Category Archives: Miscellaneous

November Favourites

As I typed in the title, I realised that a year has sped by so fast. We have reached the end of 2018 and the next time I publish a favourites post, it’s most likely going to be 2019. Wow!

November is always a crazy month filled with lots of work as food is the most popular subject during this time of the year. Lots of preparations to welcome the festive month ahead leading up to our summer holidays.

And buying gifts….I think most of my energy is spent just deciding on that perfect gift for friends and family. I am not a huge gift buyer but in spite of that I put in so much effort in the whole gifting process since I don’t want to get carried away and buy stuff that has no value for money. Most of the stuff are just packaged beautifully (costs a fortune just for that reason) but absolutely not worth it. Instead I prefer to buy things that have a lasting value and mean a lot to the person who receives it.

Edible gifts are definitely high on my list especially for those who appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of the product. Spices, spice blends, fruits, wine, cheese, coffee beans, rare tea blends etc… are all high on my list of edible gifts.

Do you shop a lot during this season? What kind of gifts do you like to receive?

One of my top recommendations for edible gifts would be a box of premium Yarra Valley Cherries.

I was lucky to spend a beautiful afternoon at their boutique orchard in Seville. We picked and feasted on the most delicious, sweet, ripe red cherries followed by an epic lunch laid out in the orchard. Dedicated to top notch quality, Yarra Valley Cherries are able to guarantee the freshest, delicious cherries due to their unique advantage of growing, picking, grading and packing their cherries on their orchard in Seville making it available to us on the very same day.

A delicious gift to give yourself or anyone for Christmas. You could either place an online order or purchase directly from their Farmgate at Seville.

Yarra Valley Cherries - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Cherries - thespiceadventuress.com

As part of my final collaborative project with ALDI for 2018, I threw an early Christmas party for friends and family last week. Took the whole roasted ham/turkey route this year with plenty of help from ALDI’s premium Christmas range.

On my Christmas table were;

  • Premium triple smoked leg ham portion (glazed with orange juice, maple syrup, honey, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, all spice and dried ginger.
  • Stuffed turkey breast roast (with cranberries and apple)
  • Pan fried scallops with herb butter (sprinkled with dukkah)
  • Potato and cauliflower mash
  • Roasted baby potatoes (with garlic and rosemary)
  • Grilled Asparagus (with garlic and chilli flakes)
  • Kale Slaw
  • Rocket, Spinach and Pear Salad (with feta and walnuts)
  • Cranberries in red wine sauce

There are lots of goodies in store this season so stock up early if you are going to be throwing a Christmas party at home.

• Premium triple smoked leg ham portion (glazed with orange juice, maple syrup, honey, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, all spice and dried ginger - thespiceadventuress.com

Sparkling wine - thespiceadventuress.com

The rocket, spinach and pear salad that I made for our Christmas feast was an excellent side especially for our warmer days and nights. It’s so quick to put together, really refreshing from the crunchy pear slices, creamy from the crumbled feta and to finish off, that nutty texture from the walnuts. A beautiful salad that you must definitely try out.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups baby spinach
  2. 2 cups rocket
  3. 1 large green pear; sliced into wedges
  4. 50gms feta
  5. A handful of walnuts
  6. Salt, to season
  7. Freshly crushed black pepper, to season
  8. Extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 tsp honey
  10. 1 tsp verjuice (or replace with vinegar of choice)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, add the spinach, rocket and pear slices.
  2. To prepare the dressing, add olive oil, honey, verjuice, salt and pepper to a small container with a lid. Shake vigorously to make an emulsion.
  3. Just before serving, add the dressing and toss the ingredients well.
  4. Top with feta and crushed walnuts.

Rocket, spinach and pear salad (with feta and walnuts) - thespiceadventuress.com

Other favourites for November:

These salad servers from Country Road with the brass finish are so chic.

Love serving ware with a matt finish and these graphite platter set from Aura Home are so understated yet beautiful.

Vintage Santa dinner plates! So nostalgic….

Lusting after this copper wine bucket!

I have a bit of an obsession with wooden crates and storage baskets.

Have you been to the Cellar Door in Ringwood?

These starry brown sugar cookies are so delicious.

This Japanese potato salad will be a fabulous replacement to mashed potatoes.

Chocolate and Cranberry Goat’s Cheese Truffles. Enough said.

How delicious are these meatballs!

Mozzarella and Jalapeno Croquettes – always a hit at my parties.

The best homemade chocolate fudge

This passion fruit and mint cooler is just perfect for our warm days.

 

 

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October Favourites + a Review of Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery

Just two more months to bid goodbye to this year!!!

Where has time flown? But then that’s how I start every monthly favourite post of mine, isn’t it?

But sometimes it’s scary right when time rushes by so fast that you wish you had the power to hold it in your hands and keep it still…..shhh, just stay still till I have caught my breath.

Alas that never happens, and the only option seems to be to flow along with its tide….

At the same time, there is also the excitement and joy of the approaching festive season. While there is so much work to do during this time, both personal and professional, I love the energy, the joyous and festive spirit that’s in the air.

On the professional front, I am planning recipes more suited for the season so if any of you have special requests, do comment below and I will try my best to take that into consideration.

Reading is a very passionate hobby of mine, especially hard copies. I do not like digital books or tools for reading as I think it destroys the very joy of holding a book in your hands. While I do read a lot of books, I do not talk much about it on the blog except when it’s a book related to food.

This month, I got the opportunity to read Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery – a Guide to the truly good restaurants and food experiences of Australia, Edited by Jill Dupleix.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery - a Book Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The book is part of a series of the world’s first guides to restaurants and establishments serving truly exceptional, sustainable, organic and ethical food.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery has a simple yet elegant design and layout; the photographs are outstanding yet simple and real focusing on the food and nothing else. Published by Blackwell &Ruth, 5% of the publisher’s revenue from the sales of the book goes towards the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) which is absolutely fantastic.

Food guides like these have always been a part of my library and I actively seek out restaurants suggested – local, regional and international. The restaurants suggested in this book are not just about delicious food; that’s definitely a criteria but it’s more about the care and passion that goes into the sourcing of the ingredients, giving back to the farming community, the attention to detail while each ingredient is prepped and prepared to create the final harmony on a plate.

One of the first things I did on getting the book was going through the ‘Victoria’ section; a curiosity to know the recommendations and how many places I had dined at. To my surprise, there were just 2 restaurants that I had been to from the list – Higher Ground and IDES. Both of these serve exemplary food; while the former is a casual café style setting, the latter is a high end fine dining affair. But yes, the food was exceptional.

Barramundi with garlic and red wine - at IDES, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the spectacular dishes I had at IDES, Melbourne – Barramundi, red wine and garlic

I know for a fact that I will use Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery as a guide, ticking off restaurants and food experiences as I travel along through this country. And I would love to get my hands on the rest of the series that showcases establishments in other countries too. But if you are only interested in knowing about the place you live in, do grab a copy for your country from the series.

Truth, Love & Clean Cutlery is not a book that I will read back to back in a few sittings; it’s a guide that I will keep returning to whenever I want suggestions of an exemplary restaurant, a place where I want to dine at not just for delicious food but where I will be served a dish created out of passion, joy and purity.

There is an exciting giveaway happening on my FB and Insta page. You can win 1 x double pass (valued at $160) to Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran.

Spend a beautiful spring afternoon in the spectacular grounds of Mt Langi Ghiran winery in the Grampians. Also treat yourself to wine tastings, a cheese feast, vineyard promenade and sun basking followed by 40 minutes of classical music performance by 4 ace musicians, with a glass of the renowned Langi Shiraz in your hand.

So why are you waiting….head over now to my FB or Insta page to enter. Good Luck!

Wine & Symphony 2018, Saturday 3rd November, held at Mount Langi Ghiran. - thespiceadventuress.com

Now it’s time for all the other favourites for the month;

I had the worst attack of flu and sinusitis this month; this tea was an absolute miracle.

One of my favourite vegetarian snacks using spinach.

I wouldn’t be able to stop at just one bowl of this soup

Absolutely love pumpkin soup; and this one is fantastic.

Another exciting vegetarian recipe; absolutely fingerlickin good!

Lentil and Egg Stew; I have never had anything like this before.

Absolutely stunning food photography!

She inspired me to start a monthly favourites column

How beautiful are these candle holders? Would be perfect for my Christmas table set up.

Need to upgrade my summer wedges

 

August Favourites

What a month!

Most of you would have heard about the Kerala floods situation. While floods or natural disasters are not uncommon in the world we live in, you realize the scale of devastation and trail of destruction it leaves behind only when it strikes so close to home.

While my immediate family was spared the misery, there were plenty of friends and family who were affected badly. Communication with loved ones became the most difficult thing as many houses and regions were cut off due to the flooding.

There cannot be anything positive when disaster strikes, but the fact that the community came out to help each other was an encouraging one. A sheer testimony to the power of humanity in the face of adversity.

The worst is behind us now but the path of rehabilitation and progress is going to be a slow one for God’s own country.

Banana tree, Kerala - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting onto other topics, a lot of you had messaged me about this Khichdi recipe and how you have been enjoying it immensely. It’s one of my favourites too as it’s a hearty, delicious and super healthy one pot meal.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

As September is almost here, the kiddo is getting excited about his term hols and we have already started planning activities, workshops, play dates and events to attend. One of the events that we are most looking forward to is the Jurassic Creatures.

It’s an interactive walk through event exploring the world of animatronic dinosaurs. With plenty of related activities, sand art, fossil displays, interactive set ups, this is going to be fun for the young and old alike. Jurassic Creatures will run at St Kilda Triangle (adjacent to Palais Theatre) from 15 September – 14 October 2018. So don’t forget to book your tickets soon.

Jurassic Creatures - Melbourne

Well, it’s time to bid adieu but not without sharing all my other favorites for the month. Enjoy reading!

Time for a Whiskey Sour. Cheers!

And if you are into cocktails, then check out these gorgeous glasses.

This Thai style rice soup sounds so hearty and comforting.

Not a big fan of the classic shrimp cocktail but I think infusing Mexican flavours is the secret.

Summer is gonna be here soon and I am saving up all the chicken wings recipes that come my way, starting with this one.

Clam toasts for breakfast! I could eat this everyday….

This is what a summer salad should look like

Speaking of summer, I need to invest in a couple of these dispensers.

This South Indian chicken curry has given me the drools.

Have you tried a beer can chicken before?

Planning any trips to Vietnam? Then you need to read this street food guide.

I love the idea of kitchen islands; adds so much character to the kitchen and can be customized to suit every space.

I can spend hours looking at rugs online; yet a bit crazy but I totally love this one. What do you think?

 

July Favourites

It’s been such a fabulous and rewarding month filled with such amazing opportunities on the work front. I am thoroughly drained but it has all been so worth it.

After a few months of discussions, brainstorming and testing, I was finally able to announce my collaboration with Feastively. It is a joy that I cannot put into words to finally see my recipes as a meal box. And of course the thought that it would be of immense help to busy families to put healthy, fresh and delicious meals in 15 minutes on the table.

I have already done a blog post announcing the collaboration so you can read it all here. And to purchase my fresh box, visit the Feastively website. If any of you have already cooked with it, I would love to hear your feedback.

Visit the Feastively website to purchase my special Beef Mince Curry with potatoes, peas and served with steamed rice.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

The second highlight of the month was the opportunity to be one of the judges for an upcoming series called Zee TV Chef Diaries. Shot in Melbourne, it’s a cooking series for passionate home cooks to showcase their culinary talents. It was an incredible honour because judging someone else’s cooking is no easy task. But I was happy that I was able to do my best; an experience I will cherish forever.

And the third was being chosen as one of the Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018. Again a huge honour especially being in the company of some of the photographers that I have admired and learned from since the beginning of my blogging journey.

Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018 - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s been a lot of recipe development that happened in July; it was a busy month again with lots of brand collaborations and the like. But one of my favourites was this simple Kerala platter with rice, parippu curry (Kerala style lentils); beetroot stir fry and mussels thoran (mussels stir fried with grated coconut and spices). It’s the taste of home!

Mussels thoran - thespiceadventuress.com

And time now for all other favourites for the month of July:

Most parents are often made to feel guilty about having just one child. I hope this article will make you feel better about the decision.

I have a little boy or I would have shopped this entire site. But I do buy for my nieces.

An easy peasy chicken noodle dish.

This kofta biryani is perfect for our Sunday lunch. And a long siesta thereafter….

I love taro (arbi), one of my favourite root vegetables.

A Vegan Wellington! How interesting….

Enchilada and a casserole….what a great idea!

Love gazpacho especially in summer but never tried a tomatillo version.

The best chicken sandwich I have seen in a long time

Totally making this pork burger

 

June Favourites

School holidays are here, and it’s such a relief from the monotony of a routine.

We totally enjoy the school holiday period, especially because it means no need to wake up to the alarm clock. It’s such a relief folks because I love to sleep.

And I enjoy having Adi’s company too. He is quite happy to do his own things and do not disturb me unnecessarily which means I can still manage to get in a bit of my work done. I try not to take up too much work anyway so that I can spend time with him, take him to activities etc….

We are so looking forward to the Disney on Ice, 100 Years of Magic performance this week. It’s our first time and quite excited for it. Then there are a couple of playdates planned and a few other activities which should keep him engaged during the holiday period.

What’s your plan for the holidays? Any special activities planned?

Getting to food, it’s been a really interesting month. Tried out so many different recipes both for the blog and for clients, and it’s been a really amazing experience. There’s also a project that I have been working on for a while now and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. But a few more days before the big reveal. So excited!

Plus, I am taking part in the NEFF Kitchen 50 Best Home Cooks contest. If you live in Australia, I would be deeply grateful if you could take a minute and vote for me. Thanks so much folks…

The voting link can be found here.

And the dish that I have entered for the competition is the slow cooked Lamb Shanks with Srilankan curry powder.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks (with Srilankan Curry Powder) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of my favourite recipes that I developed for a client this month was the Pan grilled Fish Skewers with Sambar Powder.

My love for sambar powder is common knowledge, especially among my blog readers. But for those who are new here, sambar powder is a spice blend that is predominantly used to make sambar, a lentil stew with vegetables that is a traditional South Indian dish, but now a highly popular dish worldwide. But apart from making sambar, I love using the spice blend to season many other dishes and these fish skewers are the latest.

A highly aromatic blend, the sambar powder works as a brilliant rub for grilling fish, meat or vegetables. It can be used to season curries or stews too, adding a nice depth of flavour. In this dish, I have used it along with yoghurt to make a marinade. The fish and veggies were added to this and coated well; finally the skewers were pan grilled to perfection. An excellent starter to any meal.

Pan grilled Fish Skewers with Sambar Powder - thespiceadventuress.com

Now getting to other recipes and tidbits that became part of my June favourites…

A cocktail for the Campari lovers.

A delicious way to have broccoli. Yum!

This wedge salad is drop dead gorgeous.

Can’t wait to try out this linguine recipe.

Totally love mussels and this one is lipsmacking delicious.

Okra, my absolute favourite vegetable and a delicious recipe that I am going to make next week.

I have already started searching for burger recipes for Father’s Day. This one and this one are close competitors.

Have you seen the new Salt n’ Pepper Vegemite range?

This feather tray would sit beautifully on my coffee table.

My favourite winter aroma.

 

May Favourites

Yet another glorious month has passed by, one that bought along plenty of joys and plenty of little moments to rejoice. It was not without its fair share of challenges, but looking back, I can feel only happiness and gratitude at the life I have been blessed with.

Technically autumn, but May was a crazy month when it came to weather. Plenty of rain and cold, gloomy days meant that we needed warm, delicious comforting food on our plates. And the best was this Risotto with Dried Mushrooms and Bacon Crumbs. Absolute yumminess!

Risotto with Dried Mushrooms (and Bacon Crumbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Leftover rice is perhaps a very common ingredient in most households and there are quite a few quick recipes on the blog to use it, after all we don’t want to waste food right. All of these recipes are made frequently in my kitchen whenever I have leftover rice to create something delicious for the next day’s lunch box.

One such dish is the Stir fried rice with Salami, Sun dried Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Herbs. Not a combination that’s common, but I promise it’s really delicious. It’s quick to make and Adi loves it in his lunch box with some cucumber sticks on the side.

Stir fried Rice (with salami, sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers and herbs) - thespiceadventuress.com

Speaking of food, did you read my review about the new South Indian menu launched at The Rochey, Fitzroy? Absolutely chuffed that the cuisine of my hometown would make it to a mainstream modern Australian pub. It’s definitely a small world out there, especially when it comes to food.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Hearts ( Chargrilled with Recheado and a sweet and sour spicy sauce) – One of the highlight dishes of the day for me. Absolutely loved the flavours, that perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy; absolutely divine. And highly recommended.

Also, we got to meet Mickey Mouse!

Adi had the most exciting time at the launch of Disney on Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic. The spectacular show returns this year to Melbourne during the school holidays and we are so excited to watch it; it’s our first time.

If you have plans to go, then waste no time in booking the tickets…selling out like hot cakes.

Disney on Ice Launch Party - thespiceadventuress.com

Now getting to last month’s favourites; everything that inspired me be it food, drinks, lifestyle, travel, words or even beauty.

This sangria is different to any I have seen or tasted before. But I am going to try it only when summer returns to Down Under.

These drumettes are fingerlickin’ sexy!

I would say the same for this chicken dish too.

Crack, slurp, mix…..those words define it all.

I am not gonna miss the noodles in this one.

Totally love her Instagram handle; has the most delicious food with some stunning photography too.

A lesser known fact about me is that I binge watch beauty and fashion videos on YouTube. In fact, I hardly watch any cooking channels but I have all the info about the who’s who of the beauty blogging business. And one of the channels I am absolutely loving at the moment is this luxury blogger. She’s sassy, bold and one hell of a woman.

 

April Favourites

What a wonderful month it has been.

A happy month as I would like to call it because there were lots of great moments with family and friends. It was also the month of birthday parties which is always a nice occasion to catch up with friends.

It was school holidays at the beginning of the month so it was all about spending time with Adi, planning playdates and taking him for workshops and activities. One of our favourite places for creative workshops is at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. This time, Adi enrolled in the stop motion/animation class which was quite an exciting one for him. And after the workshop, we always make it a point to visit the ongoing exhibitions at the museum.

The museum has an extensive open space which is absolutely stunning and the perfect place to plan a picnic. But I equally love the café too, the food is just brilliant.

The best thing at the gallery is that they have interactive activities for the parent and child in relation to the ongoing exhibition which is a great way to engage a young child to appreciate the finer arts.

Heide museum of modern art - thespiceadventuress.com

When Adi was away, I relaxed inside this beautiful hut with a coffee and my favourite book. The best kind of relaxation!

The other highlight of the month was the Michael Jackson tribute show, The Legacy Tour by William Hall and his live band. We had gifted Adi the tickets to this show as his birthday gift. Though he had to wait for more than a month to enjoy his gift, he was absolutely ecstatic being a crazy MJ fan.

He even got the opportunity to go on stage and dance to one of MJ’s songs which I think he did full justice too. Many of you even wrote to me about his ‘moves’ after watching the video on my Instagram page.

Michael Jackson 'The Legacy Tour' - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting back to food, I finally have the recipe for this chickpea dish (Sundal) on my Facebook page. Lots of friends have been asking for it and since it’s a pretty common one, I decided to post the recipe on my page than dedicate a full blog post to it.

Sundal (Chickpeas with Spices and Coconut) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Sunday chicken curry used to be a very memorable tradition in most Indian households. And even though the novelty has worn off these days, I still try and continue with my version. Find the recipe on my Facebook page.

Sunday chicken curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Also in love with these plates I picked up while I was on holiday in India; totally digging the wildlife theme. The salad spoons are from Nigeria that I bought on Ebay eons ago.

Animal print props - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Other favourites:

I love savoury breakfasts, especially if it involves egg and bacon!

Homemade extracts! Now this is very informative….

This ravioli looks too pretty to eat.

This chicken tagine and this chicken piccata.

Pork stir fry and green beans. Not a combination I would generally try but this looks so yumm.

Mexican frozen hot chocolate……this is chocolate heaven, guys.

Mother’s day is almost here, so how about some interesting gift ideas?

Can’t beat this rather unique ‘sausage bouquet’! Definitely for a foodie mom….

If a quiet tea time is her thing, then this exquisite tea set collection is a must buy.

But I have been throwing hints about this one. Beautiful, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

March Favourites + Win Five Double Passes to the Tesselaar KaBloom Flower Festival

It’s been such a fantastic month. With two birthdays in the house and the countdown to Easter, it’s been a month of blessings and celebrations in our home.

Our little boy turned nine, and we celebrated with a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Yarra Valley. I am sure most of you have seen the photographs or read my blog post by now. It was such a magical experience and another item ticked off our bucket list.

Up in the Air! (A Hot Air Ballooning Experience with Global Ballooning Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Courtesy – Global Ballooning Australia

My birthday celebrations are almost always revolved around food, and this time we celebrated with a fabulous dining experience at Grossi Florentino (Grill). A delicious Tuscan experience at an iconic Melbourne restaurant!

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Easter celebrations were rather low key, just catching up with some friends over the long weekend. But we also had a fun time at the Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival in the Dandenong Ranges.

Everyone’s familiar with the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival, but for the first time this year, the farm fields have been opened out to the public for more than just tulips. Imagine rows and rows of so many different types of colourful flowers in bloom. The festival is on only for a short period; March 30 – April 15, 2018.

A stunning display of colour and spectacular views abound with fields filled with blossoming Begonias, Petunias, Sunflowers, Hollyhocks, Dahlias, Snap Dragons, Delphiniums and many many more….

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s plenty of activities lined up for the children, with each week taking on a different theme. We attended the Chocomania weekend, but there’s also the upcoming family fun days, music concert days, flower expo etc…..

Lots of great food options too which makes it a great space for a day trip with friends and family. And especially with the school holidays on, it’s perfect for a relaxing fun day with the kids.

The folks at Tesselaar have been very generous to giveaway 5 x double passes to 5 lucky readers. Isn’t that simply great!

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

Tesselaar KaBloom flower festival - thespiceadventuress.com

To take part;

  1. Subscribe to the blog using your email address
  2. Comment below which is your favourite flower along with your email id (to get in touch with you if you win)

Terms and Conditions:

  • Competition open to all living in Victoria, Australia and 18+ years of age.
  • The competition will run from Apr 3rd to Apr 4th The winners will be notified by email and direct messaging and if I do not hear back within 24 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

Do share the competition details with your friends too. All the best!

Getting onto the other favourites now;

It’s also been a month of easy cooking and more packed lunch boxes. And two recipes that I cooked often and also shared on my social media was this delicious, tangy lemon rice and a spicy scrambled cottage cheese dish, fondly called paneer bhurji in India.

Lemon Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

Paneer bhurji - thespiceadventuress.com

Some of the other recipes I intend to try out soon are these;

I am just a huge fan of devilled eggs!

We go to IKEA just to feast on these meatballs, and now I have a recipe to make it at home itself.

This garlic capsicum chicken is just perfect with my veggie fried rice

This risotto has my name written all over it.

And this pasta can be my alter ego.

I think I am more in love with the photograph than the actual cake.

These chocolate sprinkle cookies are just stunning.

 

February Favourites

A short and sweet month, that’s what I always feel about February.

The month always goes by fast and for us, it’s always a month of planning as Adi’s birthday falls in March; mine too. We are planning something really exciting on his birthday, so stay tuned for that info….

Coming back to Feb, it was a month of getting back into routine with schools reopened. After the holidays, it was such a welcome change to get back to our everyday lives and for me, especially to get back into the kitchen after a month long break.

One of my main goals this year and hopefully, future ones too is to send more packed work lunches as it is much more healthy (approaching 40s always makes you mindful) and also great for the wallet. And that means cooking food that’s simple, can be reheated and consumed easily yet tastes delicious.

And one such dish that I have been cooking a lot is Tomato Rice.

Tomato Rice - thespiceadventuress.com

It is such a versatile and easy to make rice dish that is delicious just with a raita as accompaniment or with any sort of veggies or grilled fish or meat. I had shared the recipe for this traditional South Indian preparation on my Facebook page and Instastories so if you missed it, make sure to check it out.

I have also started consciously putting an effort into our after school snacks. Adi is growing up and that reflects in his dietary needs too. He is ravenous when he comes back from school and needs something more substantial. Since he has his dinner much later, the snack has to be filling and healthy but light on the tummy so that he can enjoy his dinner too.

So I have been trying out so many different snacking options and one of our favourites is salsa, in all forms. We have been enjoying this mango salsa a lot but also this corn and sprouts salsa, which doubles up as a salad. Really healthy and delicious….

Sprouted beans and corn salsa - thespiceadventuress.com

Guess I have blabbered enough, now onto all my other favourites from around the Internet world….

This pineapple ginger tonic has so many medicinal benefits.

This salad is always on rotation in my home.

Guacamole on a Pizza! Bring it on…

Love the combination of Avocado, Mango and Yellow Lentils

Aloo Kachori – it was my staple breakfast while pursuing Master’s.

Who can say no to Falafel burgers?

A large batch of this makhni sauce in your freezer; a lifesaver for busy weekdays.

Gummy hearts and sparkling rose, it’s like a dream!

Totally making this for the next kids’ party!

Feels like this article was written for me….

Raising Sweet Boys and not Angry Men

 

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools)

You guys know how much I love growing herbs at home and so I have always fancied having a proper wooden herb garden, especially when I scroll through the stunning Pinterest images.

A lot of them would be DIY projects but I never considered that option as it seemed almost impossible to build a wooden structure from scratch. I did extensive online searching to find models that are feasible in my rented home but a solid wooden one (at least the kind I had in mind) was always on the expensive side.

So the idea remained a dream of mine, until recently.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

DIY Herb Garden - thespiceadventuress.com

As many of you already know, my parents were here visiting us for a few months late last year. Now my mom is a DIY queen and a very avid gardener too. So one day, while we were on the topic of gardening, I mentioned my desire to have a wooden herb unit, one that is practically designed yet big enough to grow many herbs at a time in small batches.

I showed her some of the designs I had in mind and she casually mentioned that it was nothing complex and quite achievable especially here, as all kinds of tools and resources are available for DIY purposes. In fact, of all the shops she visited, my mum fell in love with Bunnings!

Around this time, I got to learn more about Ryobi tools at a blogger’s event where I got an opportunity to handle their power tools and make a wooden serving platter. Even though that was a teeny weeny project that I got to do with the Ryobi experts beside me, it still gave a vague sense of ‘I think I can do it if I make an effort’, especially after those power tools made it feel real easy. An electric drill suddenly didn’t seem to be a daunting affair!

But with the excitement, came the apprehension too. What if I can’t do it? A long discussion with Sam and that inner voice telling me to try my hand at something new gave me the much needed confidence to say yes to this DIY project using the power tools supplied by Ryobi.

So without further ado, let’s jump straight in to the details of how I went about creating this beautiful wooden herb garden. And let me also inform you that this post is going to be a picture heavy one.

(I know the photographs might make you think that Sam did all the work but trust me, I did lots more than just take photographs!)

Step 1:

The right design:

Now this is a very crucial step and one you must spend considerable time on. I was looking for a design that is easy to put together yet one that is aesthetic and long term. I also wanted a structure that is portable as we are still renting and also one that can sit well in a small backyard space when we eventually get our first home.

After browsing through hundreds of images and online tutorials, I decided on this design from Garden Answer that was a perfect fit with my expectations. And their online tutorials were a great help to get a jist of how to go about the entire project.

Step 2:

The right tools:

This is where the Ryobi expertise came handy. While I was supplied the tools, you can easily purchase all Ryobi power tools at Bunnings. The tools are quite versatile which means they always come in handy for future uses too and not just for a specific project. Apart from the instruction manual, there are also online tutorials on how to use all the Ryobi tools on Ryobi TV which is so useful and handy if you are a beginner. The tools I used for this project were;

Circular Saw (1500W 184MM) (MODEL: #RCS1500-G | BUNNINGS I/N: 13549)

This mean rugged beast of a saw is surprisingly compact, not so heavy and quite easy to use. (And anyone who has seen me in real life would understand why lightweight is rather important for me). With great precision and power, this was absolutely necessary to cut out the wooden boards to the exact sizes and measurements. I was especially pleased with its comfortable grip which gave me total control to do the job.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Random Orbital Sander (18V ONE+ 125 MM) (MODEL: #R18ROS-0 | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210660)

Well, the job that took me the longest time was sanding. Thank God for power tools like these because I simply cannot imagine doing the job otherwise. The orbital sander was really easy to use and with upto 80% dust pickup efficiency, I didn’t have much cleaning up to do afterwards.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

18 V ONE+ Drill Driver Kit (MODEL: #R18DD-C155S | BUNNINGS I/N: 6210757)

A great drill driver combination kit for any project! Easy to use, convenient and versatile, this combo kit includes;

  • 1 x 18V drill driver (RCD1802)
  • 1 x 1.5Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L15)
  • 1 x 5.0Ah lithium ion battery (RB18L50)
  • 1 x fast charger (RC18120)

The high capacity 5.0Ah battery was a boon as I could get a lot of work done between charges. The compact design makes it very easy to use and it also has other features like variable speed control. Built-in LED work light and also a MagTray (which really helps keep those screws in one place).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Once I started using the tools, I realised that Ryobi products were not only affordable but also innovative with practical, intelligent features that makes it sought after by both novices and professionals alike.

Step 3:

Shopping for materials:

Thank God for Bunnings! Without the help of the amazing staff there, I could have landed in a bit of soup. From helping me pick out the right kind of wood to all the other supplies that I needed, they have been extremely helpful with their time and expertise.

While purchasing supplies, I would like to stress about the importance of investing in good quality safety materials like protective gloves, goggles, dust masks, overalls etc… Remember guys, safety comes first. Always!

Step 4:

Cutting and sawing:

I used treated pine for making this herb garden, all of which were purchased at Bunnings. So using the circular saw, all the wooden planks were cut into the desired sizes and measurements. I had to make adjustments to the measurements provided by Garden Answer to suit my needs and requirements.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 5:

Sanding:

As I already mentioned, the orbital sander was an extremely helpful tool as it required much lesser effort to other traditional methods. All the planks I used were sanded to perfection before being assembled.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 6:

Assembling:

Using the drill set, I assembled the structure beginning at the base and then moving on to the backside, the sides and finally the front portion (as depicted in the pictures below).

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 7:

Staining and Plastic Covering:

Since I wanted the unit to match the deck area, I decided to use a wood stain in walnut shade followed by clear varnish. And finally, a layer of black plastic sheet was attached to the insides of the unit so that the soil does not come into direct contact with the wood thus prolonging the life of the wooden herb garden.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Step 8:

Planting:

I filled the unit with a specialized vegetable herb potting mix and then it was time to plant the herbs. I bought a few new ones and re-planted some of the existing ones from pots. I intend to plant more herbs eventually but just to get started; I planted the curry leaves, chillies, coriander, parsley, sage, chives, mint, rosemary, spring onion and thyme.

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

My DIY Wooden Herb Garden (using Ryobi Power Tools) - thespiceadventuress.com

Sheer Joy!

That’s the only way I can describe what I felt at the end of it. Something made by my own hands come to life….the sense of happiness is incomparable. And I am so encouraged by how easy it actually was albeit my apprehensions using the Ryobi power tools.

I can guarantee loads more DIY projects in the future.

Hope this post has inspired you to try out some DIY projects of your own and do not forget to tag #thespiceadventuress so that I can see it too.

And finally leaving you with my Top 5 Recipes using Herbs!

Disclaimer – This post was brought to you in collaboration with Ryobi Tools. As mentioned, I was supplied with all the tools required for this project. The story, musings and all the hard work is entirely mine!

 

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