Finally Time to Say Good-bye to 2020

December 2020

My father’s funeral took place on the outskirts of a mango orchard belonging to our uncle Ramachandran. Once the last of the smoke from the funeral pyre faded into the tropical evening, it was time for the ritual bath. My mother led the way to the pool. The mossy stones were cool beneath my feet. The three of us waded into the tepid water, holding hands. That water washed away our tears, the smell of smoke from our nostrils and gave us a moment of watery peace. We ignored the fish nibbling on our toes and plunged beneath the greenish water, each of us saying a silent farewell. A the water cascaded off our bodies, it took away our sadness and we finally acknowledged my father was dead and gone.

This custom of bathing is cleansing and cathartic.

I think we all should take this traditional plunge on New Year’s Eve. Let’s give 2020 a fitting and final good-bye. So turn on the shower, fill the tub with hot water and bubbles, and say farewell to 2020. We are all so ready to move on to a better year. Welcome, 2021!

Covid Life Lessons:

  • Finding solace in being alone. We isolated, stayed away from family and friends and over the weeks and months learned to find peace in our own company. 
  • Patience is vital. As we waited for time to pass, we learned the value of being patient. This was especially important when baking sourdough. The sourdough starter is on its own timer. We learned that by waiting, we baked the tangiest and tastiest loaf.
  • Personal connections are more important than ever. Growing up in a small town in south India, we knew everyone from the farmer who grew our spinach to the girl who brought us fresh milk every morning.  Covid taught us, slowly and painfully, how important these personal relationships are to us. We’ll never take the farmer, the cashier or postal delivery person for granted again.
  • Deepening bonds with those close to us. We forged stronger connections with loved ones. We overlooked faults of household members and learned to be kind. Continue to cherish your loved ones.
  • The backyard is filled with wonder. Nature is a wonderful thing and is all around us. Sure, the ocean and redwoods are dramatic and awe-inspiring but the humming bird hovering in your garden is just as impressive.  The squirrels, the raucous blue jays, the doves nesting in the jasmine bush and colorful butterflies provided endless entertainment.
  • Soil is life. Gardening is good for the soul and the body.  Nothing is more satisfying than eating a tomato, grown and picked by you. We found peace in the garden, however big or small the space.
  • Slowing down. Covid made us slow down, take deep breaths (with masks on) and enjoy the moment. Doing one thing at a time is a skill that is forgotten in our busy world. During this time of isolation, we found slowing down made every task easier. We forgot to feel overwhelmed.
  • We learned new skills. Covid taught us to be independent. We baked, we cooked, we grew vegetables, we learned how to work from home, we discovered our children were a handful and we learned to be homebodies.
  • What’s really important is right under our noses. We learned to cherish the tiny things. We learned to appreciate our children (and their teachers). We re-connected with spouses and other loved ones. We learned the simple life is attainable and we could do without a lot of things. We learned we cannot wait to hug again and renew personal connections.
  • We learned to believe that the best is yet to come.
  • Happy New Year!

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, Death, new traditions, world peace

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving Day!

November 2020

My first Thanksgiving meal was more than 38 years ago with extended family in the Bay Area. It was a magical day filled with foods I’d never tasted before. There was wild rice (not really rice!), stuffing made with bread, mounds of mashed potatoes (different from south Indian masala potatoes), savory vegetarian gravy, baked squash with a sprinkle of cinnamon, fresh rolls, green leafy vegetables with cream sauce  and loads of desserts, including pumpkin pie made by the kids in our family. It was a day filled with easy camaraderie, stories and affection.

I loved this new holiday so much that when we got married a few years later, it seemed natural to continue the celebration. The day was a perfect combination of good food, family and gratitude.

Now I was brought up on ritual and decorum. Feasts in India are based on centuries-old beliefs. You always served tangy Aviyal stew for an Onam feast or sweet and savory rice balls were mandatory on Ganesha Chaturthi.

But there was no south Indian game plan for celebrating Thanksgiving and my husband’s childhood traditions didn’t quite fit our vegetarian lifestyle.

Over the years I have cooked all kinds of food for Thanksgiving. One meal was all Indian with masala dosas, Indian flat breads and vegetable stews. Another time, it was a huge lasagna with homemade noodles and sauce.

It took time to find that perfect meal to reflect my cooking and our own rituals. My mother-in-law shared her creamed onion recipe (years later it would be modified to include a light herbaceous béchamel sauce and roasted pearl onions). I remembered mashed potatoes from my first Thanksgiving feast. I experimented with adding roasted garlic, cauliflower and even malt vinegar for that salt and vinegar flavor. I tweaked gravy recipes until I found a hearty caramelized onion gravy we all liked.

Wild rice was mandatory and included chunks of succulent roasted squash and toasted nuts.

Herb-flecked asparagus timbales with béchamel sauce and parmesan-spiked bread crumbs became a family favorite, even a son who disliked asparagus managed to eat a timbale or two.

We had to have cranberry sauce. My friend Sandra had the perfect recipe which included fresh cranberries, a whole orange and plenty of finely chopped toasted walnuts.

For dessert, along with traditional pumpkin pie, we added different baked goods such as black forest cake, apple pie, cherry pie or chocolate pecan pie with a touch of bourbon.

A funny thing happened over the years, my boys and husband loved all the foods but we discovered we liked being together even more. We found that gratitude and giving thanks was almost as satisfying as the savory appetizer or slice of tart cherry pie with vanilla ice cream.

This year we are counting our blessings over spinach crepes with roasted red pepper sauce, roasted cabbage with walnuts and lemon and wild rice with pomegranates and pistachios.

The meal will be simple and a little untraditional but the sentiment behind it will be the same.

Here’s to next year when we’ll be back to eating all the foods we love with family we cherish.

Giving thanks never goes out of style.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, cooking, Delicious desserts, dinner, harvest, Uncategorized

It’s in your hands!

Can you please take a moment and vote for my book cover? The final round of voting is open now through the end of September.

Thank you

Dear Meera Ekkanath Klein,
Congratulations! Your book has successfully entered the final round of the Cover of the Month contest. Your book has amassed 228 votes so far and your book cover is among the top 24 book covers of the month.(The top 3 winners will be announced on the last day of this month).
The online voting for the final round is now open. Your friends and fans can vote again in this round.
Visit your campaign page by clicking on the link below:
https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/9261/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

VOTE! JUST ONCE IS ENOUGH

Hi all,

Thanks for voting for my beautiful book cover. I’m in 8th place and down by just 45 votes. So every vote is important and helps me move to the next level. This voting level ends in four days!

Thanks!

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/9261/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Vote for me! I’m an easy choice

9781947003675-2-2

 

Hi everyone.

I need your help. My book Seeing Ceremony: A Novel With Recipes has been chosen by All Author to be part of the Book Cover of the Month contest. To win, I need your vote. Voting is easy. Just follow link and vote for me 🙂

Thanks in advance!

Hope all of you are keeping well.

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/9261/

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Celebrating my past

0001

Hello everyone,

Here’s an article I recently wrote for an online women’s writing website.

Sometimes looking back, helps you move forward!

Thanks for reading and be well.

An Intangible Legacy By Meera Ekkanath Klein

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Aunts and other relatives, Blue Mountains, Book clubs, Book Launch, Celebrations, Ekkanath family, family, grandmother's wisdom, Kerala, Matriarchy, matrilineal, mother's kitchen, multi-cultural, my mother's kitche, My Mother's Kitchen: A Novel With Recipes, new traditions, Nilgiris, our past, reading, remembering our ancestors, South India, South Indian, Uncategorized, women writers, writing

Interview Time

Hope everyone is staying well and sane!

And I hope all of you have bought a copy of my latest novel. If you haven’t made up your mind, here are a couple of good reasons to do so!

First, my publisher Homebound Publications is having a sale on both books. So check it out

https://homeboundpublications.square.site/

And reason #2 is my fun interview with best-selling author Stephanie Storey

She made me look good and sound coherent! Please share this with your family and friends. Thanks for spreading the word.

Happy Reading, everyone. If you’ve enjoyed the books, be sure to post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Thanks to those of you who have already done this! You are so appreciated.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under author interview, Book Birthday, Book Club recommendations, Book clubs, Book Launch, Stephanie Storey, Uncategorized, YouTube

Today is my book’s birthday!

9781947003675-2-2

This book baby’s birthday is May 5, 2020

Help celebrate by my book’s release by buying one (or more) copies to give to family and friends. This book is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day or any day! It is also the perfect summer reading–tasty and satisfying like a good ice cream cone.

Seeing Ceremony, a feel-good, stand-alone sequel to the award-winning My Mother’s Kitchen: A Novel with Recipes, is all about family, love, good food and finding one’s way back home.

Author Louise Miller (author of The Late Bloomers’ Club and The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living), says this about the book, Seeing Ceremony is a rich coming of age novel, full of myth and legend, romance, and the heady tastes and   scents of India. It is a love letter to both place and family—the ingredients that make home home. Meera Klein is a natural born story teller—I felt as if I were sitting at the kitchen table as she told me this story—and Seeing Ceremony is truly a feast for ALL of the senses. A true delight.”

The book is now available on Amazon, B&N and Homeboundpublications.com. I hope you’ll pick up a copy of my book and let me know what you think. If you enjoyed this book, please write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. These reviews help both the author and other readers. Links provided below.

Amazon

B&N

Indiebound

If you are part of a book club, please consider Seeing Ceremony as your next read.

Best wishes to you and your family. Stay safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under amazon review, Book Birthday, Book Club recommendations, Book clubs, Book Launch, book review, Careers, Celebrations, cooking, family, Indian Fusion, Kerala, media, multi-cultural, my mother's kitche, Nilgiris, Personal experience, published, reading, recipes, Seeing Ceremony, South India, South Indian, spring, renewal, Summer, Uncategorized, vegetarian cooking, writing

Contemplation at the Kitchen Sink  

May 2020

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin

When does a chore become a relaxation tool?

I was a little surprised when this happened to me. A couple of weeks ago, our dishwasher died and so I started doing dishes by hand.

For the first few days, I rushed through this task wanting to finish as soon as possible.

But slowly, a funny thing happened at the kitchen sink. I found myself slowing down and taking my time. The more I paid attention to the endeavor at hand, the more I found myself relaxing.

A close and wise relative of mine was always reminding me to slow down and take my time and so I thought I knew how to do this.

But now I discovered something new: Slowing down made an unpleasant chore, enjoyable and satisfying.

I found harmony in the kitchen sink and soon a pile of dirty dishes was no longer daunting.

Just don’t tell my husband because eventually I’d like a new dishwasher!

OTHER EXCITING NEWS:

May has always been a special month in our family. Twenty-eight years ago in May I became a mother and celebrated my first Mother’s Day. That first one was extra special because my mother was with me. She took care of my newborn so I could go out and get a pedicure, neck and shoulder massage and a haircut. It was one of the most unforgettable days of my life as a new mother.

On May 5, there will be another baby in our house. Before you jump to conclusions, this one is a book. Yes, my next book will come out into the world soon. I’m excited and happy to share this latest novel with all of you.  The book launch video will be posted on my website and I hope you all watch it and support me by buying a book or two. This book will be the perfect Mother’s Day or any day gift for a loved one.

Leave a comment

Filed under amazon review, Book Birthday, Book Club recommendations, Book clubs, Book Launch, book review, family, harmony, meditation, mindfulness, multi-cultural, my mother's kitche, Personal experience, pots and pans, reading, Seeing Ceremony, Uncategorized, writing, yoga, stretching

Celebrate with me!

This photo was taken a couple of years before his death. Here Duke is enjoying the New Year display. He’s gazing into his wise brown eyes and hoping the wrapped toy is his on the far side of the table!

April 2020

Has the mid-April blahs and stress got you down? Then I have a suggestion for you!

Join the millions of people from Kerala (and me) and celebrate the start of a New Year on April 14th. It is a simple ritual that will ground you and bring balance to your life. A note: While the celebration is linked to Hinduism, you don’t have to be a Hindu or even believe in God to share in this timeless ceremony.

So this is how you can get started:

On April 13th evening do the following:

  • Set a small hand mirror or a larger one on a small table. Use a dresser with a built-in mirror, if you have one.
  • Use a nice table cloth if you want. Totally optional.
  • Add a blossom, even a sprig or branch will suffice. Yellow is auspicious for this festival.
  • Next, raid your pantry for beans, lentils or rice. Place some of each in a measuring cup or fancier cups, if you have some. One cup (or less) of rice and one cup (or less) of bean/lentil is all you need.
  • Look at what fresh vegetables and fruits you have available. An orange, an apple, a banana, a bunch of kale, a butternut squash? You just need one of each, something to represent a fruit and a vegetable.
  • Do you have some change? A few dollars, some quarters? Add them to the table
  • How about a piece of jewelry? A pair of earrings or a ring? Arrange them on the display table.
  • Are you missing someone, a family member, a friend? Place a photo of them on the table. My table will have photos of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a special uncle.
  • You will need a candle and some matches.

You have now created Vishu Kanni or New Year display.

On the morning of the 14th, get up and before your morning coffee (yes!), wash your face. Light the candle and sit in front of your display, if possible.  Look closely at the flower or sprig, the fruits and vegetables, the grains and legumes, the nice table cloth and the coins and jewelry. Look at the photographs of your loved ones.

As you gaze at the kanni, you are welcoming everything that is good into your life and future. Finally, look at your reflection in the mirror. All that is marvelous and wonderful is reflected in your eyes. Look deep into your eyes until you see the glimmer of hope and light that is in you. Invite all that is positive, prosperous and amazing into your life and into the lives of your loved ones.

You have now observed and welcomed in a new year, Kerala style. Happy Vishu 2020!

4 Comments

Filed under Celebrations, dog's life, Happy Vishu, Kerala New Year!, Indian celebrations, Kerala, multi-cultural, my mother's kitche, new traditions, Nilgiris, Personal experience, remembering our ancestors, South India, South Indian, spring, renewal, Uncategorized