Category Archives: In The Kitchen

The-Heat-Is-On Tropical Fruit Compote

 

 

 

OMG OMG OMG! I’ve fallen in love… with a compote!

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No you are not imaging these words and I really am saying them. But I’ve just made the most amazing tropical fruit compote that’ll having you thinking that you’re sitting on a beach from the very first spoonful – and by beach I don’t mean Southend (although, of course, there’s nothing wrong with good old Southend!)

It was my second attempt at making this compote. The first attempt wasn’t too bad but I felt it was missing something. So I added more spices, some honey, and some booze – because let’s face it, everything tastes so much better with booze!

Initially I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure if all the flavours would work well together, even though I knew that many of the ingredients used to give flavour worked well individually with the pineapple, mango and passion fruit used in this recipe. Thankfully they did and I was thrilled with the result.

I loved the heat you got from the spices and the rum; the fresh zingyness of the lime; the sweet aroma of the vanilla, and the somewhat simultaneous sweetness and tanginess of the fruit. Delicious!

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But don’t just take my word for it – have a go at making it yourself!

Another thing I’ve discovered about fruit compotes – whether you use fresh or dried fruit – is that they are so versatile. You can serve them hot, warm or cold and they can be used  as a topping for porridge or toasted brioche as part of a yummy breakfast; they can be served as dessert with cream, mascarpone, ice-cream or custard. Compotes can also be used as a topping for cheesecake or a sponge pudding, or can be used as a filling for pancakes, crumbles, pies, cobblers or tarts.

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And if you’re feeding little people – and by little people I mean children not vertically challenged people like myself – you might want to leave out the rum.

Awesome!

THE HEAT IS ON TROPICAL FRUIT COMPOTE

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THE FOOD STUFF:

1 medium pineapple

2 large mangoes

5 passion fruit

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 vanilla pod

1 star anise

1/4 teaspoon mixed spice

2 tablespoons runny honey

a couple of good glugs of Malibu

THE EQUIPMENT STUFF:

1 Sharp knife

1 chopping board

1 baking tray

A variety of spoons

GET BUSY:

  1. Turn oven on to
  2. Peel and core pineapple and cut into chunks.
  3. Peel mangoes and cut into large chunks.
  4. Cut each passion fruit in half and scoop out pulp.
  5. Place fruit in an oven proof dish.
  6. Cut vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out seeds.
  7. Add vanilla to the fruit.
  8. Add remaining ingredients.
  9. Combine well.
  10. Pop in the oven and cook for 25mins or until pineapple chunks have softened.
  11. Take out of oven – and enjoy any way you wish!

 

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Things That Make Me Go Ewwww!

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I never thought of myself as a fussy person when it comes to food, especially when compared to Mr.D, who has a list of food dislikes that’s almost as tall as he is! I considered myself to be the kind of person who’ll eat anything – or at least give it a try. But a conversation about food the other day made me realise that I had an awful lot of food hates myself. In fact after sharing them with you, I doubt I’ll ever be invited to dinner again!

1. Glacé cherries

This might seem a little ironic considering I love cherries, but they have to be either fresh or dried – I can even live with the tinned variety. But glacé cherries for me are a huge non-no. Their bright, tomato-red colour just puts me off as I know that real cherries aren’t supposed to be that colour. In fact for years I thought that they’re weren’t ‘real’ cherries as they didn’t look or taste like the cherries that I love but they are – they’re maraschino cherries that have been stoned and candied in a sugar syrup.

Even as a child I’ve never liked them, and my dislike for glacé cherries still continues. As much as I adore cherry bakewells, fruit cake and Christmas pudding, I always pick out the offending glacé cherries.

Image from glacecherries.com

Image from glacecherries.com

 

2. Smoked salmon

I love, love, love salmon. It’s one of my fave foods. So you’d think I’d be a huge fan of smoked salmon, right? Wrong! Smoked salmon and I never really hit it off. I never liked the taste or the texture. I know it’s considered a luxury delicacy, but I could never acquire a taste for it. In fact, give me a tin of salmon over the smoked stuff any day!

 

Image from wikihow.com

Image from wikihow.com

3. Quiche

Oh my goodness – if there’s a food I really cannot stomach, it’s quiche. I’ve never liked it and they used to serve the horrid stuff  for school dinners on a regular basis. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a whole slice of quiche. I’ve given it a good go but that taste, that smell… no, just not happening!

image from bbcfood.com

image from bbcfood.com

 

4. Green banana

Green bananas are usually served in savoury dishes and feature in Caribbean, South American, African and South Asian cuisines – cuisines I enjoy a great deal.   I don’t come across green bananas very often, thankfully. But when I have, I’ve never really enjoyed them so tend to pick them out. I don’t like the texture – and the fact that I believe bananas should be yellow and sweet probably has something to do with my dislike of them!

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5. Cooked peppers

Now I can eat raw peppers without any problem at all, and I don’t believe that a salad is a salad without them. But for some reason, I don’t enjoy peppers when they’ve been cooked. Unlike many of the foods on this list, I can actually eat cooked peppers but then again I’ve had to – you won’t believe how many dishes contain cooked peppers. It’s just that I’d prefer not to! I don’t really like the flavour or texture of peppers when they’ve been cooked.

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6. Non- peeling oranges

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with oranges. One of those things in life that just can’t be explained. But even though I’m happy to OD on oranges when I have a really bad cold, they have to be of the peeling variety. I can’t be doing with all that cutting malarkey. And since childhood, I’ve never been able to stand the sight of those navel oranges – definitely not for me!

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7. Soft jelly sweets

Now I’ve always had a sweet tooth so naturally I love sweets. But I don’t like those ultra soft, sugar-coated jelly sweets. I’m not totally sure why – I vaguely remember being sick after eating too many of these as a child so I’m sure that’s got a lot to do with it – but they’ve always made me feel a bit queasy after tucking into a few, so I tend to give them a miss. I prefer the jelly sweets with a harder texture.

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8. Curried/stewed fish

OK, so I love fish, I love curries, and I love stews. I even like fish stews and curries. But I’m very fussy about how the fish is cooked. It has to be in chunks rather than steaks, and there shouldn’t be any huge bones and certainly no skin, as  I hate the texture – all slimy and nasty. Not good!

Image from bbcfood.com

Image from bbcfood.com

 

 

9. Duck

Duck is very popular with many people but I personally have never understood the appeal. It has a rather strong flavour that I really don’t like but if I did have to eat it, I’d prefer to have my duck cooked a bit longer than most people would prefer. I’ve tried to get into it but I’ve accepted that my tastebuds are different to everyone else’s and duck just isn’t for me.

bbcfood.co.uk

bbcfood.co.uk

 

10. Offal

I reckon it’s a small minority of people who can stomach offal – but I’m not one of them. The smell alone is horribly off-putting, and although I’ve tried classics such as steak and kidney pie, and  liver and onions,  it’s not something that I’m in a hurry to sample again.

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If any of you have any ‘food nasties,’ I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

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Triple Chocolate Banana Cake Bars

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I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and banana together. I think it’s a match made in dessert heaven so when I stumbled across this recipe for chocolate and banana cake bars – which contained all three types of chocolate – I knew I had to share it with you.

Guess who’ll be baking away this weekend?

Makes: 16 cake bars

Image from The Examiner

Image from The Examiner

INGREDIENTS:

250g plain flour

130g butter, softened

100g soft brown sugar

3 ripe bananas

2 eggs, beaten

1tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

60g dark chocolate

30g white chocolate

30g milk chocolate

45ml milk

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC.
  2. Butter and line 2 22cm x 24cm cake tins.
  3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Mash bananas.
  5. Add to the butter mixture along with vanilla and eggs.
  6. Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl.
  7. Combine well.
  8. Add all the chocolate and milk.
  9. Stir well.
  10. Spoon mixture into tins.
  11. Bake in the middle shelf of oven for about 20mins.
  12. Insert a skewer or knife into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean it’s ready.
  13. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  14. Slice into rectangles while in the tin.
  15. Remove from tin and serve.

COOK’S TIP:

  • Instead of making cake bars, this mixture can be used to make muffins. Just substitute cake tins for muffin tray lined with muffin cases.
  • Chocolate can either be broken into chunks or shop bought chocolate chips can also be used.

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Passion Fruit Mousse

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Passion fruit mousse is supposed to be the closest thing that Brazil has to a national dessert. It’s not hard to see why. Mousse? Great! Passion fruit? Amazing! I absolutely love tropical fruits, so this dessert is right up my street.

Prep: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling time

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 4 passion fruit, pulp and seeds scooped out
  2. 150g sweetened condensed milk
  3. 175ml fresh whipping cream
  4. 4 lemon shortbread thins, to serve

METHOD:

  1. Put ¾ of the passion fruit pulp and seeds (reserve the rest for decorating) in a food processor or blender and whiz to a purée.
  2. Push through a sieve into a bowl, to remove the seeds.
  3. Add the condensed milk and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the cream into another bowl and use a hand-held electric whisk to whip until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold through the passion fruit mixture, 1/3rd  at a time, until combined.
  6. Spoon into small serving glasses and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
  7. Spoon the reserved passion fruit over the mousses and serve with the lemon thins.

imagesCAHZOS9O

Sweet Griddled Pineapple

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Pineapple is one of my favourite fruits, and it’s so versatile – it can be used in sweet and savoury dishes; makes an excellent mixer in cocktails and can be eaten both raw and cooked. This is a great dessert to serve as finale to a barbeque.

Prep: 5 minutes

Cooking: 10-15 minutes

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 pineapple, quartered lengthways, leaving the skin on
  2. 4 tsp Fairtrade caster sugar
  3. 1 tsp Fairtrade ground cinnamon
  4. 1 lime, cut into wedges

METHOD:

  1. Preheat a griddle pan or barbecue to medium.
  2. Cook the pineapple quarters for 2-3 minutes on all sides until just softened and a little charred.
  3. Just before removing from the heat, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. To serve, cut away the fruit from the skin and cut up into slices.
  5. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

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Pineapple Coconut Fizz

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Pineapple and coconut make a great partnership, and this mocktail is perfect as a refreshing summer drink.

Prep: 5-10 minutes

Total: 5-10 minutes

Serves: 4

Image from Sainsbury's

Image from Sainsbury’s

INGREDIENTS:

  1. ½ x medium pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped, reserving 1 skin-on slice, cut into wedges, to decorate
  2. 200ml pineapple and coconut juice drink
  3. ½ x 28g pack fresh mint, washed and chopped, reserving a few sprigs to decorate
  4. Crushed ice
  5. Soda water to top up

METHOD:

  1. Put the pineapple in a bowl and crush using the end of a rolling pin.
  2. Tip into a jug and add the pineapple and coconut juice and the chopped mint.
  3. Fill 4 glasses with crushed ice, then pour over the pineapple mixture.
  4. Stir with a cocktail stick, then top with soda water
  5. Decorate with the reserved pineapple wedges and mint to serve.

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The Coolest Ice Cubes Ever!

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I can’t believe how hot it is. I swear I’m melting away. I know England cries out for hot weather but seriously this is just too much. I feel like I’ve been locked in a sauna. People may pray for the sun but in my opinion, hot weather is so overrated – and that’s coming from a summer baby! Beach babes are able to look effortlessly hot as the temperature soars, and I’m no different. I’m able to look like a hot, sweaty mess with no effort at all!

 

So in this heat, it’s no wonder my thoughts have turned to keeping super cool. For me it’s cold drinks – and I’m knocking them back like there’s no tomorrow. And cold drinks mean ice, which right now is a necessity. The summer season means parties, weddings, barbeques etc where ice and drinks will go hand in hand. But the problem with ice cubes is that they can be pretty boring to look out and as great as they are at keeping your drinks cool, they’re also great at watering them down (which is only OK if you’re drinking water!) I did a post a while back about creating an ice-bucket – made from ice. It proved to be very popular and inspired this post about livening up the humble ice-cube in terms of appearance (presentation is important, you know!) and taste!

1. GOT TO BE HOT TO BE COOL!

Image from lifetricks.co.uk

Image from lifetricks.co.uk

Everyone knows that if you freeze cold water, you get cloudy ice. But freeze boiling water and you get crystal-clear ice. And that’s really important if you’re going to add other ingredients to your ice cubes.

2. THE HERB GARDEN

Image from boston.com

Image from boston.com

 

Add washed sprigs or leaves to the water before freezing. Mint ice-cubes are great in iced-tea (Mr. D’s fave) or fruit punch; rosemary or thyme are perfect with home-made lemonade; basil works well with gin, vodka or rum based cocktails,  and lemongrass ice-cubes in pineapple or apple juice – WOW!

3. CITRUS FRESH

Image from goodfoodideas.com

Image from goodfoodideas.com

Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are a very obvious choice as slices are often served with cold beverages. But you could also try experimenting with pieces of grapefruit, pomelo, blood or ruby orange. These will work with still or sparkling water; as well as a variety of sodas, cocktails and juices.

4. BERRY NICE 

Image from tastespotting.com

Image from tastespotting.com

If you want pretty as a picture ice-cubes, berries are the way to go. They give a fantastic burst of colour and a fruity flavour to drinks. Raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries etc. could go in whole, although strawberries would probably have to be sliced. They would be perfect with iced tea, lemonade, sodas, berry, cherry, pomegranate or cranberry cocktails or juices, and raspberry would also work well with orange or peach juices.

5. TROPICAL PARADISE

 

Try pieces of pineapple, kiwi fruit, lychee or dragon fruit for a touch of the exotic. These would be a welcome addition to coconut water, a multitude of cocktails and tropical fruit juices.

6. SALAD DAYS

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Cucumber, celery, red, yellow and green peppers might be more at home in a salad bowl but these can be really refreshing served with still or sparkling water or in a Pimm’s (my absolute fave – summer just isn’t summer without it!)

7. EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES

Image from shaadicurry.com

Image from shaadicurry.com

Add some washed, fresh rose petals to water before freezing. I adore the delicate flavouring and aroma of rose as an addition to food and drinks, and it is amazing with pomegranate, raspberry and other berry based drinks.

8. IF THE SUMMER HEAT ISN’T ENOUGH…

Image from blond-logic.hubpages.com

Image from blond-logic.hubpages.com

 

… then try adding cut pieces of chilli to your ice cubes. This will give a light heat to drinks and complements citrus, pineapple, papaya and mango based drinks. Just remove some of the seeds in order to reduce the level of spiciness.

9. GLITTERING COLOURS

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Add some edible glitter for sparkle or food colouring for a marbled effect. These obviously won’t do anything in terms of flavour but they will make the ice-cubes in your drink look so pretty, so it might be good for those who want to keep the taste of their drinks pure.

10. DITCH THE H20

Who says that ice-cubes can only made with water. It can be annoying when ice-cubes water down our drinks. So freeze cola for cola-flavoured ice-cubes; pineapple juice for pineapple-flavoured cubes; iced tea for iced tea cubes… you see where I’m going with this.

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

And of course you can combine any of the above and freeze them in water if you really want to be creative with your cubes. Try rose with raspberry; pineapple with lemongrass and ginger; cucumber with mint… the possibilities are endless!

Let’s hope the only thing that melts in the heat wave is the ice in your drinks! Stay cool.

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Keep Calm And Stay Hydrated

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Summer has officially descended upon us and the weather is just making me want to drink… and drink… and drink! Forget food, I just want something to quench my thirst so no prizes for guessing what’s going to make up most of this week’s shopping list!

 

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I came across some delicious sounding recipes for drinks which I thought I’d share with you, including one for a hot coffee drink which may not sound ideal for the warmer weather, but a girl always has to get her early morning coffee fix!

HAZELNUT LATTE

One of my fave coffee flavours – hazelnut!

Mr_-Coffee-BVMC-EL1-Cafe-Latte

INGREDIENTS:

Hazelnut syrup

A cup of whisked, warmed milk

1 tsp. coffee powder

A swirl of cream

METHOD:

  1. Put coffee powder into a latte cup.
  2. Add a tbsp. of boiling water to coffee and stir.
  3. Add hazelnut syrup.
  4. Top up with whisked, warmed milk.
  5. Add a swirl of cream.

 

MANGO LASSI

(serves 6)

I love mangoes and anything made from this delicious fruit so it’s no surprise that it’s something I always order when I go to an Indian restaurant – although I have yet to make it myself! This version also includes mint – something I’ve never tried in a lassi.

Image from mealmotivation.com

Image from mealmotivation.com

INGREDIENTS:

A small bunch of mint leaves

100ml milk

1 ripe mango, peeled, stoned and chopped

2tbsp. low-fat yogurt

1tsp. runny honey

METHOD:

  1. Whizz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  2. Fill a tall glass with some ice.
  3. Pour lassi over ice – and serve!

 

CLEMENTINE FIZZ

Pretty much Bucks Fizz – something I usually have with breakfast Christmas morning but I bet an ice-cold glass of Clementine Fizz would go down very well on a hot day.

Image from channel4.com

Image from channel4.com

INGREDIENTS:

Juice of 1 Clementine

1tsp. triple sec

Prosecco or Cava

METHOD:

  1. Put the juice in a champagne flute.
  2. Add the triple sec.
  3. Top with Prosecco or cava.

 

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

Who wouldn’t like a glass of champers?

Image from bbc.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

INGREDIENTS:

1 sugar cube

A dash of Angostura bitters

10ml brandy or cognac

Champagne or your favourite sparkling wine

METHOD:

  1. Place sugar cube in a fluted glass.
  2. Add Angostura bitters and brandy or cognac.
  3. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine.

 

WASABI BLOODY MARY

(makes 6)

Image from fresh.co.nz-

Image from fresh.co.nz-

usually made with tobacco sauce, this version uses wasabi for an even more powerful kick!

INGREDIENTS:

1ltr tomato juice

3tbsp. wasabi powder

6 shots vodka

1tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 lemons, halved

6 celery sticks

Handful of ice

METHOD:

  1. Place ice in glasses.
  2. Put all other ingredients – except celery –  into a large jug.
  3. Stir well.
  4. Pour into glasses over the ice.
  5. Serve with celery sticks.

Enjoy these gorgeous drinks. Enjoy the Summer!

All recipes from Woman’s Own, March 2014

All recipes serve one unless otherwise stated.

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Spicy Salsa With Everything!

 

One special memory about my very first time in the States many years ago was that I learned how to make salsa. My Aunt P. who’s Mexican taught me how to make an authentic Mexican salsa and for a long time afterwards I was making it all the time and serving it up with everything: crisps, tortilla chips, wraps, sandwiches, rice, chips, salads… you name it, salsa was served with it. If ever there was an event or get together I’d whip up a tub of Aunt P.’s special salsa.

For reasons I’m not totally sure of, I gradually stopped making it over the years which I regret as I eventually forgot the recipe. Until, I came across a recipe in a magazine for salsa and realized it was almost identical to the one Aunt P. taught me to make – except this one contained garlic. I’m so thrilled that salsa making days are back. Perhaps you’d like to try this recipe too.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

4 tomatoes

1 green chilli

1/2 red onion

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp. coriander

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes into small chunks.
  2. Crush the garlic.
  3. Finely chop all the other ingredients.
  4. Combine all chopped  ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Add lime juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Enjoy!

 

The Perfect Easter Lunch: Jerk Lamb With Guava Sauce

 

Easter’s here! Amid all the chocolate we’ll be scoffing, we’ll most definitely be sitting down to a special Easter meal of roast lamb like millions of other families up and down the country.

But this year I fancied an Easter lunch with a bit a twist. Rather than the usual minted roast lamb, I thought about serving a roast lamb with a jerk seasoning and served with roasted sweet potatoes. I remember watching Jamaican chef Virginia Burke on a food programme where she cooked a delicious looking jerk lamb; a contemporary take on the classic jerk chicken. I remember Burke saying at the time: “We have the best food in the Caribbean but nobody knows about it.”

And she’s absolutely right! I have been a big fan of Jamaican food – in fact all Caribbean – for years and I’m really surprised that it’s not more well known because I’m sure it would really take off in a big way – in quite the same way that Indian or Thai food has.

If you’ve never tried Caribbean food, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Try Virginia Burke’s recipe for jerk lamb with a yummy guava sauce. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

JERKED LAMB WITH GUAVA SAUCE

Ingredients

For the jerk seasoning
•6 spring onions
•2 scotch bonnet peppers
•1 tsp ground allspice
•1 tbsp thyme, chopped
•2 tsp ground cinnamon
•1 tsp nutmeg, grated
•1 tsp brown sugar
•1.5 tsp salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•75 ml white malt vinegar, distilled
•1 tbsp oil

For the guava dipping sauce
•1 heads garlic
•1 tsp olive oil
•175 g guava jelly, or redcurrant jelly
•2 tbsp white wine vinegar
•1 tsp hot pepper sauce, (optional, for added heat)

For the lamb

•3 tbsp jerk seasoning
•2.5 kg leg of lamb, boned
•2 cloves garlic, crushed

To serve
•1 tsp parsley, fresh, chopped
•1 tsp coriander, fresh, chopped

Method

1. Place the ingredients for the jerk seasoning into a blender and whiz to a thick paste.

2. Rub the jerk seasoning and salt thoroughly into the lamb. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.

3. Set the oven to 180C/gas 4.

4. Rub the crushed garlic on the inside of the lamb leg. Roll up the leg and tie in three places to secure. Roast for 45 minutes for medium rare – add about 15 minutes cooking time for well-done lamb.

5. To make the dipping sauce, cut off the top of a whole head of garlic. Pour over the olive oil, wrap it in foil and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until soft.

6. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and crush them in a saucepan. Add the guava jelly and white wine vinegar. Stir until the guava jelly has dissolved, add the hot pepper sauce (if using) and bring to a simmer. Cook for five minutes.

7. Allow the lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Just before serving, stir the parsley and coriander into the sauce. Slice the lamb and serve immediately with the warm sauce.

 

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