Category Archives: Food
Blissful. Beautiful. Brilliant. Butter.
High atop Keller’s Peak
inside the cozy Hotel Bar,
I spied from afar-
softened beauty compounded by brilliance
glowing amber by the light of the flickering fire…
Insides melted, knees weak,
How could my love be clarified?
The Land O’ Lakes seemed the
Perfect place to whip Plugra-licious passion
Blissful, butter colored memories, a hint of salt from the sea
All coming back to me,
like the warm breeze off the Grassland…
Say Hello To Jennifer Cannon
Jennifer is a freelance writer and owner of JenCann Productions. She is passionate about encouraging, promoting and supporting fellow entrepreneurs one word at a time! Self-proclaimed foodie, friend, traveler, connector and lover of people & music- Jennifer lives in Southern New Jersey, USA with her husband and is the proud mom of one son and two daughters.
DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AT ALL…? With signs like these, erm, yes, we do actually.
Let’s be honest here, there are certain giveaway signs that tell us that the big man is well and truly on his merry way. Ranging from bitterly cold weather, a splash of red, over played festive tunes on the radio and Christmas cards boasting glitter and goodwill on shelves around the end of September. The following list is not comprehensive, there are many more all important Christmas signals, but these come pretty high up on the list. Merry Crimble!
You Know It’s Christmas When:
1. The red starbucks cups return in abundance. Gingerbread latte anyone?
2. That advert pops up on TV for the first time. You know the one I mean. Ho Ho Holidays Are Coming…
3. You’ve already started making New Year’s Resolutions. Typically featuring unrealistic target weights, gym memberships and truck loads of fruit and veg.
4. Everything starts to look a little bit glowy and fuzzy. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
5. The Pogues are back in business and better than ever.
6. You wake up with a headache, amnesia and a token santa hat every morning in December. Tis the season to Christmas P.A.R.T-WHY? Because you gotta.
7. The radio times becomes your new best friend. Home Alone? Check. The Great Escape? Check. Love Actually? Check. Remote control within fingers reach? Check. Mulled wine in one hand, mince pie in the other? Check. You’re good to go!
8. Chocolate for breakfast. On the first day of Christmas, my advent calendar gave to me… a miniature chocolate Christmas tree. Yippee!
9. Every pavement around the world turns into Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon. Get your elbows ready for a barge-athon. Thinking about getting in by car? Yeah, good luck with that.
10. Supermarkets begin cramming shelves with half price Easter eggs. You know the score. Can never be too prepared, can we?
I’m rather awkward at parties – a bit of a writerly recluse – and when facing the party of parties which Christmas is, it takes me weeks to slowly emerge from my cave and get organised. It’s not that I have any bad memories of Christmas, not at all, it’s just the size of the thing, the expectations, the glamour I don’t possess and don’t dress in, the original celebration that seems totally forgotten, the food … um.. the food I don’t eat.
Yes, I think the main problem with me and Christmas revolves around food and it all started when -as a teenager in the mid-seventies- I was in a permanent state of revolt against authority, both in society and at home. So when the Christmas menu stated there would be duck, or roast beef, or loin of venison, I became all mulish and just picked at a peanut butter sandwich, stubbornly refusing to eat the fancy food. As a student and living on my own I immediately converted to vegetarianism and have remained so to this day. Those were the easy Christmas years- my parents divorced and not interested in celebrating Christmas with their offspring anymore- I had no one to take into account and I could eat my Christmas pea soup and sandwich in peace, pondering the millions starving of hunger in the world and feeling all smug with myself and my good deeds. What a horrible moralist I was!
In the years of my marriage and after my own divorce, I have always kept up appearances and cooked the necessary fancy Christmas dinners. I still do. My children eat meat, always have, I’m the only one who doesn’t.
“There will be starters and deserts and round bellies and the accompanying laziness, lying on the sofa all afternoon watching comedies.”
My sons and I go to Mass on Christmas day. I love to be reminded why we celebrate what we celebrate and being in Church makes me happy and ready for the party with my children and their partners afterwards. My daughter doesn’t join us to Church as she is a Muslim, engaged to a Turkish man. Also in that respect there is a lot of liberty in my family.
This year we will take the easy way out and be stone grilling and have a fondue Bourguignonne. That way we can adapt to the Muslim, vegetarian, ordinary diets all at once. There will be starters and deserts and round bellies and the accompanying laziness, lying on the sofa all afternoon watching comedies. Don’t worry.
Still, I don’t want to keep from you the Ayurvedic soup I will be serving to start off with and which fits all our different tastes. Of course, this soup could be served as a meal in itself, but for us this year it will be just a small bowl for wetting the appetite. However, I would still be quite happy if this was all I got for my Christmas meal, the biblical mess of potage!
Hannah’s Lentil-Pumpkin Soup (6-8 servings)
Ingredients (preferably all organically grown):
350g red lentils
1 medium-sized pumpkin
1 medium leek
2 medium carrots
2 cloves of garlic
1 small courgette
3-4 vegetable stock cubes
Some parsley leaves + pumpkin seeds for decoration.
Wash the lentils and cook them together with the stock cubes in a large saucepan. Make sure you stir regularly. Skim the white foam which forms on the lentils (if you like).
Meanwhile chop up all the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, gingerroot and garlic. Season with sesame-salt and herbs. Add the other vegetables and fry them for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the lentils and let them cook together for an hour. Season according to taste. It is supposed to be quite spicy.
Blend the ingredients with a hand blender. Serve hot with slices of Turkish bread.
Say Hello To Hannah Warren
Hannah is a mum of three (young grown-ups), writer, translator, poet, Yoga instructor, blogger who lives and works in The Netherlands. Her first book, Casablanca, My Heart will be published by Night Publishing in 2012. Not being a real genre writer, she has temporarily left Romance and is now writing a psychological thriller. Her latest folly: learning to play the saxophone. A modest Adeste fideles belongs to the possibilities.
Without fail, I have received an advent calendar every year since I was born. Be it a posh Whittards one bought months in advance, or a rubbish Disney one bought from the one pound shop, I have enjoyed the tradition of the advent calendar for as long as I can remember.
At the age of 22, I’d like to blame my outrage at not receiving one this year on the fact that I don’t love chocolate. For most women, unlike one’s belief in Papa Noel, desiring a slab of chocolate every day is the same for every other month of the year. For me, I only crave it during December. In fact, I would much rather indulge in a Walker’s creation each day leading up to Christmas than a slab of the brown stuff. So why exactly was I so bemused when my mother decided against buying me one this year?
“As one door opens… you stuff your face with chocolate! That’s advent calendar tradition”
Firstly, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s one of those traditions that is acceptable to uphold well into your twenties. And fuelled by facebook and twitter updates boasting about everyone’s chocolaty organisers, I grew envious of other people’s festive frolics. But it didn’t stop there. Never have I experienced a larger dose of calendar-envy than when I walked into my five year old cousin’s house to find a floor-to-ceiling felt number that was to die for. It’s safe to say that we no longer discuss advent, or in fact anything Christmas-related. I doubt I’ll even get him a present. I think he’s had quite his fair share this year judging by this garish design.
I thought that by the time I got to university, I would have surpassed the excitement of opening a cardboard door everyday to find a chocolate snow man or Christmas pud. But well into higher education, it became even more of a necessity that I had one, although I couldn’t actually tell you whether that was because I was missing home or because I was starving and the daily chocolate would equate to one of my three meals a day.
“I’ve come to appreciate that it’s one of those traditions that is acceptable to uphold well into your twenties.”
As a result, I like to put my desperation for a calendar down to practicality. I’m possibly one of the most disorganised people I know, so without my trusty advent calendar, I’d have no idea how long I have left to buy Christmas presents for my family. However, the advent calendar not only brings with it practical prizes; instead, it is wholly impractical. I get so excited about eating my chocolate when I arise that I then don’t want to then brush my teeth. But I don’t want to wait until later until I eat it. I promise you, this daily conundrum is more confusing than trying to work out how the big man fits down that chimney despite being clinically obese.
I thought that by not having a calendar this year, I could avoid this sticky situation but I have the best mum in the world. And although she didn’t originally buy an advent calendar for me and my (25 year old) brother, she did get creative and made an advent calendar: a paper one accompanied by a Wonka Bar. Although pleased, I think she could sense that without the opening of doors and gifts of cheap chocolate, this didn’t quite cut the mustard and Christmas had not yet arrived. So last night, much to my delight, mum came home with two advent calendars for both Alex and I: I genuinely thought life couldn’t get any better.
So I sat down with a cup of tea and carefully opened doors one to eleven only to find that they were void of chocolate.
You see when all of the chocolates fall to the bottom of the box, leaving you with empty doors? Yeah, that.
Merry friggin’ Christmas.
Say Hello To Olivia Red O’Brien
Otherwise known as The London Ladybird, Olivia is a lifestyle writer and blogger who has an unhealthy addiction to crisps. She is a die hard West London girl and admits that she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world, although she might make an exception for The Big Apple. Only time will tell.
Today, our friends across the pond gather together to get merry around a heaving table which buckles under the weight of a bursting banquet of delicious grub worthy of any tudor king. Traditional delights include pumpkin and pecan pies, sweet potato mash topped with melty marshmallow and the infamous roast turkey, to name but a few.
Yes, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in true American style and that means BIG. BIG food. BIG love. But most of all, BIG thanks. Whatever your nationality, appetite or marital status, everyone should take the opportunity to be grateful for this day. Look around you. Think about all the things, BIG and small, that make life worth living but are sometimes taken for granted. Whichever way you look at it, there’s always, always, always something to be thankful for. Stop. Think. Thank. Share the love.
THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR…
1. A proper cup o’coffee.
2. The written word. A-Z. A good book. A trashy magazine. Words carved into park benches. Even insults etched onto the back of toilet doors.
3. Friends. Say no more.
4. Sunshine. When it decides to make an appearance.
5. Music. The food of love. Play on.
6. Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. Yes, that’s four but technically it’s one.
7. Breakfast. In bed. With the newspaper. Freshly squeezed orange juice. And a kiss with maple syrup. Thanks very much.
Happy Monday y’all.
So we’re about halfway through Novembeard and you should be seeing some pretty substantial staches taking over the faces of men across the country. But Movember isn’t just for the lads. No, no. Behind every hairy mo ‘bro, there’s a, hopefully less hairy, mo ‘sista.
The Mo ‘Sistahood exists to support the men in our lives in their efforts to change the face of mens health. Yes, even if it means that we have to endure the consequences. Play play for details.
Lucky enough not to have to get up close and personal with a mo? Here are 8 other ways you can get involved and share the moustache love.
1. Fake it.
2. Bake it.
3. Drink it.
4. Wear it.
5. Paint it.
6. Furnish it.
7. Share it.
8. Wear it.
If it’s good enough for Natalie Portman, it’s good enough for me.
Boiled eggs. The ideal ending to a bluesy Sunday.
You are far too lazy and far too depressed to even consider cooking anything which requires more than three ingredients. Frankly, the idea is absurd. But thank you, thank you for eggs. Easy, simple, beautiful eggs. What could possibly tarnish these precious planetary orbs?
The term ‘dippy’ springs immediately to mind. Let’s have dippy eggs for supper. DIPPY? They are not stupid. They are bright and brilliant, eggsclamation mark. Thus, if you are one of those philistines who uses this derrogatroy label to describe your boiled eggs, I suggest you boil yourself and indeed your attitude along with your prospective dinner. Little sister, you have henceforth been publicly disgraced.
Of course, an egg, smart or dumb, is not an egg without soldiers. All in a row. With identical suits of black armour. It has to be my mate, marmite. For those who are too rich, too cultured, too “Rome daaarling” for poor man’s soldiers, spears of asparagus are the next best thing. Either way, these troopers are defenceless, doomed to a digestible fate. A fate which is inextricably linked to the consistency of the yolk. More fiercely debated than the philosophical question of ‘the-chicken-or-the-egg’, the correct method of boiling the perfect egg is hotly contested. It has become, courtesy of Delia Smith, an art.
Whether you are, by nature, hardcore, mellow or somewhere in between, we are all aiming for that ‘pierce-and-ooze’ quality that our brave little soldiers can paddle in. Step one is easy: water in pan. Boiling? Cold? The jury is out. What you are more concerned with is how to get those delicately suicidal eggs out of the fridge and into the pan all in one piece, without burning the skin off your fingertips. Spoon them in, roll them in, catapult them in but for goodness’ sake do not allow them to touch the metal bottom. The dubious crack that oozes white pus signals game over.
Two bald ovals bump and bubble like silly twins riding the dodgems.
Minutes on the clock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.
Timing is everything.
So is the eating. The real question is, are you a Fisher or a Whittaker?
Egg eaters the world over will fall into one of these categories which relate to the method of attack used by my grandparents’ respective families.
If you are a Whittaker, like my grandfather, you will possess a merciless demeanor and a guillotine sharp knife. In the manner of The Queen of Hearts, Whittakers wield their blade with a firm hand and emit a bloodcurdling “Off With His Head” as their target is struck. A resounding crack of terracotta shell and it’s all over. Beheaded and bleeding sunshine, your victim awaits enemy invasion. Alas, your valiant soldiers meet a similar end, drowned in golden glue.
Or maybe, like my grandmother and the Fisher clan, you advocate a rather more nonviolent demonstration which does away completely with the savage knife. Instead, Fishers commission mirror shine spoons which skip happily to assistance. Concave meets concave. Gentle tap. Carefully and with love, Fishers peel the jigsaw pieces away to reveal a milky moon. A smooth edge sinks into pale skin with ease, uncovering the roof of a golden pool. Here, off duty soldiers bathe and melt in a snug jacuzzi, laid back, relaxed, perfect.
Whittaker or Fisher, we all mourn the empty, melancholy shell. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t manage it but you can. So, without hesitation, put Humpty Dumpty back together again with a condescending pout. Hurrah!
Scrambled. Poached. Boiled. Fried. Sunny-side up. Sunny-side down. Raw with meat. Chocolate and sweet.
The Mother Earth of Sweet.
Generalise if I may, it seems to me that the sexes are divided once again by chocolate. Men, for example, forever insist on cooling their precious bars in the fridge. Is this a bid to hide a secret habit that might cause emasculation or is it because, as they claim, chocolate is like revenge: best served cold? Whatever the reason, this behaviour is idiotic. Chocolate should be revered, respected. Chocolate belongs in the cozy cupboard next to the desperate times, desperate measures jar of Nutella that doubles as a drinking glass. After all, no household is truly complete without a cheerful mish-mash collection of Nutella glasses void, of course, of spoon hacked hazelnut traces.
The best chocolate is chocolate. Everything else is an imitation. That includes Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate biscuits and chocolate ice cream. Don’t even get me started on the overwhelming disappointment that is hot chocolate. Give me a river of chocolate. Give me an ocean of melted cocoa. Do not give me warm brown water with sodden pink and white marshmallows bobbing amid islands of artificial cream that prides itself on being ‘squirty’.
Give me a bar. The bigger the better. Let me indulge, devour, polish off the whole lot in one sitting. An illicit slab of finders-keepers, all-mine, get-your-own cocoa ecstasy. Break off a triangular square of mouthwatering joy and like an alchemist, transform chocolate cubes into liquid gold. You are the protagonist of your own chocolate advert. Cue a close-up of sultry lips enveloping praline heaven while long-lashed lids melt shut in an expression of indulgence. Switch off your sense of sight to heighten the taste. Close your eyes, trust me. Honeyed taste buds will luxuriate even more as swirls of sweetness coat every inch of your mouth. Maximum gratification is attainable through savouring each and every chocolate chunk. That means lollipop sucking not chomp guzzle swallowing. If the latter occurs, it is advisable to relinquish the remaining mahogany block to its gold foil and purple paper.
Chocolate bars are selfish. Choc-boxes were created for sharing. This doesn’t mean, however, that you will be more inclined to generosity. Take, for example, the dinner party fiasco. The polite box of chocolates offered dutifully at the beginning of an insipid meal, largely surrendered in the hope that your hosts will return the favour at the end by laying the chocolate tray atop the wine stained table cloth. When it’s your turn to host, a subconscious battle rages within you throughout the duration of the meal, cunning plans reveal themselves to help postpone the awkward moment when the fleeting chocolate prize must be sacrificed: stall guests with coffee, ply them with heavy food, let the wine floweth, enthral them with riveting conversation, anything but chocolate. Keep them away from my chocolate. Then the inevitable: a satisfied pat on pregnant tummies, the leaning back in the chair, the irritating smack of indulged lips. Finally, the typically English suggestion-demand: “Oooooh, I wouldn’t say no to something sweet. Round that delicious meal off nicely”. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Need I say more? Acquiescent hosts give in at the first hurdle, while others will ignore the hint with a pedantic air, nose lifted ceilingwards, saving the treat for themselves.
Rounded cardboard corners are stroked lovingly then prised apart to reveal silky treasure, a pair of heart-shaped rubies glittering boisterously amid cadences of sepia: chestnut, coffee, beige and ebony, caramel, tan, hazel, mahogany. White chocolates join the growing list of extinct species while milk chocolates are hunted relentlessly but manage to endure to the bitter end. Camouflaged against safe black plastic, dark chocolates crouch tentatively, hoping to escape consumption until, like the unpopular schoolchild waiting to be picked for the team, all the best have been chosen. Never, since the introduction of Michelin starred restaurants, have menus been so diligently studied. Eager eyes peruse classic and exotic combinations in search of the perfect partner for their too-sweet tooth. Wrappers twist and sing only to be tossed recklessly in the direction of the rubbish bin. The lucky few bounce off the rim like a basketball and are recycled in a betting game between two competitors who both claim imperious authority in the AIM-SHOOT-SCORE department.
That joyful moment when the rejects are finally plucked from a near empty top layer, chomped hurriedly and swallowed alive, in the manner of Augustus Gloop, impatient to unveil the darkened under-layer. Alas, you’re too late. The sacred chest has already been plundered. This counts as a criminal act and should be punishable by law. The culprit should be subjected to eating the strawberry creams. Unless, of course, said culprit has a penchant for fruit flavoured chocolate. See below for more details.
Research has recently revealed that the secret of relationship longevity and happiness is directly proportional to the degree of opposing preferences in chocolate. Not sure if you and your partner are ‘meant for each other’? Complete this simple test. When you next find yourself in the Willy Wonka aisle of the supermarket, bypass the astronomical selection of chocolate on offer in favour of a lucky dip style packet. Orange, strawberry, coffee creams on one side. Nutty, caramel, raisin centres on the other. They say opposites attract. This could not be more applicable to harmonious chocolate sharing. If you’re an tangy orange cream, your ideal match would be a smooth caramel or a nutty nougat.
In the same way that binge drinkers and ‘social smokers’ meet their downfall on Friday nights, the resolve of chocolate addicts is tested to its limit at the petrol station check-out counter. One for the road.
Lessen the guilt. Go organic. Choose Green & Black’s.