Kaua’i – a week in paradise

Two weeks ago, we were in Kaua’i or Kauai - one of the islands that make up Hawaii and known as the ‘Garden Isle’ for its lush green vegetation. Sometime towards the end of last year, we were thinking about what we’d like to do to celebrate five years of being married. Hawaii appealed to us as the perfect destination for a laid back and easy short holiday – we’re trying to make the most of living in the US and even though the flight to Hawaii is about 5.5 hours, it is still a lot closer to California than say, Europe.

I was expecting Kauai to be a place overflowing with tourists and with beaches strewn with resorts and souvenir shops typical of any popular beach destination. My fears were put to rest the moment we got into our rental car and took off to our rental studio apartment in Hanalei Bay. Yes, there were tourists and plenty of them but we somehow, as fate would have it (although Peter would disagree and say it was his diligent research that made this possible), ended in the most picturesque of spots that wasn’t overrun by visitors. Our apartment was only a 5 minute walk from the beautiful crescent shaped Hanalei Bay – a popular spot for surfers, beginners and experts alike, and also the spot where parts of the much acclaimed movie, ‘ The Descendants‘ starring George Clooney was filmed.

kauai

hanalei hawaii

hanalei town center

hanalei hawaii

hanalei kauai

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Making Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract – that ubiquitous ingredient called for in recipes for cookies, cakes, breads and more. The need to use high quality vanilla extract is stressed upon by many a chef. Given the considerable price difference between a bottle of ‘original’ vanilla extract and supermarket brand bottles, it’s not surprising if you would hesitate to pick up the expensive one. Especially once you know that all it is made of is vanilla pods and alcohol. I have been reading about how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract at home for a while now. It was time to try it out for myself and see if it really was easier than just buying  a premium quality bottle of the stuff.

make your own vanilla extract

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Cauliflower, Squash & Greens in a Curry

I’m kicking off the new year on my blog on the lighter side with, dare I say it, a healthier than usual recipe for vegetables simmered in Indian spices. This has got nothing to do with new year’s resolutions (I don’t believe in those) or a sudden change in diet. We were at the farmers’ market last Sunday and while there were plenty of winter root vegetables around, what caught my eye was a stand with really cute looking miniature squash called honey nut squash. I’d read about in my latest Saveur edition. So, naturally, I was curious and brought some home.

squash curry

 

easy curry recipe

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Spiced Madeleines

Madeleines are one of my favourite things to make. These perfectly sized bites of cake satisfy you without the over indulgence. To get into the festive mood, I spiced up a basic madeleine recipe with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and a dose of crystallised ginger pieces. As these bake in the oven, a lovely aroma fills your kitchen and suddenly, all that rain outside doesn’t matter. The couch, a steaming mug of tea and a plate of these cookies are all you need in the world.

madeleine recipe

home baked madeleines

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Cranberry & Almond Crackers

We had our first taste of the popular Raincoast crisps when we were visiting friends a while ago. It was I think the fig and olive flavour combination. From then on, I began hunting for the brand at every supermarket and store. So imagine my joy when I spotted their stand at the IFBC in Seattle that I attended in September! A pack of their cranberry and hazelnut crisps found it’s way into my goodie bag and I discovered that they were stocked at all local Whole Foods stores in the bay area.

cheese crackers

easy cheese crackers

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