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Hello my darlings!


This was my face when I was in London for an entire month.


Me


It is a happy face, as you can see.


Everyone knows London is a gorgeous city. It has the sights and sounds and people and experiences that make it a must-see place on everyone’s list.


But today we’re going to talk about the marvellous food in London.


The food. Oh my god. The food.


The food was exciting and unpredictable and comforting and satisfying all at once. It was an explosion of flavours and colours and textures and cuisines.


To celebrate that experience I want to share with you this list of 100 things to eat in London.


(Warning: There will be many cupcakes)


Heck, let’s start with cupcakes shall we? Muhahahaha :D


1. Assorted, colourful cupcakes that look too good to eat.


1. Assorted cupcakes 1


2. A typical China town buffet platter. Yes, those are batter-fried onions.


2. China town platter 1


3. A Tapas feast with tender pork belly, Spanish omelets, and calamari among other scrumptious things.


3. A Tapas feast


4. Sausages baby! Every shape, size, and meat!


4. Assorted sausages 2


5. Gin and tonic, and some dark ale. Check. Cute bartender. Double check.


5. Gin and beer


6. Focaccia. And crusty crusts to send you into a tizzy.


6. Assorted breads 1


7. Have you ever seen wild blue mushrooms? How dreamy are they?


7. Wild blue mushrooms


8. Seaweed crisps are the new chips. I’m telling ya.


8. Seaweed crisps


9. Oreo mini cupcake.


9. Oreo cupcake


10. A Starbucks PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte). Bonus? They’ll give you a funny new name every time you order!


10. PSL


11. A mushroom appetizer with aubergine crisps. Posh Spice would be proud.


11. Aubergine chips with mushroom


12. Beans on rice. With Guac. And sour cream.


12. Beans on rice


13. Mini fruit tarts. Filled with custard and topped with fruit.


13. Assorted desserts 1


14. Crisp calamari with lime and a spicy aioli.


14. Calamari and aioli


15. A gorgeous green Pistachio macaron. What a beauty.


15. Pistachio macaron


16. Pork Belly at Jamie’s Italian.


16. Pork belly


17. Truffled egg and hamhock breakfast pot at Leons.


17. Hamhock, truffles, and eggs


18. Cupcakes from The HummingBird Bakery in Notting Hill. Such a legendary place.


18. Hummingbird bakery cupcakes


19. Korean seafood soup – don’t you love the colors?


19. Korean seafood soup


20. Fresh fruit. So beautiful. So bountiful.


20. Fresh fruit


21. Dulce de leche froyo with strawberries and flaked almonds.


21. Froyo


22. Gelato. How am I supposed to choose? Like how?


22. Gelato


23. Hot grilled potatoes at the Farmer’s Market in Covent Garden. Perfect winter food.


23. Grilled potatoes


24. Kimchi fried rice with a runny-yolk fried egg. I could eat this every day.


24. Kimchi rice


25. Dear Lavender mini cupcake. Why you so pretty?


25. Lavender cupcake


26. Nandos Peri Peri chicken. With sweet potato mash.


26. Nandos chicken


27. Olives. Marinating in tubs of delicious olive oil.


27. Olives


28. Sparkling Rose.


28. Rose


29. Scampi and rough-cut chips. In a local Brit pub.


29. Scampi and chips


30. Minestrone with squid ink linguine.


30. Squid ink linguini minestrone


31. Warm strawberry waffles.


31. Strawberry waffle


32. Yum yums. Basically deep fried dough, dredged in sugar. Whoever named it deserves the Nobel.


32. yum yum


33. Larger cupcakes with generous amounts of frosting. ‘Coz that’s how they’re meant to be yo!


33. Assorted cupcakes 2


34. Bangers and mash – ultimate British comfort food.


34. Bangers and mash


35. China town platter with red wine to wash it all down. Totally your money’s worth.


35. China town platter 2


36. Chocolates from the legendary Choccywoccydoodah.


36. Chocolates in Cocchywoccydoodah


37. Comte – a delicious hard cheese.


37. Comte cheese


38. Chips and corn. I think yellow might be my favourite colour.


38. Chips and corn


39. Decadent coffee-chocolate mousse cake. Sigh.


39. Coffee chocolate mousse cake


40. Tomatoes and chillies so bright, they look unreal. But they were beautifully real :)


40. Fresh tomatoes and chillies


41. Goulash and bread. A winter lunch.


41. Goulash


42. Bratwurst hot dogs with fried onions on top.


42. Hot dogs


43. Rainy day outside. Rich hot chocolate inside.


43. Hot chocolate


44. Korean noodle box. The slippery glass noodles are so delicately flavoured.


44. Korean box


45. Tangy lemon meringue cupcake.


45. Lemon cupcake


46. Mini cakes. Aren’t they just the perfect size?


46. Assorted mini cakes


47. Smooth as silk liver pate and gherkins.


47. Pate and gherkins


48. Olives on ice and red, red wine.


48. Olives on ice with Red wine


49. Mushrooms in all shapes and sizes.


49. Mushrooms


50. Grilled veggies with cheese to scatter over.


50. Grilled veggies


51. A wonderfully sweet and bitter coffee cupcake.


51. Coffee cupcake


52. Dumplings. With pork inside. ‘Nuf said.


52. Dumplings


53. Gooey chocolate caramel cake with icecream.


53. Gooey caramel chocolate cake


54. A kebab roll with all the fixings.


54. Kebab roll


55. Victoria sponge cake, anyone?


55. Victoria sponge cake


56. Sushi. Oh yes.


56. Sushi


57. Fresh strawberries in a box = endless possibilities.


57. Strawberries


58. Raisukaree in Wagamama. Coconutty goodness.


58. Raisukaree in Wagamama


59. Some fantastic sirloin. With Yorkshire pudding.


59. Roast beef


60. Tapas platter with Prosecco. Perfect post-work meal.


60. Small tapas plate with


61. Halloween mint cupcake. With its very own fondant RIP gravestone.


61. Mint cupcake


62. Rainbow cake. Because colours are awesome.


62. Rainbow cake


63. Sweet slow-cooked pork. So tender it crumbles into shreds at the touch of a knife.


63. Slow cooked pork


64. Spaghetti with olives and tomatoes. Cheese, not optional.


64. Spaghetti


65. No-carb tuna salad with boiled eggs. Perfect light lunch.


65. Tuna salad


66. Blackberries and raspberries in whole cream. Life is too short for light cream.


66. Berries and cream


67. A big, fat, melting pot of Paella.


67. Paella


68. Peirogis – delicious baked dumplings.


68. Pierogis


69. Pulled pork and bean sandwich. Oh yeah baby.


69. Pulled pork sandwich


70. Steaming hot seaweed soup. Heals all boos boos.


70. Seaweed soup


71. More fresh, crusty bread. I can’t ever eat processed, packet bread again.


71. Assorted breads 2


72. Giant cookies. I need one now.


72. Assorted cookies


73. Good ‘ol beef burger. With pickles, tomato sauce, mustard, and greens.


73. Beef burger


74. Breakfast croissant. Anything with a sticker that says “meaty” is going to be eaten by me.


74. Breakfast croissant


75. The largest dates you’ve never seen.


75. Dates


76. Layered pana cotta.


76. Panna cotta


77. Japanese noodle box with sweet and sour chicken.


77. Japanese box


78. Mixed seafood noodles with snow peas.


78. Mixed seafood noodles


79. Pomme frites with gravy. Fries with gravy over fries with sauce. Anyday!


79. pommes frites


80. The mini red velvet cupcake that stole my heart.


80. Red velvet mini cupcake


81. Walnut and honey cake. Perfect with a hot cup of tea.


81. Walnut and honey cake


82. A dessert stand. I could live here.


82. Assorted desserts


83. Venison, wild mushroom, and chorizo sausages.


83. Assorted sausages


84. A hot waffle with dark chocolate sauce drizzled over.


84. Chocolate waffle


85. The fanciest Goats cheese appetizer ever at OXO Towers.


85. Goats cheese fancified


86. Pie and mash. It’s a hug on a plate.


86. Pie and mash


87. Sweet warm plum tea.


87. Plum tea


88. A purple cauliflower. How gorgeous is that!


88. Purple cauliflower


89. Cheese, crackers, and relish. Perfect on-the-go snack.


89. Snack pack


90. Cheese Maggi with spicy sausages – a little taste of home.


90. Maggi and sausages


91. Beers and ciders with interesting names.


91. Beer and cider


92. A wonderful mix of cakes at the Farmer’s market.


92. Assorted cakes


93. Thin noodles with prawns and peppers in a black bean sauce.


93. Noodles in black bean sauce with prawns


94. A large pistachio cupcake with a mountain of buttercream frosting.


94. Pistachio cupcake


95. Sticky rice with pork, chicken, and seafood. So very comforting.


95. Sticky rice


96. A giant rainbow cake I wanted to grab and run away with to sit and stuff my face in later.


96. Big ass rainbow cake


97. Beautifully presented orange and chocolate mousse cake.


97. Chocolate mousse fancified


98. Enchilada! Gotta love good Mexican fare!


98. Enchilada


99. A delicate almond and fig cheesecake – simple yet memorable.


99. Almond and fig cheesecake


100. Assorted mini cupcakes – cuteness overload! I wanted to buy this entire stand!


100. Assorted mini cupcakes


Hope you all enjoyed that – start planning your trip to London rightaway! And take me with ya ;)


*GIVEAWAY WINNER*


The winner of Vikas Khanna and DK’s wonderful new cookbook for children- Young Chefs is Akshit Vohra! Yay! Congratulations sweetheart! The book is on its way to you! :)


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In April this year, Mom, Dad, Luke (a.k.a baby brother), and I took a long-awaited family trip to Meghalaya.


For those who don’t know, it’s a state in North-east India where clouds and rain make the days cool and misty and magical. We spent most of our time in Shillong, also called The Scotland of the East, but I think Land of delicious pork would be a much more appropriate name.


Shillong is a very special place for us as a family. Mom went to school there, Dad taught in the Univ there, they met and fell in love there, and I went to play-school there.


The whole trip was a whirlwind of happy emotions, delicious food, and much-needed family time. Here’s just a little taste of what went down.


Let me begin with our first meal. We stopped at a small shack, just before entering the city. It was drizzling and the food was piping hot.


Rice and vegetables.


Rice and boiled veggies


Beef curry.


Beef curry


Boiled pork.


Pork curry


The spiciest, yummiest chilli-bamboo shoot pickle.


Spicy chilli pickle


Stomachs full, we headed off into the city.


This is a view from the guest house we were staying at. Don’t the flowers make you happy?


View from our guesthouse


It was a cosy place, complete with wooden floors, and the occasional friendly stick insect.


We had many, many friends to meet and places to (re) visit.


This is Dad outside his room in University (NEHU).


dad-outside-his-old-univ-room


This is Mum with her best friend from school – Aunty Iris. I learnt that day that crazy laughter and silly jokes and happy memories only get better with age.


aunty-iris-and-mumma


Here’s Gail (Aunty Iris’s daughter) and me – we went to play-school together. The only thing we remember about the time was eating our tiffin as soon as we reached school. What can I say? I started young :P We were meeting after 25 years!


gail-and-i


This is what Aunty Iris made for us. We couldn’t move very much after this insanely good lunch.


spread-at-aunty-iris


We took a day trip to Cherrapunjee. Obviously, it was drizzling that day.


 cherrapunjee


But there were many hugs to keep warm.


warm-hugs


And who said swings were only for children?


swinging


It was beautiful every where we turned.


Undulating hills in light and shade.


wavy-hills


Waterfalls that beckoned with their misty blue spray.


waterfall


I spotted this mumma hen keeping her baby warm. So cute, right?


hen-and-chick


The most exciting part of the trip was our adventure in the Mawsmai caves. I think the poor quality of air in the caves brought out the best in my mad family. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.


Things started out pretty sane.


cave-and-me


But very quickly it turned into this.


cave-drama-1


And this.


cave-drama-2


After much excitement, there was light at the end of the tunnel.


 cave-adventures


The food on this holiday was the best. We ate like monsters (to put it politely).


But can you help yourself when this is what the local cuisine consists of?


Dokleh: Pork salad with ginger, onions, and chilli. I tried making this once. Go here for the recipe.


dokleh


Jadoh: Rice cooked in pork stock and eaten with Dokleh.


 jadoh


Tyrso doh sngiang: Boiled pork with greens. Mom’s favourite. Apparently it’s all she ate when she was preggers with me. No wonder I’m a pork fiend.


dosniang


Tungrumbai: A pungent fermented bean and pork paste. The yummiest, stinkiest thing ever. Mom’s friend, Aunty Ru, made all these divine things and even packed me a jar of Tungrumbai to carry home!


 tungrumbai


There were many other local specialities around.


Fresh honey.


 fresh-honey


Beautiful, woody cinnamon bark.


cinnamon


Local berries were my favourite snack all through the holiday. I kept thinking how pretty they’d look tumbled over a white whipped-cream frosting.


berries


If you’re in Shillong and go shopping in Police Bazaar (which you must), and your feet get tired, walk into Glory Plaza and on the top floor you’ll find some momos that warm your soul in a place called Tibetan Kitchen.


momos


Also, remember to order a Juicy Lucy burger at Munchies in Laitumkhrah. Luke declared it the best burger he’d ever eaten in his life.


I met Juni – one of my closest friends from college. We hung out at Matter of taste, a quaint cafe filled with happy, young people, and had some coffee and delicious pie. We laughed till we had tears in our eyes. Sometimes the distance and time and every thing else just doesn’t matter. You meet a friend after years, and it’s that same wonderful, comforting feeling.


Jun and me


Juni also got me some divine White Forest cake from a bakery called Caramel in Laitumkhrah. Not to be missed.


We did some touristy things like boating in Wards lake. The fun part was feeding the rather chubby ducks.


Feeding ducks


One cold morning, Dad surprised Mom with a special horse ride. We all had a go, but Mom was ecstatic :)


Mumma horse ride


We also took a trip to visit our old house – the one in which I sat by the fireplace reading books and generally pranced around. It brought back memories I didn’t know I had.


our old house


Here’s the four of us on the steps.


 family-4


Speaking of which, we got some really good family pictures.


Here’s one.


family-3


Here’s another. (Don’t miss the doggy who decided he’s ours.)


family-2


Here’s one of my brother pretending he’s thinking of something serious. (Who you kidding, Lukey?)


 luke


But this one is my favourite.


family


There’s just something about it that says holiday and family and love.


Tell me about the last trip you took with your family, won’t ya? :)



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Hello lovely people!


How’s the new year treating you’ll?


Have you made the resolutions you aren’t going to keep? :)


Isn’t it funny (and wonderful) how we make them every year anyway?


Here are mine:


*Get fitter (this includes regular exercise and attempting to eat healthier)
*Give my blog more love
*Spend more time with the people who are important to me
*Start playing the guitar again (this will be done with my very cool guitarist friend Aditi’s help)
*Learn to take better photographs
*Keep believing that the best is yet to come


I think the last one is the hardest. It’s difficult to believe that good things will come when you’ve had a spate of bad things. It’s hard to have faith in people, believing that there’s good inside them, even when they’ve let you down. It’s even harder believing that God has plans for you – the best plans.


But this year, I’m staying positive, and happy, and bright. Because good things will come. I know it. I just need to remember it :)
Will you remind me if I forget?


Here’s a look at some good things that happened over December when I was home. Each one is a blessing.


Dinner with my oldest friends in one of our favourite restaurants.


Old friends and dinner


This gorgeous flower that bloomed on our balcony.


Red flower


A funky new-age Christmas tree my brother put together.


new age Christmas tree


The freshest, greenest, tastiest lettuce ever – from my aunt’s garden.


Lettuce


A massive projector set up by my Dad and brother in our living room, so we could watch movies huddling together under blankets while sipping hot tea.


Projector


And this puppy soaking up the sun, who brings us all such joy.


Puppy in the sun


In the midst of some terribly sad things that happened, us cousins got together and decided we needed to make something sweet.


The result was this stunning Strawberry Pavlova.


Pavlova 1


Everyone helped.


Here’s my brother whisking the egg whites.


Whisking away


Baby cousin washed the strawberries.


Cleaning strawberries


Another added sugar and smiles.


Sugar and smiles


And this pretty one cut up the strawberries.


Cutting strawberries


Even the littlest one contributed. He kept the puppy busy :)


Puppy and baby


This dessert is show-stopper. Expect everyone to drop their plates and stare at it in all its wonder.


Just look at it.


Pavlova 2


And it’s the easiest thing to make. Have a go!


Strawberry pavlova


Largely adapted from: Step by step Baking


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 80 mins
Serves: 8


Ingredients:


6 egg whites
pinch of salt
350 g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp lemon juice
300ml heavy cream
200 g strawberries


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line a baking tray with parchment. Draw a 20cm circle on the parchment and turn it over, so the pencil mark is facing downwards.
2. Put the egg whites and salt in a large, clean bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Mix in the cornflour and lemon juice as well.
3. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment, making sure you stay within the drawn-out circle. Flatten the centre slightly and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 160º C and bake for 75 minutes. Leave it to cool completely in the oven.
4. In the meantime, whip the cream until it thickens. Wash and clean the strawberries, then roughly chop them into halves.
5. Remove the cooled pavlova from the oven and take off the parchment. Place on a serving plate and crack the top slightly with a spoon. Spread the cream over and top with the strawberries. Serve in rough wedges.


Pavlova 3


Sorry I can’t offer you some pavlova, but here’s something fun!


*GIVEAWAY TIME*


CupoNation India, a website offering discount coupons for a number of leading online retailers in India like flipkart, snapdeal, homeshop18 and many more, wants to give one of you lucky readers a Flipkart voucher worth 500 INR. All you have to do is leave me a comment below telling me which offer you love the most on CupoNation India


I’ll choose one winner through a random draw and announce it in my next post. Comment away!


And have a wonderful, wonderful year ahead! Lots of love!


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My Christmas wish-list

There’s no getting around it. A big part of Christmas is exchanging presents.


It’s a wonderful feeling, tearing open beautifully wrapped packages with glee.
But it’s an even happier feeling watching someone you love opening the gifts you’ve chosen for them and loving it.


I’m part of two Secret Santa groups this year. Just sent out secret presents to a fabulous fellow blogger :)


I believe there are two types of gifts. There is the “want” list and the “need” list.
The “want” list has stuff we are really excited and greedy about. Fast forward to a few days later, and chances are the excitement is over.


Let me demonstrate with my “want” list for this year.


Things I would like include: A KitchenAid, a Kate Spade watch, an Ipad, an Iphone, and the ENTIRE Calvin and Hobbes box set.


Now let’s talk about the gifts I really, really need. This is my Christmas “need” wish-list.


The walnut cake Dad makes only for me every Christmas.


Hugs and smoochies from this puppy.


grumpy Simba


A long walk with Mum.


Decorating the tree with my brother.


Taking a family photo like this one.


family photo


The sight of my Church lit up on Christmas eve.


Isn’t she beautiful?


Church


Eating snacks and drinking Thums Up on my bed with my oldest friends.


Baking something with Dad, with Mom yelling about how we’ve turned the kitchen upside-down.


Being at home with everyone I love.


Making bread and being marvelously surprised in the process. Oh wait! That happened already! :)


crusty white loaf 1


Gorgeous loaf, you.


crusty white loaf 2


There is such a simple pleasure in kneading dough for bread. It has to be therapeutic, because I certainly feel better.


Watching it grow and rise and bake is magical. And then you cut a slice to taste it :)


crusty white loaf 3


Crusty, brown magic.


crusty white loaf 4


Crusty white loaf


Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins, plus rising and proving
Serves: 8-10


crusty white loaf 5


Ingredients:


1 tsp vegetable oil, for greasing
500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
7 g packet dried yeast (I used Tesco)
1 tsp salt
320ml lukewarm water, plus more if needed


Method:


1. Grease a clean, deep bowl with oil and set aside. Place the flour, yeast, and salt in another large bowl, and make a well in the centre. Add the water and mix well with your hands until it comes together in a rough, sticky ball. (Add a little more lukewarm water if the dough is too dry.)
2. Transfer the dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. This took me about 12 minutes or so.
3. Place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave for about 2 hours, until double in size.
4. Knock back the dough on a floured surface, pushing out the air and deflating it. Shape the dough into a rough log and place in a 900g loaf tin. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 220º C. Sprinkle a little flour over the loaf, make some diagonal slashes on the surface, and bake for 15 mins. Then reduce the heat to 190º C and bake for 30 mins more. Remove and leave on a wire rack to cool. Cut into slices and toast, then slather with butter or extra virgin olive oil and enjoy.


It amazes me every single time dough rises and the smell of baked bread fills the room. Pure magic.


crusty white loaf 6


The simple, wonderful joys in life. Family, friends, health, laughter, conversations, and great food.


Those are the gifts I want this Christmas. For me and for you all :)


What’s on your “need” list this Christmas?


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It’s one month to Christmas. Welcome to what I call my looney-with-excitement month.


Here’s a taste of some of the Christmas craziness in my life:


- Last Saturday Mom and I bought (wait for it), 10 kilos of dry fruit. Yes, 10.
We got raisins in all colours, shapes, and sizes which will be mixed with walnuts and other stuff and then baked into some deadly good cakes by Dad.


- I’ve done some preliminary gift scouting and 2 3 5 lists have been made. I always struggle with present ideas for men – dad, brothers, uncles, friends. What do you buy the men in your life? Tell me please!


- Mom and I are discussing Christmas party menus every time we talk. Seriously. Every. Single. Conversation. Let me tell you now, some fantastic ideas have been born. If you’re invited to my home for Christmas, you’re in for a treat.


- I’ve changed my ring tone to Baby it’s cold outside. I ADORE Christmasy music. I asked a friend the other day if it was too early for Christmas music and I was laughed at. It isn’t too early, is it? Come on!


- My Christmas madness is totally understood by some adorable friends of mine. I’m discussing gift options with Abhik and decorations with Varun who has already put up his tree! They’re fabulous btw and totally looney about Christmas like me. You should say hello to them on Twitter!


- I bought some sparkly metallic red and green cupcake wrappers. So pretty and perfect for this season! Festive cupcakes shall be made.


What I’m saying is, this is a wonderful time. The build-up to a time with family and friends and celebration. A time of joy and warmth and sharing.


I wish everyone would get into the spirit already!


I know, I know. You’re tired and grumpy and lazy and it’s cold and you just want to curl up and sleep, but if you have 12 minutes and 3 ingredients, I can show you a shortcut way to feeling wonderful.


Make these Nutella brownie bites.



All you need is flour, eggs, and the food of the Gods: Nutella. Everyone has flour and eggs at home. Oh you have jar of Nutella too? You may be my soulmate.


These little bites are fudgy, full of that rich hazelnut chocolate flavour we all love, and delicious both warm from the oven or at room temperature.



Could there BE a simpler way to eat something yummy and ring in the festivities? (Yeah, I totally said that like Chandler :P)



3-ingredient Nutella brownie bites
Recipe adapted from: Laura’s Sweet Spot


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 12 mins
Makes: approx. 30 mini bites



Ingredients:


2 eggs
1 jar (350g) Nutella, at room temperature
10 tbsp plain flour


Method:


1. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Line mini cupcake trays with mini cupcake paper cases. I used about 30.
2. Mix the eggs and Nutella together. Then stir in the flour until everything is well combined. The batter is quite thick and sticky. Don’t worry- it’s supposed to be like that. Spoon about 1 heaped teaspoon full into each paper case and bake for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and eat!



Happy pre-Christmas my lovelies :)

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Easy Mulled wine

The first time I drank mulled wine I was with my friend Shriya in London. It was cold outside and the spice-laden, sweetened wine warmed our insides and made us smile. It tasted like Christmas and old friendships and gave us inexplicable comfort although we were far away from home.


I made some last night, and I could taste those things all over again.



When something bad happens to us, don’t we often ask “Why me”? I’ve figured out the answer to that question.


It’s so that I can be reminded of the blessings in my life. The ones I forget so often and so easily.


Why me? Because I need to be reminded of how my family will always be my rock – no matter where I go or what I do.


Why me? Because it’s an opportunity to be grateful for the friends who love me, laugh with me, and cry with me because they can see through to my soul, the ones who are far away but make me feel like they’re right next to me with a single phone call or text, and the ones you know are yours forever.


Why me? Because I believe God wants to show me how strong he made me.


Painful things, difficult things, hard things, happen to the best of us. But what I’ve come to realize is that good things come out of it.


I will never stop being amazed at how my family and friends rally around me whenever I encounter anything difficult in life.
They shield me and hold me up, giving me an extraordinary strength.
The kind I never knew I was capable of. But it seems I am.
And that is an awesome thing.


So this is a thank you note. Just to say you’re wonderful. And my life wouldn’t be the same without you.
You all know who you are. Thank you for building me up. You give me strength every day.


I’m ready for anything the universe throws at me, because I know you’re there, always.


And while we’re here, in this moment, will you join me for a glass of mulled wine?
I know, you thought I’d never ask :)



Easy Mulled wine


Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes: 2 glasses


Ingredients:


30g brown sugar
375ml red wine (I used Four Seasons Shiraz*)
4-5 pieces cinnamon bark, plus a few long pieces for the glass
generous sprinkling of nutmeg
1 orange, sliced on the round



Method:


1. Place a large pan over low heat and put in the brown sugar. Add about 1/5th of the wine and mix well.
2. Throw in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and a few pieces of orange (reserve 2 perfect rounds for the glasses). Mix everything well until the sugar melts. Let this mixture reduce over a low heat- it is your flavour base.
3. After about 10 minutes, the wine mixture will be thicker. Now pour in the rest of the wine and stir well. Mix for 2-3 minutes and then take off the heat. (Longer and you’ll burn off all the alcohol- we don’t want that!)
4. Pour into heatproof glasses, add the orange rounds and cinnamon sticks, and serve.


*Thank you Four Seasons for the lovely wine.


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I just got back from a blissful 5 days in the hills.


Every meal I ate consisted of portions of food that in any other place would be enough to feed at least five adults.



I stared in amazement at beautiful mountains and dark trees.




Told a few monkeys and at least one gorgeous butterfly how I was feeling.





Went on long drives through winding roads and felt alive. Saw some breathtaking sights.



Drank out of these darling mini bottles. Aren’t they just the perfect size?



Spent time with my baby cousins and realized they’re growing into wonderful people. Made me wish I could slow down time a little.




The problem is I’m back now and it’s back to the grind.


I’m not complaining really – but that’s because of these divine, dark, delicious things.



Will you look at them? I know you can’t compare it to a beautiful misty mountain, but I promise this tastes better ;)



So easy to put together, these dark brownies will put you in a holiday mood no matter where you are.


Make some today and be transported!


Quick and Easy brownies
Recipe from: Donna Hay


Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Serves: 10


Ingredients:


150g butter
275g caster sugar
75g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
75g flour, sifted



Method:


1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a pan over low heat and stir until the butter has melted. Pour into a bowl and add the vanilla and eggs (one at a time), whisking well. Add the flour to the mixture and whisk to combine.
2. Spoon the mixture into a 20cm-square cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until centre is just set. Cool in tin and cut into squares to serve.


Here’s a bonus picture of me goofing around. Thank you Dad for patiently taking pictures of me while I danced around tall trees. (Some of the other pictures are taken by him too.)




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