17 Nov 2013

round the hearth

the hearth is the heart of the home, so they say, and it's true it's where we spent most of our time together - keeping warm (or cooling down), preparing meals, savouring the harvest, talking about life, love, faith, silliness too.

lately there's been lots of stock making with big beef bones...
chicken stewed in red wine and bay leaves (coq au vin)...
healing chicken and vegetable soup...
crispy roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary...
eggs every morning, always with butter, sometimes with bacon/tomatoes/sausages...
chives and parsley from the garden and hand-squeezed orange juice...
spring produce drawn and meals planned...
many cups of russian caravan, earl grey and english breakfast tea with hours fresh milk...
cream skipped off and whipped up for pavlova...
fresh flowers on the table like wild roses from the hedgerow and lavender from the side of the house... the fire stoked on cool spring nights...
little hands drawing and dreaming with me...
- coq au vin (chicken red wine stew) -

1 large onion, chopped
2 rashers of free-range bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 large celery stalk, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium carrots (I used purple heirloom variety)

1.5 kg pastured chicken, in eight pieces
2 cups red wine
2-3 cups chicken stock
"bouquet garni" (sprig thyme, 3 bay leaves, couple of parsley stalks tied together with string)
salt and pepper to taste
handful fresh parsley for garnish
(**usually mushrooms are added as well, but we had none so mine is without**)

in a large heavy-based pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Gently sauté onions until golden. Add in bacon, celery, garlic and carrots and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in chicken pieces and pour in stock, wine and herbs. You want the chicken to be completely covered by liquid so you may need to add an extra cup of stock. Bring stew to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 1.5 hours thereabouts. You want the chicken to be tender and fall off the bone. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot mash or roasted potatoes with a dollop of cream and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley...

- crispy rosemary potatoes -

1 kilo dutch cream potatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
flaked sea salt
2 tablespoons lard or butter or olive oil

preheat hot oven to 220'c. meanwhile peel and scrub clean potatoes. cut in half lengthwise and in half again (to make quarters, or eighths if its a giant potato). Fill a medium-sized saucepan with cold water and tip in your potatoes, add a generous sprinkle of sea salt and bring to the boil. Parboil potatoes for about 10 minutes then drain in a colander. Meanwhile toss melted lard/butter or olive oil with fresh herbs in a ceramic baking dish. Pour in potatoes into the dish and shake about a bit, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40-50 minutes - shaking half way through to prevent any burning. You may need to turn the heat down as well...


  1. What a lovely series of photos! I do love the look of your breakfast and hours fresh cream sounds divine. I haven't actually tasted it since I was a child and I do remember...that's how good it is :-) Sounds like you've got everything to make a very content life. The roaring fire, cups of tea with milk, food, shelter and a beautiful family. Blessings and hugs. xx

  2. Your photos look so warm and cozy! I might have to try your soup, it looks delicious. My soup "recipes" generally consist of chucking whatever looks good into the pot and testing and tasting and hoping for the best ;)

  3. Hi Emily,
    I came across your blog this evening...you know how you just start clicking away and finally you land on a place that is the new blog you've been wanting to find....
    I love the way you write and how your photos are real, the good real life ones. I've really enjoyed reading through your older posts and I agree with Joyful, it does look like you have everything to make a content life. I'm looking forward to reading more. :)


  4. Wow, your post has made me so hungry! All the food looks absolutely delicious! I found your blog through Pinterest when I searched 'biro sketch' and love it. Just about to follow you on blogger :)


Thank you for reading! I do so love and appreciate every one of your comments even if I don't get a chance to reply.