The UnGlam Fam

I now blog at www.constantcircus.wordpress.com!


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Blueberry Love: Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb BarsI’m a blueberry fan. There are a myriad of berries out there, and all of them they say score one up over some other traditional fruits like banana (too sweet), apple (dirty dozen if you’re not into buying organic), avocado (not unfattening),etc. Berries are safe. For the most part, if you consume them in season, they probably satisfy all criteria of being a Superfood.

For us urbane urbans, picking our own berries is basically as hunter-gatherer as you’ll ever get. Especially because the strawberry plant we plant in our backyards yields approximately one berry a season, which we jealously guard from rabbits or deer or even squirrels only to wince and pucker our lips at the sourness of the first bite. A long sentence to say simply: Leave the berries to the professionals.

Anyway, once you’ve picked your own blueberries on the farm, it’s hard to go back to the store variety. There is no comparison on size, color, firmness or taste. I’ve realized this and that’s why I only buy my berries at the farmer’s, if I can, or consume them in another form a.k.a. a dessert.

As far as desserts go, if you ain’t into chocolate, you gotta be into crumbles. Really, what else is there? I used my recent 2 pints of blueberries for this incredible crumble recipe I found at smitten Kitchen’s blog – http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/07/blueberry-crumb-bars/.

I did adapt it a bit to my taste as I didn’t want to use an egg (I hate the eggy smell of some desserts and try to avoid using it unless necessary). I also try to substitute a bit of brown sugar in any sweet recipe because I adore the caramel-ness it lends to the all-white. Finally, I halved her recipe; mine yielded roughly 16 2×2″ squares, more than enough for a small family (or failing that, an individual).

You’ll need:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup or 1 stick cold butter
1 tsp cold milk
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8×8″ baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix white sugar, flour and baking powder. Cut butter into small squares and add to bowl. Add milk. Work the mixture into a crumbly dough-like consistency.
  3. Pat half the dough mixture into the greased pan like a graham cracker crust.
  4. In another bowl, toss together blueberries, brown sugar and cornstarch.
  5. Pour berry mixture onto the crust and top with remaining flour mixture.
  6. Bake until the top browns, about 40 mins.
  7. Cool completely before cutting into “bars”.
  8. Serve warm with ice cream or eat as is. Like me.

 


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These are a few of my favorite things…

You guessed right. We’ve been watching the classic movie The Sound of Music in multiple installments the last couple of days. Why installments, you may ask? A valid query, I assure you, but when your kids want to rewind their favorite scenes and watch each one 3 times in succession, a movie can become quite long and unwieldy to be finished in one sitting.

However. It’s one of those things that I can let go without much chagrin except for the niggling annoyance of having a song stuck in my head. Which one? Well, I’ll keep you guessing.

Some of my favorite things:

  • The scent of petrol/gas (I’m weird, I know.)
  • The smell of parched earth after the first rain (anyone who’s grown up in India or in an arid climate knows this heady aroma. I reckon it’s akin to the feeling some get with fresh baked bread; you want to eat whatever smells this yummy — in my case, the earth (in the sense of mud, not the planet.))
  • The smell of a cooler in the summer.

This one needs an explanation: in the days before air conditioning became affordably commonplace in India, we used to cool our houses in the deep days of summer with something called a cooler. Instead of a box to store drinks in, this cooler was typically a rickety aluminium box lined with hay that people would install in a centrally located window and fill with water. It had an exhaust fan that threw the water-cooled air into the house amidst such a hideous racket that holding a conversation in the room with the cooler was almost impossible. (You could yell, however, like you would at a frat party. Not that you would have any energy left for conversation after coming in from 120F temperatures, so this wasn’t usually an issue. The only words to escape your lips at this point were “thank” and “God”.)

A typical cooler of the day. Now probably extinct.

  • Playing Monopoly with my 7yo.

He has recently acquired an obsession with all things monetary. (His first question on encountering an exciting new toy isn’t the usual “Can I have it?” but “How much is it?” Which is fine by me because with the paltry amount he manages to collect from sundry sources, even $5 is enough to deter him.) Monopoly is a game I don’t mind playing with him right now; beats having to wrestle superhero figurines any day. After the first few disasters of having to end the game midway due to uncontrollable sobbing at the loss of $10 for a Chance penalty, he has now learned to stoically bear the vagaries of fortune. I can even get a bit competitive sometimes without causing irreparable damage to his psyche.

  • The comfort of shorn nails.
  • The all-day-long feeling of springiness on days that I’m able to haul my lazy a$$ for a swim. I wish the brain remembered this feeling as acutely as it seems to remember the texture of a double chocolate brownie consumed a week ago. Just sayin’.
  • Bedtime on days that the sheets have been changed.
  • The 2 whole seconds between a sparkling kitchen and the time to start prepping the next meal.

Maybe I’ll think of more of my absolutely favorite things and add to this list. Meanwhile, the one most UNfavorite feeling that comes to mind is of waking up alone at midnight on the wrong side of a urine-soaked bed that is not mine.

What’s yours?


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A week in the life of a toy.

It must be hard being a toy. Having plastic limbs is no walk in the park, plus being created solely for the playing pleasure of another has to be an ego buster. To top it all, the emotional fallout, indeed the roller coaster of being absolutely adored one day only to be resolutely ignored the next must be enough to warrant a hefty bill at  Dr. Oz’s, right?

The typical shelf life for a new toy in our house is about a week. The percentage of plastic in a toy is usually inversely proportional to its shelf life, the same way as more pieces equal less time for them to be played with as a unit. Currently, Lego is the only exception to this plastic and pieces rule.

I will elucidate with an example.

A few weeks ago we were at Target. (I could say The End right now and some of you with overindulged little kids will likely correctly surmise the rest. But for the others, I will explain.) My kids saw a life-sized Superman stuffed toy. They bonded immediately and puppy eyes ensued. The thing wasn’t cheap (in price, not in quality) so I dilly-dallied. I offered alternatives, distractions, tried saying a vehement no. But kids have a super sense about parental dithering and, truth be told, I wasn’t totally averse to the damn thing. I know how much my kids obsess over superheroes and they didn’t really have a superhero stuffie in their toy repertoire. We bought it, amidst whoops of “you’re the best mom ever” and “we promise to share him!”.

Now comes the shelf life part.

Day 1

Superman gets carried everywhere. Hour-long games are created around him. There is no bickering over whose turn it is to hold him since the games are creative enough for everyone to have roles. He eats with them, watches TV with them, sleeps in their bed.

Day 2

Superman is the first thing to be greeted in the morning. More independent play all morning. Slight disturbance about who gets to cuddle with him at naptime but since V is too old to nap, situation is easily diffused. Superman is shown off to neighbour friends.

Day 3

There is no Superman play until late afternoon. Then everyone realizes he exists at the same time and sharing issues begin.

Day 4-5

Interest is on a definite wane. However, bedtime cuddling quotient is still high and staggered bedtimes make sharing a non-issue.

Day 6

Sporadic memory of Superman during daytime hours and no nighttime cuddling required any more.

Day 7

Image

Self explanatory. Superman occupies place of non-importance with discarded clothes of the day and partial closet invisibility.

Another $20 lost in the abyss of playroom chaos.

Super special Superman no more.


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Oh, summer.

You’re busy without doing much, and you’re almost over. I’m not complaining. The kids love school and, increasingly, so do I.

Did I write about my homemade popsicle mania from a few weeks ago? No? Well, like any flash fad I would not, could not, wait to make my own popsicles at home. R likes to eat them so much and I had grand plans of serving fruit pops for breakfast, yogurt pops for dessert at lunch, mango sorbet kulfi ice cream pops after dinner, etc., you get the idea.

So we started at the start bought these adorable popsicle molds. In case there is any confusion, they are cute upside down monsters! What fun!

Image

Our first project was lemonade popsicles. I even added some color to the lemonade to make them more interesting. What a hit! Me and R loved them. Devoured all four super quick. Beginner’s luck has a way of making you believe the best in yourself.

lemonpop

Then someone told me about coconut milk and how its creamy consistency makes for delectable pops without all the added guilt of rich dairy. So the next project became coco milk choco pops made with rich dark chocolate, adequate-but-not-excessive sugar and naive hope. The product was as dreamy as its name the first time, when I followed all advice to use only the cream of the milk. The next batch, made with overconfidence and all parts of the milk came out so meh that R only agreed to reluctantly eat it when the store-bought, good ones with the artificial sugar/color/stuff were all gone.

cocopop

Lately it’s felt like too much work to think up (or Google!) recipes when the intended audience clearly favors the less time consuming choice. I also realized that for all their cuteness, the molds deliver a slightly unfortunate pop shape. So the beloved pop molds with so much promise are resting in the drawer awaiting their time to be in favor again.