It's December 31st! Enjoy these Reflections on 2012 and of great recipes and a Happy New Year!
One Year Ends and Another Begins
Another year is coming to an end and a new one is about to start. This week between Christmas and New Year's is always an introspective but also exciting time. A new year - it's like starting from scratch on a blank canvas. So many plans and opportunities lie ahead.
However, I think it is also just as important to look back at the year that has passed. There is no point in regret or beating yourself up about mistakes made and opportunities missed.
I love looking back at where we have been,
how far we have come,
what we have learned and
how we have changed.
It fills my heart with gratitude! It gives me a sense of accomplishment and inspires me to aim even higher in the new year.
My Gratitude for This Blog
This blog has gone through changes over the past year as well. It made a transition from being my 'business-website' back in Canada to a site where I can share sweet recipes, tutorials and tidbits of our travel adventures with you.
To be honest, I was struggling in the beginning of the year. We had just moved to Thailand and everything was so different here. It was difficult to accept that most kitchens here don't have an oven and that I wouldn't be baking for a while.
I also had no clear vision for this blog and didn't know, if I should/could continue with it.
Icing Sugar Saves the Day
I think a turning point was when I finally found icing sugar in Thailand. This opened the door to a few baking-related options.
I could make icing now and got a little into cookie decorating. Since I couldn't bake the cookies I bought different varieties at the store and started piping away on those.
Valentine's Day, Pink, and Icing
I didn't have much experience or knowledge, but with time, I learned the differences of glaze icing and royal icing, which store-bought cookies become soggy after decorating, how to get the cookie icing to dry in this humid climate, and how to store the cookies so that the omnipresent ants wouldn't get to them.
Then Tylose Arrives for Fondant!
Then the Tylose I had ordered from the UK (much cheaper and faster shipping to Thailand than from Canada or US) came.
I could make fondant! So for a while, my creative outlet were fondant cupcake toppers. I bought plain cupcakes at the store, made a simple buttercream to pipe a swirl with, and decorated them with homemade toppers.
There is even a little video tutorial with these Cherry Blossom cupcake toppers.
Sharing Recipes I Find With You
Another thing I started this year is sharing some of the cakes and other sweet treats my husband and I enjoy in cafes and coffee shops all over SE Asia. And while mouth-watering pictures are nice by themselves, I want to leave you with more in my posts.
Therefore, I am posting them with a recipe so you can recreate those baked goodies at home. Sometimes I post some of my tried-and-tested go-to recipes - like this absolute-best carrot cake recipe. Other times, I have never baked anything similar myself. That's when other food bloggers come in.
I am searching long and wide all over the internet to find a recipe that has been tried and tested (even if not by myself) and has good feedback. Whenever possible, I try to feature fellow food bloggers over big, impersonal recipe sites.
We had this (see picture above) Banana Chocolate Cake in a little cafe in Malaysia when we had to renew our Thai visas there.
Making Chocolate Bark Doesn't Require an Oven!
Somewhere in there middle of the year I realized that it doesn't take an oven to make chocolate bark. Making chocolate bark is quite simple in theory (I had to overcome a few additional hurdles like Thai heat and high humidity), but you can end up with a really eye-catching treat.
The bright green and red of the pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries in contrast to the white chocolate made this bark a real show-stopper.
Just yesterday, I gave foodgawker and TasteSpotting another try (several rejections made me almost give up some time ago) and this white chocolate bark was actually one of my very first submissions to get accepted. I think you can imagine how excited and absolutely stoked I am!!
It definitely inspires me to keep improving and learning more about food photography.
The Magic of Traveling and Doing What You Love
Then my husband and I realized that we kind of like this traveling thing and want to do more of it. We left the house we had rented in Thailand and ventured on a trip through Malaysia - all the way from north to south until we got to Singapore.
I loved all the new places we saw, as well as the adventures and experiences we had. But it was difficult to keep posting on here during this time of speed traveling. There wasn't always good or any internet and we didn't always have a kitchen either (not even one without an oven!).
Long story short - by the time we reached Singapore, we hopped on a plane and decided for a longer term stay on Bali.
Ahh...Bali! It was truly amazing. We rented a very nice little house with a pool (some might call it a villa) surrounded by rice paddies in the middle of nowhere for one month. It was a true retreat.
There, I had time to finally redesign the blog - even with its own logo - and then I baked like crazy!
Baking Fall Flavors!
Yes! I finally had an oven again and I made goood use of it.
Since the calendar said it was the beginning of fall (it didn't feel like it on Bali), I indulged in fall flavors and aromas. There were these luscious, moist Apple Caramel Cupcakes for example. And I even got my dose of pumpkin with this Super Easy Pumpkin Cake Recipe.
Cafes and Matcha Red Bean Cake
Like all good things, even our time on Bali came to an end, and we continued traveling. Northern Thailand and Laos were our stomping grounds for the rest of fall. For December, however, we returned 'home' to Krabi in Southern Thailand. My sister came for a visit and we got to celebrate my birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas with her.
This Matcha Red Bean Cake was my choice for a birthday cake. I didn't get to make it or have someone make it specifically for me, but had to rely on our absolute favorite coffee shop here in Krabi for it. This place was like our second home when we lived here long-term. A number of the cakes and treats that appeared on the blog this year we actually had at this beloved Relax cafe.
I Am Thankful for You!
So what else was new this year? YOU!
Yes, you, the readers and commenters of this blog. I am so glad you have found here this year.
Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. I truly appreciate each and every single one of you and I love hearing feedback. I feel so blessed that I got to know a number of you this year and would love to get to know more of you in the next year.
I hope you'll join me here again in 2013.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!