Welcome 2013 or Good Riddance 2012?

Last year didn’t end well, but then again by the same count it also means this year didn’t start well. I’ve been sick for a while with a flu that won’t quit and every time the doctor prescribes something for a symptom, it develops another symptom. Am sure it will all go away in a little while but it is frustrating to stay in  bed and drink hot soup all the time. If I never see another bowl of soup this winter, I won’t feel all that bad! The silver lining was that the holidays were fun, despite a bunch of us bouncing symptoms off of each other. There were tons of things to eat, tons of gifts to open and loads of laughter. The next year or rather this year has to be about moving forward, all this negativity that abounds in illness, needs to be circumvented. This year will be about getting healthy, about moving forward with my photography, about the next logical step in every facet. So cheers to growth and Welcome 2013, I look forward to your challenges.

So to celebrate here is a cake inspired by Ina’s chocolate cake(tweaked a few ingredients) you should make yourself, because I am yet to have anything so moist, ‘chocolatey’ and soul satisfying! When you do make this for yourself, curl up in a chair by a fire, switch on the television to a program that is your guilty pleasure and melt into the cake.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 0ne 9*10 round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and orange zest, stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop and melt the chocolate in a double boiler and allow it to cool down to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended.  Spread over cooled cake.

Chocolate cake - 1

Chocolate cake - 2

Make yourself this cake, enjoy it and make your own resolutions that you WANT to keep! Happy 2013 – and don’t forget to enjoy!

All pictures and material are copyright and cannot be reused or reprinted without the author’s explicit written permission. If you are interested in purchasing prints or want to hire me for any of your photography work, reach out at http://www.photopportunist.com

Welcome 2013 or Good Riddance 2012?

Happy Holidays

Marian Keyes wrote – ” What is life but fleeting moments of happiness strung together on a necklace of despair?”. Dismal beginnings to a post with a cheery headline isn’t it? Bear with me because its not all bad. I do an end of year stock taking, as we all do, and I do mean of life itself during the year. It started well, with trips and the much anticipated move back to the US, work was good and half way down the year it all simmered down and now at the end of the year, its rather quiet. I can’t complain. This coming from someone who is an eternal pessimist is an amazing thing in itself and there seems to be some truth to Marian’s words. The truth is that I choose to focus on the first part of it rather than the latter. You see, I have tried a few new things this year which means that I have struggled, fallen flat on my face and even failed at certain endeavors, but I choose to look at those fleeting moments of good that have made it all worthwhile. Those little triumphs are testimony that I am going in the right direction and somewhere in the future is that big cake with a cherry on top, waiting for me. My failures are guide posts that tell me what not to do and what is sorely lacking in my quiver of skills. At the end of each of those falls, there has been an ah-a moment, telling me how to move forward. So this can’t be a necklace of despair, but it looks to me more like I am still stringing the pearls of wisdom together.

Alright, let me hang up my yoda hat and get back to business. It has been a good year, got pictures published in a book, ran a magazine successfully for a year and  booked a group exhibition for the next year, not too shabby despite a loser second half of the year. And if you will indulge me for one more moment with that aforementioned hat, let me also say it is rather difficult to be sad and/or dissatisfied when the holidays come rolling around. I don’t know what it is about Christmas it evokes the child in me, who is lost in the visions of charlie brown and perhaps even sniffles( if you even know the character!). This time of year is all about near and dear ones and this year has been graphically lucid about the ones I can actually trust. When Christmas swings around, I can’t help myself….I just am happy. You could kick me in the shin and I guess I would still smile!  Something about the season just gets me everytime, I have to bake cookies and send it out to loved ones, I have to write out holiday cards, I have to bake like a maniac for my nephews and I shop a full day for everyone in the family and spend one more day wrapping them with care. There is no time left in the day to wallow! Perfect!

So here’s to Christmas….and putting all your troubles behind and looking forward with educated eyes…

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you 

And I wish you and yours a very Happy and Prosperous New Year too……and I will see you bright and early next year, if not before. But before you go, thank you for taking the time out to read and look at my pictures, whoever you are, wherever you are. I will leave you with some shots of some of the cookies I sent out this year.

Chocolate clouds - 1 Linzer - 1 Linzer 3


As usual everything on this blog is Copyright of Photopportunist/Shruthi V. DO NOT reprint or reuse without the author’s explicit permission. Please visit – http://www.photopportunist.com if you are interested in working with me or if you intend purchasing a print.

Happy Holidays