Friday, August 5, 2011

The night before.

This post is my entry to a witty event - Of Chalks and Chopsticks- by Desi Soccer Mom on her blog. the original idea being from Aqua Using the following photo cue, I have created this post. I am looking forward to reading the other entries. Bravo, DSM!!! Looking forward to knowing you and reading you, more! :)

Photo: From the blog Desi Soccer Mom

It was worse than my scariest nightmare. It was 8 o’clock, the night before the Monday that I was going to start my new job, 6 years after quitting my last one. Dinner was done, but it was all a blur to me. My family had sensed that I was ready to lose my cool and had stayed out of my way the whole evening. Come to think of It, even the baby had eaten her food without too much of a fuss! Now, it was sleep time. Sonny dearest had the beginnings of a tantrum brewing while the baby had decided that she wanted to “read” her favorite Winnie the Pooh story on the Ipad. But after a day of watching movies and doodling, the Ipad was completely out of charge. A frenetic search for the not-so-easy-to-lose white charger ensued only to end with the knowledge that the charger had shredded at its end and was now, useless. This brought forth loud bawls from the baby and I picked her up, trying to calm her down. I had planned the morning and the day to the minutest detail and was determined to execute it accordingly. Having satisfied her with hugs and intense kisses, I put her down and grabbed the grapefruit to make juice for the morning. I hate grapefruit. I hate the way it controls my taste buds with its bitter, sour taste and makes my lips pucker even if I don’t want them to.  But hubby dearest loves it and all the research I was shown about its anti-aging antioxidant content had ensured its place in my fruit basket. The bright golden orb with its rosy blushes was inviting me to squeeze the life out of it. I reached for it and my fingers squished right into the back of the fruit. Unbeknownst to me, this pretty ball had rotten on the back, the side away from my sight and the rot had gotten so far into the fruit that the only logical destination for it was the garbage bin. It landed there with a thud that made hubby dearest cringe! Strike one against my best laid plans for a stress free, back to work morning!  
I thought cleaning out the countertops might help me calm down and as the kids got ready to go to bed, I grabbed the leftover dried up okra from the white plate and laid them to rest next to the grapefruit.  The bag of key limes had appeared out of nowhere. I thought back to the first time I had bought one of these. My favorite chef Ida Gurgen had promised me- via her TV show - that I could make a delicious key lime mousse pie just like her. Foolishly, I had decided to make it the star dessert for a dinner party, the first social event I had planned after resigning from my job. The highlight of the evening was going to be my childhood friend Vidya, who had recently moved to New York with her family. I had planned the dinner for days and felt confident about the menu except for the dessert. I bought four bags of key limes, had juiced and zested them, just as instructed. I then assembled the ingredients in the order that they would go into the bowl. I baked the mixture of graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon at 375 degrees and the crust came out golden and perfect. It was cooling on the wire rack and I felt unbeatable. The custard was the next part. While the unflavored gelatin bloomed in the lukewarm water, I whisked the egg yolks in a small saucepan and slowly added the lime juice, sugar and zest. So far so good! Then I placed the saucepan on a pot of rolling boiling water as my makeshift double boiler and started to whisk. The dessert was doomed from that point on. The egg yolks did change color as mentioned in the recipe but they also were on the brink of getting scrambled. I should have just tossed out that mixture and started fresh, but time was running out and I was feeling unbeatable! I thought I could fix the error. I let the egg mixture cool down and folded in the egg whites and gelatin, poured it into the crust and set it in the refrigerator, to cool. With just a half hour left before the guests would arrive, I took out the piece de resistance and found out that instead of the silky mousse I had been waiting for, I had made a cold, congealed mass of semi-scrambled eggs with a strong sour lime-y flavor. The guests had finished the elaborate 4 course dinner with vanilla and chocolate ice cream!
That dinner had brought me and Vidya closer again, figuratively and literally. Since then, we had reconnected our old friendship and had added new memories, which included children and camping trips and late night museum trips.  Now as I was putting the dishes away, I saw something tucked behind the stockpot in the corner of a cupboard. It was a wooden serving tray, hand carved from walnut wood by the artisans in Kashmir. It was a wedding gift from Vidya. I hadn’t used it in years but could not bring myself to get rid of it or pack it away. Thinking of my wedding day still brought forth an intense reaction, a mix of jitters and excitement. That day had been a chaotic mix of ceremonies, music, people decked in their finery all moving with a purpose. I had felt lost and out of control, as though moving on auto-pilot, following instructions from the priests and my parents. But, looking up a few times at my beaming groom, I had known that I had made the right choice. Looking back, I can imagine what my parents must have felt that day, sending their little princess away from home, first to another family, then to an unknown land across the seas. I found myself tearing up and made a mental note to call my parents the next day. They would be waiting to hear the news of my latest adventure. A sad and tired cry of “Mommy” snapped me out of my reverie. Feeling thankful for little blessings, I turned the light off and walked over to the kids’ bedroom to read tonight’s selection from The Bedtime Stories.