Baked Goods

Everyone says it’s a terrible idea to grocery shop while hungry, but nobody talks about what a bad idea it is to stop at the chain drug store on the corner at the end of a long week with two tired kids in tow.  I guess people are more worried about being tempted by a bag of chips than ending up with — oh, I don’t know — a new bottle of moisturizer, some back-up shave foam for Papa, new toothbrushes for the family, nail polish, and (I almost forgot why we came here!) some children’s toothpaste. Read More


The other day, Kishmish came whining into the kitchen as I was making dinner, and her chief complaint started with, “Mommmmmyyyyy, how come you never. . . .”   Are there actually any good endings to that sentence?  “Mommy, how come you never let us play video games?” “Mommy, how come you never let us have anyone over to play after dinner?” Or, the version that often comes from tired little ones around here: “Mommy, how come you never let us do anything we want to?!”  Oh, Lord.

Can you imagine, then, how happy I was to hear this?  “Mommy, how come you never make those yummy things with dal on the inside? You know those triangles, and we dip them in ketchup?”  Hooray! My work here, as they say, is done!  It’s fair to say that, right, when your kids start asking for real food? (Except for the ketchup part. . . . ) Read More

A few weeks before Christmas, we got a letter from Kishmish:

Dear, Mommy, and, Papay,
What, do you like for Chismis? That you think I can make. Think of something easy that I can make out ov paper like a book or a paper ball I think those are easy.
Love, Kishmish xoxo

There are so many things to say about this note! Like: why did the first line get all the punctuation? And: how cute is her spelling?  And most of all: Is this not the sweetest sentiment ever?

The girls are 6, and I guess this is the age when they start to care about celebrating things properly, and they are looking ahead to birthdays and holidays and special occasions in a different way than they did before. It’s sweet and new. . . and of course I tend to interpret it as another level of pressure on myself to do the right thing and not screw it up. Because not only were they enthusiastic about giving gifts to Mommy and Papa, they also wanted to make stuff for teachers, grandparents, friends….. Read More

When small children are involved, there is a very fine line between breakfast and dessert.

Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast?  With syrup AND whipped cream? Yes! That is obviously ok!

Chocolate cake for breakfast? Of course not — are you nuts?!

We allow hot chocolate barely visible beneath a pile of whipped cream;  things covered in powdered sugar; and “oatmeal” is a bowl containing equal parts brown sugar, oatmeal, and butter.

Nontheless . . . a few days ago, in the middle of the morning rush, when I was slicing some blondies I made for a PTA bake sale (yes, everything in that phrase is true! I really did that!), and Kishmish asked to have one with her oatmeal, I was like, “Are you kidding me?! You can’t have these for breakfast!”  She must be so confused.

So in the interest of blurring the lines between reasonable breakfast and indulgent dessert, here’s a Saturday morning breakfast we’ve been having the past few weekends.  It cooks up pretty quickly, and the girls can pick at it all morning; Ankur and I get to have what’s left for a later-morning breakfast.  I imagine this would make a great weekday morning breakfast, too — particularly since you can put it together ahead of time and pop in the oven in the morning — but I’ve never actually tried that.

We have had this crisp with milk/soy milk, with whipped cream (fast becoming a breakfast staple, much to my shame), and plain. I try to keep the sugar/maple syrup to a minimum and to incorporate some flax meal. . . this is, after all, breakfast.

What are the compromises you have made in the name of getting your family to eat breakfast?

Breakfast Apple Crisp

This makes enough for about 4 people to share at breakfast.

For the fruit:

  • 3-4 medium-large apples
  • juice of 1 lime (or lemon) (or lime/lemon juice from a bottle)
  • 1/2 cup each of walnuts and raisins (both are optional)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (less, if you are using super-sweet apples or raisins)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder (you can also add a litle nutmeg)

For the topping:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup flax meal (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp butter or margarine (more will make it even better!)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or buttermilk

Mix together the apples, juice, nuts/raisins, syrup and cinnamon.  Put it in a small baking dish. (I use this odd-size oval pan from Ikea.)

Mix together the oats, flour, and flax meal. Cut in some butter — I use my hands. The topping is a little dry, so add a little maple syrup or buttermilk, just enough to bring it together a bit. Don’t make it into a drippy dough.


Add the topping and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the fruit is soft and bubbling, and the topping is slightly brown.

Kishmish and Pista are going to turn 6 in December.  Over the past years, I have learned enough to provide advice on dealing with all the pains and fevers and bleeding and sleepless nights that come with various benign childhood illness. Having a child who is suddenly ill with a fever or a cough or an allergic reaction to bedbug bites is just terrible and makes a parent question his/her existence, but let me tell you — the experience of having a child not acutely ill with an as-yet-undiagnosed but extremely irritating abdominal pain?  That takes it to a different level.

Read More

There is an Andrei Codrescu poem — or maybe it’s part of a poem* — that says:

Anything that moves faster than I can walk

Does so by a mean trick.

I like the specific sentiment about walking vs. getting around another way; I like even more the general, gentle reminder that you don’t get something for nothing.

Take, for example, granola bars. I spent several months last year beating my head against a wall trying to put together a home-made granola bar I wouldn’t feel terrible sending in my girls’ lunches.  I hate boxed granola bars. I hate the wrapping, the smallness of them, the obnoxiously large box they all come in, the back-to-nature claims they imply or state outright, the healthy veneer for something we know is just one step away from being either a cookie or a candy bar.

But what put me over the edge, the moment that made me decide granola bars and I had to go our separate ways, was a comment from Pista. Over the summer I told them we were going to try out a granola bar recipe, and she asked, “like real granola bars?”  “Yes,” I told her, “real granola bars!  Why not?”  “Well,” she said, “how are we going to make the wrappers?Read More

It’s Labor Day, the last day of summer, and I’m feeling in a mood to reflect a bit on work, summer, and working during the summer.

I didn’t plan well for work and child care this summer.

Last summer I created an elaborate scheule — involving tables in Microsoft Word and spreadsheets in Excel — to track the profit/loss for each week of summer. My spreadsheets and tables let me answer questions such as: “If the girls spend 2 days a week in Queens Botanical Garden summer camp, 3 days a week at Garden School summer camp (mornings only), and then I pick them up and finish a little work once they’re in bed, then can I work enough hours at least to break even at the end of the month?”  (The answer to this particular question is YES, but only if you fail to encounter traffic, parking difficulties, or a heat wave so intense it makes one particular 4-year-old claim she will neither get dressed nor leave her bedroom in the morning.)

Read More