We had a birthday in our house a few days ago (yay PJD!). To mark this special occasion, I baked a cake. I went in search of a most delicious chocolate cake recipe, which not only had to be relatively easy to make, with not too many ingredients, but which also had to be scrumptious in the way that chocolate-cakes-when-you-were-young tasted. After much leafing through recipe books, um-ing and ah-ing over which recipe looked and sounded the best (sometimes it’s easy to get drawn in by an amazing looking photo in a cookbook only to discover the recipe is overly complicated – don’t you agree?!), I settled on an aptly (if somewhat un-originally) named “Never-fail birthday chocolate cake with chocolate icing”. This recipe comes courtesy of Australian cook Bill Granger, found in one of the most reliable go-to books in my cookbook collection, Bill’s Holiday.
Posts from the ‘Food’ Category
Recently we journeyed to the top of New Zealand’s South Island, to one of the sunshine hubs of the country, Blenheim. During our travels I spied this shelf of teacups in a cafe, which were so sweet, I just had to take a picture.
Photo by CIA at Raupo Cafe, Blenheim, New Zealand, 23 February 2013.
The weather has been unseasonably warm in Wellington these past weeks. I say unseasonably, because it’s never this warm in Wellington, consistently, in a way that you wish you were outside at lunch time every single day, and not cooped up in front of your computer screen at work! So, perhaps this explains our lacklustre efforts to post of late, given that as much as possible, we have been outside, making the most of every bit of this wonderful golden weather before it ends (let’s hope it continues past the official end of the season tomorrow!). This photo of a scrumptious ice-cold smoothie which we enjoyed recently at one of our favourite spots just screams Summer, don’t you think? Yum.
Photo by CIA at Maranui Cafe, Lyall Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, February 2013.
We have been hearing about a (large!) gingerbread house which word on the street said had been constructed inside Te Papa Tongarewa (meaning Our Place – New Zealand’s National Museum, situated on Wellington’s waterfront). We always love hanging out at Te Papa – regardless of what special exhibitions are on, the long-term exhibitions and art are consistently engaging and interesting – but put baking, Christmas and museum altogether in one, and we knew we had to get down there and check it out for ourselves. So that’s what we did tonight (long may Te Papa’s late nights on Thursdays last!). The house has been constructed to encourage donations to the Wellington Children’s Hospital – gingerbread house making kits are available to buy at the museum. Click on the photos below to check out what we found… (look for the photos with the details of the building and baking, quite astounding!)…
The gorgeous Te Papa gingerbread house was baked by Te Papa’s Executive Chef, Bernd Lippmann and constructed, installed and decorated by the chef along with a dedicated team – see how they did it in the video below! The house fills the museum with a delicious “it’s Christmas!” smell of warm spices, and it is clear that the team who decorated the house has an eye for detail.
The house bought a huge smile to my face when I saw it, and was a nice reminder of the European Christmases we have the pleasure of enjoying for the past two years in the Netherlands. Seeing this gingerbread house also took me back to very happy memories of the gingerbread house competition which takes place annually in Sweden with a different theme each year and is exhibited at the Arkitekturmuseet in Stockholm. Read more
Today was a long day at work, so as I was walking home and looked down and saw a little Kikkoman soy sauce bottle on the ground, I began to laugh to myself, because all I could think about was the video below. It’s silly and a bit crazy, but if you are in the mood for a laugh (it will help if you are a Kikkoman fan!), you might enjoy to check it out too. We’ve pretty much been laughing about it every time we eat something with soy sauce in it, ever since some dear friends introduced us to the crazy world of the planet of Soy earlier this year.
Photo by CIA, Lambton Quay, Wellington, New Zealand, 08 November 2012. I am really glad I wrote this post, because it led me to discover this: Kikkoman searchable cookbook! Definitely going to be trying out some of the delicious looking tofu recipes sometime soon!
Before we moved to live in the Netherlands, people warned us that as vegetarians, we wouldn’t have much luck with (or get much joy out of) Dutch food. Whilst it is certainly no vegetarian paradise, we didn’t find it all that bad. Certainly, there were even some Dutch foods (mainly of the sweet variety, such as appeltaart and stroopwafels) of which we became huge fans during our time living in Holland.
Moving to the Netherlands equipped with only limited Dutch language skills meant our trips to the supermarket in the first few months were quite challenging and made for some interesting exchanges as we navigated the payment system at the checkout, as well as navigating the aisles (such as when I eagerly utilised my fledgling Dutch language skills and asked a supermarket staff member “How are the eggs?” rather than “Where are the eggs?”). Being foreign in a country suddenly adds a level of challenge to daily tasks and interactions such as going to the supermarket which you’d otherwise take the ease of doing for granted. As a tourist, it can be fun, but when you are trying to integrate into a different society for an extended period of time, it can be tiring and frustrating. Read more
The nice thing about being back home is having our own kitchen around us, with a good amount of space (the kitchens in the Netherlands leave a little to be desired, in many cases!). And the great thing about the timing of our return is that asparagus season is in full swing. To celebrate, I cooked an old favourite. I prepared this amazing asparagus to have on the side.