Saturday, 12 June 2010

Peace, Love and Understanding

I have been MIA for a while. Studies, life and the universe getting in the way. The usual.  Now things are progressing in a mellower mood and just maybe I got away this time with just a warning as to take things easy or else. So, haven't been trying any new and wonderful recipes really, and, gasp, the store bought bread made its way back in our kitchen this week. Only joking. About the gasp part, that is. Although nobody seems to be eating the bread, and the Daughter keeps complaining about the bread not being " soft and warm" , I am capable of giving myself some slack should slack be called for. Some things one should not mess around with, health being on the top of the list of those things.

So I've also been eating out quite a bit. Not an easy task in a town this size that seems to pride itself on offering either dirt cheap generic pizza or overpriced restaurant food that you feel an idiot for paying for because you know for certain that you yourself could make whatever they're offering much better at home. Until this spring when I found my way into a little cafe that for a long time was virtually hiding behind a load of scaffolding that had now finally been removed. It was a cafe owned by a very young woman from Afghanistan (you can see where this is going now, can't you?) and I instantly fell in love with not only the lovely pastries on offer but also the friendly, cosy atmosphere provided by the people working there. One of whom I later found out to be the young woman's mother.  And when they started serving lunches, well, I was sold. I will not even attempt to describe the dishes on offer, if you're interested there are some Persian recipes available for example here at

But besides giving me a full belly, going there also got me thinking. It got me thinking about what did I actually know about Afghanistan, or come to think of it, that region in general. If you're like me, and not like my Sister-the-International-Politics-Genious, you've probably seen the news, read the papers and that's it. Or maybe not even that much. So, going there also got me reading, and for starters I read my way through these

and continued to this

At this point I did some research and ended up at this site where I was able to learn more about the life in Afghanistan, and especially the life of the women and children of Afghanistan. I was shocked and I'm not embarrassed to say I might have even cried. And I must say, I felt absolutely desolate and hopeless. And yet, these women do have hope. They are continuously working for peace in an environment that has not seen such state for decades and decades. They risk their lives every single day in doing the simplest of things you and I take for granted, things necessary in order for them and their children to survive. I'm even feeling like such a hypocrite writing this, because what could I, born and raised in such priviledge, really know about life such as that. Nothing, I tell you. And that is why I try to learn what I can.

Because ignorance breeds hatred. It breeds conflict, violence and prejudice. And even if we can't fix the wrongs in the world as it is, we can certainly try to do our part in not bringing about more of them.


                                          My kitchen birdie.

Which brings me to a much lighter subject. Next week I am planning on arranging some study related issues which means some travelling and as all work and no play does indeed a dull person make I am inteding to meet up with people I haven't seen for a long long time. Some I have just lost in the general whirl of life of the rush years, and am now happy to have reconnected with. Some I have never really lost in the same sense since these are the people I have always carried with me in my heart wherever it is that I may have been. I firmly believe that some people just simply enter your heart and never leave, and even though you might not share the same physical environment, they are a part of you and a part of your life regardless. So today I take leave on that note. No light as air cakes or cute as a button crafties, but this is, after all, life as it is lived by me.

                                So, live and let live.

The first image is courtesy of Alyssa Nassner Illustrations of which you can find more at her site here.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Stockings, Coconut and Corn

I like that attitude, make do and mend. Although obviously at the time of the booklet it was for an altogether terrible reason it was needed for, I think a little bit of make-do-and-mend attitude wouldn't go amiss in today's world. Though I draw the line at mending my own stockings, since even though I do fancy myself as rather a fine hand-seamstress I find the idea mind-boggling. Or maybe the stockings of the olden year were somehow different. Surely they must have been because I honestly don't know how doing this to my stockings could be in any way possible..


And I have yet to find a hookie thingy like the one in the ad...but by all means, I am willing to give it a go if anyone out there can tell me where these things could be purchased from. Also, what an earth kind of thread should one use for this?

I've been having serious problems with the fit of the dress as pertains to the top. Or maybe it's just me being persnickety with it but I really want it to fit well. Anyhow, I've gotten to the point of adding the rickrack and was contemplating between three types

I think I am going to go with the one in the middle, though I like the red as well...hmm...I've also added fabric covered buttons in the front where the zipper was originally placed and moved the zipper to the side. I can't wait to finish this one since I already have a lovely 100% silk with art deco type of pattern on it for the next one waiting. I should not be allowed to enter a fabric store without a chaperone for sure...

...nor a baking store. They have finally started stocking all sorts of baking goods including ready made sugar fondant in a certain shop in here and even though I do have a wide variety of food coloring in my possession for coloring fondants I couldn't resist purchasing readily colored fondant in all sorts of weird browny and greyish colors. Why? Because I am planning a cake with sugar fondant tools on top of it. You know, hammers, screwdrivers, spades and stuff. Should be interesting as it's certainly different from making the regular roses and crew. As for the cake, I am planning something with coconut. To test flavors, I made these Pineapple Coconut Muffins with orange zest in them. End result was lovely. Not fluffy and light in my regular cupcake manner but rather moist and chewy.

On top are some little daisies cut from sugar fondant using Wilton daisy cutter with sugar pearls in the center. The topping is just plain whipped cream flavored with vanilla and sprinkled with coconut flakes. I drove around town delivering these to my Sister, the Grandparents and even my Brother at work and they seemed to be a general hit so I am actually contemplating using the recipe in making a cake base for the tool cake.

As for new food recipes, here is one for Corn Fritters I can heartily recommend anyone to try. I also made ranch dressing at the time to use with summer salads and gave it a go with the fritters and it indeed went well as an extra to the sweet chili sauce. A recipe for a home made ranch dressing can be found at Pioneer Woman. I did deviate from the fritter recipe a little though by adding some chopped green bell pepper in the mix. Worked fine.

Yes, not the lightest dish on the planet but lovely regardless...

This spring and beginning of summer have been setting me in a strangely restless mood, all new beginnings and doors opening and closing. Planting and growing. Elbow deep in dirt at the veggie patch or letting my mind be filled with theories and ideas at the university lecture hall. Letting my spirit fly high even though my feet remain rooted to the earth. The Middle Sister planted a few tulips this spring but only some of them made it above ground and I believe the ones that did are the stronger for it. She has also managed to get her orchid to bloom time and time again, a feat I can only be in awe at. I wish I had half her dedication and persistence. Come to think of it, both of my Sisters are amazingly dedicated and persistent in pretty much everything they do, be it flowers, academia or just general nature of things. Inspiring, that is. Me and the Brother tend to be of a, ahemm, slightly more adrift nature but then again, not all of those who wander are lost.

I was asked just the other day why I blog. And I did not have a ready made answer. I still don't. I am not a very public persona and do not like being the centre of attention, but nor am I shy or afraid of speaking my mind. And writing a blog is not very unlike writing a diary of sorts. But public? Well, one might very well ask how public is it really amidst the millions of other blogs that are whirring away in the ether...And anyway, I do feel that it is not, after all, such a serious issue but more on the lines of



And because I am such a poetry geek I just have to again take leave with a piece of loveliness in the form of words by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

                                       I tell my secret? No indeed, not I:
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you're too curious, fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret's mine and I won't tell.

Spring's an expansive time: yet I don't trust
March with it's peck of dust,
Nor April with it's rainbow-crowned brief showers,
Nor even May, whose flowers
One frost can wither thro' the sunless hours.

Perhaps some languid summer day
When drowsy birds sing less and less,
And golden fruit is ripening to excess,
If there's not too much sun nor too much cloud,
And the warm wind is neither still nor loud,
Perhaps my secret I may say,
or you may guess.

Christina Rossetti