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Breakfast, Events, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Christmas Recipes

I love Christmas. No matter how many relatives I trap, or number of Brussels sprouts I fit into them, my family are always so patient and biddable. If I was a cynical person, I might think they’ve been sponsored by Grey Goose. Or Colombia.

No. I love Christmas. And Christmas loves me. I say pah! to the irresponsible naysayers, convinced that Christmas has been colonised by capitalism. Eh, hullo? Christmas is a hobby dudes, not an industry – like knitting, or running for presidency.

So don’t let the naysayers twerk your synapses with their windy sermons. My synapses are on Annual Leave during yuletide. It’s the only time of year I can justifiably hold a pair of cashmere socks and demand they be publically inaugurated on my feet. Or hold my local Odd Bin wine tasting to ransom, again, without inciting a criminal record. I love how unreasonable I can be – it’s like the mothership of PMT with national immunity.

 

apricots christmas morning breakfast

 

I am also acutely aware that this may be the only time my saffron apricots will ever make fully-grown homo sapiens weep. If my frolicking has taught me anything, other than the limits to my belt-expansion, it is that how food tastes qualifies as only one segment of its true appeal. When is just as crucial to our taste buds because of the memories it can set in motion. And who plays a decisive role in a food’s celebration. Nothing demonstrates this better than Christmas.

So here are my traditional Christmas family recipes I start pimping from as early as the mocks (Thanks Giving). Each dish is suffused with giddy memories and industrial amounts of Dean Martin. They are the purveyors of mirth and merriment.

Happy Christmas y’all! May endless mistletoe and sherry be upon you.

 

rosehip-cookies

 

Walnut & Rosehip Cookies 

 

You can store the cookie dough in the freezer, rolled up like a log. When the mood arrests you, unleash your inner cookie monster and high-five your genius.

130g (5oz) walnuts

1 teabag of rosehip tea

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

120g (5oz) brown rice flour or plain gluten free flour

80g (3oz) oat flakes

135ml (4.5floz) brown rice syrup

125ml (4floz) extra virgin coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4 or 350 Fahrenheit.

Briefly pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor until they resemble big breadcrumbs. These include the walnuts, the contents of one bag of rosehip tea, the baking powder, the ginger, the flour and your oats. Now add your melted coconut oil and the fabulous sticky brown rice syrup. Pulse again until a big dough ball forms in the basin of your food processor. Parachute some flaky sea salt on top.

Freeze half the mixture for another day (stonking good idea, no?) With the remaining dough, pull off an apricot-sized piece and roll into a ball between your palms. Press down on a lined baking tray, using two or three of your fingers to make a nice cookie indent. Mine work out at about 2-3mm thick.

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on their size, but no longer, promise me! Don’t worry if they seem soft or undercooked – the cookies harden once cooled. Flipping fabulous.

 

ninjabread-men-susan-jane

 

No-Bake Ninjabread Men

 

A note for wily mums; you can replace some of the ground almonds with milled flaxseed or hemp powder, to inject some omega-3 artillery into your little ones.

4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

100g (4oz) ground almonds

1-2 teaspoons ground ginger

Pinch of unrefined salt

Gently melt your coconut oil in a small pan over a shy flame. Remove from heat and stir through the remaining ingredients. Scrape the mixture out over a sheet of baking parchment. Press it into a rough dough ball, then place another sheet of parchment over it and flatten with a pastry rolling pin. You’re looking for a couple of mm in depth.

Transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes, until barely set. Alternatively, you can freeze for up to 3 month and let thaw for 5 minutes before cutting into gingerbread men. Choose a cookie cutter, and off you go! No need to bake. We store ready-to-eat gingerbread men in a freezer bag, waiting for unexpected playdates and midnight munchies.

 

susan-jane-halo

 

Festive Florentines

Florentines are disproportionately difficult to make after a few sherries. So, my version will liberate you while still generating rapturous applause. Fa la la la lahhh …

75g (3oz) 70-85% chocolate

1 tablespoon shelled pistachios

1 tablespoon crystallised ginger

1 tablespoon goji berries

Pinch of sea salt flakes

Handful toasted pecans

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. This is basically a pot containing 1-inch (2.5cm) of gently simmering water, with a bowl sitting on top in place of a lid. The contents of the bowl will melt gradually by the steam of the water, without actually touching the water. This can be a bit boring, so switch on some Bing Crosby and resuscitate your Santa hat.

As soon as the chocolate has melted, use a tablespoon to make teeny puddles of chocolate across a large strip of non-stick parchment. On top of every puddle, add one of each remaining ingredient – a pistachio, a small chunk of crystallised ginger, a goji berry, pinch of salt flakes and 1 toasted pecan. Allow to cool (but not chill) and solidify before peeling them off and storing in your mouth.

 

fruitcake-amy-chaplin

 

Lapsang Souchung Christmas Cake

 

Amy Chaplin was the midwife of this genius. New York City (and my brain) is a better place because of it. Amy is The Snazzmaster of good vegan grub. Feel free to use Early Grey or green tea instead of smokey Lapsang. And parachute some goji berries in there too.

Olive oil for brushing parchment

200g (7oz) roasted hazelnuts

75g (2.5oz) unsulphured dark apricots

210g (7.5oz) regular pitted dates

375ml (13floz) hot, strong Lapsang Souchung tea

375g (13oz) seedless raisins

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

zest 1 unwaxed orange

180g (6.5oz) walnuts or salted pistachios

 

Fire up your oven to 150 Celsius, gas mark 2. Line a 12×12 inch springform cake tin with some oiled parchment paper.

Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Tip into a large mixing bowl and set aside. No need to clean the food processor – you’ll be using it later.

Now soak the apricots and dates in 1 cup of hot tea (250ml / 8floz) for 10 minutes. Drain well, and set aside.

With the remaining half-cup of hot tea (125ml/4floz), boil your raisins. Stir, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid, and continue to cook for a few more minutes or until all the tea has cooked off and the raisins are bursting with plumpness. Juicy juicy.

Spin the cooked raisins in your food processor with all the spices and zest. Blend until smooth. Tumble this paste into the bowl of ground hazelnuts, along with the drained apricot mix. Fold really well. Now stir through your walnuts and/or pistachios.

Press the cake mix into your prepped tin, and smooth the top. If you have extra nuts, you can decorate the edges. Bake for 1 hour, or until set. Eject from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin. This cake will store for 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Serve thinly, with brandy butter and a good boxset.

 

 

 

Events, x Skin Food x

Irish Alchemists: skin food part 3

You know those extortionate face creams, designed to lure you from your money and your trusty brain cells? The big branded ones, created in labs with unpronounceable ingredients?

They don’t work.

An industry does not grow into a $460 billion monster by permanently solving the problem it is designed to address.

Unless the ingredients were hand-harvested by George Clooney, and blessed by Kylie Minogue under a full moon, I’m not falling for it. Ever. Again.

We deserve more respect. (So does my overdraft).

 

diy-skincare-susan-jane

 

 

What hooked me into making my own beauty products at home was the undeniable pleasure it adds to everyday life. The commercial cosmetic industry is a headless beast, driven by an insatiable libido of profit. For them, it makes perfect business sense to use cheap, low quality ingredients with glitzy branding. I can’t stand being their target. So I vote with my wallet. It’s as good as giving industry giants the two-fingers and beatifically laughing into my own crazy cool lab.

So in 2017, I’ll be continuing to post DIY skincare recipes using ingredients you’ll find in your own kitchen. Natural ingredients like argan, honey and rosehip are potently strong. It’s skincare with integrity. They outshine all the high-branded crap.

For now, here’s a list of rad Irish alchemists, making their own organic skincare products. They deserve our support and applause (especially if it’s unlikely that you’ll whip up your own badass body oils). These are my favourite of the lot.

 

barechic fiona carr

 

 

> Blue Flower Face Serum, by BARECHIC SKIN <

 

Fiona Carr is the wizard behind Barechic Skin. Fiona hand-crafts all her products on the west coast of Ireland, and never ever uses anything but pure, cold pressed, ethically sourced oils like pomegranate, tamanu, argan, seabuckthorn, rose otto and rosehip seed. I am obsessed with anything and everything she makes. You will be too.

 

HORRAY FOR …

… the scent. Utterly beguiling. I feel like Sophia Loren wearing her skincare range. The scent does something funny to my confidence and imagination. Bewitching.

Their boutique packaging puts Barechic way above anything else on the Irish market. They’d make very slick gifts for guys and girls.

Vegan friendly.

 

OH DRAT …

Very difficult to find. I think it’s only private clients for now, until Barechic’s online stable launches. Contact via Twitter.  (If you’ve found it elsewhere, please let me know in the comment section below).

 

LOVEBOMB FOR …

Tired skin. Dry skin. Combination skin. And comes personally recommended for exhausted mums who just want to feel sexy again.

 

barechic

 

> Rose Mist Water, by Flourish Organics <

 

Flourish is a tiny company in Kerry, run by a very cool couple who sent me up samples to try out. They hand craft their own ‘beautyful’ creams and serums in micro batches. There’s something very special about using a beauty product that someone personally whipped up for you, only using pure, unadulterated ingredients. It feels both physically and emotionally nourishing.

 

HORRAY FOR …

… no alcohol content. Most toners and mists contain unnecessary amounts of dehydrating alcohol (yes, go check yours. I was so disappointed to see so many brands using alcohol in their toners). Flourish misting toner only has 3 ingredients; pure organic rose water, mulla mulla and shea oak. At €14 for a large bottle, it’s exceptional value.

 

OH DRAT …

Only online orders, and select boutique hotels across Ireland like Brooklodge in Wicklow.

 

LOVEBOMB FOR …

… anyone with sensitive skin.

High fives also for green beauty enthusiasts on a budget.

Great for ex-pats, wanting to order authentic, handmade Irish gear online as Christmas pressies.

 

flourish-organics

 

 

> Hydrate & Perfect Treatment Oil, by Georgia Jane <

 

When I started doing DIY beauty recipes on my website, Georgia Jane sent me a few of their hand-made natural serums for inspiration. I hadn’t come across them before, so was fairly stoked to try out a brightening serum for sun damaged skin. Natural aging is their focus, with antioxidant rich botanical oils like raspberry seed oil and watermelon seed oil.

 

HORRAY FOR …

… specifically targets pigmentation. I need all the help I can get. If I develop any more sun spots, my face will look like a map of Europe etched out by a 4 year old with sienna-brown crayola.

Loved the smell, and the science.

 

OH DRAT …

Online orders primarily. Let me know if you’ve found it elsewhere (in the comments below).

 

LOVEBOMB FOR …

… reluctantly aging folk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, from the Department of Disclosure:

1.     I will only review products I like, and whose work ethics I dig (ingredients derived by nature, organically or mindfully, with no hidden nasties). My grandma always says “if you’ve nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” While generally this advice can be very unhelpful in many situations, especially if you count yourself as a modern woman or feminist, I think it’s probably spot on for my blog post. So I don’t include products that I disliked, however minor or major.

2.     I do not receive freebies, payment, nor contra in any form for the products that I review on my website.

3.     If I receive sample products to review for my site, you will be the first to know. Full disclosure. You are my friends. I have no intention to mess with your mind.

 

 

 

Events

How to Survive the Silly Season

Tips, to help with festive frolics;

 

For burnt batteries, try sticky black or red rice; filled with anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, antioxidants, and energy-boosting B Vitamins for your body. We particularly love B3, the vitamin responsible for lifting mood (like day dreaming about Dominic West, or making teeny changes to Donald Trump’s Wikipedia page).

 

When you feel like horsing into a tin of Quality Street, try whizzing the flesh of 1 soft avocado with 3 tablespoons of cacao,  1 tablespoon of nutbutter, splash of soya sauce and nip of maple syrup into a supersonic anti-cholesterol mousse. Score.

 

Tired? Try juicing ginger into lemon and water. No juicer? No problem. Peel some fresh ginger, freeze it for 20 minutes, and grate into water with a squeeze of lemon or apple juice. Add a pinch of cayenne to get your blood beating like a voodoo drum.

 

Hungover? Try 1 tablespoon of certified spirulina powder with a small glass of fresh apple juice. This will help keep your liver on speaking terms with you. Bigly. (Although, your taste buds will understandably revolt).

 

When your body feels like a petri dish, get some raw garlic into you. Mix with olive oil and tumble onto a toasted wedge of sourdough. Avoid obvious stimulants – coffee, Nigel Farage, and Xmas FM – which only worsen your condition.

 

Man, woman, or hybrid; you need this stuff on your skin to make it sing louder than Kylie’s. Hand-made in microbatches on the west coast of Ireland. Special order via Twitter. Wizardry.

 

When your digestion conks out, try eating sauerkraut,  kimchi, papaya or pineapple before every meal. Crazy shit, but it works.

 

susan-xmas

 

Psst!

Don’t forget to check out my exclusive Christmas spread in the Sunday Independent, out December 11th.

Fa la la la lahhh …