Difficult times

Its been the strangest few months for me to live through recently. Right from September of 2015 till early Jan this new year, I’ve had quite a lot to deal with; so I took my time in recuperating my strength emotionally and physically from it all and I feel like I can finally talk about it.

I mentioned in one of recent posts about an imminent house move and then just disappeared out of the radar in the blogging land! I’m pretty sure nobody really missed me or the updates I would have posted; but for the sake of continuity, i’ll pick it up from where I last stopped and take it from there.

We moved
The move finally happened! yay! After living in a tiny but gorgeous flat for 8 years we finally moved into a house with a backyard and plenty of space. It was the most tiresome thing I had ever done in a while though. Phew!

I had to spend a good deal of time, elbow grease and money in getting our oldflat back into shape before vacating it, just so we could have a chance of getting some, if not most of the deposit from the estate agents. After 8 years of living in a tiny flat, there were sellotape patches on the wall from fixing birthday decorations, iron-shaped burn marks on the carpet, layers of grease plastered on top of the kitchen hood and then, there was my beloved oven which gave me countless hours of baking pleasure, which needed to be deep cleaned. Luckily for me, I happen to be a closet DIY queen!  I patched wall papers, painted walls and doors, fixed door handles and scrubbed my old oven down until I could see my reflection in it! I even managed to salvage my carpet in the living room floor with the iron-shaped marks in without replacing it, which would have ended up really expensive. What hard work it was. However it worked, and we got the full deposit back from the agents! Get in!!

Aftermath of a house move!
That was just the begining of all the back-breaking work that awaited us as part of the move into our bigger house. Once we had moved, we stuffed all of the boxes in the reception room leading to the  kitchen and filled it right upto the doorway! I still cry when an image of that room with all the boxes crosses my mind! I felt at the time that I would never get through all the boxes or have a presentable house to invite guests and friends to! Unbeknown to myself, I was slowly feeling depleted and tired.

With my husband unable to take any days of work, I did most of the unpacking, sorting and discarding by myself, all with a fussy toddler on tow. Here’s a fascinating tidbit for you – toddlers don’t like house moves! oh what screams and tears I encountered in trying to explain to my son that we are not going back to our lovely old flat! Hmmm, poor bunny, he was clueless and upset the first few weeks of our stay in the new house.

Signs of a breakdown
Days after moving into our new house, I found myself getting overwhelmed over the tiniest of decisions. Everything made me teary. Deciding which cup to make my tea in; not being able to locate items among the sea of boxes; deciding what clothes to wear;even deliberating if I should eat was stressful! So one monday morning, I decided to go on a walk with my son in a pushchair, hoping the fresh air will clear my mind and help me relax. Little did I know, that my day would take a turn for the worse.

Caught in the bog
Just a couple of roads down my house is a wonderful semi wooded area adjoining a popular local park where my son and I have always played when the weather is nice. To get to the park I have to maneouvre the pushchair with my son in it through a few small bridges and then across a large empty playing field. Although it wasn’t a particularly cold, windy or wet day, it had been raining a little bit the previous few days and I had no clue of it as I was in a personal hell of my own dealing with the aftermath of a housemove! We started out all bouncy and cheery singing my son’s favourite rhymes along the start and got through two bridges and started crossing the playing field. To my utter horror, the fields were soaking wet and soft and I struggled to get through it with the pushchair. Still I soldiered on and reached the other end only to realise that I still had to get over a small but steep grassy mound to get to the entrance of the park.

The rest is not something I am particularly going to enjoy typing. However it was a pivotal moment that kind of symbolized what I have been going through recently. Naively I started pushing the pushchair up the wet grassy slope and I would go only a few steps before sliding dangerously back down. My boots were muddied up and so were the pushchair wheels. I thought that if I tried one more time, maybe I would go over the slope and then we can relax and play around in the park. So I tried pushing with all my strength and came sliding down again. I told my little boy to get up and climb the slope and that I would follow him with the pushchair. He willingly got down and tried to climb up on his own. We both slided down this time and landed on our behinds. My son started crying looking at the squelchy mud in his gloved hands and trousers. I was quite ready to burst into tears myself by then, but decided on helping my boy get back up. I told him to reach out his hand so I can grab it and he couldn’t reach out to me far enough. In the frustration of the moment, telling him turned into shouting at him. It confused him that I would shout at him for something he wasn’t able to do. All the frustration and panic I was experiencing triggered an anxiety attack. I felt like I would never get out of the slippery slope or the marshy field I just struggled crossing over. I couldn’t think clearly or decide what to do next. There werent too many people around either. Usually the place is a hotspot for friendly folks walking their dogs in the nearby woods. Unfortunately not too many were around on that day.

Somehow, through screaming at my son and getting too frustrated with myself, I managed to grab hold of my son and put him back in the pushchair. He made it quite clear that he wasn’t going to walk around with mud all over him after the fall. So I decided to turn back around and retrace my steps to go home. If that had been the end of the miserable time I had that day, I probably would still have been ok. However, there was more disaster waiting for me!

With less energy than when I first started out and even lesser patience, I headed back to cross the marshy playing field. This time, it felt like the whole universe that conspired against me cause I just wasn’t able to budge the pushchair any further and I was well and truly stuck in the squelchy mud. Hot tears sprang to my eyes and I felt I’d been abandoned in a world far away from civilisation. Somehow I made my way through the field a little way and saw a man walking his dog some distance away. I shouted out to him and asked him to help me carry the pushchair or atleast help me push it. Just then his excitable dog came up and tried to reach up to me in a friendly way and caught me completely off guard in doing so. Now I am not afraid of dogs but I am not particularly fond of them either. So I have never really wanted to pet or be close to a dog or cat ever in my life. This dog had other plans though!  He was so friendly and wanted to see if I would perhaps play with him or something and reached out to me while standing on his hind legs. I got the fright of my life in that marsh and tried to get it off me. By the time I managed to get him off, he had smeared his muddy paws all over my lovely cream feather and down coat! Cue, deep breaths!

After pulling his dog away from me by the collar and apologising to me profusely, the owner offered to carry the bottom end of the pushchair while I carried the top end. While struggling to move our feet in the squelchy mud, the dog started to get too excitable again and wouldn’t let him help me! Seeing that his dog might cause more trouble, he pointed me in the right direction and said he is sorry he couldn’t be of much help. And off he went. Sigh. There I was back in the rut again and on my own, despite reaching out to someone this time. In hindsight now, the way that I’d felt at the marsh fields was exactly the way I’d been feeling for many years now.

Still feeling rather anxious and even angry, I pushed my way through the wet field slowly on my own. My boy had started crying again in confusion by then and instead of calming him down, I took to shouting at him to calm himself down. That clearly didn’t help! Cause he started crying even louder! Reaching into my now fully muddied pocket of my down coat, I took my phone out and rang my husband. He’d only said hello, and I started crying and told him that I can’t take life anymore. Between tears I managed to tell him where I was and what happened. It was just 10 am and he’d been at work only a few hours. He panicked and told me to wait so he can come and get me. It would be another 40 minutes even if he whizzed through the traffic lights all the way from his work place. So after hanging up, I pushed the pushchair with all the remaining energy I had and got to the other end of playing fields. My boots, my coat, my gloves were all dirty; and so were my son’s. He’d managed to stop crying by now and I ran all the way back to the front door of my home, not wanting any of my new neighbours to see me in my current state.

After what seemed like ages, my husband eventually came home and saw the trail of our boots, coats and pushchair, all horribly muddied for any kind of reuse. All it took was for him to walk to me and place his hand on my shoulder and I burst into a million pieces, wailing uncontrollably. I wailed for a long while. It shocked my husband to see what he had returned to after saying bye to me before going to work this morning. I had broken down.

Now
Thinking back, it felt like I was doomed to have a miserable day. That I had to be brought to a grinding halt so I could admit that I needed help. Because I am not used to asking for help. I had to breakdown somehow. And I did. What caused my breakdown? Well, it wasnt just the stressful event of moving house and struggling to cope with a toddler on my own. It was more than that. I have come to realize that I have a moutain of issues that I’ve turned a blind eye to. Issues from way back in my childhood; from my marriage of 8 years; and just from being an overworked, underappreciated mother and wife in the recent few years. I am used to soldiering on. I had to change my tack though. Cause I’d been stuck in a rut for years in a number of areas in my life although I was unwilling to accept it or seek help for it.

But seek help I did, this time around. I started by taking the medication I was prescribed for clinical depression last Jan 2015. I was too proud to rely on medication or admit that I was suffering with depression at the time, despite my GP encouraging me to take it. It made me feel dazed during the day and gave me insomnia at nighttime. However it started to make me feel a bit sane almost immediately. Stable, at the least. The weeping and the anxious thoughts in my head briefly stopped, allowing me to just be. Hubby offered to take a few days off to look after our boy and to cook and be there for me. I’d morphed into a completely different person by then. Drugged up but somewhat sane and calm .

Help also came in the form of a chance encounter with the pastor from my church. Sitting at his office, I poured out all that had been going on in my head and in my heart the past few weeks and months. He patiently listened, prayed for us and then sign posted me to a counselor in the church.  So here I am after 3 sessions with the counselor and feeling like I can finally breathe. No, things arent still a 100% ok. However I’m putting up a good fight and have recovered a great deal.

I’m going to save the rest of my thoughts for another post as this one has become rather long already. I hope that you have had a better start to this year than I have had; if not, hang in there.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
                                                                                                 Psalm 30:5

 

 

 

 

Blimey, it’s 2016!

Just a couple of hours into a brand spanking new year! I wish you all the best of health, success and happiness this year. I personally am looking forward to 2016 cause I ended 2015 on a really bum note suffering with severe depression. The stress of moving house, juggling cooking, cleaning and looking after a toddler gave me a few ugly nervous breakdowns forcing me to take antidepressants to cope with every day life. Sigh! 

I’m back on my feet albeit feeling like I would plop flat on my face any second from the drowsiness of being medicated. 2016 take your best hit. I stand on the unshakable Rock who is my Lord. 

Is it November already?!

And just like that we are in the month of November!

We’re officially a month away from Christmas and it’s getting real cold and dark now. And that can only mean one thing. Its time to get my bake on!

Here are a few things I baked in the past week.

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Schwarzwalder Torte

Or just Black Forest gateau to you and me! 🙂 Back home in my hometown in India, this cake is by far the most popular and quite literally flies off the shelves for birthdays, Christmases and what have you. I have been fed quite a few Black forest cakes (far too many to remember!) in my time and quite naturally wanted to master it when I took up baking after getting married and moving to the UK. So what followed was a barrage of BFCs everytime a cake was needed and I ended up putting off hubby and myself of it for a few years. Last week I was looking at some old photographs on my laptop and realized that I hadn’t made the cake in almost 4 or so years! So I decided to bake it on a whim last week and gosh did it turn out well!

I even got sonny boy to help…

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The cake isn’t hard to bake or assemble in any way. What’s important however is that you need a really soft and good chocolate sponge cake as a base for it. Your gateau will only be as good as your sponge base, so if you’ve got practice baking decent fatless chocolate sponges, you’ll have no trouble getting this cake right. I went with my trusty chocolate chiffon cake recipe as always and baked it in a 9inch tin. From here on, it’s just a matter of sandwiching the layers of cake with tinned or fresh cherries and freshly whipped cream. Now you can splash a bit of Kirsch (cherry brandy) on to the layers if it is solely for adults. Or you can just use a simple sugar syrup in its place which will work just fine. I skipped both in an attempt to tone down the calories; plus I was really lazy that day! I also didn’t bother covering up the sides with whipped cream, well cause I didn’t enough left to do that. It still tasted wonderful. Considering that no where in the cake I had used butter and just decorated with cherries and unsweetened cream, this cake is actually not that bad as a diet breaker. It is far less calorific and tastes lighter than most other cakes. Here’s the instruction for the assembly I followed aside from my usual recipe for the chocolate chiffon cake

Apple and Bread Pudding

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This is a first. Owing to my dislike for butter and cheese I had never previously attempted a bread and butter pudding in my kitchen. I was forced into finding a recipe to use up a loaf of stale bread I had knocking around and ended up stumbling upon this recipe on the internet. I altered the recipe considerably in the end and didn’t use any butter at all. To my surprise it turned out very well. Here’s my take on the recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 to 10 slices of stale bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Handful of raisins
  • 2 to 3 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of oil (or use butter)

Method

  1. Toss together torn/cubed bread, sliced apples and raisin in a bit of oil or melted butter and transfer to the baking dish
  2. In another mix, mix together the egg, sugar, cinnamon, milk and vanilla. Pour over the bread and apples in the baking dish.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 C for about 45 minutes or until brown.


That is all from the baking department for now. On to something more exciting.

Homemade Playdough!

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It would seem that I’ve arrived on the homemade playdough scene a bit too late! On googling, I was hit million and one ways to make playdough and it all seemed a bit too much for me! Clearly all the homemaking mamas in the world think it’s a big hit with their kids and have gone on to make tonnes of tonnes of this stuff. I nearly decided against making a playdough but thought I’d try a small quantity for starters.

The recipe for the dough is in the collage/picture I have put up above. Or if you, like me, think this is all a bit too much and want to go for an even simpler recipe. Just mix any flour with water, knead and hand it to your child! I remember playing with ‘chapathi‘ dough every time my mum would make it for dinner, as a little girl back in India. I’d make cute little cups and dishes with lids, paint it and let it harden in the sun. So there’s no reason for you to buy another tub of expensive playdoh from the shops again.

Here’s a small selection of interesting playdough recipes I’ve come across so far

I made my batch of playdough in orange and pink and sonny boy had a lot of fun playing with it.

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What have you been upto recently in the kitchen or with the kids? Let me know if there’s anything interesting I could possibly try out too. In the meantime, enjoy the last two months of the year. My family and I will be moving to a another house hopefully, so I have a busy November ahead of me. See you on the other side.

Sharmila

Get a balance bike!

If you do one thing this year as the parent to a lively toddler, get him/her a balance bike!

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I cannot recommend this brilliant yet simple piece of play thing/equipment highly enough and have taken it upon myself as a mission to spread the news to as many parents with young ones as possible. No, I haven’t been sponsored by anyone to do this post. I just love how a balance bike has transformed our daily walks in the park into something I actually look forward to everyday. Read on to know more

We were given a rather lovely balance bike by a lovely couple we’ve known for a few years here in the UK (thank you Vidya and Aswin!!) as a present and at the time my son was about 1.5 years old. My toddler had by then become rather attached to his beloved scooter and I wasn’t very sure if I could convince him to try the balance bike. Sure enough he tried it and on finding it different to his scooter, soon gave up wanting to ride it and stuck with his trusty scooter for a while longer. I hadn’t given up though. I’d previously read on the internet about the benefits of starting kids on a balance bike rather than a pedal bike and thought I would give it a try to see how effective it really is. So every time we went for a walk, I took the bike with us and lo and behold, my toddler eventually got on it and starting walking his feet slowly. My boy just turned 3 two months ago and still rides it everyday, morning and sometimes in the evenings too. Take a look at this video to see how he’s progressed from when he began. You’d be amazed!

Since my boy started riding the balance bike

  1. I’ve gotten considerably fitter! What with all that running around and playing, that is! I am truly blessed to be living in an area filled with lovely parks. So in the summer, I would take to wearing running shoes and jogging beside my toddler on his balance bike along cycle routes and pavements. I’ve also been doing my local shopping with him on the bike, which is a lot quicker and convenient than having to lug a bored toddler in a pushchair around!
  2. We’ve become more outdoorsy! The rain and the wind don’t bother us anymore, as long as we’ve got our parkas on. We can still whizz back home if it suddenly starts raining. It is also nicer that my toddler to stop and get a closer look at flowers, ducks, squirrels, dogs, kitties and any other interesting thing that might cross his path
  3. He has become more aware of his surroundings. With being out so much comes a lot of opportunity for bonding and communication that you just don’t get when you stay indoors. We talk and learn from each other a lot. I’ve learnt to stop and smell the roses and enjoy these fleeting and precious moments I get with my wee boy.My toddler on the other hand, now knows to stop and press the button at the pelican crossing and knows what I mean by ‘Stop’, ‘Turn right/left’, ‘Slow down’, ‘go faster’ etc. He also can spot most types of vehicles on the road and has learnt to stop by and say ‘hello’ to passers-by who admire how good he is on the bike.
  4. We usually end up having way too much fun! Time really does fly by quicker. Everytime we head out to the park, it would feel like we’ve only been there a few minutes before we realise nearly two hours have passed! Especially if there is an interesting terrain for my boy to ride on .i.e, a gentle slope, ramps, a puddle etc, we would be there until he gets bored with riding over it.

So if you plan on buying anything for your toddler, grandkids or as a present for a child you know, get a balance bike. Not a trike. Not one of those expensive battery operated cars or something similarly silly. I’m not sure a child needs all of that. Besides by starting with a balance bike, your child will progress to a traditional bike with pedals rather quickly, without ever having to resort to use stabilizers. If the child in question is a bit younger, I would recommend either a kiddy scooter or a Scuttlebug (trike with no pedals). My son has used both and has liked each for different reasons.

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I know that my son won’t always want to hang out with as he grows older and starts having more friends. However I will always cherish the times I’ve gotten to spend with him wandering about in parks and having the most wonderful carefree times of our lives.

Here’s another picture of my boy with a leaf bunting I made recently. I hope you have a wonderful beginning to the month of November ahead.

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To new beginnings…

This marks the beginning of an exciting season in my life! I am officially a self-employed baker!

IMG_2228There, after years and years of just playing with the idea of baking and selling my cakes, I finally decided to take the leap. I took my first order roughly about a week ago when a dear friend I know asked me to bake a few cupcakes to sell at her church. Only recently, I had invited her and the family over for dinner for my son’s 3 birthday in September and she was too kind in her praise for the car themed birthday cake and cupcakes I had made for the occasion. I’d told her that I’d be happy to bake anything simple if she ever needed it.

So when she approached me to make some cupcakes for a fund-raiser at her church, I leapt at the offer and made some really nice soft-as-cotton-wool vanilla cupcakes with an equally lovely light-as-air chocolate icing. The cupcakes had turned out better than I had hoped and I was rather pleased with it. In fact, I can still picture the look on the lady’s face as she told me how professional the cakes looked when I delivered it to her and it made me beam with pride. I’m going to etch that moment in my mind for posterity in case I ever begin to doubt myself and my baking abilities again. You see, every time the thought about starting a cupcake business crossed my mind in the past, thoughts of fear and doubt would shut it down. This was the real reason it took me this long to get started on my baking business. Despite many friends and family encouraging me and prodding me to advertise my skills locally, I tended to brush them aside and played myself down. I’d reasoned in mind that my cakes won’t somehow be as good as the others or that nobody would really buy from little ol’ me. Well, I’ve proved myself wrong!

IMG_2317Funnily enough, on the Sunday that I set off to handover the cakes after attending church, I had affirmations and encouragements from a number of sources saying how good the cakes look and that I have a business in the making. I even remember rummaging through my cupboard for a bag to put my cupcake boxes in and hurriedly pulled out one that seemed big enough but hadn’t bothered to look at what it said on the side. It was only when I grabbed the bag later on my way out the door that I realised it said ‘Selling Like Hotcakes’ on the front! I nearly fell down laughing! (See picture above) On the way down in the lift, I had two neighbours walk in on a different floor and say to me as the first thing how tempting and polished the cakes in my bag looked and asked me for a sample! Two others complimented me similarly seeing the boxes of cakes in the car as they walked past us in the car park after the church service! It was all beginning to sound a little crazy to me after that!

I began to wonder if God had planted all these folks on that day to be there at the right time and place, just so they could speak words of encouragement into my life. Words that I badly needed to hear. To give me a nudge, perhaps. I think He did. I thought to myself that I’d be a fool not to give this a try, after all the prompting and affirmations I’d recieved that day. So after what started out as a favour for a friend, this is me, giving my dream a try. Lets see how far I can go sweetening people’s lives in their moments of celebration.

Sorry about the sappy stuff. However it was important for me to put this on my blog, cause of how significant it is. Since the birth of my son, I’ve looked at ways to earn an income while staying close to him. After a few months of hunting for part-time evening jobs and not coming across any that offered flixibility in terms of working hours, I figured I should give this a try for what it is worth.


Moving on, I made something that I hadn’t done in a very long while. Lasagna. I must confess that I am not a big fan of cheesy foods. I’ve had a life long hatred for milk and other dairy products that I just can’t explain. If anything smelt cheesy or milky, I wouldn’t eat it. Hence I’ve always pulled the cheese off my pizzas and always asked for barely there sprinkling of cheese on my Paninis if I have to order them at a café. I’m aware that I sound a bit alien to some folks, especially here in Britian, where almost everyone is a closet cheese-connoiseur. In fact, I personally am yet to come across another person who has a dislike for cheese like myself. However since my son’s birth, I’ve consciously tried to include cheese in my cooking and diet in a bid to get him to try all foods so he doesn’t end up hating it for no reason like I do. So I made this vegetarian Lasagna a few days ago, albeit with a little hesitation, but it turned out so good that even I enjoyed second helpings of it!

Aubergine and Mozzarella Bake

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I had enough Aubergine to fit two loaf tins, so I baked one for dinner that evening and froze one away for later. I took the recipe from here and instead of grilling the Aubergine slices in the oven, I fried them on a griddle, which took a bit of time, but was well worth the effort. I’m going to skip the recipe and instructions for this dish just cause the link I’ve included is rather detailed and it would be unnecessary for me to repeat it here. Here are some more pictures of the cooking and assembly of the Lasagna I took though.

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If you’ve never tried a vegetarian Lasagna, I’d highly recommend this one to you. You will not be disappointed. Do give it a try. 🙂

Plus, I tried my hand at making my own pesto for the first time! It was much better than the popular store-bought stuff and incredibly easy to make as well. I only wish someone had told me about this earlier!

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Home Made Pesto

Just blitz together the following in a blender and add to cooked al dente pasta.

  • 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parmesan or other hard cheese (I used sparing amounts cause I found the smell of the cheese too strong. You can sprinkle more as a garnish later on however)
  • Walnuts or pine nuts – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic gloves – 2
  • oil – 1/2 cup (olive or sunflower oil)
  • a splash of lemon juice

In other news, I’ve finally slipped into autumn mode after wrapping up some hobbies I started way back in summer. While going on a lovely walk early one morning, I was blown away by the beautiful autumn scenery before me.

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Both my son and I enjoyed running around and playing among autumn leaves and my spirits were soaring. I picked a few leaves on my way back hoping to make something with it later on during the day. Here’s what I came up with after playing around with it on my carpet.

Craft Ideas using autumn leaves

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As you can see from the collage, I’ve merely rearranged the leaves to give you an idea of all the different things you can do with it. I ended up stringing the leaves to make a bunting for my living room for the day and later took it downstairs to hang it between two trees by the entrance of my building. While it looked really pretty outdoors (I’d forgotten to take a picture of it), it got blown away by the winds by the next morning! If you want to make a wreath out of the leaves as shown in the picture, you can either choose a polystyrene base or simply make your own by cutting an old cardboard box (into a round or heart shape) and sticking the leaves on top of it.

After nearly a year I’ve started going to Forest school at my local woods with my son, and we are both enjoying it tremendously! Here’s a picture of my son enjoying pasta cooked on an open fire at the woods.

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I guess those are all the updates for now. Hope you have a fabulous end to the month of October whereever you are. xx

(Update:I managed to get an online certification for a Level 2 food safety course this afternoon while my toddler napped and by evening, I’d managed to convince another friend to let me bake for her daughter’s 2nd birthday party. I’ve also finalised the logo and name of my business for putting on the application form for holding a stall at a food fair at my local arts centre. I don’t know why I have tears as I type this. Maybe its because I know God’s hand is behind all these sequence of events that seem to just happen one after the other.)


O Give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth forever

Psalm 136:1


Summertime Reveries (2)

Boy is it getting darker sooner these evenings! Not to mention the weather getting colder and wetter! I hope you been doing well nonetheless. I’m still trying to finish the last of my projects that I started earlier in the summertime this year! I wrote in my last post about a few things I’ve enjoyed the past few months and carried it way into autumn and here’s a few more to add to that list. Mostly recipes.

Apple mania!
This year, I cooked, baked and consumed a record number of Apples like never before and I must say, I’m looking rather well-rounded because of it! Oh well, apples are good for me! So I guess there’s nothing to worry about. (Seriously, I’d pick Apple Crumble over a bag of crisps, any day. Well, on most days anyway!)

This is the apple tree by my building that gave a bumper harvest this year. IMG_2272

So besides the usual crumble and pie recipes, I also found a rather good recipe to make with my foraged Apples. Instant Mango Pickle. That’s right, you did read it right! Mango Pickle, with Apples instead! I know it sounds bonkers, but it works. I was dubious about the whole thing myself when I came across it for the first time; but having made this recipe over a dozen times in the last 4 months alone, I can certainly tell you that you can make an excellent Mango pickle out of Apples! When the Apples are still unripe and mostly green, it has a tangy and sour taste that is quite similar to green Mangoes, believe it or not. So it is a wonderful replacement for when one can’t source Mangoes easily, like here in Britain. The pickling method in question here though is different to the one used out in the West, i.e., preserving in bottled filled with brine or vinegar. Indian pickles come with a lot of chilli powder alongside the salt and vinegar and is finally tempered in hot oil with mustard seeds. This particular recipe is an instant version requiring no real pickling, and one that most Indians would go GaGa for anytime of the year. Once made, this pickle will last only a few hours before disappearing completely or if you are lucky enough to have family members with a little bit more self-restraint, unlike my own brood, it will last a few more days. I don’t even bother bottling this pickle, just cause of how soon it disappears right off the stove top. So I practically made it every few days the past four months. Try it for yourself.

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Cheat’s Mango Pickle

  • Any number of chopped Apples – Should be mostly green (leave the skin on). Or use Granny Smith in any other season
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chilli powder, to taste
  • Roasted & powdered fenugreek seeds, a tablespoon
  • Oil, a few tablespoons
  • Asafoetida, a few pinches
  • Mustard seeds, a teaspoon
  • Curry leaves, optional
  • Vinegar, a teaspoon, optional.

Start by heating oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds. If using, add the curry leaves now, followed by asafoetida and chilli powder. Lower heat and add the chopped Apples. Add the salt and vinegar and mix well. Do not cook the Apples, you want to retain the crispy texture. Now take it off the heat and mix in the powdered Fenugreek seeds and set aside for a minute before beginning to stuff all of it in your mouth! Cause once you start eating this stuff, you’ll be hooked!

IMG_2243

Lemon Pickle

As if I hadn’t consumed enough Apple/Mango pickles this summer, I also made this rather lovely Lemon pickle. The bottled Lemons you are seeing in the picture have been pickling for a good 6 months after I went through a phase of squeezing Lemon juice quite literally on top of everything I ate in the beginning of this year. Not wanting to throw away the remains, I’d put them in a bottle, topping each time with a bit of salt and left them to pickle over the course of the next few months. After six or so months (I’d shake and turn the bottle over every now and then) I was welcomed by the gorgeous smell of pickled lemons upon opening the lid. From here, I simply tempered it in hot oil with mustard seeds and added chilli powder to the whole lot. This is great with any rice dish and tastes better than the over-priced, imported, store-bought stuff you get in the Asian shops. It actually tastes much like my mum’s own version and made me feel a bit homesick eating it!

Apple CrumbleIMG_2217

Like I mentioned earlier, I did also make tonnes and tonnes of Crumble with the Apples. I just couldn’t seem to get enough of crumbles this year. My recipe for it is rather simple; a bit of sugar and cinnamon added to chopped Apples, and then Microwaved for a few minutes until soft. Before topping with a Crumble mix of oatmeal and plain flour (half and half) sugar, cinnamon and sunflower oil and baked in the oven till the top is brown.

 

Enna Kathrikkai
(Baba Ghanoush, Indian Style) 

IMG_2244My husband is a big fan of eggplants and loves this dish that is usually served with Biriyani at Indian wedding banquets. It is quite similar to Baba Ghanoush, except it is not roasted and cooked fully on stove top until soft and mushy. I took the recipe from here and my husband was all praise for how close it tasted to the authentic version he’s eaten at Indian weddings. I made this quite a few times at my husband’s request this past summer, and we enjoyed it with both rice dishes and chappathis; and even with slices of white bread sometimes!

Those are all the recipes I tried this last summer besides the usual fares. I’m nearly done with my language-learning CDs as its time to return it to the library. I really hope to continue this streak by keeping up with the French, German and Spanish I’ve learnt over the months. It’s truly been a remarkable summer in terms of all the number of things I’ve been able to do. I’m picking up more autumn-type hobbies with the evenings getting longer and colder. i.e., Crochet, knitting, Macrame, not to forget, reading books! (I’m going to get a Kindle, finally. Yay!) I guess the colder weather brings with it its own charms. Here’s to hot chocolate, sweaters, scarves, cozying up under a duvet and marathon book-reading sessions!

Summertime Reveries

I cannot believe it is autumn already especially cause it felt like we only had a wisp of a summer this year around in Britain. None the less, I made the most of it by springing to the park with my toddler and picnic mat, every time Mr Sun out for a few hours, to do a spot of  quick sunbathing before the ominous clouds loomed back in. Fast forward to Mid October, and even with the crisp cold autumn air and the crunchy yellow-brown leaves lying everywhere, I find that my mind is still stuck in summer-mode wanting to spend a few more weeks doing summertime things! However I just managed to push myself into wrapping up a few projects that I started 4 months ago! I’ve still got a few more to go before I can finish it all and post about it on the blog. So bear with me while my mind and soul catchup with the season and read on to know aaalll the things I dabbled in this past summer!

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DIY Mummy & Toddler Backpacks.


I’ve long been wanting to own a Cath Kidston backpack but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay a silly amount of money for a piece of sewn-up cloth that’s going to dangle off my shoulders carrying stuff when I go out! So I decided it’s far better to make one for myself from an old pair of jeans! I’d seen this novel idea on the internet awhile ago and thought I’d give it a try. With that in my mind, I bought the nicest looking pair of jeans I could find at my first ever carboot sale for £2.50 and ended up making not one but two rather good-looking bags! One for baby and one for me! I took inspiration from here and here.

Continue reading “DIY Mummy & Toddler Backpacks.”

snoogums-boogums turned 3!


My boy turned 3 and I had to up the ante on the party department! So after two parties and tonnes of party food and cake later, I can certainly say that I had more fun than my tot in the last week.

My son has lately been obsessed with the Disney cars movie so I decided on hosting a Lightning McQueen themed party. (If you don’t have a car crazy little boy like I do, Lightning McQueen is the name of the animated car the Disney movie is based on😜)

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What? You want to Homeschool? Have you lost your mind???

That is pretty much the response I get from most folks when I tell them how I want to raise my son. That includes well meaning neighbours, immediate family members and pretty much every one else in between ( practically the whole world in short).

So this is my response to all the critics, the cynics and the people who think I’m downright crazy for trying to ruin my son’s life.

Continue reading “What? You want to Homeschool? Have you lost your mind???”