Monday, 16 December 2013

LOVE in a jar.

I LOVE giving preserves as Xmas presents.
Or birthday presents or really for no reason at all.
Most people REALLY love to get a hand made gift.

And as we limp towards the finish line of the year I am hearing & reading SO much stress online about getting there.
Too many of them are related to buying things.
Not having done the shopping, worrying about the menu etc.

Why not turn this around and not worry about buying things and instead maybe try making some little things to give to your loved ones.

Or give a hug. It's free and heart filling.

Or give LOVE in a jar.

While you stir the jam pot you can think about how lucky you are to have good friends to share with and how ace it will be to eat toast together and sip a hot cuppa and laugh.

Really that is what matters.


People are what matter.

Not stuff.

Spiced Seville Orange Marmalade.
We did our final Farmers Market shop before Christmas day o Saturday.
The weather was perfect & I got to hug all my fave farmers and thank them for providing me with amazing produce this year.

Just as we were leaving the market I spied some Seville Oranges and picked up a few to make Marmalade.
There is something about spiced Oranges that makes me think of Christmas!
Here is the recipe I came up with. It made 2 large jars (or 1 litre of marmalade) - but would easily make about 6-8 little ones (jars are now easy to find in those cheap as chips shops)

  • 5 whole seville oranges (seeds to be kept)
  • 1 apricot stone (if you have one- don't worry if  you don't)
  • 1 kilo raw sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 1/2 litres of water

Slice the oranges in half and juice well.
Keep the seeds & set aside (they will be integral in getting the marmalade to set).
Now slice into quarters and slice into very thin slivers. Don't worry about the pith it will kind of disappear as you cook the marmalade.

In a very large pot add the sugar, water, orange juice, orange rind and the cinnamon stick. Place the seeds of the orange, the cloves,  the star anise & the apricot stone if you have it into a tied Muslin cloth (or I used a large single tea sieve- the stainless steel ones you find to make a single cup of tea with leaves- I popped all the seeds into this and had it dangling in the pan)  

Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low and stir occasionally, skimming the scum from the surface.
It is ready when there are very small bubbles appearing on the surface- this will take about an hour.  

You can check if it is set by placing a small amount onto a dish and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.  It is set if there is a skin when you push against it with your finger.

Remove muslin (or tea strainer) and pour into warmed sterile jars.

LOVE in a jar.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Very Last Day of Kinder EVER

Today is a big one in our house.

The very last day of Kinder ever.

I have been a stay at home mum for nearly sixteen years.

It has without a doubt been the very best part of my life so far.

In amongst the hard, the sleepless, the mundane, the downright messy & horrid there has been revelations, joy, wonder, excitement, pride, and fulfilment.

Today marks the start of a new adventure.

For me & for my children.

All five of them will be at school.

And I am starting my own business, with cooking classes, writing my first book and hopefully lots & lots of other ace stuff.

For me, being a stay at home mum was the thing I always wanted to do and to be.  I was so lucky to get the opportunity to do it and am so very grateful.

Now it is time for me to rediscover myself and show my children how important it is for me to be me as well as being a mum.  Although I like to think I was always me, just a bit hidden behind my busyness in being a mum.

So while we say goodbye to a very very special part of all of our lives I am so looking forward to the part that is ahead of us.

I'm sure there will be wonky bits where I trip up and get it a bit wrong but that will all be part of getting it right.

I am really really excited but a little bit teary & wistful at the same time.

A big big day.

All of us are heading out into the big wide world.

I hope the grass isn't too long, the way not too foggy & the path not too rocky.

And I hope we all find what we are looking for.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Fill your own Advent Calendar

This year I ditched the cheesy and cheap advent Calendars & opted for a more permanent solution.

Here he is.

Rocking the stripey tights & clogs I might add!

The cutest 3 foot Saint Nicholas- from my favourite Swedish boutique.

Perfect for my family.

A little empty box big enough for me to stow 5 little treats of my choice each day.

Each box pulls out like a little drawer and you fill it yourself.

A surprise a day till the Night before Christmas.

I have filled it with a mix of little goodies, crafty bits n pieces and some sweet treats in a few.




Only 13 more sleeps peeps!

DO you remember Advent calendars and the joy of the Christmas countdown?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to make Kimchi

The mere idea of cabbage- let alone cabbage fermented with lots of garlic is enough to send lot of people running.

Me, however...well Cabbage & Garlic are two of my absolute favourite ingredients.

Kimchi is a fermented dish from Korea.  It was invented, as many pickles were, to preserve the vitamins & minerals of vegetables over the long winter months.

It has been known to have been in production since the 7th century and only in the last few hundred to have had chilli added.

It uses a Korean chilli- a mild chilli so it is not too hot for the more gentle palate.

Most of us know only the Kimchi made with cabbage but anyone who eats at a Korean restaurant knows that Cabbage Kimchi is but a small part of the amazingly diverse repertoire of pickled vegetables in the Korean cuisine.

In my house it is a fight between me & my 13yo for the Kimchi jar.  And only very recently did I begin to make my own.  I love it with eggs, on burgers, stirred through soba noodles or most often just straight from the jar like a naughty child stealing the last hidden chocolates!

NB: Korean chilli pepper can be found at Asian grocery stores (sometimes known as Aleppo pepper). It is mild and soft in texture and has an almost sweet aftertaste.
What you will need:

  • 1 Wombok cabbage.
  • 3 carrots, finely julienned.
  • 1 large bunch coriander
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt flakes
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • half a head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped finely
  • 3cm piece of ginger, chopped finely
  • 3 teaspoon Korean chilli pepper flakes
Cut the Wombok cabbage in half and then again so it is in quarter wedges.
Now cut across the wedges into 3cm pieces.

Put into a large bowl with the finely julienned carrot and salt flakes and sugar.

Toss well, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge & rinse very well to remove salt.  Drain liquid from bowl.

Dry excess moisture (I used a salad spinner).

Place back in bowl with garlic, ginger, chopped fresh coriander, chilli powder, fish and soy sauces. 

Mix well and place into a sterile airtight jar.

Refrigerate and wait a couple of days before using.

Will keep for 2 weeks.

Not a new track but on high rotation in my kitchen this week. Sharon Van Etten is a treasure. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Just play around like there is nothing to lose

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to listen to Rene Redzepi talk.

He talked of the pressure of being crowned the Best restaurant in the World in 2010 (and for three years running after that).

And how ultimately it felt as if this crowning- the ultimate in success- had killed his creativity.

What he could he aim for now?

It was so beautiful listening to him speak eloquently of how it affected him & how it was the driving force behind beginning a journal.  It was his way of rediscovering his creativity- his 'fearlessness'.

He described this point in his life as a breakdown.  A confusion of feelings of failure & exhaustion all the while mixed together with public adulation & apparent success.

He read directly from his journal and added more descriptions and pictures.

He has recently published this journal- a 3 book collection called 'A Work in Progress'.

This talk affected me deeply.

He talked about vulnerabilty, his fear of failure, his love of the creative process.  About how success is crippling to the creative process in that it stifles the ability to take risks.

For him this manifested as feeling the need to keep giving the same things that led to the success in the first place & that this stopped him trying out new things.

He came very very close to shutting the restaurant right at the time of it's highest success.  It all became too much.

I went home & could not sleep.

I read and read and read and read some more.

It was reading his words about creativity & the fear of failure (amongst others) that has led me to take the giant leap.


"Just play around like there is nothing to lose".


Monday, 2 December 2013

What does happiness look like?

Yesterday my 10yo drew this poster about what he loves most.

HAPPINESS is what he loves most.
Included in this picture are ~ ties, bowties, hats & waistcoats, drawing,  Radiohead (the band) , First Aid kit (the band), colour, Piano, friends, Star Wars, Pokemon.

I love so very much how happiness looks like to him.

I think about happiness a lot.

I worry about it too.

What I worry about is that the happiness most people may be looking for is indeed a new invention.

The invention that happiness comes from things and not from more simple everyday events.

It has become yet another thing we must strive towards without really knowing what it even is or how we 'get' it.

Maybe happiness is a shiny new car.

Or maybe it is owning a home of our own.

Is it a new pair of shoes?

These types of things maybe make us feel good for a bit but I don't think they are happiness.

I think Happiness is something that comes from intangible things.

The feeling of the hot sand scalding our feet just before we get to run into the ocean on a hot day.

The feeling we get when we laugh so hard there is no more sound & our belly hurts.

The pride we feel when we gain the courage to do something hard.

The feeling we get when we see the sun rise and hear the first birds call.

The sound of children laughing.

Biting into the very first Peach of the season.

Listening to a song that stops us in our tracks.

If we concentrate really hard on slowing down enough to notice these essential and SMALL things in our lives, I think we will also notice that these are the things that truly give us pleasure.

By noticing them more I think we would all have a great chance of finding real happiness.

My 10yo's poster was such a great reminder that children really know what things count.

Children TEACH us every single day.

I LOVE so very much that he wrote these things down.

If you wrote a poster about what you love & about happiness- what would it look like?