About me…

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I grew up in Kenya, where my mother together with her mother and mother-in-law, conjured up fantastic feasts for high days and holy days and our cook made me and my brother the most delicious meals for when we got home from school. We had an enormous extended family – it seemed that everyone was an Aunty or an Uncle – who were all equally adept at turning out fabulous food. We had the most amazing resources – milk from the farm (quite literally from udder to table), creamy butter, beef, chicken and goat that were truly organic; fruit and vegetables that came straight from our garden or the vegetable growers’ allotments; fish and seafood brought in the day they were caught off the coast. Though it wasn’t always bountiful – I do also remember the power outages and food shortages; the surreptitious whisperings about where flour or sugar could still be found at a price; the sometimes comical lengths my mother would go to procure something in short supply…I look back now, through rose tinted glasses no doubt and feel truly privileged to have experienced such abundance.

We moved to Canada when I was thirteen. I realise now how difficult that must have been for my mother, a socialite who now had no help in the kitchen or around the house and no extended family around to visit or support her. Leaving the Tropics behind for six months of cold and snow every year… My mother is Arabian and my father, Indian; both Muslim and before long, they had gathered together a circle of close friends who have stayed in our lives, through thick and thin, ever since. It didn’t take long for Mum to get used to the convenience of the vast supermarkets or the lack of exotic ingredients and start throwing huge dinner parties. This is when I started to get involved in the kitchen – washing up to begin with. And then baking. In Nairobi, it had been all about fruit and ice-cream based puddings. In Canada, the magazines had picture after mouth watering picture of the most glorious cakes, pies and biscuits. Measuring ingredients is not in my mother’s repertoire so I became baker. I turned out cakes and cookies, hesitantly at first and then with more and more confidence as I came to understand the terms and the feel of textures. I learned from those magazines and the food packaging labels. But I rarely cooked anything savoury. That was my mother’s domain – completely.

I married and moved to England when I was 24. I couldn’t boil and egg but I could make a mean apple pie. My husband loved good food and we frequented the top London restaurants of the time as well as going into Southhall and Wembley for a fix of authentic Indian food. I piled on the weight and he got fed up of eating out all the time. He showed me how to make a simple stew and I was off.  Shamelessly asking the most basic questions of any of his friends’ wives when we went round for a meal and discovering the food writers of that time – Marcella Hazan, Margaret Costa, Claudia Roden and Madhur Jaffrey…I would read them cover to cover and still refer to Marcella Hazan and Margaret Costa…I have never really got to grips with with Indian food. So we began hosting the very occasional dinner – one of my first triumphs was stuffed sardines – my husband brought home an unexpected guest – I cobbled the sardines together and not only were they edible, his friend wanted more…

6 years later, I moved into London, on my own, getting a job and sharing a flat with a co-worker who loved to say that I could produce a meal with nothing in the cupboards. However, it wasn’t until I started living with M that I really found my feet. The shopping in the streets of South London yielded a variety that was still unknown in the stockbroker belt of Surrey. Cooking out of the tiniest kitchen I would dish up Thai salads and curries, Italian fish feasts and French casseroles.  I would marinade lamb chops and courgettes and barbecue them in our wild Victorian garden. I would roast marinated chicken wings in the tiny gas oven and our neighbours, finding the smells irresistible,  would arrive early for their dinner invitation. I cooked Ossobuco with Risotto Milanese for dear friends which became one of those food memories which has grown exponentially over time. A book that totally changed the way I shopped was Frances Bissell’s “The Real Meat Cookbook” – in the early nineties, the ins and outs of battery farming were not that well known and this tome really opened my eyes.

With the birth of my son and life in utter turmoil and chaos, my focus nonetheless shifted with alarming alacrity to nutrition as EVERY MOUTHFUL COUNTED! I made all his baby food, steaming and pureeing a wide variety of organic vegetables and fish and freezing them in ice cube trays. As a toddler he was pretty adventurous – one of his favourite restaurant dishes was Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia – Cuttlefish Spaghetti. The staff used to pat his head sooo proudly as the rest of the diners looked on aghast at this child with black lips eating black pasta. I began baking again – birthday cakes of course, muffins, banana bread, biscuits. Encouraged by friends, I started catering the occasional cocktail party  and supplied a local cafe with soups which I was able to fit in around his nursery schedule. With full time school, came my return to full time work and the emphasis shifted to fresh food that was delicious but quick…no more slow simmering in the week – that luxury is now reserved for the weekends!

So, I begin this blog to share memories woven through with food, lots of laughter and the love and encouragement that I have been surrounded with throughout the trials and tribulations that is this wonderful life…

xoxo Selma

 WordPress Awards

These wonderful awards are such a pleasure to receive and I am truly grateful to each and every one of you, who take the time and trouble to award them to me. Due to time constraints, I am not able to pay them forward so with much regret, I must decline from accepting them. Thank you for thinking of me. Sx

115 thoughts on “About me…

    • Thank you so much Fae. I found you via Jo’s fabulous blog – My Home Food That is Amore and felt a bit of a connection! The foodie community has been very welcoming indeed. Thanks for all the likes and the also for the follow…all the best, Selma

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  1. I loved reading about your international journey and about how your interests in food developed across the globe. This ‘About Me’ page really shows what’s behind the blog nicely. And I especially love your blog title: very personal while also describing perfectly what the blog is about!

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  2. Shanna – thank you so very much for thinking of me. I am really touched that you have nominated me for such a lovely award. Things are a bit hectic at the moment but I will post about it and pay it forward very soon. Have a wonderful weekend feasting :) Selma x

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  3. Dimple!!! Thank you so much for this lovely nomination – I am so touched that you thought of me! Things are a little topsy turvy at the moment as we are in the middle of a move – hence the lack of posts – but I promise to acknowledge the award and pay it forward very soon. Thanks again Dimple! xx

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  4. Fae – thank you so much for this wonderful award – this is praise indeed coming from you. I am so staggered at how welcoming this wonderful WP community has been – thank you for being so warm and supportive of me. Things are a little hectic at the moment (hence lack of posts recently) but I will acknowledge and pay it forward shortly. Fae, thank you again xoxo Selma

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  5. I’ve just read your story again, dear Selma, you are an inspiration and truly international!! I think it’s lovely that we can honestly share our stories and our motivations and passions, I believe that this is the true joy of our blogs: we are driven by our hearts. It’s been lovely to meet you and all we have shared so far, here’s to future sharing xx

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    • Elaine – you are so right. Now that my son is older, I have more time to myself and blogging has given me a a much needed outlet to focus on me and what I want to do – cook, write and take lovely photos. I always knew that I loved cooking but had no idea about the writing or the photography. It has been lovely to meet you too and I so look forward to getting to know you better xx

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    • Thanks – I don’t remember how I found you – too much surfing I am afraid! It may have been through Shivaay Delights, Curl and Carrots or Foodbod. I love how you use up leftovers to make something wonderful. I love leftovers – it is like having an ingredient just waiting for you to make something delicious!

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  6. Your blog was interesting from the beginning. I am a new blogger and a want-to-be cook (like you). Your story is written beautifully and the smells I can get from your table talk inspired me to follow you. Thank you. Joy

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    • What a small world Melissa!! Have you been to Kenya? Even though I was only there for about 10 years as a young girl and have been there several times as an adult, I am inexplicably drawn to Kenya – nostalgia may have something to do with it but there is something about Africa that just gets under your skin and stays there!! Thanks for your lovely comments about my blog – it all very new to me as well!

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  7. You’ve led an interesting life. We have a bit in common – I was also born in Africa (South Africa in my case), and moved to Canada as a child. I still live here, although not in the same city we moved to all those many, many years ago. Do you still have family in Canada?

    I look forward to enjoying all the delights of your wonderful blog.

    Beverlee

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    • I have come to realise what a small world it is that we live in! We lived in Toronto before moving to Winnipeg. Just recently my mum has moved back to Toronto and now lives with my brother. I have friends in Cape Town whom I love visiting – what a wonderful place it is – do you ever go back to South Africa?

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      • Interesting indeed! I grew up in Edmonton, but now live in Toronto. And no, every time I’ve had the opportunity to go back to South Africa, I’ve also had the opportunity to go to Europe, and somehow, Europe always wins! :-)

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        • My mum is absolutely loving Toronto – she won’t admit it but she is wondering why she didn’t move years ago! Europe is fab but I would try SA next – you won’t regret it. The food culture and wine is incredible. Then there is the scenery…

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    • Hi Moira – I am sorry I didn’t leave a comment – I was going to do so later tonight – I was so enjoying all your lovely recipes that I didn’t want to stop! Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! x

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    • Thank you so much! That was something that I wrote 3 or 4 years ago when I was thinking about blogging. It’s had lots of tweaks but I am really happy with it. I probably will have to add another paragraph or three to include my blogging adventures!!

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  8. Selma: Thanks for visiting, following, commenting, and having fun with me! Sending you some love and laughs. Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin, USA, home of your newest follower – come back anytime!

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    • Farianti, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I was planning to check out your blog this weekend after reading Dimple’s Fab Four the other day – you beat me to it! I’ve enjoyed your posts and look forward to following you on your blogging journey!!!

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  9. Thank you too Selma, it looks like we share more in common than we know. I too grew up in Kenya, England and Canada, but now live in the USA. Like you, I have a passion for cooking and entertaining. I’m thrilled at the thought of sitting in my armchair, penning these thoughts in front of my computer and having the world at my fingertips. It is so refreshing to compare notes from folks around the world. Thank you.

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  10. Selma, It is so lovely to meet you.
    You are an inspiration, and your story is wonderful.
    Your tastes are very similar to mine – and yes, we must be neighbours –
    so it’s doubly good to have found your blog…
    Best wishes, and looking forward to meeting again!
    Emma :-)

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    • That is such a good question and has really made me think! Extraordinary Marinated and Roasted Chicken is fab – it even won a competition on F52 – I adapted it from one that Elaine of foodbod had posted. The Lemon and Semolina cake, Gratin au Poisson Fume, The smoked mackerel gratin and Tennis Turkey are all firm family favourites – I have so many more to put up but we seem to eat it all before I can photograph it!!!

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  11. Oh wow Selma, I loved reading about you, thanks for sharing it! It’s an amazing “About” page. Thanks for visiting my blog, and giving me the opportunity to “know” you! xxx Laura

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  12. Hi Selma, I loved reading your About page. You have led such an interesting life and traveled so much. It is very different from mine as I still live where I was born. That is what I like about blogging – getting to know people that I would never get to meet otherwise. Thank you for being so open and sharing how you got to where you are today. I look forward to reading your blog in the future and am glad I met you at the fiesta!

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    • Hi Shari – that is such a lovely comment to read. It was only when I sat down and began to compose this page that I realised all my influences at different stages of my life. You probably don’t think so, but I would have loved to have lived in one place, kept up with all my school friends and been a part of big family gatherings – the grass is always greener!! It has been lovely meeting you at Fiesta Friday and I look forward to seeing more of you!

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  13. Petra, thank you so much for asking – I am so honoured. Unfortunately I am really strapped for time at the moment so regretfully, I have to decline. I am sure I will get the chance to participate later in the year when things slow down. Thanks again and have a lovely Sunday!

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    • hi Selma

      No worries, I know it was a bit short notice as well. I have been out travelling and didn’t get 100% organized on time.
      I really enjoy reading your blog! :)
      Have a lovely rest of the Sunday too

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    • Martina – thank you so much – I am so grateful and very touched that you thought of me. I am not accepting any awards due to time constraints a the moment but if you click on some of Friday Fiesta entries or even on the likes on my posts you will find lots of newbie bloggers that would be really appreciative of a way to gain some new followers. Thanks so much though Martina xx

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  14. Hi Selma, I nominated your lovely blog for a Liebster blog award – http://wp.me/p3Nc97-sF. Participation is optional and there is no expectation that the award will be paid forward.. just wanted to express appreciation for some lovely blogs that I follow. Have a lovely day! :)

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    • Ahila, thank you so much for thinking of me – I am always so touched and grateful to receive nominations and awards. Unfortunately, due to time restraints, I am not able to accept but plan to write a long overdue thank you post highlighting all the wonderful bloggers and their sites. Thanks again Ahila x

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    • Beck, thank you – I read you bio too but while I was in too much of a hurry to leave a comment, I knew that with a bio like that, I would want to follow your journey. Thanks for the follow back – I look forward to getting to know you better!!

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  15. Selma this is a beautiful blog and inspiring for a beginner like me! Thank you for your generousity in sharing. I look forward to joining a lovely community of like minded people and bringing some Antipodean flavours to the table. Kindest of regards and happy new year! Donna

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  16. Hi Selma,
    So nice of you and love to hear about your travel around the world. You would have enjoyed many varieties of food. I love baking, will learn baking from you. Stop by my blog when your free, think you would like my blog.

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I would so love to hear from you - please do leave a comment! (Your email address will not be visible.) Selma

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