Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Anticipation is delicious. Isn’t it?


So very often, I feel like waiting for something wonderful, is better than the wonderful thing itself.




At this moment, Dennis and I are packing for our first trip back home to India together.


Our past few weekends have with filled with manic shopping – picking out the right presents for everyone in our families, right down to the doggys btw!


There is such joy in waiting to see everyone, to be able to spend time with family and friends, and just be with the people you love the most in the world.


And I know that this time will just fly by. So I’m soaking up the anticipation as best I can and prolonging this happy feeling  :)


In preparation of going home and being fed till we burst, we decided to stretch our stomachs with this creamy, velvet-y, silken smooth beauty called Crème Brulee.


Creme Brulee 4



If I see Crème Brulee on a restaurant menu, I always order it. It’s one of my favorite desserts. We’ve never made them at home because of the lack of a blow torch.


Creme Brulee 2


But we finally got one and now, well, it’s a bit dangerous how easily we can whip one of these decadent yellow bowls of heaven up!


They taste like a mix of home, sunshine and happiness.


Make a few and treat yourself🙂


 Easy Crème Brulee


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins, plus cooling and chilling
Serves: 4-6


Creme Brulee 1



1 egg

5 egg yolks

100g/ ½ cup caster sugar, plus more for dusting

700ml/3 cups heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp Grand Marnier



  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together the egg, egg yolks, and ½ cup of sugar together on a low speed until just combined.
  2. Heat the cream in a saucepan until hot to the touch but not boiling. With the mixer on low speed, gently pour the cream into the egg mixture in small batches. Add the vanilla and Grand Marnier and combine.
  3. Pour into Crème Brulee ramekins (I got about 4 medium, 1 large, and 2 tiny ones) until almost full. Place the ramekins in a baking tray and place in the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking tray so that the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes, then cool and refrigerate.
  4. Before serving, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of caster sugar over each ramekin and use a blow torch to caramelize the sugar until golden, brown and slightly burnt in parts. Wait for a couple minutes before serving.


I even made a baby one!😛


Creme Brulee 3




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Christmas is a time for family. And this year, for the first time in my life, I’m not spending Christmas with mine.


There will no Christmas cake made by Dad, no Christmas wishlists, and no Christmas craziness with my family.


It’s always hard being away from family. But it’s almost unbearable at Christmas.


As the days build up to my favorite time of year, I’m trying to focus on all my blessings. There are SO many!


My first “real” Christmas tree!


Christmas tree


The cutest Baby Jesus ornament. I say hello to it everyday.


Christmas ornament


My first Christmas in New York.


Rockerfellar tree


My new job that promises a full and exciting year ahead, and wonderful colleagues! (SO grateful about this one!)


New work place


Friends who share, and eat, and laugh together.


christmas party


The most fun Advent gift exchange, where everyday is a surprise, a laugh and a beautiful memory!


Advent gifts


And this guy – who reminds me everyday, that this, right here, just us, is also a brand new family❤


Dennis and me


I miss everyone at home terribly, but there is so much to grateful for, to celebrate and to love.




I wish I could be with this crazy family right now, and I’m sending them all so much love.


And while we’re talking about Christmas, just in case you haven’t baked a Christmas cake yet and need a super quick, no-fuss recipe, I’ve got you covered. No chopping, no soaking fruits for hours – just lots of rum🙂 (Look below!)


Wishing you all a joyful Christmas! Hope you’re spending it with the ones you love the most. It’s the most wonderful time of the year❤


A Lazy Girl’s Christmas Cake

 Christmas cake


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 2 hours, plus soaking and resting
Serves: 12



2 cups assorted nuts (I used cashews, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
2 cups assorted raisins
11/2 cup spiced rum
170g/1 and a 1/2 sticks butter, softened, plus more for greasing
200g/1 cup light brown sugar, plus more to dust
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon powder
170g/1 and a 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder


Cake on the cake stand




1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and grease a loaf tin with butter. Place the nuts and raisins in a medium bowl. Heat the rum until it gently simmers and pour over the nuts and raisins. Let cool, then cover and leave for 15 minutes. Strain out the nuts and raisins and reserve the liquid.
2. With an electric beater, whip together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs (one at a time) and beat again. Add the vanilla extract, orange zest and cinnamon powder, mixing again. You should have a smooth batter. Now add the flour and baking powder and beat until it’s all incorporated. Toss in the nuts and raisins and mix by hand until evenly distributed.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, dust with some more sugar, and bake for about 2 hours, or until dark brown on top and cooked through. Remove from the oven, and while still warm, use a spoon to gently pour the reserved liquid all over the cake. Let it sit, allowing it to absorb for 4-6 hours or overnight. Slice gently, and serve.

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It’s fall!


That beautiful yellow and orange and red and golden time of the year.


There are trees like this one to marvel at!


Us with a yellow tree


And pretty leaves that look like magic.


Bright leaves


It feels orange everywhere you go, and I love it.


Fall leaves with shoes


Fall is also the time of pumpkin spice everything. Seriously, read this article to see what I mean.


Pumpkin pie though – that’s a classic.


Pumpkin pie 1


I added pumpkin spice chocolate chips to make it extra pumpkin-y!


Pumpkin pie 3


Creamy pumpkin filling flavoured with warm spices and baked in a graham crust until golden and slightly wobbly and perfect.


Pumpkin pie 4


A slice of warm pumpkin pie is probably the food equivalent of fall.


So here’s the fastest and easiest way to make some and get that pumpkin-spicy goodness in your mouth😀

Pumpkin Pie


Recipe adapted from: Libby’s


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 65 mins, plus cooling
Serves: 8




Pumpkin pie 2


1 can/15oz pumpkin puree
170g/3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 can/12 fl oz evaporated milk
140g/5oz pumpkin spice chocolate chips
1 9-inch graham pie crust
whipped cream, to serve (optional)




1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the pumpkin puree with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves. Mix well until the sugar melts completely and the spices are incorporated in the puree. Remove from the heat and cool.
2. Crack the eggs into the cooled puree, add the evaporated milk and mix well to combine until you have a smooth filling.
3. Scatter the chocolate chips over the pie crust and then pour in the filling. Bake at 220ºC/425ºF for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180ºC/350ºF and bake for another 50 minutes. Cool for 2 hours before serving with whipped cream.


Pumpkin pie 5


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Hello my darlings!

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


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😀

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😉


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).


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.


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😛 We were meeting after 25 years!


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


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


But there were many hugs to keep warm.


And who said swings were only for children?


It was beautiful every where we turned.

Undulating hills in light and shade.


Waterfalls that beckoned with their misty blue spray.


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


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.


But very quickly it turned into this.


And this.


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


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.


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


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.


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!


There were many other local specialities around.

Fresh honey.


Beautiful, woody cinnamon bark.


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.


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.


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.


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

Here’s one.


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


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


But this one is my favourite.


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.


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.


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


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


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!


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?


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


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


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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