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Happy birthday and a big thank you

February 3, 2011
Homemade bread and digestive biscuits

Baking day – my first ever post on My Custard Pie

Happy birthday to me – actually to My Custard Pie’s first blogging anniversary.  So much has happened in the last year since I wrote a few tentative words and uploaded some images.  Who knew that through this blog I’d make new friends online from all over the world and meet some here in Dubai, become more confident in my writing, cooking and even photography skills….but I’m getting ahead of myself.

One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t hide behind social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.).  Even Twitter’s micro-blogging 140 character limit reveals a lot about a person’s true character.  There are some people you just warm to and Marian Schembari is one of them.  She calls herself a social media ‘thug’ and her tag-line used to be ‘telling like it should be but isn’t’ which sums up her direct, refreshing and honest approach.  She issued a 7-link challenge in October which I think is the perfect way to look back over the year.

1. My first post

A Baking Day.  I didn’t have any clear direction but had a lovely time in the kitchen (see picture above) and wrote about some things that mattered to me too.  My first comment came too….from my sister – thanks Anna.

comment from my sister2. A post I enjoyed writing the most

Banana bread for adults and how I learned to tinker

Always happy to change and adapt savoury things but I’d always stuck to baking recipes to the letter.  Inspired by a post on Chez Pim, I suddenly saw the light and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.  I literally flew back up to my computer to write my account, the finished banana bread was all that I’d hoped for, the flavours working together as scrumptiously as I’d imagined – I was so proud of myself!  One of my favourite food writers left a really nice comment too – deep joy.

Banana bread taken out of oven.

Tennessee banana bread

3. A post which has great discussion

Tracy Emin and walnut bread

There are lots of very perfect food blogs out there showing ‘food-porn’ images and exquisite recipes.  But a couple of my baking challenges had gone very wrong and I faced a dilemma.  Would anyone trust recipes from someone who didn’t get it right all the time in the kitchen?  I could have hidden the burnt bottom of my walnut loaf and pretend all was well but instead I discussed it in the post.  The comments section was overwhelming in support of telling the truth – and let’s face it – imperfection is interesting.

walnut bread

The finished loaves – who would know about their secret?

4. A post I wish I had written (actually two)

There are many blogs I admire – the warm, openess of Meeta of What’s for Lunch, Honey?, the simplicity and happiness of Tiina from Sparkling Ink, the honesty and intelligence of Ms Marmite Lover on the English can cook and the culinary integrity of Sarah at Foodbridge (Food Stories, Lost in the Larder and Things we make must be mentioned too).  But posts I wish I’d written come closer to home when writing about a shared experience.

Image from Dubai-ified

Image from Dubai-ified

Enter Fooderati Arabia, the fabulous group of UAE food bloggers that is growing everyday, each person passionate about food experiences in a unique way.  When I wrote about our trip to Oktoberfest and then read Arva’s funny stream of conciousness report on In a Frying Pan, I was revealed in all my English politesse.  And Sarah from Dubai-ifed is just so witty when she writes about Gourmet Lafayette and it’s quite obvious she whipped out her camera and chose all the best angles where I discreetly took a few snaps in the cheese department then slipped it back into my handbag, cheeks flushed with British stiff-upper lip embarrassment.  The lesson here is to be brave and honest.  Watch out for new developments with FIA too – with all this latent talent, 2011 is the start of something.

Home made pretzel

Home-made pretzel

5. A post with a title I’m proud of

I usually tell it like it is but never able to resist an awful pun – Going back to my roots – Barszcz (get it?!) satisfied my Beano upbringing.  Counting the nights with Preserved lemon chicken made me proud in a different way as the author of the book in the title left a comment – wow!

Barszcz - beetroot soup

My illustrated beetroot soup

6. A post I wish more people had read

As only in my second month of blogging the Top 10 cookbooks that have influenced me has been a bit overlooked.  The post was prompted by a discussion with @highandwild on Twitter in the context of the Emirates Festival of Literature.  I’d like a few more visitors to that post because, in the same way nosey way I look at people’s bookshelves when I enter their home, I’d love to hear about what fires up your culinary juices in a bookish way.

10 cook books that have influenced me most

10 cook books that have influenced me

7. My most visited post ever

How excited I was when I visited the Nazwa Farm Shop on its second day of opening.  I can still remember the strong scent of fresh basil and it was such a pleasure to talk to Elena and understand her passion for the project.  The amount of people searching for an organic farm shop in Dubai means that I get a lot of visits to that first account and how disappointed they must be when they read that this beautiful little shop, brilliant concept, passionate project with fresh, local, impeccable produce has closed.  I still feel sad when I drive past and see the shutters down.

Fennel on shelves

Frondy fennel in front of print lined walls

And finally the thank you, a massive thank you, especially if you’ve read all this way down to the bottom.  To everyone who has searched, browsed, visited, subscribed, cooked from recipes and commented, I really am grateful – it’s such a privilege to write and be heard.  Sorry if this sounds like an Oscar’s speech but it honestly makes my day, puts a spring in my step and spurs me on to be bolder, braver, work harder, and enjoy life more.   A taste of what is to come.

Chocolate cake with marzipan bees

A cake to celebrate

Do any of these links strike a chord with you?  Love to hear in the comments.

  1. February 3, 2011 1:23 am

    Congratulations and Happy Blog Birthday!

    I know what you mean about posts you wish more people have read. Sometimes the things you think are best get lost in amongst the other stuff, and ones you thought were ‘just ok’ get all the views. I must share more of my cooking mishaps too, to show the ‘true’ me!

    I always enjoy your blog and your ever improving photos. Looking forward to future years.


  2. February 3, 2011 1:24 am

    Oh…and i meant to say…thanks for the mention! *flattered*

    • February 3, 2011 6:18 am

      You deserve it Claire – you’ve provided a lot of inspiration. I’m officially a ‘fan’ of things we make not just for the lovely images and down-to-earth writing but I always identify with something – and need to comment!

  3. SarahJ permalink
    February 3, 2011 4:41 am

    Happy Blog Birthday! I would never have guessed you’ve only been blogging for a year. (I guess it’s one of those things that seem like it’s so long and so short at the same time.) I love your blog, your photography and your culinary insights! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • February 3, 2011 6:15 am

      Thank you Sarah for the really kind comment.

  4. February 3, 2011 6:49 am

    happy blogversary! keep up the great work! hugs,

  5. February 3, 2011 7:18 am

    Happy Birthday and many happy returns!!!!!!!

  6. February 3, 2011 8:51 am

    Happy Birthday Custard Pie….looking forward to reading more posts on here in 2011!

    • February 3, 2011 9:30 am

      Thank you lovely UAE bloggers Sukaina, Rajani and Anja – here’s to lots more foodie adventures together.

  7. February 3, 2011 10:22 am

    Happy 1st Blogoversary. May your next year be doubly as successful and enjoyable as the first.
    🙂 Mandy

  8. February 3, 2011 11:57 am

    Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear My Custard Pie! Happy birthday to you!

  9. February 3, 2011 2:09 pm

    Sally, I’ve only recently started reading your blog and I can’t believe it’s only been a year that you’ve been blogging for! I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to them. Can’t wait for another year of what’s to come.

    Congratulations and…


  10. February 3, 2011 3:53 pm

    Happy Anniversary! And, is that a honeybee cake? Loving the preview, can’t wait for that post and the many more to come!

    • February 5, 2011 8:40 am

      Really touched by all the kind messages. Thanks Nausheen, Yasmin, Adele and Mandy and here’s to lots more shared food experiences from us all.

  11. February 3, 2011 4:46 pm

    The emotion and self-reflection behind this post is really touching. You were the first food blogger I came across in Dubai – and meeting you has really taken blogging from just ‘posting,’ to belonging and growing as part of an active food community. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but most of the members of Famished in Arabia have actually joined because they read about it on your site, in your comments, or because you had reached out to them. For bringing us all together, thank you.

    AND, I am so, so incredibly honored to be mentioned as part of this list Sally, because you are, hands down, the most informed and informative food blogger that I see in the UAE. Here’s to many more thoughtfully chronicled food experiences on your blog, and to your contagious enthusiasm that’s made being a part of FiA so rewarding.

    • February 5, 2011 8:37 am

      How to reply to this accolade Arva? I’ll keep it simple – you are a real inspiration my kind, warm, enthusiastic foodie friend.

  12. February 3, 2011 5:45 pm

    Happy blog birthday, Sally! My first FFO challenge had brought me to your blog and your writings made me return again and again.
    My favourite post of yours is about Deira fish market. While reading it, it was like I was there and even could smell the fishy odour, and no matter I’m vegetarian, I loved it!

    • February 5, 2011 8:35 am

      Silvia – really touched by your comment. I had so many lovely messages and yours is one of the most special. You know that the admiration is mutual. I never know what lovely surprise I’m going to get when I visit Mushitza.

  13. February 3, 2011 8:13 pm

    It’s lovely that this is such a warm-hearted, sentimental post and accomplishment for you. Here’s to more!

    • February 5, 2011 8:34 am

      Cheers! Yes a bit sentimental – but it was one of those days!

  14. February 4, 2011 1:03 am

    Happy Birthday Custard Pie and its fabulous manager Sally! 🙂
    I’m very happy to met you in the culinary tour around the world and I hope we’ll continue to be ‘virtual’ friends 😉

  15. February 4, 2011 6:47 pm

    Happy 1st blog birthday Sally! It is so exciting to turn one. You have done such a good job through all this time and I wish you many many more wonderful posts and recipes! Don’t worry about sounding like an Oscar winner. I know exactly how you feel 🙂
    I spy a Nigella cake! I made it last year and it was amazing. I love those little bees.

    • February 5, 2011 8:32 am

      Yes Magda – it’s a Nigella hybrid! Old-fashioned chocolate cake with the bees from the choc honey cake (for my daughter Bea). Appreciate the lovely comment.

  16. February 5, 2011 1:39 am

    Oh Sally, this is what I love about food blogging – the varied perspectives and narrative styles. Congratulations on a year of dedication, communication and connecting – I know the energy it takes. *Clink* to many more. Have a superb weekend. I’m off to read all your many posts, esp the Banana bread one

    • February 5, 2011 8:30 am

      Thank you so much. I’m so glad to have found your blog through the recent virtual travels too – a really different perspective.

  17. February 5, 2011 10:47 am

    Congratulations and a very happy blog birthday! How exciting! And I absolutely LOVE this post and how you looked back over the year. I must do a list like this one!

    • February 6, 2011 9:49 am

      Jamie – your enthusiasm and joie de vivre has been a great part of making me feel part of the online foodie community. Your comment is much appreciated.

  18. February 5, 2011 9:58 pm

    Sally, congratulations to you and My Custard Pie on turning one. I first heard about your blog when The National did a feature on UAE foodblogs. An avid lover of food blogs, I was ecstatic to learn that there was a flourishing online foodie community here. I’ve been a regular visitor here since then.

    You mentioned about ‘Famished in Arabia’, is there any link that you can share, please.

    • February 6, 2011 9:46 am

      FIA is a Facebook group for food bloggers in the UAE but watch this space for more news soon…. Exciting times for UAE foodies!

  19. February 6, 2011 5:33 am

    Happy birthday (a bit late)!
    I discovered your blog only a few days ago, I think it’s excellent. The pictures have a clean, bright elegance, and the recipes are not only yummy but also unusual and interesting, with all those influences from different countries. Overall it reminds me a bit of the Ottolenghi cookbook. So, like they say, keep up the good work:)

    • February 6, 2011 9:47 am

      Gosh thanks Stefano – the Ottolenghi book is one of my very favourites.

    • November 25, 2013 3:34 pm

      IT look sooooooooo yummmy ! Well Done

  20. February 7, 2011 10:39 am

    Wow, Congratulations on completing one yr Sally! Must be a great feeling to see your baby grow and loved by everyone and this is one bog milestone. You are doing an awesome job with your blog and you have many many years of popularity yet to come your way!
    Keep doing what you do and don’t forget to enjoy and cherish it all along 🙂

  21. February 8, 2011 12:18 pm

    Happy Blogiversary, Sally! It’s been a joy following your adventures on the other side of the world! 🙂

  22. November 25, 2013 3:36 pm

    Reblogged this on dubaifoodieae.


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