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Hanoi, Vietnam

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My last post dates back to February. My bad.
Well at least I have a lot to say, after months of absence..

February. Those days I was booking and getting ready for the farthest I have ever been.
My first time in Asia. My second one outside my comfort zone aka Europe.
About time.

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copyright for this picture: my friend Sara. It was the only one in this post not shot by me.

When I came back everybody asked “How was it?”. All the time.
First thing first: Hot. Extremely hot. And humid. Far more than I could ever expect and I currently live amid water. We were sweating more than our t-shirts and shorts could bear.
We were literally dripping. Every second we spent outside. But it was worthy.

Here is beautiful Hanoi.

Streetfood is basically the only food for themdsc_0515A lovely young ladydsc_0630The Hanoi Social Clubdsc_0563A barber shop (can you spot me?)dsc_0519 A moment of relax: coconut milk coffee (addictive!)csc_0011The smith streetdsc_1071dsc_0932

Birthdays

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Yesterday got a mail from WordPress: it was my blog’s first birthday! I can’t believe how fast time passes. It really seems a week ago a broken-hearted me started typing a few words on a new blog, just to express her feeling for a recent loss. This blog then developed and turned to a recipient for memories, recipes and pictures from my wanderings. I can say it really is part of the healing process.
And.. do you believe in coincidences? I don’t know. But today my wonderful G. would have turned 34.
Two birthdays in two days. I baked a few things lately, but nothing good enough to celebrate a departed friend and all the amazing memories we shared.
I love you G., your laugh still resound in our ears.

Coconut and Nutella cupcakes

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Another day with friends, another chance to bake something new. The idea thrills me every time.
WP_20140323_00620140324090556 - CopiaSince I fear another cold and rainy spring is on the way, I still feel the urge to switch on the oven every other day.
This time of year, I always feel I need my vitamin D, after months of fog, rain, cold, wind.
I love to observe how Nature changes in Spring, while I wait for the summer sun to finally come out and kill us as usual. Oh my God I can’t wait.

But, March is being bitchy as usual. And a cold Sunday calls for comfort, soft and sweet food. To me, cupcakes.
I was invited to this Sunday lunch and, obviously, offered to bring the dessert.
I am chocolate addicted, but not everybody is. But could anyone turn down Nutella? I don’t think so.
That’s how I came out with these Coconut and Nutella cupcakes.
The recipe is pretty basic, I though we would eat a lot of many homamde delicious dishes (as it regularly happens when together), so we would need a not-too-sweet dessert.

Coconut and Nutella cupcakes

Ingredients (yeld: 15 cupcakes)
for the cupcakes
200 gr white flour
100 gr coconut flakes
6 gr salt
2 tsp baking powder
70 gr sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
100 gr yogurt
30 gr milk (I use rice one, I love its sweet flavour)
3 eggs
3 tbsp olive oil

For the frosting:
150 gr cream cheese
50 gr butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1/4 cup icing sugar
Coconut flakes (to decorate)

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a small one dilute yogurt with milk. Stir the dairies into the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil and the eggs (one at the time). Once the batter is homogeneous, prepare the cupcakes wrappers.
Fill the wrappers just a half. Add a drop of Nutella in the middle and the cover with more batter.
Cook for 20 – 22 minutes at 180°. Check with a toothpick if the cupcakes are ready.

For the frosting:
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the Nutella (I ran out of it, thus I used some spicy dark chocolate I was given for Christmas), then the sugar.

Frost the cupcakes, decorate with some coconut flakes.

That’s the outside (I always leave a couple of them without frosting)

WP_20140323_01220140324090218 - Copia

 

I took a nice picture of the inside… a pity I’m an idiot and deleted it. Thank God one of the girl had saved one for breakfast and still have it in store. I asked her to take a picture and send it to me. Here it is, thanks to wonderful M.
Surprise! Nutella on the inside too 🙂

coconut and nutella cupcakeEnjoy!

 

A fresh cocktail from scratch!

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I know nothing about cocktails. I try not to drink spirits, they are too tricky: they lure you into thinking you can dance, sing, be the sexiest thing on earth and reconsider all your life choices. All this while chatting with strangers. So no, after a few years of morning-realization-and-shame moments I have decided they are not for me. I enjoy just one or two once in a while and strictly with people I know.

Sunday I threw a party for a pregnant friend. It started like a baby shower, but then turned into a mess, as usual. I love how we can start with a perfect idea and just suddenly change direction and chat about inappropriate things, film a chubby-bunny challenge, take incredible pictures and laugh ourselves to tears.

I baked two cakes and many cupcakes for the party, the post is on the way.

The good news is, I prepared a cocktail from scratch. An amazing one. I had half a bottle of peach vodka left from the New Year’s party, half bottle of Prosecco and some fresh lemons.
I squeezed the lemons, added the juice to the vodka and poured the Prosecco. I though “this is gonna be either amazing or a waste of good alcool”. After the first glass one of the guy asked: “Is there any chance we can make more??”.
I don’t know weather this recipe already exists or not, but we loved it, so I’m sharing it!
Recap:
1 bottle Peach Vodka
1 bottle Prosecco
4 lemons, freshly squeezed

Add the lemon juice to the vodka and mix with Prosecco. Simple as that!
Enjoy!

Storms

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One year today. One year and still we can’t recover from all the pain and the sadness.
How do you move on from the loss of someone you love? I refuse to think in a past tense.
Many things have happened since you are gone, my sweet G. Hilarious moments, amazing nights, many tears, enough hugs to circle our own hometown. Still our lives are split in before and after the day we lost you.
Last night, again, you visited me in my dreams. Your smile, your laugh, all the stupid things we used to yell, hasn’t changed a bit. I have one last resource, a feeble hope you may, one day, come back.
The Sherlock fandom knows what I am talking about. Still, it’s nonsense, but what if it works?
I miss you, my dear. Since you’ve been gone I have tried to accomplish as much as possible and, most of all, detect what I really want to do before I will be gone too. I guess I have to thank YOU, nobody else.
More than fear, more than sadness, more than anything our love for you is keeping us together and warm. Hug me tight again, my dear. We won’t let you go.

And Fleetwood Mac’s Storms is in loop in my mind.

Simple Thai Soup

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Yesterday I was dead tired.
Nevertheless, I invited a couple of friends I really was longing to see, for dinner.
In these occasions I usually try new recipes, prepare a dessert, be the most decadent and complicated cake ever or just a quick and easy batch of cookies.
Yesterday my mind was “No, Ary. Just No. Buy something, like.. anything will do”.
But I don’t like buying processed food, it’s totally nonsense to me. I was raised in a family where natural, healthy food was fundamental. My mom cooks every part of the meal with fresh vegetable my dad farms, everyday. No trans fats, no fried foods, no sugar if they can help it. I firmly believe this is why they are two healthy adults in their 60s (and they do look definitely younger).
So I headed to the supermarket and bought champignons, green onions and other vegetables. I must confess I even bought some crisps and cookies. My bad.
Once arrived home I improvised a Thai Soup. Kind of. I didn’t find any Tofu or soy sprouts. So let’s say it was a simple version of it.

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Ingredients:
2 green onions, diced
1 garlic clove
1 can of peas
100 gr champignons, coarsely sliced
a couple of savoy cabbage leaves, diced
2 tbsps of light cream cheese
soy noodles
water (1 liter)
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and spices (I used pepper, chilli, chive)

In a large pot put all the vegetable, minced or sliced as indicated.
Add salt, oil and the garlic clove. Pour 1 liter (or more, it depends if you like your soup to be more liquid or not) of water and cook until boiling point. Add the noodles and wait until cooked (it will take just a few minutes). Add the spices and the cream cheese. Cook for a couple more minutes and serve steamy hot! Though this simple and improvised, my friend loved the soup!
Here my pictures

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Cheek to Cheek

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Don’t know what the weather’s like around, but here in North-East Italy is raining cats and dogs since.. 2009 probably. Whoever says that in Italy the sun shines 24/7, we’re happy all the time and stuff, well, they should come and live here for a while. We spend most of the fall/winter/spring time complaining due to fog and rain. Summer is hot like hell and damp like a turkish sauna. May and September are the best moments if you are wondering (and wandering), but it depends on the year, obviously.

Sunday it was no different. Rain, cold and sadness was pouring down. I was to meet a few girls for a tea, so I baked some cookies to take over. Baking cheers me up so  much. Plus, it fills the house with that sweet smell I love. It makes me feel really at home. It’s like being welcomed on the threshold with a warm hug. 🙂

This the recipe. It’s perfect, I can tell you. Nothing to add, nothing to take off.
I had very little time after the chilling part so I simply scooped the mixture, shaped some little balls and put into the oven. So my cookies were not those elegant ying & yangs you see in the original link.
I got ass cheeks. But they were good. One of the girls called them “orgasm cookies”. Thumbs up to the recipe, then!

Just a quick note. I know that everybody usually buys peanut butter. I honestly don’t know why since it takes 3 minutes to prepare; this way it’s cheap, natural and easy to get. No chemicals, preservatives and stuff. Just blend the peanuts for a few minutes. They will automatically transform into peanut butter. Don’t add anything at all. Just salt, if you like it.

These my pictures 😉

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