Monthly Archives: October 2013

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There are basically two types of doughnuts. Yeast doughnuts which are leavened by yeast and cake doughnuts which are leavened by baking powder. Yeast doughnuts are light and airy while cake doughnuts tend to be on the dense side with a crispier crust.
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So when little H needed munchkins for her Eid party I decided to try cake ones. They seemed pretty easy to make or so I thought. I followed the joy of baking’s cake doughnut recipe. Here  is the link http://www.joyofbaking.com/breakfast/CakeDoughnutsRecipe.html

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I halved the ingredients because I just needed 6 doughnuts and also was not sure how they will turn out. Making the dough was pretty easy. But rolling the dough out was complicated.  Here are the ingredients:

Ingredients:

195 g all purpose flour
83 g sugar
20 g melted butter
60 ml milk
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
0.25 tsp salt
Tsp fresh ground nutmeg (I omitted this)
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

Cream eggs and sugar until pale and frothy. Beat in vanilla extract. In a seperate bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Alternatively add in the flour mixture and melted butter and milk in 3 additions beginning and ending with flour. The dough will be very sticky. Chill it for 30 mins.

Then generously flour your rolling surface area, your rolling pin and cookie cutters. The key is to flour it very generously because the dough is very sticky. When I rolled the dough out the first time it got stuck to the surface and I had to start all over again. Be very careful and light in handling the dough. If you do not have cookie cutters use any round lids, one big and one small. I cut 6 doughnuts, some plain doughnut holes. And then I got bored and started cutting star, heart and flower shaped munchkins!

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Once you are done cutting, let the doughnuts stand at room temperature. Heat the oil on medium heat. Check if your oil is hot enough by putting a piece of bread, if it browns in 30-40 secs it is hot enough. Put two doughnuts at a time making sure not to over crowd them. It will take some trial and error to judge the best temperature to fry them.

Chocolate Glaze

Once all of them are fried, cool them and then prepare the chocolate glaze. Recipe again from joy of baking.

Ingredients:
2 oz semi sweet chocolate
60 ml light cream ( I used milk pak)
1 tsp melted butter
1 cup icing sugar

Method:

Heat butter and cream until just boiling. Pour over chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Then add sugar and whisk until smooth. Dip your doughnuts in the glaze and keep in the fridge to set. If you want you can sprinkle shredded coconut or sprinkles on them or leave them plain like me. Ta da! Doughnuts are ready 🙂 Although mine did end up a bit dry because I over handled the dough but they tasted great with some tea.

Cake Doughnuts

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Positive Parenting and Desi Culture

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happy familyl

The other day while supervising my daughter at a park I heard this exchange between a mother and daughter. The daughter was around 5 years old and was scared to come down the slide. The mother was telling her that even little babies were using the slide and everybody is going to laugh at her for being such a sissy. Now I firmly believe that every parent-child situation is different and there is no one solution fits all scenario but I found this just very wrong.

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Sadly this kind of parenting style is very common in our society. How many times have u heard parents scaring children of Allah babas (the bogey man) to get them to behave. Or telling them that everybody is going to laugh at them if they do not do a certain thing, or comparing them to other children or telling them how good babies do not do that and how he/she must be a very bad baby!

scaring todder

I feel this kind of fear based parenting is the reason our children only follow rules when we are around them. We as a society have failed to raise a responsible and self motivated generation. We will gladly throw garbage out of our car windows here because we know there are going to be no repercussions. But the minute we step on foreign soil we become law-abiding citizens. This is because positive parenting is really missing from our society. We raise our children through intimidation, threats, bribery.

positive parenting meets psychology

So what exactly is positive parenting.? It is gently guiding your children to the right path through listening to them and setting clear, consistent rules. Many people in our society confuse positive parenting with permissive parenting thinking being gentle with children is going to spoil them.

Now let us discuss the most common desi parenting pitfalls:

1. Using fear and threats.

disciline

This is a very common approach, scaring them with cockroaches, lizards or Allah baba to get them to behave, stop a tantrum or make them eat dinner. Please stop. Instead of scaring them, look them in the eye and say your rule in a clear, firm voice. Once you have repeated your rule, there are two approaches. For very young toddlers, 12-18 months, distraction is the best disciplining strategy. For older ones, explain the consequences to them. For example if you hit your brother with a toy car, I am going to take away your car for the evening. It is going to not have any effect for the first few times and your child will howl and cry. Let them cry but do not give in. After a few times your child will know you mean business. Scaring them will surely lead to quick results but will leave them under confident for the rest of their life.

2. Did you see that baby/boy/girl, she is so well behaved, you should also be like her.

We desis are forever comparing and judging. See that person’s bahu, she works and then cooks a 3 course dinner too. You should also do it. See that person’s children, their mother disciplines them so well. You should learn some tips from her. How many times have we listened to such comments. Innumerable. Unfortunately we do the same thing to our children. Comparing them constantly with other kids. This is wrong because it undermines their self-esteem and makes them feel that they are never good enough for their parents. This leads to life long insecurities. Instead of saying look at how nicely behaved that little girl is, you should be like her, say Mama is going to be so happy if you sit and quietly play with your toys.

3. You are a bad/dirty baby because you threw your dinner/ cried or whatever.

People are never bad, their actions are. And children are intrinsically innocent, calling them bad makes them develop negative self-image for life. Each time we call them bad, they internalize it and think they can never be good. Instead if your 2-year-old throws all the salt out of the shaker, tell them that was a bad thing to do and all the salt is wasted now and mama is unhappy. Do not tell them that you are such a naughty bad boy for throwing the salt. Those of you who have studied economics must know about self-fulfilling prophecies. Same is the case with children. Call them bad and they will turn bad. So choose your words carefully.

4. You are such a smart/good/pretty baby.

praise

You guys must be thinking that if it is not ok to call children bad it must be good to praise them by calling them smart, good etc. But recent research has shown that excess praise and non-specific praise can actually damage a child’s self-esteem and turn them into people pleasers. So how do we praise our children then? Praise effort, not the end result and be very specific. For example you saw that your child studied hard for a test but was not able to score good marks. Instead of reprimanding him for not getting good marks, tell him that I know you studied very hard, next time you can show me what you are studying and we will go over your study material together so you can do better. Or if your preschooler shows you her drawing, instead of saying good job, ask her a question like ok you have colored the banana yellow or say I like the way you kept in the lines. Or if your toddler cooperates in getting her clothes changed, instead of saying good boy, tell her mama is feeling so happy because you changed your clothes. Praising effort makes children realize that they can always change their life outcomes by trying hard or trying a better approach. This leads to more successful and emotionally balanced adults.

4. Big babies do not cry.

crying baby

Every time I hear this statement I want to retort, excuse me, then do adults cry if not children. Let children cry. That is how they express emotions. If you tell them not to cry you are essentially telling them to repress their feelings. Then they are those parents who would give in anything to stop a major crying tantrum. If you give in to their crying it teaches them that you will change your mind if they cry enough. And believe me each time they will cry more :p It is essential to be firm, gentle but firm 🙂

5. No spanking.

no spanking

Many of us desis especially the older generation feel that spare the rod, spoil the child. Of course we all have had really bad days where we lose it and end up maybe swatting our child. And then feeling horrible later. But using spanking as a discipline strategy is totally not acceptable to me. If we use physical violence we are telling our children that physical violence is the answer to problems and a means to express anger. The way we behave when we are angry is the way our children will learn to behave. I strongly feel our children must obey us out of respect and not fear.

Learning to parent positively is an ongoing journey, one baby step at at a time. As our children grow, so do we grow in our ability to be a better parent.

children grow up

Happy parenting!

Rainbow Cupcakes

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Little H had a playdate with her cute little friends and I made these cupcakes for them. Needless to say the kids loved them and gobbled them in seconds after licking up the icing.

Rainbow cupcake

Rainbow cupcakes

I used joy of baking’s vanilla cupcake recipe (http://www.joyofbaking.com/VanillaCupcakes.html) with just a few minor adjustments for the basic white batter. You can use your favorite white cake or vanilla cake recipe or even a boxed mix. Just make sure to use a recipe which can tolerate a lot of mixing in the end when you are mixing up the food dyes. In order to make sure that my cupcakes do not get dry due to over mixing I added quarter cup more milk and two tablespoons oil to the original recipe. Oil makes cakes moist while butter adds flavor. In most recipes you can safely substitute some of the butter for oil to make the end result more moist.

So here is my recipe (Makes 12 muffins):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

3 large eggs ( i used 3.5 small eggs because I did not have large ones)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (120 ml) milk

Method:

Line and set aside a 12 cup muffin pan.

Mix and sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and keep aside. Beat butter for 2 minutes. Then add oil and beat. Then cream butter and sugar for a good few minutes until the mixture turns fluffy and pale. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. N

Now alternately fold in the flour mixture and milk in 3 additions beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold in flour and milk and be ultra gentle swirling the spatula in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction. It is important to be gentle here because we will be mixing in the dyes later so if you over mix at this stage you will end up with rubbery cupcakes.

Once your batter is smooth divide in 4 bowls. I used an ice cream scoop to divide it. Then add a few drops of yellow, red, blue and green food colors to the four bowls and mix gently. You can use as many colors as you want. I just used these four.

cupcake half

Once your batter is ready, put around 1.5 teaspoon of each color in your muffin pan. As you put it you will get an idea of how much to put of each color. Once done put it in the preheated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Mine were done in 19 minutes. It is always good to take out cupcakes when they have very few crumbs sticking to the toothpick. I find if I wait for the toothpick to come out dry they usually end up dry and I like my muffins really moist. As you can see in the picture these cupcakes had a tender moist crumb and were just perfect.

cupcakes

Buttercream Frosting

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I frosted these with a basic butter cream frosting. And followed a tutorial on YouTube from cupcake addiction for rainbow icing. The recipe for Buttercream frosting is:

Ingredients

250 g Icing sugar

125 g Butter

2 tbsp milk or light cream (I personally prefer cream)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Beat butter until pale and fluffy. Then add half the sugar, 1 tbsp milk, vanilla extract and beat until all of it is incorporated. Then add the remaining half of sugar and beat for at least 5 minutes until it turns light and airy. The trick to a good butter cream is to beat it well. Once the icing is ready divide it in 3 bowls and add a few drops of red, blue and yellow colors. Mix well. Then fill your piping bag and pipe away. You need to watch a few videos to get the hang of it. I really liked the Youtube video from cupcake addiction. Making perfect rainbow swirls takes time but the end result is well worth the effort 🙂

Happy baking!

Butterfly Tutu Dress Tutorial

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So little H was having Yellow day in school where all the lil ones were supposed to dress up as something yellow. I choose her to be a yellow butterfly! Although on second thoughts her costume ended up being more appropriate for a bumble bee but there is something irresistible about a cute little butterfly so I stuck with the butterfly idea! I had been looking on tutu tutorials on pinterest for quite some time and was itching to make one. This presented the perfect opportunity. So here is my version of the no sew tutorial.

What you need:

  • Measuring tape.
  • 2.5 yards of Yellow net (I got mine from Gulf) cut into 6 inches by 22 inches strips.
  • Black ribbon.
  • Clothespins.
  • Sewing scissors.
  • Pen to mark.

Things needed

  • First you need to measure your toddler. Take the waist measurement as well as how long you want the tutu to be. You can have a very short tutu or a nice long flowy one. Mine was somewhere in between. Little H’s waist measurement was 19 inches and I choose the tutu length to be 11 inches.
  • Next measure out your ribbon. Add 40 inches to your waist measurement. That ensures you have a lot of ribbon left to tie a nice big bow. So for me it was 40 inches plus inches 19 inches i.e. 59 inches.
  • Now mark the center point of your ribbon. Add half of your waist measurement i.e 9.5 inches (19/2)  on either side.. Mark this length with clothespin or safety pin as you can see below. The 19 inches length between the clothespin is the area where i will make my tutu.

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  • Then measure and cut your net strips. Whatever your tutu length is you need to double your strip length because we will be tying it. So my tutu length was 11 inches and my strip length was 22 inches. Each net strip needs to be 6 inches wide so we can get a nice poofy tutu. Hence each strip will be 6 inches by 22 inches. The best part is you do not have to be very neat in your cutting as you can see below. In fact a bit of jagged edges give a nice rustic look to the tutu. Of course if you prefer a neat tutu then by all means be meticulous in cutting it out.

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  • Once you have all your strips the longest part is done and you can not start tying the tutu strips which is sucha breeze. Stretch your ribbon around your chair and secure it with another clothespin as seen below.

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  • Now start tying the strips. Each knot goes on top. Do not tie the knots tightly. They should be loose enough that you can slide them across the ribbon. Continue tying until you fill all 19 inches between your clothespins. A note here, the puffier you want your tutu to be the more closely you need to tie your strips.

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  • Once your are done tying all the strips tighten the knots and adjust them so no black ribbon is showing.

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  • Take the tutu off the chair and tie a big black bow. You can now add any embellishment on the bow or on the tutu itself if you want. Tada your tutu is ready to be worn. Assuming your toddler is open to wearing it. Mine wasn’t and I had to bribe her with chocolate to put it on for 5 minutes! Please ignore my foot in the picture. I was too lazy to crop it 😛

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  • Now that we are done with the tutu, we need a pair of wings. For that you can just draw wings on yellow cardboard and cut. If you are not sure what shape to draw there are many butterfly stencils available on google. Once you are done with the stencil, cut it and draw butterfly pattern on it with a black marker. Alternatively you can decorate it as you like with glitter and stuff. I only wanted it to be black and yellow so did not venture into any other colors. Here is my version.

haniya butterfly

  • To attach the butterfly to your toddler’s back use punch two holes in the cardboard and string yellow ribbon through it. This ribbon is then tied across the two shoulders as can be seen below. If your toddler is open to wearing something on the head then you can make a headband with antennas. I am lucky if H even lets me brush her hair so I did not bother with the headband but it looks very cute.

haniya butterfly back

Funny things my toddler said to me!

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Toddlers come up with the most interesting of things that more often than not leaves you speechless!

H to me (while i was busy checking Facebook at bedtime), ‘Mama put that phone down quickly or a bug is going to come take your phone away and it is going to do bitey on your arm!’

One day when i told her to pick up her toys, she emits a long sigh and says, ‘H so tired mama, you pick it up’. Nicely played Little Miss.

On my 100th reminder to her to change her school clothes, she tells me very solemnly, ‘Kids do not do that’. That was my line 😛

When I was busy chatting on the phone and ignoring a very whiny H, she came up with an innovative way to catch my attention. Little Miss bit her finger and then comes crying to me, ‘H bit meeeee!!!!’

And of course the embarrassing part. H hates having her ears cleaned so i have to coax and bribe her to get them cleaned. Lately she enjoys pretend cleaning mama’s n daddy’s ears. I know weird. So one day in the car she looks at the driver’s ears and comments loudly, ‘Mama, there is dirt behind driver uncle’s ears.’ Mortifying.

To Nap or not to Nap

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So I have been having some nap issues with little H lately. Ahh,  the beloved nap time,  the precious time when mamas get to take a shower, catch up on chores and if they are lucky enough,  even have a cup of tea and surf pinterest.

ah toddler nap tiem

Little H has always been a poor sleeper and fights naps and bedtimes till the last moment possible. But it has steadily gotten worse since she started preschool.nap boycott

I have to follow a strict nap schedule now because if I let her nap till late she doesn’t fall asleep on time and is then cranky in the morning. But despite my best efforts she takes ages to fall asleep at nap time. Often I have to spend 1.5 hours to get her to sleep. I kid you not. This involves a lot of random stories, patting, back rubbing and eventual scolding. I realized how much yelling I was doing at nap time when one day I heard little H telling her teddy in a sot-to voice ‘Teddy, go to sleep NOW, mama is getting angry!’  Sigh.

if toddler voted for president

Yesterday I went shopping with little H. By the time I got home it was too late for a nap so I decided to settle for an early bedtime. I was thinking around 7. But then this happened during dinnertime.

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Except that my toddler went to sleep on her high chair. After taking lot of pictures and videos I transferred her to her crib and then had the awesome realization that it was just 630 p.m. and I had nothing to do! Now this is something I want to do every day! So now the dilemma is either cut the nap and have an early bedtime or let the nap stay but have an hour long bedtime battle. I hear the sleep experts tch tching. Overtired children crash earlier but do not sleep soundly, also naps are important to fuel growth blah blah. I hear ya. Naps are also important for mommy’s sanity. A 12 hour day with little H without a nap does get too much. And at the end of the day mommy is often found popping a painkiller. But I am just wondering what is easier, have an early bedtime and have lots of me time or go along with a nap and have a much needed midday break. Well the jury is still out.