Tag Archives: children

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies and a note about lost things

15 Aug

Tinkerbell is a collector of lost things. With these lost things she made the most useful inventions which helped make the life of the fairies of Neverland better. Mimi and I love Tinkerbell. She is our favourite fairy.

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When Mimi was younger, she had this incredible talent of finding lost things too. When she was a toddler, she would bound about around the house and find stuff that we would have given up for good. My favourite clip from under the bed, hoards of pens stuck in between the sofa crevices, abandoned restaurant bills which are the only evidence of the good times we had with friends.  Finding them, looking at them creates their own separate memories. That is the beauty of finding lost things. Today Mimi is 4 years old, soon to be 5. She still retrieves her Ammamma’s glasses from wherever she last left them. That is the uncanny ability that children have. We grown ups are hopeless like that. We lose things that then forget that we lost them. That is how I am. What’s gone, its gone forever. New things take the place of lost things. But today, I feel a little different.

Because I lost a poem.

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I wrote it on a whim with the excitement of a child for having seen a beautiful cookie. That cookie was my muse and it made me write a poem. I never write poems because they are not for me. I read and enjoy poems written by others. But I never write one.

This cookie is special. It forced me think like a poet and express like one. It was actually quite nice, is what my friends and family told me. But no one saved it and neither did I. So I have lost it forever and I can’t seem to recreate it. The cookie is still inspiring and that is why I am sharing it today in this blog post. But the poet in me, is silent. I depend on Mimi to write one and bring it back to me, like she has always done by finding lost things and bringing it back to me. That will make a separate memory.

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This is the chocolate chocolate recipe that Mimi baked like a dream and it made it into a magazine. The Bahrain Confidential featured me as the blogger of the month. Check out their beautiful, brand new website and their digital edition here. Thank you.. Melissa!

Bloggers Bytes BC August 2014

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The recipe is simple and uses very few ingredients. It is gluten – free, dairy – free and nut – free though, that was not intentional. I tried it, because I thought it would make for some amazing cookies. It uses enormous about of icing sugar but let that not scare you. The recipe is as follows:

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Here’s wishing all my Indian readers, a very happy Independence day today! Cheers.

Hello, I love you….

12 Feb

It is that time of the year where corny rules and cheesy is the flavour of the day. Valentine’s Day is a week away and my inbox is spammed with emails from chocolates and flower companies with shopping suggestions. As years have rolled on, Valentine’s day for me isn’t about fluttering heart beats and romantic cards anymore. As a matter of fact, the only times I have been aware of this love-day was when my husband surprised me with gifts. Even he knows that this day doesn’t stir me though I appreciate all his efforts. But this year, it was different. This new person in my life just blew my mind away with the most wonderful gift. I know now that you can never be too old for mush.

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Do you see that little red heart in the center of the red velvet I and U?

My baby made it for me. She drew a heart which she claimed was only as big as her own heart that beats “thud thud , thud thud”. She coloured it with her red colour pencil and used her child-friendly scissors to cut the heart out. She came up to me while I was busy with something in the kitchen and called out, “Hello, I love you..”

I turned around to see her holding out this little red paper heart out to me.

“Happy Valentines Mamma. Keep this in your purse. I made it for you. Don’t ever lose it.”

I took it from her tiny fingers that were dented from the intense pressure of colouring the paper heart.

RVB3I stood in the kitchen holding the paper heart long after the little artist was gone. I placed it delicately in the palms of my hands wondering how much I loved this little person. To have her reciprocate in this fashion was the ultimate joy I have ever experienced. My child is growing up and she is exploring different emotions. I sense a change in her and in the way she reacts to the world around her, including me. Her reciprocation blew my mind away. For that moment, I felt she loved me more than I thought I loved her. I slid her precious heart in my purse and as I looked up I saw her observing me. She smiled because she was happy I was following her instructions.

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When I got back to my chores, I noticed her rummaging through my purse to make sure her heart was in the right place and safe. Satisfied, she went back to doing her own thing. That is when I thought of making these lovely red velvet chocolate brownies to show my 4 year old how much I appreciate her gift of love. I used a red velvet recipe to capture the colour of her red paper heart that went “thud,thud thud thud”.

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The recipe makes a very small batch – just enough to please a 4 -year-old girl. 16 pieces in all but full of chocolate and red velvet goodness. I refered to Averie Cook’s recipe to make these decadent plum coloured beauties.

The recipe is below in the recipe card (click on it to see the enlarged version). I urge that you make this small batch of beautiful red velvet brownies and see how happy it makes your loved ones.

RVB5It is remarkable how love takes different forms as we grow older. Its meaning and its essence changes over time and becomes mellow and enduring. My daughter’s eyes lit up the moment she saw this chocolate covered squares and I realized I hit a home run.

Hope everybody has a beautiful Valentines.Celebrate love, celebrate closeness and feel lucky.

Mimi turned 4…. ( A pirate princess party for my princess)

19 Oct

…. a month ago.

My little baby is grown up now. It is delightful and scary at the same time. Sounds cliched. I have heard every parent say this – Oh they grow up so fast and we with them. But as parents, we are such emotional creatures and it is easy to spot us if you find someone:

1. Tearing up in a movie hall anytime there is a emotional scene involving a parent and their child
2. Always ending every conversation with some detail about their children
3. Scanning the internet for kids toys, costumes, clothes, books, shoes etc
4. Vacillating between moods of extreme happiness ( while flitting through kids pictures on the phone) to extreme anxiety (on receiving a phone call from school reporting the kids behavior)
5. Appearing to be burnt out and sleep deprived yet smiling at the end of the day when it is time to go home to their child

What I describe above is the journey of being a parent ( sometimes all of it in a single day). But birthday party planning is something else. The madness starts a month before and continues till the child curls up and sleeps- tired and with a smile on her face dreaming about the wonderful birthday party. That is the sign of success and makes all the effort well worth it.
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Each year, I try to do something different keeping up with whatever is Mimi’s favourite. She enjoys the ‘Jake and the Neverland pirates’ and ‘Sophia the first’ shows on Disney junior and informed me that the theme of her party had to be either pirates or the princess. I wondered if it was possible to have them both and that is how the Pirate and Princess themed party idea was born.

I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s help and all the creative ideas from Namit. Starting from the pirate -princess themed invites to the cake to the decorations and the games – was planned, dropped, re-planned, dropped and planned again several times before finalizing on the details.
We urged the invitees to come dressed up as pirates or princesses and we supported them with more pirate/princess props. Even the adults were sporting enough to wear the props and pose for photographs.
The decorations ( entirely Namit’s idea and effort) were mostly pirate-y but balloons were mix of pirate and princess colours of black, white and pink.

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For the cake, we ordered a two -tiered chocolate buttercream cake with pirate -princess them. The cake was delicious and all the guests had several helpings.

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We had the caterers come in and serve tasty Indian food with desserts.
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We couldn’t go through with all the planned games because the party started later than planned. But all in all the kids had a good time playing in the play area outside the party hall. They all left the party tired, happy and with return gifts ( that Mimi had a huge problem distributing and wanted all of them for herself)

thats me (left) and a guest

thats me (left) and a guest

Pirates and princesses

Pirates and princesses

Party games ( The birthday girl)

Party games ( The birthday girl)

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For me the highlights of the party would be:(by now you should know I am a big list maker)
1. Mimi wore a dress (yoo hoo). Considering how she abhors dresses and all things girly, it was a big win for me. She even wore a head band with butterflies and such.
2. The 2 tiered chocolate cake- Mimi’s eyes lit up when she saw the cake in the morning. She quickly changed her mind about wearing pants and decided to wear a dress that matched the cake. All pink and girly, she looked like a star.
3. I baked a gluten free and diary free cake for a guest’s child who was intolerant. It came out wonderfully which wasn’t surprising as it was a Nigella recipe. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures and can’t do a post on it for the moment. What this means is, I will have to make it again to post it on the blog. ( I hear a big shout out from Gayathri for this)
4. My get up inspired by Penelope cruz from the Pirates of the Carribean movie. It was so much fun wearing the eye patch and the pirate hat!

I am sure the party was as fun for the adults as it was for all the children. All party pictures courtesy – Namit Bhatia

For a parent, their child’s birthday is the most important date on a calender. We strive to make it memorable for us more than our children (because they are too young to remember except when they would see pictures in the future). We do this for us, for our satisfaction and somewhere to allay some fears of how time is just bounding past us. I see my baby girl turn into someone new when I spot she doesn’t have chubby cheeks anymore, that her features are more prominent and that she is becoming her own person giving her point of view about everything ( sometimes it shocks me when I realize every moment she is learning something new and spinning her own thoughts around it).
This pirate princess party was for me and my joy+sadness of seeing my child move into another glorious year.

Mimi’s 3rd Birthday with Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

6 Oct

One of my friends mentioned on my Facebook, against one of Mimi’s photographs – Tempus Fugit ( Latin for Time Flees/Flies) and it stayed with me for the longest time. Is there no way to capture it all and bottle it up or have moving photos like that in Harry Potter books? No videos can ever do justice to the essence of the moment. It can never capture the way my baby smells ( at each age; in months, at 1, at 2 and now at 3 years of age, she smells differently), the way she pronounces Mamma and how it has changed to a more definitive and more confident, Mamma now that she has made that transition from being a baby to a toddler. She has very strong preferences about the colour and the kind of clothes she wants to wear and the sort of food she eats and the activities that she wants to do. She can recognize most of the fruits, vegetables, colours, things, people’s names, shapes, animals, birds, numbers until 30, all the alphabets and talks in whole sentences. When did this change come about? It is most extraordinary when I see her perform with such poise and confidence her rhymes with her own set of actions to go with it. She is growing up way too quickly. I feel helpless and happy at the same time watching her grow up so quickly and into this fiercely independent individual. Birthdays are such powerful reminders of how time is just slipping by without warning. I want to hold on to each moment, want to savour it by being in it, revelling and participating in it. But countless such brilliant moments just pass by without recognition and sometimes even without awareness.

Her 3rd birthday was an eddy of emotions like that

It was unfortunate that on her 3rd birthday she was very sick; down with a severe throat infection and high temperature. Medicines kept her spirits up but not mine. I complained that it wasn’t fair that she should be sick on her special day. All my plans of making a cake and sharing it with her schoolmates were thwarted by this disease that seems to afflict my child ever so often. Sweet and considerate friends came over to make her feel special with gifts in tow. She blew a solo candle on a banana chocolate chip muffin that I had on hand. She was beaming from all the attention she got and the songs that were sung for her. She did her happy dance.

She got better a few days after that and we quickly planned a party to thank all our friends who made Mimi’s day by either visiting or calling to shower her with their blessings. A birthday party, that was simple and uncomplicated as Mimi’s own concept of what birthdays are. When I asked her what she thought about her birthday, she said, ” Cake, blow candles, sing birthday song for Mimi”

Such a simple philosophy and so much I learn from her each day about keeping things simple.

Mimi loves chocolate and a chocolate cake is just what she wanted. So Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake was just right for this simple occasion. I was inspired to try this cake from Thanh’s blog. Nigella’s bakes are fool proof and so uncomplicated. Quite like Mimi’s philosophy. Nigella’s old fashioned Chocolate cake was just right for the mood. Simple, homely and delicious. The sour cream addition to the cake the frosting lent a special flavour. It is a special cake and you can take my word for it. In the recent past, I have collected some real good chocolate cake recipes and this one’s an addition to that best- chocolate- cake- ever list.

All photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

I changed the recipe a little by doubling the quantity of baking powder and baking soda and have incorporated that change in the recipe card in the post. Instinctively it felt that the original quantities of the baking powder and soda might not be enough to hold the cake up. I was glad that I made those changes in the quantities as the cakes turned out beautifully fluffy and moist too. The chocolate flavour was rich inspite of the fact that the recipe used only cocoa powder. I strongly feel that it was the sour cream, that did the trick.

My daughter and her friends enjoyed their cake slices and more so enjoyed picking out the M&Ms off their slices. The other guests ( my friends) enjoyed it too. Both the cakes were gone soon. Disappeared! with only the crumbs to show as evidence. It is with a lot of trepidation that I embark of baking special day cakes as most of the times, the pressure gets to me and my whole effort is wasted. The cake almost never turns out to my satisfaction. But this one did. Nigella promised that it would and it did. That is why I love her and turn to her for special occasion bakes.

It was such a joy to see all the children in Mimi’s party waiting for the cake cutting ceremony. Waiting with bated breath as the candles were being lit and as the glow of the candles reached their eyes,  the cake was the center of their universe. There was a race to blow all the candles in a single breath and once the candles were blown out the eager eyes trailed the path of the knife that sliced the cake laced with their favourite M&Ms. M&Ms were devoured first and then the cake with all the sumptuous attention it deserved. Happy children made everybody smile and the atmosphere was set for the rest of the luncheon. From then on it was more giggles and laughter, conversation and chatter. It was beautiful party indeed.

 

 

 

Baguette Bread Pudding for Mother’s Day

12 May

I realized how lucky I am when I was browsing through all my old photographs. My parents have inevitably been a part of every milestone of my life.  Be it my first singing performance in front of a large audience, Annual sports day, or  my graduation day ceremony, my wedding (ofcourse), at the birth of my daughter, her first birthday, the launch of my first book ( a post coming up soon with the details) and so on. I feel blessed and so loved by a set of parents who have helped, guided and supported me in all my life’s decisions. 13th May being Mother’s Day, I take this opportunity to tell them how infinitely lucky I feel to have them in my life and how much they mean to me.

These days, they are visiting us in Bahrain and it has been the most relaxed, stress free period in a long, long time. Mimi had a small accident where she fell of the sofa and broke her right elbow. The impact of the fall was quite severe and her right arm had to be plastered for 3 weeks. I was at my wits end when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to manage her, my work, home and everything else. I do have the most dependable nanny in the world but I was still apprehensive considering how Mimi was going to spend her whole day at home when I was at work.  So I asked my parents to come down and they obliged without a thought. They had a lot of pressing commitments back home but when it comes to their grand-daughter, they pushed everything in the back burner and hopped on the first flight to Bahrain. They have been here for the last 3 weeks and we have another week with them. I feel sad already thinking that they would be leaving soon and soon there will be  heart-shaped void for a long, long time before things get back to normal. Mimi’s cast is off and my parents have been a great influence when it comes to teaching her new things, our language and every little detail. Mimi has started speaking a lot more and expresses herself more clearly. When my parents leave Mimi will miss them more than ever.

While they are here, I made sure I  made every day count, especially the weekends. My dad is extremely fond of baked goodies so I made him an apple cake, raspberry brownies, the chocolate cherry cupcakes, Palmiers ( post on the way), hopefully a cheesecake and some fruit cake before he leaves. My mother is passionate about cooking and loves to watch me in action so that she can go back home and try some of it on her own. She gives me ideas on how I can improve something or change ingredients. She has a creative streak in her which she unleashes effortlessly in the kitchen. My father has a way with words and he gives me ideas about how I can write new posts on my blog on varied topics. Both of them read my blog with great interest and give me their honest opinion about it.

So you see, it is a win-win.

I know I am going to miss them terribly when they leave and I cannot wait to plan my next trip to see them in Kerala. Though it is Mother’s Day tomorrow, I would want to wish my dad also because they are a team; my mom and dad. They have do things together, take decisions together and there not a single instance that I recall where they haven’t stuck together during the thick and the thin. These are the values they have passed on to me and my brother – Family always comes first.

 I made them some baguette bread pudding and they loved it more than all the other baked goodies. Bread and butter pudding has been my eternal favourite as long as I remember. My mother used to make a non-baked version of the bread and the butter pudding which I used to love. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember how to make it after all this time. That is the reason why she encourages me to detail it all down on my blog for posterity.

The baguette was a few days old and that really enhanced the flavour of the pudding. Also, it is important not to be stingy when it comes to butter because bread and butter pudding requires loads of butter-love. I added cranberries because I wanted their tartness to shine through the dull sweetness of the custard. I remembered to soak the cranberries in rum overnight and in the morning they had soaked in all the alcoholic goodness.  I blow torched the bread pudding to give it a brownish-black crust because my hubby loves a little burnt taste in his bread pudding. Burnt sugar on the top provides the much needed textrue to the otherwise ooey-gooey bread pudding.

Though Mimi doesn’t know it is Mother’s Day tomorrow and what it means to our relationship, I know for a fact that she would run to me when I come back from work. The delight on her face is beyond compare and lights up the dreariest day. I look forward to that reaction every single day after I come back from work. A few years down the lane, I am also looking forward to the hand made beautiful cards she is going to make for me 🙂

Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day because this day like every day is  a testimony of the fact that we are the moving force in our child’s life. We have the power to mould them into the individuals that they are today or would be in the future. To carry out this  immense responsibility I wish from the higher power to give each one of us enough strength and determination.

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