Cookbooks I Am Coveting

So I haven’t been cooking anything interesting except my kale skillets and sambar and humble dal-roti-sabzi. Nothing interesting or exciting enough to post here!

But I have been adding things to my ever-growing Amazon wishlist. It’s what I do. Even Nigella Lawson admits it; some of her recipes are a result of what she calls her bad “Amazon habit,” trolling the site at night and clicking on one book recommendation after another. Well, I do the same, digitally thumbing-through cookbooks to see what they have to offer. These are a few I am dying to get my hands on!

images courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

courtesy | mynewroots.org/annajones.co.uk/harpercollins.co.uk

My New Roots by Sarah Britton

We all get lost down the social media rabbit hole (I know I’ve been using the term a lot, but there really is no other way to put it,) and while some of those falls leave you feeling disappointed and irritable (how did she lose all that baby weight in a month?! She gets to travel aaalll over, boohoo,) some social media black holes can actually be quite delightful. My New Roots was one such discovery. After going through Patrick J Adams’ Instagram list, I discovered My New Roots, an account he follows. I clicked, clicked, clicked again and never looked back. Sarah B is a holistic nutritionist, and what I love about her site- apart from the great recipes and beautiful photography- is how much knowledge she shares about ingredients and different kinds of foods. She goes in-depth about the benefits of buckwheat, goat’s milk, bee pollen, farro and more, without getting all textbookish. Her nutrition background + training as a vegetarian chef will make this book a great resource for plant-based eating.

A Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones

I first came across this book during my weekly check-in at 101 Cookbooks. I love Heidi’s approach to food, and when she recommended this book, I had to take a closer look. Anna Jones has worked with Jamie Oliver and follows a less is more approach, with Californian inspiration. The book is dedicated to clean, meat-free eating: something I like and something I’m trying to do more of this year. Plus, the book comes with charts on how to combine flavours, textures and techniques to create variations of the same “hero” ingredient. I think this would be a wise investment to go deeper into clean, plant-heavy eating.

Eat.Nourish.Glow. by Amelia Freer

This one has been getting a LOT of buzz ever since the dapper Sam Smith posted his love for author Amelia Freer on his Instagram account, but I became a fan prior to the Smith-stamp. I read an article about Hemsley+Hemsley on Get The Gloss, and discovered Amelia Freer on the site. Freer champions a diet rich in whole foods, healthy fats and fresh organic produce- but the book isn’t just recipes, it’s a manifesto and guide for eating well and understanding nutrition. And as someone who wants to learn more about the nutritional value of the food I’m cooking, I’ll definitely be getting this one.

images courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

courtesy | food52.com/anthropologie.com

Food52 Genius Recipes

Food52 is my go-to source for when I don’t know what to make. If I have an ingredient and want to do something different with it, I go to Food52 and do a quick search. If I’m looking for a way to make pasta not boring, it’s Food52 again.

I love their Genius Recipes column, curated and written by Kristen Miglore. The column focuses on the best way to prepare an ingredient or dish or dishes up a new way to make an old favourite even better. From tips to creating a silky grilled cheese that won’t burn, to the science behind Nigella Lawson’s no-cook pasta sauce, the column is wonderfully written. Diverse recipes to suit every palate, and techniques that will make you a better and more resourceful cook. When the column is this good, how can one not buy the book?

Paris Pastry Club by Fanny Zanotti

I’m a sucker for cookbooks that are more than just cookbooks- the kind that are part-memoir with some stories thrown in. I came across the book recommendation on Amazon, and since there’s a part of me that still wants to eat cake for breakfast, I thumbed through it. Further internet scouting brought me to some of her articles. Zanotti is an accomplished pastry chef with strong French influences, and her writing style is warm and inviting. This sampling from The Guardian made me sure that I’d want to pick up this book at some point.

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12 Weeks Of Christmas Treats

Hello everyone! It’s October already. Everyone says it, but the year does go by quite quickly.

So I kind of box the months of the year into different categories. The first few months- January to April – go by quickly enough.  New beginnings and all that spiel in January, only 28 days in Feb, and school winding down to a close in March. (Plus my son’s birthday.) April is vacation month, so there are camps and classes and a trip or two to visit the grandparents.

May, June and July are the months I find the slowest. May because it is unbearably hot here in Pune, and come June and July, the monsoons hit (which are lovely, but sometimes all that rain can be difficult to negotiate when you walk your child to school.)

August onwards goes by quite quickly- husband’s birthday, sister-in-law’s wedding anniversary, three more birthdays, and then, September onwards, festival season! Ganpati, Navratri, Diwali, Christmas! (And October also happens to be my birthday month, so that’s a plus.)

And that’s what brings me to today’s post and a little project I have for the blog. Did you know that we have 12 weeks left till Christmas? Yup, that’s right. 12 weeks to my favourite holiday of the year! And one can never start too soon when it comes to Christmas- whether it’s the shopping, the eating, or the plane tickets.

Image via clipartbest

Image via clipartbest

It’s been a while since I took on any kind of project. And I don’t think I’ve ever done a blog or writing challenge- you know, given myself a fixed goal and a deadline and stuck to it. For the next 12 weeks, as a run up to Christmas, I’m going to post 2 Christmas recipes per week, till Dec 24th. Sweet treats like cake, cookies and candy as well as some savoury sides and breakfast recipes.

So let me bring you to what got me started on this in the first place.

  • An Evernote notebook chockfull of recipes I wanted to try;
  • Exasperation with myself at not capturing an image every single meal I’ve cooked or a cake I’ve baked;
  • Not posting because I fear the recipes/images are not good enough or “blog-worthy.”

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve begun a post, only to abandon it later, thinking- this one’s not worth it- there are already so many brownie recipes out there. Or I think, my images are really awful compared to what other bloggers are putting out, I can’t possibly hit publish!

Does this feeling get in your way ever? It happens to me. A lot.

There are two blogs I’ve been following in the past few months, both by truly inspirational women: Anna Watson Carl of The Yellow Table and Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant. And thanks to them, I realized there’s no point waiting around for the right moment to publish the perfect post or take the perfect picture of the perfect cake.

Like Anna says, make a wish or make it happen.

Like Jess says, don’t just create for others. Do it for you.

Without fear. Without hesitating to hit publish. I love cooking and I love writing; and I should do both and share it precisely because I love it. Likes and follows on social media are a part of the blogging parcel, and yes, it sure does feel nice to see those little hearts and multiple likes. But what feels even better is the conversations I’ve had with other bloggers and the friendships I’ve made. What feels better is learning something new and gaining more experience in the kitchen and online.

So here it is: 12 weeks of Christmas Treats, because I want to make this commitment to myself . Because I want to create for myself and create to share, not just because my blog looks empty. Christmas is, after all, the season for sharing.

And for eating raw cookie dough J

Wherever I Go, There Will Always Be Cake.

It’s been a long, long time, blogosphere. Way too long. Close to half a year of no posting! I am alive. I am well. I just moved.

Both city and url.

On the domestic front: we’ve moved from Bombay to Pune! I miss Bombay, (a city I took a while to get used to!) and the convenience of having everything delivered and knowing exactly where to look for an ingredient. I miss the bustle and energy, and I miss Gajalee and Britannia and Indigo Deli and Le15 Patisserie and warm fresh challah from The Baker’s Dozen.

I also miss my friends!! Though the preceding paragraph suggests otherwise, I do miss people, not just food and drink. Putting it out there since I’ve only spoken about food so far. I miss my friends, the chats and the chasing of children and the sitting at a cafe in Bandra for hours. But thanks to social media and social apps, we are but one sharing button away from what is happening in anyone’s life. (When I read that sentence back- it sounds equal parts reassuring and disturbing.)

But Pune has plenty of positives, too. For one, more space! More trees! A bigger kitchen! TWO BALCONIES! It feels quite nice to look out the window and see this,

as opposed to my neighbour’s clothesline.

We found a home that’s a perfect fit. Lots of space and natural light, quiet neighbourhood, leafy and beautiful all around, and my sister-in-law and her family next door.

We found our son a lovely preschool nearby…and he LOVES it.

Off to school
Off to school

I’ve figured out where to buy my veggies from; where look for  baking ingredients; finally found organic buckwheat flour and pearl millet that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg; (Dorabjee’s, I love you,) and which number to dial when I need some kitchen staples home-delivered. SORTED. Oh, and the fruits and berries are much nicer- plumper, juicier, more flavourful. (Once again- it all centers around food!)

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Making a fig and strawberry frangipane tart

It wasn’t too bad. This is the first move we’ve made as a family, and I did get a little worked up when I heard stories about losing belongings and breaking furniture and organizing clothes- but it was’t too overwhelming. I guess I owe it to my parents. They brought me up on the philosophy of  ‘make it work,’ long before Project Runway was even conceptutalized- so I didn’t get myself all tangled up. The move, in fact, gave me a chance to donate a lot of possessions we weren’t using, and just stick to the things we actually do use and wear. With our possessions now pared-down, I know that there aren’t any ‘cram drawers’ filled with junk I’m scared to open. (A cram drawer or cupboard is the kind of space where you just dump stuff you don’t know what to do with. I am happy to report that I no longer have stuff I don’t know what to do with.)

But the little things can make you irritable. I’m talking about the little things- unloading, cleaning, the nitty-gritty taking-things-out-of-boxes-and-physically-placing-them-in-their-new-space. I found that the kitchen was the one room that took the longest to pack, unpack and organize. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone, but clothes, books, toys and linen didn’t take all that long to sort out and pack. Which is why when I unpacked, I started with the kitchen. The sooner you get that done, the sooner you can start getting on with the fun stuff. Like baking cake. And cake makes everything better.

The unpacking didn’t take too long, but it took about 2 months to get all the living details down- some new furniture, framing and hanging more art, small repairs, a table for the entryway, a new crockery cabinet for the kitchen…but cabinet or not, I baked.

I do think that cooking is the best way to break into a new home; and baking is the best way to make it feel like home. Even in the middle of boxes and curtain rings and bubblewrap, making something and sitting down to enjoy it is a sigh of relief on a plate. Brings forth a sense of contentment. With a warm slice of cake in hand, the boxes don’t matter and the shelves will sort themselves out.

As you can see, I gave my  blog a new look and a new name. Why? Because I just needed to start over. Well…I liked Masala Art, but when I thought about it…I don’t seem to create too many masala-filled recipes here, do I? This blog is less curry, more cake. So I felt that Sugar, Spice, Etc would be more apt. There’s sugar (oh yes there is!!) and ample spice, and random ramblings, which constitute the ‘Etc.’

So as I re-blog my way back in, rest assured, there will always be cake. And chocolate chips, too.

Whole-wheat chocolate chip banana bread
Whole-wheat chocolate chip banana bread