kanelbullar (swedish cinnamon buns)

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With each day that passes, I feel more and more blessed to be in Malmö, Sweden. Each morning, Aaron and I have woken to dappled light through curtains and the gentle sound of waves against the nearby pier.

Upon entering the kitchen, we’ve been met with a heaving table full of rye bread, cold cuts, various cheeses, jordgubbe marmelad (strawberry jam), fruit, butter and hot tea. The generosity of this spread has only been surpassed by the warmth of my Uncle and Aunt’s hospitality; they are truly the most beautiful of people and I feel blessed to call them family.

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Despite suffering from a persistent cold over the past week, I’ve seen quite a lot of the Southern part of Sweden (Skåne). We’ve eaten fried herring and gravadlax (cured salmon) by the seaside, climbed the rocks of Ales Stenar in Kåseberga and toured the town of Ystad (of Henning Mankell’s Wallander fame). We’ve also taken multiple trips down to Malmö harbor to sit, breathe and watch the sun set. 

Last week, we also become acquainted with a Swedish specialty, Kalles Kaviar and uh… the video series below pretty much reflects my tasting experience. Let’s just call it ‘Swedish Vegemite‘.

 

However, despite the negative Kalles experience, there are many Swedish foods that I’ve actually loved. Surprisingly, one is Mimosa Sallad (a mixture of fruit and mayonnaise, to be eaten with cold cuts and bread) which I’ve pretty much eaten every morning since I arrived. Yes, I dislike mayonnaise, but… it’s good. Go figure.

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Last Sunday, my Uncle and Aunt also treated me to a day of Swedish cooking lessons, beginning with Kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon buns) and ending with Köttbullar (Swedish meatballs).

After an afternoon of kneading, mixing, frying, chatting and drooling in a cinnamon-scented cloud, the entire family came over for a traditional Swedish dinner: piles of köttbullar, boiled potatoes, peas, brown gravy and lingon sylt (lingonberry jam) followed by hot coffee and warm kanelbullar.

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Aaron and I were in Swedish food heaven. So were the rest of the family, judging from the contented sounds and expressions around the table. By the end of the night, our table of seven adults and two children had devoured around thirty kanelbullar. It’s not our fault, they were baked whilst the köttbullar were frying, so… uh, we ate a few as an entree. And a few more with hot milk before going to bed.

Warm cinnamon buns can do that to you.

My Uncle and Aunt were both kind enough to share their recipes with me so that both you and I could reproduce traditional Swedish fare at home. Today I’m sharing my Uncle’s recipe for kanelbullar (which was passed to him from his friend Annette) so get ready to enter your own cinnamon scented cloud of sweet content…

outoftheoven

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

Makes 40

Please note: I had a little bit of trouble with metric conversions (as Swedish cooks tend to use ‘litres’ and ‘decilitres’ for measurement of dry ingredients) but hopefully the quantities below are correct; please let me know if you have any difficulties.

Dough:

  • 50g fresh yeast
  • 150g salted butter or margarine
  • 500ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 175g white caster sugar
  • 1.5kg plain flour

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the milk, salt and sugar into the butter, then heat until ‘finger warm’ (lukewarm). Transfer into a large bowl and crumble in the fresh yeast. Stir until completely dissolved.

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At this point you can either use your hands (old-fashioned kneading) or use a mixer with a dough hook attachment. If using a mixer, gradually add in the flour until the mixture forms a ball (there should be no visible flour left in the bowl). The dough should be smooth and non-sticky to touch. Cover with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place to rest for 30 minutes.

If hand-kneading, turn the mixture out onto a clean, floured surface when the flour is thoroughly combined. Knead until the dough is smooth and non-sticky (my Finnish/Swedish aunty said that her mother used to ‘throw the dough on the table for the yeast to activate’). Return to the bowl, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

dough

Whilst the dough is resting, make your filling as follows.

ingredients

Filling:

  • 120g salted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar*
  • 100g white caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp powdered cinnamon
  • to glaze: 1 free-range egg, lightly whisked

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk by hand or with a whisk attachment until smooth, thick and creamy.

* If you can’t find vanilla sugar, just add in an extra tablespoon of caster sugar and about 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste.

filling

Set aside in a cool place (not the fridge, as it’ll be too difficult to spread later) until the dough is thoroughly rested.

To assemble:

Set out two flat oven trays. Place 20 paper patty pan cases onto each, then set aside.

Prepare the kanelbullar: after 30 minutes, your dough should have doubled in size. Turn it onto a floured surface and punch out the air. Cut the dough into four pieces for easy rolling, then roll the first piece into a large rectangle (about 5mm thick).

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Evenly spread 1/4 of the cinnamon filling over the dough with a butter knife or spatula.

Roll the dough away from you into a tight cylinder.

roll cut

Cut into ten pieces (about 3cm for each), then place each piece into a patty pan case (cut side up).

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Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Cover each tray of kanelbullar with a clean tea-towel and leave in a warm, draught-free place for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Half way through the second resting time, pre-heat your oven to 225 degrees C (435 degrees f). When the kanelbullar have rested, use a pastry brush to glaze each bun with beaten egg.

glaze1 glaze2

Bake each tray for 8-10 minutes or until risen and light golden brown.

These buns are best eaten warm, straight out of the oven with a hot cup of coffee. They definitely won’t last long (the picture below is annoyingly out of focus as little fingers were moving too fast… but I love it anyway. My cousin’s five year old daughter managed to eat five kanelbullar on her own, with keen fingers and an excited grin. Impressive!).

aliciabullar

If you don’t consume these buns within two days, freeze them in an airtight container or bag for up to one month (just microwave each bun for a few seconds until warm and soft again).

läcker!

awards and acknowledgements IV

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You’ve just clicked into part two of my finalAwards and Acknowledgements’ post. As mentioned in the part one, I’ve made the difficult decision to cease ‘official acceptance’ of awards from hereon; primarily so that I can focus on producing more food-related posts and quality content for you to enjoy. I’ll still acknowledge any award that is forwarded to me with sincere thanks. However, after the conclusion of this post, I will no longer be completing acceptance posts, ‘acceptance criteria’ or forwarding nominations.

Thanks to each and every one of you who have seen fit to nominate me for various blogging awards. You’re wonderful people and I feel humbled to be recognized as part of the blogging family.

*for the bloggers nominated below, please don’t feel any pressure to respond, accept or fulfill stated nomination criteria unless you really want to. I’m paying it forward, for those who find this process valuable.

wordpress-family-award6. I am Part of the WordPress Family Award (x2)

As far as I understand, this award was created by a Scottish blogger named Shaun as a way to thank those who had demonstrated support, love and encouragement throughout his journey with life-limiting chronic pain. I’m yet to become personally acquainted with Shaun, but his blog is refreshing, honest and inspiring. He explains the reasoning behind the award here.

I’ve been blessed enough to receive this award from two blogging friends:

Viveka at My Guilty Pleasures – a beautiful, inspiring blog full of poignant moments, music, recipes and stories. Viveka chronicles her life through her blog, and manages to bring a smile to our faces despite experiencing personal challenges of all kinds. Viveka is an inspiration to me and it’s been humbling to receive her kind words, love and hugs as I’ve worked to establish myself as a food blogger.

Rachel at Loving Homemade – Rachel’s blog makes me happy. It’s beautifully warm, comforting and homely in the best of ways. Rachel’s been a generous blogging friend to me in the months that I’ve known her. It’s a privilege to receive this generous award from her!

Nominees for the WordPress Family Award are:

  1. A Global Garnish – Jeannee is a food wonder. She’s incredibly talented as an international cook, photographer and writer. I feel inspired every time I take a look at her beautiful recipes and stories. Big plus, she’s incredibly encouraging, warm and lovely too! I count Jeannee as a foodie sister so it was easy for me to pass this nomination on to her. Thanks Jeannee!
  2. Fig and Quince – Azita has been one of my biggest sources of encouragement and inspiration since I joined WordPress. She’s an incredibly talented blogger, cook and writer in her own right, but she also supports other up-and-coming blogs no end!  Thanks Azita, for all that you do. You’re amazing and I’m thankful to have ‘met’ you!
  3. Fleur de Sel –  I had to mention Lindsay. This beautiful San Francisco girl is one of the most honest, genuinely inspiring and encouraging women I’ve ever ‘met’. She’s definitely a sister in the blogging world and I do hope that we meet one day! Make sure you visit her blog – her recipes and photographs are completely and utterly mouthwatering. A feast for the eyes and the senses.
  4. Small Kitchen Chronicles – What can I say about Christina? She is beautiful inside and out, generous with her words and affections, creative and inspiring! Her recipes are particularly tailored for what can be cooked in a ‘small kitchen’, so I’d encourage you to take a look if you’re in the same predicament. She’s such a gorgeous friend. I am blessed.
  5. La Petite Gourmand Anglaise – Fiona is an English girl who fell in love with a French boy. She consequently decided to learn the technicalities of traditional French cookery and it’s proven to be darn difficult! But yet, she’s triumphed with glorious eggy blog posts such as Tarte aux Framboises et Amandes (Raspberry and Almond Tart) and Orange Brioche Puddings (yes, she actually did impress the French boy’s parents). I’m so impressed with everything she does. She’s a gorgeous foodie sister whom I hope to meet one day.

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5. The Liebster Award (x4)

Please see my previous Liebster Award acceptance post for some of the background on this particular award. Though I no longer fit acceptance criteria (in terms of followers and site traffic) I’m writing the full acceptance post(s) in honour and respect of those who have gifted this award to me. As mentioned above, I’ve received four nominations (that’s a lot of questions to answer). Ready? Go:

Nomination 1 was from the beautiful woman behind Married in Marrackville, whom I’ve already thanked for the Versatile Blogger Award (see previous post). Thanks again for your generous and kind thoughts, MIM! Here are her questions:

  1. Savory or sweet? Uh, that’s a very hard question. It depends upon which mood I’m in, but I’d say… sweet today. My weakness is Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, or… Green & Black‘s Maya Gold.
  2. Favourite travel destination? Definitely Europe. I love history, art, architecture… so it’s a bit of a travel Mecca for me.
  3. Most memorable dining experience? Eating a ‘mince pie’ in Nova Scotia, Canada, that turned out to be moose meat. Dry, chewy moose meat. I thought it was fruit mince (it was Christmas, after all!)
  4. If you could have one Chef to cook for you, who would it be? Perhaps Jamie Oliver? I think he’s amazingly philanthropic, talented and fun. But I’m also a huge fan of Heston Blumenthal, George Calombaris (from Australian Masterchef) and Luke Nguyen (from Red Lantern, Surrey Hills, Sydney), Maggie Beer (she’s not a chef but she’s amazing) and Bill Granger. I am a big fan of modern Australian food.
  5. Favourite post on your blog? Orange and Almond Cake with Lavender and Rose Syrup. Every recipe I create has a strong association with the event(s) surrounding it. This cake was created as a celebration of my mother’s life… specifically, her 60th birthday, but more generally, the fact that she’s survived breast cancer and she’s now back to full health.
  6. Your favourite cookbook is? I’d have to say Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver. It’s the only cook book that I’ve made anything from in the past, uh, ten years? I have quite a few cookbooks but I fail to use them. Dismally. I need to change that.
  7. Your dream job? I’d love to own and run a small bar or specialty cafe (with a gallery attached) somewhere in Perth.
  8. A garden salad or a greasy bacon sandwich? Both? I love vegetables and could easily devour a bowl of salad, but I’m also a huge bacon fan. I reckon that the two would balance each other out!
  9. Which blog do you follow religiously? I love so many of my fellow bloggers’ work, so it’s difficult to pick just one. I do read almost every post on Vintage Kitchen Notes. Paula (the woman behind the blog) is one of my blogging heroes. She’s beautiful, creative and generous… but above all, she lets her humanity shine through. I love that.
  10. What is the one thing you keep putting off? Answering this question.
  11. Favorite ingredient to cook with? Specifically, I’d have to say potatoes. I love eating them, cooking with them, seasoning them… they’re so versatile. Generically, I’d say ‘herbs and spices’ (including aromatics like garlic and ginger) as I do feel that they make every meal come alive. My herb garden and spice racks are overflowing at present… favourite spices/spice mixes include harissa, Ras el Hanout, Za’atar and Salish Alder smoked sea salt. I grow oregano, basil, coriander, rosemary, lemon thyme, old fashioned mint, sage and flat-leaf parsley.

Nomination 2 was from the sweet Miss Golly Gosh Girl. She’s a beautiful English girl who embarked upon a quest for a healthier lifestyle a few months ago. She’s been documenting her experience via her insightful, honest and inspiring blog, Golly Gosh Girl. There are even tips for natural skin and hair care that I’ve loved reading about! She’s set her nominees the following questions to answer:

  1. Why did you start blogging? I have a few reasons. Primarily, I was being asked for my ‘recipes’ by friends and family, and I… uh… didn’t have any. All of my methods, ingredients and quantities were in my head. I figured that this blog would serve as a place to store my recipes and stories, whilst making them accessible to all who wanted them. It’s been a valuable experience.
  2. Who is your hero (or heroine) and why? Can I have two? Firstly, my husband, Aaron. He inspires me to be a better version of myself. He’s loving, strong-but-gentle, funny, loyal and talented. I’m forever humbled that he chose to spend his life with me, and I’m grateful for every day we have together. Secondly, my mother. She’s strong, courageous, wise and selfless. She brought me up predominantly on her own after my parents divorced and my father moved back to England. She also suffered breast cancer, which led to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy from 2010-2011. She’s come through, stronger than ever. I love her to bits and I’m grateful for each day I get to share with her.
  3. Best piece of advice you’ve been given? Worrying is pointless, as it doesn’t achieve anything.
  4. Favourite quote? From my husband’s friend, when I mentioned that cooking was my ‘creative outlet’: “…that’s good. Well, my mouth is happy to be a creative inlet”.
  5. One thing you’ve learnt this year? Drinking nice wine chews up a lot of your money.
  6. One goal for this year? Survive full-time work til Christmas
  7. When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up? An animator. Always an animator (from… uh, 6 – 16 years? Then ‘reality’ hit me. Sad day. I still regret being gutless)
  8. Favourite food? Too difficult to answer. But I love all vegetables, Indian food (mmm, garlic naan bread), all Middle Eastern and Moroccan food, pomegranates, sour cream, beetroot, quince paste and blue cheese. Oh, and Turkish bread and homemade hummus with harissa and lemon oil (ctually, I could just eat just that and be very happy).
  9. Where would your ideal holiday destination be? Germany. I’ve wanted to visit Berlin for years.
  10. If you could learn one new skill or take up one new hobby what would it be? Digital painting. I love painting on canvas, sketching and other traditional mediums of art, but I’ve recently discovered the capabilities of digital art and I’m fascinated. 
  11. What do you see as your greatest success? Surviving my career as a Social Worker thus far (after a breakdown and commencing anti-depressant medication!). And managing to somehow be attractive enough for my husband to fall in love with me.

Nomination 3 came from the beautiful Fiona over at La Petite Gourmand Anglaise. Let me say, genuinely, that Fiona is one of the most awesome bloggers I know. She’s hilariously funny, warm, talented and encouraging. Her blog was created to launch a new assault on the powerhouse that is French cooking and she’s done an incredible job. Check out her recipes; in particular, her take on French classics such as Galette aux Pommes (hers has pears and Roquefort cheese, yum!). Now, eleven questions from Fiona:

  1. Explain your blog name. Take a look at my introduction, here.
  2. Why did you start your blog? I have a few reasons. Primarily, I was being asked for my ‘recipes’ by friends and family, and I… uh… didn’t have any. All of my methods, ingredients and quantities were in my head. I figured that this blog would serve as a place to store my recipes and stories, whilst making them accessible to all who wanted them. It’s been a valuable experience.
  3. Is there anything you would never eat? Uh… blowfish? Because I value my life. I also abhor foie gras for ethical reasons. 
  4. What are you most frightened of? Losing a loved one. Particularly my husband or parents. It terrifies me.
  5. If you were given the chance to go for free, would you go into space? Nope. I like the earth. It has oxygen (and dogs).
  6. Cats or dogs? Dogs, definitely. I’d love a German Pointer, a French Bulldog or a gorgeous Boxer (they’re my favourite)
  7. If you could time travel to any point in history, where would you go? I’m fascinated by Medieval Europe (the ‘Middle Ages’, 5th-15th C). I took quite a few units of Medieval history at university just for the fun of it. I probably wouldn’t want to ‘visit’ though as it’s highly likely that I would have been killed by a barbarian!
  8. What trivial thing gets disproportionately on your nerves? When ‘s’ is substituted with ‘z’ (e.g. ‘beanz’). It causes me irrational annoyance. I also detest when people use sms-type slang in their everyday communications (e.g. U want 2 go 2 da beach grl?). It’s unnecessary decimation of the English language.
  9. Where’s your favourite place on Earth (whether it’s Florence or just your own bath)? Anywhere Aaron is.
  10. If you had 1 minute to live and 1 phone call you could make, who would you call? (Aargh! Fiona! Your questions are ridiculously hard!) Let’s say… I would call Aaron, speak for 20 seconds and tell him to get my mother to call me. Does that work?
  11. What’s your key to happiness? Good food, great wine (or beer or cider, I’m not fussy), people I love and a whole lot of humour. I love being silly. Stupid, even. It makes life a lot lighter.

Nomination 4 arrived from Margaret at Simple Food. She is a beautiful mother of three from Brisbane, Australia who works as a librarian by day and blogs about her gorgeous food adventures by night. One of my favourite posts from Margaret is her incredible baked eggplant with crunchy Parmesan crumbs. So delicious! Here are the questions from Margaret:

  1. The fruit you love the best? I love most fruit, though if pressed, I’d have to say that mango is my favourite (closely followed by peaches, cherries and raspberries).
  2. Music you like to listen to when you cook? This completely depends upon my mood. At present, my favourite bands include City and Colour, Jinja Safari, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Fleet Foxes, Little Dragon, Emma Louise, Radiohead, Neon Indian, Josh Pyke, Phoenix, Massive Attack… ah, the list is endless. I usually put iTunes on shuffle and see what I get.
  3. Your favourite cookbook? This was a question in list 1. Again, I’ll say Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver.
  4. Favourite kitchen gadget? I’m not one for modern gadgets, other than my recent blender purchase – the Ninja (thanks Whit and Sally for the recommendation!). Otherwise, I’d have to say my mortar and pestle, closely followed by my knife set from Mundial. Sharp knives make all the difference.
  5. Hero/heroine in the kitchen? I’d have to say Maggie Beer.  She embodies everything beautiful, wholesome and honest about food. I love seeing her unpretentious style of cooking on Masterchef or other such programs. She’s a wonderful woman, and I love how she’s instilling a joy and excitement about food into our next generation. I’d love to visit her farm in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. 
  6. Pineapple on pizza. Yes or no? I used to love it as a child (I guess most kids do) but it’s no longer a preferred pizza ingredient! I’d eat it if it was put in front of me, but I’d much prefer some beautiful thinly sliced pear, spicy chorizo, soft-curd goats cheese and rocket. Yum.
  7. Coffee or tea? Both. I drink at least one coffee per day (usually a mug of good, strong flat white with no sugar) but often drink tea at work (Earl Grey with a splash of milk). I’ve also recently discovered aniseed tea, which I’m loving.
  8. What’s great about where you live? My husband and I live in an apartment that’s within walking distance of a cafe and restaurant strip. It’s fantastic on a lazy Saturday morning… we can just tumble out of bed and head down for a beautiful coffee, followed by poached eggs and sourdough.
  9. Dream job? This question was also covered in nomination one, above. Definitely to follow my foodie dream of owning a small bar or cafe with a gallery attached.
  10. Your favourite post on your blog? Orange and Almond Cake with Lavender and Rose syrup.
  11. Roses or lillies? Definitely roses, for so many reasons. Their beautiful, delicately soft, fragrant blooms contrast sharply against their thorny branches. They come in so many different colours, fragrances and heights… with both tightly packed and wispy soft blooms. Lillies remind me of funerals (sorry to anyone who loves lillies. I do still think that they’re beautiful!).

Nominees for the Liebster Award include:

  1. Cured by Bacon – Nic Harmston is one cool, meat-lovin’ dude. His partner Katie is an incredible baker. Together they are a formidable, culinary force to be reckoned with! I love this blog. Nic is also doing a current series on sous vide that’s fascinating for the initiated and non-initiated alike. Definitely take a look at this blog. It’s meat and cake paradise.
  2. If Looks Could Kale – Anetta is a beautiful food blogger from Oregon, USA, who specialises in creating nourishing meals that can be enjoyed by the whole family. She’s unpretentious, creative and warm. I’m looking forward to seeing what she creates as the year continues (and… yay for great blog names!).
  3. Gather and Graze – this gorgeous blog is managed by Margot, an Australian woman who loves travel, food and family. She enjoys cooking food from scratch and her pastries make my mouth water… but it’s not all sweets. She has created a number of beautiful dishes on her blog site. Go and say hello! I know she’ll welcome you with Aussie warmth and charm!
  4. Fashion, Food and Flirts – Eveline is a fashionista with a love of food, photography and impeccable style. She writes recipes with a touch of class (and occasional sass!). I love her posts, her recipes and her insights. Check out this latest recipe for Portuguese custard tarts. Yum.
  5. Playing with Flour – this blog belongs to a beautiful medical intern named Lisa, who’s currently finding time management a bit of a struggle when it comes to baking and blogging (ah yeah, I guess saving lives is sort of important). Nevertheless, her blog is a gorgeous space with beautiful photography and wholesome recipes. Take a look!

versatile blogger6. Bouquet of Three Award

This award (awards?) was given to me by the beautiful Whitney over at Indian Food Made Easy. She’s one of the most encouraging, hilarious and genuinely talented bloggers I know. I feel happy to have ‘met’ her in the blogosphere and I’d encourage you to peruse her amazing collection of recipes. Her photos are absolutely drool worthy, in particular her curries and Indian condiments. I’ve been staring at this recipe for Aloo Patta Gobhi (Potatoes and Cabbage) all afternoon and I can’t wait to run to the supermarket to buy cabbage.

Nominees for the Bouquet of Three award are:

  1. Edibles and Travels – Ally, the blogger behind Edibles and Travels, is a gorgeous, sweet and creative soul. She blogs about beautiful restaurants, cafes and places she’s visited in her hometown of Sydney, whilst also including some delicious recipes of her own. Ally is well and truly a worthy recipient of this trifecta!
  2. Gotastè – Danny is one cool, creative dude. He works in advertising and promotions but still finds time to cook up a storm on weekends. I love his creativity, his generous support of other blogs (including mine!) and his present bread series, in particular, his beautiful pumpkin bread. I’d definitely encourage you to brew a cup of tea and have a read through Danny’s posts. You’ll be glad you did.
  3. Cate’s Kitchen Adventures – this gorgeous blog belongs to a Sydney girl, Cate. Her site is full of beautiful stories, recipes and photographs… check out this mouth-watering post for ricotta hotcakes with baked honey nectarines and cinnamon sugar. Yum! I’ve been inspired by Cate many times over; mostly due to her complete honesty, beauty and warmth. It’s obvious in every post. She definitely deserves all three of these awards.
  4. Daisy and the Fox – Bec is a beautiful ray of sunshine. Every time I click onto her blog I know I’m going to feel warm, happy and positive about the world! If you’ve never visited Daisy and the Fox, I’d encourage you to. It’s a beautiful mingle of fashion tips, DIY, cafe adventures and recipes. Bec will make you feel absolutely, positively welcome!

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Thank you so much for bearing with me; I do realise that these posts have an overwhelming amount of text (and personal information, argh) but I wanted to ‘finish well’, in respect of all the beautiful bloggers who have recognized, encouraged and supported me as a fledgling recipe writer, blogger and photographer. I value you all greatly and I look forward to our friendship continuing for years to come.

So, that’s it. The conclusion of my final awards post. As Vicky’s little boy would say, “Now I’m gonna go play!” (Laura’s interpretation: I need a glass of wine). Over and out, amigos.

awards and acknowledgements III

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It’s 1.30pm on Monday afternoon and unusually, I’m still at home on the couch. Unfortunately it’s due to sickness rather than leisure, as I’ve had an awful virus that’s affected my sinuses, blood pressure and balance over the past week. I hate being sick. It feels entirely unproductive, unless you count the… uh, nasal productivity? Sorry, that’s quite inappropriate for a food blog. I’ll stop now.

Looking on the bright side, the past week has given me ample opportunity to consume some of the six kilograms of citrus that I’ve been blessed with over the past three weeks (from colleagues with lemon trees, my mother’s lime tree and another friend’s clementine trees). I’m sipping from a steaming mug full of hot water, lemon juice and honey as I type. I’ve also processed about fourteen jars of lime and clementine marmalade in an effort to cure my boredom.

peelsmontThis past week has also provided some required time to catch up on blogging awards that I’ve been neglecting for the past month or so. Fourteen, to be exact. I feel quite terrible about this delayed acceptance post, but… to be honest, the awards have been arriving at a pace that I’ve found hard to keep up with.

So, after a few weeks of reflection, I regretfully inform you that this will be my last full award acceptance post. I just don’t feel that I have the capacity to respectfully accept and renominate fellow bloggers through this medium whilst also focusing on my food-related recipe content. Though I will continue to express gratitude and humility to each blogger who sees fit to nominate me, I will no longer be fulfilling the renomination and acceptance criteria. I hope that’s okay.

Now, on to these awards (you can read about the first five awards I received via my Awards and Acknowledgements posts one and two). I’ve broken this post into two ‘halves’ to avoid reader eye strain and honest boredom. You’ll see that I’ve only provided 3-4 nominees for each award, due to the sheer number of awards that I’m responding to (3 x 14 = 42 nominees!). I’ve also omitted ‘award acceptance criteria’, but your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to trace back to my original nomination post (on the referenced blogs) for details.

Sorry. I’m being lazy. Just know that I appreciate each and every one of you who follows Laura’s Mess!

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1. Versatile Blogger Award (x2)

This award was gifted to me by sweet Genevieve at Life is Like a Dumpling and the beautiful blogger who created Married in Marrackville. I attempted to understand this award a little more by reading the supposed award page, however the absence of information just made me more confused! Anyway, before going on to seven facts about me, I just want to introduce you to my two lovely nominees:

Married in Marrackville is a Sydney-based foodie blog run by a former Western Australian girl (yay! Sandgropers unite!) of Russian, Italian and Greek heritage. It contains gorgeous photography and mouthwatering recipes, my favourite of which (so far) is the gorgeously rich recipe for Mexican Chocolate Chilli Pots (suggested for a date night, though my Aaron despises chocolate and chilli together. Sad face). This blog is food for the eyes, heart and belly. Definitely worth visiting.

Life is Like a Dumpling is a predominantly vegetarian blog run by the gorgeous Genevieve (a Toronto/Hong Kong girl who’s currently studying in St Andrews, Scotland). Her recipes and photos are seriously mouthwatering, but my favourite thing about Gen is her writing. She writes in a way that makes you feel like you’re right there in the warmth of her living room, eating good food, surrounded by friends. Check out her recipe for Coconut French Toast. It’s absolutely delicious!

Okay, seven facts. Here goes:

  1. I scribble all of my recipes onto scrap paper, particularly the back of envelopes or receipts. I think it’s a product of my creative untidy mind; when inspiration strikes, I reach for the closest ‘word receptacle’ (I should start carrying around a notebook).
  2. I once wrote a recipe for Moroccan chicken on the back of my electricity bill. I… uh, then forgot to pay it.
  3. I always keep goats cheese, homemade beetroot relish, Dijon mustard, natural Greek yoghurt and cured meat (usually chorizo or bacon) in the fridge. They’re great as last minute flavour boosters for the most average of meals.
  4. I could very happily live in my Havaianas. I’d wear them to work if I was permitted.
  5. I dislike socks. I wear my Chuck Taylors and high tops sans socks, even in winter. In fact, I only compromise on the sock rule whilst exercising. Sweat requires sock absorbency.
  6. I studied Japanese language for two years at school and remember negligible traces of it (Konnichi wa?)
  7. I used to eat one banana per day until the impact of Cyclone Yasi hit Queensland in February 2011, devastating banana crops and hoisting the price of bananas to around $14 per kg. I’m now completely out of the habit and often forget that they’re in the fruit bowl (cue: banana bread). Weird but true.

Nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

  1. Loving Homemade – I love this blog. It’s creative, inspiring, honest and ‘homely’ in the best sense of the word. Rachel, the woman behind the blog, is a true creative who makes nourishing, delicious food that you’d love to have on your kitchen table. She’s awesome.
  2. The Local Kitchener – this blog was created by Jon, a cook and locavore who values fresh and sustainable produce. He creates really awesome, wholesome and delicious meals from his kitchen in Kitchener, Ontario. Visit him (on the blog, not, uh… his house) and be inspired.
  3. Lilly Sue’s Bites and Brews – Lilly Sue is one of my favourite bloggers, ever. She’s unashamedly beer, food and travel obsessed, whist also being a darn smart engineer. I always feel happy after visiting her corner of the internet. She provides amazing beer and food reviews, all with a touch of carefree humour. You need to meet her. Now. Go to it.
  4. The Peckish Kiwi – Mr P is not only a versatile blogger, but he’s an all-round awesome guy. He covers everything from restaurant and bar reviews to WordPress recipe tests (written by fellow bloggers) and product reviews. He does all of these things very well, with a touch of humour and intelligence. Love this blog. You will too.

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2. Sunshine Bloggers Award

This award was gifted to me by Mr P at The Peckish Kiwi. His blog is a joy to read with restaurant reviews, recipes and a special section entitled ‘WordPress Cookbook‘ that contains his recreation of fellow blogger’s recipes. At present, he’s also completing a review series of local New Zealand ice-cream. As an ice-cream fiend, it’s making me insanely jealous. Just check out this gorgeous review of Joshua’s Lemon Curd ice-cream. Drool worthy. Even on toast.

Nominees for the Sunshine Bloggers Award are:

  1. The Striped Strawberry – This beautiful blog was created by Beverly, an honest and inspiring woman who set a recent goal to create a healthier version of herself… to take control back over her body and mind. She’s now glowing, inside and out (well, not that I’ve seen her insides but… she’s eating a whole lot of good stuff) and she’s sharing her secrets with the world! Take a look at this really beautiful, positive blog. Put a bit of sunshine in your day!
  2. Searching for Sugarplums – this gorgeous blog aims to turn ‘everyday moments into celebrations’. It’s beautiful, unashamedly floral, sweet and inspiring. I do feel that the ‘Sugarplum fairy’ (as I refer to her!) is sunshine and light in a world of boredom. Visit her lovely space, fill your kitchen with fragrance and be inspired.
  3. Le Pirate – Sam, the gorgeous woman behind the blog, is a ray of Australian sunshine (she’s also one of Mr P’s favourite bloggers, so this nomination is quite fitting!). Her photography, recipes and stories are beautiful, and I know that every time I stop by her blog I’ll be greeted with warmth and cheer. I have no idea how Sam manages to maintain her blog standard in the midst of exams etc, but… she does! She’s gorgeous, inside and out. She’s way more talented than I. She’s going to go far!

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3. One Lovely Blog Award (x2)

This award was given to me by the beautiful Poppy at Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen and a very new blogging friend, Κουλούρι. Now, I’ve been a regular at Poppy’s beautiful blog for a while now, but I hadn’t visited Κουλούρι prior to the award nomination. It’s humbling enough to get a nomination from a blogging friend, never mind someone who has to translate your posts into Greek to be able to read them! Now, let me introduce you:

Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen is a beautiful UK-based vegan blog run by Poppy, an effervescent 20-something who loves fresh, wholesome produce and animals (in the field, not on a plate). Her posts are a pleasure to read; honest, warm and inspiring. I love her achievable approach to recipes. She makes a fabulous vegan carrot cake with coconut cream frosting that I’d love to have on my table. Like, now. Please.

Κουλούρι is a baking blog written predominantly in Greek (with some English posts; the rest is translatable via the wonder of Google). From what I’ve read so far, this blog is pretty much an ode to the wonder of sweet treats: cakes, cookies, slices and confections of all sorts. There are a few cafe reviews to read too, so I’d definitely encourage you to take a look. This post about chocolate cake with ‘pigs in mud‘ looks divine!

Nominees for the One Lovely Blog Award:

  1. Papaya Pieces – Sofia is one of the loveliest, most generous bloggers around. She welcomes each comment with an honest warmth that is only equal to the beauty of the recipes she creates! Her food covers Western favourites through to Asian fusion. I love the way she writes; it’s almost like you’re watching her prepare her meals in her own kitchen. Lovely, in the true sense of the word!
  2. Indian Cooking Made Easy – Whitney is awesome. She’s also the woman behind this beautiful blog that has fast become one of my favourites. Looking for Indian recipes? Find them here, written by a white girl who unashamedly loves Indian food. She’s inspiring, lovely and darn funny. Check out her internet space.
  3. Cottage Grove House – I love this blog. It’s like cottage charm, warmth and genuine hospitality stuffed into a virtual web space. Mrs Cottage Grove House (in absence of her real name!) is very generous, encouraging and welcoming to new readers so I’d encourage you to go and visit her beautiful space. Be nourished!

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4. Very Inspiring Blogger Award

This award was given to me by Lori Leigh Wilson, a beautiful blogging friend based in Canada whose lifestyle blog contains posts on a range of topics from parenting to fashion, recipes and general health. She maintains a predominantly vegan diet and has managed to convert her three children to the wonder of green smoothie breakfasts each morning (a pretty amazing feat, methinks!). One of my favourite things about Lori’s blog is her beautiful, eloquent way of writing about self-acceptance, true beauty and wisdom as we progress through life. I find her inspiring, and I think you will too (plus, her ‘swiftly adapted’ black bean burritos look absolutely delicious!)

Now for 7 interesting (well, that’s subjective but I’ll try my best) things about myself:

  1. I dislike most romantic comedies, which sometimes gets in the way of ‘female bonding movie nights’ with my girlfriends (I’d rather watch an action movie, particularly if it has zombies in it).
  2. My favourite coffee is a well-made, simple flat white (no sugar required)
  3. I love the colour green but I only own one item of green clothing, a forest-green corduroy jacket with brown leather buttons (the rest is mostly a neutral palette of cream, blue, grey and brown).
  4. I used to think that I preferred dark-haired men but I’ve married a blonde (and I think he’s the most handsome man in the entire world)
  5. I’m obsessed with small vintage medicine bottles (I now own about twenty)
  6. I’m a dual Australian and British citizen
  7. I love bugs and think that the world would be much more boring without them. Check out this video for example. So cool.

Nominees for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award are:

  1. Welcome Company – Danielle is one of the strongest, most beautiful pillars of faith I have ever ‘known’. Her blog is raw, honest, inspiring, heartbreaking and humbling. She’s chronicled everything from thoughts on parenting to love, marriage, food, faith and values. She’s made me think more times than I can mention. Take a look at this space. Join the community. You’ll be welcomed warmly.
  2. From the Bartolini Kitchens – Now, I’m sure to most of you John doesn’t need an introduction. He is one of the most inspiring, generous and versatile bloggers I know. His blog contains everything from beautiful, nourishing family recipes to genealogy and Bartolini history. He actually doesn’t ‘do’ awards (due to experiencing the same thing as me, I’m guessing) but I wanted to mention him anyway.
  3. Middle East Moments – Andrea is a blogger whom I now count as a foodie sister. She’s incredibly wise, strong and eloquent, and I’ve felt it a privilege to be able to follow her experiences as a wife, mother and Australian ex-pat in Jordan. Some of her stories are hilarious, others are cringe-worthy and frustrating. It’s an honest, genuine account of life in raw form. You’ll love this blog. Visit and be inspired.

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5. Shine On Award

This award was given to me by the beautiful Helen at Eat Pray Bake. She’s a Toronto born girl who’s passionate about nutrition, food and cooking. Lucky for us, she’s shared a lot of her delicious recipes via her blog! For example, check out this Vegan ice-cream sandwich with banana soft serve. Drool-worthy!

As far as I understand, the Shine On award is:

“…for the blogs that shine, make you feel good and are inspiring to the reader.”

I have so, so many blogs on my reader list that fit that category! But before the nominations?

Seven things about me (are you sick of me yet?):

  1. I dislike my feet, but as I can’t walk without them I’ve grown to appreciate their usefulness.
  2. I hate being photographed (I had to pep-talk myself for months before my wedding day)
  3. I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like
  4. I attended law school for three years (out of five, as I was doing a double degree) before deciding I wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer. I transferred into psychology, then anthropology, then finally social work. I still don’t feel like I’m following the right career path. But it makes me money, so I do it.
  5. I was born in Hammersmith, London (England)
  6. My father is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and registered auditor. I hate maths.
  7. I’m currently reading Magician by Raymond E. Feist. Such a good book.

Nominees for the Shine On Award:

  1. IBD and Beyond: This blog was created by a beautiful woman named Lucy who was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis in 2001. She’s since undergone surgery to remove her colon (in 2009) and now has to manage a stoma/j-pouch as part of her everyday routine. But still, she smiles. Beautifully. Her blog has lots of tips and anecdotes to help fellow IBD sufferers manage their condition. She’s also given us a peek into her personal experience with a j-pouch. This woman is strong, courageous and inspiring. She’s an ideal candidate for this award.
  2. Saucy Gander: I love this blog. It’s the brainchild of a pretty awesome lawyer chick who also has a passion for food and travel. She has a fantastic sense of humour that shines through all of her posts. I always feel happy to experience the foodie life with her. I’m sure that you will too!
  3. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 4 – Kimberley is cool. Very cool. She’s also an amazing photographer who shares her beautiful world view with us on a regular basis… just check out links such as My View Master. Ah-mazing. I feel inspired by the feeling, light and sentiment that seems to inhabit her photographs. They’re much more than images on a screen. Take a look. You’ll be glad you did.

pulpmontNow, that’s seven down.

Seven to go. Onto the next post. Thanks for bearing with me.

awards and acknowledgements II

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So… I’m late in responding to some blog awards again. Probably because I eating sashimi. And hanging out at the beach with a bucket in some puffy blue underpants (red shovel in hand, of course. I like to dig).

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Uh, no. As you’ve probably realised, that photograph was taken quite a few years a go at an unidentified pebbly beach in Britain. Before I developed both culinary and fashion sense (though I was rather colour coordinated – thanks mum). I thought I’d add it with some unrelated food photography (sushi, which I made for dinner a little while ago. I took photos for the hell of it) as… well, words just don’t cut it on a food blog.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Huge apologies, both for the belated thanks and the underpants remarks. I do appreciate each and every nomination that’s been gifted to me by my blogging peers. Despite being in danger of repeating myself, I just want to reiterate that the beautiful people I’ve ‘met’ over the past twelve months (almost… my first post was published on May 21st, 2012) have been the most wonderful and unexpected blessing along the learning curve that is food writing, recipe development and photography.

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I initially started this blog as a way to archive my evolving collection of unique recipes, experiments, photographs and successes to share with a small group of interested family and friends. However, along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the most beautiful, generous, talented and creative people I’ve ever known (yep, that’s you!) and it’s been through regular blogger exchanges of humour, encouragement, cooking tips and constructive feedback that my passion for quality and growth have been maintained.

So, before I move on to the awards, I just want to say thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time out to share this journey with me. You’re wonderful, and I look forward to sharing many more recipes, stories, photographs and life events as time leads us on… past the one year mark, to many more.

kreativ-blogger-award

1. The Kreativ Blogger Award

This award nomination came from the beautiful woman behind Live Blissful, an Australian blog that documents the somewhat challenging journey towards maintaining a healthy vegan lifestyle. It’s been such a pleasure reading the recipes, stories and challenges faced by this Brisbane-based blogger… particularly as her partner and now fiance, Marco (yaaay! Read about the engagement here) still maintains an omnivorous lifestyle (argh, bacon and cheese = temptation). Ms Blissful is also one of the most encouraging, generous and warm food bloggers you could ever meet. If you need to know information about specific food exchanges, vegan-friendly products or food establishments, I’m sure she’d love to help you out.

Rules for the Kreativ Blogger Award

  1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back
  3. Share 7 (seven) random interesting things about yourself
  4. Nominate 7 (seven) Kreativ (CREATIVE. Argh, these weird spellings are one of my pet hates!) Bloggers for the award. Post a link to their blogs then notify them of their nomination
  5. Copy and paste the award somewhere on your blog

Okay, seven random facts about me:

  1. I have freckles. Mostly scattered over my nose, with a few on the rest of face and body. When I was a child, my mother informed me that I’d ‘grow out of them’ as my father had when he reached adulthood. Well… I waited. And scrubbed my face with various creams. But they’re still here. I’m trying to make myself love them.
  2. Having freckles can be an advantage when you accidentally get pen, cocoa or other dark-coloured products on your face. Everyone just assumes that you’ve somehow grown some new freckles.
  3. I love red wine. It’s one of my absolute favourite things. One of my favourites is 2% (shiraz with 2% tempranillo) from the First Drop winery in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Closely followed by their glorious Fat of the Land and Sandalford Estate’s Prendiville Reserve Shiraz from Margaret River, Western Australia.
  4. Both Aaron and I love dogs, of all breeds, shapes and sizes. We pretty much swoon at every dog that we see walking down the street (whether we’re on-foot or in the car), much to the chagrin of our friends. We’d love to buy a boxer or French bulldog one day; we’ve been holding off due to the lack of space in our shoebox apartment.
  5. I dislike molluscs, whether they be cooked or raw, in sauce or without sauce, fresh-from-the-ocean or frozen. Particularly bivalves. Yes, you can talk to me about the wonder of oysters til you’re blue in the face but they still make me want to gag (in fact, I did gag whilst sampling a raw one at a specialty seafood shop… I felt sorry for the gentleman who had freshly shucked it for me. I wanted to vomit. I did vomit. Thankfully, once I’d already exited the shop)
  6. I used to hate all ‘slimy’ vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms. When I was tiny, my mother encouraged me to eat ‘just one spoonful’ whenever she cooked them… I gradually grew to love them, and now they’re pretty much my favourite vegetables of all time (alongside Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach and potatoes). So, if you were wondering, tough-but-kind parenting does work. Completely for the child’s benefit!
  7. I love buying grey clothing. In fact, when my husband and I got together, we both pretty much owned 70% grey clothes (the rest being blue jeans, black or white accessories). We’ve gradually been encouraging each other to include some colour variance in our wardrobes, and it’s working. But… we still end up dressing the same at times. Purely because of our similar tastes.

cucginger

Nominees for the Kreativ Blogger Award:

  1. Johnny from Feed the Piglet: Johnny is awesome. He hails from ‘The Garden of England’ (also known as Kent) and produces endlessly creative recipes that really showcase earthy, organic produce cooked from scratch (my kind of cooking!). Take a look at his blog and meet both him and piglet (no, I’m not giving anything away. Read, people). His photography and food styling are pretty inspirational, too.
  2. Danny at Gotasté: I’ve been following Danny’s blog for a while now and he’s definitely one of the most encouraging bloggers I’ve had the privilege of meeting. He cooks a beautiful array of international dishes, all with his own signature flair. It’s actually amazing what he can produce whilst mourning the lack of homegrown produce in his home country of Singapore (makes me feel lucky to have such amazing access to farmer’s markets here in Australia). Definitely a worthy contender for a creative award!!
  3. Richard from REM Cooks: Yup, this blog is proof that lawyers can cook! And in the case of Richard, he cooks very well indeed. I’ve learned tons of things about traditional French cooking methods, sauces and other such things from this blog. I’d encourage you to take a look if you’re interested in the finer details of making desserts or savoury dishes with an impressive twist. Baby lady is pretty lucky. And so are we, as we get to share his creativity through the blogosphere!
  4. The lovely Katie from Katie at the Kitchen Door: Katie is gorgeous, inside and out. She’s a perfect example that I am entirely stupid in hating my own freckles, as for some reason I can see their absolute beauty on other people’s skin! Anyway, apart from freckles, Katie is a talented writer, baker and photographer. I love the refreshing honesty in her writing and the generosity in her comments. She also hails from Boston, which as we all know has been in the media for all of the wrong reasons recently. Luckily, she’s safe. And she’s publicised her hometown cause via this post.
  5. Lindsay from Fleur de Sel: Aah! Lindsay and Matt just got engaged! Sorry… I’m getting a little excited at the moment, when I’m supposed to be talking about reasons for nomination. Ahem. Lindsay is a beautiful San Franciscan woman who has an amazing eye for photography and food styling. She’s an inspiration for me, in terms of the freshness of her ingredients and the way she presents her creations. Definitely a worthy contender. And… argh! She’s engaged!
  6. Greg (aka Rufus) and Katherine from Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide: I love this blog. It’s my go-to site for savoury recipe inspiration, cocktails and infused spirits (the Praline Bourbon is to die for). This man works wonders with meat, as does…
  7. Conor from One Man’s Meat: Now, I’m a pretty recent follower of Conor’s blog, but his brilliant humour, intriguing posts and meat genius have impressed from the outset. If you want to know how to cook meat well, this is the place to visit (slight warning: there are some gross pictures on this site. Conor does not shy away from photographs of raw, slimy ingredients. Browse at your own peril).

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award

2. Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award *is the logo for this award supposed to resemble The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants?

Anyway, ahem. This award nomination also came via my beautiful friend at Live Blissful. If you’d like to read more about her, take a look at her ‘About’ page or scroll back upwards. Thanks so much lovely, it means a lot.

Rules for the Sisterhood Award:

  1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read
  3.  Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated
  4. Include the award logo within your blog post for the award

Nominees for the Sisterhood Award:

  1. The gorgeous Bec from Daisy and the Fox: I love this Aussie blog. It’s a tumble of fresh recipes, fashion and beauty tips, stories and other things that will definitely inspire you. Bec is only 17 and she’s already full of talent in the kitchen… in terms of cooking, food styling and photography. Take a look and say hello – you’ll be glad you did!
  2. Hannah from Gypsy Roller’s Vegie Kitchen: You definitely need to take a look at the lovely Hannah’s patch of the internet! She writes from the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, and her recipes and stories are fresh and fantastic. Love it.
  3. The beautiful Annie from An Unrefined Vegan: This blog cuts quite deep, when you sit down and read it for a while. Annie documents the deeper issues of being vegan (whilst also providing gorgeous, fresh and inspiring recipes) whilst also delving into the complexities of having a family member with a terminal illness in her Terminal Illness Primer for Caregivers (borne out of her personal experience with her late brother, Charles). She’s beautiful inside and out. She’ll teach you something. Take time out to read.
  4. My dear friend Viveka from My Guilty Pleasures: Viveka blogs from her hometown of Landskrona, Sweden. She’s got a beautiful eye for photography and also gives us glimpses into her own life… the beauty, the challenges and all that’s in-between. I won’t write too much about Viveka’s content as she can say it much better than I ever could… but have a read. You’ll be glad you did.
  5. The lovely and talented Azita from Fig and Quince: She’s funny, she’s talented and arty (see some of her artwork here!) and she can cook up an incredible Persian storm! I’ve learned so much from the family musings, recipes and stories over at Azita’s blog. She uses many traditional ingredients and she’ll happily share her knowledge with you. I count her as a beautiful blogging friend.
  6. The gorgeous Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen: Haha. Check out the ‘About‘ page and meet Izzy and Nando, Suzanne’s gorgeous kitchen-hands (aka pugs). I love Suzanne’s recipes and stories, all written with homage to her Italian heritage and her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. She’s also a generous commenter and encourager in the blogosphere. Check her out!
  7. The inventive Christina from Small Kitchen Chronicles: Christina is beautiful. She’s got a kitchen that’s probably as small as mine, and she creates a whole myriad of amazingly delicious things on a regular basis! I love the honest way that she writes, the way that she draws inspiration from her Greek heritage, and the fact that she’s entirely unpretentious (despite obvious talent!)
  8. Andrea from Middle East Moments: It’s been a few months since I first discovered Andrea’s blog, and I’ve been continually inspired by her journey as an Australian woman who’s now living in the cultural whirlpool that is Jordan. Her stories are real, challenging, beautiful and honest. I’ve learned a lot about her personal strength, patience, her compassionate heart and her love of family (near and far). I’d definitely encourage you to take some time out and read her beautifully eloquent posts.
  9. Hayley from The Domestic Rebel: This girl is cool, colourful and creative. She specialises in sweet (and I say, sweet) indulgent treats, cupcakes and all things funfetti. She’s already got heaps of followers (and she’s probably already been over-awarded, sigh!) but there always has to be one rebel in the bunch! Plus, she deserves it!
  10. The gorgeous Sawsan at Chef in Disguise: Sawsan is another beautiful and talented Middle Eastern blogger who has posted an incredible array of resources on her blog. There’s everything from a cheese making guide to conversion tables and references on Middle Eastern spices. I love the generosity of heart that Sawsan displays in all of her comments and tips… she’s an inspiration.
  11. Carla from eat sweet.by Carla Sue: Now, this sisterhood wouldn’t be complete without the lovely Carla, from whom I’ve gained many sweet tips and slices of inspiration! She’s a fellow Antipodean (from Tassie! Which, of course, automatically makes her a genuine sister for the rest of us Aussie women) and she’s got a beautiful knack for baking and food photography. Say hello… she’s generous and warm, so I’m sure you’ll make a friend!

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So that’s it, round two of blogging awards complete. Thanks again to all of you who inspire and share with me on a daily basis – the blogging network is a wonderful thing. Oh, and for those of you who are interested… I’m currently boiling oranges for a flourless orange cake with lavender and rose ryrup. They smell divine… next food post on the way!

awards and acknowledgements

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a total of three blogging awards. THREE. That’s enough excitement to last me for the rest of the year.

Now, as far as I can tell, these awards seem to come with strict instructions in terms of both nomination and acceptance. I’ll tell you right from the start: I’m going to… uh, bend these rules by posting about all three awards at once. With much gratefulness, of course, and some genuine apologies to those who might view my decision unfavourably.

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Second point to note: I’m also reducing the number of nominees for each category. Primarily because I want to focus on providing a personal, sound basis for each nomination whilst also choosing from my community of generous and talented blogging friends. This made much more sense to me than just searching for 39 (yes, THIRTY NINE!) nominees to fulfill three sets of stated award criteria.

So, I’ve got that off my chest. Hope that’s okay with everyone. Oh, and just to clarify… there are plenty more talented bloggers that I’ve connected with over the past few months who would also be very worthy of nomination on this page. I’ll leave you guys for the next round!

Now, on to the good stuff. I’ll explain each award as the post progresses, with appropriate credit as it’s due. Drum roll please….

liebsterblogaward

1. LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD

As far as I understand, the Liebster award started in 2010 as a way to express peer acknowledgement of up-and-coming blogs with less than 3,000 readers and quality content. Liebster means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ in German, so this award is definitely a positive affirmation!

I received my nomination for the Liebster award from the beautiful Carla Sue at Eat Sweet. You can read her original post here. Let me tell you… I was so excited to be affirmed by Carla Sue! I’ve been following her blog for a while now and every recipe she posts is accompanied by sweet words and beautiful photography. Take a look at her fresh post for Raspberry Sorbet. It’s a perfect example of Carla Sue’s honesty, excitement and inspiration. Thanks again lovely!

Okay, on to the tasks at hand. Carla’s original post provided eleven questions for me to answer, as part of the ‘acceptance’ process. I’ve dutifully completed them as follows:

1. Favourite flavour of icecream? Okay, this is easy. Definitely Pralines n’ Cream, preferably from Gelare.
2. Relaxing holiday, or fast-paced holiday? I think I like a mix of both. Relaxation is definitely great, but too much of it leads to boredom.
3. Favourite brand of chocolate? Hard question. This definitely depends upon my mood… sometimes I just crave the sweetness of Cadbury Dairy Milk (this also has sentimental value!) whereas on other occasions I’d prefer something dark and mysterious, like Green & Blacks organic Maya Gold. Actually, now that I’m thinking… Green & Blacks is my favourite brand. I love their organic, fair trade philosophy. They also have a delicious range that caters to my every whim.
4. Wind or rain? Definitely rain. I love falling asleep to the sound of raindrops on the tin roof.
5. Favourite genre of music? Um… alternative? I love listening to the Australian radio station Triple J, which is pretty much representative of my style. Favourite bands are definitely Little Dragon, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Emma Louise (check her music out… amazing Australian artist), Snakadaktal, Laura Marling, Hot Chip, Angus & Julia Stone, Crystal Castles, Vitalic… ah, I could go on. I’m a bit obsessed with music.
6. Sleep with one pillow, or two? (or three…or four) One is definitely enough. Sometimes I sleep with no pillow, with a sheet pulled over my head. The first time my husband saw me do this, he thought I’d suffocated. I obviously need very little air.
7. Strawberries or raspberries? This is waaaay too difficult. I love any kind of berry, especially if they’re mixed together and combined with vanilla ice cream.
8. Cats or dogs? Dogs. No competition. I can appreciate the beauty of cats but darn, they’re selfish creatures (have you seen this video?). My favourite dogs are definitely Boxers, French Bulldogs and American Staffys.
9. Favourite vegetable? I like pretty much all vegetables. Some favourites include zucchini, eggplant, brussels sprouts, spinach, mushrooms and broccoli. Oh, and POTATOES… God’s gift to the carbohydrate family.
10. Day or night? During the working week, I’d definitely say night. It’s my ‘down time’, when I can relax, unwind, cook (a key relaxation activity for me. I look forward to it every day) and spend time with those I love. On weekends, I love both night and day! I love being able to stay up late, knowing that I can sleep in the next morning. Equally, I love being able to enjoy daytime activities such as walks in the park, lazy afternoons at the beach, barbecues in the sunshine at friend’s houses. We have some of the best weather in the world here in Perth, so it’s difficult not to be a ‘day person’ when you wake to sunshine and blue skies!
11. Favourite hot drink? At work, I’m a tea guzzler. As an English ex-pat, I grew up surrounded by tea and toast with marmalade, and I’ve grown to love it. On weekends, it’s definitely a latte or mocha from Antz inya Pantz Coffee Company…. they freshly roast their beans on-site to produce some of the smoothest, most delicious coffee around. Antz sell both single-origin batches of coffee beans and their own house blends. You can either enjoy a cuppa at their rather funky cafe (the walls are completely covered with sack-cloth from bags of coffee beans) or take some beans home to grind and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. If you live in Perth, try this place! (*I’ve received no compensation for this review and opinions are entirely my own).

Now, nominations! I’ve chosen FIVE very worthy bloggers for this award, each of whom I know is going to go far:

KOI Cuisine: Phil is one cool Canadian. He’s generous with his tips, advice and time, even though he’s an Electrical Engineer in another life! He’s also a strong advocate for health education and organic food from sustainable sources… something that’s very close to my heart. Yep, he’s cool. Go visit his space.

Kim’s Word of Wisdom: Now, I’m a little bit biased here as Kim is my mother, but… well, I love her beautifully honest, generous and inspiring way of writing. She’s experienced a lot in life and somehow, she’s managed to mold all she’s learnt into a series of ‘life lessons’ that I’ve been hearing since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. She and Aaron are definitely the dearest, most beloved people in my life, so it’s natural for me to nominate Kim for the Liebster. I think you’ll enjoy visiting her patch of the internet.

High Tea & Trinkets: This blog is written by an amazingly gorgeous, talented woman named Talitha Sprigg. It’s still in its early stages but her baking, fondant and sugar work speaks for itself… not to mention her honest, informative writing that provides a little snapshot into her life. Aaron & I are privileged to know Talitha and her talented husband Roderick Sprigg personally. They’re both warm, generous and honest in every way.

Eat Pray Bake: In my opinion, this blog is a thousand times better than the movie starring Julia Roberts with a similar name (uh, sorry to those who are fans!). It’s written by Helen, a talented undergraduate in nutrition who lives in Toronto, Canada. Her blog is inspiring, in the sense that you can see her passion for wholesome, nutritious food spill over into her recipes and stories. As an added plus, she’s included lots of gorgeous photographs of where she lives. That squirrel…. naaaaw!!

Sips and Spoonfuls: This blog has been written and photographed by the beautiful Sukaina, a freelance food writer and photographer based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Both her writing and photography are top notch and I’m surprised that she doesn’t yet have a wall full of awards. Maybe they’re hiding in the broom cupboard of something (she definitely deserves them!).

Rules for the Liebster Blog Award (if you choose to accept)
1. Add the award icon to your post.
2. Link in your nominator to say thank you.
3. Answer the questions the nominator has set for you, and create eleven questions for your own nominees to answer.
4. Choose eleven (*uh… I chose five) bloggers to nominate for the award, and let them know.

Super Sweet Bloggers

2. SUPER SWEET BLOGGERS AWARD

My second blog award arrived via the lovely Lynne from A Life Worth Styling (see her original post here). Lynne is an American interior designer who has used her ‘corner of the internet’ to create a beautifully honest, inspiring and varied scrapbook of recipes, stories, fashion tips, colour and interior design advice.

I can’t remember the first time that I stumbled upon Lynne’s blog, but since that day I’ve revisited regularly… particularly to read installments of her ‘green’ series (I’ve been in love with the colour green since I was a little girl) such as the Pantone-inspired Emerald City. Gorgeous! Thanks so much Lynne… it means a lot to be validated by my talented blogging peers!

Now, onto the ‘sweet questions’:

1.  Cookies or Cake?  I’m definitely a cake girl. Cookies are great as a snack, but they definitely don’t compare to a warm piece of cake à la mode, served with a warm, syrupy river of toffee, butterscotch or chocolate fudge sauce (darn it, now I want cake).
2.  Chocolate or Vanilla? Does this question relate to ice cream? Hm. If so, I’d definitely say vanilla. I’m not really a fan of chocolate ice cream, though I love chocolate in all its other forms (cake, brownies, chocolate fudge sauce, truffles, candy… the list goes on). When made with real vanilla beans, vanilla ice cream is an absolute privilege to eat. My friend Miriam makes her own from fresh, home made vanilla custard. I’m pretty sure that I could eat an entire batch at once!
3.  What is your favorite sweet treat? Argh, hard question. Rocky road? Brownies? I also love apple crumble made with dark brown sugar, coconut and oats. Give me a bowl of this with lashings of fresh vanilla ice cream and I’m a very happy girl.
4.  When do you crave sweet things the most? When I’m tired, definitely. Every day at work I hit ‘three thirty-itis’ and start searching for chocolate or a muesli bar. And coffee!
5.  If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Uh… I have no idea. As I’m usually the resident caterer when my husband’s best friends come over, they have christened me ‘Chop’ (as in; 1. chopping ingredients to cook, 2. lamb chop, 3. ‘chop chop’ = move quickly!). I’ll just stick with that one (please don’t start using it).

Now, the following FIVE nominees are some of the most inspirational, sweet and talented baker bloggers I know. It’s a privilege to mention them in this award category:

Cityhippyfarmgirl: I love this girl. She’s a perfect demonstration of sweet, organic and sustainable living within a city space. She taught me how to make my first sourdough starter, and how to transform this little ‘yeast baby’ (my words, not hers) into the most gorgeous hot cross buns I’ve ever tasted. Visit her space. Be inspired and transform your views from ‘city’ to ‘sustainability’.

The Speckled Palate: Erin is sweetness, warmth and gorgeousness wrapped up in a smiling Southerner! I absolutely love her stories, recipes and photographs… every visit to her blog makes me feel a little bit better about life. I’m privileged to call her a blogging friend across the seas now and I hope we can meet one day, perhaps over a piece of her gorgeous pot pie. Love you Erin!

An Unrefined Vegan: Annie is a wholesome, honest and lovely soul who practices what she preaches. She adopted a vegan diet for health, weight and moral reasons and has somehow managed to turn health food into something delicious, nourishing and naturally sweet! I love this blog. I’m slowly adopting many vegan foods into my omnivorous diet and this is one of my favourite places to learn and be nourished.

Cooking Crusade: Christine. Ah, this girl makes me smile. She’s a vibrant Sydney food blogger with a beautiful blog that contains not only sweet (and simple!) recipes but also food reviews and food safety information for the general public. She’s also very generous in her responses to any questions… check out her patch of the internet and be inspired.

Cannella Vita: This blog is run by Erica, one of the sweetest, warmest teenage girls around. I’m pretty sure that she must’ve already been nominated for most awards under the sun, but hey… I’m going to give her another one! She’s an incredibly honest writer who somehow manages to keep her blog going amidst exam pressure. Not an easy feat for anyone… though, they do say that it’s easier for women to multitask! Take a peek into her cinnamon-sprinkled world of baking… you’ll love every word she’s written.

Rules for the Super Sweet Bloggers Award (if you choose to accept)

  1. Visit and thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
  3. Answer the “Super Sweet” questions.
  4. Nominate a “Baker’s Dozen” (13) blogs for the award, add a link to their blogs in your post, and notify them on their blogs.
  5. Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Best-Moment-Award

3. BEST MOMENT AWARD

On to the third and last award of this series: the ‘Best Moment Award’. This nomination arrived via Moment Matters, a website that’s been created as a public space for sharing moments of happiness, joy, sadness, travel euphoria, family milestones, shattering anxieties and everything in-between.

Now, I admit that prior to my nomination, I’d never heard of this initiative. However, after visiting their site, I’m sorry that I didn’t know about it earlier! Take a look at ‘Our Moments‘, where strangers from around the world have come together to share heartfelt glimpses of their existence in an honest, unedited narrative. It’s written excerpts of life, in one of the purest forms possible. Truly inspiring.

Now, as per my introduction to this awards entry, I’ll again clarify that I’m not exactly fulfilling all of the required ‘acceptance criteria’ for this award. I’m not posting their entire article and I’m not going to deliberate for hours about writing an acceptance speech. Instead, I’m just going to say a heartfelt thank you to the people behind this award… both for noticing my writing and for introducing me to more inspirational blogging friends around the world, with whom I was co-nominated.

For a full explanation of the ‘Best Moment Award’ and full acceptance criteria (should you choose to comply!) I’d encourage you to take a look at the original awards page on Moment Matters. As an introduction to their philosophy, I’ve included their inspiration behind the award in quote form:

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

I think you’d agree that this is a really lovely sentiment.

Now, on to my SIX personal nominees for this award. Each has been chosen for their ability to reflect life, meaning and honesty within their words. I can genuinely say that I’m transported to a little compartment of their lives as I read their latest blog entries:

Sniff & Snort: I love this blog. Aida (FlourVonSponge) is a vibrant, warm and humorous writer who reflects upon the challenges and triumphs of life in a truly honest, candid and refreshing manner. She’s presently working towards the opening of a sustainable cafe in her home town of Chichester, England and it’s been a privilege to read about her experiences along the way. I love Flour. She’s glorious. You’ll love her too.

Profiteroles and Ponytails: Ah, ponytails. Just reading that word brings me back to the days of my youth, hair floating in the breeze as I enjoyed a carefree merry dance through the complexities of life. It’s a perfect reflection of what Barb captures in the honest and humorous content on her blog. Barb is a Toronto-based writer and photographer who has two ponytailed girls. Profiteroles and Ponytails is a documentation of her experiences whilst trying to balance work, cooking and parenting… three demanding roles, to say the least. She does it with aplomb.

Gabriela Blandy: This woman is pretty much perfection in prose. She has an ability to capture moments in a beautifully honest way, drawing you into a little bubble of her rich experience. I’d definitely encourage you to grab a cup of coffee and spend five minutes experiencing life through Gabriela’s mind. I do it regularly, and I’m pretty sure it refreshes my mind in readiness for each day ahead. Gabriela – you’re brilliant. I can’t wait for more people to discover your work.

Easy Natural Food: Debbie, the beautiful woman behind this blog, is pretty transparent in her writing. She discusses the joys, hardships and uncertainties of life with both unfading hope and a pinch of realism. It’s a privilege to read about her experiences whilst also drooling over her gorgeous and achievable recipes. Deliciousness, in blog form.

The Kitchen’s Garden: I first stumbled upon this blog some months ago whilst trawling the internet for fresh, organic recipes. I was met with the image of a cow and… well, even though I didn’t find the recipe I was looking for, I was enthralled by Cecilia‘s beautiful photography, honest recollections and heartfelt stories about life on her very own sustainable farm in Midwest America. I’d encourage you to have a read and let Cecilia’s farm inspire you. It’s definitely worked on me!

Hippy Vic: This page is owned by the beautiful Vicky, who actually hasn’t updated her ‘About’ page but… hey, that’s reflective of her carefree, bohemian personality. I love this blog… it contains heartfelt writing, beautiful photography and glimpses into the personalities of people who enrich the tapestry of her life. Take nan, for instance. You can meet her via the Gnocchi post, where she teaches Vicky and the family how to make her time-honoured gnocchi recipe in the true, wholesome Italian way. I’d encourage you to visit Vicky whilst gently encouraging her to share more of her written inspiration with us. It’s okay, I know her personally… so I’ll apologise with my Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt and Walnut Cookies if necessary.

So, that’s it.

My gratefully accepted awards up ’til now, accompanied by links to some of the most beautiful, genuine and inspirational blogs I’ve had the privilege to click upon. I hope you’ll visit some of them and enjoy their recipes, stories, wisdom and humour as much as I did. My next post will definitely be recipe-based, so thanks for being patient with me. My life has been rather time-poor recently, due to family illness, dreaded work stress and other such things.

Thanks again to the beautiful bloggers who nominated me for all of the above awards; I appreciate you greatly. I also appreciate everyone (yep, that’s you!) who reads the contemplative words, stories and recipes that I publish. A while ago, I thought that no one would ever read them… so it’s a privilege to meet you all… I now count you as friends.

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