The Story Of Us

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Mesmerized
Traumatized
Ostracized
And chastised

Breathing air
Filled with lies
Vengeful words
In disguise

Fairytales
Broken hearts
Juxtaposed
Miles apart

All your smiles
Laced with spite
Covert looks
Pure-bred blight

Ticking clocks
Out of sync
Broken pens
Lacking ink

Symphonies
Jarring sounds
Hunting me
Packs of hounds

When will you
Break these walls
Answer me
Not their calls

Time to stop
Take a look
Is this one
For the books

Read between
Wordless lines
Shed the dark
Let it shine

Fools we are
Chasing ghosts
Leaving what
Matters most

Realize
Recognize
Empathize
Synchronize

– Yousuf Bawany, February 2017

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

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Photography is all about lights; introduce a little light from the right angle, and you start to see something totally unexpected. I was playing with some LED lights a few days back and I thought I’d experiment with how lights interact with fruits. Since oranges are translucent and the only fruit readily available then, using them was a natural choice.

Little did I know that this would yield in some interesting shadows enhancing the pulpy texture of the fruit. A slice of orange and some twenty photos later, I got this shot. Hope you like it as much as I do!

Homemade Gummy Bears

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Who doesn’t love a gummy candy? This stretchy, chewy concoction is a staple in our household and my kids are absolutely nuts about it. As hands-on parents, my wife and I prefer homemade treats whenever possible; that way, we know exactly what and how much of it is going on in the preparation.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to find a good candy recipe that has the right ‘gumminess’ to it; most recipes rely on store-bought flavored gelatin, which, to be honest, doesn’t ‘feel’ that good. Obviously, I took the Gummy Challenge head-on and came up with this really good (and somewhat healthy) recipe after a few failed attempts. The gummies turned out surprisingly chewy and tangy, with a good stretchy consistency. Here, I am presenting two variations of the recipe; ‘Citrus Blast’ and ‘Very Berry’. But before you proceed any further, pay heed to my words: once you pop, you can’t stop!

Tools and Utensils:

  • Silicone molds (easy to remove the gummies once set and no need to grease – available online or in stores)
  • Plastic molds/ice-cube trays (apply some cooking spray/oil before pouring the gummy mixture)
  • Dropper
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Bowls (if you wish to mix in different food colors)
  • Whisk
  • Ziploc bags
  • Airtight container

Ingredients for Citrus Blast:

  • 1 cup cold juice comprising of:
    • 1 cup minus 3 tbsp fresh orange juice (without pulp)
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice (without pulp)
    • 1 tbsp lime juice (without pulp)
  • 6-8 drops orange oil
  • 4-5 drops lemon essence

Ingredients for Very Berry:

  • 1 cup cold juice comprising of:
    • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp mixed berry juice (without pulp)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice (without pulp)
  • 4-5 drops strawberry essence

Common ingredients:

  • 30 gms gelatin (I got 3 sachets of 10 gms each)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch citric acid powder
  • a few drops of natural food colors (optional)

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Method:

  1. Pour cold juice into a saucepan and add corn syrup to it; mix well till both are uniformly combined
  2. Add gelatin to the juice and whisk it all up so that no lumps are visible
  3. Set the mixture aside for 5 to 7 minutes to let the gelatin bloom
  4. Put the saucepan on a medium-low flame and add the sugar to the gelatin mixture; cook for 8 to 9 mins, stirring constantly
  5. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the oil, essence and citric acid powder
  6. If you want to use food colors, divide the liquid into separate bowls, add a few drops of color to each bowl and mix well
  7. Using a tablespoon or a dropper, pour in the hot mixture into silicone molds; work fast as you don’t want the liquid to start solidifying
  8. Refrigerate the molds for 90 minutes
  9. Remove gummies from the molds and place them on a tray
  10. Keep the tray in an open place, covered with a thin cloth, for 36 hours (larger candies) or 8 hours (tiny candies/gummy bears) to let the sugar crystallize – this will give the gummies their stretchy texture
  11. Keep them in a cool dry place (use a ziploc bag or an airtight container) to preserve freshness; for the gummies to really feel like the store-bought ones, consume them after 7-8 days
  12. Consume them within 1 week

Try going insane with whatever tickles your fancy; just substitute the juice, oil, and essence to experiment with interesting combos. Do share your exploits in the comments section below so that others can try them too. Enjoy!

NOTE FOR VEGETARIANS: Try using 10 grams Agar-Agar (also known as China Grass) powder as a substitute for the gelatin. The texture of the gummies would be slightly brittle as agar coagulates differently. Alternatively, you can use vegetarian gelatin/gels available in the market. I haven’t tried china grass for this recipe but I’m sure they’d taste great. If you do try a vegetarian variant, please let me know!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude

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When you have two kids under the age of six, solitude is a precious commodity. You spend the entire day being a friend, an enemy, a teacher, a doctor and more often than not, a referee; raising kids is no easy job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When the day is finally over and I have tucked my children in for the night, I find nothing more comforting than the pages of a book. Here’s a picture I took tonight to personify my love for the written word. Enjoy!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurpose

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Dreamcatchers have a very special place in native American cultures, supposedly to filter out bad dreams and letting only the good ones pass. A dreamcatcher is traditionally made with repurposed items including willow hoops, strings, beads, feathers and other items considered sacred by the natives.

For this week’s Repurpose challenge, I couldn’t think of anything that personifies the notion better. Enjoy!

Note: originally taken from my phone, this photo was later touched up using the Prisma app.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

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Grace, like beauty, is very subjective. Some find grace in flickering flames whereas others see it in a perfectly synchronized dive.

Here’s my graceful sumbmission to this week’s photo challenge. Enjoy!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Ambience

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Light and colors – these two make or break the ambience for me.

This photo was taken today at Dubai Mall’s “The Village” and converted into HDR using Photomatic for a surreal effect.

I’m adding a few more for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!