Tag Archives: shopping

Muscovado: A Good Alternative to Refined Sugar

Muscovado is a thick, unrefined sugar that has a rich smell and is moist and thick. The good thing about this sugar is that is contains minerals because it has not gone through the stripping down and processing of other sugars. when it is highly processed, sugar is turned into an ‘empty-calorie’ product that contains nothing of nutritional benefit.  Replacing your usual white sugar with muscovado sugar at home can help lower the amount of ‘empty calories’ you consume.

The extraction process of muscovado sugar is very simple; the extracted juice from the sugar cane is boiled until it has reduced to about 30 percent. The residue is then dried out and it solidifies to form the sugar granules known as muscovado sugar. In comparison, white sugar undergoes additional heating, filtering and bleaching stages, which removes most of its nutritional content in the process. Another health benefit muscovado sugar has over refined sugar is that it is free of harmful chemicals such as phosphoric acid, sulfur dioxide and formic acid, which may be put in during the additional stages white sugar goes through.

Seriously, do you want to eat bleach? No, that’s what I though.
So, how can you substitute your scary white sugar with this delicous vitamin-filled sugar?
Muscovado sugar is most commonly used in baking. You can also add it to your tea and coffee or substitute it wherever you would normally use white sugar. When substituting your sugar, use exactly the same amount of muscovado sugar as you would white sugar.
For those of you that get worried about spending lots on healthy substitutes, you’ll be happy to know that is really isn’t expensive. I bought a kilo for around 9 euros.For maximum health benefits, try baking carrot cakes, oat and raisin cookies, fruity muffins, apple and cinnamon crumbles and apple strudels. You can also use muscovado sugar in savory dishes such as mustard-glazed gammon, caramelized balsamic steak, and more!
Recipes to come, my lovely readers.
Here and here are some links about why you should be careful of your sugar intake. I always cut down the sugar in my recipes.

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Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) in Budapest

As I found out later, this market was designed by Monsieur Gustav Eiffel himself. It almost felt like a train station inside. J and I were getting a tad sick of the pork sausages (cringe) and desided to embark on a vegetable hunt. This is what we found:
(please note the lack of vegetables)

Chilli is one of the national foods in Hungary, and I just found these strings of chilli stunning.

Even though they don’t give me the slightest desire to eat them, they are very photogenic those little pork sausages.

What is your favourite cuisine?

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The Beginnings of Cleopatra’s Bling.

I am thrilled to announce the birth of Cleopatra’s Bling.  For a while now I have been thinking about bringing together the best of all my traveling and the beauties of the places I visit in starting a small online e-boutique.

I can now offer you the best of these worlds; jewelry inspired by the gorgeous women in Turkey and India.

All my pieces come from the local artisans. I have met the families that craft these pieces, they are all unique, thought up by the locals. I have seen them make the pieces, and there are no underpaid workers involved, they are families.

Here are a few examples of what I sourced on my last trip to Istanbul.

For all details and the whole collection, click here and here and here.

Oh, and to help me get started feel free to share my links with your friends and loved ones ♥

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Day 5: My Adventures in Istanbul

The architecture of Istanbul makes for most of its charm. The architecture in this magnificent city depicts a large mixture of structures which reflect the many influences that have made an indelible mark in all districts of the city. The ancient part of the city (the historic peninsula) is still partially surrounded by the Walls of Constantinople, erected in 5th century (just a little bit old!) AD by the Emperor Theodosius II to protect the city from invasion. The architecture inside the city proper contains buildings, statues, and functional constructions which came from Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern Turkish sources. The city has many architecturally significant entities. Throughout its long history, Istanbul has acquired a reputation for being a cultural and ethnic melting pot. It really feels like the point where the East meets the West. Such a gorgeous combination. As a result, there are many historical mosques, churches, synagogues, palaces, castles and towers to visit in the city.

I just love the mosaïques, the gold arabic script, and the stone.

Day 5 was a day of exploring the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar and the surrounding areas. Bear with me, I got very camera happy and took lots of photos.

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Day 4: My Adventures in Istanbul

The fun continues! On my fourth day I walked around the “Asian” side, the side that is less modern, more traditional, and where you can find all the monumental mosques. This side of Istanbul has so much history to offer, and being Australian, where the history is relatively modern, makes me feel like I am walking in Disneyland, or in a documentary.

The freshly squeezed Pomegranite juice is just incredible, and very tart!

View over the water.

And of course, Turkish coffee, my favourite!

Gosh, how am I going to be able to go back home after seeing all this? I could stay here another month and explore because there is just so much to see!

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Day 2: My Adventures in Istanbul

Today I had a wild day in the Grand Bazaar. It is such an experience! On my way, I walked through the winding streets down towards the water and Galata bridge.

The view of the sea is just a teaser of what is to come.

I discovered a wonderful modern Turkish café called Mavra Galata. Please go there if ever in Istanbul!

The architecture of Istanbul is breathtaking. There are no words… the water sparkles, the sun beats down, and the city is alive.

All the local produce. It makes me want to live here and eat olives for breakfast.

The Grand Bazaar is both spectacular and overwhelming at the same time. There is so much to see. Make sure you bargain with the sellers!

What a day! Tomorrow I am off to Princes’ Islands. Cannot wait!

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Vintage Champagne Flutes

Last week at the puces de Saint Ouen just outside of Paris, we discovered the wonderful vintage stands selling things that date back to the 20′s and before! I got these charming champagne flutes that I lusted after.
What do you think?

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The Old World Charm of Pondicherry

புதுச்சேரி- Pondicherry


(he parked anyway!)

India- Land of the Ved

Pondicherry was one of my favourite destinations in India. Maybe it was the fact that we met my brother there and it felt like a wild adventure, but something about this place really got me.

Pondicherry is situated along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is known for its palm fringed beaches, mosques, French influence and the Aurobindo Ashram movement. It was a former French colony, which accounts for the incredible Old World Charm, as though you were taking part in one of the Tintin adventures. Colonialism is just oozing out of the walls. It made me really understand it. It’s like seeing India through a French lense, glammed up, boho, where you can still buy great finds that “work” in the West.

When we arrived in Pondicherry from Chennai (one of the most hectic and stressful experiences in my lifetime) we felt an extreme sense of relief. For an Indian city, Pondi is small. Around one million people live there, and the streets are organised in a way that make the city feel more orderly than, say, Chennai.

The 3-4 story bungalo-style concrete houses are painted in every colour you can imagine, the kind you can see in many parts of India, where the “common folk” like. However, just next to the Bay of Bangal there is a drastic change in the urban landscape. Tiled rooftops, wooden shutters, balconies (as you would find them in Paris), colonnades, comfortably wide streets and pretty pastel Catholic churches. This, my friends, is the old French influence, la Ville Blanche, where the colonists once lived.

To celebrate being reunited with my brother, we ate here at Hôtel de l’Orient (former 18th Century Education Department that was reopened as the 16-room mansion). The service was French-spoken, the menu was in French, the maître d’hôtel was a French matron who kept a quiet eye on the French-speaking Indian men waiting the tables. The service was certainly not Indian, it was even too polished to be French. I have no idea what it was, but I suppose we could say that it was colonial. There was Sapphire gin on the menu, and surprisingly Indian wine (incredible, given the French’s lack of recognition for any wine apart from that which is produced from the terroir de France). The antiques that decorated the Hôtel were dazzling, and as we sipped on our Indian red, a live jazz band in the courtyard serenaded us into the warm Indian night.

Apart from playing the flâneur and perusing the streets, in Pondi, you must spend money. Yes, don’t get me wrong, I felt a spiritual awakening (despite not being able to bring myself to walk around clad in the traditional saris), I also felt an extreme urge to spend money. Pondicherry is like the Anthropologie  of India. It is shabby-chic and there are a plethora of hidden antiques shops that sell furniture and Indian God statues from the times of Colonialism.

To be cynical, and if I were really mad about post-colonial theory, I would go so far as to say that the current (sometimes superficial, but oh-so-attractive) Frenchifying of Pondi, cultivating this wonderfully boho and romantic city, is a subtle revenge on the old colonizers. What could be better than passively getting revenge and setting straight the misconduct of the past by pulling at the heartstrings of nostalgic Gauls dressed (sorry, I have to say this, ridiculouly) in colourful saris spending exhubérant amounts of money? Hanuman, the cheeky monkey God (one of the Gods in the Ramayana) sure would be proud.

That said, it is just too great to be a façade, too beautiful to be artificial. It was my first love in India and I cannot wait to be back there again in December to reunite with my beloved family.

To sum up my love for India, a quote by Will Durant:
“India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother through Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through village communities of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

Pondicherry, not a lot to see, but a lot to feel. Sound cheesy? Yes, but true.