Be true to those who trust thee

My Mum sent me this reading and I love it.

It was read as part of a Christening and rings true for so many reasons.


“Be true to those who trust thee”, Anon


Be true to those who trust thee,

Be pure for those who care.

Be strong, for there is much to suffer,

Be brave for there is much to dare.

Be a friend to all – the foe, the friendless.

Be giving and forget the gift.

Be humble, for thou knowest thy weakness.

And then, look up and laugh and love and live.


Not just another Ottolenghi blog…

Ever since the wonderful Wilderness Festival, we’ve become a little bit addicted to the various culinary delights from Ottolenghi and Moro. I always like to think of myself as being a little bit behind the trends, someone once told me I would never be a visionary and so I’ve taken this on board and now store any ideas and discoveries and release them to the world when they think it’s all over…..well that’s what I like to tell myself anyway. So, with that in mind, I am very aware that these two restaurants / cookbooks / deliciousness won’t necessarily be new to many, but if like me you haven’t yet attempted them at home, may I suggest that you do….immediately.


Favourite books of the moment


We started with The Moro Cookbook and both Ottolenghi’s, Plenty and The Cookbook and most recently we’ve moved on to the wonderful new Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. We’ve re-stocked our spice cupboard with things such as Zatar and Sumac and made sure there’s enough Cumin, Turmeric, Corriander and Cardamon to see us through every recipe we may attempt. To begin the feast I chose something relatively easy : Chilled Red Pepper Soup and Cauliflower Fritters, both from Ottolenghi followed by Aubergine and Tomato Pilav from Moro. Not all in one sitting, that would be ridiculous….although very very tempting.


Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters – Ottolenghi


Roasted Red Pepper Soup – Ottolenghi

And then last night came the best of the best, both from Jerusalem : Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar and Butternut Squash and Red Onion roasted with Tahini and Za’atar. It was ridiculously good and so easy and really annoying that we had no one over for dinner to show off to share with.


Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi Jerusalem


Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

6 medium beets trimmed
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, seeded and minced
250g plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Date syrup (or pure maple syrup works too)
1 tablespoon Za’atar
Handful roasted, crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash and trim the beetroot and wrap each one individually in silver foil. Place in a baking tray and cook for about an hour – until you can pierce them with a sharp knife.

Once cool peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, chilli and yoghurt and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, date or maple syrup and za’atar and puree. Season with salt. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter the hazelnuts, goat cheese and spring onion on top and serve.


Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar


Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem 

1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.

To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.


Making medicine – my new addiction

Yesterday, when having morning coffee with a friend, I learned something about our current state of mind (worrying about everything) and apparent addiction to the Daily Mail website. Oh dear, what on earth has happened to us. I’m putting both down to age and too much time on our hands – by time, I mean the time spent running around after children, not the time spent lounging around reading magazines. That would be ridiculous. I definitely subscribe to the first problem, the worrying. I worry about everything, I worry about worrying. I worry when I have nothing to really worry about. My old age (I’m not really very old I just behave as if I am) has me worrying about my health and my family’s health all the time. It’ll probably be the worrying that gets me in the end.

Because I’m a worrier I actually live a pretty healthy and sensible (prudish) life and being a relative new-comer to countryside dwelling, have come to embrace nature and the natural. My latest discovery in the world of natural remedies and ways to enhance your life and health is this brilliant book, Kitchen Medicine – Household remedies for common ailments and domestic emergencies. I think it could be my new addiction. I’m currently drying rosemary and thyme sticks which I will burn and  “waft” around the room to promote well being and clear air. I’m definitely making some rosemary wine (to aid circulation) and will be making fenugreek tea  to take as tonic when the next cold and flu hits the house….which, judging by probability, should be some time next week. The book is full of easy remedies which can be created in minutes using all sorts of things we have lurking in the spices cupboard or growing in the garden. Or failing that, things we can easily pick up in the shops. Cinnamon is apparently particularly good for treating sinus infections, chesty coughs and head colds, all of which are regular visitors to this household. So next time, we won’t be drugging ourselves with Night Nurse but warming our insides with star anise tea and a shot of cinnamon vodka in a bedroom sweet with rosemary and thyme and sleeping like babies with not a worry in the world.



For those with the Daily Mail website addiction I’m afraid I can’t help. Cold turkey seems to be the only way. Repeat after me – I don’t need to see Tulisa in a bikini doing whatever it is she does or a Middleton in pastel jeans (I’m guessing) or the some poor overweight orange person. Look at Pinterest instead, you’ll find the same pictures without the gutter press guilt.

Absolutely Nothing To Read – Little Brown Pen

I have been spending way too much time on someone else’ blog recently. Little Brown Pen is the most fabulous collection of photographs and musings from Nichole a copywriter and photographer based, I presume, in Paris.

The posts vary from recipes to window displays to favourite cheeses and what to have for lunch, but the predominant theme – and the one I’m completely hooked on – are her colour focused photographs collated under the title “Paris Color Project“. They really are very special indeed.

Obviously I’m not the only one who has been inspired to fall in love with grey grafitti and chipped turquoise paint and bundles of bright red flowers and you can now buy some of the photographs in postcard and print size through her online shop, plus Chronicle Books are publishing a selection in September 2012.

If you haven’t seen the blog already then you must, it’s lovely, but do put aside some free time as it’s wonderfully addictive.

A few of my favourite photographs. There are so very many to choose from.





Absolutely Nothing To Read….one for the kids-ish

I was going to post this last night as a finale to a Father’s Day well spent but I was too busy trying to get my own children to “Go The F To Sleep” 

I’m also a bit of a prude and was nervous of the bad language. But it is funny. And even better when read in the dulcet and oh so slightly menacing tones of Samuel L Jackson. Click here and let the sleepiness roll in….