Friday 2 January 2015

Farewell 2014. You Were Awesome, Alhamdulillah!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Alhamdulillah, 2014 has come to an end. It seems weird writing 2015 - feels like we are way into the future. There should be flying cars by now. Don't you think?

It's kinda scary though at how fast this year has flown by. It seems like just yesterday that I posted the recipe for these amazing brownie cookies, and now, here we are at the end with a recipe for cinnamon maple granola
I don't think you need me to tell you to value your time, but I will anyway. :) Most probably because I need to do this more myself. 
I know you always hear people say that we should live in the moment. But how do we actually do that? 

For me, it's a case of enjoying what you are doing right now. Not thinking about the past, regretting what happened or dwelling for too long on the good that it brought. And, not having too many hopes for a distant future which we may not even live to see.
But being here. In the now. This very minute, this very second. Doing the best you can. For this is all you have.

The life of this world is of three days:
As for yesterday, it has vanished, along with all that was in it.
Tomorrow, you may never see it.
As for today, it is yours, so work in it.
(Al-Hasan Al-Basri)

I will leave you with a few words of wisdom which I've always loved: 

Sometimes in order to help He makes us cry
Happy the eye that sheds tears for His sake
Fortunate the heart that burns for His sake
Laughter always follows tears
Blessed are those who understand
Life blossoms wherever water flows
Where tears are shed, divine mercy is shown

Now, a final look back at this beautiful year.

 January: A new year dawned with a breathtaking winter sunrise. January was a month filled with gingerbread pancakesbarbecue chicken sandwiches and cinnamon cake with chocolate orange icing.
A highlight in the kitchen were these pizza swirls which I first made at the end of 2013 but ended up making again - they were that good. 
Another winter sunrise - I think you'll agree that there is never one sunrise or sunset which is ever the same.
"Take benefit of 5 before 5:
Your youth before your old age,
Your health before your sickness,
Your wealth before your poverty,
Your free time before your pre-occupation and
Your life before your death."
 February: A month filled with snickerdoodle cookies, potsticker dumplings and jammy oat bars.
I tried out a few boxes from Graze. They were good but not so good that I renewed my subscription. 
And when My servants ask you (O Muhammad), concerning me - indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me (by obedience) and believe in Me that they may be (rightly) guided.
(Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 186)
March: This was the month where I conquered a former baking nemesis - Cinnamon Rolls. It was also a month filled with chicken biryanifudgy toffee banana squares and aloo gobi.
I also baked this gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake for my aunt. I put a little twist on it by sandwiching the two of them together with vanilla custard.
As the weather began to warm up, I made homemade pink lemonade ice lollies using this recipe. 
There were plenty of blue skies as spring began.
March was also the month where we had a few house guests.
Life is but a moment, let it be a moment of obedience.
April: April was a month filled with fried chicken currychocolate brownies and tandoori pasta.
As spring was in full bloom, there were plenty of family lunches, scones and daffodils.
It's become a tradition in our family to eat scones during April - this is my go to recipe.
April was also filled with pakoras, sunsets and country walks.
We were blessed with a beautiful spring in our part of the country and we made the most of it with lots of time outside in the garden and plenty of ice lollies.
 May: My favourite month began with one of my favourite meals.
There were many family dinners in May. These custard slices made a welcome return.
And, can we just take a moment to appreciate this giant trifle?
They were served for a family dinner along with custard tarts made by my cousin.
Along with plenty more food including these crispy spring rolls.
May has got to be one of my favourite months because spring is really in full bloom. And, it all looks so pretty.
I also first cooked this dish in May, and it's become a firm family favourite.
May was also the month where my cousin threw this amazing afternoon tea.
And, I discovered a few local shops.
Blessed is He in whose Hand is the kingdom, and He is able to do all things. The One Who has created death and life in order to test you and see which of you is best in deed, and He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.
(Surah Mulk)
June: Summer was well and truly here in June. It was filled with Oreo ice cream desserts, homemade doughnuts and .spicy scrambled eggs
Plus I cooked poached eggs for the first time! June was also filled with salad, buckwheat pancakes and jasmine flowers.
As June continued, there were dunking doughnuts, jersey royals and peach pavlovas. 
Summer went on and it was a hot one here in England. We made plenty of cooling treats including these frozen banana peanut butter bites and frozen grapes. There was also plenty of cake. Of course.
This year, Ramadan fell during the summer months. The fasts were long but worth it. Before the blessed month began, there were giant cookies, iced tea and pre-Ramadan rush. And, there was plenty of fresh fruit around. 
And, mangoes from Pakistan. These are the best mangoes in the world, in my opinion. And, they were here in abundance during Ramadan, alhamdulillah.
Once the holy month began, every moment had to be cherished and made the most of.
 July: The heart of summer began with the beginning of Ramadan, salted chocolate and fruit overload.
This month was filled with fresh cherry barsPeruvian chicken and cookies. And, strawberries. Plenty of strawberries.
A familiar sight in our kitchen just before Iftar - the daily milkshake making ritual. 
This salted chocolate  was so good!
We had plenty of guests in our house for Ramadan which meant plenty of food to go round.
I also passed my driving test in July and celebrated with burgers and cake.
Even though it was Ramadan, summer raged all around us. We made the most of it with plenty of walks.
And, time spent in the garden with the children.
A few moments of reflection as Ramadan came to an end.
One of the highlights of the blessed month is definitely watching the live Taraweeh prayers from Makkah.

As Eid-ul-Fitr neared, my nieces and nephews made Eid gift boxes to send to children in Syria.
One of the highlights of Eid-ul-Fitr  was fresh mango and ice cream in the summer garden.
And, these dumplings were my favourite way of getting rid of the Eid leftovers.

And, with that July and Ramadan came to an end. May the Almighty accept all our efforts - Ameen.

And it is He Who has made you generations after generations, replacing each other on the earth. And He has raised you in ranks - some above others - that He may test you in that which He has bestowed on you.
(Surah Al-An'am, Verse 165)
August: The month rolled around with girly lunches, Neapolitan ice cream and a ginger loaf.
There were also chicken and sweetcorn pizzaslemon drizzle squares and a chicken stromboli as the blue skies filled the days of the seemingly never-ending English summer.
With the help of new gadget ...
... there were plenty of cupcakes around. And, cake. There is always cake.
We tried making piadinas for the first time.
And, homemade jam.
Throughout the month, there were plenty of times where we switched off the computer and went outside.
There were also sunflowers ..
... and this baked cheese.
As summer tried to end, we finished with key lime pie popsicles.
 September: This month was filled with plenty of secret pathschocolate fondants and banoffee pie cupcakes.
We also made more jam.
And, put together this cake.
Summer carried on throughout September and it was breathtaking.
More cupcakes in September - this time the banoffee pie kind.
There were waffles, orange salads, roast chicken and beautiful buttercream.
We also baked these amazing cinnamon apple rolls.
And, spent plenty of time wandering the paths collecting conkers.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "There is not a single hour that passes by the son of Adam in which he does not remember Allah except that he will regret it on the Day of Resurrection".
October: October was filled with chocolate peanut butter cookiescreamy chicken karahi and Mexican lasagne.
Taking photos of this friendly butterfly.
This was the month where I baked this cake.
October was also the month where we celebrated ...
.... Eid-ul-Adha.
There were sesame meatballs and ..
... and adventures in honeycomb.
To end, there were baked doughnuts, chocolate apples and the October garden.
 November: November was filled with autumn sunrisesveggie curriesmango ice cream and gingerbread cookies.
As the weather became colder, November brought more messy bake sessions. These cookies were perfect for the autumn/winter weather.
My most popular Instagram post of the year.
Ingredients out to bake a cake.
New candles joined the gang!
November was also the month where we fell in love with this flourless chocolate cake.
This sticky toffee pudding  made a comeback in November.
And, there were plenty of early sunsets as the days grew ever shorter.
These mini gingerbread men walked into our kitchen this month too.
Plenty of late lunches  were had in November with this Gujarati classic  and a Moroccan casserole.
And, a box of fresh jalebis were enjoyed too.
cinnamon twist on this cake was baked in November.
And, I also made this bowl of juicy pasta.
There was an abundance of sweet clementines  at the beginning of winter.
November comes, and November goes.
These warming cookies  first made an appearance in November.

Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers.
 December: Beautiful flowers to start the end of the year.
December was filled with new cookbooks ...
.... lamb pulaoroast chicken with olives and grapes and coconut ice. And, there were plenty of clear sunsets.
And, stunningly beautiful mornings.
And, we made the flourless chocolate cake again.
The first snow of the year ..
... and I made a bread pudding out of homemade panettone.
I made a breakfast crumble ..
.... and chocolate bark.
I made  a batch of coconut ice.
And, dinner with the cousins followed by hot chocolate.
There was a samosa weekend.
A new roast chicken recipe.
And, homemade granola.
To end the year, Mum made a cake.
And with that, 2014 came to an end - O Allah, whatever favour has come to me, it comes from You alone, Who has no partner; to You praise is due and thanksgiving.

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