Think back on your life to the people you’ve most looked up to. For most of us, I am sure, it is not people who are rich and successful. Instead, most likely, it is those who always did exactly what they loved to do, even if they didn’t make a lot of money doing it, or weren’t considered successful by the usual parameters.
The people I envy are the young man who left a well-paid software job in the United States to start and run a school for poor children in rural India. The woman who runs a mobile veterinary clinic in an Indian city that spays and neuters stray dogs and vaccinates them for rabies. The couple who left powerful careers in New York City to retreat to a simple life in rural America where they grow their own food, live without most material trappings, and yet have lives that are blissfully rich and meaningful.
Sure, money and a fulfilling career have their rewards and can be the means by which to get to your goals, but setting limits in your pursuit of success, as the rest of the world defines it, is more important.
I am probably not a great person to advise people on reaching goals, but I do know the importance of keeping your dreams in sight because, for a while,I let mine slip away in pursuit of a better paycheck.
I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had interesting jobs: I’ve worked for newspapers in three countries, I’ve interviewed governors, members of Congress, movie stars, music stars, and even a First Lady. I’ve traveled extensively and learned things I’d never have learned otherwise: things I might never use again, but which I am glad to know nonetheless.
But before I started on my latest job where I work on issues close to my heart and interests, I spent nearly four years in the most boring newsroom, writing about education policy and working under an editor I did not respect. I thought I wanted the job because it paid a little better than the more interesting jobs I’d had before. Yet, when I look back on those four years now, all I can see are lost opportunities to do something I truly valued, and work with people I really cared about. The better paycheck was by no means a better trade.
So here’s the point of this post: try not to let the pressures of day-to-day living take you off-course from pursuing what makes you truly, deeply, incandescently happy.
For some of you it could be being a good mom and homemaker. For others, it could be travel, or cooking great food that people dream of eating. Writing a novel. Writing a diary. Helping orphans in Africa. World peace. Gardening.
No dream is small or insignificant, especially if it’s yours. Dream it, and then do it. And try not to get sidetracked.
Need more zen? Head on over to Zengirl’s blog, Heart and Mind, where she shares great tips on topics like celebrating holidays meaningfully and simply, reconnecting with your community, and making small changes to improve the quality of your life.
And now for today’s recipe, a simple one for Corn Patties in a Tomato Sauce — in keeping with the theme of this post– that’s rich with the wonderful flavors of a few everyday vegetables. I worked off a recipe I found in a Vimla Patil cookbook that I’ve treasured for many years now.
Makai Patties, or corn patties, are a popular street food in some parts of India. While these corn patties would often be eaten with chutney or ketchup, Patil also included a recipe for a sauce made with tomato and ketchup and spring onions/scallions that sounded so delicious, it seemed worth my while to go the extra mile and make it.
So here we go, a quick but super-delicious recipe that’s wonderful for a snack or even a light dinner.
- For the corn patties:
- 1 1/2 cups cooked corn (I used frozen corn and zapped it in the microwave until really tender, about 7 minutes)
- 1 medium onion and 3 cloves of garlic , diced and then fried until brown in 1 tsp
- canola/vegetable oil
- 2 medium potatoes , skin on, diced and then boiled until tender (I zap them in the microwave for 10 minutes)
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 big or 2 small slices of whole-wheat bread , soaked in 1/3 cup soymilk until soft
- 3 spring onions , green and white parts chopped
- Salt to taste
- For the spicy Tomato Sauce
- 5-6 spring onions , green and white parts chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder , like paprika
- 1 tsp oil
- Salt to taste
- Make the corn patties:
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process just until you have a mixture that holds together when you pick up a piece and form a ball. Don't overprocess because you don't want a paste-- you should still have some texture from the corn and the scallions.
- Divide the dough into 10 balls and then flatten each into a pattie, about 2 inches in diameter (if, for any reason, you find the mixture is too runny, add some cornflour so it holds together. My measurements worked perfectly for me.)
- Smear or spray some oil over a cast-iron or non-stick skillet. Heat. Place as many patties as you can without crowding the skillet, and cook on each side until quite brown and crusty.
- Make the tomato sauce:
- Heat the oil in a skillet.
- Add the spring onions and saute until they start to brown.
- Add the tomato puree and ketchup and cook until the mixture starts to turn darker.
- Add chilli powder and salt to taste. Turn off heat.
- Serve with the Makai Patties.