Monthly Archives: September 2012

Favourite posts this week

Jardin aux Plantes parfumées, Limoux

:: The only way to respond to life – indeed.

:: Time to celebrate Autumn – love these traditions, especially the meal they share together. Speaking of meals, here are some delicious looking Autumn soups.

:: I like the sound of de-growth, what do you think?

:: Caramel Apple Pie – yes please!

:: Happy 3 years! Gorgeous cake to celebrate with.

:: Just love her work, the book will be amazing no doubt. Can’t wait to see it.

:: Do you know about the dried pulse conspiracy? The soaking rule gets us almost every time.

:: Happy birthday Sarah B. I have made a chocolate banana cake too today, but yours looks extra special and birthday appropriate!

Wishing you all a happy weekend



Bean Chilli with Chocolate and Walnuts

Last week I mentioned to you that I wanted to make this chilli, but to my surprise (and delight!) Shake made it for us a couple of days ago.

It was honestly delicious and I look forward to making it myself another time.

We left out the coffee, as September is water only for us (counting down the days to October, oh dear), but next time we will probably add it.

Thanks GKS for the recipe – think it will be a favourite of ours for Autumn/Winter.

Now my dears, go make this and snuggle up with the one you love.



p.s. We have added a page to share with you the blogs we love. If there are any you like that we don’t know about, do let us know! xoxo

Preparing for the house of tomorrow

I’ve been thinking about technology of late and the world our boy will grow up in. Many of the things we can barely imagine already exist as working prototypes today. I’ve felt myself dismiss new technologies like Google Project Glass as quirky and unnecessary and wondering why people need anything other than a good old fashioned keyboard and I have to kick myself out of this aging process.

In 15 years time, things like those glasses won’t just have passed the prototype-early-adopters phase, they’ll be old news. They’ll look about as modern and exciting as a Nintendo 64 does today.

He will never know what it’s like to get a computer for the first time, or the Internet for the first time, and the one thing I can’t get out of my head is that he may never get to (or need to) drive a car.

Think about cars. Either resource scarcity and compounded global economic crises render cars un-affordable, or the human race manages to solve some of its current problems and another 17 years of technological development make self driving cars the norm. I doubt you’ll need to own a self driving car. Just imagine how cheap it will be to run an electric powered taxi service when you don’t have to pay a driver’s salary. It’s not the world as we know it, and it’s not a world in which anyone will be able to offer advice about living well. He will grow up among pioneers.

We can only do our best to prepare him for a world we will never fully understand.

I come back to this verse often in my day:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

- The Prophet on Children

“For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams”

In our quest to live a simple live, we must not fail in preparing our son to live in a complex world. We must provide him with opportunity. He will choose the level of simplicity he wants for himself.

We can’t possibly hope to educate him in a system we won’t ever fully understand, but then my parents didn’t educate me in the Internet. They gave me the opportunity to work it out for myself. With plenty of worry and a reassuring amount of trust. They didn’t know I’d miss whole nights of sleep trying to get websites to render properly in Netscape Navigator then go to school and piss about in IT lessons that I thought were a waste of time. The education system wasn’t ready for a world with the Internet. And only the time I spent breaking the rules helped me to prepare for the world I live in.

While I can show him the value of carving a spoon with a knife and his own hands, I must also show him the value of printing your own spoon with a model you’ve made on a computer.

If someone had put it on YouTube I’d be linking to a song right now. But you’ll have to settle for the lyrics instead.

I can see we’re really close to something
It’s a feeling so near
But I got no time for the Luddites
Always lookin’ back down the track
Saying, “Can you spot one more detail, Jack.”

You gotta live in this world, go diggin’ the new
Live in this world – boy, tran or girl
Live in this world, oh, get diggin’ the new

Crashing head-on into the future
It won’t even leave a dent
Just walk in like you own it
Remember, it ain’t set in cement

- Track 7 here

It ain’t set in cement.

Favourite posts this week

:: It’s starting to grow a little cooler these days, so this looks perfect for cosy evenings.

:: As you can see, it’s been a week of fig picking! This raw fig and raspberry pie looks amazing. So does this cake!

:: Trouble sleeping? Here’s some helpful advice. I really recommend taking the TV out of the bedroom!

:: Boobs are indeed brilliant. What an awesome lady.

:: We are trying hard to enjoy everything we eat. Cauliflower is usually where we struggle. Hoping that recipe will help us!

:: Click and drag. Do it! (You may need a spare 30 minutes)

:: Yummy cookies with saffron.

:: Luscious deserts with vegetables? Thanks Chucky :)

:: I love Nigel

Have a wonderful weekend



Chocolate Guinness cake

In a little under a month we will celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone, but then again it has been a busy one (wedding, baby, moving house, moving country!).

You may or may not be surprised to hear that I baked our wedding cake. I’m sure I’ll tell you about it another time, but since then this chocolate Guinness cake has been our go-to cake of choice.

Cat approved ! I promise she didn’t lick it…

Last weekend we went to a birthday party and took this cake with us. Not necessarily the most appropriate cake for a one year old girl, but it was certainly enjoyed by the adults.

There is a crazy (to me) amount of sugar in this cake, but it’s probably necessary to balance out the bitter Guinness, so I haven’t played around with the proportion of sugar from original recipe.

You should find this to be an extremely moist cake, in a good way, with a deep chocolate flavour. As cream cheese isn’t as readily available here as in the UK, I tend to leave it plain or simply add an icing sugar glaze. I’m sure the cream cheese frosting would make it feel even more decadent.


Chocolate Guinness cake
- serves 6-8 people
adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days (their recipe makes a far larger cake)


125ml Guinness (1/2 a bottle. Drink the rest whilst you make the cake ;))
125g unsalter butter
40g cocoa powder
200g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
70ml crème fraîche (or sour cream, or buttermilk)
140g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

Frosting (optional)
25g unsalted butter
150g icing sugar
60g cream cheese

I have used both a square brownie tin and a 20cm spring-form cake tin.
It was difficult to take the cake out of the brownie tin…


Preheat oven to 175degC

Pour Guinness into saucepan and add the butter. Melt over a moderate heat, but don’t bring to the boil.

Once melted, remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder and the sugar. Stir until smooth.

Beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and crème fraîche in a separate bowl/jug. Add to the chocolatey saucepan.

Sift the flour, bicarb and baking podwer into a large bowl.

Whisk (or stir) the liquid ingredients into the flour bowl. Try to remove lumps!


Once combined, pour into your greased/lined baking tin.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes – you don’t want to overcook it or it will be very crumbly.

If you are making the icing, combine the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until light and fluffy.

Ice the cake once it has cooled completely.



A month of only water

Water dropsThis challenge to drink only water for a whole month is proving to be really, really hard. So this quote found on Explore is a welcome motivator…

[T]he real value of a real education [has] almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.’

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.

Baby led weaning

Mr Messy

This week baby turned 6 months old!

As he meets the criteria for weaning, we have started to offer him food with us at lunchtime.

It has been emotional (our baby is growing up!), frightening (the gagging!), messy (oh the mess!) and fascinating (amazing what he can pick up with those chubby little fingers).

What we love about this method of weaning, compared with purees, jars etc, is that it really is SIMPLE. We serve him the fruit and vegetables we are eating, cut to a baby friendly shape, and watch him go!

So far he has “enjoyed” cucumber, carrots, courgette, apple, broccoli, nectarines (a favourite! very glad I froze slices before the season has completely finished), this(!) and even Shake’s own rye bread with butter!

There is so much information online about weaning that it was a little overwhelming to begin with. What we have realised so far is that the human body is an amazing thing. We just need to trust our little man and be there to support him when he needs us.

So far, so good. Can’t wait to see his tastes develop :)



Favourite posts this week

Storms brewing…

:: A couple of books that I would love, but I don’t really need…

:: Will bear this in mind (I hope) when we have a toddler

:: Planning a trip to Paris just to go here. Maybe here too :)

:: Ooh mushrooms, I have missed you.

:: This really made me laugh – maybe I’ll try it one day.

:: Curious about this.

:: Just stunning.

:: Everything is Incredible.

Have yourselves a very lovely weekend.

We are going to a 1st birthday party by the river and preparing for a film crew (with french moviestars?!) staying in the village! :)



On owning and being owned

We spent most of Sunday sorting out boxes of stuff and getting rid of lots of things.

It reminded me that you cannot own anything without also being owned by the very same thing. Everything is an obligation, a weight and a responsibility; even if it has sentimental value.

We also had a call for some last minute emergency travel in recent weeks, and it was great to be able to pack a rucksack each and jump on a plane with the boy in his carrier. With a laptop and an iPad we can work from pretty much anywhere, and we’re happy to live with very little.

So, while I’m not the first person to say this. I’ll repeat it for my own sake:

The less you own, the more you are free.

Shake out.

Lucid Granola

“The best granola ever”

When we flew back from the UK recently we were in need of a very early breakfast. I love Pret and was really happy to see one at the airport. As it was so early, I didn’t fancy anything too substantial to eat, therefore went for the Five Berry Bowl.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make some granola when we were back home.

Digging through my excessive pile of cook books, I liked the sound of “The Best Granola Ever” in Louise Shafia’s Lucid Food (such a pretty book, btw).

I adapted the recipe slightly and we both agree that this really is the best granola ever! Although I’m tempted to try this one too. Or this one.

The Best Granola Ever
- we made double the recipe and this lasts us at least 2 weeks if we eat it every day for breakfast.

2 cups nuts (we use hazlenuts and walnuts) coarsely chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon four spice
6 tablespoons maple syrup (or agave, or honey)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon (homemade) vanilla extract (mine still tastes like rum…)
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped (we have also tried 1/3 sultanas, yummy too)
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3 tablespoons cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 170deg

Combine all ingredients up to and including vanilla in a large bowl, reserving one tablespoon olive oil. Stir so that everything is nicely coated.

Spread mixture on a baking tray and place in oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. By this point the granola should feel almost dry.

Add the apricots and remaining olive oil, stir and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Add the coconut flakes, stir and return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir through the cacao nibs.

Cool before serving. Best enjoyed with yoghurt and fruit in the morning :)

Would make a pretty gift for someone too…

Breakfast granola