Monday, 31 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - The Road Ahead

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

From The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R Tolkien (1892-1973)

Friday, 28 August 2015

Vicar's Sofa - The Great Benefits of Silliness

Last Saturday night as I was dancing at a friends wedding, sombrero atop my head and bellowing out 21 Seconds by the So Solid Crew it struck me again that at times people must think it is rather funny that I am ordained.

Silliness Abroad

For a while this really perplexed me. It was one of the major things that kept my up at night before ordination. Won't everyone think I'm ridiculous? Won't they look at me and think 'Who on earth does she think she is?' Won't they sit and remember the catalogue of daft things I have said and done, and my goodness it is a catalogue, and wonder why I possibly think I am the right person for this job? It's a scary thought, really, to put yourself out there for public scrutiny, and particularly into a role where people expect you to be, well, so sensible all the time.

Silliness in Rome

I'm pretty sure that I have an unending and deep well of silliness in me. The notes that came back from my interview to train as a Vicar said 'Nicola laughs easily' and it couldn't be more true. I like an awful lot of silly things, it is just how I am. I don't do much that is very worthy in my own time. I am most likely to be watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or any other Housewives ITVBe cares to show. I recently sang Taylor Swift Shake it Off at church in the Vestry.

I can't help it. I love them. (from

But recently I've been thinking about how important it is to retain a sense of silliness and to take ourselves lightly. Silliness, I think, helps us to remember that we are one little person, capable of wonderful things to be sure, but limited nonetheless. At best we are a cog in the machine, a stepping stone on the way, an ingredient in the recipe. But rather than this knowledge squashing us and making us feel insignificant instead I think it can make us feel free.

Silliness in Zambia
I wonder if it is when we start to see ourselves as the whole deal, when we are unwilling to be silly and the vulnerable little people that we are, that the fun and potential starts to drain out of things. Suddenly we have to be everything, do everything all on our own rather than accepting that we are just one person, fabulous and flawed, doing the best that we can. When we lose a sense of that we limit others by needing to be everything ourselves. We limit ourselves by not being able to accept that we get some things right and some things wrong, life is for learning, and that is just what it means to be a human being.

In a service at church recently we were praying for healing and wholeness and these beautiful words popped up, 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the power belongs to God'. What a beautiful reminder of all that it is to be a human being, it is treasure but treasure contained in a fragile and limited thing drawing its source and life from something much bigger than itself. What a liberating idea. We don't have to be everything. We just have to be what we are.

And I think silliness reminds us of that. How can you take yourself so seriously with a sombrero on your head? Silliness is freeing, it is life giving, it reminds us who and what we are. So what are you waiting for? Embrace silliness today!

30 Second Reflection - Healed Memories

'Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.'

 - Louis B. Smedes

Thursday, 27 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Forgiving Others

'Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has someone to forgive'.

- C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - True Reconciliation

'Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.'

-Desmond Tutu

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Vicar's Kitchen - The Delicious Delights of Crete

Reader, I am well and truly in withdrawal. Not just from the beautiful sunshine and unending glittering turquoise seas of the Med but also for the most amazing week of food. Ever. I've long been a fan of Greek food from my first trip where I was taught by a new Greek friend to make tzatziki the proper way (i.e. fully loaded with garlic!)

Sissi, Crete
I was really excited to try Cretan food having heard that it has some interesting specialities of its own as well as drawing in some middle eastern flavours due to its more southern location in the Med. I lapped up Yotam Ottolenghi's programme on Crete before I went so I was fully prepared to seek out a couple of delicacies, sweet cheese pies with honey and Dakos in particular.

Dakos from
Dakos was a particular revelation and it only took me about 20 minutes from landing for me to curse myself for not bringing some of it home and start googling for recipes. Dakos is a dark twice baked roll made in the highlands of Crete.

When you eat it, it is all crispy but topped with crushed tomatoes and olive oil which soaks into the roll and makes it softer and oh so delicious. We ate Dakos daily topped with piles of feta. Swoon. I've already been on the hunt for a Greek deli in the UK that stocks Dakos rolls so watch this space for a recipe in the future.
A pretty gorgeous view for lunch!
Meanwhile I am making use of something I did think to buy and bring home, some lovely herbs including a big bag of Greek Oregano. To ease my post holiday woes and attempt to bridge the gap between meze lunches on the beach and soggy sandwiches I've been making a Med Veg Cous Cous with Feta for lunch this week. It is very easy, good for you and beats a sarnie and a bag of crisps any day of the week!

Med Veg Couscous with Feta

1 large aubergine
1 large courgette
2 red peppers
2 red onions
A sprinkling of oregano
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100g couscous
100g feta

Chop the veg into roughly equal size chunks and toss with the olive oil and oregano in a large roasting pan. Pop into a high oven, about 200 C, for half an hour to 45 minutes. You want the veg to be slightly blackened at the edges and lovely and soft.

Meanwhile make the couscous. Place at the base of a large bowl, pour over boiling water until the couscous is just covered. Add the lemon juice. Leave for five minutes and then fluff up with a fork.

Mix the veg into the couscous, top with feta and serve. Yum!

A beautiful Cretan morning

30 Second Reflection - Absolute Forgiveness

'I knew then that this is how God loves us and receives us all, and that there is no such thing in this universe as hell, except maybe in our own terrified minds. Because even if even one broken and limited human being could experience even one such episode of absolute forgiveness and acceptance of her own self then imagine - just imagine! - what God in all His eternal compassion can forgive and accept'.

Elizabeth Gilbert - Eat, Pray, Love

Monday, 24 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Forgiveness

'It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes. It takes more gut and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.'
Jessamyn West

Friday, 21 August 2015

Vicar's Sofa – Wisdom in YOUR Day

I have a dream one day. A happy little vision of myself as I near the end of my days which, knowing me, is probably dramatically unlikely but makes me smile nonetheless. In my mind I can see myself as a lady of good years, long hair plaited and grey, sitting with hands folded as I rock gently back and forth in an old wooden rocking chair. I'll be peaceful, happy, smiling and....wise. Able to nod sagely in conversation because of all I have picked up over the years. Ahhh...I wish!
Woman in A Rocking Chair - Renoir
This little image is something of a word picture for another approach to wisdom that you can pick up in the pages of the Bible which has also been the approach of the many, many civilizations around the world where people have turned their hand to wisdom writing. Observation, living, the 'University of Life' as it were - this approach to gaining of wisdom is all about the every day.

I love the book of Proverbs in the Bible because much of it appears to have been drawn from folk traditions, the real people who lived all those years ago in those sun scorched lands. The sayings are about real things. About how you approach work, how you raise your kids, it is a philosophy for life that has a bearing on what your days are like right now.

Proverbs is like one big great collection of wisdom gathered from a nation. It's all the things your Grandma told you that you really wish you had written down. These are a few of my favourites:

'The wise heart is called perspective, and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness' Prov 16:21

'A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity' Proverbs17:17

'Desire without knowledge is not good, and one who moves hurriedly misses the way' Prov 19:2

All this is not to say that you can simply pick up ancient ideas about life and apply then directly to modern life, there are some rather questionable approaches to disciplining children in the book of Proverbs, but there is much that stands the test of time. And the principle remains that wisdom involves learning from one another in our communities as well as listening to the past, drawing down into the deep well of our heritage and history to encourage and inspire our lives today.

The wisdom traditions of the world have quite happily borrowed from each other in this enterprise, swapping ideas as they swapped spices along the trade routes. The wisdom literature of the Bible carries influences and sometimes direct borrowing from Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Ancient Greece to name a few. They took the insights of others and adapted them, seeing them through their own cultural and religious lens, but valuing the insights of others.

What a great example to us today when we have the huge privilege of being part of a world where we have such ready access to other cultures and religions and all the wisdom they contain. Seeking Wisdom is a generous task and wisdom can be the enterprise of anyone and everyone. In fact the view from where someone else is standing may be just the thing we need to enrich our own.

So, there is a huge amount to commend in this approach to gaining wisdom. Observing, wondering, exploring the world and sharing this generously and open heartedly. Sounds great, doesn't it?

To catch up with previous posts in the series on 'What is Wisdom?' and 'Wisdom and the Natural world', get clicking! :)

30 Second Reflection - True Wisdom

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.

- Khalil Gibran
This week all the 30 Second Reflection are on the theme of Wisdom linking in to the series on Wisdom running on the blog, click away for the first post 'What is Wisdom?'

Thursday, 20 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - The character of Wisdom

In wisdom there is a spirit intelligent and holy, unique of its kind, made up of many parts, subtle, free-moving, lucid, spotless, clear invulnerable, loving what is good, eager, unhindered, beneficent, kindly towards others, steadfast, unerring, untouched by care, all powerful, all surveying and permeating all intelligent, pure and delicate spirits...the one who rises early in search of her will not grow weary in the quest, for they will find her seated at their door.

- The Wisdom of Solomon (from the Apocrypha)
This week all the 30 Second Reflection are on the theme of Wisdom linking in to the series on Wisdom running on the blog, click away for the first post 'What is Wisdom?'

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Learning Wisdom

By three methods we may learn wisdom. First by reflection, which is the noblest. Second by imitation which is easiest and third by experience which is the bitterest.
- Confucius
This week all the 30 Second Reflection are on the theme of Wisdom linking in to the series on Wisdom running on the blog, click away for the first post 'What is Wisdom?'

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Vicar's Kitchen - The Mighty Halloumi Burger

I don't know about you but I am really trying to eke out the rest of the summer. I'm still convinced that we have a good view barbecuing days to go before autumn sets in and its down with the boots and on with the coats. Meanwhile, I'm entertaining myself with a recipe that doesn't require a barbecue (though would taste pretty darn amazing cooked on one!) and that has been universally loved by everyone I have cooked it for.

The mighty Halloumi burger!

I'm all over halloumi at the moment because we have just moved near to a Lidl so Greek cheese and massive pots of yogurt have become somewhat of a household staple. All credit for this particular recipe, however, has to go to Bills, a gorgeous chain of restaurants that I'm sure many of you UK based peeps have now come across. If you are a bit further afield, however, then you can sample all the Bill's goodness for yourself by getting a copy of the Bill's Cookbook.
Bill's Cookbook, with bonus foot!!

The book is gorgeously vintage with many lovely illustrations.
Recipe wise, the Halloumi burger is a definite favourite as is the Hot Chorizo sandwich and Blondies made with gingernut biscuits. The book is arranged seasonally and makes use of all the freshest fruit and veg from around that time. I tend to dip into all the different sections throughout the year but it is lovely to greet a new season with a flick through the relevant section to remind yourself of all the goodies you have in store!

As a little taster here's the delicious halloumi burger recipe to try as I make it:

Halloumi and Red Pepper Burgers – for 2 burgers

2 burger buns or soft rolls
4 strips of Halloumi about half a cm thick
1 Red Pepper, deseeded and chopped into 4
A couple of tablespoons of Red Pepper Houmous
Sweet Chilli Sauce
A handful of rocket
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C. Toss the peppers in a little olive oil, pop them on a baking tray into the oven for 20 minutes or until they are a little charred and soft
  • Meanwhile slice the buns and spread the houmous on one side.
  • Heat up a non stick frying pan (it really does need to be non stick or you will have a cheesy disaster on your hands!) until it is nice and hot. Then lay in the halloumi lifting gently with a fork after about thirty seconds to see if the underside is brown. You want it to look like this so that it will taste gooey not squeaky! Flip over and cook the other side too.
  • Layer up the burger with the halloumi on top of the houmous, topped with the peppers, a little swirl of sweet chilli sauce and some rocket. Top with the other half of the bun and ta da! Easy peasy and very yummy halloumi burgers!

30 Second Reflection - Where can Wisdom be found?

But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
The deep says 'It is not in me'
the seas say, 'it is not with me'
It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed out in silver...

Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing
concealed even from the birds in the sky.
Death and destruction say,
'Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.'
God alone understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
- The book of Job (from the Bible)

This week all the 30 Second Reflection are on the theme of Wisdom linking in to the series on Wisdom running on the blog, click away for the first post 'What is Wisdom?'

Monday, 17 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Guidance

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life on needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.

- Buddha

This week all the 30 Second Reflection are on the theme of Wisdom linking in to the series on Wisdom running on the blog, click away for the first post 'What is Wisdom?'

Friday, 14 August 2015

Vicar's Sofa – Finding Wisdom in the Natural World

One of the defining moments of my life came from an interaction with nature. I was working in South Africa at the time on the whale watching boats researching the marine life of the area. The boat was quiet that afternoon so I managed to get a spot with a friend for a bit of a jolly. We headed out until the shore looked like a thin line and the houses like tiny dots. The sea was perfectly still, like a shimmering silver blanket.

As we cut out our engine something in the air changed, that is the only way I can describe it, and we all fell into a quiet hush on the boat. I looked at the skipper and he mouthed 'it's going to breach'. I felt every muscle in my body tense up. Then, out of that perfectly still sea emerged a Humpback Whale. 16 metres long, sleek grey body mottled with white, sailing through the air swiftly followed by its 3 metre long baby. It takes a lot to shut me up but that moment left me awestruck, silent, for the rest of the afternoon.

The magnificent Humpback whale from

That experience taught me that you can learn a lot from nature. It can bring up in you all sorts of feelings that are hard even to put into words. Studying nature at university, and being privileged to have that amazing moment with one of the world's most spectacular animals, has given me a sense of the beautiful order, the underlying peace and wonder, that is in the world around us.

When I started exploring wisdom literature I was delighted, then to find that many, many people before me have seen the same thing. That looking to nature as a way of understanding the world, of seeking wisdom, is as old as humanity.

Another spectacular African view -  Sunset at a lake in Zambia

In the Old Testament nature is closely associated with the wisdom tradition. Some of my favourite passages of the entire Bible relate to watching the natural world and drawing wisdom from it. This is a personal favourite written at least two and a half thousand years ago:

'Four things on earth are small yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength yet they store up food in the summer.
Rock badgers are creatures of little power yet they make their home in the crags.
Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks.
A lizard can be caught in the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces.' 

 Proverbs 30:24-28

That feeling of connecting to something bigger than ourselves and drawing something from nature to help guide us or inspire us in our life is probably something we can all recognize. It is why we travel, or climb mountains, set up bird tables or go for walks in woodlands.
As well as this observation of nature Wisdom is also associated with the formation of the world in the Old Testament. You will, of course, have your own ideas about how we got here on this strange spinning rock in the middle of space.

One way of thinking about the Old Testament wisdom literature approach could be this - imagine wisdom to be a principle like gravity, something that is set into the ordering of the world. It is there from the beginning and underpins all things just as evolution underpins the emergence of new species and life on our planet. Proverbs puts it like this:

'The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed before eternity, from the beginning before the world began.'  Proverbs 8:22-3

The ancient Greeks had a similar idea in philosophy the logos which was the word used for the principle of order and knowledge in the world. Wisdom can be understood as something like that then, an order, a principle, a real and tangible thing that underpins everything in the world.

I love these possibilities raised in the wisdom tradition. I love how they chime with my experience of awe and wonder, how they make sense of our human connectedness and draw to the natural world, when we let ourselves feel it. I particularly love that growing in wisdom might be as easy as flopping down on the grass in my back garden and watching the birds overhead. That wonderful things can absolutely be found in the ordinary.

What do you think, is wisdom to be found in the natural world?
This is the second post in the Wisdom Series, to see the first post click here.

30 Second Reflection - Learning from Failure

'Failure if just another way to learn how to do something right'

 - Marion Wright Edelman
Add caption

Thursday, 13 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - World Changers

'We too readily sit down, under imperfect or bad conditions, instead of setting ourselves to think over what may or may not be done to alter them.'

- Octavia Hill

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Humanity

'I wanted to tell the Book Thief many things about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race...I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious and its words so damning and brilliant.

None of these things, however, came out of my mouth. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I know. I said it to the Book Thief and I say it to you now. I am haunted by humans.'

Words spoken by the Narrator, Death in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Vicar's Craft Corner – The Baking Hostess Trolley

One of the joys of moving home is the chance to put things in a new location and re purpose the old as well as bring in the new. When we moved house last time I came across this Hostess Trolley in a charity shop for a fiver and decided it would be good for storing shoes.

I was, however, completely wrong! The shoes really didn't fit on it at all (charity shop errors, eh? We've all had 'em!) so it ended it up as a kind of mobile shelving unit for my husband's jumpers and extensive collection of white running t shorts (don't ask!!)


In the new house, however, we have much better storage upstairs so the hostess trolley was relegated to the shed for the first couple of weeks. As I had some left over paint knocking about I started to wonder if I could enact a bit of a transformation of the trolley and use it in the kitchen/dinning area for some extra storage.
Ta da! The baking trolley was born! I started off by giving it a sand and then a couple of coats of a duck egg eggshell for interior wood. I then made use of some old oil cloth I had kicking about to line the shelves. The top and bottom oil cloth are from Cath Kidston and the middle is from Laura Ashley.

I then set about giving my baking supplies a new home. I keep my flour in these old Douwe Egberts Coffee jars which keeps in nice a fresh and crated some makeshift labels with a Sharpie and a bit of flair! It also houses some of the items I have picked up on my charity shop travels like this flour shaker which I just love, love, love!

Having the baking equipment on wheels is really handy as I can just wheel the whole thing into the kitchen when I need it. And, let's face it, it is pretty bloomin' cute!

30 Second Reflection: The Road Ahead

'Go forth in peace for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.'

- St Clare of Assisi

Monday, 10 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - A New Person

'It is no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.'
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -  Lewis Carroll

Friday, 7 August 2015

Vicar's Sofa - What is Wisdom?

In a previous post I suggested that life might be a whole lot easier if we were given a manual on arrival at this strange and wonderful planet that we live on. That a route map for life would solve a whole load of ills amongst the endless array of options that modern life offers us. Perhaps, even better, would be an inbuilt SatNav, a guide to tell you as you go that you are on the right path or need to make a U-turn. I know I could use one!

Unsurprisingly questions of how to live life well and find the right path in life have perplexed human beings for generations. Writing about life and all its complexities, or Wisdom Literature, is present in a bewildering brilliant array of civilizations throughout history. It is certainly in abundance today. In her book Thrive the founder of the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington writes 'Wherever we look around the world we see smart leaders – in politics, in business, in media – making terrible decisions. What they're lacking is not IQ but wisdom.'
I don't know about you but I want wise politicians, wise writers, wise judges and wise religious leaders in a world that so often seems to be spinning out of control. And I want to be wise myself, making good decisions about my day to day life, seeing to the heart of things, going the right way in the limited years I have, reaching old age with a knowing smile and a brilliant head of long grey hair!

I have a little book called A Special Gift of Wisdom which is full of quotes about living a wise life. The one thing it struggles to do, however, is to define what wisdom actually is. It's like wisdom is always one step ahead, something you know when you see it but that is really hard to put your finger on.. During my theological studies I wrote an essay on 'What is wisdom?' and I can tell you that even the scholars can't agree! Wisdom definitely has that je ne sais quoi!

Wisdom is something about discernment, something about experience, something about understanding the world, something about the way you see things, something about living life well. In my studies I have spent a chunk of time looking at Jewish and Christian wisdom literature and I am completely nuts for it. I jibber-jabber on about it so much to my poor, long suffering husband that I thought it really was high time I wrote about it.
So in the next few weeks I'll be posted a five part series on Wisdom. Think of it as a bit of a magical mystery tour after this illusive characteristic, a dip into the pool of the ancients and how they saw the world from their perspective. We have so much to learn from those who went before us. I'll look at wisdom in nature, wisdom and the every day, subversive wisdom and wisdom in the Christian story.
Eeek I can't wait to get started! :)

30 Second Reflection - Stronger, Braver, Smarter

'If there is ever a tomorrow when we're not together...there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important things is, even if we're apart I'll always be with you.'

- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne

Thursday, 6 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Different yet the same

'We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same'
- Anne Frank

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Something Wonderful

'I want to do something splendid...something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after I am dead. I don't know what, but I'm on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.'

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Vicar's Kitchen - The Best Meatballs in the Entire World

In my life there is one area of humongous, dramatic pride in which I cannot help but shamelessly boast whenever I get even half a chance. My Meatballs. I have travelled all over and eaten meatballs in a scandalous number of places and yet I always end up waving my fork with skewered meatball aloft and proclaiming 'Not as good as mine!'

All this pride is slightly misplaced though given that I have Jo Pratt to thank for my superior meatballs. Have you seen any of her cookbooks? They aren't massively well known as far as I am aware but she is one of my favourite food writers and I wax lyrical about her recipes when I get half a chance.
Her recipes are often designed for two, which I love. It is less family food more, 'Ooof go on, you have no kids, eat a massive Brie risotto for dinner!'. She separates her first cookbook In the Mood for Food into sections based on how you are feeling that day like feeling healthy, needing comfort food or feeding your bestest gal (or guy!) pals.

As well as her meatballs I love her Cauliflower Cheese soup which, I agree with Jo, is one of the best things going when you have a cold as it is packed with nutrients and feels like a great big warm hug for your insides. I also love her Saucy Banana pudding which has a gooey caramel layer and is divine with cream.

But anyway, back to the meatballs...I now adapt her recipe for what I believe is the optimal meatball but the credit really has to be hers for giving me the beginning of my greatest ever recipe and allowing me to unashamedly proclaim myself 'Meatball Queen'.

The genius of the recipe also comes from the fact that they go straight in the oven and so require minimal fuss. Do blitz the onions in a food processor if you can because it makes all the difference to the finished meatballs. No giant chunks of onion in sight!
So here it is, the recipe of all recipes. Use it wisely.
The Best Meatballs in the Entire World
For the Meatballs:

500g pack of lean mince beef
One slice of white bread whizzed into breadcrumbs in the food processor
One small onion whizzed up in the food processor
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tsp of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan
½ tsp of Very Lazy Red Chilli (or half a fresh red chilli)
1 egg, whisked
A little salt and pepper as you like

For the Sauce:
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Dried Basil
1 tsp of caster sugar
A good splash of red wine
  • First make the meatballs by mixing all the ingredients together. Just stick your hands in there and go nuts. Don't over squish or work the mixture longer than it takes to combine the ingredients. Over squishing makes for tough meatballs.
  • Roll up the mixture into little balls and place into an oven proof dish. This should make about 20.
  • Pour over a little olive oil and put the dish of meatballs in the oven preheated to 200 C or Gas Mark 6 for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the meatballs, they should be started to brown nicely on top, and turn them over gently using two forks. Pour a splash of wine over the meatballs, just enough to pour a little over each one, about 150 mls in all. Return to the oven for another ten minutes.
  • Pour over the tomatoes, sprinkle on the sugar and basil and return to the oven for 20-25 mins. By now the sauce should be bubbling nicely and the meatballs will be soft and lovely.
  • Serve with couscous or pasta. And GO NUTS!

30 Second Reflection: Tea and Wisdom with Mma Ramotswe

'In the old days Botswana people were rarely in a rush to get somewhere - why should they be? Nowadays people were always thinking about getting somewhere - they travelled around far more, rushing from here to there and back again. She would never let her life go that way; she would always take time to drink tea, to look at the sky and to talk. What else was there to do? Make money? Why? Did money bring any greater happiness than that furnished by a well made cup of redbush tea and a moment or two with a food friend? She thought not.'

- Mma Ramotswe in The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith
Zambian Lake at Sunset

Monday, 3 August 2015

30 Second Reflection - Fear

'Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood'
- Marie Curie (1867-1934)