Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three Things I Can't Live Without

When Feraz and I moved into our first grown-up home, we had to make lots of choices like what kind of furniture to buy, how to decorate and how we would run this ship. The most important decision we made was to keep our home as organic as possible. We buy organic foods, have organic towels, organic soaps and face wash and organic cleaning supplies. It is working out great and after living here for six months we have by and large maintained our organic lifestyle. Our skin glows, our conscience is clean and we break out in at least one musical number a day. The only problem in our otherwise blemish free life is that our house never feels clean.

If you have a desi mother you know what I'm talking about. I am talking about you can eat off anything in the house clean. I love that feeling. Organic and all natural cleaning supplies can get you to regionals but for real national level cleaning, you have to go to the aerosol can, environment killing, toxic filled things you grew up using. (Only a desi kid grows up with warm memories of their favorite cleaning supplies.)

So, here are my guilty pleasures for household supplies I can't live without.

Number Three: Drano Max Gel

Our home is near perfect but the one thing I can't stand is that the water starts to back up in both the upstairs sinks and baths. There is something unholy about taking a shower with filth gathering up around your feet. Worse is that once we were getting out of the shower, the water would sit there creating a ring of film in the baths and sinks. It was becoming a supreme pain in the butt to be constantly cleaning the sinks and baths. We tried regular Drano with no luck and I even stuck my hands down the drain to see if I could coax out whatever was in there but to no avail. Yesterday, Feraz went at the drains with Drano Max and some boiling water and glory of all glories, the water goes down swimmingly. I spent a good five minutes in the shower just watching how the water go down the drain. Its the simple things in life...

Number Two: Lysol Cling Clip-On 2in1 Toilet Bowl Freshener and Cleaner

Who likes a dirty toilet? Nobody! That's who. Not even a dirty toilet likes a dirty toilet. (PSA: If you google images "dirty toilet," be prepared to pay the consequences.)

Our Lysol clip-ons are on every toilet and because of them we almost never have to clean the toilets. Anything that prevents me from having to touch a toilet gets on my top three. Also, the bathrooms smell so amazing that I am convinced that they will be featured in a commercial in the future when scents can come out of the TV.

Number One: Scrubbing Bubbles!!!!!

There is nothing in the world better for your cleaning needs then Scrubbing Bubbles. They Really DO scrub so you don't have to. When I was a little kid, I used to look forward to cleaning the bathroom. There was such a satisfaction in spraying and spraying and seeing the big mounds of foam building. I would imagine that the big mounds were houses or mountains and I would imagine lots of little scrubbing village people living their merry lives in there. Then I would turn on the faucet and destroy them. I was a very healthy child.

I killed these adorable guys on a weekly basis. Twenty years later, it is still incredibly satisfying. If I had to live on a desert island with lots of dirty sinks and bathtubs and could only take one cleaning product, (It could happen.) I would take this can hands down.

So, these three guys are the reason that our house is no longer orgosher, (I think that term could definitely catch on.) It is a bit happier, and a lot cleaner. I hope you use some of these products and they bring you as much joy as they bring us.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carrot Cake

Do you remember the smell of cookies baking on weekends when you were a kid? Do you remember how excited you would get at the thought of your mom baking your favorite cake for your birthday? Or how comforting it was to have someone make you a pie when it felt like the whole world sucked?

I don't.

Although my mother is good at many things, she is no baker and growing up I saw more fudge stripe cookies than any sort of home baked goods. I started cooking at a young age but never really baked. When I was in law school, I tried my hands at baking cookies a few times to disastrous results. I was sure that my mom had killed any baking gene there might have been in our family and resigned myself to raising my children on Keebler products.

But everyday when I check my facebook I see photo after photo of people's success and I think if they can make a cake, why can't I?

Although I fully plan to be a tiger mother I realize that with thousands of how to videos available on the internet, there is no reason I can't become a master baker by the time my children have to start taking birthday cupcakes to class and effectively prevent my future children from blogging about how I never baked them a cake.

Last week I made these apple cupcakes/muffins which turned out ok (By ok I mean I only ate six of them on Sunday) but this week I wanted a bigger challenge and I wanted to correct some of the mistakes I made in last weeks baking adventure. I decided on carrot cake because it is my fave and also because we had a bag of organic carrots that had been sitting in the fridge for about three weeks. (They hadn't gone bad. I swear.)

I used the recipe in America's Test Kitchen cookbook. It is easy to follow and called for lots of gentleness. Gently mix the flour and spices, gently fold in the carrots, gently fluff the frosting. By the end, I thought my cake needed a therapist more than an oven.

Although the recipe didn't call for nuts, I remembered that every mile high carrot cake I had ever eaten included nuts and I remembered that they had been on the side of the cake so I decide to add that in. To figure out how to do it, I googled "how to stick nuts on the side of a cake." That led me to this website and although the name baking911 really spoke to me, all the pink, red and schizophrenic fonts was too much for me and I quickly hit the back button. The next website had too many words but as I scrolled down I saw this picture which was all I needed. Falling the smack the thing you want on the side of your cake method, I was able to get the result I wanted.

For the final making my cake look like a real cake touch I used my recently purchased pastry bag to make a squiggly thing around my cake. To learn how to do this, I googled "how to make a squiggly thing around a cake." I ran into a website that was called "Directions for Decorating a Tinkerbell Birthday Cake." I decided to wing it. Making the squiggly thing was actually really easy and I did it in about 12 seconds. I think if I had taken 30 seconds, it would have looked better but all I could think of was how badly I wanted to eat my cake so I didn't spend enough time smoothing the frosting, nicely putting on the nuts or making an even squiggly line. That did not take away from how awesome the cake tasted so I win(ning).

The best thing about making the cake at home was that I was able to use all organic ingredients and was able to use the "light" recipe which cut out half the fat and calories. It still tasted amazing as is evidenced by how much we have already eaten.

The moral of this post? With google, all things are possible.
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