Weekends – a recipe for

“What are you doing this weekend?”  It was a casual question, asked as I was walking to the train.  And I of course, yet to master the art of the easy answer, wanted to launch into the details of what makes a meaningful weekend for me.  What does the weekend mean, what role does it play in my life, in my well-being.  Precious days to do everything else, the routine of everyday rearranged.  So I can feel that my life is being fully lived, every ounce of my being expressed, returning to the next week fully nourished and renewed.

I stopped, wondering how much my listener wanted to hear.

“Well…it begins with Friday night.” Most Friday nights, I pick a new restaurant to try with my children.  It could be anything.  A new neighborhood, a new food obsession. Pizza, veggie burgers, dumplings, hand-pulled noodles, ramen.

Next, breakfast.

On Saturday mornings  I am woken up by one of my children, usually the younger one, and I open my eyes reluctantly to a bright eyed, fully awake small person who insists that his stomach hurts because it’s hungry.  There is a pertinent question too — “Mama, what will we eat today?”  My own waking thoughts are always about a cup of chai with cardamom, and of late, a few strands of saffron that add a floral note to the tea.

I haul myself out of bed.

We go downstairs and start getting the breakfast things together.  Last week an omelette bar – we chopped up everything that we could find in the fridge – onions, bell peppers, thai chillies, mushrooms, scallions, dill, cilantro…served with avocado, seedy bread from Choc o Pain, a favorite cheese like young pecorino with black truffles, a beloved habanero hot sauce such as Yellowbird.  For a while, I experimented with soft eggs that were slathered with homemade tomatillo salsa.  We had buttermilk pancakes ala Smitten Kitchen.  South Indian uttapams and sooji upma courtesy my mother-in-law.  Three grain steel cut oats with chia and flaxseeds during a healthy phase (didn’t last long). More recently, a savory cracked wheat porridge.

Next, there is a plan to exercise or not, varying from week to week.  Yoga, zumba, running outdoors along the Hudson.  I try to experiment with new studios while the kids are at tennis camp.  Of course, I would much rather sit comfortably with another cup of tea.

Possibly a nap after lunch, best on the couch under a soft cotton blanket, near a window with soft light pouring in or on the deck in the summer.  I read somewhere that afternoon light is an essential component of afternoon naps, ostensibly to ensure the sleeper wakes up within a reasonable time.  I adhere faithfully to that recommendation.

During the summer months, I also like to potter about my plants on the deck.  I love that particular outside- with its smell of soil and plants, red cardinals and robins hopping about, the occasional squirrel and the view of other people’s backyards, plants and trees growing with wild abandon and the sky above my head.

Then, no Saturday is complete without a plan to meet with friends in the evening.  I try to find a new recipe.  It could be one that I am bringing to my friends or one that they are coming over to eat.  I love eating with my friends and family, and I have to confess that I treasure home-cooked meals. Nothing says “I love you” to me more, and there is so much pleasure in the sweet exhaustion that comes from cooking.

Weekends have to also contain elements of indulgence, like an entire pound of tiny butter cookies from Cocoa Bakery or home-made upside down pineapple cake or slow cooked rice kheer.  I like finding kernels of time to settle down with a food book or magazine – Bon Appetit, Saveur, the New York Times Food section, Michael Pollan’s Cooked or an Ottolenghi cookbook.  There could be a guitar lesson.  Some extra time to play ping-pong with Vasisht, or solve a puzzle with Agastya.  Maybe watch a late night movie with Vijnan….

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