Kitchen confidence! How these pre-teens are cooking up delights

Saachi Pasari found her life’s purpose at a friend’s birthday celebration six years ago. The 12-year-old has vivid memories of the baking competition held at the party. “The kids were split into teams, and asked to prepare a dish.” The team with the most delicious treat took home a prize. Pasari doesn’t recall winning, but the cupcakes she made convinced her of one thing. At age six, Pasari wanted to be a baker. The kitchen soon became what the doll house was to little girls. When she wasn’t doing homework or attending ballet class, the Class VI student of Hill Spring International School, would be whisking away brownie and cookie dough. The pandemic made everything more real.

When the lockdown was announced, Pasari found herself with too much time, and too little to do. Fortunately, the school announced a hobby project early on in March. Each child was given a mentor to guide them. Sensing her passion for baking, Pasari’s mentor and teacher, Kanjal Ahuja, suggested that she start a baking page on Instagram, where she could share pictures of her kitchen experiments. Bake My Day (@bake_my_day_by_saachi), soon evolved into a home delivery service, with a delectable menu comprising macarons and a variety of brownies, cakes and tarts. Every new dessert she prepares, now gets added to Pasari’s growing menu, which she enriches by researching food sites and attending online workshops. “I try multiple versions of a dish and come up with my own recipe for it,” she says. Her vegan macarons are a hot-sell (box of six for R550). “I make the macarons either using aquafaba [made of chickpeas] or potato protein. Aquafaba is a replacement for eggs, but doesn’t work well in humid conditions, because it catches moisture easily. So, when it’s humid, and I get an order, I use potato protein with home-made almond powder, and caster and icing sugar,” she says. Her fillings vary from caramel, strawberry, Nutella sea salt, tiramisu to cookie and cream. Since she gets an order almost every day, she spends close to three hours in the kitchen, post school hours. “After baking, I go and chill on the terrace for a while,” she says. That’s when she winds down.

Saachi Pasari, 12, started her page, Bake My Day, on Instagram during the lockdown, and has been taking orders for macarons, brownies and tarts. All the proceeds from the sale go to charity
Saachi Pasari, 12, started her page, Bake My Day, on Instagram during the lockdown, and has been taking orders for macarons, brownies and tarts. All the proceeds from the sale go to charity

Where Pasari wishes to join Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, 10-year-old Sai Harish Thakkar of Swami Vivekanand International School in Kandivli dreams of being a YouTube cooking star. “Did you subscribe [to my page] and press the bell icon?” she asks this writer, before the interview. Thakkar is enquiring about her recently launched YouTube page, Cook With Sai. Her mother Trupti says she would crawl into the kitchen when little and learn the names of vegetables and fruits. When Thakkar had grown tall enough to see the kitchen counter, she started making tea and coffee.

In the lockdown, she

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Exploring Somerset’s garden of earthly delights

If you walk left on entering the Newt in Somerset, past the shop selling artisanal wares, up the slope and into the deer park, you will arrive at an avenue of pines edging an old Roman road. It’s a good place to view the monumental scale of the work that has taken place on the 800-acre Hadspen estate since the South African, Koos Bekker, and his wife Karen Roos bought it in 2013.

Look west, towards the 17th-century, Grade II*-listed Hadspen House and you can take in the owners’ masterplan, designed by the French architect Patrice Taravella. There are the pretty squares of the kitchen garden; the egg-shaped “parabola”, a walled labyrinth featuring 267 varieties of apple tree; a cascade of ponds; a Victorian glasshouse; a cottage orné; and a succession of pools and lawns leading up to the house itself, once the seat of the Hobhouse family, now a hotel.

“It’s best to think of the Newt as a garden with a hotel attached rather than a hotel with a garden attached,” is how visitor manager Arthur Cole puts it. The estate has 300 years of horticultural history to draw upon – the original estate featured a French garden of limes and elms; the great garden designer Penelope Hobhouse lived here until 1979; and artists Nori and Sandra Pope opened their celebrated “colour gardens” here in 1987, now reimagined in red, blue and white – but still, many visitors are surprised at the extent of the Bekker-Roos vision.

From the vast yew hedge (shipped in fully mature from Belgium) that surrounds the badminton court, to the state-of-the-art cider-making facilities and garden-to-table restaurant, the whole place has a no-expense-spared vibe about it. The Newt is named after the 2,000 crested newts that occupy the site – but its scale is more like that of Jurassic Park.

Still, if you turn around 180 degrees and look west from the pines, over the deer park, you’ll spy a less showy side of the project. A grassy hill rises gently, then falls away into a dell of ancient beech, oak, ash and hornbeam. You would imagine at first glance that you’ve reached the periphery of the estate. But you would be wrong. Carved as if by Hobbits into the Somerset earth is the Story of Gardening, a state-of-the-art interactive museum, designed by Stonewood architects and kitted out by the Dutch exhibition designers Kossmanndejong. Its roof is covered in grass – and sometimes the deer wander on top of it.

The first thing that struck me was the scale. You haven’t seen that since Victorian times

To reach the museum’s entrance you walk out into the forest on a wooden pathway. After a few paces, the grass drops dramatically away beneath you and you’re up in a canopy of trees on a spectacular serpentine walkway, rising 12m from the forest floor. The path – nicknamed the Viper – sashays for 130m among the treetops before winding back to the museum’s huge, glassy entrance.

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Kitchen Garden: Sampling regional delights with dinner | The Canberra Times

whats-on, things-to-do, susan parsons, kitchen garden, garlicious grown garlic

Lucky Canberrans must support our country producers within an arc from Yass to Collector to Braidwood. Bellchambers Produce in Fyshwick, established in 1948, is a place for the home gardener to browse. There are paper bags of chicken mash for your organic poultry, bins of black sunflower seeds and dog food. A bloke in a ute parked next to me had the tray filled with pea straw and six bags of Martin’s Premium Potting Mix. I purchased some of the latter – Martin’s Fertilizers are based in Yass. Hessian sacks of seed potatoes had lured me to Bellchambers. Six years ago I was given a seed potato (which had been “chitted” or allowed to develop one large eye) at an Italian cafe in Cronulla. My single spud, which the cafe people said was bintje, produced 14 new potatoes 10 weeks later (Kitchen Garden, February 11, 2015). This time I have planted the Dutch cream variety atop a 15cm layer of potting mix with a top layer of Who Flung Dung mulch and more potting mix. My potato looked like David Pope’s Canberra Times cartoon (September 17) of a Federal Minister’s head. If planting in the ground Bellchambers recommends a trench 20cm deep and when the potatoes have flowered you can bandicoot some baby new potatoes. They store better with a bit of dirt on them. The Heritage Nursery at Yarralumla has a printed sheet called Growing Potatoes in Canberra which includes tips such as “growing potatoes is a great way to break up heavy soils in new gardens”. They had bags with nine certified seed potatoes in three varieties but, as the nurseryman said a week ago, “sold out, COVID”. Tatey growing bags have an easy-to-harvest hatch if you are short of space. On September 20 clouds cleared to a blue sky and a group gathered in the stone walled garden at Helen Stephens Gallery in Collector for drinks and nibbles at the opening of “Insectarium”. The guest of honour was possibly Seamus, the wool-curled sheep over the wall who welcomed some nose stroking. The jewel-like art works of bees with honeycomb, beetles, bogong moths and butterflies will be on exhibition until October 25 (Fridays to Sundays 11am-4pm). Try Some Cafe just up the road for a bite to eat (check their opening times). Enjoy a tasting at Collector Wines where the spring pink 2019 Shoreline rose has “mandarin, cherry, rosewater and spice aromas”. We came away with six bottles. Outside, there are benches and tables beside raised beds of plants and rows of crab apples in pink and white bloom. The village creek is full and Lake George is blue with water. Cathy and Jenny, producers from Garlicious Grown in Braidwood, launched their black garlic in 2014 and it is used by leading chefs and shortlisted in the Food and Beverage Industry Awards this spring. They have shared a special recipe with us. The current season has been tough in

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