It is late evening. The sky is packed with clouds, gray and heavy. Our little one sees his favourite cartoon characters in the clouds. He squeals with joy.  Our elder one spots animals. A strong breeze blows. Clouds change shapes and so do the characters. The breeze shakes the tree tops and there is a pitter patter of ripe jamuns falling on the dry leaves. Kids rush to collect the fruits and a Barbet drinking from the pot is caught unawares. She is bewildered.

Soon the clouds spread like a gray film on the sky and it begins to drizzle. Kids’ giggles are audible as they run around in the cool showers.
The kitchen is active. Dinner is being cooked. And, some healthy sugar-free laddus are also being made.

When hunger comes at odd hours, we enjoy these healthy sugar-free laddus. These are laddus in a new avatar. We prepare them every weekend and enjoy round the week. You can take them on journeys and picnics as well. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare these guilt free laddus.

Peanut Oats and Honey Laddu (Gluten-free and Sugar-free)


  • 2 cups roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Honey or maple syrup for vegan version
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla essence 


  1. Take roasted peanuts in a grinder and grind till you get a fine powder.
  2. Add oil and salt and grind till you get peanut butter (almost). You will have to keep scraping the mixture down the sides and keep grinding to get peanut butter. It is ok even if the peanut butter is not creamy.
  3. After 10 minutes, add 1 1/4 cup oats and honey. Add vanilla. Mix once
  4. The mixture will be dough-like in consistency. Take a spoonful of mixture and press to see if you can make a laddu. If it is not holding shape, add remaining oats.
  5. Take a tablespoon of mixture and make laddus.
  6. Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate if making in summers.


It is late morning. We are sitting on the stairs in our backyard. The Sunlight is visible on the tree tops. The Sun will soon rise up higher and engulf our world in sweltering heat. Another very hot day is about to unfold. We are feeling listless. It is heat-induced lethargy. The Sun rises higher and golden hues spread further down. We see a spotted dove in our Magnolia tree.  It seems to be thirsty. The water pot is duly filled up.

Ginger tea arrives and we love to sip a  hot mug of steaming tea. Before the heat makes working impossible, we clean our backyard, a pumpkin climber is guided to climb the branch fixed on the ground. We notice the Dove again, now sitting next to the bird pot and intently watching our activities. We realized that we had forgotten to keep millets in the food table. The needful was done.

Later in the day, we got down to baking   Sfouf.
Sfouf is a sweet almond cake from Lebanon. Sfouf gets its beautiful golden hue from Turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. It has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. This definitely makes Sfouf healthy. Aniseed gives it a beautiful flavour. This is a simple, healthy, low fat and easy to make cake

Sfouf – Lebanese Curcuma Cake


  • 1 cup fine Semolina
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons aniseed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds (blanched, peeled and halved)


  1. Grease and line the bottom of one 8 inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Boil water. Add aniseed, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain and keep aside anise tea till lukewarm.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together semolina, all-purpose flour, baking powder, turmeric powder and caster sugar.
  5. Add anise tea, oil to dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Decorate with almond halves.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it is done, Else, bake for another 5-6 minutes.
  9. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto the cooling rack.
  10. Slice when cold

My Tip   Substitute water with milk. In that case, add just ground aniseed. You may also use toasted sesame seeds and pine nuts for decoration

The season of flowers never seems to get over in the foothills. Even when the Sun is belligerent and spewing heat with all generosity, the Neem tree bears small milky flowers. It is a soothing sight to see cascades of flowers in the boughs. A sweet smell soothes the senses as you pass by or stand underneath. Bees, insects small birds all swarm around the bunches of flowers.

Last week we had an unexpected downpour. It rained heavily and our lawn turned into a swimming pool. A few days later, we a riot of colours. Football lilies sprouted out of every inch of the Earth. 

Dad loved them and the bulbs planted by him have been multiplying. He must be smiling from up there.

 It is early morning and we head to our backyard to collect ripe wood apples and mangoes that fall and remain hidden in the dead vegetation.  Our backyard is a parched landscape in the summer with mottled shades of brown. Some plants ( presumably planted by Dad) brighten the dull corners of the dry patch. These are snow white flowers growing around the tender branches.

We come home with bags full of ripe fruits and enjoy a hot cup of tea. No matter how hot it is, a cup of tea is refreshing. 

Later, we get down to baking a Mixed Berry Almond Loaf.
The loaf is moist, mildly sweet and full of chewy berries. Almond meal makes the crumb really soft and delicious. You can identify every berry by its taste and flavour.

Mixed Berry Almond Loaf


  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Almond meal
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 flax egg (1tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water. Mix and refrigerate for 10 minutes, Whisk. Use)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 ½ cup dry mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8x4 inch loaf tin.
  2. Whisk together first six ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, take all the liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and mix to combine.
  5. Fold in berries tossed in some flour.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
  7. Arranged almond slices on top.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes or till the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the tin. Slice when cold                                                                                              
Linking to Breadbakers -

This month's BreadBakers' theme is Breads with Nut Meals and Nut Flours inspired bread, hosted by Cindy at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Enjoy all these creative breads using nut meals and nut flours from The Bread Bakers Group!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to [email protected].


The heat is excruciating.  It has been the hottest summer it seems. It is still outside. Occasional call of the birds breaks the silence. Or, a thump of a ripe wood apple falling on the dry grass rips the calm. We hear a rustling sound in our backyard. It’s a Crow Pheasant walking on the dry leaves.

 We also spotted a baby tailor bird perched on a dry branch.

Kids declare that they are terribly bored. Having played board games, read story books, drawing, painting, and craft, they want to engage themselves in something new. Watching TV does not interest them. Heatwave restricts them indoors and they feel asphyxiated. Entertaining kids and involving them fruitfully can be a daunting task. Baking together is one beautiful way of killing boredom and monotony.  Kids love participating in the process. We decide on baking some vegan cupcakes with funfetti.

Kids are flooded with excitement and they squeal with joy as they begin measuring flour, mixing, stirring and also licking ladles and pans after the batter has been filled up in the cupcake tray.
It was good a utilization of time and the cupcakes were delicious.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes


  • 1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼  teaspoon salt
  • ¾  cup caster Sugar
  • 1 cup warm  soymilk (or, dairy milk for a nonvegan version)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/3  cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/3 cup funfetti


  • ½  cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons funfetti


  1. Preheat oven to 180  degrees C. Line the standard 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners.  
  2. In a large bowl whisk together first five ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, take milk. Mix vinegar and let rest for 5 minutes. The milk will curdle
  4. Add oil and vanilla essence and mix well
  5. Add dry ingredients. Stir to combine and get a smooth batter.
  6. Fold in funfetti. Stir
  7. Pour the batter into the muffin tray filling 3/4 of each cavity.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from the tray and cool on the rack.
  10. For glaze, mix icing sugar and milk to get a thick paste.
  11. Pour over the cupcakes. Sprinkle funfetti and serve.

My Tip: To make the glaze, add less milk first and check. Add more milk only if required. The glaze should be thick. 

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