Feb 6, 2012

Of volcanos and vermicelli

It has been three weeks since my school started and I have managed to ease the class into my weekly schedule or rather into my weekend schedule.  It is only one Saturday class this semester, so the workload is much less and I have more time to blog (hence the three posts last month).
A friend asked me recently how I liked studying in my late 30s.  She looked surprised and a bit disappointed when I told her I actually enjoyed going to college.  Truth be told, I enjoy it more now than I did when I was younger.  I understand concepts much better, I like the open interaction with my teachers, I like that I am more informed and get to voice my opinions without fear of incurring disfavor of the teacher.  

The fact that I get to spend half a Saturday learning about plate tectonics, volcanos, rocks, minerals and fossils may sound boring to some.  But I was lucky enough to have a professor who knows all there is to know about the earth and all its layers (and still manage not to know how to text, not that that is important) and also manage to teach in a way that makes it enjoyable.
Of course, just because I enjoy sitting in class amidst igneous and metamorphic rocks, studying relative dating methods doesn’t mean I enjoy the food they dish out in the campus cafeteria.  So, I carry food with me, lots of it, to sustain me through Steno’s Laws and studying folds and faults of the Earth.  I usually eat an apple or a pear with some almonds for breakfast while jotting down lecture notes. 

During the mid-morning break, with the fruit digested and stomach rumbling, I reach for my lunch which usually consists of a couple of slices of crusty bread sandwiched with almond butter and pepper jack cheese, some potato chips and another piece of fruit.  On rare occasions, when I am better prepared, I cook quinoa or vermicelli (semolina pasta) with lots of vegetables the day before and it sustains me better than the bread and cheese sandwich.  Sometimes, I also add some peanuts to the mix, just because I like it, but it is totally upto you. 
There are no hard or fast rules for making this.  You can add just onions or add broccoli or potatoes if it suits your fancy.  It cooks in one pot and makes for a great lunch on weekdays when I don’t have any left overs from the night before.

Here’s how I make it:
Take about 2 cups of chopped veggies. I used zucchini, carrots, broccoli and onions.
Chop them into thin strands.
Set aside half a handful of frozen peas and corn, unless you have the luxury of fresh ones.

Toast 1/4 cup of semeiyan lightly and keep aside.
In a wide pan heat 1 tsp of oil.  Add a teaspoon of cumin seeds.  Wait for them to sizzle before adding the chopped vegetables.  Cook for about five minutes on medium heat adding a teaspoon of red chili powder and salt in between.

If you want to add peanuts, add them with the cumin and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the vegetables.  
Chop about 1/4 cups of tomato and add it to the veggies.  Cook till soft and pulpy before adding the vermicelli.

Gently mix with the cooking vegetables and roast for a few minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of water, adjust the salt (the water should be slightly salty), add a pinch of sugar and cook till the vermicelli gets plump and water is all used up.

Turn off the heat, garnish with chopped coriander if you wish.  I usually omit this step if pressed for time or too hungry to dig in. 
Enjoy hot off the stove or cold in your lunch box the next day.

What is your favorite lunch box preference?

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