Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake (0019) by Meeta K Wolff

I hope you are in a party mood today. I am! And I have cake. It’s a special week for me as this space here - my blog - just turned 6. If we were to talk blog years that would be something like … 60. Back in February 2006 I had the ingenious idea of starting a blog.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into or what awaited me, I made a few clicks and within minutes I entered the world, at that time still small, community of food blogging. My first post went up with just a rough idea of what I wanted to do. There was no thought to the photography or the styling and by no means was I expecting much: my main focus was to play around with recipes and my food experiments in the kitchen. But then I got my first comment and as I took an adventurous step out I discovered others who shared a similar passion.

Back in 2006 one had a pretty good overview of who was in the food community. I will probably sound like my own grandma, who, bless her soul, was always telling us how things were better in the good old days. Well in the good old days of blogging there was something very personal about the community. Most of us knew each other, we were keen on helping each other and one did not feel like one was in a whirlwind rat race.

WFLH has been a revelation for me. It has taught me immensely - practical things, like HTML and back office care taking, but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned where my limits are and I learned how to tackle those limits making me stronger and more patient.

What is inconceivable to me however, is how this blog has offered me a stepping stone to something I never thought was ever drawn in my path. Six years and I found a new love and passion. I invested a lot of time sharpening and honing the skills to learn whatever I could about food photography and eventually food styling. The combination worked and one thing lead to another - first dipping my toes and soon I was knee deep. The hobby has now turned into something slightly more professional that I am pursuing to my best abilities.

This blog has been good to me. But it’s been a lot of hard work too and the amount of time spent has been immense. However, the process taught me a few valuable lessons along the way, which I am pretty sure many will relate to.

  1. You have a day job, which you totally need to pay those bills and buy those high heels, handbags and the new lens. When you get home all you really want to do is order Sushi, watch Desperate Housewives and surf the sofa with a glass of wine.

    Instead what do you do?

    You begin to stress about creating content for the blog. So, you end up cooking up an extravagant meal, stressing about the light factor to take any decent pictures of the food and stay up late writing up a post. The weekend is spent trying to create more content for the blog and you begin to photograph everything you cook while your family waits impatiently to be fed. Sound familiar?

    After six years I would like to think I have become a little more relaxed about the blog. I think I have. I blog less and concentrate on quality rather than quantity.  The focus of my blog evolved over the six years and I pay finer detail to the images I am taking and indulge more in the writing. I do not stress too much about traffic, instead I value those of you who loyally come back here, post upon post, spending time to read what I am writing and taking the time to share your thoughts with me. 

  2. What’s the secret to successful blogging? I get asked that question, or a variation of the question, so often! I guess people expect me to share some mega Guru-like SEO trick or give them some practical lessons on how to successfully market the blog.

    The truth is - there is no trick. At least there wasn’t for me. I blogged and still blog because I love to. I enjoy so many aspects of blogging and have invested the time because it was a passion. WFLH was also giving me so much in return - new friends, discovering new facets and collecting a pool of knowledge in a variety of subjects.

    There were however lessons I learned along the way that I now use. The most important lesson: make sure the content of the blog is of a high standard. Engage your readers and keep them coming backing for more. Share your personality with integrity on your blog and blog about things you feel comfortable with and not about something you think will bring traffic to your blog.

  3. One of the most cherished things about blogging is the wonderful people I have met and meet along the way. Some deeper friendships have been formed, others bring a ray of sunshine into my world each day and others are quietly watching and somehow I know they are there rooting for me - genuinely.

    Six years ago before the social networking world of Twitter, Facebook and co. took over we communicated via email or the blog. Today one tries to cram everything into 140 characters because it's easier, faster. Oh I am very guilty of this too. However, social networking via Twitter and Facebook has introduced me to some pretty cool people that I have come to adore. Of course it also provides a whole new platform to market the blog too. But like everything else - the most important lesson here is to use this platform with integrity and sincerity.

    Be yourself! Do not open up your entire life on Twitter, but do show your charm, charisma and personality. Soon you will find people that share your own interests and thoughts, leading to maybe exciting and special friendships. It’s not only about pushing the blog on these platforms.

Six years and I am still loving doing what I do here. I guess that is my secret to successful blogging.

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake (0023) by Meeta K Wolff

So, for those of you who like coming around here and enjoy what I do, I am sharing cake with you! It’s a first of sorts for me. I have never actually made a Martha Stewart recipe before, at least not intentionally. However the recipe for the Almond and Orange Yogurt cake did get my attention as it uses semolina flour in the batter.  Adding semolina flour to cake batter gives the cake a lovely distinct texture.

Semolina flour comes from Durum wheat which has been ground into flour. The resulting product is high in gluten and is used for making pasta and breads. The range of its uses however, is not limited to bread and pasta. It is used also in pastries, porridges, soups, cakes and desserts. Semolina is very popular in Indian cuisine and you will find it is often used to make sweets and desserts.

Semolina flour comes in various grades, which can be categorized into coarse, fine and superfine grades. To make this cake I suggest using the superfine grade semolina flour.

I made some changes to the recipe by using vanilla bean in the syrup as well as in the cake so that the flavor pairing with the orange was more pronounced. I also used orange juice instead of water to make the syrup. Finally, hazelnuts gave a more rustic flavor instead of the sweeter almonds used in the original recipe. I also used more orange zest than specified in the original recipe and instead of serving it with yogurt I just made more syrup and offered to drizzle extra over the cake while serving.

Recipe: Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Almond and Orange Yogurt Cake

Printable version of recipe here

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake by by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Serves: approx. 8

Ingredients:

  • 170g butter + more for cake form, room temperature
  • 300g sugar
  • 115 ml orange juice
  • 3 oranges, 1 finely zested, 2 zested in wider strips
  • 125g semolina flour
  • 95g all-purpose flour
  • 70g hazelnuts, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped
  • 250g Greek yogurt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Butter a 22 cm round cake form and line with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, mix together 125g sugar, water, and orange-zest strips. Scrape the seeds from one vanilla bean and add to the mixture with the vanilla pod. Bring mixture to a simmer over a medium-high heat; cooking until the sugar has dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Set syrup aside to steep.

  2. Whisk together flours, almonds, grated orange zest, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter and remaining sugar with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition, then add the vanilla seeds from the remaining vanilla bean. Lower the speed on the mixer and alternatively beat in flour and yogurt into the mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.

  3. Pour batter into prepared form and bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 to 55 minutes. Allow to cool in the form for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Using a fork or a skewer, poke shallow holes into the top of cake. Drizzle half of the syrup over cake; garnishing with orange-zest strips from syrup. Let cool completely. Serve with remaining syrup.

Verdict

Orange Vanilla Semolina Cake (0021) by Meeta K Wolff

The modified cake turned out just the way I hoped it would. I wanted it to be more rustic but the flavors to be bolder and more distinct. I omitted serving it with the yogurt because it was a layer of flavor that I preferred not to have with this cake - I wanted the cake to be all about the semolina, orange and vanilla.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and this blog over the years. It means a lot to know that I am part of a wonderful community and look forward to spending many more years with you. Cin cin!

Over on the Plate to Page website we are sharing a fantastic assignment from two of our Tuscany participants.

Denise Kortlever and Hayley Harland, two energetic and lovely participants from our Tuscany 2011 Workshop created a interesting piece as part of their main assignment during the workshop. The assignment was to write and photograph for an article titled "Eating in Tuscany" in the style of a magazine about women's health. Hope you enjoy it.

From May 18th - 21st, 2012 Plate to Page will be in Somerset, UK, If you’d like to join us for the 2.5 days check out all the details here.

DubaiBadge-Sidebar-250 If you are closer to Dubai however then maybe you would like to join me over at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm for a 2-day Workshop, focusing exclusively on food photography and styling.

The details are as follows:
When: Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th April
Where: Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Your Instructor: Meeta K. Wolff
Your Host: Sally Prosser
Workshop Website

Here is a peek at the outdoor location!

DSC_0652(Photograph: Sally Prosser)

More cake from WFLH:

Coconut Lemon Cake Chocolate Valentino Orange Mascarpone Quark Torte


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

71 comments :

  1. Happy Blog Anniversary and to many more! Mine will also turn 6 this year...

    I totally agree with you on all those points.

    I am now trying to be a little more relaxed about blogging. Before I used to stress a lot more than now!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Happy Blog-Birthday Meeta. I can tell from reading your words that you do love what you do. It shows in your photos too.
    The cake looks lovely and I have been a huge Martha Stewart fan for twenty years. She has excellent recipes and style. Enjoy your cake!

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  3. Congrats on six wonderful years!!! What a great accomplishment - and I have to agree with you on much of your advice - esp. focusing on quality and relationships with others - here is to hopefully many more years of your beautiful blog!

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  4. By the way, this cake is splendid and really tempting! ;-P

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. So beautiful and delicious looking. But very mean when I'm at the office.

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  6. What you described sounds exactly how I feel about blogging. After a long day, sometimes I want to put my feet up, order Kabobs and watch tv Instead,I find myself in the kitchen or on the computer. But I come back because I love it. A very happy anniversary to you for 6 years! The cake is beautiful! Look forward to meeting you in Dubai!

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  7. Congrats Meeta! Wearing my best dress today only for you ;)! Thanks for sharing your thoughtful words, it touches me and will help to stay more relaxed (as a one year greenhorn on blogging and foodphotography), I guess. The cake is adorable I like the rustic way. It would really fit my casual thursday evening with hubby. Hugs

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  8. Happy Blog birthday Meeta!!I totally love your blog and i love and i look up to the photography and styling you do!!
    Wish u many more successful blogging years!!
    Thank You for the cake :)

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  9. Congratulations on your bloggerversary (?)! Your comments and reflections are wonderful as is the growth of your blog.

    I too enjoy semolina pastries, the flour gives a delicious rusticness.

    Thank you for all of your great work.

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  10. Hi Meeta, Herzliche Glückwünsche zum Blog-Geburtstag!

    Writing is a passion and being relaxed while doing it will add to the pleasure of reading :)
    This is something that you know too well ;) ....I really enjoy reding you posts and love your recipes !

    Lovely way to celebrate the 6th blog-anniversary with a beautiful cake !

    Wishing you many more lovely blog-anniversaries !!

    hugs

    Abhilasha Venkatesh

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  11. Your passion and transparency is what first brought me to your blog and it's your passion and transparency that has allowed a friendship to thus ensue!

    Love you long time Meeta and congratulations on your wonderful achievements xx

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  12. It is a great post Meeta. Reading through your 3 points I recognized myself too. I'm going through the same like you did at the beginning.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about blogging. I learnt a lot!

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  13. Yay! Happy Bday to you baby! I so enjoy reading your posts and admire your blog. Wishing you many more successes Meeta !

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  14. Happy 6 Years! I'm convinced that without our food blogs we would be more boring and more bored so keep it up the way you always do, it works so well! Hugs!

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  15. Congratulations on 6 fulfilling years Meeta. Here's to many more. (Years and cakes)

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  16. Happy Happy Happy 6th Blog Anniversary to your Amazing Blog! You are a huge inspiration to someone like me who is new to the blogging world. I cherish your friendship, kind and helpful nature! Best of luck to you in the future!

    lots of love,
    Sara

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  17. Meeta--a beautiful cake for a wonderful celebration. Congrats. Thanks for sharing. I have been passionate about blogging for 3 years. It takes on a form of its own. Keep on blogging about what you love to do.
    Best,
    Melanie

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  18. Congratulations my friend! I remember that 5 years ago yours was one of the first food blogs I ever visited and ever since you've been a source of inspiration. You deserve all the great things your blog has giving you and I hope to keep coming back here for more inspiration and delicious food.
    :)

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  19. Happy anniversary! Thanks for sharing this, it resonates with me so very much. After only two years, the line that I appreciate the most is that after six years you still love it. Comments, page views, and the like are great, but loving it, really loving it is what keeps me up at night rewriting that one sentence or dreaming up one more recipe. Glad I found your blog, here's to many more years for WFLH! :)

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  20. 6 years! That's incredible, congrats on your rocking space! You are a huge inspiration to all of us Meeta--recipes, photos, styling, and just about everything or anything you do! Sending you lots of love and good wishes on this occasion. And yes, I want a piece of this lovely cake too :)

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  21. Hi Meeta, Congratulations! Your blog is such an inspiring one for beginners like me and I cant tell you in words how much I love your work! Yummy cake recipe! I take this opportunity to introduce my blog to you and a similar cake that I made a while ago - using saffron. You can find it here - http://wot2eat.blogspot.com/2010/09/saffron-semolina-cake.html

    Please visit the blog when you have time and give me your valuable comments!

    Regards
    Uma

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  22. Happy blogiversary, Meeta! I hope you'll stick around for many more years.

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  23. Congratulations Meeta! You're so right about 6 being more like 60 in blogging years and you've done such an amazing job. Love all your pointers.
    The cake looks fabulous and the pics are just splendid!

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  24. A very, very happy blog anniversary to WFLH and to you, Meeta.
    You have something really good going here and wishing you good luck and many more years at it.

    And its also been very nice getting to know you, Meeta.

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  25. Congrats Meeta! You can be so proud:) Your blog has been in my favorites for a long, long time and I was more than happy to meet you last year. You're an inspiration to me and I love how you've followed your dreams and passion. Hope we'll meet again soon:)

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  26. Wishing you a very happy six year birthday! I do agree that it was really nice when the food blogging community was a small group of people; now I feel like I can't keep up with it. But I guess we can't change that can we?

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  27. Incredible! 6 years.
    A very happy anniversary!

    Love this cake. The orange zest is so just right.

    I really didn't think about it being 6 years but it has.
    Wish we could have a reunion ;-)

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  28. Happy anniversary ! Sure you will have many more wonderful years in blogging and inspiring us all :-)
    This is such a perfect cake for celebration.I was just planning to make an orange cake to use up my blood oranges :-)

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  29. Wow... 6 years Meeta! I'm only half way but since I love it too (one, two three or how many blogs..lol) I'm sure I'll be there 3 yrs from now. can't imagine abandoning it. Funny enough I wrote a sort of similar post about my start in blogging yesterday (will go up on thursday evening since I'm blogging together with Nurit)
    Happy blogo-versary and I'm sooo happy to have met you along the way! And please... now that I've seen that outside location in Dubai... when's the next one? ;)
    Hugs
    Simone

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  30. Happy Blog Anniversary. I agree with you on all points. I have been blogging for three years and have slowly found the balance between life and blog. I would love to spend more time on photography and writing but my day job gets in the way.

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  31. Happy Blog-ersary!
    Such an inspirational post. Congrats!

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  32. Six years how wonderful. You have a wonderful blog, although I only comment occasionally I follow faithfully. I've only been doing it for a couple years and I keep hoping that my photography will grow up to be half as good as yours!

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  33. Congratulations Meeta. Your blog has been an inspiration in many ways. Your thoughts on balance rings very true.

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  34. Congratulations on this monumental milestone!! An incredible achievement!! Thanks for sharing this space with us and the orange semolina cake looks fantastic. I wanted to bake one recently a North African version similar to this called basbusa but it has many other names.

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  35. Happy 6 years to you, Meeta! It's amazing how much things have changed in that time, isn't it? I don't know how you do what you do with a day job as well, but it's impressive. I love your style and your spunky disposition -- always have. Now if could only find a way to join you across the pond for one of your photo session...

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  36. Congratulations, it is really an achievement! in an era of fast developing, 6 years is really like 60, I do agree! special treat to celebrate and insightful thoughts!

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  37. Congrats on the achievement!! Loved your space here, you pics, posts , almost about everything! i'll definitely be visiting here often now.

    You are an inspiration for new bloggers like me! :-)

    Regards,
    Manju
    http://manjuseatingdelights.blogspot.com

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  38. Congartulation on your achievement, blogging consistently for 6 yrs is itself a huge achievment, am just half way,

    you are a huge inspiration to all of us, be it in food, cooking, writing or photography...

    and yes the cake looks stunning, loved the rustic touch

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  39. Thank you for sharing such great insight into the world of blogging! It really helps all us little guys out :)

    And happy anniversary! That cake looks like a dream.

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  40. Thank you for such a meaningful and insightful post! I too remember the early days when it was seemed like I knew all of the other food bloggers. Many of those early relationships have kept me going too. I can thank blogging for so many wonderful changes in my life and lessons learned about myself. Happy Blogiversary to you, and many more!

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  41. Congrats Meeta! Your post is really inspiring with such helpful information for beginner bloggers like me. My blog is not even a year old and I can only admire people like you who have been blogging for 6 long years!

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  42. Congratulations Meeta!!! Your blog is such an inspiration. I really enjoy every post and all your writing.
    Thank you!!!!

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  43. Thank you all so much for these amazing comments! I am so touched by the wishes and affection.

    This is the reason why I love this space so much. Because of you! I am glad so many of you out there are enjoying what i do here and love the fact that you are a part of this little space. Hugs xoxo

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  44. Congratulations on six years of blogging! What an accomplishment! I think you are quite right, the secret to successful blogging is loving what you do and it shows in everything you do.fackp elsonis

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  45. Congrats Meeta. 6 yrs on internet is equable to million years. So proud of everything you have achieved. Now, please pass the cake :-)

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  46. A huge Happy Happy Blog Birthday to you, my wonderful and talented friend. I am also so thrilled that blogging brought us together and I feel happy and privileged to be friends with you, to work with you and be in constant contact with you. You inspire me every single day with your honesty, sincerity, humor and wit, your hard work and your devotion to high quality in everything you work on. These qualities - sincerity, integrity and honesty are truly getting rarer and harder to find in the blogging community, yet I see them in you and everything you do every day, and they are truly the key to your growing success.

    I cannot begin to explain how much you and your friendship mean to me and how happy I am that we both blog - this strange and odd thing that brought us together. Your incredible talent will bring you far and to more exciting opportunities - and you know that I will never be very far from you. I love you, baby. xoxo

    And great cake - made even better by your cooking talent. Your changes have lifted a plain cake up to something worth a celebration!

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  47. Congratulations on six years of blogging. I 'm glad it brought you into my life.

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  48. What a beautiful and inspiring post Meeta! So glad to have met you through your blog and so happy that Rohit could meet you too. I'm waiting for the day I can meet you in person.

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  49. Awesome content....

    mumbaiflowerplaza.com

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  50. Meeta Congratulations! I have so much to say, but not many words. You always have been and will be an inspiration to me and many like me.

    I will make this cake sometimes. Not too many ingredients and I love anything orange. This is another one to add.

    I wld give anything to go to the workshop with that kind of outdoors ;)

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  51. yummy.............its really looks delicious.

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  52. Hey Meeta .. hearty congratulations.. and many more bdays and cakes.. Thanks for your wonderful and inspiring post as always

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  53. Congratulations on six wonderful years. Your talent is definitely speaks for itself in your work here! I almost forgot to say this semolina cake looks great.

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  54. Happy birthday to your blog, Meeta. Blogging is a curious thing. I'm an old school writer who wrote a cookery column in a newspaper for a decade long before there was such a thing as blogs and I am amazed by the sheer number of blogs, not to mention the quality of content.

    Your blog is an inspiration, both in terms of the writing as well as the photography. Do relax, this is a good thing. And keep up the great work! We love it.

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  55. Happy Blogaverary Meeta! I am so glad you still love what you do and still are inspiring us all the time with your humor, grace, and growth. Not to mention good cooking!

    That you are genuine and sincere is indeed the secret to your success. We all feel like you best friend every time we come for a visit.

    The cake looks absolutely wonderful!

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  56. Congratulations on your 6 years of blogging Meeta! I hope the next 6 are just as enjoyable. Love the cake and love semolina.

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  57. Six years have flown by, and from those early days when, yes, we all knew each other, to today, so many wonderful things have happened. One of the best is watching you blossom into the food photographer you are now; your joy in the photography is obvious in each of the images you share with us. Congratulations on six fabulous years! xo

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  58. Congratulations!! 6 yrs - awesome !! I think what keeps bringing me back to you blog apart from the breathtaking photography is the sencierity - and your ability to speak your mind !!

    Always an inspiration to come back !! Thxs for the lovely recipes, stories and visual treat - looking forward to many more years !!

    Btw - cake looks awesome

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  59. Happy Blogiversary Meeta! Great advice about the blogging world, responsibilities and stresses that encompasses many.

    I also believe that blogging should be a learning process of how one should be creative, dedicated and provide quality content rather than focusing on quantity & burn out at the end of the day.

    Cheers to more success in the future :)

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  60. Happy blog birthday!

    This post was a very good read, it's true what you say about quality quantity.
    I am also at the stage where I decided to blog for me and not stress too much about getting a blog post done each week.

    The cake looks delicious!

    Take care

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  61. Congrats on your fab milestone, Meeta, and what an inspiration for all of us newcomers..your semolina cake reminds me of Ravani, the greek cake that my family devours happily every time one comes out of the oven..next time I shall try your version:-)

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  62. Congratulations on six years, I bet you never imagined you'd be here now. Love how you've styled this cake with the orange peel, it looks really pretty.

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  63. happy blogiversary Meeta! WOW, 6 years, really? that is just plain great! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogging... it's always lovely to hear a 'pro'... and thanks for sharing your amazing recipes {with those mouthwatering & gorgeous photos}.
    take care, xo, Helene

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  64. Belated congratulations, Schatzi! The best thing about blogging is that it brought US together - sisters-from-other-mothers :) Here's to the next 6 years! Love the cake - I can seldom resist anything citrus-flavoured... Gorgeous shots as always.

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  65. Happy 6 year blorgthday, Meeta! :D I can't imagine blogging for six years, but I'm sure glad you've stayed around for so long and that I've 'met' you (digitally, so to speak). Here's wishing you another six more!

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  66. Congrats Meeta on 6 wonderful years. What an acheivement!!! You are one true mentor to me. I have learned a lot through your blog. Infact you were one of the few bloggers who were an inspiration for me to start one. I started one in 2008 but with a full time job, engagement, wedding and now a baby, I feel I couldn't give it the time I want to give. As you said, I prefer to write quality posts instead of quantity. Good luck and best wishes to you!
    PS: I really hope that you conduct your workshop in the US.

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  67. Wow, 6 years, that is quite an achievement in the blogging world. Congratulations!!! Your photos are always an inspiration to me.

    This cake looks like a lovely way to celebrate. I love the little changes you made to it too, it sounds just divine as I adore citrus cakes.

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  68. Happy belated blog birthday! 6 years, that's incredible! Mine is about to turn 2 and I was getting excited. I can't wait for the 6 year mark.

    And what a scrumptious way to celebrate. Yummy!

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  69. Wow, I haven't been into blogging for a long time, but you post is really inspiring. I love waht you cook and the beatiful pictures you make.

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  70. I can relate! If I did not love it, there would be no more blogging to date, especially considering the hours and hours it takes to sustain a blog; the rewards are there however, it is such a learning experience. You have inspired me and many and this is one of the pluses. Lovely cake, a bit Levantine I should add!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta