fervent love | ginger brownie cookies

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Have you ever met someone and just thought, wow, you are so plastic. Like you can just see right into them, the mass of veins and nerves and a heart that pumps nothing but blood. It’s like that’s all they are. There’s nothing else there, no deep, intense passion bubbling inside them, about something abstract, obscure. They just absorb whatever it is that’s in the air, whatever is going around, and it never gets deeper than the skin. Surface passion, at best, and it’s difficult to ignite.

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But there are people who have it. A fervent love somewhere, buried under a skin that’s just like everyone else’s. When they talk about this - their passion, the ignition, you know they’re in their element. You can see them come alive. It’s like you strike a match and light up the whole room, they’re not just a shell anymore, they’re a warm blooded person with stories to tell. And you might not know what the stories are. You can’t see into where it is they keep their spirit, but at times it will burst through, given the right conditions. Perhaps someone like minded, someone curious, another dreamer, another believer, another fan. Fire doesn’t start without fuel. 

I always admire people who have that - such a deep passion. People who’ve given their lives to obscure causes. I saw a documentary with a team that devoted its time to studying prairie dog behavior, people who spend their lives restoring classic Land Rovers, divers who dedicate each trip into the ocean to search for Atlantis. They have something. They must get up each day and think, this is my thing.
I guess that’s the deepest level. People for whom each cell in their body is filled with passion. But maybe there are other levels too. The bloodstream intensity, for people who can talk for ages about a topic. Perhaps not one they love per se, but something that triggers feelings. Impassioned rants of passive aggression, peppered with emotive anecdotes, enough to get you thinking. Because they care so much and it’s so tangible. They have something too. They can get up each morning and say, I can make someone think, make someone feel different. Those people, they all have nerves and veins and hearts that pump blood. But theirs are filled with much more, they overflow, there’s a side to them that is their own, that makes them so much more than what you see. 

“Now she went blossoming in her blood, and her blood went rushing deep beneath her”
Rainer Maria Rilke 

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First I would like to say this post was for mum for her birthday. She’s one of those kind of passive-aggressive but inspiring people. It’s probably what makes her such a good teacher, and so nice to be around. 
Transition to cookies. These cookies are quite special - a bit soft with under-baked centers, like brownies, but with a bunch of warm spices that works so well together.
The method may come across as a little finicky but it’s all easier than it sounds and totally worth it.
Love and cookies to you. Who knows, they may just become your passion.

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ginger brownie cookies

makes around 12 medium cookies

1/2c coconut oil, melted 
1 large free range egg
1/2c coconut sugar 
1/4c turbinado sugar (or pure cane sugar)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2c brown rice flour
1/2c oat flour 
1/2c almond meal
1/3c natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

Optional: 100g / 4oz chopped dark chocolate 

Preheat the oven to 180c, 350f and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the flours, baking powder/soda, salt and spices. Sift in the cocoa and stir to combine.
In another bowl, beat together the oil and egg - make sure your egg is room temp or the oil with harden if it meets anything cold.
Add the sugars and vanilla and combine until the mixture comes together.
Add the wet mix to the dry and stir until evenly combined. 
Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes (in the bowl is fine, the chilling will make it easier to scoop).
Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough into the cookie sheet leaving room to spread. 
The cookies need in total about 10-12 minutes to bake. Halfway through baking (5-6 minutes) take the tray out of the oven and use the back of a spoon to flatten the tops of the cookies slightly - the tops of the cookies will look quite cracked.
Bake for the remaining time. Allow a few minutes to cool on the pan before gently transferring to a rack: they will be fragile and a little puffy, brownie style. 
The cookies will keep a few days at room temp and you can also freeze the cookie dough. 

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daisies | apple & pear buckwheat crumble

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Dream big, they said. Not to me in particular, maybe even when I was young I came across as a cynic. But it has been said, to generations of sweet believers with fresh eyes and big imaginations. It’s something a lot of people grow up with - as soon as you can see the world beyond pre-school and your living room, you start to. Dream. Not in the sense of a restless mind’s nightly wanderings but very clear, conscious choices. You choose that your dreams are to swim with dolphins, to go backstage at a certain show, to climb a mountain. Maybe you tear articles out of magazines, do research and keep a folder, or the dreams grow wild, like daisies in your head.

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But then your horizons change - they grow. You expect more from yourself, the people around you, the world. It seems like we are hard wired to take things in. We absorb so much and shift our perspectives and so we change our dreams. No escape from the constant barrage of new. You’ll be sitting in traffic and a few meters ahead there’s this amazing car - and you’ll think, damn, that’s my dream car. Flipping channels on a normal Tuesday evening, stumble upon an obscure show set in maybe Tuscany, and it’s at the top of your list. That train chugging along carrying a mismatched cargo of dreams since childhood just keeps adding more weight.

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We are fickle. We change our minds, we accept that very little about us is concrete and that's ok. It's the funny thing with dreams. There are some people that cling onto theirs - that childhood idea that's grown with them from just imagination into something tangible. The dream that's been riding the train through all the valleys and the peaks, the highs and lows. And there are so many others that never make it and are left lying by the tracks, bright and visible. Forgotten daydreams; filaments of childhood fantasy; wanderlust on cold, dark winter nights; or ecstasy from sunny Saturdays when anything seems possible. 
They leave a map, markers along the rail tracks, little pieces of who we are, how we’ve changed. How we’ll keep changing, how we’ll never really know what we want. And the seeds of those daisies keep growing untamed and unruly in our minds.

"True, I talk of dreams, the children of an idle brain,
as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind"
Mercutio to Romeo & Benvolio (R&J, Shakespeare)

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Happy December. Time for gingerbread everything and everything in gold, red and green editions. There is still some nice fall/winter fruit around, perhaps not the most photogenic, so perfect for fruit desserts like these. With the spices and the dark sugar it kind of has that apple pie vibe without rolling dough or such niceties.
You could use all one type of flour in the crumble if you prefer, this recipe isn’t super fussy.
Love xx

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apple & pear buckwheat crumble

1/2c buckwheat flour
1/2c brown rice flour
1/3c oat flour
1/4tspn salt
1/4c coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/3c milk of choice, room temperature 
1/4c coconut sugar 
1/2tspn pure vanilla extract
1/2tspn cinnamon

600g-800g mixed apple & pear (I used more pear than apple)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tspn arrowroot powder / similar starch
1 tspn each cinnamon and nutmeg 
1/2 tsp ground ginger 

Preheat the oven to 180’C, 350’F. Prepare a baking dish with around 2L (2 quarts-ish) real estate, so to speak. An 8x8inch square pan would work.
In one bowl combine all dry ingredients for the crumble topping. Add the coconut oil, milk and vanilla and stir to combine using a fork. Continue until the dough reaches a sort of coarse-sand texture with some small chunks. Set aside.

For the filling: Chop the apples and pears - you don’t have to peel the fruit and the pieces can be chunky. In your baking dish toss together the fruit with the sugar, lemon, spices and starch. Using your hands is a little messy but effective here.
Crumble the topping over the fruit, by hand is again easiest. It should be spread relatively evenly over the fruit.
Bake for between 25-40 minutes, until the fruits have softened and the crumble is golden. This will vary depending on the shape of your dish and the juiciness of your fruit.

Serve as is, or with yogurt (or ice cream…) if you’re feelin’ fly. You really should try this crumble warm once. Not least for the smell.
The crumble will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days and also freezes and reheats well.

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the minutiae | smoothies

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The other day I watched a documentary about Yellowstone National Park. It seems like a truly extraordinary place, a real wilderness. Something so untameable about acres of forests, craggy peeks, herds of bison and rambling wolf packs. It's like fantasy. I guess Yellowstone has planted itself firmly on my list of places I will visit one day. 

When I do make it to Yellowstone and I’m standing on a trail in the middle of the Rockies, will I remember the day I decided I would visit? It might be when I’m 25, or 35, or 75 and cramming everything I ever wanted to do. That day watching the documentary it seemed memorable in a way. Rather than half watching tv and half working, I took a break. Sat on the couch in a sliver of watery sunlight. Suzi the sunshine pup was also lying in that sun, it showed the streaks of red in her fur and made the wood floors warm, mellow. Prune was lying on her back, paws in the air, head full of wild dreams. Ribbed trees outside, shaken bare by the wind. The same wind that had blown through the chimney so there was black ash on the floor around it close to where Suzi slept, head on her paws. 

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Sometimes I think, no, this will all fade. So little of what you think is significant really is. Memory is a funny thing - how it can filter out some of the biggest events and leave you with the minutiae. I don’t really remember the first day of the summer the year I finished high school. How excited I was to get my first iPhone, my first driving lesson. I don't remember much algebra though it was the end of my world at the time. Or much of my gym classes, just that I hated them, or the taste of coca-cola, or taking the training wheels off my bike. I just know I didn't want to be the last kid my age in the neighborhood on a 3 wheeler.

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But I remember my first snow day. Clatters of toboggans and rosy cheeks. Seeing African Wild Dogs in a national park, unboxing my Vitamix. A freezing November day, the first time that I drove my car solo with an actual license. Watching Prune’s fur grow back after her surgery along with her spirit. The days deepest in the summer heatwave, the whole house stuffy, when the alarm had broken and the beeping tone reminded us of life-support. Layla and I didn’t know how to fix it so we grew used to the sound. When the alarm eventually was repaired, it was like the summer had flatlined.

I don’t know what will stay with me. Probably the smaller things. June 29. Arbitrary date, but it’s the first time I knew the date of an album release by heart ( Drake’s Scorpion, naturally).The major, the small and the indecisive. Maybe it will all come back, under a big sky somewhere, with the pines and the icy streams and the wolves. 

"I learned simplicity, learned slowly and with difficulty how unassuming everything is" Rainer Maria Rilke

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Wow!!!!! I am back with a post before the return of the full moon. Anyway. Something a little different today, to brighten up these maybe cooler and darker days.
I have some notes on smoothies, they may or may not be helpful to you but I’ll add them anyways.
Hugs and blended goodness to you all xx

Smoothie notes:
- I add protein powder to some of these smoothies. You can leave this out if you don't keep any around but I find they add some body/background. You may want to add some nut butter, cocoa powder etc instead.
- I like some frozen zucchini in smoothies, it has no taste but is good for you and makes drinks thiiiiick. Frozen cauliflower has a similar effect but it can smell a little more.... vegetabl-y if it sits. Frozen banana is welcome too.
- the blending times will depend on your blender, as will liquid: more liquid may help if your blender is not of the super strong variety (like the ubiquitous Vitamix). Whatever type of blender patience is good here because I've found that chunks of frozen zucchini are just grim.

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A smoothie trilogy

1c - 1 1/4c milk of choice 
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or not)
Handful frozen zucchini 
1c frozen strawberries or a mix of frozen pink berries (raspberries, currants, pom seeds)

1c - 1 1/2c milk of choice 
1 scoop vanilla/chocolate protein powder (or not)
Handful frozen zucchini 
Handful frozen spinach 
1c frozen blueberries 

Green / keepin’ it g *
1c - 1 1/2c pure coconut water 
Handful frozen spinach 
Handful frozen zucchini 
1/2 avocado, frozen or not 
1c frozen pineapple pieces 

For all smoothies:

In order listed, add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. The time will depend on your blender. Add a little more liquid or use the tamper (like on a Vitamix) to encourage things along. 
In all cases, makes 1 large smoothie or two smaller/medium smoothies.

*to keep it g is an expression from hip-hop, just fyi. 

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demons | maple pecan mini muffs

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Ask any European person about the autumn and something they’ll always bring up is the dark. The time changes, night swallows up the day even more. An imbalance. People are leaving school or work and the sun has already faded. It’s seen as a symptom, of wet weather and dry hands and flu season.
The dark seems to be a thing of fascination. You don’t just go out late on a regular winter evening, you wait until certain almost allotted days to go out. Then you find ways to light up the night; fireworks and bonfires and gaudy Christmas lights that silhouette farmhouses eerily on quiet country lanes. 

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And there’s Halloween, a whole celebration of the dark. Not just finding a reason to run around the neighborhood after the sun sets, but to play with the other side of the night. It’s dark, it’s unknown, there’s always the possibility there’s more out there. So very regular people who believe in science and reason will dress up as ghosts and demons, one night a year. Because we dismiss the people who really believe in them, don’t we? As kind of kooky. But on Halloween, witches and magic are for both the believers and the logical. It’s always seemed like car crash fascination to me. An odd interest in the other side, but just as a visitor. Nobody would really want to be in a car accident and most people really wouldn’t want to open up enough to believe in mystery. And nobody really wants to be out in the dark if they don’t have to be. Because somewhere someone said it was better to all be inside under yellow lights, like summer moths to a candle. The light-seeking moths only live for a week and they spend the whole time looking for light. I guess they’re really not that different from us after all. 

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If I have late classes it is already dusky as I leave. The prettiest time of day, along with the morning, especially in the late autumn and winter. Trees cast abstract shadows and the horizon is emptier. On a clear day the sky is soft fading violet and the sun splashes colour onto the clouds. They’re not white or gray as they would be in the light. They’re apricot, tangerine and cantaloupe. Some are so brightly illuminated in orange they’re almost neon, like an airborne reflection of cars’ taillights. On the road the lights blur into long red, glowing tunnels, pausing and bursting with acceleration and braking. Headlights seem to spill moonlight around dark bends, playing off stone barn walls and over empty fields, winter nothingness. By 5pm you can see white stars, the most magical of all the night things. They are the jewel in the crown of the dark’s defense. But there are also blinking lights of planes and jets, taking people to places everywhere, and the sharper white of distant satellites. To remind you that there is far more to it all than what you see in the light. 

“into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely” Edna St Vincent Milay

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Hiii. I abandoned this space again, something I had no intention to do, but anyway. I’ve said before that I was back. Let’s see if it happens this time. Autumn is considering whether or not it wants to make an appearance in England this year, I hope it does. One of my preferred seasons, a nice time for muffins and melancholy. Melancholy may not come so easily to you sunny-dispositioned people out there, but I can help with the muffs.

Love xx

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Maple pecan mini muffs 
Makes 24 mini muffs, 12 regular 

1 1/4c oat flour
1 1/4c brown rice flour
1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg 
2/3c plain yogurt of choice
2 free range eggs 
1/4c olive oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1/2c pure maple syrup 

Heaped 1/2c pecans, chopped (or any other nut, if you like)

Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Prepare a mini muffin pan, or a regular pan, you choose.
Stir together the flours, baking powder/soda, spices and salt. Stir through chopped pecans.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and maple. 
Stir the wet mix into the dry mix and spoon into muffin tins.
If making mini muffs, bake for 15-18 minutes. For regular muffins they will probably need 5-10 minutes more. 

The muffs will keep  for a few days in an airtight container and also freeze well. Aren’t they cute?

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