Oh Honey, honey…..its mead time!


Exquisite raw local honey


So its been a while since I’ve written on here, and I’m aware that a lot of the time its simple procrastination that keeps me from writing.  Recently I went back to New Zealand for a trip and it was while I  was away, that I realised how important it is for me to share the many things that are constantly fermenting in my head.

So while I was away on this trip, I started various cultures, as I do, and led a fermentation evening. It was there that I realised that the ferment people usually like best, is mead.  Yes you heard right, mead!  Honey wine, our most ancient fermented treasure.   

Mead is really nothing more than water and honey left to do its thing.  Very little hands on time and plenty of waiting time.  Mead is a perfect ferment to start your fermenting journey with. Reject the cult of expertise and start experimenting, remembering that only two generations ago everybody knew how to do this stuff! Get all your senses involved, and start collecting a memory bank of skills to pass on to your kids.  It’s also a great idea to do seasonal foraging for the herbs and fruit you’re wanting to add. Elderflower, rose, dandelion and nettle are seasonal just now, if you live in the northern hemisphere, that is!

There are many variations of this ferment and traditionally it was used as a medicinal carrier of herbs.  In fact mead was our only source of alcohol for a very long time and it was revered as a sacred drink.  Recent studies have found that mead, made from raw honey, has antibiotic properties, and because the honey has passed through the gastrointestinal  system of bees, it contains yeast as well as beneficial bacteria from their system.  There are so many health reasons to drink mead and it also tastes damn fine.


a simple ferment with apple, bubbling after about 5 days

I like to flavour mine with herbs, and my current drinking  brew contains rose, chamomile and lime flowers.  You can make the mead strong by using a low dilution (1:4)  or relatively  light  by diluting it more (1:16).  I tend to use a dilution of 1 part honey and 5-6 parts water.  I also add a quartered organic apple, core and all, as this imparts some more flavour and acidity.  When I brew my mead, I usually only go for a short 7-10 day brew using an open top jar.  This will ensure that the mead is still a bit sweet and only very low in alcohol, my kids love it that way.  Once its finished brewing (you will have to taste it at this point to see if its ready) strain the mead through a cheese cloth and then bottle it in glass clip top bottles.  You can drink it straight away or leave it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.  This will slowly keep fermenting it, making it less sweet and more bubbly. If you want to properly fortify it, i.e. create more alcohol, you will have to put it into a glass demijohn  for 2-4  weeks.  Then bottle it and drink it straight away.  If you want to bottle it and keep it for longer, like months or years, please ferment it for longer in the glass demijohn, otherwise the remaining sugar might build up too much pressure and explode your bottles.


So for some basic honey wine pleasure here is what you need


  • 3 l open top glass vessel
  • 300-500g raw honey
  • 2.5 l filtered water
  • any fruit or herbs ( I like to brew a strong tea from lavender, chamomile, linden flowers, rose )

Currently I am making a mead from rose, boysenberries and elderflower.  All the flowers and fruit are immersed in the mead for 5 days or so, then I will strain them out and leave the ferment for another 5 days.


  • In your glass jar mix the water and honey
  • If your flavouring it with herbs make a strong tea and add as part of the water allowance (rose by itself is delicious as is a combination of lavender, linden flowers and chamomile) or add the fresh herbs straight to the ferment
  • If you’re adding fruit, add them now (I always add a quartered apple but ripe summer berries or peaches etc are also delicious)
  • With a spoon stir the ferment everyday, until it starts to bubble
  • Keep monitoring and tasting it to see when its ready.  It should have a much richer flavour profile than the original honey water, slightly acidic, less sweet and a little effervescent.  You want to avoid a vinegar taste.
  • After 5 days or so filter out the fruit and/or flowers if they were added and continue to brew the mead
  • Once the brew is ready either continue fermentation in a glass demijohn (with an airlock) for another 2-4 weeks or drink green (green in this sense means a very young ferment with very little alcohol content, I expect less than 2%) as it is.  I usually bottle my mead after the 10 day period in glass clip top bottles and leave it to mature in the fridge for another 1-2  weeks.  This will make it more bubbly and less sweet as fermentation slowly continues.

Blackberry, rose and elderflower mead, day 2.

So when it’s all said and done, mead is like the most beautiful girl at the party…everything about her is wonderful and intoxicating and you can’t take your eyes off her.  Mead is the stuff of life, and   as far as ferments go, mead is a wonderful mistress.  It’s hard to let her go and she will have her way with you.

 With love x

The humble courgette is back in town…dressed up to impress of course!


I’ve noticed that courgettes are one of those vegetables that really divide people into lovers or haters, of courgettes that is of course.  Im a lover, because the almost bland taste of courgettes lend it to such a variety of uses.  For anyone who has grown these precious beasties in their garden, knows how easy to grow and how prolific they are.  In fact my organic vegetable box has already started to include courgettes, meaning there will be a steady supply from now until summer.

Courgettes are excellent at helping the body metabolize protein and carbohydrates, digest fat, contribute to sex hormone production and lower blood pressure.  They are a very cooling and sedative food, and are very helpful at treating frayed nerves and adrenals.  They can be eaten raw as well as cooked and once you have a few uses under your belt, you’ll look forward to the inevitable courgette glut!

The trend for “pasta” that isn’t pasta has been steadily growing and like with most trends it takes me a while to catch on.  I am a sceptic, and just because something is supposed to be good for me, doesn’t mean I’ll eat it.  In my books food has to be delicious, fairly easy to prepare, mostly seasonal and nourishing for my body.  So with that in mind I finally took to trying out courgette pasta, and what can I say I’m loving it.  It’s delightfully light and delicious.  I slather it in homemade coriander pesto and roast tomatoes, which I keep in the fridge ready to go. Instead of eating the courgette pasta raw, I like to briefly heat it up in my trusty skillet with a bit of olive oil.  I find heating it up gives it a nicer texture and I also find them more satisfying when cooked.  Know thyself is key here, have your condiments ready in the fridge and get yourself a spirilizer, its that simple.  Courgette pasta can be eaten as a side dish or as a light main dish. Please do not go out and buy ready spirilised vegetables of any kind in the supermarket! Do it yourself.

Courgette pasta with coriander pesto and roasted tomatoes

  • 1 large courgette serves one person
  • olive oil

heating courgette spirals in the skillet

Spiralize your courgette and heat it up in a skillet (heavy cast iron pan).  Then add any condiments you like. I’m really ejoying it with pesto and tomato at the moment and the recopes for those are following.  Simply stir 1-2 teaspoons of pesto through the pasta and top with parmesan cheese and roasted tomatoes if you wish.


Roasted tomatoes

  • Two bunches of baby tomatoes
  • oregano, sea salt and olive oil

Place the tomatoes, stalks and all, into a roasting pan .  Add a pinch of oregano and salt and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Coat the tomatoes well and slow roast in an oven at 120 degrees celsius for 3-4 hours.  The tomatoes will have their skins intact but will be wrinkly looking and maybe a bit bronzed.  If you haven’t got 3 hours to spare, you can roast them at a higher temperature, 180 degrees for 30 min.  Slow roasting will make them sweeter however.  Once tomatoes are cooled down place them in a glass jar and add good quality olive oil to cover. Keep in the fridge, they should keep at least one week if not longer.  These tomatoes are great in salads or smashed on toast with avocado or in wraps.


Coriander pesto

  • a big bunch of coriander (100g)
  • 1 cup cashew nuts
  • 1 garlic clove peeled , pinch of salt and enough olive oil to loosen pesto into a smooth paste or to the consistency you prefer.  If you like it runny like me it will take quite a lot of oil

Place the coriander into the bowl of a food processor along with the cashew nuts (you can also use pine nuts or almonds here), garlic and salt.  Pulse to process and then add olive oil with the motor running until you have the desired consistency.

With Love x

Smooth Operator – Easiest Almond Chocolate Milk Ever


Almond Tree Growing in Portugal

For some years now I have been told by many health practitioners and vegan friends that drinking dairy is bad for my health and that cow’s milk is for calves and not humans.  Mostly I’ve ignored this advice, because I really like the taste of dairy products, primarily butter and cream.   It has also been convenient for me to ignore the fact, that milk products may be bad for me or the planet,  as they are such a cheap commodity these days and really delicious. I have bought the odd bit of almond or rice milk in the past, but have found the commercial varieties quite watery and over priced.  Then a few months ago I decided to cut out cheese and yoghurt for a while (I was already consuming very little milk), and found that I was actually feeling better.

This got me thinking more about this dairy dilemma and I came to the conclusion that it is far more complex an issue than I ever thought.  The research on whether dairy is good for our health is pretty much divided, you can find arguments for as well as against everywhere you look. You really have to ask yourself “Does dairy work for me? What is my body telling me?”  However, for me, whether to dairy or not to dairy is ultimately an environmental question.  The fact is that the amount of dairy products we are consuming presently, is completely unsustainable for the planet. Furthermore the practices in large-scale factory style farms are often cruel to animals and many nutrients found in milk can be easily found elsewhere.

In steps the humble almond, queen of nuts .  This queen has surely got it going on! Almonds have so many health benefits I don’t even know where to start.  There is already a large body of evidence supporting many cardiovascular benefits of eating almonds. Every handful eaten daily was associated with a 3.5 percent decreased risk of heart disease ten years later. Almonds are already known to help with weight loss and satiety, help prevent diabetes, inhibit cancer-cell growth, and decrease Alzheimer’s risk.  Growing almonds also puts less stress on the earths resources, using much less water and power to produce.  Whats not to like?

Admittedly we could also run into strife here, as most almonds are grown in very dry, even drought stricken regions like California (82% of worlds almonds are grown here) and Spain.  Almond consumption has skyrocketed in the last decade and production won’t be able to keep up with demand if this trend continues. Fear not I say, everything in moderation.  Almonds can be enjoyed in small amounts and don’t have to replace whole food groups like dairy and flour.  I often despair when whole food groups get completely replaced by one product.  The key to a healthy planet and a healthy diet, in my opinion, is variety, moderation and eating seasonal.  Listen to your body, tune in and follow its cues. Your body will tell you when and what to eat, its your guru.

I still eat (and love) dairy but I consume much less than I used to.  I mainly eat raw organic milk and cheese and when I have time I will make my own kefir.  I try to buy local produce as much as I can, although I’m also a bit partial to french cheese.  Homemade almond milk has now become a firm favourite of mine.  Its luscious and velvety smooth and because it’s so filling, it really is satiating. I often have a bottle of this chocolate milk in the fridge to drink,  as a little sweet pick me up that’s good for the heart and the soul.

Almonds and a shot of Almond Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Almond Milk

Ingredients (this makes approx 500-700 ml depending on how much water is used)

  • 1 cup soaked raw almonds (soak almonds in filtered water for 8-12 hours, this will activate them)
  • 11/2 – 3 cups water (less water will make the almond milk more creamy, I usually use 2 cups)
  • pinch of salt


  • put all the ingredients into a high powered food processor like a vitamix, (a normal, less powerful food processor will work too.  It will simply leave a more coarse pulp) and process for about 30 s
  • strain the mixture through a fine muslin cloth or a nut milk bag and collect the almond milk.


    Almond Milk straining through a Milk Nut Bag

  • store the milk for up to 3 days in the fridge or continue with the chocolate milk recipe below

To make chocolate almond milk simply add 2-3 teaspoons of cocoa (use less if your sensitive to stimulants), 2 soaked dates and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence to 500ml of almond milk. Put it all back into the food processor and process until the dates are completely incorporated. You can also use less almond milk and add more water for a thinner drink.  Consume straight away or chill, I personally like it cold.  If you like your milk a bit more spicy try adding 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the contents of a cardamom pod when your blending it.

This milk is delicious just on its own or try adding seasonal fruit and honey or dates instead of chocolate.  You can use this milk in baking etc just as you would normal milk.  If your milk separates in the fridge, just shake it before using it.  Experiment and make it your own best flavour.  I absolutely adore this chocolate version.  I serve it nice and cold in a small glass in the afternoon or after dinner.


With Love xx


Breakfast is served – Sourdough Pancakes

11986370_10207644305602682_8532946972547432128_nBreakfast can be a time of great nutritional misinformation and in fact because it’s often so time pressured we do tend to go back to old, tried and true staples.  Breakfast need not be a headache, with a little bit of planning, food can be easily made in 10-20 min.  I’ve got the luxury of not having to rush out of the house, so I can make my family a healthy breakfast most mornings.  However, even if you do indeed have to join the commuter rush, there is always time for fruit, porridge or a piece of sourdough toast with almond butter.

In our household there are some firm breakfast staples and mostly I’ve banned any kind of boxed cereal.  Although when my husband needs to rush to work he will eat flakes and my kids consider corn flakes a treat. We like poached eggs on sourdough bread, kefir smoothies, eggs and soldiers, omelette and the well liked sourdough pancake.  With the last of the berries ripening now, you could forage for some blackberries and serve them on these delicious pancakes for a special Sunday morning breakfast.  Mind you sometimes my kids eat these for an easy dinner combined with a simple soup.

Sometimes I make these pancakes savoury and grate some courgettes or other vegetables in or leave them plain and serve them to dip into a stew.  The batter is incredibly versatile, very light and easy to prepare.  Once you’ve got your sourdough starter you are set.

bubbling sourdough - simplyirina

Bubbling Sourdough Starter

The reason why I favour my grains fermented, is because the fermentation process pre-digests the grain.  This means that the lactobacilli gobble up carbohydrates in the flour and turn them into nutrients we can assimilate more readily in our bodies.  Enzymes in the grain are activated in this acidified environment and break down anti nutrients like phytates. As a result the dough contains more B vitamins, folate and lactic acid (which makes the dough sour). Non fermented grains, made using yeast,  are not particularly good for our digestive system and have potentially lead to many digestive diseases we hear of today. A fermented grain is basically been left in an acidified, warm moist environment for 8-24 hours.  The longer you leave it,  the more sour it will get, and the more nutritious too.  I like to ferment my grains between 8-12 hours in most cases, making the taste only slightly acidic.

Although sourdough is often referred to as gourmet or novelty food, I like to remind people, that until 130 years ago all flour products were made this way: water, flour, leaven and time.  A leaven or sourdough starter is simply a slurry of water and flour which has been left out in the warmth to naturally ferment.  A starter can be maintained for a life time and can be passed on for generations.  Fear not, in the likely event that you kill your starter, a new one can be made just as easily.

Sourdough Starter


Flour, water and patience


  • In a 500 ml jar mix half a cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water to make a fairly runny slurry. If the batter is too thick or thickens up over the course of a day, just add some more water .  Its important to use filtered water and I favour organic rye flour, although any flour will do.
  • Leave in a warm place with the lid off, covering the jar with a paper towel or muslin cloth to keep flies out.
  • Keep stirring the batter several times a day and look out for natural bubbles developing
  • After 2-3 days add 2 tablespoons of flour and some more water, keep stirring.
  • Once the batter is bubbling vigorously (after 3-7 days), add another 1/2 cup of flour and water. Leave the starter out for 3-4 hours and then use it or keep it in the fridge with the lid on until your ready to use it.
  • Everytime you use some starter, simply replace the amount you have used (so if its 1/2 cup of starter then add 1/2 cup of flour and enough water to make a slurry) and leave the jar to ferment some time in the warmth, after that it can go back in the fridge until you need to use it again.

Sourdough Pancakes


  • 11/2 cups flour ( I love spelt or kamut flour)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sourdough starter


  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 ripe banana mashed (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • coconut oil for frying


  • Mix the flour, water and sourdough starter thoroughly in a bowl and leave for 8-12 hours, preferably in a warm spot with a lid on the bowl. If you don’t have a lidded bowl simply drape a tea towel over it. I usually leave it over night to make pancakes for breakfast.
  • Once its been left to ferment you then add the egg, banana and baking soda just before cooking.  The baking soda will neutralise the acidity in the dough and make it nice and fluffy.  Make sure that both the egg and banana are well mixed into the dough.
  • Use coconut oil for frying (butter and ghee are good too) and cook small amounts of batter in batches.  I use a cast iron skillet and am quite generous with my coconut oil.

I make small pancakes, roughly the size of the palm of my hand, and you should get roughly 18 pancakes from this amount of flour.  If you want to make this vegan, just omit the egg and it will still taste very nice. Serve with any topping you like, fresh fruit, yoghurt and coconut syrup is our favourite way.

sourdough pancakes and fruit

sourdough pancakes and fruit


With love xx

On the footsteps of greek simplicity – Lentil Stew


I’m on a two-week holiday in Greece at the moment and lots of things are fermenting and ruminating in my mind, narrowing it down to a succinct thread is my usual challenge. Considering we are in the middle of a greek financial crises, no jobs etc, its business as usual here in Mykonos, and I’m guessing on most of the islands for that matter.  I’m not going to talk about the economic climate, nor will I reflect on how this affects the greek but I imagine that this isn’t the first hardship the greek have faced and survived, for this is a fiercely proud and hardy bunch.
 As the burly vegetable vendor reminded me when I asked him for a soft avocado  “people here in Mykonos like their avocados hard not soft, we Greeks are strong, sorry about this madame”  I smiled and got myself a hard avocado, plus a discount which he’s seems to enjoy giving freely.  Burly he may be but with a heart of gold.  In fact on several returns to his stall, I’m now welcome like a long-lost relative and he assures me that all his produce is grown in `Greece.  There is a strength here, a pride and fierce independence.  These qualities are also reflected in the harsh lunar like landscape, where not much seems to grow, yet on a  closer inspection the countryside harbours pockets of the most exquisite herbs, wild greens and olives of course.  There is life here, hidden but strong.

To survive on these isles, people had to live off the land very simply and grow everything themselves. Their diet is based on an abundance of vegetables, pulses, herbs, olive oil, some dairy products (mainly sheep/goats cheese), honey and very little fish and meat. The climate here is temperate and due to the rich soils and long sunshine hours, produce is very flavoursome.  Most restaurants we visit also have their own vegetable garden and the menu shows them prepared in many imaginative ways: courgette patties, grilled vegetables, marinated charcoal aubergines drizzled with local honey, greek salad, okra in tomato sauce, you get the drift.

So when I next visit my now friendly vegetable vendor I dive into some of his beautiful wares and out came this lentil stew.  A simple but nourishing affair, served with some homemade sourdough bread (Yes my starter went on holiday with us too!), drizzled with olive oil and feta, and a view of the deep blue sea. Life really doesn’t get much better than this.

Lentil Stew


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup dried brown/green lentils
  • 1 big onion diced small
  • 1 garlic clove diced small
  • 2 courgettes diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes either fresh or tinned
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • soak the lentils in plenty of water for 8 hours or overnight, then drain and discard water
  • sauté the onion, garlic and courgette in olive oil, over a low heat in a pot, for about 10 min
  • once the onion is soft and translucent add the herbs and honey, cook for 1 minute stirring
  • add the lentils, tomatoes and water
  • bring to a boil and then continue on a low simmer for 30-60 min until the lentils are soft
  • add the salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some crumbled feta. If you leave the feta out, this dish is essentially vegan.  You can add all sorts of vegetables, depending on what you have got in your fridge.  As an alternative to courgettes you can use carrots, celery and fennel during the sautéing phase and towards the end of the cooking process you can add some greens like spinach in summer or kale in autumn/winter.

With Love x

Easy like Saturday Morning – Chocolate Chip Cookies

11751439_10207305567134432_5913152121547736348_nI love rituals and rhythms, particularly around food. I think they help ground me but they also give my family an anchor, like a ship being gently moored in a bay.  It says be present, stay a while and smell the roses.  It means we can drop our fight and flight and settle into a quality of being where we can expand a little.

So one of my rituals on a saturday morning is to make these cookies, or a variation of some sorts.  Since they contain chocolate they are a huge hit with everyone.  They happen to be gluten-free, but you could substitute the rice flour for normal or spelt flour if you like.  I have my opinions about gluten-free, but will reserve them for another post.  In short no one in our family is a celiac but we try to eat most of our grains fermented, if I’m using a recipe where that’s not convenient I will use gluten-free flours instead.

I do however stay away from refined sugars, in fact at the moment I’m staying away from all sugar for a while.  Sugar really affects my body so after years of fine tuning I know which kind of sweet treats I can tolerate without going into a sugar coma.  In this recipe I’m using Rapadura sugar, which is the commercial name for dehydrated cane sugar juice. It has a wonderful rich, caramel like flavour and closely mimics sugar in its chemical properties, without upsetting the body. Do be careful though, in large quantities this may just have the same effect as regular white sugar.

 Im not going to tell you that these are guilt free, what does that even mean? Eat as many or a little as you feel is right for you and experiment with the amount of sugar in the recipe.  I find that if I eat something sweet, a healthy dose of fat (butter in this case) and protein (almonds and hazelnuts) helps my body chemistry to stay stable. I also tend to eat sweets after a meal so that there is something else already in my stomach to absorb the sugar.

Last but not least I do realise that the ingredients in this recipe are fairly pricey and that eating these on a daily basis is not really realistic.  Which is why I make them on a Saturday to last the weekend and once they are gone, they are gone. After all that is why they are called treats, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2/3 cup rapadura sugar (Coconut sugar works as well)
  • 1/2 cup soft butter or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate chunks ( I use Lindt cooking chocolate) plus some pieces to decorate the cookies or you can use any other cookie decoration


  • Put hazelnuts into the food processor and grind to a coarse meal
  • Add almond and rice flour, sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon and process until well mixed
  • Add water to bring it all together, it should be moist like wet sand but still firm
  • Put chocolate in for a final quick pulse
  • Form into walnut sized balls and put on a tray prepared with baking paper
  • Add the chocolate decoration to each cookie
  • Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 20 minutes

When you take the cookies out of the oven they will still be a little bit soft, don’t move them at this point.  Once they’ve cooled they will have hardened and you can move them.  I store mine in a glass Kilner jar, but they never last long anyway.  This recipe makes about 20-24 cookies, depending on how much dough gets eaten by little hands as they are making them!!

With Love x

Let Food Be Thy Medicine – Divine Basil and Rosemary Pesto

11204936_10207282948088970_2215560636389184009_nOn a recent trip to France (Cap Ferret) with my daughter Sofia, I was inspired to write a blog about my food experiences here.  It wasn’t so much the cheese, wine and bread that moved me but more the deep awareness and care for food, I encountered here. There seemed to be a deep desire to eat seasonally and locally, with great care taken by stall holders to pick just the right tomato to be eaten for dinner that night.  There was a buzz around the food with very little pre packaged food and mostly fresh produce.

Eating seasonally is so important.  First of all its better for the planet, but it’s actually also better for your body.  Our digestive fire is weakest in summer (according to Ayurvedic principles). So in summer its best to eat fruit and vegetables which are of course in abundance.  It’s a win, win situation.  As the seasons change so does the food, and our bodies. There is a reason watermelons and other cooling fruit make their appearance in the height of summer, and don’t grace our christmas table.

It is also means you don’t eat broccoli and kale all year round, because no single food group can supply all the nutrients we need.  Which brings me to the second cornerstone of health, food diversity.  Our Ancestors’ pre agricultural food habits were very much based on hunting and gathering, which meant not only did they eat seasonally but they also ate on average 145 different types of food a year.  The average person now will consume about 20 different foods, if they are lucky.

So how do you incorporate some of this wisdom into todays agricultural/supermarket monoculture onslaught?  There are several strategies; The obvious is to go shopping at your local market, buying whats available at that time of year.  Another thing you can do is to start foraging for simple things like nettle, dandelions, elderberries and blackberries, to suggest just a few.  These wild plants pack a nutritional punch far beyond anything you can buy at the supermarket.  And lastly you can make use of herbs all year round.  Herbs have a very high nutrient density and are real powerhouses. Having herbs everyday in some form will vastly improve your health.  Either as a tea, tonic, in salads, dressings, essential oils or as pesto.

I kept thinking about what inspired me here in France, and one of the things I was really drawn to was the feel and smell of nature around me. The beautiful smells of the pine forests, the feel of the soft needles underneath my toes and the creamy taste of pine kernels. If I had to make a dish right now, right here, what would it be? It had to be pesto drizzled over local sweet tomatoes served with some crusty bread and a chilled glass of wine.

Pesto is one of those amazing staples which are so very versatile.  Eat it plain on toast, add it to your scrambled eggs, drizzle it over a tomato salad or add it to pasta for a very simple meal.  I’ve chosen a combination of Basil and Rosemary.  Basil fortifies the digestive and nervous system and can be a good remedy for headaches and insomnia.  Rosemary has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and adds a beautiful flavour to the pesto.  I used pine nuts because I love their rich, creamy taste and they are also a very good source of protein.  You could experiment and replace them with any other kind of nut.

Divine Basil and Rosemary Pesto


  • 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup rosemary leaves (without the stem)
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • enough extra virgin olive oil to bring it to a smooth consistency about 1/2 cup
  • 1 clove of garlic

salt to taste (a generous pinch)


  • Put all the ingredients in a food processor (except the oil and salt) and mix until it resembles a coarse ground mixture
  • With the motor running add olive oil slowly until the desired consistency is reached
  • Taste and season with salt

This should keep in the fridge for at least one week and it can also be frozen.  As the seasons change so will your pesto, so for example in spring try adding steamed nettle leaves or fresh dandelion leaves.

I will leave you with a quote from my favourite herbalist.

“One must tread delicately on those lands, its palace is built on shifting sands; And so fragile, one cruel look or word – Would utterly smash that porcelain world”

Juliette de Bairacli Levy

With Love x

Ginger Me Up Scotty

11222076_10207165900522854_7221535648668881162_nThis last two weeks I’ve been battling a cold, well primarily a very persistent cough.  I usually stay away from over the counter medicine and ply myself with herbs (I have an amazing tonic that I mix with manuka honey), vitamins and honey lemon drinks.  To no avail it seemed the cough was building itself a cosy nest inside my chest.

I have this theory that even though I lead a very healthy lifestyle, every now and again I get sick, and its ok.  Its one of the ways my body tells me to slow down.  It usually doesn’t last very long and I can still go about my usual daily business, albeit a little bit slower.  Its my body’s way of dropping into the microbes around it, and saying “hey just coming to check you guys out”!  This way my immune system gets a software update and we are good to go again for another 6 months.

Not this time though, this cough was needing some help to leave the nest. So A few days ago I thought I’d try to juice myself a really potent vitamin shot, naturally with some of my favourite ingredients: ginger root, lemon and apple.  Apples are a good base for any juice and its also a natural immune system booster, Lemon is high in vitamin C and has natural antibiotic properties and Ginger is a natural decongestant and it reduces inflammation in coughs and colds.


  • 1 organic Apple, skin and all
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2/3 cup of filtered water


  • peel the lemon and piece of ginger.  When peeling the ginger root be very careful to just remove the top layer of skin, as most of the resins and volatile oils are right beneath the skin.  Instead of a peeler, use a teaspoon and gently scrape off the skin (this is the most complicated part of the recipe!)
  • quarter the apple and put all ingredients into the Vitamix or any other type of food processor ( you could use a juicer as well but I don’t bother with such small amounts)
  • process for 30-60s until it’s all shredded
  • separate the juice from the pulp using either a cheesecloth (that is what I use) or a fine wire mesh sieve

Enjoy this sweet, tangy and spicy drink, if you want you could add some honey.

yummy juice x

yummy juice x

Curiously this is my second ginger based recipe in two weeks, but I’ve really learned to listen to my body over the years.  So I know that if I crave something it’s for a good reason.  Now of course you still have to practise discernment in this craving business, otherwise chocolates and chips would be on my plate rather too often.  For me listening to the body goes beyond cravings or fad diets, it’s a deeper knowledge of knowing what works for your body. So ginger it is for now.

With Love x

Old remedies for a new world-making ginger beer

11709451_10207091021810933_654293667855352233_nI’m kind of obsessed with all things fermented but at the moment the runaway winner for sure is any kind of fizzy drink I can get my hands on. Especially now that the weather is finally getting hot, and believe me this is an exciting thing as London’s weather isn’t exactly tropical. Sour tonics or traditionally fermented drinks are simply tasty beverages, slightly sweet, slightly sour. Sometimes lightly alcoholic (depending on how long you brew them for) and always teeming with healthful lactic acid bacteria, enzymes and mineral ions.

 Homemade fizzy drinks, or soft drinks as they are also known, bear little resemblance to their commercial equivalents. The latter are mostly laden with glucose or corn syrups, additives, colourings and lack any of the health giving properties a home-brew brings.

In a long continuous tradition, by Peoples all around the world, these beverages have always been produced and we are now seeing a revival of traditional techniques.  All beverages require a starter culture of some sort ( bacteria or yeast based, or mostly both) and a carbohydrate for the culture to feed on.  The carbohydrate can be as simple as sugar-water flavoured with herbs or any kind of juice.  The taste combinations are endless. Once the culture has weaved its magic, you will end up with a delicious bubbly beverage.

There are many different kinds of starter cultures and the culture required for this drink can be easily made in your kitchen.  Its called a ginger bug (see picture above).



  • ground or fresh ginger root
  • unrefined cane sugar
  • filtered water
  • old 500ml jam jar or snaplock jar


  • Pour 1.5 cups of water into the jam jar, then add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ground or fresh ginger. Close the jar and shake to mix
  • Everyday (for 5-7 days) add 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of ginger and leave the jar in a warm space, with the lid off
  • After 5 days check to see if the bug is bubbling, if not continue for two more days.  If after 7 days its still not bubbling you have two options: 1. throw it all away and start again or 2. purchase a ginger bug from the internet  (Happy Kombucha is a very good site)

The ginger bug will keep indefinitely in the fridge.  In fact I like to think of it as another member of the family who requires a bit of love and attention. Feed it once a week with 2 teaspoons of sugar and ginger, keep it out for an hour and then pop it back in the fridge.  If your using the culture to make a drink, simply replace what you have used and then store it back in the fridge.




  • 4 litres filtered water
  • 1.5 cups sugar (rapadura or unrefined cane sugar)
  • 5-15 cm of fresh ginger root, peeled
  • juice of 2 lemons


  • Make a sugar syrup with 2 litres of water, 1.5 cups of sugar and the grated fresh ginger (5cm will give a mild flavour , 15 cm a strong flavour).
  • Boil it up for 5 min until the sugar has dissolved, then leave it to cool down.
  • Add the juice of two lemons and enough water to make up 4 Litres in total.
  • Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a wire mesh sieve to remove the ginger.
  • Add a 1/4 cup of strained culture to the mixture and stir.
  • Bottle in sealable bottles, like old flip top beer bottles or old juice glass bottles.  I like using Kilner home-brew flip top bottles as they give a really good seal.
  • `Leave the beverage to ferment in a warm space for 2-3 days, opening the lid everyday to let out the built up carbon dioxide (which creates the natural bubbles in the beverage).  Once it tastes to your liking put it into the fridge for 1-2 days to set the bubbles.  It will continue to ferment in the fridge, but much more slowly. When you open ginger beer do so over the sink and very slowly as carbonation can be very strong.


With Love x