collecting lines | roasted plum popsicles with cardamom

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After reading my last post my mum made a comment about the quote at the end. I was pretty happy that someone knew the poet and that, well, someone noticed it. I started adding a quote at the end of each post a while ago - they're not all quotes I guess, since Alan Walker or Kendrick Lamar don't really count. But whatever. I put somebody else's words at the foot of the page, after my ramblings, to conclude. I'm not sure what you think of them? Maybe they come across as unnecessary but I just never really know how to finish a post... to awkwardly shift gears from some abstract mumbling to a foodie discussion. Somebody else's words seemed final enough without me having to spin out a yarn... because these posts are thoughts and thoughts don't particularly just, terminate. Or at least mine don't. I always used to have this issue with creative writing at school that I couldn't stay within the word limit. Too much to say, I guess, I'd have eaten up the word count and then would need to finish the damn thing in 100 words and that's difficult. A chronic fault of mine, saying too much. Using 550 words to say something that could probably use two. Funny that I don't talk a lot, in fact my sister said the other day that I seem to use the least words possible to communicate which made me laugh, internally, thinking of that little blue box in the lower right corner of a word document.  But I digress. Quotes. I've been collecting lines from poems, songs, books, just browsing the internet, for quite some time. If I was a different kind of person they'd probably live in a leather bound notebook but honestly they're all in my email inbox. In a long email with a hundred one line replies. Very cryptic. Very eclectic. 

I have a collection of journals from when I used to write every day;  it's been a while since I've done that but there was time when I did, religiously.  I flick through and there's a striking lack of endings. I seem to just cut myself off abruptly or there's a few lines blank, at the foot of the page. Maybe I was thinking of coming back later with some words to tie it all up but you know how it goes. Lines left blank, thoughts unfinished. Don't they say the only way to become a better writer is to write more? A fallacy, clearly, because I've got a box worth of scribblings without endings. Maybe I'll make that a project for one day, in the future. Sit out on a porch somewhere with that box and fill in the blank lines, all those loose ends. Then seal the box, and put it high on a shelf, or wherever it is you put memories. 

"To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done."    John Steinbeck

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Awkward gear shift to popsicles is now initiated. I know it's getting colder - I was wearing a sweater, a sweatshirt  and socks the other morning but the sun's still sharp up north where we are. So make popsicles while the sun shines, with a bit of fall warmth from the cardamom and maple. Plums and blackberries are like those crossover fruits so they were sort of of the obvious choice. Have fun with the layering, I'm not exactly super careful/fiddly but the marbled effect was still gorgeous - the fruit will make the pops pretty, whatever you do.

Love you xx

PS. Shoutout to my amazing grandma who celebrated her birthday earlier this week. Grandma, I picked these berries from the garden, just like you would. xo 

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roasted plum popsicles with cardamom

makes 8-10

2 cups (500ml) full fat yogurt of choice (I used goat yogurt but regular or coconut would be good)
1/4c (60ml) pure maple syrup
Seeds of half a vanilla bean
Fat pinch cardamom (to taste. I like it stronger than I think most people would)

// For the fruit
1 cup (150g) fresh blackberries
Around 4-5 small plums
1 tablespoon coconut sugar 


Start with the roasted fruit - you can even do this in advance. Preheat the oven to 180'C, 350'F and line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper.

Gently rinse and dry the berries, chop the plums into chunks and spread out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle over the sugar and toss to coat.

Roast for 20 minutes or so, until the fruit is collapsing and smells pretty amazing. Leave to cool, then refrigerate, or continue with recipe.

Into a blender combine the the remaining popsicle ingredients. Blend on high until combined, transfer the popsicle mix into a container from which it's easy to pour (a glass mixing jug or similar)

Rinse out the blender and add your fruit. Blend until pulpy and a little liquidy, it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth.

Into your popsicle moulds pour in some of the yogurt mix - I did about 1/3 but it really doesn't matter, whatever you think looks pretty. Dollop some of the fruit mix (heaped tablespoon or so) over the yogurt, then pour in more yogurt so the mold is more or less full. 

Freeze for 3-6 hours, until solid. If you wrap each individual popsicle they'll keep in the freezer as long as you like. You can run the whole moulds under hot water if the pops are giving you a hard time; they'll release super easily. 

If you have any leftover blended fruit, you can swirl it into yogurt, oatmeal etc a bit like jam.

*This is the popsicle mould I use, I ordered it from the States and it's really good.

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your weight in gold | roasted banana & almond ice cream

it's poppy season, and poppies always remind me of you. the start of another wet Belgian autumn, summer long gone. a reminder of the sun and warmth in the tractors ploughing the fields. they leave behind the champagne-hued stubble of the wheat and a little verge of green by the path, along which the poppies grow. red and tender petals moist with drops of dew. you wouldn't notice that the wheat stalks poked your paws, you'd run with ferocious joy through the furrows, with the wall of wheat gone you could roam for miles. you'd run far from the path, come back to us, following your nose. you'd be caked up to your elbows in dark mud with little water droplets on your muzzle. the wind hammered us on that dusty track and your ears would flap like wings as you gambolled around. you are a bird, your wings took you places and kept you airborne when you fell.

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places. we opened the door of the car and you stood next to me on the back seat, you sniffed the air. it was a hot French summer day, the sky was a water color blue; a Monet painting come alive. trees were green and heavy with leaves, cherries had tumbled onto the lawn and dotted it with rich red baubles, the vines on the side of the house grew cheerful and rife next to blue shutters. you knew where you were when you jumped out, you remembered straight away, the wag in your tail became sweeping brushstrokes and there was a light in your eyes. This is the place! you thought, as you set off at a trot through the garden. The place where last time I found a hedgehog by the table tennis set! The place where they eat picnics and sit on the grass, so I can take sandwiches right from their hands! The place where walks are on small lanes that weave through fields in black ribbons of tarmac! The place where if they don't finish all that goat's cheese, they give it to me! you would run with your legs almost a pendulum, as if they moved subconsciously, so you could keep your nose close to the ground and take everything in. you ran with pure joy.

you fell; you fell hard and fast, quicker than the dollar, you're worth more than your weight in gold. just over four weeks ago, we almost lost you and you fought your toughest battle yet. like the soldiers in the trenches, you fought hard, you dug yourself out, through a battlefield with the all the guns firing your way. little prune girl, you are the bravest fighter. your fought so your wings could catch you, so you could pull through that long, low night. you fought to give us these four weeks, to give us more than four weeks, to give your wings a chance to take you places again. take me with you.

poppies and battles. the red petals will make me think of you, prune. your places, your wings, a brave soldier in a battle you never chose to fight. we will never, ever forget. you can teach anyone about courage. so much love for you, prune girl.

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I wrote a little about Prune's operation on my about page, and it's just over 4 weeks since she came home to us - I never thought we'd have four weeks with her and I am so so glad we did. pruney is a banana lover and suezie loves creamy things so to celebrate my furries, I made a dairy-free ice cream and oh my god it's so good. like a classy banana milkshake or smoothie. usually dairy-free ice creams are made with coconut milk but I was saving my one can for something else - I was worried this would be too icy, but the banana makes it super creamy and smooth, all dreeeamlike it's so good ok I'll stop now. remember life is fragile. make time for those you love and here's to you winning your battles. xo

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ROASTED BANANA & ALMOND ICE CREAM WITH VANILLA BEAN

makes about 700g (about 3 cups or so) //    gluten free + dairy free

3 ripe bananas, medium sized
3-4 tablespoons honey*, depending on the ripeness of your bananas
2 cups / 5ooml unsweetened almond milk
seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
chopped almonds or walnuts to garnish, optional


preheat oven to 180’C/350’F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper

peel (was that obvious? sorry if it was) and slice your bananas into pieces of around 2cm (3/4ish inch), lay them out on the baking sheet. Drizzle around 2 tablespoons honey over the pieces, toss them around to coat

roast for around 35 minutes till the bananas are a deep caramel color, stirring once if necessary (they will also smell insanely good)

allow the bananas to cool a few minutes – while you wait, add the almond milk, salt and vanilla to a blender with honey to 1-2 tablespoons honey

scrape the fruit and any honey from the baking sheet into the blender, blend till well combined

you’ll need to chill the mix before you churn it: mine waited overnight, but 3-4 hours should do it (maybe quicker in the freezer)

churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s individual instructions. pour the mix into a freezer safe container – if you prefer a soft-serve consistency, freeze for about one hour. If you’d prefer it a bit more firm, freeze overnight, then let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before scooping

garnish with toasted chopped nuts, chocolate shavings or whatever you’d like!

notes

if dairy isn’t an issue, you can of course use regular milk. and if you don’t have an ice cream maker you can just add a bit more milk & ice and have yourself the best banana milkshake of your life. simple.
*to keep this vegan, feel free to use maple syrup in the same quantity as the honey. If your bananas are very ripe (bright yellow and spotty) you may need 3 tablespoons, if they’re less ripe, feel free to up it to 4 or whatever you’d like. ice cream is pretty forgiving.
also, I think that some chopped chocolate would be a nice addition if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more of a dessert than a frozen smoothie (and if you’re not sharing with pups)

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prune, soon after her op. suzi in the background.

just quickly, I want to ask that if you're in England and a dog owner, would you consider volunteering your dog to be a blood donor? I'm not affiliated to the charity in any way but with the severe haemorrhaging in Pruney's case, without the blood transfusion she would not be here today - it's thanks to another brave dog she pulled through. There are some criteria to fulfil, but perhaps you can think about it, the blood could really save a life and I can not thank whichever dog and owner who helped out enough. sometimes you can also donate via your vet. Also, this page has some information about ruptured spleens/tumours in dogs - with symptoms, because you can never be too careful.


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