28 February 2013

Evening Sky

So it seems like there is hope after all. This was the sky this evening - looks a bit spring-like, don't you think?

27 February 2013

The longest winter

To still be hibernating at the end of February is getting a bit...tedious. I have never longed this much to wear open shoes and drink coffee outside with the sun warming my back. But in the meantime, until spring decides it is time to arrive for real, all one can do is to focus on glimpses of light and ease.  I remind myself  that soon I will be able to share photos similar to this but with flowers from my own garden. That is worth holding out for. Hurry up, sun!

24 February 2013

Apple, Orange and Cardamom Cake

Apple cake is one of my favourite things and I make one every month or so. In order not to get tired of it I like to mix things up a bit and vary the recipe slightly each time. This cake turned out really moist and gorgeous thanks to a grated apple folded into the batter along with the juice of one whole orange. The ground cardamom seeds set it off nicely with their sweet spiciness.

75 gms Butter
2 Eggs
130 gms Caster Sugar
90 gms Brown Sugar
190 gms Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Medium Sized Apples
Zest and Juice of 1 Orange
Ground Seeds from 10 Cardamom Pods

Grease a cake tin then melt the remaining butter and leave to cool. Wash, halve and core both apples, then grate one and slice the other one thinly. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in the brown sugar, grated apple, orange zest, cardamom, flour and baking powder. Add the butter and orange juice and stir until combined. Pour into the cake tin and gently push the apple slices into the mixture. Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees. Allow to cool before removing the tin.

22 February 2013


Almost a year ago, I posted my very first entry on this blog. It was a picture of a tree in blossom, much like the one above. I remember on that day feeling my heart get lighter as I looked up and saw those pretty blooms against the bright blue sky. Spring had come.

The other day, I was walking past the same tree in the same park and the sight of it took my breath away. How brave to open out those delicate petals when there is still a good chance of frost!

The greatest thing I have learned from my parents is to appreciate the simple things. The first new potato of the year, a fat bud just about to open, the stillness of a lit candle. Over the past year I have shared some of these small, beautiful things here and if anyone has felt inspired or uplifted reading about them that would make me very happy. I will carry on documenting and hope that whoever finds themselves here will enjoy my pictures and thoughts.

To those of you who occasionally leave a comment - thank you! It makes me smile every time.

19 February 2013

Cheese for dinner

An French skiing holiday is great for cheese lovers (like me). Of course we had fondue one night, but the highlight was Raclette. Wow. Really, I guess it is a bit odd to eat melted cheese with potatoes for dinner, but it is so good. To sit in Armelle's beautiful dining room, watching the snow tumbling down fast outside whilst keeping an eye on that hot, bubbling cheese, drinking some excellent local wine. I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.

After this meal I said I wasn't going to eat cheese for at least two weeks. That didn't last - a couple of days later I was making pasta with Gorgonzola...

17 February 2013

Things are happening

This made my day. A few crocuses bathing in glorious sunshine this morning. There is hope, everyone. Better sharpen my secateurs and get the seed catalogues out...

14 February 2013

Rose and Blood Orange Ambrosia Cake

A fancy name for quite a simple recipe, ambrosia cake is a sponge with citrus icing on top. My grandmother used to make it often so it was with some nostalgia I decided to come up with my own version. Blood oranges are in season and I love their characteristic flavour, perfect for the icing but I also put some juice and zest in the cake itself to zing things up. A few drops of rose water adds a subtle fragrance - delicious and ladylike.

125 gms Butter
3 Eggs
270 gms Sugar
195 gms Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Juice and Zest of 1 Blood Orange

180 gms Icing Sugar
3 tbsp Blood Orange Juice
5 Drops of Rose Water

Red Food Colouring

Grease a non-stick cake tin lightly. Melt the remaining butter and leave it to cool. Whisk the eggs and sugar until really pale and fluffy. Stir in the flour and baking powder, then add the butter and orange juice and zest. Pour into the tin and bake for 40 minutes at 180 degrees.
Once the cake has cooled mix together the ingredients for the icing. Add more icing sugar if necessary to make sure it is not too runny. Pour onto the cake and spread all over using a knife or spatula. The cake will look perfectly gorgeous without any intricately piped icing, but if you want to go the extra mile, mix together some more icing using half the quantities above and add food colouring gradually until you achive the right shade. Fill a piping bag and go for it!

Sketching out design ideas for the icing.

13 February 2013

The Bright Side

How to lighten one's mood with a budget of £1.50? Bunch of narcissus from Columbia Road.

11 February 2013


There is still some time to catch the Valentino exhibition at Somerset House. I enjoyed being allowed for once to get up close to the garments without any glass cabinets as barriers. Followed by a coffee at Fernandez and Wells, this makes a lovely day out. Valentino: Master of Couture is on until the 3rd of March.

10 February 2013

Skiing, Eating, Breathing Alpine Air

Just back from five amazing days at the wonderful Les Servages d'Armelle in Les Carroz. What a luxury to be able to combine fantastic skiing with glorious food. On our way home I reminded myself how lucky we are to live in London which is such a great place to travel from. After a short flight to Geneva, Les Carroz is only an hour away by car. To wake up in Bethnal Green and be in the Alps in time for lunch is pretty good. And travelling with the loveliest company helped make this a perfect holiday. Already looking forward to going again next year!