Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Midweek Treat

There are a thousand different ways to say I love you. One of them is with food. The simple act of cooking a dish fulfills so many simple pleasures, even before the eating of it.

The recipe that follows resulted in the ambrosial brownies you see above. They were too luscious to eat (almost) so I thought I'd photograph them quickly in the spirit of Spring, just before they disappeared.

The recipe is from Bill Granger's new cookbook "Feed Me Now!" the only chef/restaurateur I pay attention to. He told me it would be "Killah" in his Australian accent and he was right. It is also, (gather round), much lower in fat than regular brownies. The moistness comes from the novel addition of dates. When I snapped Bill doing his thing below, one thing that struck me was how easy and fast it is. Do try this at home.

Healthy Chocolate and Date Brownies (makes 25)

140g butter
140g finely chopped dates
60g cocoa powder
90g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
95g soft brown sugar
3 medium eggs
1tsp vanilla
  • Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the dates, stir well, take off the heat and stand.
  • Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add the brown sugar and combine.
  • In a new bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the dates and butter. Add to the dry ingredients until just combined.
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 20 minutes or until just set. Leave to cool and cut into squares. Enjoy!

Bill sees baking in this day and age as something special, like

letter-writing, I have to agree.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Richmond Park Muse

"...and she was just going to spring over, when she heard a deep sigh, which seemed to come from the wood behind her."

~Alice in Wonderland

We spent a few lovely hours in Richmond Park. A sumptuous green wonderland full of paths, stags and room for thought. You could walk it for years and still find something new, a hidden lake, a quaint English lodge, hollow trees large enough to hold an avid reader with a soaring imagination. I was dragged willingly from screen and keyboard; slowly shaking off the thoughts of the day as they clung on, merging with reality: Scene 1, Ext. Richmond Park, two friends walk gingerly upon...
and of course you simply release here, talk when you want and enjoy the silence when you feel it. The camera came along, resulting in the photograph above. One ought to find places like this as often as possible. Embrace the heady gift of nature.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Sunlight and pancakes

This is for someone who needs a little sunshine today and anyone else out there as well. When a rare bad mood bothers a friend, my immediate instinct is to banish it. As this friend is away I decided to indulge them by spending a minute to send a wee scented candle- red for the "mean reds" and place it in a candle holder I designed in the style of Breakfast at Tiffany's, which she likes at the moment. It's not quite me, but that isn't the point of gift giving.

"The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of." - Holly Golightly

So this is one little way of burning away the mean reds... aromatically.

I once heard that if you're scared of God then everything falls off in comparison. With trepidation, I tried it and it worked... the nightlight disappeared (Earth Day, bonjour). Sometimes the things that scare us most are as thin as paper, we're made of stronger stuff.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

When Insomnia meets a Snowglobe

I got a little cold this weekend. Welcome to London, you are truly back. I wish someone had reminded me that cold medicine contains caffeine and caffeine, well... look what happens when you don't sleep.
I always find that my mind shuts down but my body is awake which negates writing. Option 1: Paint .. too messy, Option 2: Make something I like. I like .... I like.... zzz... OK... I like Snowglobes. This was a hobby I haven't indulged since childhood. A time when I travelled everywhere with my loved ones and wanted to capture each experience in a bowl of water and have it slow-moving and dreamlike like a memory. It's been a while but I still see the small snowglobe collection from those years with a mixture of warmth, nostalgia and a slight twinge of tacky-shyness.

This then reminded me that "someone" I know enjoys a recon. altoid tin. This is the strangely therapeutic practice of taking an empty tin (formerly housing mints) and making it a into a new artwork. In my case, I wanted to make the world's first altoid tin Snowglobes. As a previous insomnia-fuelled effort had been admired, I decided to make another. The themes were chosen for me - travel, mystery, Taj Mahal, which I someday have to visit. It's time to rest, tins take ages.

Friday, 10 April 2009


"Be in this life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path."

I'm back in town.
An intensely felt blog was written by me last, in the world which is still invisible to those who know me best, this wonderland. I felt relieved, blessed to share it with you, but somehow, something old in me wanted to return to my shell and shy away for a day. A hug is welcome and you can't escape from it, thankfully. But words touch me deeply and I wanted to savour your responses, remember and breathe in private.

Something was happening in England, I felt an alien inertness; it was physical rather than emotional. Like watching your wings laying still on the grass and wondering why that is so?

Two answers arrived, firstly, my laptop expired only days after I thought to myself "Backups, remember" - I did not. Secondly, a gift was presented to me to leave these sleek rainy streets and travel, far away to a land of heat, light and mountains.

Where phones are left on voicemail and email escapes me. I missed coming here, yet am so grateful and caught up with the impact of it, I will share it sooner, God willing. I was so busy recharging my phone, my laptop, my adored appendages - I forgot to recharge myself. And so in my one break - my first in years, I brought only time and hope. It was wonderful.