Thursday, 31 May 2012

Mango cheesecake: Thank you Pakistan

The skies may have clouded over today, but summer must be nearly here as every food vendor on Tooting High Street is choc-full of boxes of exquisite Alfonso mangoes. If you've never had one, get down to Toot RIGHT NOW and buy a box. They're the sweetest, softest and most fragrant mangoes imaginable and have flown to us all the way from sunny Pakistan. How nice of them.

To celebrate I've just created my first mango cheesecake. I think it's going to be a bit too juicy to set but as I'd almost run out of gelatin I had to make do.  Here she is (surely a mango cheesecake has to be female?), just before settling in for a nice long chill in the fridge:

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Brussels, Secularism and lovely Shi'as

Just returned from Brussels and  the European Parliament where I meet with the friendly folks from the new European Network on Religion and Belief ( Full of interesting wranglings over the meaning of the term secularism, ever-marvellous Hare Krishna catering, discussions on tackling religious discrimination across the continent and my first attempts to get my head round European political structures.

I met lots of fascinating people who's pearls of wisdom I'll share in the coming days, but was also delighted to bump into the deeply spiritual, learned and inspiring Moulana Sayyid Ali Raza Rivzi. I haven't seen him for some years and he's now hugely responsible for lots of Shia Muslims across Europe.  A very lovely man indeed. Here I am with him at the end of today's session:

Monday, 28 May 2012

A purpose driven life?

So I've finally given in and started ready my (personally signed *name drop*) copy of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, which has been sat looking at me from my bookshelf for a year and a half. Being the best-selling non-fiction hardback book in history (was he worried a paperback would outstrip the Bible?) I'm clearly in good company.

I've never read a self help book and Rick's heavily branded Christianity isn't something which, at first sight, sits terribly comfortably with me. But having been to his uber-Church in sunny California and met the really perfectly nice man himself, I decided I ought to try it.

Here's Rick, looking a bit shiny and wearing a headset:

The book is split into 40 brief chapters which Rick instructs you to read one of each day. 4 days in and 3 chapters down, I'm not doing too terribly. Some reflections so far:

1. A big Amen to his opening line, "It's not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfilment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness."

2. "Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal for the real production" (Chapter 4). This I'm not too sure about, in the way I'm to sure about some classical Buddhist philosophies. I think as a yoof I'd have been down with this, but now it seems to do injustice to the wonder of creation. I vividly remember the dress rehearsal of  a Sixth Form production of Dracula I was in at school. I remember not remembering my lines, having not bothered to learn them as I was too busy snogging my co-star after school every day for 6 weeks; and having a twenty minute giggling fit during a monologue by a boy called Dave who was (for the play, not just for fun) being a very convincing madman from Scotland.

Do we take dress rehearsals that seriously? I'm not so sure. I know the final curtain isn't the end but that should never be an excuse to faff about now. This life is precious.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


Yesterday's cheesecakes seem to be going down well and twenty nine english pounds have been collected! Heck yeah! Not a huge profit after costs but better than a poke in the eye. I may have to invest said profits in a cheap second hand fridge (anyone got one?) that will doubtless be better then our current one and can be dedicated to chilling my creations.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

First cheesecake sale (weather permitting)

Two cheesecakes dispatched this morning: One Blueberry & White Chocolate and one Madagascan Vanilla & Oreo cookie. Our ever temperamental fridge frosted up over night, so the tasters we had this morning were pretty grainy and full of ice crystals. Hmm. After a small 8am panic I decided they'd probably be fine once taken out of the fridge, but as south London is a sweltering 26 degrees today they may also melt. Just heading back to the cafe to drop off my invoice so am hoping today's creations haven't turned to mush in the last 4 hours and that they'll still be happy to pay me.

Husband & I then meandered down to Abbey Mills, the slightly incongruous foody/shoppy 'village square' off the giant ugly Colliers Wood retail park. Had their decent sized 'Half Breakfast' served by spectacularly surly sixteen year olds, featuring some snappably crispy bacon (as it should be) and including a decaf coffee that didn't taste too much like dirt. Nice times.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Faith and Cheesecake

A blog about faith and cheesecake? An odd combination some might say.

Well, not if you know me. I love all food and and have a passion for  feeding friends with towering slabs of blueberry studded, creamy-like-a-Milkybar cheesecake, and am currently trialling a dizzying array of new flavours (Lemon and Gingernut anyone?) 

As I write this post my freshly whipped Madagascan Vanilla & Oreo cheesecake is chilling in the fridge, really to furnish the counter of one of South London's finest coffee emporium tomorrow morning. Only thing is that the first - and only - time that I made it before, the bugger didn't actually set. The flavour was amazing but you could have drunk it through a straw. I'm praying this one goes better.

Praying! What a seamless transition to Another Thing I Get Really Excited About : Faith. Not just my own, but other people's. Spirituality, religion, belief systems, stuff about God and ways of looking at the world. I've spent the last decade working in interfaith relations, a.k.a. encouraging people of different religions to understand, rather than kill/ bitch about, each other. I figure it's time I started putting some of my ponderings down on paper (of sorts), along with food-related titbits, so my little collection of brain cells have more room to dash around my noggin thinking up new recipes and ways to bring about world peace. 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

My First Post

This blog is going to be freaking awesome. A bit like my cheesecake.