It’s officially summer! I don’t know about you but it’s amazing how sometimes you can forget how long you’ve been waiting to feel the warmth, and when it’s finally here you start to complain about the days being too hot! Must be the Malayalee in me 😉.
Many of you may be planning your long annual vacation back home or short trips in and around the US. We’d love to hear of your travels! I personally dream of sweet alphonso mangas, ripe chakkas, succulent rambutan, squishy yet delightful mangosteen and of course karikku vellum! Yes…I dream a lot about food! And of the monsoon and torrential Kerala rains that brings a new lease of life to the land.
I would love to publish an article on a members visit back home with lots of pictures of their tharavadu, the scenery, the people, the favorite thattukada, the local puzha and of course the delectable food!
The COMA Annual Picnic is just around the corner. Get ready for yet another exciting opportunity to mingle and get sporty with your COMA friends.
Until next issue…
COMA Picnic on Saturday, July 23rd at the Liberty Park, Powell.
COMA is pleased to announce 2016 picnic event on Saturday, July 23rd at the Liberty Park, Powell. Shelter 3 has been reserved for the COMA picnic. Please join us with family and friends for a fun-filled day and participate in Throwball, Kho-kho, In or Out (kulam/kara), Tug of War; and other fun activities like corn hole, lemon and spoon race, sack race and much more. For this year’s event we have four volunteers who have graciously accepted to be captains.
Team 1 – Pramod (email@example.com)
Team 2 – Valsan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Team 3 – Aslam (email@example.com)
Team 4 – Latha (firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to accommodate all, we have advised the captains to have a diverse team (minimum requirements for each team to include youth, female, new residents less than 3 years in Columbus and long timers more than 10 years in Columbus). Please reach out to the team captains and start your preparation. The winning team will have the bragging rights and will be recognized during Onam celebration (with surprise prizes).
COMA EC team will provide the competition rules to the team captains and all tournament decisions will be made by COMA EC or the assigned referees for the event.
We are also planning to have lunch packets, beverages and other food items for the event. The event will start at 10:00 AM and will continue until 3 PM (or whenever everyone gets tired ;)). Please visit COMA event page to purchase the tickets for the event so that we can order the food and beverages for the event. The event registration will close on July 22nd.
Riviera Maya- By Rachel Mathew (6th Grade)
What comes to your mind when you think of vacation? I think of adventure, exploration, fun, and relaxation. But, above all, I think of it as a time to step away from life’s craziness and get closer to family and friends. That’s exactly what I experienced on my vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico for our spring break! The best time to visit Mexico. We stayed at an all inclusive resort like none other!
The resort, Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda was one of a kind super luxurious experience for the whole family. This elegant resort had a Mayan ecological feeling, and an oceanfront location surrounded by a lush tropical mangrove preserve and with views of Cozumel Island. The resort staff there were very friendly. They greeted us at the lobby with ice cold beverages, which felt so good after our long flight. I never knew this type of service even existed. We had a two bedroom suite and it was amazing! It had a mini kitchen, huge bathroom, 2 very comfortable beds, and TV’s in almost every room. One of the most remarkable and unforgettable experience was to have room with a step-in pool, which means that you can step into your own private pool from your patio. What more can you ask for? We spent most of our time in the pool ordering ice cream & smoothies and of course french toast, and cake from the 24 hours room service.
Speaking of the food, there were 14 world class restaurants in the resort. Breakfast and lunch was usually a huge buffet, while dinner was by reservation. You could enjoy your 3 course meals while looking out into the beautiful lush scenery, along with the sound of the waves brushing up on the golden sand. Each restaurant for dinner had it’s own theme. For example, Vento was Mediterranean, Bana was Asian, Mole was Mexican, and so on. So every night it was something different, but very tasty!
There were also these snack bars by the pool with hamburgers, salad, hotdogs, and mouth watering snacks. After dinner it was so nice to be outside sipping a nice cup of hot chocolate. Near the coffee hut were these cabanas where you could sit and relax-fully drink your hot chocolate along the warm crystal blue waters.
What is a vacation without being pampered? One of the things I enjoyed there was the hair and nail salon inside the resort. My Mom and I had a great time getting our nails done while my dad and brother wandered around the resort. We went to one of the sushi making classes in the evening which was very exciting. It was really cool to see how they make
this delicious snack, the best part was we got samples :-).
Another favorite part of the vacation was the evening shows.. These shows were outstanding! My favorites were “The Lion King” and the “Magic Show”. I enjoyed “The Lion King” because it was exhilarating and breathtaking. The sing-along songs and the costumes made the show alive. I never wanted to the watch the Magic Show because I thought it would be kid-ish, with basic tricks like a bunny coming out of the magician’s hat, but I was wrong. The show was for all ages, there were many tricks that I have never seen and some of them were unbelievable.
This has been one of the most memorable trips our family took and I will remember it all my life. So what are you all waiting for? Pack your bags and get excited for your trip. Bon voyage…
YWCA Host a Meal Experience- By Arvind Kumar (going to 9th Grade)
On April 30, eight adults and two kids, including me, woke up early in the morning at 5:00 to volunteer at the YWCA Family Center in Columbus. The family center is a part of the YWCA’s program to help families in need. It provides a place to live, fresh meals, and a chance to find housing with the program’s help. The goal of our visit was to provide a hot breakfast to the families. We wanted to give some of our time and effort to make a meal that they would enjoy. We provided eggs, tater tots, sausage, toast, orange juice, fresh fruit, coffee, and plastic silverware. The eggs and coffee were a big hit with all of the families and they seemed to really enjoy the meal. The COMA volunteers cooked and served meals from 5:30am to 9:30am, which is when I normally wake up on the weekends. We had to clean up the kitchen and the dishes before having their own breakfast, which was the leftover food from the meals we gave out. We had a really good experience.
I personally had one of my first experiences with volunteering at a family center. I was very happy about helping families in need, but I didn’t think that it had to start that early in the morning! At first, I thought that this would be really boring because all we were doing was making food and filling up drinks. I realized how important what we were doing was when we started to serve the food. I had this idea that all of the people there would dirty, mean, and that they wouldn’t like us. I was completely wrong. You wouldn’t know the people there were homeless unless you saw them at the center. I was in charge of distributing the orange juice, and I saw first hand that they were really polite and grateful for what we were doing for them. I really enjoyed myself and I would definitely do it again.
Kerala stall at the Asian Festival- By Salil Nair
It was a nice sunny day on May 28th when we had our great experience of hosting a Kerala booth at the Asian festival. There were 4 of us: Remya, Anjana, Ajoy and self (Salil). The booth was set up very well; kudos to Remya as she took the pain to bring our traditional Kerala decor such as artifacts, vilakkukal, and especially a thaaliyola!
The booth attracted a lot of folks and generated tremendous enthusiasm as we made them understand our gorgeous state’s culture, folklore, customs etc. Many photos were taken and it was a great success. One thing we learned is that we should have had more time to set up the decor & ambience and more volunteers. Next year for sure we should do this in a more grandiose manner with lot many volunteers (especially our youth) and a nice choreographed way of exhibiting our passion…that is Kerala. Overall, it was a humbling experience and a day to cherish for years to come…
ഇന്ത്യയുടെ തെക്കേ അറ്റത്തെ ഒരു ചെറിയ സംസ്ഥാനം ദൈവം സമയമെടുത്ത്സൃഷ്ടിച്ചതിന്റെ എല്ലാവിധ നിറവോടും കൂടി മറ്റുള്ളവരുടെ മുന്നിൽ വിശദീകരിക്കുമ്പോൾഉണ്ടാകുന്ന നിർവൃതി പറഞ്ഞറിയിക്കാൻ പറ്റുന്നതിനേക്കാൾ പതിന്മടങ്ങാണ്.
Booth കാണാൻ വന്ന സമസ്ത ജനങ്ങളുടെയും കണ്ണിൽ കണ്ട അത്ഭുദം ഞങ്ങളുടെഉള്ളിൽ ഒരു സ്വകാര്യ അഹന്ഗാരം ഉളവാക്കി എന്നുള്ളതും ഒരു സത്യം തന്നെ..
തിരിച്ചു പോരുമ്പോൾ എന്റെ ഉള്ളിൽ വള്ളത്തോൾ നാരായണ മേനോൻ ഭാരതപുഴയുടെതീരത്ത് നിന്നും ഉറക്കെ ചൊല്ലിയ ശീലുകൾ അലയടിക്കുന്നതായി തോന്നി…
“ഭാരതം എന്ന് കേട്ടാൽ അഭിമാനപൂരിതം ആകണം അന്ധരംഗം …
കേരളം എന്ന് കേട്ടാലോ, തിളക്കണം ചോര നമുക്ക് ഞരമ്പുകളിൽ”.
Lunch with the Chairman- By Pradip Ramachandran
Can you imagine, just the Chairman of one of the largest Utility companies in the world and I, having lunch in his special dining room? What a treat! We had a wonderful lunch prepared specially by corporate Chef Jason. Mr. Morris was such a down to earth person, and we had a wonderful discussion on topics ranging from AEP to India to children to politics. It was one of my best lunches ever.
You must be wondering what I did, to deserve such a super privilege….
Well, sometime in November that year, good friend Meenu Kelawala called and asked me whether I had submitted a recipe for the company-wide “AEP healthy recipe contest”. I had not even heard about such as competition. And the submission deadline was just a few hours later that same day.
After some “strong-arming” from Meenu, I literally “whipped up” the following recipe for “Murg Haryali Pulao” in about half an hour, and submitted it for the contest.
A panel of chefs tried out all the top five submissions and had an “expert panel” of foodies perform the food tasting. As you can very well imagine where I am going with all this… my recipe WON the grand prize.
All the cafeterias across AEP’s service territory featured the dish on their menu in late November that year. Along with bragging rights (thanks to an article on AEP’s intranet), the grand prize was …an exclusive lunch with the Chairman!!!
Here is the recipe for your consumption (pun intended!!).
MURG HARYALI PULAO (Indian Style Spinach Pilaf with Chicken)
Cooking time: ~30 minutes (plus time needed for marinating chicken)
1 Cup long-grain Basmati Rice
½ Cup frozen green peas
½ Cup frozen carrots
2 Bay leaves
5 Cardamom pods (optional)
6 Ounces frozen spinach
1 Teaspoon olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (for garnish)
2 Large deboned chicken breasts
Cooking oil spray (like PAM)
2-3 Sprigs fresh Cilantro
1 Small sprig of mint leaves
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Small piece of ginger root (optional)
½ Cup Plain unsweetened plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. Lemon/lime juice
Salt to taste
Step 1: Score the chicken breasts with a sharp kitchen knife to allow better absorption of the marinade. Wash the cilantro and mint very well. In a blender, blend the marinade ingredients. Pour marinade into a container or zip-loc type bag. Add chicken breasts and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or longer if possible.
Tip: This can be done earlier during the day so that the chicken will be ready for cooking in the evening.
Step 2: In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add cloves, bay-leaves and cardamom pods. Sauté for about a minute. Add 1¾ cups water and bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat; add rice, salt, green peas, and carrots. Once the water starts boiling again, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is done and all the water has been absorbed (~16-20 mins). Remove pan from heat; add frozen spinach on top, cover, and let stand for 6-8 minutes. Using a fork, gently fluff rice and mix in the spinach. Remove large pieces of spices (Bay leaf, cloves, cardamom etc.) before serving.
Tip: hot rice is very fragile. Therefore, be gentle while fluffing the rice.
Step 3: While rice is cooking, you can prepare the chicken.
• Take out the marinated chicken and discard any excess marinade.
• Lightly coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking oil spray and heat pan over medium-high heat.
• Add chicken and cook until thoroughly cooked turning the pieces a few times. If you prefer, the chicken can also be grilled or oven-baked (450F for about 18 mins). (Tip: internal temperature for cooked chicken should be 165F. It is dangerous to eat undercooked meats and poultry)
• Remove from heat, cover and let the chicken rest for ~5 minutes. Cut into bite-sized strips.
• Optional step: for more intense flavor, melt 1-2tesspoons of butter, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and toss cooked chicken pieces in it before serving. Note: this will increase the fat content of the dish
Step 4: Neatly lay chicken strips over the spinach rice. Serve hot garnished with freshly chopped cilantro and fried onions (French fried onions work well). Serve with Raita.
This flavorful and appealing recipe provides a balanced source of carbohydrates, fiber, fat and protein. Basmati rice has a lower glycemic index than regular long-grained rice. Using skinless chicken breast helps reduce fat and cholesterol consumption.
FASHION- By Rekha Nair
For hot summers consider transitioning to fabrics that are soft, sensitive, and breathable. Cotton and linen blends work best to keep cool. Dress light to beat the humidity and enjoy the outdoors wearing aqua, teal, blue, coral and other soft muted colors. Enhance bright days with blue-based cool colors that can be accented with white gold, rose gold, silver or platinum. Summers are best in pastels and soft neutral colors. Avoid bold colors unless lightened with white, beige or gray.
Keep it casual with a pair of jeans or shorts paired with a soft neutral top and accented with bright colored accessories. Summer is the best time to bring out your wardrobe accessories for a mix & match look. Get a couple of slip dresses as your go-to for evenings out. Something flowy and not clingy.
When it comes to shoes opt for open -toed or flats. Hats can be a good way to protect you from the harsh UV rays when out and about and when chosen well, they make a bold fashion statement. Pair with the right pair of sunglasses to complete your summer look!
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