Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hunger in America

When talking about hunger, a lot of people might think it exists only in African or some Asian countries. But its a fact that it exists right here in U.S. too. I was shocked to find out that according to US department of agriculture more than 16 million children face hunger at some point in the year. More then 35 % of people pick between food and medical care.

This is also a fact that almost 1 in 4 children face hunger in U.S. Not getting enough food has a great effect in children. It causes iron deficiency , poor academic results, developmental delays and weaker immune systems. It is also associated with depression in school age children.

As a mother, it hurts me a lot to think that lots of children go to bed hungry. On the other hand a lot of food gets wasted at home and restaurants. At my home too sometimes we have left overs because kids would eat something else, and the food that I prepared might go in the refrigerator that nobody wants to eat next day. In Pakistan, in this kind of situation, I always gave it to needy people and food never got wasted. But here in U.S. I don't have access to needy people and freshly prepared home meals go in the garbage.
I remember that ever day many moms in Pakistan gave some of the food they prepared to poor people before setting the table for their own family. That is because they see hungry people in streets often, and there are no food pantries, so people help poor people by giving them personally some food, clothes or money.

Here in America, I suggest that if we make a habit of buying one extra item of food each time we go grocery shopping, and give it to a food pantry might help a lot of needy people . I am sure moms can really make a difference because most of the time they are the ones who go grocery shopping.


Food plays the most important role in one's life. Health depends on the food a person eats. Children must eat home-cook meals daily. That is why I try to prepare soup every day. For dinner, mostly I prepare vegetables and some meat. My family is non-vegetarian. For this reason we eat chicken, meat and fish, but not pork. We like to eat fish. This is a very nutritional food.

I am very happy that here we have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables round-the year. Some of these fruits and vegetables I tasted for the first time. For example, okra (lady finger). We like mango. Here there are a lot of mangoes and they are not expensive. In my native country it was very expensive fruit. Cantaloupe can be found here round-the year.

In USA, fast food is very popular. In Russia there are also a lot of McDonald's. I think fast food should only be eaten very rarely, but not always.

I am happy that in schools my children like the food served. It is delicious and nutritional.

In USA there is more problem - a lot of obese people. I think a person must choose what kind of food he eats and how much. There is a saying - "You are what you eat".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pakistani food

Some of the Pakistani food that I love is 'Biryani ,' Chicken Tikka', and Spinach. 'Biryani' is rice cooked with any kind of meat like chicken, mutton or beef. I prefer beef because it gives the rice a stronger flavor. We use a lot of spices, for example, salt, red pepper, cumin seeds, coriander and some other spices.

'Chicken tikka ' is marinated pieces of chicken baked in oven or fried over stove. Spinach is my favorite vegetable, and I like it no matter how it is prepared, Pakistani people make it different ways and I love it.

There are some traditional sweets that we use for special occasions like marriages, engagements, announcement of a baby's birth or any other happy occasion. People usually sent 'Laddu' (a special kind of sweet) to friends and family.

Some of the special Pakistani snacks are Cholai chaat (spicy chickpeas) ,'Samosa' (minced beef or potatoes filled in egg role sheets) and Dahi bhallai' (Round puffs made with chick pea powder and dipped in yogurt).

Here in Chicago, Devon street is famous for traditional Pakistani food, so when ever we want a taste of our own country, we go to Devon street and every thing, from traditional Pakistani clothes to traditional Pakistani food is there to satisfy us.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Poverty in America

Every time when there is a natural or man made disaster in any part of the world, the most striking images of poverty shakes any sensible mind that this problem is a very humongous and heart wrenching issue.

No matter if it 's famines in Africa or if you see the young kids picking their food from the garbage in any part of the world, it should be no1 issue for the rich countries or governments to solve. In. the United States in general spend more than $400 billion on its military while it takes more than $300 billion to end world poverty.

Here in the United States, I think people are lucky that at least poor are not dying of starvation. It doesn’t mean that they do not need any kind of help. Right now 35.9 million people live below the poverty line in America. This includes about 12.9 million children. 15 million people are living under the poverty line in Illinois, while 5.4% of Skokie population lives below the poverty line and the falling economy has a very big support for this crisis.

Sometimes when my kids are so picky in food like, “Why did you cook chicken like this instead of that” or Why didn’t you make this or that dish?, it makes me think of starved or malnourished kids, but who am I kidding? I wish that all the time that one day I will try to help someone who is less fortunate than I am may be it’s because I am a mom. I think that no one should live in poverty and everyone deserves better.

We have a very good group of women at moms from another country who will have a food drive soon to benefit the Niles township food pantry and any one can join this drive to help the people who need help. You can also go to this site for more information about hunger in your community.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Regional food of Pakistan

There is so much to write about Pakistani food but I will write about rice, which is the most popular food in the whole world next to potatoes. Since Pakistan has so many different ethnicities, everyone has different style of cooking.
In the state of Sindh sea food is produced because of coastal line and they use a lot of spice. In another state called Punjab, a lot of spices and lentils are produced and they cook their food with a lot of spice, too. While in Baluchistan is famous for barbecued pit, while in northern pakistan fresh and dry fruits are produced and they use spice for aromatic touch for cooking.
Rice is a very popular and lovable food in Pakistan. Some of the famous dishes of rice are polao, biryani which can be cooked with chicken, beef, mutton or vegetable. Biryani is basically cooked all over Pakistan.
Polao which is also cooked with mutton, beef, chicken or peas is also very famous all over Pakistan, but beef or mutton polao is very popular in the northern side of Pakistan.
In a tribal area of northern Pakistan there is another rice dish they cook which is called dum-pukh.They filled the whole sheep, goat or lamb (mostly lamb) with rice and some spice and then roast the whole thing on open fire like woods in camping.

People in Baluchistan have another kind of rice dish which is called saji while in the coastal area the like boiled white rice with fish.

There is another dish of rice is zarda which is basically sweet rice and famous in whole Pakistan.
Ingredients for zarda (yellow sweet rice)
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 12 strands of saffron
- 1\2 cup coconut
- 1\4 tsp. yellow food coloring
- 1\2 cup ghee
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch stick cinnamon
- 1\2 tsp. cardamom seeds
2 cups sugar
- 1\4 cup milk
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/4 cup chopped almond
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1tsp kewra essence, diluted or 1\4 tsp., if concentrated
- Silver leaves (varak) for decoration, option

How to cook
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
<!--[endif]-->1. Rinse rice well; soak it in cold water for about 30 minutes and drain. Place saffron threads into two tablespoons of boiling water and allow soaking for 10 minutes. Soak coconut in water for few hours, until soft. Then thinly slice it.
2. In a large, heavy skillet bring plenty of water to boil. Add washed rice, cardamom seeds and yellow color, bring it back to boil, reduce heat and cook for about 12-15 minutes until the rice are almost cooked, Drain and keep aside.
3. Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan; add cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Stirring all the time, fry them for a couple of minutes. Add sugar and milk. Bring to boil simmer for few minutes.
4. Add rice, lemon juice, saffron water, Stir gently, cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add pistachio nut, almond, raisins, coconut and kewra essence, stir gently and cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat and cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the moisture from sugar has evaporated.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and decorate with silver leaf.
Serve warm.
Any one can buy these ingredients on
Devon Street
in any Pakistani grocery store. You can also eat the dishes in Pakistani restaurants like usmania, sabri or Khyber Pass in Chicago down town in Hyatt regency hotel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chinese Food

Living in America it is hard to have delicious Chinese food in restaurant or at home. That always makes me miss the delicious food in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, you can always taste different kinds of Chinese food.

The foods from north side of China, the tastes are with heavy seasoning. And also most of time they will eat dumplings (Jiao Zi) and noodle. They love spicy too.

Beijing Roast Duck is a unique dish. They peeled up the skin with thin slices meat. When you eat, you need to use a thin tortillas rolled up with duck slices, hoisin sauce, spring onions and cucumbers. Yum

For the foods from south side of China (Guan Dong), people eat simple and light tasty dishes. I liked to have Dim Sum with my family or friends in Sunday morning in Hong Kong. We drank tea and ate Dim Sum. There are so many choices, like shrimp dumplings, pork dumpling, egg tart, steam bun stuff with roast pork, rice roll with shrimp, roast pork or beef, bake seafood tart….

Steam rice top with salty duck
Rice noodle with fish balls and seaweed. There are millions of street foods in Hong Kong. My favorite one is egg puffs. That reminds me when I was little; I always eat this for snack. And also the seafood in Hong Kong are very fresh and yummy too.

There are so many delicious Hong Kong Chinese foods, can’t type anymore because that makes me really hungry. I have to get some yummy food to eat.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


On Sunday was Easter. We like this religion holiday very much. Our family went to Chicago. The weather was nice in the morning but windy. First we stopped on the beach of the Lake Michigan.

After that we went to Willis Tower - the highest building in Chicago. It has 103 floors, 450 meters. We observed city and made a movie, but the weather became worse, cloudy and rainy. We could not see far, like in the good weather. But when sunny, you can see not only all Chicago, but 4 states of USA. The biggest surprise for us was glass balcony. We took photos.

We spent two hours and were very happy with this visit. We rested and received good feelings about the experience.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring break

Finally spring break is over and children are back in school. It was a busy week. All we did was cleaning and cooking. My kids were asking to invite friends over. I said ,'Well you can, but only if you clean up your closets and rooms really good."

So they did it and I arranged a party for them and invited my friends over, too. Most of my friends have kids same age as my kids. The kids play together while we mothers prepared our traditional Pakistani food while chatting.It was fun having them over.

I also made doctors appointment and took the kids to their doctor for their physical check up for the coming school year. It is interesting that in Pakistan we don't have to do that in order to send kids to school, but I think its better to have them checked by a doctor even if they are not sick.

The weather was very nice during the whole spring break, but in the end, we had a rain storm. It is unusually warm for this time of period, and I like it because we have usually warm weather in Pakistan and I am used to it.

Wonderful Spring Break

It was really nice to have a break and spent some good time with family.

This spring break, my family and I went on an eight days road trip from Chicago to South Carolina.

On our trip, we drove through eight states which started from Illinois and continue on through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Indiana.

Our first stop was Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We joined a two-hour tour to discover the cave. The tour name is New Entrance Tour. So we entered the cave by the New Entrance which is on top of the cave. When we went in, we couldn't see anything. It was very dark inside. My favorite part of this tour is the Frozen Niagara. See picture below.

Second stop was Smokey Mountain. Because of the rain, when drove up to the highest point of the Smokey Mountain, we couldn't enjoy the beautiful view of the mountain. All we saw was fog around us. And we saw snow too.

Our next stop was Myrtle Beach. Too bad it was not a good time. It was cloudy, windy and cold. So we couldn't enjoy the water.

The next day the weather was beautiful. We went to Charleston, South Carolina. We took a ferry boat ride to Fort Sumter where the Civil war began. After the tour we drove around Charleston’s old town. We saw rainbow row there the houses line up in rainbow color. Then we visited The Market on Market Street. There were a lot people selling all kinds of stuff like clothes, scarves, jewels, paintings, rock paintings…. But the special one is some African American women using dry straws making baskets, bowl, vase and flowers in the market. The products are really beautiful. They all are hand made in front of people.

The following day we went to Atlanta in Georgia. We visited World of Coca Cola. There we learned Coca Cola’s history and all the products that Coca Cola make around the world. We watched 4D movie which is Search for Secret Ingredient. It was a fun movie. After that we got to taste all the drinks that they make all around the world. Some of them taste very good, but some of them I don't like. One of my favorite is from Asia which is Watermelon flavor.

My Spring Break

Spring is where flowers start blossoming and every plant comes to life with color. Spring is a very beautiful season. Over break, there was really nice weather and there was also a day where it was raining and after that, the grass turned bright green which makes me excited and reminds me of my early life back in Pakistan.When I was in school and college every year at the spring time there was an exhibition of flowers specially of a flower named gul- e-dawoody. It is a flower of every color and shape which resembles a carnation.

I also saw a lot of trees with buds on them, but being a mom these reminded me of spring sales in stores. I went to a lot of stores during break as well. I bought a lot of clothes for my kids and it was really tiring because my daughter is very picky with what she wears,because of our cultural differences she has to look for the clothes that covers the whole body.

Overall, I thought that this spring break was good. I can’t wait for summer because it will be school break and the beautiful weather will invite us to go out and have some summer fun because in Illinois the summer time is very short.