So as you all know by now, I’m back from my South African holiday (and I can’t say that taking off in 30C temperatures and landing in minus 3C temperatures does a lot for your blissed-out holiday feelings!). Coming back just in time for Christmas was great fun though – lots of cooking and eating and celebrating with friends. Now that the last glasses have been put away, the last set of guest linen washed, and the hangovers cleared (ahem…), it’s time to get back to blogging! It feels as if I’ve been barely hanging on to this blog for the last 2 months or so – things just seemed so busy in real life! Food Blogger Connect at the end of November, crazy busy at work in the first week of December, then off on holiday minus regular internet access, then Christmas ans new year… phew. Yes, I have kept up my Saturday Snapshots, and yes, I have posted recipes, but I have not had a chance to tell you all about the other stuff that’s been going on at the periphery of Planet Cooksister. So here goes a short musical recap of all the good stuff that’s been going on in November and December: SWEET CHARITY The Menu for Hope online charity raffle took place once again in the run-up to Christmas and I donated a copy of the BloggerAid Cook Book. Although the raffle is now closed, you can still make donations – and if you placed a bid, please don’t forget to check back on Pim’s site when the raffle winners are announced on 18 January! WE GO TOGETHER In November I was approached by the excellent South African condiment company NOMU to make the wine selections in their monthly recipe mailer. Each month they send out a delectable spread of fresh recipes using thier seasonings and products and ask a well-known foodie to select wines to go with some of the dishes. The dishes I was asked to match included coconut & salmon laksa, orange-glazed pork sausages, and Moroccan lamb kebabs. Have a look at the matching wines that I chose! THE FAME In November, SA Promo magazine, a magazine produced in London for South African expats, profiled me as one of their bloggers of the month – check me out on page 15! And in a double whammy, in their December issue they featured my recipe for Cape brandy pudding as an alternative to Christmas pudding on page 34. Also just before I left for South Africa, Rajani did a feature on me for the Femina website – “A peek into an African kitchen”. PAPERBACK WRITER Many moons ago, I was approached by a publishing house who were collating material for a coffee table book to be published by (wait for it) National Geographic! Now it’s not every day that you get a request like this, so of course I said “yes please, how many words would you like?”. The book (Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe) has now been published and was apparently selling like hotcakes over Christmas. And best of all – there are no less then FOUR individual entries written by me (dealing with Cape Malay cuisine, dining out in Cape Town, Munich Oktoberfest and Easter in Paris)! As soon as I get my copy of the book, expect a full review here… ADVERTISING SPACE In October last year I received an e-mail asking whether I wanted my food to star in a national outdoor media advertising campaign. Now usually I delete this sort of unsolicited e-mail. No, I do not want to audition for your innovative new cooking programme/appear in a celebrity chef’s show/take a day off work and bring my casserole along to the studion on the off chance that you want to photograph it. But this one, I didn’t deete – all they asked was that I send one recipe from my blog, which I did and then promptly forgot about it. That is, until the agency e-mailed me to say that my dish had been selected as one of four to star in the advertising campaign! Now I could tell you about the photoshoot at a London studio, or about the dish that I prepared, or about the brand that my food will be promoting (suffice to say that it’s a household name in the UK!)… but instead I am going to leave you all in suspense until the campaign goes live later this week. Watch this space – or a billboard near you! FINAL COUNTDOWN One of my (sadly) very last regular columns for the popular Food24 website went live today, all about complaining in restaurants. Please do go and check it out and pretty please show me some comment love. As ABBA would say, the way od friends do SINGING WHEN WE’RE WINNING Just before I flitted off to South Africa, an e-mail plopped into my inbox from the charming and talented Sandra at Le Petrin. Receiving an e-mail from Sandra is lovely enough – but when the e-mail tells you that you are a category winner in that month’s Does my Blog Look Good in This, it’s enough to make your entire day week month! Yes folks, my photo of my blackberry and Prosciutto salad won the aesthetics category in the November competition! Congratulations to all the other winners and thank you to the judges – I will wear my badge with pride!