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

//filling
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 deluge | apple blondies

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The thing with these long, dry European summers is that when the heat breaks, it really breaks. Those first showers after the heatwave aren’t the typical spirit-sapping drizzle, but something closer to tropical. The heavy, fat, cool drops of rain mingle with the warmth and the air turns steamy, a foggy blanket broken by those continuous chubby drops. They fall fast in a sort of percussive one-two, more like a hurried trap beat than mellow, languid r&b. Curtains of water turn the dry summer gutters into rapids and liquid seems to seep into every crack. Wood creaks and groans, trees heavy with leaves strain under the weight of the deluge. 

It might be just for an hour or it might be for days. The skies might have lightened from that angry purple-gray to something more marbled and the raindrops perhaps stroll out of the sky rather than rush. Tarmac roads are soaked to dark beady black, car headlights glow, the windscreen becomes foggy on the inside. On one of those late summer rainy days, somewhere deep in the deluge, we took a drive north along the coast. The fields were growing wild with ivy, dewy and happy, ploughed fields looked rich and earthy in coffee tones from deep espresso black to milder latte. Crows cling to power lines that flail in the wind, the car engine hums healthily, fields part and the North Sea fills the windscreen, moody and agitated, like the rain only added fuel to the restless sea’s fire. The stretch of beach looked pale yellow, like it was itself a lonely shaft of sunlight as waves kissed the breakers, maybe once painted white, now peeling down to the dark wood, in that kind of melancholic, forgotten feeling of small seaside towns in Europe.

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Maybe it would be different on a sunny summer day in mid July. Maybe during the heatwave the beach was a quilt of cheery sun umbrellas, kids in colourful swimsuits, pale limbs seeking out the sun. The sea was quiet and settled and a tempting shade of baby blue. There were packed cars lining the boulevard and the little hotels had turned the signs to ‘no vacancies’. There were ice creams to be bought and waves to skip through and the photos of said ice creams would grace office pin-boards and living room walls. It seemed short lived. Like a good song, the first hour of a Friday afternoon, a sunrise, the heatwave itself.

You could almost feel the curtains twitch, on that rainy day. The eager little hands of the youngest late summer holiday makers, pulling back the musty fabric, releasing a shower of dust towards the murky wallpapered room and onto thinning carpets. Pressing a face to cool glass and looking upwards, trying to find the streaks of light in the feathery sky. I’d done it myself, as a kid. Thin hotel windows rattling in a seaside breeze, the incessant crashing of the sea, cries of gulls, container ships outlined and ghostly on the horizon.

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The tourist hoards slowly ease and instead it’s the earliest autumn leaves that swirl on the wet tarmac, picked up by the coastal wind to dance around the hood of your car. The dark lingers for longer each morning and if you’re out in the country, maybe walking dogs, puddles reflect the skies and seem to pool moonlight. You watch the dawn push in from the east, the lines and patches of clear light competing with the white moon and a million stars. Dawn always wins, but the night comes to take back its turf earlier and earlier. The sun is mellower and the wind is sharper, collars are pulled up around necks and drying hands are crammed deep into pockets. They may have forecast another Indian summer but there’s a shift in the air. The rain that washed the cooler countryside this weekend was different, less benevolent. The wind that made the leaves dance may have pushed those ashen clouds away but the real rain of fall will lace soggy grass and damp umbrellas. It dusts clear dewy mornings with a promise of more, and soon you'll see the moon as much as the rain and sun. 

“staring into the clouds, they rising or are they coming down?”
Lil Wayne ft xxxtentacion, Don’t Cry

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Hi. It’s been a while. My bad. I was doing... not really anything. Anyways I’m back to this space again. As Lil Wayne would say, don’t call it a comeback, it was dark out, now the sun’s back. Guy’s full of wise words, at least we know where Drake got it from. I digress.
Funny thing is that I’ve been holding on to these photos since a very dark and shadowy day last year but I lost the recipe so I had to try it again. Good news is, the recipe works, yay. I call these little guys apple blondies but they are just like an apple cake. They are quite pretty and seem fitting for the time of year, well, until it’s 20 degrees out again. 
I hope you like them. Love xx

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Apple blondies 
makes one 8x8 pan, or similar

2/3c (75g) almond meal
2/3c (75g) oat flour
2/3c (80g) buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp salt
3/4c coconut sugar
2 free range eggs
1/3c melted coconut oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large apple, grated

1 or 2 apples to top


Preheat the oven to 180’C, 350’F
Line an 8x8 inch square pan (or something similar)
Sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in one bowl
In another bowl, stir together the coconut oil, eggs and coconut sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir again. Combine the wet and dry mixes gently; stirring through the grated apple. Stir until just combined, then set aside.
For the remaining apples, core and cut them into thin crescent shapes. They will be to top.
Stir the batter one last time, then pour into the pan, you can use a spatula to make it smooth and (relatively) even.
Arrange the sliced apples over the top in a pattern of your choice - I messed this up the first time, but you probably won’t. Try to lay the slices very gently over the batter until you get them in a pattern you like, then push them in a little so they sink in slightly.
Bake for between 25-35 minutes. This is a big window but it will depend on the shape of your pan, how ripe the grated apple was, and how much moisture the apple slices added. Keep an eye on it. It will be kind of pleasantly golden but not brown - blondies are better a little under-baked.
They will be fragile, so let them cool completely before moving them around. 

They will keep well in the fridge for several days.

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eagerness to heal | maple + pear buckwheat scones

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I actually have no idea how this happened but a couple things of days ago I managed to hit my knee on the side of my bed. It was a really hard hit and oh god my knee was ringing so badly I had to sit down and when I looked at it there was a nice little stream of blood. Rich and red, velvety like errant drops of red wine on the edge of a coaster. Not that much blood, but my knee was open. When was the last time that happened?  I mean I cut myself now and then, on cans of coconut milk and the like but it's been a very, very long time since I last 'grazed' a limb. I was looking at that knee, at the liquidy bubbles, and there were so many other scars. All the knocks and bumps and scrapes. I heal pretty well and pretty fast but I suppose there's always a mark left behind. Knees, ankles, elbows, mostly. I can't even remember where some of them came from, especially on my knees... I remember taking a curve too fast on a scooter once and taking a knee instead. Burns from astro-turf back in the days when I played football and a tackle got too rough. A sketchy rental bicycle in Holland once and a gravelly side of the road and braking suddenly and tarmac and tears. 

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There are dark patches on the back of my heels from blisters, the constant tearing open of soft skin and the body's resilience, its eagerness to heal. From socks slipping in soaking wet shoes and tiny sharp stones from the forest trails, years of winter cross country running, sitting in the warm car finding my feet bloody and raw. As I got older trying out new fancy shoes and running for the bus through the pain and sitting on the upper deck texting and licking my wounds. Elbows that have seen school fields and playgrounds and ski slopes and ice rinks and cobbles and lawn. 

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They're supposed to be just layers of dead skin and cells and scabs and anti-bodies. But there are layers of memories and learning the hard way, proof of a life fully lived. Pain and healing and down time and recovery and monkey bars and rental bikes. I've never had stitches but my dad has a solid line over the knee and they must be... throwbacks, to his teenage days of football and penalties, referees and adrenaline. I have a scar on my hand from plastic casing, opening a new set of barbies. I used that scar when I was very young to tell my right hand from my left; that scar is novelty and creativity and trying not to cry when my parents left me at school. I have three thin lines over my left ankle from friction between the anklets I refuse to take off and a ski boot. Even through the thermal socks I could feel the dull pain at the end of the day, as the slopes emptied out and the bars filled up. Those tiny lines of light skin... sweat, stupidity, plain fun, courage. A throbbing knee and a bloodstain were a strange way for me to be reminded that my life is actually pretty full.  

"Underlined passages, fragments of happiness that traverse the body and raise bridges all around" Nicole Brossard

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Maple syrup, spices, pears... pretty autumnal? Feels much more like it, too, even all the Norfolk farmers have broken out the jackets and wool hats. Doesn't leave much hope for the rest of us, but I digress from scones. I know I've made a bunch of scone recipes before but they're really easy to customize and are nice snacks or maybe breakfast treats with a little honey and almond butter. These are the first time I made scones gluten free and the blend of flours worked really well, they were maybe a little fragile but nothing disastrous and also turned out really light. The buckwheat flavour is subtle but there, I always like it with these kind of spices. Anyways I seemed to have veered miles off my posting schedule but for some reason it's taking me some time to settle back into the school routine of studying and reading textbooks. Seems to get harder ever year... maybe a symptom of having been in the game too long?

Happy fall. Stay warm. xo

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Maple and pear buckwheat scones

makes 12-18 small/medium scones   // gluten free

2 cups (200g) oat flour
1 1/4c(200g) buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn ground nutmeg
1/2 tspn ground ginger
1 free range egg
2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil, melted
4T (80ml) pure maple syrup
1c (240ml) plain yogurt of choice
1 ripe pear, diced small 


Preheat the oven to 180'C, 350'F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In another small bowl beat together the egg, oil, maple and yogurt.

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. As the dough begins to come together, fold in the chopped pear. The dough will be thick - once the pear is evenly incorporated, use your hands to gather the dough into a ball.

Lightly flour a work surface and press the dough out into a rectangle. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide the dough into 9 squares, then cut each square on the diagonal so you have 18 triangles, or as you prefer. 

Lay the triangles out on your baking tray; they don't spread much. Bake 15 minutes or so until lightly brown and the top of each scone is firm. Serve as they are or with some honey and nut butter. So so good.

They taste amazing out of the oven but keep well for 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or will freeze and defrost well. They actually taste ok half frozen too, I found out. 


scones for every season

maybe that's not a bad thing | mocha-chip loaf

It was my dad's birthday last weekend. He wasn't with us to celebrate, in fact I've not seen him since he was here in December. That was for three days. He was supposed to arrive on his birthday and the next day we were all supposed to leave for France. But my dad had to stay in Mozambique for work, and we left for France without him. Which was hard. Harder for him than for us, in general, because he doesn't change so much, but we do, and he misses that.

It's been a long time since I called him daddy.  I actually don't remember the last time I did. I think sometimes he misses those days - when we were small enough to ride on his shoulders, when we'd grab his hand and pull him places, the days when he would pick us up and pretend to 'drop' us, catching us just before we hit the ground. It's an occupational hazard of being a long-distance dad who spends huge chunks of time away. What he doesn't realize is that he's more or less always 'there'. We talk about him all the time. He's taught us so much. I'm quite sure I am the only girl (or maybe the only person?) doing contract law who has any idea about anything to do with ships - I heard someone asking what the stern of a ship was. I remember last year in class no one knew what it meant for a ship to be 'berthed'. A charterparty? No chance. Grabs? Bulk? No way. Not terms that are plastered all over facebook, not a typical dad-daughter discussion . He's the person who's taught me about hydraulics ('to do with air and water'), that brown bread is always better than white, that cumin should always go with cheese. That the best part of Formula One is when they splash each other with champagne, the best way to take a penalty ('two steps back and one to the side'), that baby birds are always worth saving.

He probably thinks, and you probably think, those are just small things. And maybe they are, but they make a difference, in  a not-so-every-day way. There are people who teach you other things - too many people actually. There's my mum to teach me to read and write and study hard. My dogs, to teach patience, my sister, to laugh. Then there's the internet, instagram, friends, books, who tell you how to eat, what to wear, where to go, how to act. But there's only ever been one person who's told me to take care of my tools, when he's putting away the chainsaw or the hedge trimmer; and I must have the cleanest Vitamix around. One person who's taken a look at my tripod, found that yellow bauble that shows when things are level and said, suspiciously, 'do you know how to use this?'. One person who's helped me to repot my indoor plants, who taught me that every room needs some green. The one person who, when it's supposed to be summer but it's freezing cold and raining and you're wearing shorts and standing with your bike sheltering under a tree by a cemetery, would say 'it's a bit dead around here', totally nonchalantly. 

He doesn't consider himself the teaching sort of person - he tried to teach me to ski, but I ended up with an instructor. Showed us that sometimes you just have to admit defeat, and you'll be better for it. But Layla and I grew up with him more present, and from the small things he did, we learnt. A little bit of discipline, we take care of our equipment. Huge attention to detail, a total love for plants and the smallest animal. We walk past a house where their fence stops short of the hedges by about two meters. That would never have happened with dad, we say, because he'd have measured the fence, or else have gone back to the hardware store and picked up another panel. If you're doing a job, might as well do it right. Wherever we are Layla and I gravitate towards the water. A lake, a river, the sea, we'll be there, if there are boats involved, even better. That's because our dad is the boat person, he's shown us that the best things happen near the water and he's almost never been wrong. Our mum always finds it odd and says 'you take after your dad sometimes'. Maybe we do, and maybe that's a good thing.

Love you dad xx

This is one of the first recipes I wrote with someone in mind. For my dad, who taught me the coffee-chocolate combination. It's a really simple recipe, just a dry mix, a wet mix, dump into the dry bowl, into the pan, a fresh loaf in about 45 minutes. This is a very low-key loaf,  it's more of a breakfast-y or snack-y every day type of cake, which are my favorites. There's not loads of chocolate so it's not super rich, the beautiful dark color is actually just from the espresso, nutty buckwheat flour and dark sugar. Together, they make this loaf look and taste quite special. A note on ingredients - I've made this without almond meal (brown rice flour instead) but I prefer the structure from the nuts. Hazelnut meal would be really nice too, so stick to something nut based if you can. I found that I had no chocolate at all, halfway through baking, but I had some chips lying around so I used those. If you have a chocolate bar, go that route, I always prefer the meltiness to the way that chips hold their shape. 

Here's to every day cake, and a not so every day dad of mine.


mocha - chip loaf

gluten + easily dairy free    //  makes one 9x5 inch loaf

1 cup (100g) almond meal
1/2 cup (50g) oat flour, gf if necessary
1/2 cup (65g) buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon espresso powder (or finely ground coffee)
1/4 cup (25g) coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup (120ml) plain yogurt of choice at room temp.
2 free range eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (100g) dark muscavado sugar or coconut sugar*
50g chopped dark chocolate (70% is good) or chocolate chips


Oil & line a 9x5 inch loaf pan and preheat the oven to 180'C, 350'F.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flours, baking powder + soda, salt, cinnamon and espresso powder.

In a medium bowl, add the coconut oil, room temperature yogurt, eggs and vanilla and beat together. Add the sugar and beat again so the mix is smooth and dark.

Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and gently stir the batter with a flexible spatula. When it starts to come together, fold in the chocolate. The batter will be very thick.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-33 minutes. The top of the loaf will crack for sure, but I think that makes it look rustic :)

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then gently release onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

The loaf is quite moist initially but almond meal tends to dry out, so it's best finished in about 3 days. Otherwise, it holds up well frozen + defrosted. 

Notes

*Either type of sugar will work, I've made this loaf several times with both. Dark brown sugar would work too if that's what you have around, but keep the sugar as dark in color as possible.


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