recipes

Comfort food

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When I was in my early 20s, my then-boyfriend and I used to go and stay with his grandparents, in their little blue weatherboard cottage in the country, beside a lake. I remember waking early in the morning and going for long walks on the sand, watching dolphin families fish for breakfast. Morning tea with his grandma, served precisely at 10am every day, was always tea in a big pot, and Iced Vo-Vo biscuits.

One year, a few days after Christmas, we were less than an hour into our journey back home to Sydney when we received a sad phone-call: my boyfriend’s grandfather had had a heart attack, and died. We immediately turned around and hurried back to the weatherboard house, which by the time we arrived was already overflowing with family-members: parents, sisters, uncles and aunties, all with their jobs to do, somewhere on the spectrum from grief-counselling to hearse-ordering, depending on their skill-set.

All except me. As the little-known girlfriend of one of the grandsons, I felt acutely in the way. Awkward, a noisy presence (although I rarely spoke) during a time when the family needed to close in, bunker down, and support one another.

Often, food is how we show someone we love them, when they are going through a difficult time. Something hearty and lovingly baked, and left at the doorstep to be consumed when there’s no time or energy left for cooking, or frozen for a later day.

But as a superfluous guest in the bereaved person’s house, I couldn’t do that, so I made the next best thing: tea. Pots and pots of tea. I made so much tea, in fact, that everyone got sick of it. I distinctly remember walking into the kitchen where my boyfriend’s mother and grandmother sat together over the table by the window, and offering to put on the kettle. “I think we’ve all had enough cups of tea for today, thank you Naomi,” they said.

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We had a bereavement in our family this week and, once gain, my mind turned to food.

I can’t erase the pain of those who are most affected, but I can sit in the stillness with them. (I have learned, since my 20s, that sometimes it is OK to be still with someone. We don’t always have to be doing, doing, doing). And the other thing I can do, this time, is make food. Nutritious food because grief can take a toll on the body. Hearty meals because they feel like edible hugs. Handy dishes that only need to be heated up to feed a whole family. And sweet treats, for emotional self-care and to have something easy to offer the inevitable well-meaning guests who drop around.

It was serendipitous, also, that the day after we lost our loved-one, I received a gift in the mail from Sophie Hansen (of Local is Lovely): her latest cookbook, A Basket by the Door. Actually, I received two copies of this book on the one day, one that I had pre-ordered, and another as a personal gift from Sophie.

Sophie’s book is all about food that is made to be given away. The edible care packages through which we share love during the large and small milestones of life: the loss of a loved one, a new baby, a school picnic, pre-exam jitters, a graduation, welcoming a new neighbour… and the list goes on.

This is such a heartwarming concept for a book, don’t you think? There is nothing fancy or flashy in here, and most of the recipes are relatively easy to make. The goal is to share love, not show off. Delicious, tasty, wholesome food that is intended to be given away (although Sophie does make the clever suggestion that we double some of the recipes, to keep some for ourselves as well!), alongside practical tips on how to ensure it travels well.

Country hospitality.

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(I realise at this point that this is starting to sound like a sponsored post: I assure you it’s not. I bought my own copy of this lovely book, and nobody asked me to write about it. I just really, really adore the concept of edible care packages, and even I can cook these recipes!)

For my grieving family, from A Basket by the Door, I have already made a rich and hearty lasagne, half to eat now and half to freeze for another day when cooking feels like too much. I’ve prepared a simple and delicious filling for chicken sandwiches so we can stuff it into crusty bread rolls and take it to the park to recharge in nature. I plan to make and freeze some bliss balls during the school holidays for the kids to take in their lunch boxes when term starts, and there’s a coconut and lemongrass broth that has caught my eye for dinner some night soon.

I baked the blueberry, lemon and rosemary cake you see in the photograph above this afternoon, as a treat for the children when they came home from school, tired, grubby and low on reserves. (It freezes well so there’s a lot of future after-school treats in that tin!)

Sophie made all the food for this book, and photographed it, herself, over two years. Doing it this way - slowly, thoughtfully - meant the food she made was shared in the way it was intended, with family and friends, each dish an individual act of abundance and love.

In this spirit, I was thinking I’d like to send you a care package, too, to say thank you for being my community.

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This blog is my happy place. I called it “Naomi Loves” many years ago, because I wanted it to be a celebration of the things, places and people I love, and that has never changed. In fact, of late I have really fallen back in love with this form of storytelling, and it gives me great joy to write a blog post each week.

But what really makes me swoon about this blog is you. In 2019, when so many people are saying blogging is dead and the only real community is on social media, you are here. You read, you leave your comments, you send me emails, and I cannot tell you how wonderful I feel to know that we are sharing this little time together, and that you allow me into your world in this small way.

Those of us here on this blog are a much smaller community than on my Instagram or my newsletter, but that makes it feel all-the-more intimate when I am writing to you, and I feel I can be more vulnerable here than anywhere else in public. It’s almost as though we’re family.

And so, I want to thank you. I’d like to give you my second copy of A Basket by the Door (the one I paid for, because the one Sophie gave me has a little note in it that makes it extra special to me). I won’t post this opportunity anywhere else online, I’m keeping it only for this little blog community, because I appreciate you so much.

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If you think you’d like A Basket by the Door, either for you or a friend, simply leave me a comment in this post below (if you’re reading this via email you just need to click on the title of this blog post to see it in your browser, and then you’ll see the comment box), letting me know what your favourite ‘edible care package’ is (either to give or to receive), and what makes it special. (Mine is chicken pie, but the why of that is another story for another day).

I know some of you have missed out on past opportunities on this blog because of time zones, so this time we can take it slow. I’ll choose a winner a week from today, on Friday evening, Australian Eastern Standard Time, and email that person. The opportunity is open to you anywhere in the world and, depending on the laws in your country, I might bake you a batch of my mother’s Anzac biscuits (they travel well) to go with the book.

Big hugs,
Naomi xo

UPDATE 15/04/19: This competition is now closed, and the winner has been notified. But if you’re in the mood for some inspiration, have a browse through all the kitchen-generosity in the comments below. It’s utterly heartwarming! And do still feel free to share your thoughts on this. The community on this blog genuinely makes it my happy place.

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Why we all love brownies

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What is your go-to comfort food recipe? That one thing you can bake, stir, chop or pick that cheers you when you're down, makes any celebration sweeter, or reminds you of someone - or somewhere - that holds a special place in your heart.

Turns out that for many people all over the world, it's brownies. Rich, sweet, gooey, chewy (and easily made gluten-free) chocolate brownies. 

When I launched the "meals in the mail" project a few months back, I asked people to do two simple things:

1. Send me their favourite recipe in the mail, and
2. Tell me what makes it special to them

Now as I sort through all the heartfelt letters, delicious recipes and creative mail that came my way, themes are starting to emerge. And one of those themes is this: everyone loves brownies. 

I tender in evidence, these seven recipes. 

Sonya in Australia, for example, shared her recipe for dark chocolate brownies with salted caramel (below). She said: 

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"Home-made brownies can say a lot of things - I'm sorry you lost your job, let's celebrate the winter solstice - and this recipe has even survived a trip in the post. When my friend Jemma's second baby arrived, I baked these brownies, sandwiched them between two thick slabs of cardboard, and dropped them in a post box. They survived the journey from Canberra to Sydney in one piece."

Then Nanette in The Netherlands shared her recipe: 

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"I got this recipe from an English girlfriend when I was 25. Even 30 years later and some little changes, it is our favourite family brownie recipe. The whole family makes these brownies for birthdays, or just when someone is in need of chocolate or comfort food." 

From Canada, Sherry shared buttermilk brownies and a tribute to her mother Elaine: 

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"This is my mom's brownie recipe and I can't even begin to tell you how many of these I have enjoyed over the years. My mom is an amazing woman... in addition to raising three kids with a husband who was away much of the time, she worked full time and still managed to be there for all of our girl guide meetings and art shows. The brownies were and are still a go-to recipe that even the pickiest eaters enjoy." 

Jessica in Australia shared the recipe for Caramello brownies that won her boyfriend's heart: 

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"I first made these to impress my boyfriend and it must have worked because we're still together seven years later! They're always a crowd-pleaser and make your house smell great when they're baking." 

And then from Denmark, Linea shared her hygge-inducing Lazy Brownie recipe: 

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"This cake tastes like a little piece of chocolate heaven if you use good ingredients and a tiny bit of love! I love that moment of silence when everyone takes a bite and just enjoys the chocolaty-ness! My favourite thing to bake in winter-time and eat with a cup of tea." 

Laura in New Zealand shared the brownie recipe that helped her make it through some tough times: 

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"This recipe belongs to Kate, my boss at the New Brighton Library in Christchurch. Even though both of us no longer work in that library, her brownies helped the team get through some rough patches. They never let me down." 

And in Austria, Miya shared a recipe for olive-oil and sea-salt brownies that came to her via a friend in America, who adapted it from a recipe in the NY Times: 

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"I love this recipe for several reasons. Firstly, it's genuinely easy but decadent and delicious! Secondly, my husband produces olive oil in Greece so it's one of my favourite things to make for him if he needs something to showcase his products - an act of love, if you like. Last but not least, it was given to me by my hot-mess New Yorker friend Meaghan. We met in our first week of moving to Vienna 10 years ago, and have lived in and out of each other's homes ever since, sharing a love of music, baking and the charming contradictions that make Vienna what it is. So I'm passing this recipe on to you and your community in the spirit of our friendship and the city it was born in. Wholesome yet a little decadent, simple yet a little extravagant, familiar and cosy but also a bit of a hot mess. And if you ever come to Vienna, you're invited to coffee and cake!"  

So if you're wondering which of these seven recipes for brownies I'll share in the finished book, the answer is...

All of them. Naturally! Firstly, because this cook-book is not only about the recipes, it's also about the stories, the memories, the connections, and of course the mail. And secondly, because maybe you might want to try a little experiment when you read the book: a brownie bake-off for you and your friends, shall we say? I wonder what your favourite secret ingredient will be. Sea-salt? Caramellos? Buttermilk? Olive oil? A mother's love? 

Meals in the Mail is a cook-book project celebrating meaningful, nostalgic and comforting recipes from close to 250 people from all over the word, written by hand, and sent by post (often with stunning illustrations on the recipes, or the envelopes, or both). 

People who sent in recipes for meals in the mail will all receive a copy of the e-book for free, and get first dibs at buying the physical cook-book, which will be on a limited print-run.

If you'd like to be among the first to hear when both versions of the cook-book are available for sale, and to get updates on the projects and sneak peeks at the recipes, the best way is to sign up to my newsletter (right now I'm also giving away a copy of my mini e-book "Making Mail: 10 steps to writing letters that become keepsakes," to all subscribers). 

And now, back to the question I asked at the start of this blog post. I'm dying to know: what's your go-to comfort food recipe? (Is it brownies??) 

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Meals in the Mail - an update

* UPDATE 16 JULY 2017: please note that the official date to send recipes for this project has ended. However, you are still welcome to take part. There are no guarantees that your recipe will make it into the book but the sooner you send it, the more likely it will happen. I will be too busy delivering my Your Beautiful Letter course to start the book at least until the end of August, so any letters that arrive before then will still be part of the project. * 


One month ago, I came up with a little idea to collect some recipes via the mail, and make them into a zine or mini-book. I thought maybe I'd get 10 or 20 recipes, and it would be something cute to post as gifts in future letters I'd send. 

What I received was so much more. So far, the stacks of mail you see in these pictures contain 50 recipes, and more arrive every day. Many of them are illustrated recipes, or lovingly decorated in some way, and most of the envelopes likewise have been beautifully and carefully made. There are recipes from all over the world: some new, some traditional, but all of them are connected to stories. Stories of new love, family celebrations, cooking lessons, and adventures in travel. 

I've decided that these recipes deserve so much more than simply to be photocopied and stapled together. I want to showcase the creativity and vibrant beauty of the mail, the recipes, and the stories that go with them. So I will turn them into a 'real' book, in colour, that will celebrate not only the food, but the letters as well. 

I'm sticking to the original plan of sending the book to everyone who participates, so I thought I'd let you know there's still time to join in if you want to be part of this lovely project. The original date to have your mail postmarked was 1 July, but I've decided to extend it for another two weeks, until 15 July, to see if we can collect a few more recipes in the mail. Imagine what a wonderful book it would be if we could get up to 100 recipes and letters!

If you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy this project, please feel free to invite them to take part. The more recipes and letters from as many corners of the world that we receive will help to make it such a beautiful legacy of food, friendship and tradition, don't you think? 

To join in, simply send a favourite recipe of yours to me in the mail, as well as a few lines about what makes it special to you, at: 

Naomi Bulger
"Meals in the Mail"
PO Box 469
Carlton North
Vic 3054
Australia

Don't forget to include your return address so I can send you a copy of the book! 

Yours sincerely, 
Naomi x

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Meals in the Mail (a new idea)

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* UPDATE 16 JULY 2017: please note that the official date to send recipes for this project has ended. However, you are still welcome to take part. There are no guarantees that your recipe will make it into the book but the sooner you send it, the more likely it will happen. I will be too busy delivering my Your Beautiful Letter course to start the book at least until the end of August, so any letters that arrive before then will still be part of the project. * 


I've had an idea. Shall we write a book together? A recipe book? 

Often I tell people that one of the nicest, easiest (and completely free-of-charge) gifts to enclose with a letter is a recipe. All you need to do is write or type it out neatly, fold it up, and there is something personal, thoughtful, and useful for your pen-friend.

Over the years, I have received some wonderful recipes in the mail, from family, friends, and strangers alike. First, I was thinking I might like to turn them all into a little "meals by mail" recipe book to share with you. But then I had a better idea: what if we were to share all of our recipes with each other? 

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So here is what I propose: 

1. If you want to take part, simply send me a letter. You need to send it by post, not email or in the comments. My address is: 

Naomi Bulger  "Meals in the Mail"  PO Box 469  Carlton North Vic 3054 Australia

So that this project doesn't drag on forever, let's say your letter needs to be postmarked by 1 July, 2017, to be included. 

2. In the letter, you will need to enclose two things: a) a recipe that you love (write it, type it, illustrate it if you like! anything as long as you like the recipe and it's legible); and b) some words telling me what makes your recipe special. They could be a sentence or an essay, or anything in between. Maybe the recipe was given to you by someone you love, maybe it is part of a family tradition, maybe you cooked it for a memorable occasion, maybe it's simply something that is always popular with your friends or family... just share with us the special meaning behind the recipe. 

3. It's not at all required that you decorate your envelope or include anything else, but of course you are welcome to do so and, if appropriate, I'll try and feature some of the more decorative envelopes etc in the book for inspiration. 

4. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this is a good idea (Oh! Lonely me!) BUT if I receive enough recipes, I promise to turn them into a recipe-book or zine (how many recipes do you think I'll need for a book? 20? 30? More?), celebrating the recipes, the letters, and the wonderful way that food links us to people we love and memories we treasure.

Plus, I promise to send a free copy of the book or zine to every contributor. 

Are you in? Let's do this, to celebrate food, nostalgia, hand-written communications and community all in one go. Then we can stir, sizzle, mix and bake each other's recipes, and weave them into our own stories. And I would really appreciate it if you could tell your friends, because maybe they want to share their recipes, too! 

ps. These recipes, from top, are from my great-grandmother (via my mother), Ashwatta (via Ashwatta's Art on Etsy), and Meaghan (via @polaroids_and_snailmail). 

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Help! I need your slow-cooker recipes!

sylwia-bartyzel-87907 Every year, as the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, I promise myself that this is the year I will learn how to properly use my slow-cooker. I'll prepare everything after breakfast, I tell myself, and the house will smell good all day. By dinner-time, delicious food will be waiting for us all with NO EXTRA EFFORT from me. It's like the promise of paradise! 

But instead, on the days that I do pull out the trusty old crock pot, all that waiting and sniffing and anticipation ends in really tasteless, insipid mush. All the good flavours seem to stay in the juice, and none of them seep into the vegetables or meat. What am I doing wrong?

Admittedly, my crock pot recipes were probably written in the 1970s (brown! so much brown!), but I've not had much better luck with random Internet searches either. There's just so much out there that promises plenty and delivers so, so little. 

So, can you help me? What are your best slow-cooker recipes? Hit me with them my friends! 

Photograph is by Sylvia Bartyzel, licensed for unlimited use via Unsplash. I really want that mug!

 

ps. Just a quick reminder that the next issue of my print-and-paint snail-mail newsletter goes out TOMORROW. Subscribe here if you want to get your mitts on some free mail-art templates

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A touch of green. Some inspiration for you

flower “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in - what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

* I'm not ordinarily a fan of embroidery as art on the walls, but I'd make an exception for these little vegetable bouquets

* What a lovely alternative to flowers in vases

* This spring salad looks beautiful and sounds delicious

* I've never seen an office organiser like this. So pretty!

* Such a pretty expanding origami pot for plants

* Always walk on the grass

* I would like to live here, please

* Really love these lazy season pots

* Sweet little mini vertical garden made from vintage jars and bottles

* Where to find free botanical artwork

* Potted plants in Taipei

* Wouldn't these edible terrariums be wonderful for a garden party!

So much inspiration for your indoor plants

Nature bingo looks like fun!

* Gorgeous waterfall of leaves

* Perfect for summer nights: caramelised pear salad with goats cheese toast

* The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make

* How to make natural dyes from plants and flowers in your garden

 

Image credit: photo by Jaime Spaniol, licensed for unlimited use under Creative Commons

 

 

 

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Pistachios and eggs

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Recently I purchased a time machine. It was humble to look at: a recipe book, printed in 1893, called Cakes and Confections à la mode by Mrs de Salis.

You know how scent and taste can transport you to a moment in your past? Take you right back to that first bite, and to everything that happened around it? This book represented someone else's food memories (Mrs de Salis' food memories), and I knew that her words on the page, if I followed them, had the power to carry me backwards 123 years in time.

Mrs de Salis was a famous home-cook, the Nigella Lawson of her time, with a best-selling range of "à la mode" titles covering everything from "Dressed Game and Poultry à la mode" to "National viands à la mode" and even "Floral decorations à la mode," among many more.

But that was a long time ago, and her techniques are foreign to me, and some of her ingredients even more-so (angelica? alum? greengage? ammonia!? pyrogallic acid!?). How were these cakes supposed to taste? I have no idea. What did they look like? Again, no idea. Mrs de Salis leaves no hints, assuming that her readers are already familiar with these types of dishes.

But if I attempt these recipes, and follow them faithfully, I will be stepping into a late-Victorian kitchen. Cooking by the light of the window, squinting over the words on the page as the afternoon shadows gather, by candle-light or maybe, if I am lucky, gaslight. The fire burning in the cast-iron AGA stove keeps me warm. There must be hens in my yard because many of these recipes call for copious numbers of eggs. For the same reason, I imagine I will be serving up smaller slices to my family than my 21st-century counterpart might do; these recipes read heavy! Victorian-era Naomi will have wonderful muscles in her arms, patiently grinding almonds or pistachios into meal to be used in place of flour.

In the process, lost flavours are rediscovered, forgotten meal-times reignited. This is time travel.

 

Pistachio Cake (Mrs de Salis, 1893)

Blanche a pound of pistachio nuts and pound them in a mortar with a little orange-flower water. Then add the beaten white of an egg and a little grated lemon-peel, six ounces of castor sugar, the yolks of ten eggs beaten lightly, and the whites of eight beaten to snow. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly, have ready a buttered mould, and bake for an hour in a moderate oven. When cold, ice it with pistachio-nut icing. 

Ten eggs, my friends! Yeesh! Also, as far as I can see in my book, Mrs de Salis doesn't actually supply a recipe for pistachio-nut icing. She does however provide a general icing recipe, which I have copied out for you here:

Icing for Cakes (Mrs de Salis, 1893)

Take some icing sugar, mix twelve ounces of it, and mix it in gradually to the whites of four eggs whisked to a stiff froth, beating it well to make it smooth; mix in the strained juice of a lemon and two drops of pyrogallic acid*, and lay the preparation on the cake with a very broad knife. Put it in a cool oven to harden, but be careful it is not hot enough to discolour it.

Let me know if you bake this. I'd love to know how you go.

* NOTE: Please skip the pyrogallic acid if you try this recipe, as it is apparently poisonous!

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Weekend links

cacti Hello! Happy Friday! Is it just me or is this weekend taking a re--a--lly long time to roll around? We are off to the Frankie Garage Sale tomorrow, assuming I succeed in getting the kids out of the house before it finishes. Other than that, I have a big pile of Halloween craft to complete, in order to get it into the post to HOPEFULLY  make it to its destination before the 31st. What are your plans for the weekend? Here are some links for your viewing and reading pleasure.

* What a delicious twist on the old-fashioned toffee-apples: bacon caramel apples

* On my to-get and to-read list: 1. Indoor Green: Living With Plants, 2. The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your Genius

A blind date with a book

* Really beautiful wedding suit idea

* Magical Christmas markets in Europe. Oh, to dream...

* Nature + cut-out shapes. I'm not doing this art project justice. Just look at the link!

* Apple butter sounds pretty delicious but I like this post best because of the list of "Things That Sound Like Fun with Kids, But Are Actually Not at All." I can COMPLETELY relate

* Desperate to try bonfire eggs!

* The vulnerability hangover. Sound familiar? (Me too)

* A reader Anke sent me this link when I announced my decision to quit Facebook. It's a pretty great read

* Halloween candy bark looks easy to make and wickedly delicious

And now, to see you into the weekend, I present Scout, lost in the groove. Man I love this kid!

A video posted by Naomi Bulger (@naomibulger) on

Image credit: photograph by Miguel Gomez, licensed for unrestricted use under Creative Commons

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Guacamole season (and also a recipe)

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I have been trying to teach the children about seasons for fruit and vegetables. Late in autumn we had a "goodbye green grapes" party to enjoy the final bunch of the season, which was harder to explain than you might expect due to the plethora of gigantic, California-grown green-grapes that started appearing on grocery-store shelves soon thereafter. We made good use of mandarin season but recently had to say goodbye to them, too, and now we are all eagerly anticipating the arrival of stone-fruit season.

You get my drift.

And then last weekend (or thereabouts), guacamole season started. Big excitement!

Guacamole season goes hand-in-hand with daylight saving and Caprese-salad season and dry-white-wine season and also friends-over-at-dusk season. So even though I'm not famous for loving the warmer weather, I am nevertheless quite the fan of guacamole season.

Guacamole season starts with longer days and bare feet. Soggy bathers, sand inside the house, tasting sunscreen after kissing sweaty lips. Cicadas after dark, mosquitos too, and the hum of the fan in the bedroom. Guacamole is made to share and taste and leave and come back to, and then come back to again. Double-dipping is ok because we are all friends here, family probably or practically, and somehow the guacamole bowl is always empty before the corn chips run out. Some people pair guacamole season with margaritas in glasses with the rims crusted with sugar-salt and I totally get that, but I am too lazy to mix even the simplest of cocktails. White wine or prosecco, straight from the 'fridge and therefore too cold for the purists, suits me. Maybe some homemade lemonade, too.

Would you like to know my guacamole recipe?

A few words before you try this. I have been hunting for the perfect guacamole recipe for a long, long time, and this is the closest I've found to it. Each time I make it it is different, sometimes better than others. But in case you try it and then yell "Naomi, what?!?," here are some things that I look for in what I happen to think makes a good guacamole, and maybe you will agree or maybe you won't.

  1. It has to be smooth. None of this lumpy, chunky stuff
  2. I'm a bit of a guacamole-purist so this recipe is very simple. No onion or tomato or cheese for me. This ain't a meal, folks, it's a tasty snack
  3. No Doritos or other cheesy, processed corn-chips are permitted within a 100 metre radius of guacamole at my house. Get yoself some stock-standard "proper" corn-chips, cheese-free

Naomi's guacamole recipe

Treat this recipe with a fair bit of flexibility. For example I like a decent kick to my guac so I'm generous (ish) with the cayenne pepper and chilli flakes. I also like a lot of lime zing to my guacamole, so I add a lot more lime than others tend to do. Add the lime-juice one lime at a time, to get the taste you like. If like me you love a lot 'o lime, but you find the guac is getting too sloppy, start adding zest instead.

Ok let's go...

Ingredients 4 avocados 2 cloves garlic, minced juice of 1 - 4 limes, to taste 1/2 teaspoon sea-salt 1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro for my American friends)

Method Scoop all the avocado into a blender, add in the minced garlic, and mix until it's nice and smooth with no big lumps. Now add the juice of one lime, and about half the amounts of the dried spices and fresh coriander, blend to mix them, then taste. Start adding bits and pieces of the rest, plus more lime juice, until you're happy with the flavour.

Serve it with corn chips (the real deal, nothing cheesy), and enjoy!

ps. If you're feeding other people, make the guacamole just before they arrive as the avocado will start to oxidise and turn brown after a little while and you want it to look good as well as taste good!

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Sugar free?

pie I have been trying to give my body a break from sugar. I like sugar a lot more than is strictly good for me, and also, it’s pretty hard to insist that my children have a healthy diet if I don’t model said diet myself.

On Friday I made this sugar-free take on lemon meringue pie from the I Quite Sugar for Life cookbook. It was surprisingly tasty, and I impressed myself with how good (I thought) it looked. Emboldened, I also made a peppermint slice from the same cookbook. It was awful.

Do you have any tips? What are your favourite sugar-free recipes for sweet-toothed folks?

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