Browsing Category: Domestic

family dinners

Ever since I started a normal job, Feraz and I have been trying to have family dinner together every night. It is so nice to sit down at our table and catch up on our day and to enjoy the delicious foods we’ve made for each other. Except something we want to watch will be on. Or one of us will have something we want to do on the computer. Or we get home at different times becuase of various commitments or errands.

Wouldn’t you want to have dinner with this guy every night?

Despite the little bit of extra effort we have to make, we are both trying to stay committed to family dinners. Sitting down for dinner is not only good for relationships but I also think it helps us enjoy our food more. I hate eating a meal in front of the TV and ten minutes later having an empty plate and not having any recollection of having eaten. We still get through a meal pretty fast but we always end up talking about what we are eating, what we enjoy the most and what we are looking forward to making.

Tuesday Dinner

I have also been reading about family breakfasts. Since people’s schedules are more varied as the day goes on, sometimes families find it easier to come together in the morning. When I used to work crazy hours, Feraz would wake up at five or six in the morning just so we could have a cup of tea together and have a little time to chat. I think moving the quality meal time to the morning is a great solution for people with crazy schedules. Although, I also think you should step back and think about your lifestyle if your schedule is consistently too crazy to have dinner with your family.

Wednesday Dinner

From a preparation perspective, making dinner each night doesn’t have to be too time consuming. Both our Tuesday and Wednesday dinners took less than 20 minutes to prepare. For the Tuesday dinner, we ate food that we had prepared during the weekend for the week. Feraz made the chicken and okra and I made the kidney beans and peppers. For last night’s meal, I wanted something cozy since it had been raining all day. I whipped up some daal, baked potato and salad in about 15 minutes.

Fake-Bake Potato:

  • Take two large potatoes and put two knife cuts in them so they don’t explode in the microwave.
  • Put in microwave for nine minutes eighteen seconds.
  • Take them out and allow to cool for a minute or two. 
  • Peel and serve with seasoned salt.

Fast and Dirty Daal:

  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  • Rinse one cup of lentils and add to boiling water.
  • Leave heat on high. Stir occasionally.
  • Fry one large chopped onion, (I cut a huge bag of onions on the weekend so I have it ready to go for fast meal prep.) one chopped green chili, 1/2 tablespoon garlic ginger paste, 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin, 1/2 tablespoon turmeric, 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, 1/2 tablespoon salt. (Adjust spices to taste, as necessary.) 
  • Once well cooked, stir into the lentils.
  • Slice one persian cucumber for each plate. 

Do you have family dinners? How do you make it work? Do you feel like it makes your family closer to have them?

Party Favors for Adults

When I was little, the best parties were the ones that I would get a goodie bag at the end. It was fun to see my friends and play with them but nothing compared to the feeling of biting into a piece of candy and its sugary goodness erupting in my mouth.

I always hear adults saying kids don’t know how good they have it with voices dripping in envy. But the funny thing about being an adult is that we get to decide how to live our lives. We obviously can’t have all the joys of childhood but we can have a lot of them. We can stay up as late as we want, we can have sleepovers with our friends, we can run through sprinklers and we can look at the world as something beautiful and new. Kids take the time to appreciate and value the small, fun things. So, when we envy the joy of little kids, we are the only ones stopping ourselves from having that same joy. And we can do lots of things little kids can’t! We can eat cake for breakfast whenever we want. We can get on a plane and see the world. We can  We have it pretty good.

But, I digress from the original point of this post which is to share a fun favor I recently made for a party which I hope my guests liked and which I had a blast making. I knew I wanted to do a party favor and since I have been getting into baking, I wanted to share my new hobby with my guests. I decided to give out cupcakes

I used the dark chocoalte recipe in America’s Test Kitchen, the peanut butter frosting recipe found here and used organic rasberry jam for the center filing. I added a little Ghiradelli butterscotch chip in the center of the cupcake to bring it all together.
If you are going to give out cupcakes as gifts, you need something to give them in! I did some googling to see where bakeries or other DIYers got their boxes and ended up ordering my boxes and inserts from here. I ordered these, these and these.

Since I was having my party during Ramadan to break the fast, I wanted to tie that in as well. I created these little cards using an excerpt from an article I had read earlier in the day encouraging people to donate towards the Somalian food crises. I printed the cards on cardstock which I ordered from here.

I searched far and wide for Ramadan cards but didn’t find anything I liked, so I used this cute image below from Pinterest and just copied it to Word and using a text box and Old Typewriter font, which you can download for free here, I created my own little Ramadan card.

Finally, I need something to tie everything together, literally. I have been seeing a lot of presents tied with twine and fell in love so I ordered some here. I wasn’t really in love with this stuff and the actual color is much more brown than yellow as you can see below but then again, I accidentally ordered hemp when I wanted twine. I learned my lesson and have found great twine since then but for the boxes, the hemp actually worked out fine

Here they are all set up for the guests with Teddy Roosevelt keeping guard.

A week later, we had another party and using the same idea, I created the boxes below. I used cake box mix and frosting because making the cupcakes took me forever the first time around. I think the ideal approach is to use cake mix for the cupcakes but homemad frosting. That way you save a lot of time without sacrificing on taste.
I used the pink boxes this time.

Have you been making any favors lately? Have you gotten any that you loved? 

Three Things I Can’t Live Without

When Feraz and I moved into our first grown-up home, we had to make lots of choices like what kind of furniture to buy, how to decorate and how we would run this ship. The most important decision we made was to keep our home as organic as possible. We buy organic foods, have organic towels, organic soaps and face wash and organic cleaning supplies. It is working out great and after living here for six months we have by and large maintained our organic lifestyle. Our skin glows, our conscience is clean and we break out in at least one musical number a day. The only problem in our otherwise blemish free life is that our house never feels clean.

If you have a desi mother you know what I’m talking about. I am talking about you can eat off anything in the house clean. I love that feeling. Organic and all natural cleaning supplies can get you to regionals but for real national level cleaning, you have to go to the aerosol can, environment killing, toxic filled things you grew up using. (Only a desi kid grows up with warm memories of their favorite cleaning supplies.)

So, here are my guilty pleasures for household supplies I can’t live without.

Number Three: Drano Max Gel

Our home is near perfect but the one thing I can’t stand is that the water starts to back up in both the upstairs sinks and baths. There is something unholy about taking a shower with filth gathering up around your feet. Worse is that once we were getting out of the shower, the water would sit there creating a ring of film in the baths and sinks. It was becoming a supreme pain in the butt to be constantly cleaning the sinks and baths. We tried regular Drano with no luck and I even stuck my hands down the drain to see if I could coax out whatever was in there but to no avail. Yesterday, Feraz went at the drains with Drano Max and some boiling water and glory of all glories, the water goes down swimmingly. I spent a good five minutes in the shower just watching how the water go down the drain. Its the simple things in life…

Number Two: Lysol Cling Clip-On 2in1 Toilet Bowl Freshener and Cleaner

Who likes a dirty toilet? Nobody! That’s who. Not even a dirty toilet likes a dirty toilet. (PSA: If you google images “dirty toilet,” be prepared to pay the consequences.)

Our Lysol clip-ons are on every toilet and because of them we almost never have to clean the toilets. Anything that prevents me from having to touch a toilet gets on my top three. Also, the bathrooms smell so amazing that I am convinced that they will be featured in a commercial in the future when scents can come out of the TV.

Number One: Scrubbing Bubbles!!!!!

There is nothing in the world better for your cleaning needs then Scrubbing Bubbles. They Really DO scrub so you don’t have to. When I was a little kid, I used to look forward to cleaning the bathroom. There was such a satisfaction in spraying and spraying and seeing the big mounds of foam building. I would imagine that the big mounds were houses or mountains and I would imagine lots of little scrubbing village people living their merry lives in there. Then I would turn on the faucet and destroy them. I was a very healthy child.
I killed these adorable guys on a weekly basis. Twenty years later, it is still incredibly satisfying. If I had to live on a desert island with lots of dirty sinks and bathtubs and could only take one cleaning product, (It could happen.) I would take this can hands down.

So, these three guys are the reason that our house is no longer orgosher, (I think that term could definitely catch on.) It is a bit happier, and a lot cleaner. I hope you use some of these products and they bring you as much joy as they bring us.

Carrot Cake

Do you remember the smell of cookies baking on weekends when you were a kid? Do you remember how excited you would get at the thought of your mom baking your favorite cake for your birthday? Or how comforting it was to have someone make you a pie when it felt like the whole world sucked?

I don’t.

Although my mother is good at many things, she is no baker and growing up I saw more fudge stripe cookies than any sort of home baked goods. I started cooking at a young age but never really baked. When I was in law school, I tried my hands at baking cookies a few times to disastrous results. I was sure that my mom had killed any baking gene there might have been in our family and resigned myself to raising my children on Keebler products.

But everyday when I check my facebook I see photo after photo of people’s success and I think if they can make a cake, why can’t I?

Although I fully plan to be a tiger mother I realize that with thousands of how to videos available on the internet, there is no reason I can’t become a master baker by the time my children have to start taking birthday cupcakes to class and effectively prevent my future children from blogging about how I never baked them a cake.

Last week I made these apple cupcakes/muffins which turned out ok (By ok I mean I only ate six of them on Sunday) but this week I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to correct some of the mistakes I made in last weeks baking adventure. I decided on carrot cake because it is my fave and also because we had a bag of organic carrots that had been sitting in the fridge for about three weeks. (They hadn’t gone bad. I swear.)

I used the recipe in America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. It is easy to follow and called for lots of gentleness. Gently mix the flour and spices, gently fold in the carrots, gently fluff the frosting. By the end, I thought my cake needed a therapist more than an oven.

Although the recipe didn’t call for nuts, I remembered that every mile high carrot cake I had ever eaten included nuts and I remembered that they had been on the side of the cake so I decide to add that in. To figure out how to do it, I googled “how to stick nuts on the side of a cake.” That led me to this website and although the name baking911 really spoke to me, all the pink, red and schizophrenic fonts was too much for me and I quickly hit the back button. The next website had too many words but as I scrolled down I saw this picture which was all I needed. Falling the smack the thing you want on the side of your cake method, I was able to get the result I wanted.

For the final making my cake look like a real cake touch I used my recently purchased pastry bag to make a squiggly thing around my cake. To learn how to do this, I googled “how to make a squiggly thing around a cake.” I ran into a website that was called “Directions for Decorating a Tinkerbell Birthday Cake.” I decided to wing it. Making the squiggly thing was actually really easy and I did it in about 12 seconds. I think if I had taken 30 seconds, it would have looked better but all I could think of was how badly I wanted to eat my cake so I didn’t spend enough time smoothing the frosting, nicely putting on the nuts or making an even squiggly line. That did not take away from how awesome the cake tasted so I win(ning).

The best thing about making the cake at home was that I was able to use all organic ingredients and was able to use the “light” recipe which cut out half the fat and calories. It still tasted amazing as is evidenced by how much we have already eaten.

The moral of this post? With google, all things are possible.