Saturday, 31 March 2012

Baking Therapy

I recently moved, from one country to another, and in the process most of my baking equipment had to be left behind. Although I've been settled now for a couple of months, I haven't had the money to build up my collection again until now, and it's incredible how much I have missed baking. I constantly cook lunches and dinners, but baking is what I turn to when I am feeling low. It takes my mind off my problems, and is the most comforting activity I can imagine.

The funny thing is, although I love the things I make as a general rule (brownies, cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods), I'm never actually all that keen to eat them once I've cooked them. I generally give them to friends, family or my other half; and it seems that for me, the baking of them is in itself enough to satisfy me. On that note however, I think I may just sit down and have one of the brownies I made yesterday with a cup of tea!

For my first foray back into baking, I decided to make the Rocky Road Brownies from Joy the Baker's wonderful website, and they are delicious. I even added some fudge to make the whole thing even more unhealthy! You can find the recipe here, and I would highly recommend them.

Above is the finished brownie: the toasted marhmallows on top really make it!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Perfect Fried Rice

I love rice. From as early as I can remember, rice was one of the most comforting foods that I could imagine. Served hot with curries or cold in a salad, it is as versatile as it is delicious. And while I do enjoy the fluffiness of boiled rice, my favourite way to cook rice is to fry it.

Perfect Fried Rice


Basmati rice
1 onion
2 cardomoms
1 bay leaf
2 cloves
Small cinnamon stick
1 chicken stock cube
Hot water

Measure the quantity of rice needed. Quantities are dependent on personal preference: the amounts here can be played around with as much as you like. I find that this amount of onion and spices is perfect for 2 to 4 servings of fried rice. Rinse the rice in a sieve, using your fingers to rinse off the starch under a running cold tap.

Thinly chop an onion and fry with the cardomoms, bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon stick in some oil on a low heat in a medium saucepan.

When the onions start to brown, add the rice and fry for a few minutes, stirring to make sure that all of the grains are covered in oil.

Add more oil if you need to. Take off the heat and add hot water (one and a half times the amount of rice that you used) with the stock cube dissolved in the water.

I use chicken stock but you can use whichever kind of stock you prefer. Put the mixture back on the heat and bring to the boil, then turn down immediately to simmer.

Put the lid on the saucepan and leave to cook for 15 minutes.

Done! Make sure you take out the spices before serving.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Le Petit Prince

Have you read The Little Prince? Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it is something that everyone should read at least once. It's so short that there really is no excuse not to read it. My favourite passage is an exquisitely beautiful description of what happens when one establishes ties with others. The little prince is talking to a fox, who asks if the prince wants to tame him:

'No,' said the little prince. 'I am looking for friends. What does "tame" mean?'
'Is is something which is too often forgotten,' said the fox. 'It means to establish ties...'
'"To establish ties"?'
'That's right,' said the fox. 'To me, you are still just a little boy like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me, either. To you, I am just a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we shall need one another. To me, you will be unique. And I will be unique to you'

I have yet to come across another piece of writing which conveys so perfectly what happens when you develop a bond with another person. For me, it captures that wonderful, terrifying feeling when you do allow yourself to establish ties with someone: allowing yourself to need someone else and to be needed by them.

You can buy The Little Prince here, and at such a low price you can't really go wrong!

A lovely way to spend an afternoon in London

London is one of my favourite cities, and one of the best ways to spend a lazy afternoon usually includes a combination of coffee, cake and wandering about in a park with friends.

Coffee at Flat White in Soho

Toffee popcorn cupcake from the Hummingbird Bakery

St James's Park

The Rookery, Streatham Common

Sunday, 25 March 2012

I lost my heart in New York City

A few years ago I visited New York. Walking down a side street I noticed a temporary wall, blocking a construction site, with the following inscription:

There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless. Perhaps it is that the heart beats faster here than elsewhere.

Written by Simone de Beauvoir, the statement struck a chord with me, so much so that I took a photo which has graced many walls already. It is not a particularly pretty photo, but it reminds me of the feeling I get when I experience something that I love.

There are certain places, certain times, certain people and certain things which make our hearts beat faster. With this in mind, I hope to fill this little corner of the internet with the things that make my heart beat faster.

Incidentally, my trip to New York also involved copious amounts of iced green tea lattés, a trip to the zoo, too much candyfloss, a terrifying ride on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, deep fried ice cream, eating take away red velvet cake on the subway, taking in the beautiful views from the Empire State building, thrift shopping in Brooklyn and hot rain which soaked us to the skin.