lifeless body is a grave. But we have hope on the other side of this life through Christ. Those who see this bigger picture cannot conform to the ways of this world or be in a competition. We have a different destination, we are looking forward to spending eternity with Christ and hence only those things pertaining to eternity really matter. The world and its things perish.

Our perspective is what changes how we look at and live this life. We are here, not without hope, without help or without expectation. Therefore, with eternity in focus, the matters of the present world shift out of focus. We may lose everything in this life, but we know we can only gain in the next. So we strive without giving up or giving in.

My advice to humans is chase eternal things. Don’t waste time fretting over the perishable. No matter how solid it seems, one day its story will end. It could be an education, a friend, a companion, an asset or riches. When we are on our death bed and after we leave, nothing will be more cherished than our memories and good deeds. But rest assured we will leave and take nothing with us. As we come so we leave, with nothing to call our own. May we always bear this truth in our minds as we journey through this life. It will keep us humble and grounded and heaven-bound.