Tag Archives: family

The Second Cousin

So, I missed my cousin’s graduation party.  Except she was my mom’s second cousin’s daughter and I really don’t even know what that means.  Do you?  If so, don’t explain.  I have read about it, heard about it and different people have given me 15 different variations on it, but I still don’t get it.

But, they are at all the family get-togethers, so I just call them cousins.  And, I missed her high school graduation party.  This was totally my scheduling error and not the error of a careless school (sorry, Ameena).

If I had gone, I would have gotten her money.  Because, let’s be honest.  A high school graduate doesn’t want a pen as much as she wants money.  This also applies to a college graduate and just about any person.  Maybe I’m projecting?

I also understand the impersonal nature of handing someone money with some exceptions.  If you attend a party/get together and hand the money in person, then all is well.  There is some personal-ness to it.  However, if you missed the graduation party and just send money, it might seem a little distant.  Right?  (Mind you, I would accept money with no care but others may care.  Except from Binks – wherein homemade and/or thoughtful are requirements.)

I’m sure this follows no rules of etiquette as I clearly have none, but hey, that’s how I roll.

So, I’m going to mail her a gift package with the following: pens, pencils, highlighters, a desk organizer, cookies, and of course – money.

I was most excited about the cookies.

Specifically, snickerdoodles.  (Recipe)

I love snickerdoodles.  The light and crisp (yet chewy) texture is perfect for a summer treat.

Who knew cookies could be seasonal?

Snickerdoodles are in the same family as sugar cookies to me, just with a bit more pizzazz.

They’re probably second cousins.

Are you a fan of snickerdoodles?  What do you usually give to a high school graduate?

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9 Comments

Filed under baking, Cookies, Desserts, Life, Uncategorized

When Life Hands You A Lemon

What does a lemon mean to me?

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It’s the start to a great refreshing salad.

It’s the perfect addition to a great biscotti.

It’s the star of one of my favorite cakes.

….

..

It’s the size of the baby growing inside me.

🙂

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Filed under Life

Cake Walk

Now that I’ve proclaimed myself a baker (I can do that right?), I insist that we do not buy cakes for special events.  Why have a beautifully decorated cake, when I can provide an amateur-ly decorated cake for all special occasions?!

Somehow or another, I have convinced my family that it’s a great idea.  Either that or they will do anything to shut me up.

So, when my mom’s birthday comes around, I jumped at the chance to host a pizza party at my house.  A pizza party for my mom?  Her heart wants what it wants.

You know the pizza.  Meet the cake – The Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake (another Kitchen List-er).

I’m still working on the decorating.  Hmmm-kay?!

I’ve had my eye on this cake for a while and was waiting for the best opportunity to bake it.  What better occasion than my mom’s birthday?

The process was easy.  The cakes were cooperative.

And I used what I had to create something fun and festive for my mommy.

Because a party cannot live by cake alone – that is when there is pizza involved!

By golly.

I think she liked it.

The cake was delicious.  I have never made yellow cake before and this will forever be my go-to recipe.  The sour cream frosting was not necessarily my favorite but it was delicious.  I think I prefer a chocolate butter cream above all when it comes to yellow cake.

So, to my mom – who will let me be me, put up with me being me, forgive me for when me-being-me is not very nice, and eat whatever concoction I make (in lieu of a nice restaurant with a fancy cake) just to support me on her day – Happy Happy Happy Birthday to the best Mom ever!

Do you bake your own cakes?  Does someone in your family?  How do you celebrate birthdays?  Have you tried the Smitten Kitchen Best Birthday Cake?

46 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

I Whip My Oats Back And Forth

If you thought my inane post titles were going to change after yesterday, think again!

Being that it’s Friday and all, “I hop up out of the bed and get my swag on, pay no attention to the haters, because we whip ’em off…

Again, inspired by the fabulous KERF, I made banana whipped oatmeal.

It’s creamy.  It’s smooth.  It’s rich.  It’s buttery.  It’s sweet in all the right ways.  It’s not your regular bowl of oats.

That brown glob would be my homemade chocolate peanut butter.  (Delicious!)

And just when you thought I couldn’t put a camera closer to my food:

So “all my ladies [or gents] if you feel it…do it, do it!!

Banana Whipped Oatmeal

Adapted from KERF

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 large ripe banana, chopped*
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries

Directions:

  1. Add oats, flax, chia, salt and vanilla to milk and simmer over medium heat.
  2. When it starts bubbling, add the banana.
  3. Go ape shit and whip it real good!
  4. During the last 1-2 minutes of cooking the oats, add the blueberries and stir.
  5. Enjoy your whipped oats!

Note:  *I like to chop the banana into larger pieces because I want to have pieces of banana in my oats to taste.  The finer you chop your banana, the finer the consistency.  It’s the difference between mashed and smashed potatoes.

Side Question:  Have you heard/read about the study/research on birth order and how it is telling of your personality/character?  If so, what do you think about the study?  Do you think you fit into the birth order roles?  Are you married to or with someone that’s your same birth order or different?  What kind of differences do you notice?

It’s a random question I know – but I have been really focusing in on this research for the past few months.  I know it applies to my life (I’m first-born; so is Binks).  If you think this question is associated to this post, then you are right.

26 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Life, Vegan

Therapy.

I stress about my little sister – 25 years of age little.

I could write a thesis about all the stressors and graph it for you, but let’s go with the latest stressor.

My sister is dating a guy that I don’t like.  And neither does she, but she feels bad leaving him.

After getting off the phone with her about this, I accumulated quite a bit of stress from things I did not say (i.e., “I’m sick of talking to you about the same problem,” “You are an idiot,” “Dump him,” “He is a loser,” “I know what’s best for you,” “I’m smarter than you so do what I say!”).

One thing I’ve learned through time and experience is that telling someone that they are doing the wrong thing over and over doesn’t mean a darn thing unless the other person realizes it for themselves.  And also because I said all these things at least 5 times to her in the past month. Whoops! 🙂

You would think she would learn from her past – like the time she was allegedly IN LOVE with a guy she met during summer vacation – a 5 day vacation.  Hasn’t she heard of the term “summer fling,” or in this case “summer mini-hit-it-and-split-it-fling”?

I needed relief.  It was cookie time.

It started with one.

That led to many.

That led to this.

I think I’ll send this to her with a note: “Plenty of fish in the sea, and you had to find this flop…”

🙂

I won’t!

What kind of note would you send?  To who? Why? How do your relieve stress in a non-exercise way?

24 Comments

Filed under baking, Cookies, Life

Mumbai Revisited

During my trip to Kerala, I stopped off in Mumbai for a couple of days on my way back to the states – I have family there.  Of all places I have been in my life, my trip to Mumbai was the most interesting, eye-opening and fun!

I’m sure many of you have seen Slumdog Millionaire as I have.  The actual living conditions of everyday people did not hit me in the movie until I actually saw it for myself.  And, it then hit me like a ton of bricks.  Just my first day there I saw people living in ‘homes’ made of branches and the shirt off their back.  I saw people eat OFF the street while traffic is going in full volume – and there is some mayjah traffic issues there.  There are slums galore.

But, the moment of truth only came when we were driving down a busy intersection and I saw a 2-year-old kid walking through the intersection between the lanes in his diapers.  This baby was covered in dust and seemed like he was not bothered in the least.

Mind you I had every opportunity to take his picture to show you but for some reason I felt it not right.  So, I don’t know if you will feel what I felt, but all I know is that I won’t ever forget.

Lesson No. 1:  I am really lucky and blessed to have everything I have.  Lesson No. 2:  You make it work.

So, without further ado, here are the highlights from my trip to Mumbai:

Binks insisted on getting a samosa at the airport before arriving in Mumbai.

Then we arrived.

We were immediately greeted by a street vendor attempting to sell us re-printed/copied books.

He stayed for a long time because again he knew we were Americans.

I must say the traffic was the worst I’ve seen in any city.  There are so many people living in Mumbai that it’s unbelievable just how they live.  For instance, for a 750 sq ft. apartment, there may be 5-7 families living in one apartment so that they can afford a space.  Or, you have situations where someone has a three bedroom home and 3-4 families live in one room while renting the other space out to make income.

And did I mention they have corruption issues with the government?

I think the sign is problem No. 1.  Did you “sspot” it?    🙂

We started the day with a tour of the areas that were hit by the 2008 terrorist attacks, including the Gateway of India, Taj Hotel and Leopold Cafe (for lunch).

Then came Leopold Cafe.  Let me preface this by saying that Binks is not a foodie.  At all.  How we get along is beyond me! 🙂  But, to this day – he cannot stop talking about Leopold Cafe.  You again have to take my word on it – it was THAT good!

Leopold Cafe was another site of the terrorist attacks.  The attackers actually had lunch in the cafe before they began their tirade on restaurant, killing at least 10 people.  The windows where the bullets went through still remain.

The menu was thorough and had plenty of cuisines.

The drinks were offered in volumes.  I think this was the pitcher – of Kingfisher, nonetheless.

I swear it was full prior to this picture.  *burp* *hiccup*

The service – awesome and attentive without being pushy!

The food?  There are no words.

And, obviously there is no food – thanks a bunches Binks!

Then we took time to go to Juhu beach, the most famous beach in Mumbai.  Now, Juhu is a suburb of Bombay – and let me tell ya – rich to say the least.  The movie stars live here, but unfortunately I didn’t see any.

And no, it isn’t the cleanest beach.  But it is crowded – as are most things in Mumbai.  We of course made sure to hit up the vendors at the beach.

Enter the recent favorite – the gola!  Gola is the Indian version of a slush/sno-cone.  It’s ice that’s slushed and smushed on a stick, which pretty much looks like a Popsicle.  Then, the Gola wala pours any flavor of syrup (pictured above) onto the ice and you slurp on the flavored ice.  I got the chocolate flavor.  I still dream about this.

Then the classic lemon soda.  Simple lemon juice, soda water, and chaat masala.  Yum!

My cousins ordered more but I could only handle so much.

Binks and I was really fortunate to have family here to stay with and show us the lay of the land.  After the snacks, we were on our way home.

So, goodbye Mumbai with your gritty exterior and soulful interior.  One thing I know for a fact is that I’m coming back – even if it’s just to eat at the Leopold Cafe and try the chocolate gola at Juhu Beach.

If you want to get the real feel of India with tons to do, go to Mumbai.  I heart it.

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Filed under Indian, Vacation

Christmas 2010: My Dessert Smorgasbord

Hello Post-Christmas to all!

hope each of you had a fabulous Christmas.  I know I did. This year my mom did it up right.  And let’s just say, I overdid it with the desserts.  If you follow me on Twitter, you would have read that I really almost had a panic attack at the amount I was baking.  But, in the end, it made for a great spread and I left with no left-overs!  Always a great sign.

All in all – I made 7 desserts (I cut it down from eight):  cranberry and walnut shortbread, thumbprint cookies, homemade Pocky sticks, brownies, Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes), mini cheesecakes, and a delicious rum cake to boot!

The best rum cake I have ever tasted – and I promise you I’m critical with my cooking!

These are my all-time favorite go-to brownies.

I cannot believe that it took me this long to make these Mexican wedding cookies.  This will not be my last time – let me tell ya!

Yes, I did use Halloween cupcake liners, but would you deny these treats for that reason?!  I think not!

I used blackberry jam for these thumbprint cookies.  My favorite!

And my MIL did it up right by bringing the classic Jalebi.

So, basically I caused a diabetic’s nightmare! 🙂

Not to fret, there was other food at dinner.  First, some appeteasers with Indian puffs – puff pastry filled with ground beef:

and my mom’s infamous samosas:

The blurry picture doesn’t do it justice.

And the main course had fried rice, beef/chicken kabobs, raita, salad, green beans, and even a pasta casserole my dad whipped up last-minute that was a hit!

In addition to this fabulous food, the night itself was fantastic.  I have a great family and I was truly blessed that Christmas 2010 included ALL of them!

In addition to my family, I am extremely thankful for you, my blog readers.  I have only been doing this a short time, but the people I have ‘virtually met’ have been absolutely short of wonderful.  I love the positive energy that everyone exudes and I have to say that it has changed my life.  So, thank you from the bottom of my happy holiday heart!

25 Comments

Filed under Cake, Cookies, Desserts, Dinner, Indian