Slowly but surely, she can see things change, like inside of a kaleidoscope, she is now amazed at the explosion of color her eyes can now see: A new look at life is now more than a dream. – Morgan Harper Nichols
The last time I said hello on this blog feels like an eternity ago. It was the beginning of May. I had just returned from a vacation in Mauritius and La Reunion and was preparing my thoughts and things for a monthlong summer trip to Europe. Just days before my dad had called to tell me that my grandpa had passed away. I felt lonely, sad and aimless. The funeral was heart-breaking and my mind started to wander and wonder. It’s always those devastating moments in life that one realizes that our time is limited, it’s precious and it’s too short to waste.
Merely a few days later I sat on a plane from Berlin to Bordeaux, a region in France that my grandpa and myself have always admired. We never went together but I know all his memories and stories, good and bad. Sometimes I wish I had shared more of mine but my French journey is only really beginning now. I’ve always dreamt of a house somewhere in France. When people ask me why there, I simply name a few things. The food, the culture, the wine, a sense of comfort. A French farmhouse or cottage with pots and pans hanging from the kitchen ceiling and sunlight shining through the open windows. Old stone tiles grace the floor and wooden beams add a touch of coziness.
While I was driving up and down the beautiful vineyard roads in my tiny rental car, staying at lovely Airbnb’s and ate my body weight in croissants, I actually found my dream house. In a little town called Gensac, not far away from St. Emilion and Bordeaux. It was love at first sight but destiny had other plans. On my second visit, Felix joined me so I could show him the property. We were scheduled to talk to the notary and had appointments with handymen regarding the renovation works. And then after only a day in France, we received a call from Dubai that one of our cats had passed away. We booked the next flight back to Dubai and haven’t talked much about France or the property since then. It’s probably sold by now.
The pain and devastation after the loss of our cat Mowgli have been intense and heartbreaking. His death was completely unexpected and way too early. We had adopted him in Hong Kong together with our ginger cat Bagheera and they traveled with the world with us for the past 5 years. It’s like losing a good friend or family member. And it took me a month to let go of the heartache I felt every minute of the day since he’d been gone. Buying that French country house now didn’t feel right anymore. I will start looking again and I will follow my dream of that French house soon enough. But for now, I’m still healing. I’m still grieving for my grandpa and my cat. And I allowed myself all the time I need to get better again.
But this summer story wouldn’t be complete without telling you all about the wonderful moments I had experienced. About that time in Paris and Oslo when I met good friends of mine who I hadn’t seen in such a long time. About the workshop, I co-hosted in Norway with a group of amazing and super talented ladies. And about my week in London where I didn’t make any plans other than getting lost in its many parks and visit at least one new coffee shops every day. About my cousin’s wedding in Germany where my 92-year-old grandma danced to hip-hop songs and I went to bed before her. Despite all the pain and loss, it was also a very magical summer in Europe.
I wish it could have lasted longer but instead, I had to come back to Dubai’s heat. I don’t mind it much, it’s not as bad as people say. It’s still possible to go outside, at least that’s what I do every morning and evening. I love being back in Dubai, being at home with my other cats and Felix. It’s my comfort zone. But I’m missing driving around in beautiful France, breezing the fresh Norwegian air and munching on pastries and the likes.
So I created a recipe for a Vegan Blueberry Tart that brings all my favorite memories from this summer onto the plate. With fresh blueberries from the Norwegian woods (not literally but let’s just imagine these blueberries were picked by us and carefully placed in a wooden basket), a tart crust, I had eaten so much of in French patisseries and a layer of vanilla cream that seems to be an absolutely essential part in most of Germany’s fruitcakes. Eaten with a cup of good coffee, just like I had enjoyed it so many times in London.
It’s a simple recipe. You might even consider this a lazy recipe, I do. But it’s comfort food for me at the moment. And it’s a beautiful reminder of my European summer trip.
Vegan Blueberry Tart
- 1 ready-made shortcrust / tart dough / pie dough pastry sheet (320 g)
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup coconut yogurt
- 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch
- 1 pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey // plus more to taste)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups blueberries
- Soak cashews overnight or for 30 min in hot water.
- Add soaked cashews and coconut yogurt to a blender and blend until creamy. Now add arrowroot starch, a pinch of salt, maple syrup and vanilla extract and blend again for 30-60 seconds. Taste and add more syrup if you like it sweeter.
- Lightly grease tart pan or springform (I used a 20 cm/ 8-inch springform) with coconut oil.
- On a lightly floured surface, place the crust, roll out a little if necessary and cut into a circle, approximately 2.5 cm /1 inch larger than the size of the pan.
- Gently ease dough into the springform, press it down and press dough evenly 2 cm/ 0.75 inch up the sides.
- Scrape filling into springform, top with blueberries and bake for 30 min (maybe even 10 min longer) or until filling and crust turn golden.
Tart filling adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Creamy Lime Pie Bars
P.S. I’ll dedicate a separate blog post to the Norway workshop and photography retreat.
P.P.S. All photos in the blog post from my travels are shot with my iPhone only and edited with my new Lightroom Mobile preset collection.
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