the untameable | orange + cardamom sherbet

orange cardamom sherbet 4-1.jpg
orange cardamom sherbet 1-1.jpg

So. Another new year. What people should’ve done last year, what they should do, the quickness of it all, things on people’s minds. Mine too, of course, but for now I’d rather linger on the end of last year. A trip, a place far away in so many senses. I didn’t have my camera with me in Bangalore and for some reason I’m averse to phone photography so I have no photos this year. Which is a shame. Because India does visuals so well. The pastel paintbox houses, each a shade from coriander to peach, stacked so geometrically. The saris drying on clothes lines, silver pots and pans heating up in the sun, dogs panting in the shade, motorbikes and rickshaws idling. 

orange cardamom sherbet 7-1.jpg

The ladies with jasmine woven into their dark braids; carrying chubby infants in expert hands, cows with flower garlands wrapped loosely around their horns, hand-painted trucks and tractors. In a small road in the village, teenagers chat. The cool boys on their motorbike with their snazzy collared shirts and slicked back hair doubtlessly inspired by a Bollywood hero. A girl carrying a puppy, the center of attention. Two old timers sitting on an iron balcony, presiding over it all, reminiscing. Heavy and rising afternoon heat. 

Inside the gated compound everything has grown. The tropical pines are thick and towering, the palms proud and facades of houses freshly whitewashed. Trees are dripping hibiscus onto the luscious lawns where nannies supervise the toddlers. There are cats prowling the boundary fences, the toms brawling in the evening as prayer bells ring and the smell of roasting spices floats out of every kitchen. 

orange cardamom sherbet 8-1.jpg

It is early morning. Airless and sultry, the day’s heat building after it barely subsided. Like so many things in India, winter’s changing. I’m out running, soon I’ll be joined by other neighbors, racing a tropical sun . There’s a gentle glow from street lamps where moths gather, a faraway crane is lit for the holidays, clouds hurry past the waning moon. There’s another person out, a grandfather. It’s more than 20 degrees but he’s wearing a white scarf wrapped over his head and face, cotton like his billowing shirt. He regards the morning suspiciously, seeing the high rises all around us like he was hemmed in, a look of passive disdain on his weathered face. Maybe he was thinking about the vastness of home, the untameable north of the subcontinent.  Miles away, a lifetime away. To him the year passing would be an inevitability, a grain of sand in the desert, or one of the thousands of stars that crowd the sky above it.

‘far and wide the vernal breeze wafts sweet odours from blossoming trees to distant lands’ Sanskrit Proverb 


orange cardamom sherbet 10-1.jpg

It seems we’re starting the year with sherbet. It is in a sense like a sorbet since it’s a frozen fruity thing (often citrus) but has dairy to make it smooth and creamy which sorbet doesn’t. You could also call this recipe frozen yogurt but I thought sherbet sounded nice. Anyway it’s a very simple recipe and if you don’t have an ice cream maker you could make cute yogurt pops instead. You can adjust the amount of cardamom according to your taste but if you leave it out altogether you might want to add some vanilla instead. It’s also kind of healthy so if you ever wanted ice cream for breakfast… like Drake said, you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.
Happy New Year. Hope this one is what you want it to be. Love you xx


orange cardamom sherbet 11-1.jpg

Orange + cardamom sherbet

2c natural yogurt of choice
3T fresh orange juice 
3T honey
1/2 - 1tsp fresh ground cardamom 


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend to combine.
Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to ice cream maker’s instructions. Make sure you freeze the bowl-part of your ice cream maker in advance (it varies but often 24 hours before churning).
Make sure you use a freezer friendly container to let your almost-sherbet finish freezing. It will keep for a long time.

It may help to take the sherbet container out of the freezer a few minutes before serving so it’s less icy and easier to scoop.

orange cardamom sherbet 9-1.jpg

eagerness to heal | maple + pear buckwheat scones

pear scones 1-1.jpg
pear scones 2-1 copy.jpg

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. 

pear scones 4-1.jpg
pear scones 8-1.jpg


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. 

pear scones 18-1.jpg
pear scones 17-1.jpg
pear scones 16-1.jpg

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

pear scones 12-1.jpg
pear scones 19-1.jpg

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

pear scones 20-1.jpg
pear scones 10-1.jpg

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

he'll be looking skyward | strawberry - oat muffins

For the last few weeks while I was studying for exams I was working at my dad's desk since mine is just too small. He's not here right now and he won't be back until August, so the arrangement seemed to make sense. There are a couple of bookshelves next to the desk and when my thoughts inevitably drifted as I was studying I found myself scanning the names of the folders, the books, the files. They seem to say so much about him. Maybe that's obvious? That if you look at a person's shelves, they do, typically reflect that person? But what's interesting with dad's shelves is that they're not necessarily scream this is me, these are my tastes and interests. There's an anonymous blue binder with a white label, the words "Naturelink Africa" typed in nice neat, clear script. A couple of others like that, a bit like pins on a world map. On the top shelf there's a model of a little crane, the kind that lift containers onto ships in ports, there are copies of the Nederlands - Engels Technisch Wordenboek; the Dutch to English technical dictionary and the 2016-2017 edition of the trade hardware store's catalogue. Books on Spanish, Portuguese and French, the Lloyds Maritime Atlas. There's the floppy cover of a scrapbook we made forhim years ago when we were spending chunks of time apart, a bit like this year. On the sill in front of the desk, porcelain models of the canal houses in Amsterdam. He has this other shelf, it's tall and narrow and just perfectly fits CD cases, the covers always take me back to when I was five or six.

I used to only go into his office when dad had been there and the lights were on, because it was quite a dark room and the shelves seemed to dominate the walls, I was also scared of the paintings of Egyptians (don't ask), but when I did, I was oddly entranced. I remember sitting in his office chair, just a basic plastic affair on wheels, that would spin around, and I would sort through all his CDs. They're all there, the original gang, Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith, Prince's Greatest Hits, The Best of REM. I remember thinking the shelf looked like an appartment block, one of those really basic buildings that were just above shanty towns. Dad travelled, in my mind, to those places, with those kinds of flats. I travelled too, from that young age, but never to anywhere remotely industrial or 'grim'. He told us stories, about where his work took him. I was (and still am) one of those people who could spin out clear mental pictures from descriptions and I had my pictures of cargo ships and dusty docks. The chefs on American ships who talked too fast when dad tried to order his eggs for breakfast, Nigerian border patrols who shot at his car, epic Mozambican floods, tapped phone lines on a one-off trip to North Korea. My favorite were the stories about the dolphins in Turkey who'd swim right into the port. People ask me about what my dad does, he probably sounds like some kind of special agent or something... it's always made me laugh that it was nothing so exciting, just port work. Shipping and bagging things, finding ways to move them around.

Movement. What he does for a living. My dad is one of the restless... in all senses of the word. He, like me, apparently shakes his leg when he's trying to fall asleep and jolts his knee up and down when he's sitting. He paces when he's on the phone, so do I. He trips when we're out walking because he'll be looking skyward, following the trails of jets and helicopters, he's always driven with this reckless caution. It's like his foot hovers above the accelerator, that he could drive so much faster than he does but he won't because it's not worth it and he doesn't need to. He's travelled for work as long as I can remember, buried in a box somewhere I have a barbie in traditional Vietnamese clothes, Chinese fans, cuddly lions, camels and monkeys... Maybe all this shows in the fact that I can identify the shipping company when I see a container on a truck and that trucks with containers were my favorite part of taking the ferry to France. When my sister and I used to play with Lego we would make them go on epic overland road trips through savage mountains, now when I'm studying law thing it's the shipping cases I find easiest to remember. Maybe it brings us closer to him. 

 It's hard to explain but despite us spending so much more time, in reality, with our mum than dad I always find it strange how much his niche lifestyle, his wanderer spirit have spread to all of us. I know all families have their own words for things, but I don't know how many others have the need for synonyms like agw (all going well, I should be in some airport or other by a certain time but this is unlikely), or have regular discussions about Heathrow terminals. I have said it before, he doesn't realize how much he's a part of us - passively, as opposed to my mum's active role as the present parent, who sat me down to do homework as best I could and taught me to thank the bus driver, and smile at him too. She did an A* job of raising a polite and decent human, but I think we can all attribute my quirks to dad. He was there even if he wasn't, like the Colorado River flowing through rock, over the years, and slowly carving out something as iconic as the Grand Canyon, just by doing what it does naturally.  

I don't really know what the message of all this text is meant to be, actually nothing grand or philosophical. Funny how someone so phlegmatic and unflappable can still be such a wanderer. He's thought it, I've thought it, we all have, maybe things would have been different if he'd been your average 9 to 5 dad... maybe they would, maybe we would. Maybe it would have crushed his spirit if he wasn't submerged in some kind of foreign element, driving a pick up over dirt roads and crossing African borders. I had sort of half written this post, mentally, sitting at his desk, drifting from cases and statutes, my fidgety hands pulled the model crane off the shelf and my thoughts wandered to the next place. The windows were open and a breeze whipped through, right to the dark ends of the room where his suit was on a hanger, and the wind ruffled it a bit. The door slammed, I jumped, from picturing him, as I always did. A formal blue shirt and a big wood desk, some indoor plants around, AC blowing in tropical sun. Calm, solid and familiar, but always someplace else. 

"Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return" Leonardo da Vinci

Happy Father's Day, dad, and thank you for everything (not least for eating my food), today and always xx

Hello again, after another looong hiatus. Hope you're all doing well and enjoying this heatwave craziness if you're in Europe. I made these muffs a while ago to send with my dad since muffins freeze well and I wanted to share them because they are just so good. They're very light and fluffy without sticking to the muffin liners (this is a triumph for me) and have such a nice vanilla tone with a little chew from the oats. The berries are sweet and chunky and really steal the show with the bright bursts of pink fruit. So good for spring and summer. You can use any berry you'd like instead of the strawberries, these are a great template to use all year.
Big shout out to all the dads, grandpas and father figures out there. I really don't think you're given credit for what you do, as compared to mothers, but I know my family wouldn't be the same without them and their calm, steady support. 
Love and muffins xx
 

Strawberry - oat muffins

Gluten free      //     makes 16-18  muffins

1 cup (100g) oat flour
1 cup (100g) rolled oats
1/2 cup (60g) brown rice flour or millet flour
1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
6 tablespoons (95ml) pure maple syrup
2 free range eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (250ml) milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
1 tablespoon lemon juice / acv     (or use 1 cup/250ml buttermilk in place of the lemon juice and milk)

2 cups-ish / 300g strawberries


Preheat the oven to 190'C, 375'F. Line (or oil) two muffin pans, for around 18 muffins.

Measure your milk of choice into a mug or measuring cup and add the lemon juice or vinegar. Set aside while you continue with the recipe, for impromptu buttermilk. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the oat flour, rolled oats, brown rice flour, salt and leavening things. 

Prep your berries - wash them and pat them gently dry. Hull the berries then cut them as you wish - larger pieces will leave jammy pockets, smaller slices will leave a little berry in each bite, so it's your call.

In another medium bowl, beat together the oil, maple, vanilla and eggs. Retrieve your faux buttermilk and add to the bowl, beat to combine. Gently stir the berries into the dry mix so they are coated in flour, then pour the wet into the dry and stir to just combine. Try not to rough the berries around toooo much. 

Fill your muffin liners about 2/3 full, with about 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) each. 
Bake for around 18-22 minutes, till a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, and the tops are golden. 

Let the muffs cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack. They will keep in airtight container for about 3 days on the counter, or will freeze and defrost really well.

 


spring recipes

another bouquet | Mango + coconut ice cream

Lots of people say that roses remind them of their mothers, and they do for me too. We used to have a few hours wait between when our flight from Heathrow arrived in Bangkok  and our connection to where we lived in Malaysia. We'd wander around the glossy airport; my mum, my sister and I, looking at all the expensive stores, trying on pointless perfumes and reading the back of books. The place we'd always visit was the natural skincare store L'Occitane for their rose hand cream. Papery skin, after a long flight, the prospect of a couple of months in dry heat, that floral scent was always like a throwback to springtime europe. We'd buy a small bottle each, and go to the foodcourt, where each stallholder was still dozy and the European backpackers slept on their gear.  Mum always ended up wearing that same black sweater to travel - our dad and us had tried dozens of times to find something similar, but always failed. Too brown, too formal, too thin, and she was happy with that same one anyway.

We had roses in our house in Belgium. That was my first time with a rosebush of my own. The garden in that house was crazy - it was divided by shrubs and hedges into small sections, each with their own character. It was sloping, everywhere, which made it hard to mow the lawn and the grass was often left long in some areas, so they looked like meadows. We all did a lot of work in that garden, my dad did the patio himself one summer, and my sister and I would rake up after he'd trimmed the hedges, and we built a little run for Prune, with chicken wire, just after we got her. My mum's place was the spot by the back door in the kitchen, on cold fall days when we'd be out tidying leaves, she'd be there, watching out of the window and waving. Too many trees, she used to say. They make the garden dark and wet, and when the leaves fall it's a mess. She joked that we should cut all the trees but leave the rosebush, where it was, frail but thorny, standing out on the patio. Standing out through summer storms, autumn winds, bitter winter frost, but unfailingly blooming bright in late spring. It reminded me of her.

On Mother's Day and for her birthdays we've always bought her flowers. Apparently my dad has always done it, since Layla and I were very young, and I remember he'd often arrive home, late evening from London with a bouquet of flowers. Just like that, a surprise. They'd grace our dining table in some mishappen vase or the other, whatever we could find. He started to travel more, the flowers appeared less, my sister and I would organise them when he asked.  Somehow Layla or I would scrounge a bouquet from somewhere - carrying the battered blooms back on buses, I'd take them to the last lesson of the day with me because they didn't fit in my locker. My friends would ask, why the flowers? I'd remind them it was Mother's Day on Sunday and they'd just give me funny looks, but I knew that the flowers would soon be in the skinny vase on the kitchen window sill. My mum likes them, any kind, she says they add something to the house. A little beauty every day, makes things brighter, or words to that effect. They enliven our kitchen for a few days and after they're gone, the sill suddenly seems very cold and empty.

Mothers are like that too. Like the bouquets of flowers we buy them. Quietly resilient, cheerfully defiant. Even with the best intentions, we put them through hell. She wants the best for us and we'll pick off the petals. None of us notice that they're wilting until the water in the vase is almost empty and we'll do everything we can to revive them - fresh water, a spot in the sunshine. They bring so much to the house, they are the very heart of it. We know the bouquets will never be enough. But we buy them, as we always have, to see her pretend that she had no idea it was Mother's Day and that we'd been arranging flowers, and she'll open yet another card and put it in the kitchen drawer, we just need to feel like we've tried. There's no real way to show our gratitude. But there's something nice about watching her standing by the window sill on which the vase sits, cradling her mug of coffee in her hands, looking out at the first few buds on the cherry tree. 

To you, Mum. Happy Mother's Day, from all of us xx 

So I'm back, with more frozen/creamy goodness in time for Mother's Day (Sunday in the UK). I know I made something similar recently but  you may now be aware of the fact that my mum shares my passion for coconut? Mango is her other favourite fruit... and mango and coconut are so great together, as you probably know from some tacky beach resort somewhere. Also my mum has been on this health kick thing recently (she's taken up running!!! I am quite proud) and I didn't want to sabotage that by bringing out some cake, did I? dessert ain't no fun if mum can't have none.  Anyway, for Morher's Day, I present you the easiest recipe on this site, with the smallest ingredient list,  ironic considering all I just said about mothers but hey sometimes the simplest things are best, and I'm sure they'll agree. Mine would 100% stand by that.

To all the mothers, aunts, grandmas, sisters, you're loved more than you'd ever know. And we express that through flowers and ice cream. Happy weekend to you all xx


Mango and coconut ice cream

Makes arouuund 1.25L / 5 cups-ish   // Gluten + dairy free

2 small, ripe mangoes (or one super big)

2 cans (800ml) (2 2/3 cup) full fat coconut milk
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on how ripe your mangoes are (the mangoes in Europe are never ripe enough tbh but taste as you go) 
1 vanilla bean
teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1 beach umbrella (jk) 


Prepare your mangoes - peel the skin and remove the flesh from the stone. You probably know how to do it better than I do. Chop the flesh into chunks and set aside.

Pour the coconut milk from the can into the jug of a blender. Split and scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean, add the ginger if you wish, and the maple syrup, then the mango chunks.

Blend on high till smooth and sunshine yellow. I have a crazy strong blender so this took all of 5 seconds, but if yours is less so, just keep blending till there are no more chunks of mango. Taste and check sweetness - it dulls once frozen, so keep it sweeter than you'd like.

Allow the whole jug to chill in the fridge for around 3 hours (thug life, chilling in the fridge)

Once totally cool (totally cool) , pour the liquid into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a freezer proof container and freeze till firm if you'd like, otherwise you can serve the ice cream straight away. 

You may need to let it sit out for 10 minutes before scooping if it's been in the freezer. 

Notes

If you don't have an ice cream maker, feel free to make popsicles. Or a slushie-shake type thing. 


more frozen