Words Crush Wednesday – Marcus Tullius Cicero Edition

Even though I’m not American, I’ve been thinking about gratitude a great deal lately. It’s something we all have, despite vastly different, sometimes incomparable, circumstances. I am so deeply grateful for the beautiful, kind people with whom I share my life. The lovely, safe, inviting house I call ‘home’. The almost-thirty years I had with my mom, a blessing for which I am eternally grateful. I see family members making great strides despite numerous setbacks, and I am grateful that they have a second chance. I’m grateful for the scars I bear, because they’re a reminder of where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I’m grateful for my husband, despite his never refilling the water bottle. I am grateful for the luxury of being mildly irritated by a man who is kind, honest, gentle, loving and protective. I have that, and I can say I know genuine love. I’m grateful that, for me, losing weight is a choice, not a dire circumstance dictated by poverty and famine. There is so much to be grateful for, thankful for, and appreciative of. You can find gratitude in almost any situation, it just depends on how you see it. Once you start recognizing it, it becomes obvious, and filters into every aspect of your life. To those who celebrate it, happy Thanksgiving. To those who don’t, give thanks anyway, and be blessed.


Image: Google images


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Words Crush Wednesday – Publilius Syrus Edition

I have no desire to get political, yet the recent atrocities in Paris cannot be ignored. It’s not just France that is weeping for lives ruined by unconscionable, senseless tragedy. In the recent past, we have borne witness to bombings in Lebanon and Thailand, earthquakes in Nepal and Japan, farm murders in South Africa, university killings in the States, genocide in Syria… We, the citizens of the world, are united in our profound sadness for the unjust destruction and decimation of life. Imagine the world we’d live in if we stood together every day, bound by a mutual respect for, and acceptance of, others. All others, regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality. This week’s Words Crush Wednesday quote is about just that, and, fittingly, was written by a Syrian.  The closer together we stand, strong as a collective, fueled by love, not hatred, the harder it is to rip us apart.

Publilius Syrus

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Ratatouille 5This traditional French vegetarian dish is not only bursting with flavour, but healthy and easy too. Traditionally, all the vegetables were cooked separately, but nowadays they’re all done in one pan. Ratatouille can be served as a side dish with rice and meat, making it a firm favourite in this home. I use baby tomatoes for their sweetness, but you can use regular tomatoes too. The vegetables are sautéed together, bringing all of the wonderful different flavours to one dish, and the herbs emphasizing its freshness. The olive oil is not only used as a lubricant, but for its flavour. Everything in this dish is fresh, wholesome and delicious!

As a side note: I planned this post before the attacks in Paris. My heart goes out to everyone affected by these atrocities.


  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Ratatouille 101 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 aubergines (egg plants), cut into half-inch slices
6 zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), sliced lengthways and then crossways
2 assorted bell peppers (I used red & yellow), sliced
500g baby tomatoes, halved
1 x tin whole peeled tomatoes
Fresh basil
Fresh lemon thyme (you can use regular thyme too)
Flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Making it happen:

Ratatouille 61. In a large pan on medium heat, pour in half the olive oil and fry the garlic, onions and peppers for 2 minutes, then turn down the heat to low and sauté until the veggies have softened and the onions are lightly browned, about 5 additional minutes.


Ratatouille 72. Add the aubergines (egg plants) and zucchinis (courgettes/baby marrows), drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the veggies and saute with the lid on for 5 minutes.



Ratatouille 83. Add the baby tomatoes and tinned tomatoes, 5 basil leaves, a handful of Italian parsley and fresh thyme, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes until the veggies are sticky and sweet. Season with sea salt and black pepper.


Ratatouille 9


Words Crush Wednesday – James Beard Edition

One of the most exciting elements of blogging is how far its reach extends. From Thailand to America to the UK, I have counterparts scattered across the entire globe. Seeing how other people cook, from the ingredients to the method, intrigues me and ensures there’s never a dull moment when I open my reader. Food is universal – we all eat, regardless of where we are. It’s an activity that ties all of us together, regardless of location and nationality, and, for me, learning from my friends afar is tantamount to broadening my cooking horizons, trying new things, opening my mind to new ideas and having fun aplenty in the kitchen. To all my blogging buddies near and far, thank you for sharing your recipes, writing, poetry, photography and everything in between!

Image: Picjumbo

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Monthly Mystery Munchies #7: Fish with Orange and Dark Chocolate Soy Sauce Reduction

Orange dark choc soy sauce 8This month, I racked my brain (therefore concluding that I do, in fact, have one, albeit hidden under blonde) as to what to cook for November’s Monthly Mystery Munchies. We haven’t done a fish dish yet, and I wanted to do something with a difference, so the theme was fish with an ingredient/s not commonly used. Ann from Grubbs n Critters was happy to do this theme, although we were both initially stumped. Now that I had a theme, I had the challenge of deciding what to use as my surprise ingredient. Fish with a soy sauce reduction is quite a popular choice, but it wasn’t original, intriguing if you will. I liked the idea but needed to add a ‘wow’ factor. I love citrus anything, so I added orange juice and rind, and then chocolate, because why not? It sounds incredibly strange, bizarre, maybe even more ‘ew’ than ‘wow’. But this is why Ann and I do our monthly challenge – we push our boundaries, we try new things, and we learn, and it’s a lot of fun.

In trying to get the reduction portions right, I attempted it with rump steak and bone-in chicken breasts too. The first attempt was an important learning curve – the chocolate was unnoticeable. Bummer. Much disappointment. I was so looking forward to having dinner and dessert in one dish. I initially only used dark chocolate, but it was time to up my game. Enter cocoa powder. Now we’re talking! Or rather, not talking, because my mouth was pretty full. I also decided to use cayenne pepper because I love a bite. Right, now that the orange, dark chocolate, cayenne and soy were to my liking, it was time to pair it with fish. But what fish? So many options. I tried two – Cape yellowtail and hake. Yellowtail is a ‘fishier’ fish whereas hake is more mild. The Husband and I enjoyed both, and it’s entirely dependant on your personal preference. I lean towards hake, he leans towards yellowtail. The important fact is that the reduction perfectly compliments both. As I mentioned earlier, this reduction may be used with both chicken and steak, but there’s something about using it with fresh fish that has a je nes se qua.

Please head over to Grubbs n Critters to see Ann’s wonderful interpretation of this month’s theme! She always brings her A-game and this month is no exception! She made dory fish with a creamy golden kiwi sauce. Kiwis! It seems we were vibing from afar, both using fruit. What a delicious-looking and sounding dish! Well done, Ann, and thank you so much for being such a good sport about, let’s face it, a weird and difficult challenge!

Fish with Orange and Dark Chocolate Soy Sauce Reduction

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: roughly 10 minutes cooking time, 1 hour marinade time
  • Difficulty: easy
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Orange dark choc soy sauce 1 3½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange rind
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
30g chopped dark chocolate
Butter for frying


Making it happen:

Orange dark choc soy sauce 61. Combine all the ingredients, except the dark chocolate and butter, in a pot. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, stir in the dark chocolate until melted. Allow the sauce to cool.


Orange dark choc soy sauce 4 12. Put the fish in a freezer bag and pour the cooled reduction over it. Refrigerate for an hour.



20151108_202240 13. Remove from the fridge. On medium heat, using a large pan, melt the butter (about 2 tablespoons) and add the fish to the pan, pouring the remaining sauce over it. Fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side. This is dependent on the thickness of the fish, so check the fish after 3 minutes.


Orange dark choc soy sauce 114. Remove from the pan and serve hot. You can pair this with baked potatoes, savoury rice or chips.


Roast Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes

Artichokes Brussels 2 1Brussels Sprouts and artichokes are both a polarizing food. This is especially true in my in-laws’ home. Mum loves them, Pops cringes are the very mention of them. Fortunately, The Husband and I don’t have that problem. Interestingly, I’ve found that the way these veggies are cooked largely determines their enjoyment factor. I have a love affair with lemon. What goes perfectly with lemon, you ask? Well, butter and pepper. Artichokes are such a treat as they’re ludicrously expensive, but you can make the Brussels without the artichokes, and vice versa. I paired them together because I wanted to give Mum a treat (and they were so good, Pops even enjoyed them!).

Roast Brussels Sprouts and Artichokes

  • Servings: 4 as a side dish
  • Time: 30- 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: super duper easy
  • Print


Artichokes Brussels 6 2300g Brussels sprouts
1 x tin artichoke hearts, drained
50g melted butter
Juice of half a lemon (you can also use bottled lemon juice, 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Salt to season

Making it happen:

Artichokes Brussels 7 11. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the artichokes and Brussels sprouts in a baking dish. Melt the butter in the
microwave, add lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. Stir to mix well and pour over the veggies.


Artichokes Brussels 12 Bake on the middle shelf for 30 – 40 minutes, until the Brussels are soft. (You might need to cover the dish with tin
foil for the last half.) Serve hot and scoop up the juices from the baking dish, and pour over the veggies once you’ve transferred them to plates.



Words Crush Wednesday – J.R.R. Tolkien Edition

What kind of currency do you value the most? There is the old adage that money can’t buy happiness… said no poor person struggling to make ends meet, ever. But money isn’t the only currency one has, or doesn’t have. Happiness is a currency too, albeit an intangible one that can’t be traded on the stock market. It can be divided and multiplied, and it depreciates and appreciates, depending on the circumstances. I choose not to quantify my success in terms of things, stuff, possessions. That’s only one aspect of a far more meaningful life. By far, my greatest treasure is being with those I love, cooking for them, enjoying their company and spreading love and positivity. These moments are truly invaluable, and never depreciate over time.

JRR Tolkien

Image credit: Google Images

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