Day 4 – 16th February

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Today we left the hotel at 8.00am and made our way to Kandy. 

On the way we stopped at a tea factory. We learnt about the process of tea making and got to have a cup at the end. 

The first tea plant was planted in 1824 and Sri Lanka commercially started producing tea in 1867 by Mr James Taylor. The bigger the particles of tea the lighter in colour, and the finer leaves result in a strong cup of tea, just the way me and dad like it! 5 kg of tea leaves produces just 1kg tea. That’s a lot of leaves to pick by the tea pickers! I will now appreciate that cup of tea much more knowing the work and labour that goes in to it! I bought some loose tea, and tea bags to take home. 


We continued our journey to Kandy, stopping on the way to have lunch and then we went to a gem museum. It was quite interesting learning about the mining process. It’s very old fashioned and looks very dangerous. 


From there we went to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. It is much warmer here compared to Nuwara Eliya which made walking bare foot a tad painful. Like when you dash the the pool on holiday to try and not burn your feet. It was very busy and humid inside but very pretty. 
From here we then travelled to our hotel. I am undecided about the hike tomorrow. My legs are very sore from yesterday which made walking up stairs today quite painful. 

We arrived at the hotel around 6pm, after a minor mishap with some local boys. They were playing football and kicked their ball into the road. The driver accidentally popped the ball. They were NOT happy, crowding round the bus so we couldn’t continue our journey. We are buying them two balls tomorrow. 


The hotel and views from my room are insane. Dinner was included tonight, an amazing buffet with so much choice and beautifully presented. I then showered and read for a bit before going to bed. We are up early again tomorrow for our hike. Leaving at 6am. I am going to give it ago and will just turn around when I can’t go any further. 


Night all, 

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Day 3 – 15th February

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Sorry this is a day late, I only get wifi in the lobby and stayed in my room in the evening. 
Today we had a very early start, we were out of the hotel by 5.15am and headed for about an hour and a half drive to Horton Plains National Park. Due to the rain, I didn’t sleep very well but despite that didn’t feel too tired. It was extremely foggy and rainy on the way up to the park – it was a very bumpy, windy road. 

I really struggled with the walk – partly due to the high altitude and also because of my stupid hyper-mobility causing my muscles to tire very quickly. The first slope about ten minutes in nearly killed me. I thought I was going to pass out! It was longer than I anticipated, 9km in fact and it felt like it would never end. I really struggled, especially with the really steep parts. I also felt sick and dizzy in places because of the altitude. I didn’t think I could do it or finish it, but finally saw the end thanks to a couple on our tour being super sweet and helping me along the way, and to our tour guide for carrying my bag! (Such a queen, I know) I clearly have my mums fighter attitude, and I wouldn’t let it beat me!


I will strongly consider not going on the next one but at the same time I do not want to miss out on anything so might give it a go and just take it really slow. 


After we got back from the hike, I had a little rest before going for High Tea in our hotel. Their tea is delicious but as good as the food was it does not beat the proper English High Tea… I’ve been spoilt with the likes of Fortnum & Masons and Claridge’s (being a queen again). 


We then went out on a tuk tuk tour of the city of Nuwara Eliya, getting out at points of interest such as their post office (no really, it was beautiful, sorry no picture), a church and a food market which was super crowded. I found it a little bit much with the smells as I wasn’t feeling too great. After the tour our tuk tuk driver Sameera offered to take us to a temple for 500lkr. We decided to go for it, and boy was I glad. The views were stunning and the temple was very tranquil. We gave him 600lkr which he refused. We insisted, which was lovely as usually they take you for everything you have. He was a very good man, and wanted to make the tourists he drives around happy. They have so much pride for their country, it is wonderful to see. 


I then decided to stay in, have a bath and order some room service, seeing as I’ve pretty much been acting like a queen all day. 


I feel a little better but know I must eat so my muscles recover. I will then get an early night. We leave the hotel at 8am tomorrow and head to Kandy. 


Night all,


A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Day 2 – 14th February 

Inspiration, Photography, Uncategorized

I felt very refreshed this morning after a great nights sleep, making the early wake up much easier. After a shower and some breakfast – a little fruit, yoghurt and a fresh omelette and doing my signature move of slipping over in the marble bathroom (take note Maria, mosquito spray makes floors slippery) we headed off on our bus. We had a tour of Colombo, stopping off at the Independence Memorial Hall and continuing on a very long journey to Nuwara Eliya. 

After about four hours driving we stopped for lunch at a restaurant over looking the Kelani river, I opted for an omelette (again) it was fresh and delicious. 


We continued our journey which lasted about another three hours. Stopping on the way to look at some tea picking ladies. This work is extremely skilled, and they have a target of picking about 30kg of tea leaves per day which takes around four hours, paying only 1000lkr. This is around £5 which makes me feel incredibly guilty that I would spend that on lunch without thinking about it. 


On route, we also stopped at a couple of waterfalls with breathtaking views. The weather at this time was very cloudy, it looked as if the rain was catching up with us but nevertheless it was still beautiful.  

We finally arrived at our hotel, called ‘Grand Hotel’ at around 5.15pm – a very long day but we’re greeted with a hot towel and delicious cup of tea. After freshening up, we are going for dinner and then I shortly after I will  head to my room to get an early night. Another early start for us tomorrow. We are leaving the hotel at 5.15am, travelling to Horton Plains National Park for a 9km hike/walk. We will have a picnic breakfast whilst we are there. We will then enjoy a city tour on a tuk tuk as well as high tea in the Grand Hotel. 

Having a really good time, 
A girl with an appetite for all things creative,
Maria x

Banana, cashew butter & dark chocolate tray bake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Long time, no posting!

I’ve decided that this year I am going to start trying to be kinder to myself.

Yes, I want to loose weight and look great (I am off to Sri Lanka in 4 weeks and still don’t have my bikini body) but as young women there is so much pressure to be a certain way, and I simply get miserable when I realise I don’t fit the bill.

I read an article by Angelica Malin on About Time Magazine. Check it out here – she mentions that we all need a re-tox. A fabulous idea, which got me thinking. Instead of being so hard on myself I will change my outlook on life. I will do more exercise because I enjoy it, and not beat myself up when I’m too tired to go because of my fatigue. I will not eat all the biscuits at work because they are there and I’m bored. However, I will have a few cubes of chocolate in the evening because I really need something to satisfy me. Life is about balance, and if I eat healthy food that I really enjoy, go swimming and to the gym, because this lifts my mood and makes me feel fabulous, I can still eat a slice of cake or a dessert at the weekend because I really want it.

We all need to be kinder to ourselves. We all have busy lives, life is too short to spend hours in the gym, and deprive yourself of that bit of cake that you REALLY want but shouldn’t eat because your Instagram feed is full of pictures of girls that have better bodies than you.

Saying no to something simply makes us feel guilty when we do have it, and we only want it all the more because someone tells us we shouldn’t. So have that bit of cake, chocolate bar, or that biscuit that you want to dip into your mid-morning cup of tea. Just don’t go crazy. Life is all about balance!

Anyway…

I wanted to take a picture of something today, and thought about making a banana traybake with some black bananas that have been floating around the fridge for a bit too long. This is made with out sugar or butter/fat so a little bit better for us but still delicious. It has a texture between a traybake and blondie. I had a piece tonight with some warm custard. Really quick and easy to whip up, and great to pack into your lunchbox for an afternoon sweet-treat.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas – mashed (the blacker the better)
  • 60g sweetener – I used Sukrin Gold, as this is similar to brown sugar. You could substitute this for light brown sugar, or an alternative sweetner.
  • 120g full fat Total Greek yoghurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 115g cashew butter – you could also use peanut butter
  • 220g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate – chopped into chunks
  • 25g chopped, toasted hazelnuts

To decorate – 3-4 cubes dark chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180*c/160*c fan and line a tin with non-stick parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the banana, sweetener, yoghurt, egg, and milk until well combined.
  3. Add the cashew butter and vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Fold in the flour, salt and cinnamon.
  5. Mix in the dark chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour the batter into your lined tin, smooth out and push all the way to the corners.
  7. Sprinkle the top with the toasted, chopped hazelnuts
  8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, use a fork to drizzle the top with the melted dark chocolate.

banana-tray-bake-1-web-copy

 

Enjoy it,

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Christmas Gingerbread Fridge Cake

Baking, Recipes, Uncategorized

Here’s a super quick recipe for you to try over the festive period. Perfect to use up chocolate from the selection boxes and biscuits left over from the biscuit tins. It’s ridiculously indulgent, but it is Christmas after all, and Christmas is all about excess!

Ingredients

200g milk or dark chocolate (or a mixture), chopped

150g butter, cubed

100g shortbread fingers

100g gingernut biscuits

100g dried cranberries

25 g pistachios

1tbsp golden syrup

1/2 tsp orange extract

For the topping

100g milk chocolate, melted

1 pack of mini gingerbread men (aprox. 25)

Method

  1. In a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter, chocolate, golden syrup & orange extract.
  2. Crush your biscuits roughly with a rolling pin or food processor. I like the biscuit to be quite chunky. Roughly chop the cranberries & pistachios.
  3. Mix the biscuits, cranberries and pistachios into the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour into a square tin lined with greaseproof paper, and press down so the mixture is even and pushed into the corners.
  5. Leave to set in the fridge, then pour the melted milk chocolate overn the top. Top with your mini gingerbread men.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge again, then slice into squares.
  7. Enjoy!

gingerbread-tiffin-1-web

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Plum Jam

Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

One of life’s simple pleasures has got to be a slice of hot, buttery toast & homemade jam served with a cup of tea, or coffee on a drizzly weekend morning. Lazing around the house, in comfy clothes watching the rain drops fall on the window.

This jam for me was a bit of an experiment. I went to Garson’s Farm & picked some plums & bought some apricots from their amazing farm shop. The apricot jam, which funnily enough I thought would turn out better isn’t quite right. However, I’ve decided that you can buy it in the shops & it’s much less hassle. This plum jam however, tastes amazing which is good news, as I made about 5 jars.

I thought jam making would be quite easy, but turns out it was quite a stressful experience for me. I had to boil my jam for a fair amount of time, to bring it to the consistency needed. It was so worth it though …

 Ingredients

  • 1kg plums (I used Victoria plums) stoned & quartered
  • 1kg white, granulated sugar
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100ml water
  • tbsp lemon juice
  • knob of butter

Method

  1. Begin by sterilising your jars, I washed mine in hot soapy water then placed them in a low oven to dry. Keep your jars warm here until you are ready to fill them.
  2. Place the plums and the water in a large saucepan, and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes until the plums start to soften.
  3. Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon to the pan.
  4. Dissolve the sugar slowly, without boiling the mixture. This takes about ten minutes.
  5. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring to a rolling boil, and cook until reaching a jammy consistency. This is 105*c on a sugar thermometer. You can also test it, by putting some plates in the freezer, and spooning some mixture on the cold plate and leave to cool. It should wrinkle slightly when you push it with your finger. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes, but it actually took me about 25 minutes.
  6. When ready, take off the heat and stir in the butter – this helps to disperse any scum on the top. Leave to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes and then ladle in to your hot jars. Screw on the lids straight away to seal them, and leave to cool.
  7. Serve on hot buttered toast, or spoon into the bottom of a pastry case and top with almond cake filling for a delicious twist on a Bakewell tart.

It makes great gifts for Christmas, simply add a homemade label with some ribbon, or be greedy and keep all the jars for yourself.

Enjoy!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

 

Happy Birthday Doris

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

A cake I made for a friend’s grandmas 99th birthday. Happy Birthday Doris.

Vanilla sponge filled with butter cream & summer berry jam. Topped with fresh berries, macarons & fresh flowers.

If you’d like me to make you a cake, please get in touch.

DSC_2574

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Spiced Rhubarb Compote

Food, Photography, Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again where gorgeous pink rhubarb is in season. I love roasting it and revealing its beautiful vibrant pink colour oozing with sweet juices infused with clementine, vanilla and spices.

I stumbled upon this recipe which I adapted from Waitrose when I was creating work for one of my final year projects at university. I created large arrangements from a recipes ingredients. The series is entitled Don’t Play With Your Food’ and depict a recipe’s ingredients arranged in a way to express the beauty of natural foods – their different colours, shapes, textures and characters. The other recipes I chose were Lentil Curry, Summer Fruits with a Lime, Mint & Vanilla Syrup, a Blood Orange & Beetroot Salad, and a Pistachio & Pomegranate cake. You can view the series here. The series stems from my passion for food and cooking. The images highlight that food is fun and enjoyable and aims to encourage people to think about the food that they eat in a similar way.

I adapted the recipe slightly – using some signiture spice from Waitrose, that was left over from Christmas. I substituted the cinnamon stick and star anise for a teaspoon of this.

Ingredients – see the original recipe here

  • 1 pack of rhubarb – cut into 5-6cm sticks
  • 2 clementines – one peeled, both cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 vanilla pod – split lengthways with the seeds scraped out
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Waitrose signature spice (or you can use a mix of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg etc)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200*c or 180*c fan.
  2. In a roasting dish, add the rhubarb, clementine slices, sugar, vanilla (seeds & pod).
  3. Cover the roasting dish with tinfoil and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven, add the maple syrup and return to the oven, this time uncovered and roast for a further ten minutes until the rhubarb has softened slightly and it’s perfectly pink surrounded by the cooking juices.
  5. Leave to cool and then enjoy!

This is perfect served for breakfast on top of yoghurt, the vivid pink rhubarb and its juices bleeding into the bleak white of the yoghurt. I tend to blend my rhubarb with a stick blender as my mum and I prefer the smooth consistency. For a dessert idea swirl some rhubarb through natural yoghurt or whipped cream and serve with meringue. It’s simply delicious.

Happy Tuesday!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x

Freshly Baked Bread

Baking, Food, Photography, Uncategorized

Nothing quite beats the smell of freshly baked bread filling the house. My dad is the bread baker in our house (sees himself as a bit of a Paul Hollywood, which is funny as he’s actually called Paul. He has taken over from mum and this loaf he made this weekend was pretty spectacular.

BreadBread 2

I decided to change things up on here, post pictures and maybe even some short films of food & things (especially now I’ve got my new camera). So there won’t always be a recipe but I’m hoping this small change will allow me to post more, be more creative and give you recipes that I’m really proud of, rather than rushing to put something crummy up (excuse the pun). If I don’t like this new way of doing things I’ll change it back!

A girl with a creative appetite,

Maria x

I have a new camera

Baking, Photography, Uncategorized

I’ve really fell out of routine with my blogging, during the summer I had so much free time and a lot more daylight (good for photography) so creating blog posts was fairly easy and a fun thing to do, then I got sucked into the world of work as a recent graduate and found it hard to find the time. However things are looking up and not only that but they are looking exciting. I have now been offered a job from my internship, and am enjoying having my weekends off after working a part time job at the weekends.

I have also FINALLY bought a new camera, lens and tripod. Something I’ve been saying I want to do since my second year of university. I never had the funds, as it is jolly expensive. With spending a lot of money (especially when you don’t have much) comes a lot of consideration and thinking. I finally jumped in though and got myself a beautiful Nikon D810 and a 50 mm lens. I used it last weekend and photographed these delicious brownies and my, is it a beauty of a camera. I’m excited to continue using it to create lots of beautiful images that I’m proud of.

This post is less of a recipe and more of an update of stuff, because sometimes I need to remind myself of what I’m doing and achieving. I’m currently doing some freelance design/photography work which is going well and it’s lovely to know that others think my work is good enough for them to use for their own endeavors.

I also have just entered the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I know that my chances are slim (or pretty much impossible) with the tough competition out there but as my mum says, to be in it to win it you have to play the game (or something like that, if any of you know my mum she has a saying for EVERYTHING).

I’ll leave you to feast your eyes on these delicious brownies, which were a Meringue Girls recipe from their book, ‘Everything Sweet’. They are made with coconut flour, which is a great gluten free alternative (but still taste extremely guilty). I swirled in some peanut butter and added in some frozen raspberries for some added peanut butter and jelly time. (I used to love that cartoon). They are extremely decadent and are in good competition to my go to Thornton’s brownie recipe.

Brownie.jpg

I will promise to try and be better with this blogging thing!

A girl with an appetite for all things creative,

Maria x