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The Quirky Life of P

Humor and satire revolving around Mr P- a fictional mix of an avatar of Mr Bean and the veritable Bertram Wooster of Wodehouse fame.

Archive for the category “Food”

From Caterpillar to Butterfly…

Salad Days: Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days? Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof).- Daily Prompt

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P was reminiscing on

His salad days gone by,

And how like a caterpillar

That morphed into a butterfly,

From a carefree and spritely tot,

He had now grown to a man.

 

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Those balmy days he didn’t have to worry

For food on his table, and he voraciously ate

The meat, eggs, potatoes, and anything sweet,

But he fretted about salads on his plate,

As he dreaded the thought to eat or meet

A caterpillar hiding in the greens… he shuddered at the fate!

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The story of noodles

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“So, what story are you going to tell me today, Mr P?” asked the kid. P had his own secret name for the boy and it was Dennis the Menace. There seemed to be a lot in common between the kid and the cartoon character. Usually P gave him a wide berth, but today, however, his parents had asked P’s help to look after him while they took their younger one to the clinic. The baby had been crying all night and the parents had decided to seek the doctor’s help.

P had agreed to look after Dennis because he had some time on his hands and there were plenty of packets of Maggie noodles in the pantry. P had a theory that most kids seemed to like Maggie noodles… The little menace in front of him, also it seemed, was very fond of noodles… If it hadn’t been for the noodles, P would not have agreed to take on the responsibility of looking after the kid and giving him lunch as he had no idea about what to cook to keep the boy happy.

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“Mr P… Didn’t you hear me? What story are you going to tell me today?” asked Dennis. The boy had wanted to play football inside the house and P had dissuaded him from it with the promise of a story. However, nothing was on his noodles other than the thought of how noodles were going to save his day.

“Well, how about a story on how noodles came on earth?” asked P.

“Don’t be stupid Mr P. Noodles did not ‘come on earth’. They were made on earth,” the boy pointed out.

“OK then, I’ll reword it. A story of how the world’s first noodles were made… Does that sound alright?”

The kid nodded and sat down on the carpet next to P.

P gathered his wits about and tried to make up a story.  He cleared his throat and began…

“I heard this story from my grandmother and she had heard it from hers… Long, long ago, in the land of the yellow river, people were living happily. The river kept the land fertile and people ate cooked balls of pounded millets and grains. There was a young family of a man, his wife and two children who lived in a small hut by the river. The father used to go hunting and fishing while the mother cooked and took care of the children. In the evenings, when the father returned home with the fish and all the raw materials needed for dinner, all of them sat down together and had their sumptuous meals of millet balls, fish and a special dish that the mother used to make with stuff she gathered while walking along the river banks.”

At this point, P paused and made sure that he had the boy’s full attention. He then continued…

“Now, the eldest boy in that family was a little spoilt kid. It came to a point when he would eat only the special dish and nothing else.”

“Must have been very yum… What was it exactly?” asked Dennis, his eyes alight with vicarious satisfaction.

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“It looked like noodles” P continued. “However, disaster struck in the form of a very cold and severe winter. The father could not go out and catch fish and the mother came back empty-handed for days and days when she went to gather material for the special dish. There was only flour of millets and grains in the house and meals had to be prepared just with that. The boy who would not eat anything other than the special dish was starving. It was then that the parents came out with the idea of tricking him to eat his food. While the boy, hungry and tired was sleeping, they made a paste of millet and grain flour with water. Instead of making small balls with the dough like they used to before, they stretched it out flat on the floor. They then cut thin strips out of it like strings and put them in boiling water and cooked them. The dish came out looking very similar to the special dish the mother used to cook and when the boy woke up, he ate the meal heartily. Thus the world’s first noodles were born!”

P smiled and looked at the little boy’s face, but did not see much of a reaction.

“You must be hungry now. Let me cook lunch for you. Shall I cook some Maggie noodles?” asked P and was happy and relieved to see the eager nod.

P mentally thanked God and Maggie noodles for saving him from cooking something else that would have demanded more time and effort.

As he was about to get up from the chair, the little boy said “Wait!  You didn’t tell me what the mother was collecting when she made the original noodles or the special dish as you called it. What was it?”

“Oh! They were earthworms that were in plenty around the fertile banks of the river” said P and noticed the sudden nauseous look on the boy’s face.

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“Can I please have something other than noodles, Mr P?” he asked squeamishly before he doubled over and was sick on the carpet. There went P’s best laid plans!

Second-Hand Stories

Done with resolutions…

P found resolutions easy to make,

A list was just a piece of cake:

Some things to do to save the universe

And some to serve his health and purse

 

The list was long but he culled with clout,

Chiselled and chopped the hard ones out;

He finished with an easy five from the lot

But even with those, he lost the plot……

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Looking at the Daily Prompt, P was reminded of the list of New Year resolutions he made for 2017. There were many he could have listed out but there was one thing that had been ruled out from the beginning because circumstances had already made him form a good habit of NOT placing plastic containers of oil on the top of his electric cooking range. That is another long story, but for now, coming back to the topic of New Year resolutions, P finally had made a list of five which he believed he had to follow to ensure his good health and well-being.

He had resolved  

  • to turn off all the lights and not just the ones in his bedroom, before going to sleep
  • to give up the habit of sleeping in and begin to get up early in the morning everyday
  • to go for a brisk walk or jog  before breakfast everyday
  • to give up the habit of eating sweets and ice creams

and

  • not to spend too much time snacking and slacking before the TV

Having made these very important resolutions, P had gone to the beach to join the celebrations for the New Year’s eve and had a nice time dancing.

P enjoyed the fireworks as the clock struck twelve and then had eaten a big slice of the cake to welcome in the New Year. After another hour or two of crushing people’s toes and jabbing people in their backs and tummies with his elbows (P dancing), he had returned home and  had gone to sleep. 

It was nearly noon when he woke up the next day and remembered his resolutions.  He looked at the clock and realized he had broken one already. He made his way to the bathroom and then to the kitchen, noticing that all the lights had been left on. His excuse to himself was that having arrived home very tired, he had hit the bed straight away. P usually arrived home very tired in the evenings, New Year or otherwise.

While making his cup of tea, P realised that it was too late in the day and probably too hot to go walking or jogging. So he warmed food from the fridge, sat down with his crosswords and ate a large brunch.

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As he was wiping his plate clean, he felt a strong pull from the fridge… He remembered he had eaten a piece of cake after midnight and that was already into the New Year. “What was the point of abstaining now when he had already broken the pact?” he argued with himself. “A resolution once broken is a broken resolution… Like Humpty Dumpty, it couldn’t be put together again.” He walked to the refrigerator, opened the freezer door, saw the French Vanilla and lost the battle.

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Once he had finished his ice cream, he felt pleased with himself. He looked out through the window. It was a beautiful day…. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the flowers were dancing in the garden, butterflies were flitting and all was right with P’s world…He grabbed some Burger Rings to munch and sat down on the sofa with a sigh, stretched his legs comfortably and turned on the TV.

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What a to-do! He was done with resolutions…

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To-do? Done

Pitfalls of cooking…And then there was Indian-French toast

Sunlight was fingering its way through the venetian blinds as P walked softly and noiselessly into the kitchen. The morning was chilly and he did not want to wake up his guest who had arrived from India very early in the morning.  P wanted to have breakfast ready by the time his friend woke up refreshed after the tiring journey from overseas. He had already decided what he was going to make for breakfast and it was …………………… French toast!

P considered himself an expert at making French toast. This morning, he was slowly humming to himself as he broke the eggs into the bowl and beat them up nicely before adding some milk, the tiniest pinch of salt and two tablespoons of sugar. P liked his French toast sweet….and evenly toasted on both sides.

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He was still humming when he dipped the slices of bread in the egg-milk mixture and spread them on the heated and buttered pan on the stove. After a minute or two, just as he turned the slices over to their other side, he suddenly remembered the conversation he had had with his friend on the drive home from the airport… His friend had then said that he was so tired of all the bland food on the plane and was longing to eat something spicy. P was thrown into a panic now; he did not have any batter for dosas or idlis and he had no frozen, spicy sambar either. Moreover, the French toasts were all nearly made and he did not want them to go waste. Being an obliging host as always, P started wracking his brains on how to salvage the situation…

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Breakfast was soon served. P had stuck to plain French toast for himself but had prepared a special breakfast for his friend. Seated at the table, P’s friend took a large, hungry bite. Soon he was choking and turning red. He had to drink a lot of water before he found his voice to ask P  what that was that he had just eaten.

Ever glad to share his recipes, P said, “That’s a long story. Let me start at the very beginning. ……………

It was a chilly morning in Gaul, thousands of years ago. P had come back after a walk in the forest, collecting snails for a special lunch for his guest. He had gone out early in the morning to gather them before the sun came out and sent them scrambling into crevices and hollows to hide. Going out early in the morning meant that he did not have a chance to eat breakfast and now that he was hungry and was back home, he decided to get something to eat. He brought out the bread from a stone container and held it to his nose. Definitely it was past its use by date, stale and had to be thrown out.

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He swore loudly in Gallic. Now, have you heard somebody swear in Gallic? It’s supposed to wrack the strongest nerves. No wonder then that the cat, that was slowly sneaking in to sip the milk, took fright and dashed away, upsetting the container of milk onto the kitchen floor. Looking aghast at the mess, P swore again loudly and stomped. This time he upset the chicken that was nesting in a nook on a ledge on the kitchen wall to lay her egg. She cackled and flew away, dropping the egg on the kitchen floor, splattering all its contents on top of the spilt milk.  Frantically P looked around for something to mop up the mess. His eyes fell on the stale bread………..” The modern-day P paused his narration and took a sip of his tea.

He then cleared his throat and proceeded “They say that stale bread is very absorbent… Back in those days when there were no kitchen towels, they probably used stale bread instead. So P decided to break the bread into pieces to soak up the egg-milk mix.

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When the entire stuff was soaked up by the bread pieces, P was reluctant to throw them away. After all, wasn’t egg and milk supposed to be very nutritious? Moreover, the smell of egg masked the bread’s stale odour. So he toasted the soggy slices on a greased frying pan, evenly on both sides, and the world’s first French toast was born….”

P stopped at this point and looked expectantly at his friend for some form of appreciation or applause for his creative imagination, but all he received was a blank stare.

“Now, what you have just eaten is probably the world’s first Indian-French toast,” P continued. “Quite easy to make: Prepare French toast like normal and just add liberal amounts of turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, fenugreek, asafoetida, pepper, ginger paste, garlic paste and onions. And of course the garam masala… Don’t forget the garam masala…”

 

In the beginning

 

On Neighbourly Expectations and a Fishing Expedition

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All those who have read this blog,please don’t be mad at me. Re-blogging this from an earlier post as it seemed relevant to the prompt.

Apparently it is not one of the simplest of expectations to have good neighbours…. at least not for Mr P. He was pondering on all the expectations he had had about his neighbour and it was so maddening how most of them were dashed to smithereens:

  • Mr P had expected his neighbour to be artistic but every time P had played his violin, his neighbour seemed to get into a car and rush off somewhere instead of staying at home and lending an appreciative ear. Mind you, this was after P had taken special care to get to the open window closest to his neighbour, when he played the violin, so as to give his lonely neighbour some entertainment.

 

  • He had expected his neighbour to be altruistic but he was sadly disappointed. There was a time when P had tried to squeeze park his car in the common drive-way and ended up slightly denting his neighbour’s car. P had expected his neighbour to say in all good neighbourliness and bonhomie, “Don’t you worry about that teenie-weenie scratch, my lad.” Instead, he just received grave looks and a bill to foot at that!

 

  • There were the times when P merely peered through the curtains to see who his neighbour’s guests were, and caught disapproving frowns directed in the general direction of the windows behind which he stood. P had expected his interest and concern, about the guests that visited his neighbour who lived all alone, would be understood and applauded. But no, the quaint neighbour was totally of a different mind!

 

  • P remembered the totally unexpected dressing down he got from his neighbour one other time as well. It was not the way you would have expected to be treated, when you hopped next door to commiserate with your neighbour who was back home from hospital after a stomach wash. Always willing to help people out, the previous day P had given his neighbour some basil leaves from the garden to make a herbal remedy for his cold. Granted P had forgotten about the liberal dusting of insecticide he had given those plants for his fire-ant problems. (https://avatarofmrbean.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/holy-basil-a-version-of-mr-bean-as-a-good-neighbour-and-fire-ants/

 

  • To talk about adding salt to wound, P could not believe the reaction he got from his neighbour when a week later, P threw some smelly anchovy over the fence to feed his neighbour’s cat. It was true that he wanted to get rid of the anchovy meal he had bought a load of, but P thought the cat would have enjoyed it. The neighbour just decided to be a spoil sport.

 

  • The thought of fish brought another incident to mind, where his neighbour had fallen far short of P’s expectations. He remembered the ridiculous birthday present from his neighbour. P had had a lot of expectations about his birthday presents from family and friends, and most of them, if not all, never came true. The jovial person that P was, he usually took things in his stride and whistled through his disappointments. On his last birthday, his neighbour had given him his best wishes and a neatly gift wrapped package over the fence. This was the first ever birthday gift from his neighbour and he opened the package with “Oohs” and “Ohs” to show his appreciation. P, however, could not help his sudden in-drawn breath of shock from escaping and the dip in enthusiasm from reflecting on his face… The present his neighbour had given him was a book titled “Old Man and the Sea”, by somebody named Earnest!

 

Remembering the book now, P went to hunt it down. He had solely used the book as a lid or coaster for his tea-cup. Now that it was Easter holidays, P had some time on his hands and decided to leaf through the book. Flitting through the blurb his intelligent mind could pick out that it was all about a fellow who went to fish and caught nothing for a long, long time… till he finally caught a big one. P considered himself to be quite an intellectual, but he could not make any sense of the book. Only the theme of fishing stuck to his mind. After a few bored yawns, P decided to put the book down and set into some sort of action. P wanted to go fishing.

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Sitting by the pier his fishing rod cast well into the sea, he whistled merrily. He expected to reel in a heavy load to feed himself, his neighbour and the cat. It was a bit late in the evening by the time he had got to the beach, but he was hopeful of making it back home early enough to cook a good meal for dinner. He watched as others reeled in fish after fish and P smirked! “Well wouldn’t they just be flabbergasted seeing the big ones he would be reeling in soon?” he thought… Hours went by and the wind began to get icy cold. Still hopeful, P held on to his rod moving it around a little bit occasionally.

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P saw that others who had been fishing nearby leave as the darkness settled in, and soon, he was the only one left on the pier. P held on for a couple of hours more till he could not stop himself shaking from the cold. Finally his expectations frozen, he decided to call it a day and pulled in his reel. He looked at the hook, wishing he could find one of the gill-bearing aquatic craniates hanging on to it. Alas! He could not find even a bit of bait left on the hook. This set him wondering… Had the big fish eaten the bait, cleverly avoiding the hook? Or, in all his great expectations, had he simply just forgotten to bait the hook?

Great Expectations

Pitfalls of cooking…..Quail egg for Easter!

 

Easter was here and though Mr P felt edgy all the time, today he was feeling quite eggy. P had eaten all the Easter eggs and bunnies he had bought earlier in the week and this Easter Sunday, he was sadly left without any. So, P decided to boil an egg for breakfast. Now, boiling an egg seems to be one of the very simplest of culinary arts and anyone would think that nothing could go wrong with the task. However with Mr P, anything could go wrong anytime! If you were to prepare a list of things you should not do while boiling an egg or things you should not do with a boiled egg, a mere study of Mr P’s endeavours in this direction would provide you with enough and more to build the lists. Experience had not still given him mastery over the technique of boiling an egg and so Mr P had made a note of what not to do when boiling an egg.

1)      Do not boil an egg all by itself without the accompaniment of water.

2)      Do not boil the water and forget to put the egg in it. Often when Mr P came rushing to eat his breakfast before he left for work there was only boiling water and no gladsome boiled egg waiting for him in the pot!

3)      Do not put the egg and water in the pot on the stove, but forget to turn on the stove.

4)      Do not put the egg and water in the pot on the stove, turn on the stove and blissfully forget about it for a few hours. Many a charred and scarred pot also would vouch for the importance of this point.

5)      Do not crack the shell when you put the egg in the water to boil, unless you do not mind settling for watery egg soup instead of boiled egg.

 

cracked egg

 

But today was Easter Sunday and Mr P did not wish to deal with any complicated lists or notes. Luckily he remembered the boiled egg he had stored in the fridge some time ago. “It may be a month since it’s been in the fridge. Not more than that anyways…” guessed Mr P.

P went to get the egg and despite hunting around in his crammed fridge, he could not track it down. “Maybe… Just may be….” he muttered and opened the freezer door. In the freezer Mr P discovered the container he was hunting for and brought it out. He thawed the egg in the microwave oven and opened the lid. P was taken aback! It looked as though his chicken egg had been transformed into a quail’s egg! Miracles seemed to happen this Easter!

………Happy Easter!

 

 

 

quail egg

 

 

Pitfalls of cooking and Mr P: Things get more slippery!

You may recall from the earlier post that Mr P had wanted to cook some Dahl for his guest ( http://avatarofmrbean.com/2012/03/28/pitfalls-of-cooking-and-mr-p-the-saga-continues/ ). The way Mr P prepares Dahl is quite easy. You just have to pressure cook lentils (either green gram which is also known as moong dal or red gram or Pigeon pea which is also known as tur dal) in water with a pinch of turmeric powder until they form a nice soup. Then you heat two tablespoons of oil in a pot and add half a teaspoonful of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and a couple of red chillies. You add the cooked lentils into the pot when the mustard starts popping. Into the liquid you can now add salt to taste, a bit of garlic paste and a very tiny pinch of ground cumin and optionally a pinch of garam masala. Green chillies, onion and one or two tomatoes may also be added. The Dahl is ready when the soup boils for a few minutes. moong Ki dal, Moong Ki Daal

Just as Mr P was about to start preparing lunch he realized that he had run out of dish washing liquid and cooking oil. So he brought out the bottles of Canola oil and Sunlight dish wash he had bought earlier in the week and placed one by the stove and the other by the sink. Mr P then cooked some lentils in the pressure cooker and nodded off in the kitchen chair reading the day’s newspaper. The cooker’s whistle woke him up when the lentils were thoroughly cooked into a soup. Mr P poured two generous tablespoons of oil into a pot heating up on the stove. He was in a hurry because he had spent time reading the newspaper (he definitely would not admit to napping) when he should have been doing other things to get lunch ready for his guest G who was soon to return from shopping. He did not wait for the oil to get really hot before he added the mustard seeds, the cumin seeds and the pieces of red chili peppers. He was in so much of a hurry that he did not wait for the mustard seeds to pop before he dumped the cooked lentils into the pot with some water and added the garlic paste, cumin and the garam masala powder. He left the pot to boil on the stove and scurried to the kitchen sink to do the breakfast dishes. He opened the tap, stoppered the sink and poured a generous amount of the new dish washing liquid into the basin.

“This is one funny dish washing liquid”, thought Mr P. “Looks like someone has invented a non sudsy detergent!”.

He put the dishes in to wash. As he tried to rinse the plates, he noticed something strange. The dishes had turned very slick and greasy and no amount of rinsing with fresh water could make them clean. They had tiny globules of something like oil all over them.

His hands also felt very oily. He smelled his hands and the plate he was trying hard to clean. Instead of the lemony smell of the dish wash, he smelled something very different.

“If it feels like oil, smells like oil and looks like oil, it must be oil,” he decided and checked the bottle that he had put by the side of the sink.  It said “Pure  Canola Oil”.

Mr P groaned. He was in for a big job now to get the dishes oil free. However, he had not yet realized that he was in Double trouble with Bubble trouble. Have you, now?

A lemony smell was wafting from the pot on the stove. Mr P rushed to check his Dahl. Something strange was happening to it. It was all frothy, sudsy and lathering up!!!

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