Love, Food and Memories...
Our little class of 23 has been together since the 8th grade- a small time for some, but it has just made us so close. We're like a huge family... clichéd, I know, but it's true.
We're drama-free, group-free. We just love each other.
I know we're all going to be here next year, but with one tiny difference: the addition of 60 new people for the I.B. batch.
In a way, I'm excited for new people; new faces, new personalities, new friends and new things to do.
But in other ways, I just like it how it is. Till the last day, all 10 of us girls still sat and ate lunch together; laughing and screaming and complaining and sharing and gossiping and just everything that goes on in teenage girls' lives.
It's hard to look back 3 years and see how far we've come as a class and how much I have changed as a person. It seems so... distant and unreal.
A testimony to our closeness was our little party on our last day of school. We all brought in food and supplies and held a buffet for our class and all the teachers that have taught us since we joined.
It was weird... it worked.
Our gaggle of young, chaotic, loud and uncooperative barely-teenagers from all those years ago was suddenly so orderly and responsible and- most unexpected of all- appreciated by the teachers.
I mean, we had our share of yelling at each other, but at the end there were guys tidying all the garbage and handing plates to the teachers and... I'm proud to have been part of our bizarre group.
The teachers, too made so much effort- a couple of them even wrote (and sang) gorgeous songs for us and prepared a lunch of canapés, cake and 'vada pau' (the 'Indian Burger', as my teacher fondly nicknamed it).
My sister got home from an exhausting, tearful and girly-melodramatic camp on Friday, and to make her feel better my mum baked chocolate chip cupcakes and lasagne, and I made her the 'Fabulous French Toast Sticks' that she's been asking for for ages.
I love how good food effortlessly brings people together, and continues to be a way to show that you really care.
It doesn't matter whether you're cooking for family, bringing your friend's favourite food or cupcakes to share at your daily lunch on the terrace, or you're enjoying a feast and reliving all your memories of 3 long (but all too short) years.
Mix & Match Birthday Breakfast...
For my dad's birthday I was kind of stuck on what to make him.
The problem is, he's just about as food-obsessed as I am, so it's really difficult to pinpoint a favourite: oliebollen, raisin buns, Indian sweets, Chinese, anything with dates or figs, Dutch pastries and cookies... the list is endless.
In the end I settled on a recipe for fruit scones from my trusty little book of 'Good Old-Fashioned Teatime Treats' -even selecting a recipe from the book proved to be an extensive project- and homemade ricotta from Smitten Kitchen.
My mum made a lovely pineapple and banana smoothie... and her apple pie (another of my dad's favourites) was just heaven
The scones were insanely easy and I made them on the morning of my dad's birthday (I mean, if you're having birthday scones, they might as well be fresh and warm, right?).
I made the ricotta that morning too, because the recipe said an hour of draining would give a tender ricotta.
Making the mix was simple, but the cheese really could have used more time to drain. We had to get it ready for breakfast so my mum came to help with the emergency by hand-squeezing the cloth to try and make it more solid. It was a horribly messy process, but it was a life-saver.
I was wary of how the cheese would turn out because it wasn't as firm as I have known ricotta to be.
But oh man it was so scrumptious... I've never thought of ricotta as being really flavourful, but I loved the creamy, lemony taste this recipe creates.
I had spoonfuls of it at breakfast and then at any possible opportunity for days after: sandwiches, on an apple (not my best idea... but it was worth a shot. In my defence, it was inspired by pear and chevre), and I made a brilliant discovery: homemade ricotta with peanut butter. (If you already discovered this amazing combination, sorry. But hey, great minds think alike ;) )
The scones too were a success. I had started feeling horrid while they were baking because the dough was gooey an non-rollable and they weren't looking golden and they had baked for long enough already.
But they were warm and crumbly and so perfect for toppings. That's what I love about a lot of British pastries: they're not too sweet. Of course, I'm a sucker for streusel-coated giant American muffins, but they're sugar-loaded cakes. A lot of British treats are more gentle, allowing them to be paired with both nutella and ricotta depending on your mood.
Hence the 'Mix & Match Menu'. I love this kind of doodling stuff- it's part of the fun of food and it's totally the kind of thing I want in my café.