The UnGlam Fam

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The difficulty of a Difficult Kid.

As far as labels go, V could possibly be classified as a “difficult kid”. The problem with labels is that no one can really compare my difficult with another person’s. I could have the most laid-back, logical, un-insane kid, but if I choose to call him difficult there’s no way to dispute me. There’s a lot of hoo-ha about labeling kids and how it messes with their self esteem — indeed their life! — but this seems to be the problem only with perceived negative labels. After all, I haven’t heard of anybody calling the CPS over labeling someone a fantastic child or a talented little person, and so on.

V knows that he’s picky. He agrees that he has a quick temper that turns him into a mean person. He sometimes even tells me that he realizes when he’s being illogical and argumentative but can’t seem to stop doing it. We are constantly working on that. We have both come to realize his triggers and most times when he’s unable to react to situations in a non-disruptive way, I have learned to diffuse them in various ways.

Yesterday, though, I couldn’t. I yelled at him like I haven’t in a while. I grabbed him by his shoulders too hard. I shoved him. I punched the bed a few times right in front of him because I couldn’t punch him. I got so mad I almost cried. I’d totally lost it. And the worst part was I knew in my mind all along that it wasn’t a behaviour I wanted him to emulate. I was being the exact same person that I wanted him NOT to be. That I’d worked with him all this time for him to be able to control this exact impulse that I could not control in myself. I. just. could. not. stop.

I was where he is so many times a week or month, and even I couldn’t stop myself. He’s 7, and I’m, well, older. I should know better. And I did. But I couldn’t  stop anyway.

If someone called me a difficult person, I could live with it. I could bear it knowing that someone still loves me even if they and I both know I’m difficult. And that’s my lesson from yesterday: V is my difficult kid, but he will be okay as long as he knows I’m always in his corner. My job is not to protect him from what everybody thinks of him — his own behaviour will influence that. My job is to be there for him, labels and all.

PS: I did go and apologize to him before he fell asleep (this all happened at bedtime), but I felt rotten for a long time after. Hopefully the scars will be all mine.

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Spicy Raspberry-Apple Chutney

Another food post! What’s going on with me?! I do find though that even when I’m too overwhelmed to write about anything else, food always seems to come to the rescue.

Unlike blueberries, I’m not a raspberry fan. Yes, their colour is pretty, and yes, raspberry jam isn’t the worst thing on toast, but the fruit itself doesn’t excite me at all. I don’t know, but the only kind of raspberries I’ve experienced have been squishy and soggy and begging for some blue growth on them. So when I found myself with a pint box of them from the grocery chain store, I could think of no better use for them than in some sort of chutney. Googling recipes didn’t find me anything simple (my pantry staples don’t include fancy cider vinegars or pine nuts), so I improvised my own. I have to say, I may not be ready to compete on Chopped yet, but I quite fancy my own ingenuity on some days! 🙂

ImageYou’ll need:

1 tbsp minced shallots (white onion, or use vidalia if you like)
1 pint fresh (ha!) raspberries
1/2 apple, peeled, cored and diced (whichever kind you like; I used red delish)
1 tsp minced jalapeno (optionally, deseeded)
1 tbsp brown sugar
a pinch salt

On medium heat, saute onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Add everything else and simmer on low until mixture thickens, about 10 mins.

ImageTake mixture off heat and blend with a hand blender into a somewhat smooth but chunky chutney. Serve warm with hot roti or cold on toast. It’s a winner either way.



Checkerboard cookies!

I recently bought the cutest cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma, beach themed, and have been dying to use them. What better occasion than our nephew’s upcoming birthday? So today I started prep by making two batches of cookie dough, one white one chocolate. While they were sitting chilling in the fridge, I remembered how much my own kids love the checkerboard cookies that I buy at Whole Foods sometimes. Only I don’t buy them very often since they are about $8.99/lb. Pretty steep for some sugar dough, don’t you think? Well, I do, but I buy them anyway for an after-school surprise treat.

Anyway, while the building blocks were sitting there I figured why not try a possible blunder? I had nothing to lose except for the time that I’d already lost.

A couple of YouTube videos later, this is what I had:

The white dough is a vanilla-lemon flavor, and the chocolate is just pure decadence. They baked without spreading. The cookies are a trifle under-sweet since their original avatar was supposed to be frosted, but they are a perfect teatime snack. They used quite a bit of butter, as butter cookies are wont to, so I wouldn’t make a habit of it, but for an occasional splurge, they’re fantastic.

And so pretty to boot! Lesson of the day: Whims sometimes do pay off.


A Labor Day with friends, and a recipe.

Sometimes if you’re lucky you’ll make the kind of friends that remind you of drunken days of college. Not literally maybe, but they’re are the pals at whose house you don’t mind dropping by unannounced, who will help you tide over difficult times without any expectation of reciprocation, and who won’t hesitate to drop your kid home at midnight if the sleepover thing doesn’t work out. If you’re score supremely in the luck department, you will also live in the same city as them and hang out all the time, sometimes to the exclusivity of everyone else.

We spent this Labor Day with one of our “those pals”, and enjoyed every minute of it. Nothing was planned, but we somehow ended up meeting, cooking, gossiping and playing (the kids) with them every day of the long weekend. Food and drink flowed freely, with enough music to dance it all off. The kids trashed the basement, and stayed up entirely too late, but we figured sleep can be caught up on easier than memories.

The hubby contributed today’s recipe to the festivities. I’ve made this in the past as well but I tend to marinate the paneer and the veggies while he prefers to bake them slathered only in some oil and spices. We don’t have a barbecue, but if you grill this you can achieve a whole ‘nother level of yum. A quick broil at the end achieves the same result but without the smokiness of the char.

Paneer Shashlik for the Soul

You’ll need:

250g paneer or firm tofu
1 cup cubed red onion
1/2 cup cubed green pepper (or colored pepper medley)
1/2 cup white button mushroom (the smaller the better)
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup spice mixture (salt, red pepper, black pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder)
juice of half lemon to garnish
7-8 long bamboo skewers or 10-12 sandwich toothpicks for bite-sized snack
2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil.
  • Toss all veggies and paneer in oil and sprinkle spice mixture. Toss to coat.
  • Spear veggies alternating colors onto the skewers.
  • Bake in oven for about 40 mins, rotating the skewers occasionally, until paneer is slightly golden and veggies are wilted.
  • Finish off with final broil for 2 mins or throw on the grill for char marks.
  • Splash lemon juice before serving hot.