Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 29, Tuesday, July 20, 2010




A ‘growing' trend

It can be because Jamie Oliver has strengthened his stronghold as your favourite culinary God or it can be because the recession has taught you to become money savvy. Whatever it is, it is never a bad idea to have a 'kitchen garden', which can supply you with all your basic edible necessities instead of having to run to Gulshan Market or Agora every other day.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually need a farm to have your own kitchen garden. It's to your advantage if you have the space for a full-fledged garden, but a small sunny space in an apartment does the job just as well. You can start out small by getting two or three flower pots and putting them out in your balcony or in an area where they are likely to be exposed to natural light as well as water. Otherwise, you can supply the plants with natural light bulbs.

The next thing on your Gardening 101 list would be to narrow down on the plants and herbs you want to grow in your kitchen garden. Make sure you only grow vegetables you regularly need or enjoy eating; this will prevent your limited space from going to waste. When prioritising the list, try to lean towards the plants that are likely to give you higher yields and are known to have a distinct flavour when picked freshly from the garden (e.g. sweet corn, beans, peas, tomatoes, etc). Also, plan realistically for your (and your family's) appetite. You can visit your local nursery or any reputable nursery for an array of seeds to choose from.

The benefits of having your own little kitchen garden effortlessly outweigh the negatives. In today's world of formalin-filled fish and chemical mangoes, it certainly eases the mind to know precisely where the food you are putting inside your body is coming from instead of being plagued with doubts about unwanted toxics. Having your own garden to supply you with produce will not only increase your confidence in food safety but will also serve as a guarantee to having food security during times of uncertainty. There is also the opportunity to reap several financial advantages. With the price of everyday essentials soaring beyond imagination, it can ease the pressure on your pay check to get an abundance of freshly picked vegetables from your garden in exchange for some inexpensive seedlings.

Possibly the hardest part about gardening is the added pressure of having to maintain your space (regardless of its size), but this becomes much easier to bear once you start to see gardening as less of a chore and more of a hobby or passion. As productive as it is enjoyable, gardening can even be your gateway to getting some of that much-needed 'me' time.

You could also try to get your children and other members of your family to help you with your little project. Involve your children during the planning process. Let them pick out a vegetable of their choice over which they have complete responsibility. Children are always on the lookout for opportunities to be treated like adults and they will certainly enjoy the 'grown-up' feeling that will come with being entrusted with such a responsibility. This could also be a creative way to finally get your children off from the front of the TV and into the great outdoors. If you're lucky, this might also rekindle the long lost love between your children and vegetables!

If you must take up a hobby for the summer, it is always advisable to pick something that is not only relaxing and enjoyable but also very productive. Not restricted to just the rich or just the poor (as demonstrated by the avid health fan, Michelle Obama and her famous White House Kitchen Garden), getting your hands dirty a few times a week in exchange for a healthier and more frugal lifestyle might just be what you're looking for.

By Mahareen Khalid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed



Fighting cramps

During these summer months, dehydration is a risk we are all exposed to. With the high temperature and humidity, we lose a lot of fluids through perspiration, and that makes us more vulnerable to cramps. It is therefore very important to keep hydrated by drinking a lot of water and juices. Sometimes, though, precautions are not enough, and a group of muscles will knot together, making you cringe with pain. Here are some ways to manage that pain and get rid of the cramp as soon as possible:

Massaging: Your body knows what it wants when in pain, so follow your instincts. It probably will not get rid of the cramps, but it will provide some momentary relief.

Salted/saline water: Mix one or two teaspoons of salt in a glass of water, and drink it. This is usually a very effective remedy as the cramp vanishes almost immediately. This however is not for everyone. People suffering from hypertension should not take salt in large amounts.

Stretching the muscle: Wherever the cramp takes hold, stretching the muscle is a good way of trying to open the knot of muscles. If it's in your calves, stretch the muscles by pointing the toes upward; if in your stomach, bending backwards provides immediate relief.

Also, stretching is effective as a preventive measure. It is always important to stretch the muscles before any exercise routines, making them looser and therefore more receptive to the demands made on them, and less prone to cramping.

After you have successfully dealt with the cramp, use a warm towel to alleviate any pain or tenderness in the affected area.

As with all other problems, prevention is better than cure. Drink lots of fluids, keep potassium and calcium levels high, and maybe you won't have to be bent double in pain.



Pop Up

Stain busters

A great stain fighter is baking soda. A paste of baking soda and water can be made and applied directly to the stain. After about twenty minutes, remove the paste and blot with a damp sponge or cloth. Also, if the stain is from a liquid, baking soda or a coarse table salt, such as kosher salt, can be sprinkled directly onto the stain. After about ten minutes, the liquid should be completely absorbed. Blot with a damp cloth or sponge after all the baking soda or salt is removed.






LS Editor’s Note

Post cup ruminations

OKAY, so the world cup tourney is finally over and things are back to normal. Since my team got knocked out very early and so did my daughter's at the fag end, the frenzy of the WC became bland for us later on; yet amid all these cheers and tears, heartbreaks and joy of the past month, my greatest entertainment was my seven year old nephew Asrar. In fact, he is exactly what one would put as a perfect case of the Bangla proverb 'hujuke matal'- go with the flow sort of a kid.

Apparently, he was a die-hard fan of Brazil, an obvious influence of his parents. And when I say 'die-hard', I mean ready to fistfight to defend his team's performance (or lack thereof). He had all his statistics right, the big flag and jersey; he was a seven-year-old power pack for Brazil. If only Kaka saw him, he would have been proud of him. That night when Brazil lost we were watching the game together, so I could see his disappointment to be genuine until the 80th minute when he suddenly declared he is no longer cheering for Brazil but instead Argentina is his team now.

“Mom, you have no idea how my friends at my coaching centre would mince me, even my teacher is Argentina, so if I have to go back, I better be an Argentinean fan,” was his defence. No matter how much I tried to explain that philosophically a Brazilian fan cannot become an Argentinean, that too in matter of minutes, I failed to convince him and for 24 hours he was a die hard Argentinean.

Next day at the precise 80th minute he became a Germany fan, where only minutes earlier his little hands were raised in ardent prayers for the blue and whites. This time he plainly explained, “I want my team to win, I am not going to support if I can't cheer.”

Well put! We all want to cheer, and seven is too young an age to feel disappointed. But the story, as you can understand, again changed its course around the 80th minute and finally he chooses the winners. A die-hard Spanish fan, his dream of cheering the winners came true.

This just goes to prove that we want to be part of all things good and disown the bad; it is sort of ingrained into our system. If only life were as simple as Asrar's, where happiness and joy are within the reach of the adaptive mind. It makes us wonder what all these jealous loyalties mean; crying or wildly celebrating events that neither affect us nor are controlled by us. Asrar had the right idea; his focus was on the joy of the World Cup, which enabled him to enjoy a slice of the tournament we adults may have missed.

The lesson to be learnt from Asrar is just stick to the simple pleasures of life and not to complicate life more than it already is; after all, our daily struggle to survive is only to bring home a smile.

Raffat Binte Rashid



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