Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Santo Domingo - Dominican Republic

We just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic, it was a fun adventure and lovely Island to visit rich in history and agriculture and of course famous Caribbean beaches. When we were planning this trip, we knew we wanted to hire a car and drive to explore the Island and then spend the last few days at a resort over Christmas. Mostly for the kids, the beach access and pools are a plus. However we really aren't resort people I found it to be overwhelming with so many people and truly having the car and being able to leave and drive around was magic for me. I can see the appeal and also understand why others don't venture out of them much it takes guts. We drove all around Jamaica when we visited, also Puerto Rico. I asked a few locals about the plan but to be honest I am not sure they wanted to encourage us to drive around and really the beaches are what most folks go for or organized tours to sight see. 

Like most of the Caribbean Islands alot of the population live in poverty especially in rural areas and live in simple houses, crime is an issue, traffic can be bad in the cities and you have to keep your wits about you. But having said that I don't think many of the Islands are as dangerous as people feel they are and the fear factor is a benefit to the resorts to keep folks on them. 

To truly experience the culture and meet locals exploring is priceless in my opinion. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mince Pies and BIG NEWS

One of my favorite British Christmas treats is mince pies, I often buy them but when I saw the jar of mincemeat in the grocery store the other day I took the plunge and got it and it made me smile that it was made in Lincolnshire my home county in England. These little pies are super easy to make and taste of the holidays with the spiced fruit. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Prawn, Pea and Broccoli Risotto

A one pot meal we always enjoy is risotto and its a great store cupboard meal, if you have frozen prawns, peas, arborio rice and stock on hand its easy to whip up 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

HELP - Chennai #chennaifloods

Chennai a city close to my heart has been pounded with heavy rains and floods in the last few days, this wonderful city is my hubby's hometown, the city where we got married where my amazing in laws live - Amma and Appa, friends and family. 

Right now the efforts are in rescuing folks from the floods often with boats, giving food and shelter. 

On a search I couldn't find many international sites to donate to. So I decided to use paypal, I have added a donate button below. Please give what you can I will give the money to a trusted friend there 

Madhu Thottappillil a doctor he will distribute to relief organizations and folks in need in the coming weeks and months. I will add pictures and further blog posts to show this. 

See below for a feel of whats going on, its tragic and more rain is in the forecast 


You can give directly via bank transfer or via PayPal to this trust, Madhu is on the board and will ensure the money reaches those in need they will share stories and pictures over the coming weeks of how the funds are helping 

Jacob Joseph shalom Abode trust 
SBI, Purasawalkam, Chn 600007 
IFS code -SBIN0001515

much love

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Soup

This time of year soups feature a lot on our table, the abundance of winter squash makes it easy. Soups are nourishing and comforting and perfect for cooler days. I had never roasted cauliflower, I was inspired after a recent trip to Charlottesville Virginia when we ate at a French restaurant we had a wonderful cauliflower soup and it had roasted cauliflower as a garnish. 


  • one cauliflower chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • one small butternut squash cut into cubes with the skin removed
  • a knob of butter 
  • a dash of balsamic vinegar
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper 
  • a pinch of garam masala 

  1. heat your oven to 400 degrees and bake the cauliflower and butternut squash with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes until soft. Keep a little cauliflower to one side to later use for garnish
  2. meanwhile saute the onion and garlic in a pan with butter, add a little garam masala until soft 5-7 minutes 
  3. add the roasted vegetables and about 2-3 cups of vegetable broth simmer for 5 minutes then blend
  4. return to the stove for a few more minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste 
  5. serve with roasted cauliflower as garnish.
  6. enjoy 

I want to take a minute to tell you all how very thankful I am for you being here, your comments, interaction on social media and friendship means the world to me,
Happy Thanksgiving 


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Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Gardens at Monticello

We recently visited Charlottesville Virginia for a weekend, it was an almost half way point to catch up with my brother and sister in law who live in DC. As a gardener I have always wanted to visit the gardens at Thomas Jeffersons Monticello he was an avid collector of plants on his travels and vegetable gardener in fact he grew 330 vegetable varieties in Monticello's 1000-foot-long garden terrace. There were also 170 fruit varieties of apples, peaches, grapes, and more that grew in the orchards. The gardens are now a gene bank for the world preserving historic varieties of fruits and vegetables. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

This is a tasty and nutritious recipe, and one pot meal. Quinoa is a seed used like a grain from Bolivia that is high in protein. It worked well cooked as a pilaf with vegetables. When we visited family in the UK over the summer I have a fond memory of my Grandma ordering butternut squash and quinoa at a restaurant she really enjoyed it and I loved that she is willing to try new things. Sometimes foods with unfamiliar names can seem intimidating but once you try and learn a few ways to prepare them, you may be surprised to enjoy them and add them to your cooking repertoire.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tips for Starting a School Garden

Just over a year ago I became a Master Gardener Volunteer after completing a course at my local Cooperative Extension office. I have enjoyed volunteering at various gardens over the last year and the farm at the children's home in Winston Salem. I would say my passion is always in growing vegetables that's what brought me to the farm. I started helping in the Global Garden at Clemmons Elementary about a year ago too I would say mostly weeding and dropping hints that we needed a vegetable garden.

As a registered dietitian and gardener I feel growing vegetables with kids is amazing. I have a few raised beds at home and love how excited the kids get picking and enjoying ripe tomatoes, snap peas and more. They feel proud that they helped grow it and love the taste. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and October Bean Soup

This is the time of year for soups as the weather cools down and the abundance of winter squash makes them so easy to make. Nutrient dense and flavorful winter squash makes the perfect addition to soups. In North Carolina you see October beans this time of year, these pinto like beans are also great  in soups rich in protein and fiber.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Smokey Pork Tenderloin with seasonal vegetables

This was my first time making pork tenderloin in the summer when we flew to England we took a sweet lady Jean with us and she had made some and was snacking on it at the airport, hubby and the kids liked it. Later she brought some over to the house for me to cook. I had purchased some peat smoked salt in Scotland and figured it would go well with this. Its a nice cut of meat very moist and paired well with rice and sautéed vegetables. I added some tomatoes to make a little of a sauce. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spicy Chickpea Sandwich

We eat a lot of sandwiches at our house and sometimes you feel like a change, channa masala makes a fun vegetarian and super healthy filling. It's nice and spicy and pairs wonderfully with cucumber and tomato or any in season vegetables.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bulgur Wheat and Carrot Salad

I made this salad recently its based on Tabouleh a Middle Eastern salad loaded with fresh parsley and using bulgur wheat interestingly when I added to vine I labeled as tabouleh and it created lots of unpleasant comments about how unauthentic it was. This got me thinking its great to seek out authentic foods, try new cuisines in local restaurants and travel but why not change up a traditional dish. Food evolves over time and in some cases many countries claim to have created a certain dish. The most important thing I feel is having fun in the kitchen being brave and creating tasty and nourishing dishes if its not textbook authentic thats ok go ahead and enjoy. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lavenham, Suffolk: Photo Series

On our recent trip to the UK we stayed in a village in Suffolk, I love this part of England, beautiful farmland and picture perfect villages. One day we took a drive to the village of Lavenham, I had read that it boosted some of the most medieval building's in England. The village first obtained a market charter in 1257, most of its buildings date from the 1500 and 1600's when it thrived as a center for the wool trade. In fact its famous and prestigious purple wool was exported all over the world. 

The Lavenham guildhall built in 1530 is a wonderful museum that goes through the history of the area, the kids really enjoyed the dressing up clothes here. 

The village is well worth a visit it has wonderful little tea rooms and first class antique shops and if you enjoy history and amazing architecture you won't be disappointed. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Avocado Toast with Heirloom Tomatoes

Avocado toast is so popular these days, I saw it referred to as an Australian dish on the Guardian recently for me I also think of it as Californian. On our visit to Southern California in the spring I have fond memories of avocado toast on sourdough in La Jolla. 

This quick snack or light meal really shines in summer when tomatoes are at their best. It's easy to make, very healthy and kids love it too. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Isle of Skye

I have always wanted to visit the Misty Isle also known as Skye. Its a beautiful Island off the West Coast of Scotland.

World famous for its natural beauty, scenic drives and its unique weather system that can change at any time, just watch the clouds. We recently returned from a trip to the UK seeing family and spent a week in Scotland. My Parents, my brother and sister in law and new baby niece live in Scotland so we planned a trip to the west coast. 

We rented a lovely cabin near the bridge you take over to Skye and visited a couple of times. The day we went to the mystical fairy pools it was sunny such a blessing on this Island not known for its good weather. These amazing waterfalls and crystal clear pools really captured my nearly 7 year old's imagination she is all about fairies. In fact when asked what she saw on her trip she mentions these magical pools. 

Skye is a must visit it has a spirit about it that captures peoples heart from around the world. Its a big Island so allow a few days to explore, and keep a sense of wonder and imagination you never know who you might see or indeed meet. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Strawberry Smoothie

One of the things I have really enjoyed this year is volunteering on the children's home farm, working in the strawberry fields was so rewarding seeing them grow and knowing that the sale of the strawberries helped the home. Strawberry season ended in North Carolina a while ago but one of the cool things about seeing family in Scotland is that I can have a second season. This simple smoothie is great as the season draws to an end and the strawberries are a little over ripe.

Monday, June 29, 2015

In Season Vegetable Soup

We love soups at our house in fact it is something my hubby asks me to make, the beauty of using in season produce is that flavor will be at its peak, and using a simple recipe the ingredients will shine. 
I made this one in the spring when new potatoes were in season one of my favorite farmers at the Tanglewood market had picked the potatoes a couple of hours before they tasted so fresh and earthy.


  • a small bowl of new potatoes
  • a handful of fresh parsley and oregano 
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • a little knob of butter 
  • 2 small carrots chopped
  • a bunch of fresh spinach 
  • a handful of frozen or fresh corn. 

  1. heat a little butter and saute the onions and the garlic for about 6 minutes
  2. then add the spinach a little at a time letting it reduce down
  3. add the potatoes, carrots and corn with about 2-3 cups of water and turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are soft
  4. add the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. this soup didn't need any stock the wonderful vegetables and garden fresh herbs gave it flavor. 

Love this picture of our little Princess eating in season fresh tomatoes really can be eaten as apples.

Soon we are headed to the UK to visit family, touring the UK seeing Grandparents, brothers and sisters and cousins we are excited. Be sure to follow along on social media, the facebook page, twitter and vine and join in our adventure.

Hope your having  a wonderful summer 


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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Scuppernong Float

One thing I love about shopping at local farmers markets is that you get to discover local foods, that may be new to you. It was in North Carolina that I first had muscadine grapes, these grapes are native to the area and grow really well. They can be eaten, made into a juice, a wine or jellies. I confess to eat they are a tad sweet for my liking and they have tough skins. So a juice is a good way to go.

 The grapes grow well in the south, there are a few varieties one being the Scuppernong  found growing wild in northeastern North Caroline in 1810 by Dr. Calvin Jones Float. They are rich in antioxidants and are truly a taste of the American South. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Edenton North Carolina - Photo Series

En route to North Carolina's Outer Banks we stopped for a night in Edenton. I had read about it as one of America's prettiest small towns its steeped in history and this made it a big draw to me. Its North Carolina's first colonial capital so it has British roots and boosts the States oldest courthouse that is still in operation from 1767. 

Its a lovely little town situated on the Albemarle sound a pretty body of water for fishing and boating. I confess its very small and could be done as a day trip really or maybe a coffee or spot of lunch en route to the coast. But if you love History as I do and historic buildings its well worth a visit. 

Cupola house, a lovely home from the 1700's with pretty gardens 

Roanake River lighthouse - a favorite of mine built in 1886 to guide boats, its a lovely focal point and next to a kids play ground. 

this made me smile as a Brit 


lovely old homes, this one is for sale :)

What little town has impressed you lately ?

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