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Celebrating Dad

 The men we celebrated on Father’s Day 2016: My dad, Ram Swaroop, top. My uncle Anand Swaroop, left, my grandfather and the best teacher ever, Ragunath Prasad, center, and my big brother Subhash Swaroop, right.

This was my first Father’s Day without my Dad. He passed away in March after a long and successful life. 

I was close to him and it is hard adjusting to life without him. He played such a strong role in my life that I didn’t even know how life would look like without him. 

  • He was my first teacher. 
  • He gave me my sense of adventure. 
  • He challenged me. 
  • He showed me to be a critical thinker. 
  • He taught me the importance of being kind and fair. 
  • He showed me how to have the courage of my convictions. 
  • His example showed me that that it was more important to take care of my spiritual well-being than to focus on fame and fortune. 

For all of the things he gave me I wanted to say thanks for making me a Swaroop. And for the woman I am today. I didn’t realize the importance of everything he did until after he died. 

Now that I know I wanted to celebrate him on this first Father’s Day without him.

And our Celebrating Dad fiesta was born.

I invited some family over to celebrate all the dads here and those on the other side for everything they gave us. The only requirement was that each person who came had to bring a dish that their Dad loved to eat. Including my dad’s invention: Cream Cheese Balls (from top left), pizza, cream cheese filled strawberries, carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, guacamole, salsa, chips, fruit platter, nan baria (an Indian onion fritter) with mint chutney and tamarind chutney. 

 

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Poker Party Pals

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Tenny Tatusian, Hannah MacDonald, Brady MacDonald exhibit the pure joy of being at Poker Night while Gracie Monroe peeks in from behind. The December gathering is always at the home of Rob, Krystn, Gracie and Mia Monroe. 

“The cookie crunch was great! It gave it an extra bit of texture”

– Nancy Luna MacDonald aka The OC Register’s Fast Food Maven said of the Cookie Crunch Parfait

As a journalism major I spent most of my time inside the Daily Titan newsroom at Cal State Fullerton. It was an incredible experience and I made some good friends while working long hours putting together the campus newspaper.

Now, some of those friends and their families show up at the monthly Poker Parties. In the photo above is (from left)  in the foreground is Tenny, Hannah and Brady, who was my editor at the Daily Titan .Our desseert chef, Gracie, is in the background.  Poker party regulars include Ryan T. Blystone, Rob & Krystn Monroe, Brady and Nancy MacDonald, Dennis and Marie Kee, Gary and MJ Smet, David and Tricia Montero, Michael Rocha and Mark Gray. And their children too.

We rotate hosting duties and one of the best parts of these get-together is the food. At yesterday’s party at the Monroes, we started with appetizers, beer and wine. Rob grilled tri-trip, BBQ ribs to add the spread which also included Caesar salad, baked mac n cheese and couscous salad.

To top it all off Rob and Kristen’s oldest daughter, Gracie made us individual Cookie Crunch Parfaits for our dessert. Below, Gracie puts the finishing touches on dessert as her little sister, Mia, watches. Click here for the recipe
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Best Dad in the World

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“It was good especially since I can’t remember the last time I had pizza.”

– Ram Swaroop, 82

Today we gathered at my parents’ house to celebrate my Dad for Father’s Day.

As usual we had plenty of food including veggie and meat versions of California Grilled Pizza, green salad and then the dessert buffet including Haagen-Daz bars, mini-mint ‘n chip ice cream sandwiches, raspberry sorbet, strawberry shortcake frozen yogurt, fresh mango, freshly picked apricots and English cookies.

It seems like a lot, but all of that doesn’t even come close to thanking my Dad for all the support, guidance and help he continues to provide to me. Even now, he remains one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

In addition to that he is smart, funny, analytical, kind, methodical, even-tempered and great model for character, intellect and compassion. He’s taught me that you can judge a person’s character on how he/she conducts himself on matters of money, time and keeping his/her word. And that character is what truly matters when looks, money and prominence fade away!

He jokingly considers himself tight-fisted and even cheap since that was part of his frugal upbringing in lower middle-class India where he grew up. Even though he moved here to go to school, brought his entire family over and proceeded to secure upper-middle class success here in the United States, he still thinks some of the prices we pay are outlandish!

The older I get the more I realize how blessed and lucky I am to have him in my life. He’s the one I always turn to in all matters of spirituality, finance and relationships. It astounds me how often his advice is spot on.

I love you Dad! In the picture below a pint-sized me with my Dad when I was less than a year old. I’m not sure why I look so scared, though. 🙂
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I love you, Mom!

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“There is way too much food.”

– Ram Swaroop, 82

For our annual Mother’s Day Brunch, we always gather at my parents house to celebrate all the Moms in our family including my mom, my aunts and sisters-in-law.

This year I organized it with my sister Suki. We decided to have all the people who aren’t parents to contribute to the potluck. Even my teen-age nephews and nieces. We have a family full of incredible chefs and I wanted to taste something from all the age groups from 12 to 45.

As a result, we had a ton of food including Mexican quiche, veggie quiche, crab quiche, rosemary potatoes, macaroni cole slaw,
veggie kabobs, turkey tacos, fajitas, salsa, guacamole, chips, quinoa salad, fruit salad, bagels, lemon tiramasu trifle, Dinesh‘s chocolate cheesecake bars and cookies.

Everyone brought their A-game and everything was delicious. It was a tasty way to show how much we care about the Moms in our family.

Thanks to all our Moms especially my beautiful, smart, encouraging, loving Mom for making the choice to take on the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. You make the world a better place.

Below, one of the earliest pictures i have of me and Mom. I love you Mom!

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Giving thanks

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In my faith, we periodically have pujas where we have an opportunity to gather, sit quietly and give thanks for our blessings. At every puja there is prasad offered usually by the person or for the occasion we are marking (birthdays, anniversaries, new job, new home, etc.). Usually it is a sweet or deep-fried treat.

Tonight, we are having a puja. Because I just started a brand-new job working in the industry I spent a year training for I am feeling especially grateful. So I asked if I could offer a Prasad to thank God for the bountiful blessings I’m enjoying.

The answer was yes. So I asked my niece what was the best thing she’s learned to make in her 5th grade home ec class. She told me about Simple Cinnamon Bites. I wondered how good they really were? I told her to rank them on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being mediocre and 5 being addictively delicious.

She told me they are a 6! So we decided to make these to offer tonight. She ended up making them with me assisting her. Above, is a picture of the chef with the first batch from the oven.

All-American Super Bowl fiesta

spread

“The sauce is so good you could use it as a spread.”

Shailesh Swaroop, as he quickly put some of Sangeeta’s Zesty Sauce on his burger in place of ketchup

We all gathered at my brother, Shailesh’s, house in Carlsbad to watch the big name pitting the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco Forty-Niners in New Orleans. Of course, in our family the main event is always food so we brought our A game and made this spread.

The cooks included my sister, Suki, brother Shailesh, myself, my nieces Sangeeta and even Maya and her boyfriend Aidan Keefe cooked up the bacon for the sliders. The spread included bacon cheeseburger sliders, garlic fries, hummus, guacamole, shrimp, cocktail sauce and cupcakes.

The food was all great with Sangeeta’s tasty cocktail sauce getting delighted nods all around. Click here for her cocktail sauce recipe.

The game has been great with Ravens dominating the Super Bowl. Beginning with Raven QB Joe Flacco set the tone for the game with an early touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to Ed Reed’s interception of Forty-Niners QB Colin Kaepernick pass in the second quarter to Jones touchdown at the end of the second quarter. Hopefully they will be able to hold on to their lead. The score was 21-3 Ravens at the end of the first quarter.

The first day of the year

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“Mmmmm, that was good.”

– Sujata Swaroop

Every year on the first of the year our family gets together to have an anniversary puja that starts around 10 a.m. A lot fewer people usually come to this puja than others. 10 instead of 25.

Since it is the day after New Year’s Eve and the morning of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, many wander in for brunch around 11 am or noon.

Happy New Year!!