The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Endings and new beginnings

As I write this, the last few hours of this year are ticking away and 2015 will be over – with all the good and bad things it brought with it. In some countries the new year has already dawned and soon it will be our turn to welcome 2016. It is a time for endings, for closing chapters, and for new beginnings. Ahead of us are  366 (yes, it's a leap year) of blank pages. What we write on each page is not always within our control because Life has a habit of throwing unexpected events at us. How we react is up to us. It may not always be easy. On the contrary, it may sometimes be overwhelmingly, gut-wrenchingly difficult but we cannot, should not,  let life bring us down. And before you all think that I am preaching to you, I will be the first to acknowledge that this peice of advice is primarily for myself. Because I do have a tendency to mope and make an earthquake out of the slighest tremor.
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Since you are all busy at this time, I will keep this short. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that support this blog with your readership and your comments. If any of you have used Google Friend Connect to subscribe to this blog, Google has announced that it will no longer be supporting non-Google accounts so you will have to find some other way to subscribe (if you still want to, of course). I want to wish you lots of bubbly at midnight and heaps of magical memories throughout 2016.
Spring sunset (2)

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The most wonderful time of the year

Short days, longs nights, mulled wine, twinkling lights, grey skies, fleece blankets, flannel pyjamas … the list goes on. But really, how can anyone not love this time of year? I have been patiently waiting for winter since the beginning of November and it looks like it’s finally here – and just in time too. I couldn’t imagine Christmas in any other season. I cannot comprehend how Australians spend Christmas at the beach and think it’s normal, which I suppose it is for them. This is the season for hail (I wish I could write snow but that’s a once-in-a-century possibility here), red noses and mittens.
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But it’s so much more than that. It’s the time to look inwards and accept the gift of eternal Light that was given to us freely. It has been a hard year, in many ways. Senseless acts of terrorism have made many of us lose confidence in our fellow men and women. There is a hopelessness in the world that is almost palpable. But I want to believe that we can overcome it. That together we can drive out the darkness and let in the light. Each one, in his or her own little way, can make a difference. One day at a time; one person at a time; if we persevere we will get there. And what better time to start than during the most wonderful time of the year?
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I know you are all busy so I will keep it short for today. Remember that Christmas is about Love and about Family. Everything else can wait. I would like to wish you all a wonderful Christmas. May the peace that this season brings  fill your heart with a wonderful glow. May joy surround you and may love enfold you in its gentle wings.
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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Kitchen tales: Cranberry cake

I have a confession to make. I do not like to cook. But that’s probably a sweeping statement. I just don’t like to cook meals but I absolutely love to bake goodies. With me it’s all about the sweet stuff – or maybe I should say that it’s all about the chocolate stuff. Chocolate. Mint. Lemon. My favourite dessert flavours. I consider nearly all others to be a waste of calories. I have come to the realisation that I don’t have enough years left here to earth to bake all the wonderful desserts in some of my favourite recipe books or that I have pinned in my Cakes, Cupcakes, Cookies and Brownies board on Pinterest.
But, as usual, I digress. It has become something of a tradition that every time there is a holiday or a celebration of some sort, I always volunteer to make dessert: baking, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. So every Thanksgiving (to mention just one of the holidays) my husband cooks the turkey (or the ham or the capon) and I take care of the dessert. And nearly every year we have a small argument. Well, not quite an argument, but you know what I mean. I find traditional Thanksgiving desserts to be too sweet and cloying – like they’ve been doused in syrup and I don’t find that appealing at all. I am also ‘banned’ from making anything with chocolate in it (because I make a chocolate-something for nearly ever other dessert during the year). Add that to the fact that I don’t really like anything with pumpkin in it (because pumpkin is a vegetable and, in my opinion, it shouldn’t qualify as a dessert in any way, shape or form) and I have quite a dilemma on my hands. My challenge is to find something special (sans chocolat) but without that over-the-top sweetness that will give everyone a sugar high that will last till sunrise.
This year I was about to despair because I couldn’t quite find anything special enough or that would be given the green light by my partner in kitchen escapades. And then, just two days before Thanksgiving, I found this recipe for Glazed Lemon Cranberry Cake on Annie’s Eats* (via Pinterest, of course). My  instinct told me it would be sheer perfection. And it was. The cake is easy to make, gorgeous to look at (even if mine had a slight, ahem,  accident while I was taking it out of the bundt pan) and it is the perfect combination of tangy and sweet. Above all it was given a thumbs up by The American and my dad and uncle had a second helping because it just makes you want to eat more instead of making you feel as stuffed as a turkey.
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Yes, I know, my food photography skills leave a lot to be desired.
With Thanksgiving done and dusted (I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks) I am now searching for the perfect Christmas dessert recipe.
*Annie credits the original recipe to Williams-Sonoma. I’ve linked to the original recipe below. I read both recipes and there is barely any difference between the two.
I have decided to started Kitchen Tales so that, every now and then. I will share a favourite recipe with you. And don’t worry, I am not turning this into a food blog. I am not exactly Ina Garten or Martha Stewart.


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