Moroccan Beet Salad

As part of CSA farm share, I received 5 beets, and I was pleasantly surprised by many options that were quite similar when I looked for salad recipes on youtube. Every recipe I saw had at the least either 60 minutes of baking or 60 minutes of boiling. I sure was not ready to spend so much time cooking. I choose to use the pressure cooker and boiled it until there were 3 whistles. Voila it’s ready.

Ingredients

5 medium sized beets – slightly cut and pressure cooked until 3 whistles

1 yellow onion – medium – finely chopped

Cilantro/Parsley – 1/2 cup finely chopped (or you can add more depending on your taste buds)

Olive oil – 1tbsp

Lime juice – 1/2

Salt, pepper & cumin – as per taste (yes all three)

1/2 -Jalapenos (optional) – finely chopped

Procedure

  1. Peel off the outer skin of boiled beets, cut them into equal size proportions -1/2 inch square cubes.
  2. Mix – finely chopped onion, cilantro/parsley, olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper & cumin – mix it. I have added jalapeno as well for extra spice.
  3. Mix beets from step #1 & step #2 – adjust the ingredients according to your taste buds.
  4. Refrigerate it for 2-3 hours before serving it.

It sure was one delicious salad that I had. You should definitely try. Great summer salad. Very refreshing. Sorry, again, I had no picture. Also, I tried with non-red beets.

Here is the video where I sourced my recipe from except for the way of boiling the beets and jalapenos. Rest of the procedure is almost same.

Cooking with Alia -Moroccan Beetroot Salad

Learning ability?

One thing that I did not anticipate while doing my schooling was – one needs to be a lifelong student to keep progressing. Ever since, I started working, that hard truth of learning new things at every step downed upon me. During the project initiation phase, there was a very steep growth of learning curve and then eventually it would become comfortable, then another project, back to square one, repeats the same process. Currently, I work on multiple short duration projects, and every project in its own right makes me take a step back to initial stage and then build on it until I get to the stage of comfort in providing/suggesting a solution. The learning of business or technical or functional is always there to understand and work on it is sometimes straight forward and at times complex. There are some projects that I get involved in with my choice where I find myself working overtime during weekdays and weekends to supplement my knowledge to better come up with most efficient possible solution.

Learning is fun, interesting and challenging at the same time. The concentration has been declining with too many world-life problems take over my intellect space. I carry the additional burden with me which makes it difficult to move ahead freely. The art of living in present is still a distant dream for me. The whole reason for me to write this came when I have to listen to online course that I have registered to upgrade myself with new skill in my career. The video class was about for an hour and I had such a hard time focusing on it. The only way I was able to grasp something was while taking some notes and a treat of “break-from-work-for -15 minutes” has immensely helped. The revision is required and I need to find real-time examples to deepen my understanding. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem in watching movies back to back for hours, for that matter, entire day. I know the story and do not get very inclined to watch it again. However, when it comes to educating myself with “important skillful” information, the so called mind wanders and makes focusing the most difficult task.

The problem with online courses is that, there will be no one to monitor, or are forced to do any assignments or projects, you have to be entirely disciplined for your own benefit. I find it hard to concentrate; it takes some amount of grooving into the rhythm to get there.

Dear readers, how do you progress in your existing or any new skill that you take up? What measures do you take to keep yourself updated? And how do you keep the momentum going?

Music

After posting  How to be energetic? I really got some great suggestions, which I promptly followed them at work as well as at home. The music indeed is wonder, I never enjoyed plugging head phones into my ears for as long as I remember. Some impressions stay longer than required. I read some where that listening to music produces quite an amount of germs, and I thought that was dirtiest, ergo I avoided as much as possible, and did not share my ear plugs nor borrowed from anyone else. The sad fact is that I use mobile phone and surely, it could be the dirtiest one amongst others.  How do we even clean it? how to sanitize it? These smart phones are addictive.

I digress, the music, it has been really helping me get over with my mundane tasks like cleaning home & dishes, cooking and other chores around. At work, it has been a hit, I took my comfortable head phones and have been listening to music on repeat, so far, I have been doing great with mundane things that are not important but has to be finished sooner than later at work. Music surely is therapeutic. It is, as long as I do not pay attention to lyrics, if I do pay attention, it is very distracting. I can easily tune out the background noise while I focus. The only beneficial factor with headphones at work has been – no-distractions-from-colleagues-chatter. They think I am seriously working on something and do not initiate fun chatter.

Dear readers, do you listen to music? Why do you listen?

What motivates us to go to work every day and stay sane?

I have long been searching for this answer. The questions I tried to ask myself – whether I love my job, Love is a such a strong word, I would use “Like” over love, sure I do, for it gives me freedom to explore many other options and exposes me to interesting people, competitive enough to get ahead if I were to move onto something else, over all, the firm that I work for believes in a mission that I feel connected. But, there are days, where I find myself de-motivated, un- interested and I find myself killing time doing nothing and want to get back home as soon as I can and my restlessness continues through day with the thought “I did not accomplish much at work, ergo, not much progress at home too” and there are days where I am super productive at work, at home and at other works resulting in a good night sleep.

Today, is such a day of de-motivation, you may call it Monday Blues,  I came across this page  in google search while browsing for a quick solution to motivate myself instantly.  I will summarize the whole article in few points here.

  1. The feeling that you are making some progress at work and in life. The idea is to break down the bigger goal and try and achieve it (And this idea is exactly same as to what I have been trying to implement for the longest time possible, was able to do some times, but forego most of the times). Apparently, this is one of the reasons to feel motivated as well.
  2. 3 Factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction – Autonomy (our desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (our urge to get better at stuff), Purpose (The feeling and intention that we can make a difference in the world).
  3. Exercise & eating healthy – any kind of physical exercise everyday will produce mood-enhancing chemicals and endorphin’s that elevate your mood by lowering the stress. Of course, healthy food always makes you feel good.
  4. Reflecting on your thoughts and tracking down the progress you make each day.
  5. Most importantly, developing the art of positive thinking. Most of the times, the energy is drained by thinking negatively about something or someone. It is just easier and healthier for our brains and bodies to be positive.

The problem of implementing these steps and sticking to it until it becomes a habit is a challenging task. However, there is no harm in getting started and having a goal to do it is far better than being stuck and lacking direction. After all, the first step is very important to begin the journey.

So, dear readers what motivates you to what you do every day? I would be interested in knowing as to how you keep yourself going out and about life, work and all other areas despite hardships? How do you deal with mundane work over and over, be it professionally or personally?

Baby steps – minimalist wardrobe

If you were my regular blog reader, you probably know, how I have been suffering from excess-ism and also trying to be minimalist in many areas. The shopping freeze that I have and with numerous clothes that were accumulated over past few years, despite getting rid as much as possible, giving away, I find myself with lot more clothes that were hard to part with leaving me with congested closet. I came across this un-fancy blog few months back and loved the idea of having only seasonal clothes available in the closet and been trying to implement since then.

The procrastinator in me, delayed it for longest time possible. Travelling and staying out of my home for a day or two gives me a much needed break to formulate some of my pending, long-wished plans to solidify. So, as soon as I came back home this evening, I marched straight into my closet with “under-the-bed-box” bags that I purchased couple of weeks ago. Got all my fall & winter clothes including night-dresses from closet and packed them and kept them out of sight. That still leaves me with lot of clothes, but it looks way more manageable than it was before. I love it, my idea is, when fall begins, I would slowly be swapping my summer clothes to fall, then fall to winter and that way, I keep track of one-in-one-into-box or into good will bag. I hope this makes me feel a lot better when I look at clothes in my closet.

Have you ever done something like this? Switching to seasonal clothes on need basis?

WordPress mobile app

So, in one of my last post I did mention about few of my frequently used mobile apps. PB suggested wordpress app and thought that I may never need to use this app, now I had to for one thing, I am travelling and have no computer with me.

I love this app, so friendly and easy to go through. Love it.
So please try it out and share your experiences.

On school education

What started as my innocent question as a regular comment on a post – whether international schools (read : schools with international standards and not international in the name) are affordable by upper middle class people? in India turned out to be sequence of more or less like an opinionated discussion based on certain facts that both of us know.

You can find where it all started here (My response was to last two paragraphs of the post).Lead to post of Pepper’s opinions based on certain facts here, that lead me to present my points of why I think that way and started explaining by giving some insights. The comment is still in moderation, but I think, you my dear readers might find it interesting to read, as I really spent quite some time in composing those thoughts with some research and conversation with a friend of mine.

All this will make sense, if you read the entirety of the thoughts posted in the links shared above, then only, does this response fit in the dialogue. Also, I am not a very strongly opinionated person, I change my opinions based on facts and what we currently have and can do versus what it is to be ideal, I prefer an open ended conversation on the same.

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Here was my response:

Thanks Pepper – I appreciate the thoughtfulness you put in your response – your perspective is always very interesting!

Your points are very agreeable – there are many low-quality government schools. The government should spend a larger percentage of money than it does on education, and in a more effective manner. Equal opportunity is generally accepted as a worthwhile goal.

I think I made a lot of points and maybe spread myself too thin. I think my main points should have been
1) Education is important for many, but it’s not right for everyone
2) There’s lots of non-traditional educational opportunities outside of school
3) There are limited resources that shouldn’t necessarily be diverted to education

I’ll start with the third point. You are 100% correct that there are low quality teachers and many of them are underpaid, especially considering how important they are to society. However, where are we going to get these high quality teachers that you are looking for? I think that you, with your thirst for knowledge, might be a great and inspirational teacher! However, if we take you out of your leadership position at your company, then the company might be worse off, people may lose jobs, and children will have a hard time thinking about school when there basic financial necessities are not met. Similarly, should we take doctors out of hospitals or disease researchers out of labs to teach basic skills? Kids will find it hard to study when they are ill. You can call education a fundamental right – what about clean drinking water, green energy, food, shelter etc.? There are many things we can agree are good, but we cannot say one thing is a “fundamental right” and prioritize it for free – prioritizing one initiative comes at the cost of all these other great initiatives unfortunately :-/

For my second point, I am still firm in my point regarding learning different trades, skills, etc. For us, we may have benefited professionally and personally from a well-rounded education at top schools. However, there are many people who will not benefit from school as much as they will from learning a trade, because it will result in better financial results for that person. By teaching a child classical philosophy, we might be stealing a child’s opportunity to learn farming or metal-smithing, which could deprive them of earning potential in the future. I understand your point that education should not be judged solely on practical application for making money. However, financial freedom is necessary to entertain the possibility of lifelong learning. A beggar cannot afford an internet connection to read the news or read Wikipedia. A person struggling to put food on the table will not read textbooks at night for leisure.

Finally, this leads me to my first point. Education is not right for everyone.

To take it a step further, some education is poisonous. Let’s take a simple Social Studies / History example (and most people might agree that history is an important subject, since “if you don’t pay attention to history, you are doomed to repeat it”). Let’s take the specific example of WWI. What was the cause of WWI? Most educated people would answer immediately “The death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the series of alliances between the European powers that caused a domino effect”. This falls apart at the earliest question. Is anyone really THAT popular that their death would cause a world war? The notion is ridiculous. Someone who knows history will have all these particular facts that explain all the Western wars, be it this dictator here or that extremist ideology there. In this case, the uneducated person is at an advantage – they can see “hey – the Americans and Europeans are a warlike people that always seem to be fighting and killing”. They won’t say “There’s Stalin here, Pol Pot there, Saddam in that instance, etc.” Education in this case is the trees that block the view of the forest.

However, a more benign example is exactly as stated in my earlier point about useful skills – if kids are spending their time considering our great philosophical quandaries, they are losing time that could be spent on developing marketable skills. Even worse, if a subject they deem boring is forced on them, they might grow to hate school in general. Even though I think that Calculus is a key skill that should be taught to all children, I’m sure many kids would hate going to the class despite its importance in engineering and science.

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In this whole process of writing this response, I found my self doing more work for a blog than was required, trying to explain what I think and how I perceive, although, this has been an interesting topic to chat about and getting different perspectives,  I am also aware that we discussing this topic on the internet will not solve the real problem. This topic is debatable and can go back and forth as long as possible and we end up agreeing on some and agree to disagree on some other points.

Some useful mobile apps

  1. Audible: Have you heard of this “audible”? an app that provides access to audio books. It is subscription based and you accrue points or you buy points to purchase audio books. I have used it and love it, specially with commute being the longer, it aids me in catching up with some interesting books. My only problem has been focus, I get lost with my own thoughts, so I keep going back to the last “payed attention” point.
  2. Amazon Kindle –  my most frequently visited app, I have bunch of free books, yes, you can get some really good free books. I use it during my commute, when waiting for anyone, or in general if I am idle else where.
  3. Pandora – world wide music, you can practically listen to any sort of music of your choice.
  4. Saavn – Of all the online apps I explored,  this is by one of the best so far for the kind of indian music it provides. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.
  5. Yelp – you should definitely download this, it gives you information about every possible restaurant, ratings that will help you check out interesting restaurants.
  6. Uber/Lyft – great cab service based apps, I particularly find it to be useful in new york city. I use it a lot and highly recommend if you need services. I have tried “Ola” cabs service in india – it was simply great and cheaper, reliable than other standard cab services.
  7. Feedly – a place to find all articles, news and you can get information on any field of interest.

There are many other apps that I use on need basis, but the one above are the most frequently used and useful apps. Since I use android phone, google maps is default and it really really comes handy. As much as I appreciate these smart phones that make me look smarter, but I feel, I am so dependent on it, that it makes me feel handicapped if I do not have it.

Dear readers, what are your favorite apps that you use frequently?

How to be energetic?

In the past week or two, I trapped in the cycle of – wakeup-cook-clean-pack lunch-go to work- leave work <<optional – after work activities>>-come home-cook- clean-eat-watch tv-sleep and the cycle repeats except for weekend which is just wakeup-cook-eat-clean-sleep and i also feel very exhausted most of the time. If I have guests, i will be so tired and out of sleep too, stressing out on -planning activities or about grocery shopping/preparing food.

How can some one be very energetic and live life fully?

From the time I get back home, suddenly, I feel exhausted, hungry and would grab just about any thing. Well, you know what happens when you over eat anything, and I feel so lethargic after that and just sit in a couch watching TV for the rest of the evening (which is very bad and also very addictive to let go). Apart from that, the recent blood tests, it shows that I have vitamin D deficiency, do you think that is a problem? Not sure. Also, It does not help with the fact that my home some how get’s messy almost quickly, so hard to keep up with the maintenance. As soon as I step into the home, the mess around brings my energy levels down, how could I just not keep things in place?

How you keep your self energetic through out the day? what motivates you to be active, cheerful and lively? Is it food? or is it the attitude? what is your take on it?

Quote day

I am so short on time and my computer says it will restart in 13 minutes from now. I got exactly so much time before it shuts down. Here are few random quotes for you. Please add your favorite quote in the comment box. I would love to collect any interesting and or funny quotes.

Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.
Albert Einstein

Nothing is worth more than this day.
You cannot relive yesterday.
Tomorrow is still beyond our reach.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.
Helen Keller

First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.

Epictetus