Saturday, 23 December 2017

The inevitability of Autumn and orange ...


Summer is multicoloured, until that day it edges the corner and turns. A moment in September when you are in the garden happily listening to the bees buzzing and the chugging engine of  a light aircraft pulling a glider across the blue sky and suddenly you notice it. That whiff of autumn and you know that soon it will be October and full-on halloween pumpkin colour.  It's inevitable. 

Making and baking

  • nut roast
  • apricot flapjack crumble
  • red lentil and tomato soup
  • Loobya chitti
  • Pomegranate and red pepper hummus

Apricot Flapjack crumble


  • 750g fresh apricots
  • 75g butter or alternative, non-dairy margarine  or coconut oil work well 
  • 75g oats
  • 75g muscovado sugar (I substitute with maple syrup
  1. Halve and stone the fruit and place in an oiled ovenproof dish
  2. Melt the margarine in a pan and add the maple syrup or sugar and oats and cover the fruit with this mixture
  3. Bake 180c/gas mark 4 for 35 to 40 minutes until the fruit is tender and the crumble mixture light golden brown
Lovely served with coconut milk yoghurt and custard. I like making mine with almond milk.
I often make more topping for a more substantial pudding. Sometimes I'll add a little ground almonds, desiccated coconut or flour to the crumble. 

Red lentil and tomato soup

  • One medium sized onion red or white will do, or a couple of large shallots
  • Two cups of orange lentils
  • Fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped and a little tomato paste, or passata
  • Sea salt 
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil or alternative 
  1. Peel and slice the onion finely. Pour a little oil into a heavy base pan, heat and then sautee the onion until caramelised
  2. If using garlic, mince and add to the onions, stir well and cook briefly
  3. Season with sea salt and mix well
  4. Wash the lentils and add to the onions. Stir well and cook for a brief few seconds. Then add the tomatoes and puree or passata. 
  5. Add a couple of glasses of cold water. Stir well, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and allow to cook until the lentils are tender. Check every so often to ensure that it hasn't reduced too much and add hot water or vegetable stock if necessary.
  6. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  7. The soup is then ready. If you like a smooth textured soup blend with a hand blender. We like this soup with the rustic texture of the cooked lentils.
It always feels like I'm cheating when I make this as it is so simple. It's a big favourite though, and depending on the season I make it for lunch, once or twice a week. Using passata cuts down on the work of chopping and peeling tomatoes and the orange lentils cook much quicker than some other varieties, so this takes little work but just needs to cook on the hob for forty-five minutes or so. Great, if like me, you work at home. It's inexpensive to make, substantial and very more-isa. 

Loobya chitti

These are pinto beans, slow baked with water, salt and a big spoonful of tamarind paste for a hit of sour umami. Alternative beans are rose-cocoa. Served with a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and a glug of good olive oil. Yummy...   cheap and cheerful... Again very little work but you just need to be somewhere in the house and remember to check them every so often. A good heavy based pan, like cast iron is the best tool for this. 

Pomegranate and Red Pepper hummus

Basically I just use my regular hummus recipe with cooked chic peas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic a little water, roasted peppers, seasoning and spices to taste and blitz in a mini blender but then add a good drizzle of pomegranate molasses, another source of  deep umami flavour. Yummy...

But don't dare blink, or heaven forfend close your eyes for a minute or you'll open them and it's Christmas in all it's ruby red...

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Busy as a Sewing bee...lotta Jandsdotter's, Every Day Style...

A day home alone...Ahmad poor thing, was away again. This time Birmingham. (England, not Alabama.) He left Friday night, bag weighed down with books and rolled up flip chart pages, scribed with foreign looking mathematical symbols that could have been hieroglyphics.   

My Saturday all planned out. New-to-me vintage 1980's sewing machine ready for it's trial run. Pattern book: 'Lotta Jansdotters Everyday Style', tracing paper, tailors chalk, pins, and scissors. 

A length of vintage navy woollen fabric with subtle, almost invisible pinstripes reminiscent of granddad's three piece suit. The end of a roll stamped with golden letters, woven in Scotland, probably fifty years ago. Still with the little brown card label and cursive script. Just enough to make the Esme tunic...but without the sleeves... That would work...A cool masculine pinafore dress. Workware.

I picked up the fabric and saw that it was peppered with holes...As big as speckles of coarse sea salt when the light shone through. Maybe chewed by ancient moths or accidentally pierced by the wayward slip of a hand.  It didn't matter. All part of the wrinkles of a long life. The sheep that was shorn, the fleece that was combed, the wool, washed and spun. Yarn dyed, then woven.  Wrapped onto rolls and cut into lengths. The old gnarled or fresh young hands that had each taken part in the narrative. Pondered how long that piece had been waiting until I found it...and so, it's life begins again...

Easy cauliflower curry

  • a medium sized cauliflower
  • tomato passata or fresh skinned tomatoes, chopped finely
  • a little tomato puree
  • can of organic coconut milk
  • a medium sized white onion or three or four shallots
  • sea salt and black pepper and garlic cloves
  • coconut oil or alternative to cook
  • spice mix, garam masala or your own choice, I like ground turmeric, coriander seed and cumin, with chilli flakes
  • a little hot stock or water
  • fresh coriander or other herbs to serve 
  1. peel and slice the onion. Place a little coconut oil into a heavy bottomed pan and heat up. Place the onion into the pan and begin to sauté
  2. meanwhile wash the cauliflower and divide into florets and chop the tomatoes finely, if using. The smaller you cut the florets the quicker this will cook
  3. cook the onion until it is almost caramelised, add the garlic cloves and cook. Add the spices, stir well and cook for a minutes or so
  4. add the passata or fresh tomatoes and bring to a simmer then reduce the heat 
  5. season with salt and pepper and add the cauliflower floret. Cover and cook until tender, adding the coconut milk after about fifteen minutes.
  6. cook until the cauliflower is tender adding stock or water if necessary. Ensuring that it doesn't dry out.
  7. add a little chopped fresh coriander or other herb
This is lovely served with cooked brown basmati rice, (especially if cooked in half water, half coconut milk mix),  or creamy whipped mashed potatoes/parsnips or butter beans...Yummy...  

Thursday, 6 October 2016

pink and gold

Summer has just scuttled away from me like a naughty little rabbit and autumn is here, all pink and gold. We spent the equinox in London meeting Hannah and a friend, listening to lovely Icelandic Bjork lament in her gentle way, like some kind of delicate, transparent insect. As she left the stage, the audience stamped their feet and called for more. She came back to serenade us, then again to thank us all. An awesome way to put the season to bed on a balmy London evening. 

As we left the city and headed for the countryside the thermometer on the dashboard crept down. I woke next day to pink skies and golden bales of hay turning the corner, and reminded myself that holidays are over, and that I must knuckle down and do some work.

...but first just an itsy-witsy little bit of making and baking....

In the kitchen:

  • The easiest non-dairy, vegan substitute for cream Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's recipe for cashew cream, the sweet version with a little vanilla extract and maple syrup. I could eat mountains of it. 
  • Rustic spelt, date and walnut individual pies to serve trickled with a smidgen of maple syrup and cashew cream. 
  • Baby carrots with carrot top pesto
  • Fresh fruit. An excuse for more cashew cream. 
  • Making a batch of golden turmeric paste.
  • Lovely French onion soup, also golden.
  • Puy lentil and vegetable, farmer's pie with a grainy mustard mash topping
  • Tomato and aubergine risotto with broccoli and cauliflower 
  • Working on the pattern for my fair isle hot water bottle covers made with vintage yarn...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Autumn Equinox

"Happy Winter Solstice..." (whoops that should be "Happy Autumn Equinox" and last day of summer...I'm wishing my life away here...)

 I have missed this place so much. I got locked out somehow and then couldn't get back however I tried. I couldn't write in the spring, or in the summer but I still took a million photographs and posted some on instagram and still have a trillion in my phone. Busy days took me away and then I came back today on the first day of Autumn determined that I would continue and hey presto no problem. Just like the old times I signed in and started writing. The gremlin that wouldn't let me in must be hibernating... It's like some kind of magical Solstice alchemy is working for me... I'm back with a myriad things to catch up... I'm off to London in an hour but just want to stay and write...

I'll be back soon...

...unless that pesky little gremlin returns...

Happy day

Monday, 21 December 2015

weekend :: Merry, merry

Saturday morning I woke extra early and crept downstairs. I lighted lamps, lit tealights and made tea.  I could smell the Christmas tree's piney smell.  I nibbled  ginger hearts from an old french tin,  got out the rolls of paper and wrapped  gifts (including the Jack Daniels...No it wasn't a breakfast tipple). And I noticed for the first time the decoration of holly leaves and berries, cut out of the little tea light holder. I must have bought those six little candle holders in Denmark, ten or fifteen years ago, but Saturday morning was the first time I realised the pattern wasn't just a random cut-out. Isn't it weird how you suddenly notice something after all that time. 

...Must go help finish decorating before everyone comes for the holidays...We're camped out in Hannah's bedroom...our furniture on top of hers. Even our mattress is balanced on top of her bed. I feel a bit like The Princess and the Pea...

But before I go I just wanted to thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post and let you know how much I value all your friendship. And to wish you a very happy Christmas, the best one yet. The new year too, and that you find everything that you're heart desires. That it's fun and you sing and dance and laugh to your hearts content...all year long...

Merry, Merry,
Love and mistletoe

...see you in the new year...x


joining karen for weekend...