Saturday, 24 December 2011

The recipe for Acceptance




Millions of stars transcending into an evening night,

Christmas Eve, waking dreams are taking flight.
Bells ring while soulful choirs sing,
A child's laughter is a prayer on a wing.
Welcome hope, acceptance and unending love,
The gentle snowfall, feels like the softest glove.
Quiet white light, blinding and tall,
Merry Christmas, to one and all!



I’m opening a different kind of present this year. I’m taking it slowly and willing it will last – it’s as simple as it is profound ~ acceptance.

This year, that is all I want. Though I’m careful not to say “I want.” My Mum always said to me “I want never gets.” So perhaps, “I hope,” is enough, for surely hope is the one thing we all need now and everyday.


As I watch my twelve-week-old son kicking the air and my eldest son singing, meanwhile the little lion cub is mesmerised by his own tiny feet - I am filled with blissful joy, life is so simple for them, just as it should be.
LIFE – now there’s a thought. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know that last year in 2010 - I said goodbye to my Dad, and this year, I’ve said goodbye to my Mum. On the 5th December, their wedding Anniversary - we said a final goodbye in the Church they married in.
TEARS - heal, I’m told. I’ve always been open with my feelings, it’s no coincidence that this blog is called Feeling Food! I want to say a heart felt thank you to all of you who read my blog and share your thoughts with me. I love reading your messages and am so thankful that it is reaching readers all over the world.

LIFE – one big mystery, that with each experience, good and bad, a new piece of the puzzle is given.

GIFT - every moment of connection and laughter shared.

I’m cherishing the now with all my might and praying for a peaceful and love filled Christmas. I’m sending you all huge amounts of light and love, two of the most important ingredients for a truly merry Christmas – in life and in the kitchen.

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose, than wish in May’s new-fangled shows; but like of each thing that in season grows.”

William Shakespeare

Love Always and forever!

Merry Christmas 

FFXOXOXO

The recipe for Acceptance

Water, an endless well
Faith, 21g
Acceptance, a litre undiluted
Patience, a very generous handful
Compassion, 1 whole finely chopped
Generosity, zest and juice
Light, to guide and surrender
Deliverance, a mighty amount
Strength, as much as you need
Hope, 12 turns

CUP water in your palm, let it cleanse you.
ADD faith and acceptance to a large circular bowl.
MIX with your hands, remember to trust your instincts here. They’re your best-friends in the kitchen and everywhere in fact.
SWIRL in some generosity, notice how it brightens up everything.
GIVE light, as much as you can find in immeasurable quantities.
GENTLY sieve and season with deliverance.
BLEND in strength and hope eternal.
BE thankful with gratitude in everything you do and remember how lucky it is to be you!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Million-dollar mincemeat

The million-dollar question: what is love?
Christmas.

Christmas.

And I'll say it one more time,

Christmas!

Christmas brings past, present and future together like no other day. Emotions run high this time of year. Pressure pulses, lights flash and the true message of Christmas may sometimes get lost in tinsel. The Feeling Food approach to Christmas ~ forget the spending, the wrapping, the card writing and the grand expectations - simply be. Be true to you! And enjoy the very special moments that dance a merry tune this time of year . . . 

What is the million-dollar commodity?

Time. Tick tock, time. Take some time to figure out what will make this Christmas special for you? Be thankful for challenges, they make you strong, be gentle with your foes, it'll make you wiser, and above all cherish those you love, they are priceless.

Life is precious.

An old friend, Angela, asked me for a mincemeat recipe. I've chatted with my dear Granny, looked through my beloved Mums Christmas notebook and thought to myself, what would go into a million dollar mincemeat recipe? And here is my special mincemeat recipe, a happy combination of all three! Enlightened with fig, given a fantastic health boost by goji berries and cranberries (wonder foods) freshened by lime and given festive cheer with ruby port and cointreau for good measure.
As I pottered about making this, with the radio in the background playing Christmas tunes, I couldn’t help but feel thankful. What a simple pleasure it is to make mincemeat. Fragrant scents and gentle mixing make this day feel more festive.

Wishing you peace and warmth.

Lots of love,

FFX

Million dollar mincemeat

MAKES 1 litre

Bramley apples, 200g, peeled, cored and chopped
Dried cranberries, 75g
Goji berries, 75g
Figs, 150g trimmed and chopped
Sultanas, 150g
Raisins, 150g
Vegetarian suet, 150g
Soft light brown sugar, 150g
Limes, 2 zest and juice only
Lemon extract, 1 tsp
Vanilla extract, 1 tsp
Honey, 2 tbsp
Cointreau, 30ml
Ruby port, 60ml
Ground ginger, 1 tsp
Ground cinnamon, 1 tsp

MIX all the ingredients together.
HEAT in a large saucepan gently, until suet has melted and everything is glistening.
SPOON into sterilised jars and seal.
MERRY goodness awaits!

Friday, 2 December 2011

The little things

A winter Breakfast to melt the ice
Turning a key that works.
Arriving to a warm and peaceful home.
Hearing the voice of someone you love.
Seeing your child smile with pure happiness.
Listening to your favourite music.
Opening the door to greet an old friend.
Trusting your instincts, and getting it right.
Waking to the smell of a Nutty Sweet Potato Breakfast on the weekend!!!
What's inside?
Ooh, it’s the little things that make each day special and worthwhile. Each year on the 30th of November I set about filling my eldest sons Advent Calendar. Behind each door awaits a different surprise. For me, the joy is watching his eyes light up and seeing that treasured innocence and excitement, which is so special. That lightness of being is in us all. Life, experience and heartache may dull it and take away the shine, though our job, especially important at this time of the year, is to get the polish out, dust off and dream big! When I say polish, I mean replenishing your inner sparkle, by relishing the little things in quiet times and giving some TLC to your good self.

One of my favourite parts of the week is waking up on Saturday morning, it promises a sense of space and freshness to enjoy and behold. I have a lovely recipe for you today. It’s not what you’d expect of a morning meal, though it delivers on every level. Healthy, warming, fibre rich and deeply delicious, the aromatic spices will tickle your taste buds and sooth tired minds. The warm oven will take away the chill of winter mornings and each bite offers a different set of flavour experiences, from nutty to tangy sweet, to smooth then crunchy, to delight and happy harmony.
A gorgeous combination of textures
Sweet potatoes have a natural creamy consistency, which becomes breakfast beautifully. Also known as yams, they are at their seasonal best between October and March, so now is a great time to eat them.  Vitamins A, C and B6 will set your body into a sunshine celebration. Best of all you’ll FEEL great after eating this and it will keep in the fridge for up to three days, in a tightly sealed container.
Snow-capped sweet potatoes!
So often winter gets a tough wrap. I love this time of year and know it’s the little things that make this so. Looking forward to wearing my favourite wool scarf, that is long enough to fit a giant, enjoying spiced warmed apple juice, watching box sets, burning cinnamon scented candles, reading a good book and snuggling up contentedly. Bliss.

Whatever your little things of joy are, I hope that your weekend is full of them.

With huge winter warmth,

FFX

Nutty Sweet Potato Breakfast
A bowl of beautiful breakfast
SERVES 4
Sweet potato, 300g peeled and diced in 1cm cubes
Porridge oats, 2 tbsp
Pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp
Dried Cranberries, 1 tbsp
Coconut oil, 2 tsp
Soft brown sugar, 1 tbsp
Pistachios, 1 tbsp roughly chopped
Almonds, 1 tbsp roughly chopped
Ground Cinnamon, a pinch
Ground ginger, a pinch
Nutmeg, a couple of scratches
Salt, ½ tsp

PRE-HEAT oven to gas 5, 190’
MIX sweet potato, porridge oats, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, coconut oil, and spices together in a bowl.
TURN out onto a lined baking sheet and spread evenly.
BAKE for 10 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and scatter over nuts.
GENTLY stir everything to help cook evenly.
SPRINKLE over salt and bake for a further 15 minutes.
REMOVE from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
SERVE with a generous spoonful of your favourite yogurt and some freshly chopped banana and pomegranate seeds for a Breakfast of waking dreams.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

From Zen to Notting Hill

My beautiful friend, Su- Ming's bouquet

What is Zen? A state of mind? A place? A meditation? A school of thought? A warm calm home? An experience of love? 

Last Sunday I had the joyful experience of a Zen aromatherapy massage. The lady used Rose oil and from the quiet hub of warmth, behind wooden blinds in candlelight, a touch of Zen blossomed. Afterwards I smelt like a gorgeous rosebud and felt like a flower blossoming in the morning light. Ah, t'was beautiful! 

Perhaps puzzling, was the two separate coincidental meetings with old friends, both actresses and both writing screenplays. In the way that good company does, I felt inspired and wanted to create a recipe that captured this feeling too. What could this possibly be . . . . .

Watch for the swirl . . . 
Roll out the origins of Zen Buddhism for a total symbiotic celebration of understanding. The Flower Sermon is said to hold the key to Zen, and in part has also inspired these Rose Mocha Pots. Many moons ago in the 14th century Gautama Buddha gathered his disciples and with a twinkle in his eye he silently twirled a flower. The disciples eagerly began to interpret what this meant, though none of them were correct, except one, Mahākāśyapa. He silently gazed at the flower and broke into a broad smile. The Buddha then said,
“I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvellous mind of Nirvāṇa, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.”

Enlightenment in the peaks . . . .
Thus, through Zen a new teaching was born, whereby direct experience led the path to enlightenment as opposed to rational creeds or scriptures. Wisdom was passed through a lineage of one to one direct transmissions of experience, words or concepts unnecessary.

Now bare with me a moment, transcend your judgement and consider taste! It is difficult to describe a taste exactly; thousands of taste buds are tuned into your own personal palate. These Rose mocha Pots will wash over them like a warming chocolate wave. Your taste buds will blossom.
Golden woven moments await

Organic, good quality chocolate is woven with a floral tone that is at once velvet and then silk. Smouldering sweetness enraptures with each spoonful and a friend, or whoever you share them with, may equally appreciate this coffee and chocolate celebration, that boasts a taste reminiscent of Turkish delight, though more subtle. Bring on the Rose mocha Pot!
Little fluffy cloud!

Food is not love. Food is not a friend. Food won't answer any questions. Wait for it! Food will however be tastier when prepared with love and be more wonderful when shared with friends.

I am sending you the warmest waves of Zen greetings, and will leave you with a THOUGHT, a QUESTION and a PROVERB, in that order!

Intentionally irrational statements are often used in Zen to jolt a person into realising the limits of the common uses of the intellect. . . Here we go!

What is the sound of chocolate melting?

If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. 

If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. 

If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. 

If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

Chinese Proverb

Love,

FFX

Rose Mocha Pots
Music for your taste buds
 SERVES 6
Organic Milk chocolate, 200g broken into pieces
Eggs, 4 separated
Espresso powder, 3 tsp
Rosewater, 1 tsp

PLACE chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water.
STIR occasionally until melted and silky smooth.
REMOVE from heat.
BEAT the egg yolks and stir into the melted chocolate.
ADD rosewater and enjoy the floating fragrance of blossoming dreams.
WHISK egg whites until soft peaks form.
SPOON one tbsp of the peaks into the chocolate mix and stir.
FOLD in remaining egg whites gently and spoon into ramekins or glasses.
CHILL for at least two hours.
ZEN for your taste buds. 

Friday, 25 November 2011

GRATITUDE

Feed the soul, feed the mind

Yesterday Thanksgiving was celebrated the world over. I have family in America and cherish very happy memories of time spent with them, in fact one of my happiest summers was spent there, aged fourteen. Driving around the Great Lakes, going to the Milwaukee Irish Fest, walking through Chicago and feeling like I was in Gotham City or about to bump into Alcapone! So many moments, I loved it.
Gratitude fills me up inside often. It is a feeling that is both light and transforming. The kitchen is a sanctuary for gratitude; it offers respite from the stresses of the day and gives nourishment on many levels.
Traditionally psychology has focused on understanding distress, rather than understanding positive emotions. Since 2000 a new wave of thought emphasising the importance of gratitude is cleansing us all. Positive psychology.
If we adopt the idea that,
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." -Carl Gustave Jung


We open a treasure chest of realisations and forgiveness. I try every day to consciously have a few moments of quiet, where I close my eyes and think of what I’m grateful for, the list grows and my inclination to feel sorry for myself courteously takes flight!


Give yourself one of the best presents possible this Christmas ~ GRATITUDE!
The best gifts can't be seen, they are felt

You may think I’m barking mad when I tell you that I find chopping deeply relaxing. If julienne and chiffonade are unfamiliar terms check out the links below, calming chopping requires good knife skills, so it's worth watching these short clips.
Chop for calm
Cooking with love is my mantra, though sometimes it is cooking with stress, cooking with haste and even cooking with anger! (Bring out the pestle and mortar!!!)
However with this recipe, one can’t help but feel joy. It is a Thai Peanut slaw that smells of the exotic, the fresh, and the joy one may experience on holiday, light and lush. Honey sweetens, sesame oil deepens, cabbage invigorates, carrots refresh, basil beguiles and fish sauce stirs one into an oceanic taste bud experience. Served alongside cold cuts of turkey/ chicken or simply with some rice noodles – wowowowow! Joy to the world! Of course, if you have a nut allergy, simply ignore the peanuts and perhaps throw in some mange tout instead. Give a gift to your body with this Festive Slaw.

Cabbage

One cup of chopped cabbage contains just 20 calories, 2 grams fiber and is loaded with sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting chemical that’s been shown to decrease cellular damage throughout the body.
Carrots
They brighten up any dish and give you a gorgeous party glow. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin, and they also contain high levels of anti-oxidants. 


I love to read other blogs and was smitten with a Bugs Bunny like curiosity, when I read on "Eat Like a Girls" blog that she was hosting a competition. This is my carrot offering, that's in great vegetable company. Today I'm feeling GRATITUDE for other bloggers and carrots : ) 


Three reasons to keep mindful of Gratitude –  
  1. It reminds you of all the people in your life who make you happy, this could even be a stranger you pass each morning.
  2. It’s nigh impossible to worry about your weight when you give thanks that you are alive and healthy. It’s difficult to complain when you’re lucky enough to have a place called home and a computer to read this from.
  3. It nurtures a sense of thankfulness, we begin to feel more thankful and utter more often these two simple words that mean so much, “Thank you!” We all want to be appreciated at some level, thanking those around you releases a butterfly effect, that is as natural as it is beautiful – gorgeous Gratitude.

Here is some food for thought –

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
 
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
  
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
                     
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
                      
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
                        
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
                               
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
          
Because it means you’ve made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
            
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are 
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
 
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles 
and they can become your blessings.
  
Author Unknown ~
Just before posting this I received an email to say that Feeling Food is a featured blog on The Foodie Blog roll, needless to say, I felt GRATITUDE, it has a domino effect and one I enjoy often.


With love to you and wishing you a great weekend,


FFXOXOX
Thai Festive Peanut Slaw
Delicious on its own or with leftover Turkey!

SERVES 4

FOR THE DRESSING
Olive oil, 60ml
Rice wine vinegar, 50ml
Fish sauce, 1tbsp
Honey, 1 tsp
Sesame oil, 1 tsp
Hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp
White pepper, a pinch

SLAW
Red cabbage, ¼ thinly sliced into julienne strips
Savoy cabbage, ¼ thinly sliced into julienne strips
Carrots, 2 sliced julienne
Spring onions, 7 sliced diagonally
Dried cranberries, 100g
Sesame seeds, 1 tbsp toasted
Coriander, small bunch roughly chopped
Basil leaves, 9 chiffonade

WHISK dressing ingredients together.
ADD remaining ingredients.
TOSS well to give everything an even coat.
SERVE alongside cold meats or other delights to bring life and love to your table.
GRATITUDE in abundance to you!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

An empty jar?

An empty jar collecting dust is like an empty friendship. Both take up space, serve no purpose, don’t inspire and if you’re feeling blue, no rosy warmth will ensue. Fill the jar, feel the friendship or say adieu to both. I stumbled upon these two quotes yesterday which I liked and wanted to share them with you, a different kind of nourishment . . . .

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." Oprah Winfrey

"Never force yourself to have a space in anyone's life because if they really know your worth, they'll surely create one for you." Barbara Piedrahita
oozzles of gorgeous shades of red
This recipe is all about filling jars and feeling good! Social scientists studying happiness have confirmed what many instinctively knew – its not objects that make people happy, its the relationships we form and  a sense of purpose to our life that gives true meaning and grace.

Pair a jar of chutney with a friends favourite cheese and you have yourself a present of dreams!
Warmth comes in pairs
Who’d of thought making chutney may make this Christmas a happier one!?! Creating gorgeous smells and giving fruity love this Christmas is a few simple steps away. The fragrant zing whilst cooking chutney wakens the senses and the deep crimson colour warms the heart, the kitchen will get a good freshening up too.

How to sterilise jars - You will need some empty jars of various sizes. Rinse them and place in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes and carefully drain onto a clean tea towel – clean and sterile, ready to fill with this beautiful chutney that keeps for up to three months.
Any stubborn labels will peel off easily after this treatment!
I wonder as I stir the chutney and press the tomatoes with the back of the wooden spoon I’m holding, how will this Christmas be different? How can I make it more special?

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly Merry Christmas!

Peg Bracken

Lots of love,

FFX

Cranberry & tomato chutney

Fresh cranberries, 300g
Cherry tomatoes, 300g
Dried cranberries, 100g
Red onion, 200g finely chopped
Black pepper, 12 turns
Ground ginger ½ tsp
Ground allspice ½ tsp
Light brown sugar, 200g
Sherry vinegar, 100ml

PUT fresh cranberries, tomatoes, dried cranberries and red onion into a heavy based pan.
POUR over 100ml of water and gently cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes.
STIR in spices, sugar and vinegar.
SIMMER for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
POT into jars.
SEAL with love.
GIVE with even more love!
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