A to Z of 2016.

Today is the last day of 2016 and I want to take some time to pause and reflect on the last twelve months here at Orange Kitchens. A lot has happened over the last 365 days; opportunities and readers that I am grateful for, experiences and people that I have learnt from, ideas and experiments that have failed and taught me to start afresh.

So here is my A to Z of 2016.

A is for Art.

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I have always enjoyed working with colours and had been wanting to sit down with my long forgotten tubes of paints and pens for long. Excuses like lack of time or what was really the point of sitting down and doodling when I “should” be doing something else or simply that nagging voice in my head telling me it won’t be any good were always there. This year I finally went back to a little bit of doodling and painting and started maintaining a visual kitchen journal (I hope to share the same with you in the coming year). I am drawing and painting and, page by page, feeling much more confident and happy in what I am making and enjoying it immensely.

B is for Being A Mother.album-coverOn the morning of 8th of May, when I wished my mother and when my little chefling wished me a very Happy Mother’s Day I got this crazy idea of trying to understand what being a mother has been like, for me. Being a mother already means a million different things to me and I sure with time this “million” is likely to multiply. Every day is precious and every emotion is unique. So I set out on a quest to understand motherhood and the sweet relation I share with my little girl. A line a day; one one that I shared with all of you for 52 days. It looked like a tall task when I began, but one that I completely loved! Read all the 52 posts from the diary here.

C is for Create.

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If I had to choose one word that could summarize 2016, it would undoubtedly be “create”. Be it the numerous recipes I worked on or ideating for workshops for Food Revolution or simply helping a fellow ambassador build educational kits for her new venture. It is so easy to fall into a creative rut and lose inspiration and so this year was all about stretching the boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone to create with fresh inspiration and getting my artistic mojo back; food is art after all!

D is for DinnerTime.

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This year marked two years of my association with DinnerTime. As their menu creator and consultant I have enjoyed every bit of this journey. I have learnt from each of the recipes (find all the recipes here).I have worked on and from every tasting session I have had with Anette (founder, DinnerTime). The feedback from all you DinnerTime subscribers has been so encouraging and has helped me not only improve my boxes but also my home cooking in general. Thank you!

E is for Edible Gifts.

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The most treasured gifts for me are the ones that are handmade and edible. So it is not surprising that I like to make the same for all our loved ones. The year has been full of cakes, cookies, masalas, chutneys, chocolates, brittles, flavoured butter, popcorn mix and more for friends and family. Some that can be part of their celebrations then and some that they can use through the year and think of the lovely time we had earlier on.

F is From Words To Wok.

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My bookshelf is bursting with cookbooks and food memoirs (we are talking three digits). You may like to call it a fetish or a weakness but I prefer the word enthusiast. Over the last few years, I kept running into friends who felt the same and since it was clear that none of us had any intentions of exercising any kind of self-restraint we decided to celebrate this addiction instead by forming From Words to Wok ;an online community of cookbook and food memoir enthusiasts where we cooked our way through 6 out of the 16 Piglet Finalists. It has been a lovely but lukewarm first year with mixed responses and hopefully 2017 will be the year when we will devouring our books with renewed and infectious enthusiasm. If you’d like to join us and know more about it, hop right here.

G is for Gratitude.

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2016 hasn’t been very kind to a lot of people. It has been a difficult year for many but for the fortunate few like us there is much to thank for and to feel grateful about. The holiday season is already upon us; our hearts are filled with love, delicious food gracing our tables and the cupboards are stacked with thoughtful presents gifted by the loved ones. So, before we begin 2017 and make new beginnings l’d like to steal a few moments to count my blessings. The list is endless and to begin with I’d like to thank everyone who has loved and supported Orange Kitchens, read my ramblings, left a kind comment and has been part of my 2016. Thank you ever so much.

H is for the Halloween Box.

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Whipping together some fangtastic food for the Halloween Box (for a collaboration between Dinner Time and Sandy Seeds) was one project that I absolutely loved. Halloween usually translates into candy and some more candy and working on this spooky menu (read real food) was dreadfully delicious!

I is for Instagram.

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I love Instagram for it encourages and allows me to keep a record of all the food memories I have made. I have to admit I have got a love in return from it and from all you 30,400 followers. So 30,400 bear hugs for being there and for being so fabulous!

J is Jamie’s Food Revolution Day.

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What an incredible year it has been for Food Revolution UAE. Over the big weekend, we cooked with over 250 children across Dubai, connected with more than 300 parents, 4 young chefs spent their weekend inspiring other children and in the process also discovering a little bit more about themselves and an additional 50 families joined us by cooking one recipe in their kitchens! In addition, all the subscribers of DinnerTime got the ingredients to make Jamie’s Veggie Stir Fry in their boxes to make and eat during that week. Readers of the blog also joined by cooking some of the FRD recipes and sharing the same. We also kept this revolution alive 365 days by sharing one out of the ten Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution recipes with all the children who participated this year and all the readers so they can all cook it with their parents. Read about the year that was here.

K is for Kids in the Kitchen Series.

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Through the Kids in the Kitchen series together with all of you I have met parents and children who bond, have fun and make life long memories in the kitchen. It has been so inspiring and so encouraging to know how they help their kids “cook” and in general involve them in the kitchen or during meal times or while grocery shopping. Finally, how do they deal with all the chaos that comes with kids being in the kitchen because let’s admit, it can get both messy and frustrating at times. So pat on the back to all you wonderful parents who are raising our young chefs.

L is Lurpak.

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This year I started working with the team at Lurpak. Over the last ten months, I worked on creating simple and inviting recipes using their Cook’s Range of Products and it has been a one scrumptious journey. The little one joined hands in all the planning and making of the videos so that was truly special. I have enjoyed the challenge of creating a variety of recipes and have loved my association with their team. So happy to share that we are taking this partnership into the new year as well! Yay!

M is My Little Chefling

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Cinnamon, star anise and cloves are a part of her vocab, George and Gary are her heroes and icing cookies is her favorite pastime. My little chefling has grown from recipe to recipe and I feel so proud when I look at her planning the menus in detail, choosing real food over processed ingredients, calculating the sugar content before picking up something at the grocers, sketching out the design for her birthday cake, making me “snack” or mastering the handheld blender. To another year full of learning and eating healthy!

N is for New Foods and Flavours.

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Travelling to different parts of the world is such a great way to introduce new flavours and new foods to children. When on a trip they are so much more open to trying and respecting new ingredients. This year has been full of that and more. Our travels to Vietnam and Sri Lanka helped us and Sara appreciate local cuisine, local eating habits, new flavours and new foods. Ofcourse we came back with our suitcases full of local spices and sauces!

O is for the Optimum Vortex Blender from Froothie.

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Anyone who knows me well is aware of my obsession with kitchen gadgets and tools and a little birdie may have told the same to the wonderful team at Froothie (Thank you guys!). So they sent me their Optimum 9400 High Speed Vortex Blender for a test run before the big launch. They claimed this ONE appliance could perform 15 functions, so I decided to create some delicious healthy recipes and see if it is really true. This little test run that was done over three months was made up of nut butters and nut flours, soups and sorbets and beautiful galettes.

P is for Playing with Food.

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Food should be fun. Sara and I love playing in the kitchen. It has been a year full of simple recipes that kids her age can cook/bake with a little help from us, sharing cooking games and toys that she loves to play with, cookbooks for mini chefs that we have enjoyed reading together and more.

Q is for Quirks.

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It has also been a year where I have made peace with many of my quirks! My obsession with cookbooks and chalkboard, all things brown, being a spice hoarder, arranging the bottles in my kitchen or putting up the baubles on our Christmas tree in only a certain way! Let’s just say I have a very supportive family and friends!

R is for Resolutions for Kids.

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Each year I set out some food resolutions for myself and last year my little chefling made some too! We tried to stick to them for most part of the year, ofcourse there have been some failures along the way but in the end we learnt to cook and eat better and that is what matters, doesn’t it? We will be sticking to them this year as well so if you want to join us, read more about it here! A friend of ours was visiting someone and she sent me a picture of the outside of their host’s refrigerator. Amongst the many many fridge magnets and post its, there was a print out of these resolutions and let’s just say it made my day!

S is for Spices.

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This year I must have made at least ten visits to the Spice Souk with friends and family and some on my own to refill all those spice jars. If you haven’t been there, you must! I can guarantee you will never go back to packaged spices. Edible flowers, Iranian Barberries, Black Lemons, Saffron, Tea, Zaatar, Sumac…the list is endless!

T is for Television.

India celebrates Children’s Day on the 14th of November each year and this year we celebrated the same by cooking three out of the ten FRD recipes on  the Children’s Day Episode of Weekend Out on Sony Entertainment Television. The team of Weekend Out has always supported Food Revolution and this was my second year with them. Much thanks guys for helping us create awareness and promoting healthy eating.

U is for Understanding What The World Eats.

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One of our food resolutions this year was to help Sara explore different cuisines of the world. Our kids are so lucky to be growing up in a world where food from other countries is easily accessible to them in whichever part of the globe they are in. A lot of them also have friends from different nationalities and that presents them with a great opportunity to taste what their friends eat at their homes. Some of them are also reading and learning about different countries in their geography or history lessons. Picking up a country of her choice each month, knowing a little more about the food that grows there, the recipes that are made in the kitchens there and trying out the cuisine is what learning and growing is all about. I am hoping over time exposing Sara to new foods through this fun exercise that we play with the globe kept on her bookshelf will help expand her palate and this year we did exactly that. See here.

V is for Vegetables That Are Local.

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As parents we are forever planning, creating, teaching and doing things for our children. Some fall into our comfort zone and some require big sacrifices that we happily make. Today I am going to ask you do one more thing for your little ones, something that Sara and I look forward to as well each Friday. All it requires of you is to get up from bed, pick up your bags and walk/drive down to a farmers’ market with your children. We need to do this for them for simply by taking them down there we are giving them much more than you can imagine. Here are my top ten reasons on why I think all of us should be heading there with our babies.

W is Writing Elsewhere.

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It has been a year full of writing and creating recipes for children. Think of it as my little contributing towards encouraging the children to pick up a whisk and get cooking. There have been so many food stories and I have enjoyed working on each one.

X is for Xmas, Diwali And Celebrations.

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I love setting up a table that screams abundance and joy and warmth for loved ones. The year has been full of tiny plates loaded with food that has made both our our friends and us happy. After all the best kind of memories are made in the kitchen and around the dining table. To many such more happy gatherings in 2017!!

Y is for Year End Food Reflections.

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Just like the last year, we played a game that I like to call the “Year End Food Reflections”. Each day until the end of the year, I post a question that helps me reflect on the food memories I have made. A lot of you lovely people joined me and it was definitely a lot of fun! That is helped me to set goals for the next year was the icing on the cake!

Z is for Zeal.

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My little chefling and I love spending our weekends with pots of paints, paper scraps, sequins, stamps and more. We love creating artwork for our home, making gifts for our loved ones, scrapbooking all our memories, handcrafting every little thing for her birthday and for all the festivals we celebrate. The list is endless. There is something about making things with your own hands; makes our hearts sing! We made this pair of mini canvasses for Sara’s room with these words to inspire her everyday. Often, all of us start the year with a lot of zeal but tragically lose it in a few days. These words are what I’d like to end my post and the year with and these words are the words that I’d like to begin 2017 with. Here’s wishing each one of you the same so that zeal stays with you and me through out 2017!

See you in 2017!

Images & Disclaimer: Personal album. If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission. Just ask!

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