Tag Archives: bread

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese………

Photo compliments of Campbells Soup

I just found out that someone that I care a great deal about is very sick.

“It’s amazing just how quickly your whole life can change,” is a phrase that I have repeated far too often this month. And it is amazing. How quickly these delicate lives of ours can change. In an instant.

What does that have to do with Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, you ask? Welllll, just about absolutely everything.

About a month ago, my son asked me what tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches taste like together. Yes, I have admittedly failed him as a parent.

“They are all sorts of fabuloso,” I exclaimed. The poor kid got to hear all about how I grew up on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and Sprite. How saltine crackers are the best accompaniment and how Cheetos aren’t bad either. How oyster crackers stink because the poor babies are just too thick. How, when I was sick, not even penicillin could cure me as quickly as a can of Campbells and some Kraft singles melted perfectly between two buttered slices of Wonder bread.

It took my husband decades to learn the exact composition of milk and warmth that would soothe my woes and speed my recovery. I was like Goldilocks – this is too hot – this is too cold. Then, finally he heard the magic words, “oh, my dear, this is just right. I feel better already”.

The day my son asked me about the mythical combination was a warm winter day. Hardly worthy of tomato soup introduction. So I said, “sometime I will make it for you”.

Now the daffodils are blooming and winter promises to soon be barely a memory. I missed a chance to share some cheesey tomatoey goodness with my son on a blistery day. To create memories for him and relive memories for me.

And I am reminded that he will leave for college before I know it and that, while some may be better than others, there probably isn’t a bad day to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

So, today I hope I remember to slow down enough to smell the tomato soup and that life doesn’t change too quickly for me to enjoy it.

(By the way, the picture is from AllRecipes/Campbell’s recipe site. Yum, right?)

Why this squirrel is glad we moved back from India………

One of my biggest challenges since returning to the U.S has been what to do with our food waste. It really never bothered me to throw food away before we moved to India. Now, I cannot stand it. So, as I have probably mentioned before, I have at least figured out a way to not waste our left over breads….

It really makes me happy to see these guys eat our stale biscuits and crackers. I did find out, however, they are not big fans of cheese balls. Hey, I never claimed they were smart. And ants apparently love cheese balls and because they are just puffs of air filled with cheese deliciousness and ants can carry 50 times their own body weight – they got a workout with the bonus of dinner at the end.

I know feeding the squirrels does not solve all of my food waste issues – but at least it’s a start. I am considering a compost pile. We’ll see how ambitious I get.

But in the meantime, I am going to keep feeding these guys…

Have a great weekend!

Domestic Dispute…….

When I was in college, I was in a sorority and we would have roundtable discussions – where we were free to voice our opinions and let others know what was bothering us. But in the spirit of sisterhood, we were not allowed to specifically mention another sister’s name. So we would start our discussion with “sister x” did this or “sister x” should really think about this. Well let me tell you about “cook x”.

Anyone who has lived in India for at least 5 minutes has a domestic staff story to tell – so the fact that it has taken us 7 weeks to earn our story to share is probably pretty good.

Number One Hubby hired our cook the week before the kids and I got here. He speaks good English, cooks American food, irons clothes well, and was supposed to have making bread as his specialty. He agreed to cook, clean, and do laundry for a family of five. And he promised to make yummy homemade bread. (The way to our family’s heart is with with yummy homemade bread.)

Enter a family of five.

First day:
Oh boss, I cannot cook, clean, and do laundry for a family of five. And, I need a raise. Yes, on his first day.

So, we continued with Ravi who was cleaning just for hubby. He comes in for 4 hours a day and is thorough and unassuming and very kind. So, that’s okay. We like him and not having to let him go was okay with us. Now cook does not have to clean.

We even gave the cook a raise. A 20% raise. We liked him too. (Just in case you are new at this whole staff thing – apparently, you start with someone on a temporary basis and a lower salary – then after a few weeks, if you plan to keep them, you give them a raise. We got to the whole raise thing a little early.)

So then he asks for us to include bus fare in his salary. This is really not a big deal because bus fare usually does not run more than $20 a month (and that is on the high end). So, bus fare it is. I think it might have been $10 for our cook.

We did not pack our kitchen up and bring it with us. We have just gotten things as we realized we need them. There has not been one thing he asked for that I did not get. Not one.

From what I can gather, domestic staff usually work about a 12 hour day in India. Our cook generally worked a 9-hour day and had most Saturdays off completely – or if he worked, he just worked a few hours.

Then our cook’s wife started a new job and they were moving. So we gave our cook several days off of work to move and coordinate moving.

Along with the move came the need for a security deposit. I don’t know if you just heard the collective gasp rolling across Delhi – but the number  one rule in having domestic staff is to NEVER lend them money.

We lent him money. I know, I know!

He was to pay it back over 5 months. Honestly, I will not regret this decision. We immediately agreed that it was the right thing to do. It was not so much money that it was life changing to us – but it was for our cook – and it helped him get a roof over his head. So, we did it – and, yes, we would most likely do it again.

Our cook was not happy with our smaller washing machine – so we have ordered a larger one. Our cook was not happy with our fridge – so we got a larger one.

Finally, our cook’s new digs did not have drinking water – so every night he would take lots of water home with him. We were happy to let him do that.

And quite possibly the straw the broke the camel’s back – the cook never made the promised bread for hubby. That was not a good idea. A fresh, warm loaf of homemade bread forgives a multitude of sins.

So, what I am saying is – he had it pretty good.

Or at least we thought so. Apparently he did not agree. He wanted a uniform allowance. Which is not uncommon – but we felt that we had given quite a bit already. (Again, if you are new to having staff – what I have found out is that it is normal to give domestic staff a clothing allowance for summer and fall. And a bonus at Diwali. But that the clothing allowance generally comes after they have been with you for 6 months or so.)

Hubby said no. Here is a note to staff – perhaps it is prudent to begin paying back the one month’s salary before you ask for a uniform allowance. Just think about it – ‘kay? Especially if you are new to the family.

Then he asked hubby again. The hubby said no – again.

Hubby is not impressed with having to say no again.

Our cook has been working for us for about 5 weeks at this point.

Then our cook asks me. Here is a second note to staff. If my hubby says no to you twice – I am not going to say yes. I err on the side of hubby. Period.

I told him he had to talk to the boss about it – that was his department – I can tell him what we want for dinner – that is my department.

Hubby overheard him ask me. Note to staff number 3 – it is not wise to try to win the wife over in earshot of the hubby. Not very wise at all.

So hubby comes into the kitchen and gives me a way out of the conversation. Thank you hubby.

But hubby is not done with the conversation.

Hubby outlines all of the things we have done. Cook tells hubby that hubby just does not care and that the wife is more understanding. Do I need to insert the fourth note to staff here – I bet I don’t – I bet you know all by your lonesome just what it is.

Needless to say, after talking in circles with our cook, my hubby invited our cook to leave and walked him out the gate.

It turns out that our cook had been bad-mouthing us to our driver and Ravi. They both are happy that he is gone. We both felt bad about letting our cook go – until we heard this. Note to staff number 5 – do not bad mouth your boss to the other people who work for him. They will sell you out. Quickly.

So, while I will miss his pasta salad, I now have a domestic staff story. We have two leads on new staff people – and you know I will let you know how it goes!