Monday, December 29, 2014

Pumpkin, Vegetable and Barley Soup

The pumpkins are still in season and in the colder winter months soups are comfort for the soul. Easy to make, full of flavors and packed with nourishing vegetables its the time of year to get your soup on. I roasted a little butternut squash any pumpkin would work and a mixture of desired vegetables.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Turkey Vegetable and Barley Soup

I made this soup with the leftovers from the Thanksgiving Turkey including the broth made from the bones and some herbs and vegetables. It was easy to make nourishing and tasty. With Christmas coming up I thought it was the perfect time to share. So save those bones and make a tasty soup with them, you could even make a big batch and freeze some. My sister in law really enjoyed this we all have such lovely memories of their visit from Scotland and they really enjoyed an American Thanksgiving.


for the broth:

  • a few big Turkey or chicken bones 
  • 1/2 an onion sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped 
  • a handful of Italian herbs
for the soup:

  • about a liter of broth, 4-5 cups 
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1/2 an onion chopped
  • a cup of green beans
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian herbs 
  • one cup of barley (I used the quick cooking type)
  • about a cup of shredded cooked Turkey 

  1. add all the ingredients of the broth and about 4-5 cups of water let it boil for 30-45 minutes then remove the bones and big pieces of onion
  2. meanwhile saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, add the celery 
  3. then add the broth, carrots and green beans, barley and turkey 
  4. simmer for about 10- 15 minutes until the vegetables and barley are cooked
  5. enjoy 

Have a very Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays 

Much Love 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Wreaths

When I was walking the other day I saw some parts of a christmas tree by the roadside it must have fallen off a car. I have never made wreaths before but couldn't resist taking it home to try. I found some old wire coat hangers, bent them in the shape of a circle and piece by piece wrapped the fir branches around it holding together with twine. 

There is a video below, the wreaths were surprisingly easy to make and I made 4 from my find :-) a couple for friends one for our living room and one for our sweet girls bedroom. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Scottish Oatcakes

Oatcakes are a traditional cracker in Scotland often eaten with a good cheese. They are made with simple ingredients and healthy I had some wonderful ones on the Isle of Arran in the summer. Anne shared her recipe with me a few months ago its super simple to follow and as we go into the holiday season these would make a great addition to a cheese plate. They are wonderful with the British Branston Pickle. 

I meet Anne on Vine a wonderful 6 second video sharing app. Anne makes wonderful and artistic vines from Scotland I have included a couple below. If your on vine be sure to follow her :-)

  Mashable a social media and news site featured some cooking vines this week and it made me smile to see my poached egg curry featured. This is a dish I learnt from my South Indian hubby its a go to meal for us as its simple to make and full of flavor. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mendenhall Plantation Jamestown NC

I recently meet a friend at city lake park in High point North Carolina its a wonderful park with a play area and a lake and in the summer it has a vintage steam train and a carousel for the kids. Across the street there's a wonderful old house and museum. I noticed it was open so the wee man and I popped over it was great and we were the only folks there so got a private tour with the man who runs it. The house dates back to 1811 and was built by a British quaker family. The home, another house that was a doctors surgery and medical school, barn, tannery and a store across the street was a local marketplace. A place to barter and trade items and develop crafts in fact the family were resourceful and skilled. The museum has fascinating history and nice grounds friendly staff and is well worth a visit. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Acorn Squash Risotto

I made an acorn squash risotto recently although personally not my favorite risotto, I have now made a few.

I feel using seasonal squash and pumpkin is fun this time of year. I just adore risotto its a wonderful one pot meal and really a blank canvass to add new ingredients to.


  • one acorn squash
  • two cups of vegetable stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • one cup of Arborio Rice
  • a little freshly grated parmesan cheese 


  1. cut the acorn squash in half, remove the seeds and bake in a little water at 400 F for 30 minutes until soft, cut into cubes 
  2. saute the onion and garlic in olive oil, with a little wine
  3. add the acorn squash and stir
  4. add rice and stir keep stirring the rice as the water evaporates then add another cup, stir then add the final cup this takes about 30-45 min, add some parmesan never the end and some to garnish 

Hope your week is of to a good start, I live in Winston Salem North Carolina close to the village of Clemmons last night I was googling the history of Clemmons and came to learn that is was founded in the late 1800's by Peter Clemmons who had a stagecoach company.  One of these is housed in the Clemmons village hall. The Hattie Butner purchased in 1872 is a splendid carriage named after his wife it was used to take folks to Asheville. So if your ever in this area, pop into the village hall the staff are more than happy to show you a wonderful piece of local history :-)

What have you discovered recently?

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hauser Creek Lavender Farm

A while ago I noticed some facebook friends visiting a lavender farm, I was curious so asked for the name, then I sent the owner of Hauser Creek Lavender farm a message to see when we could visit, the farm has a couple of open houses one in the summer around harvest time and one in the fall. 

We recently visited the fall open house. Its a beautiful farm in between Mocksville and Lewisville NC close to where I live. It makes a fun Sunday afternoon trip and has nice walking trails through the woods. The family inherited the land and started growing lavender in fact there are only two places growing it in the State. Its a work in progress and a passion and speaking to them its not all that easy to grow here. The farm, has pretty barns and an old farm house made to look like it would maybe 80-100 years ago. The kids enjoyed looking around. The day we visited we were allowed to pick flowers and take them home that was a treat the owner Alethea Segal is an avid gardener and the gardens are a delight.

The farm sells soaps, dried lavender, and culinary lavender perfect for gifts.  During the peak of harvest they also sell at The piedmont triad farmers market in Greensboro. 

 The old farm house 
our wee guy showing the cat his flowers :-) 

 Inside the old farm house 

 lavender goodies 

our daughter with her flowers :-)

It's a lovely place to visit, they also rent it out for weddings, if your looking for a scenic drive and a fun farm visit consider putting one of their open houses on your calendar.

Hauser Creek Farm 

Address: Hauser Creek Farm  898 Spillman Road  Mocksville, NC 27028
Phone: 336.706.3235

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Albanian Baked Eggplant

I learnt this simple and flavorful eggplant dish from a sweet Albanian lady I meet at a local community garden dinner. The coordinator kindly invited me I had visited a couple of times as a master gardener but didn't really know how to help. I find it easier in the school gardens. I fondly remember her garden and her pride in it, gardening connected her with how she grew up and her homeland. I follow Nate of Yomadic on twitter and facebook and really enjoy his blog and sense of adventure. He has explored Eastern Europe and many places off the beaten path. Here is one highlighting how beautiful Albania is and maybe we need to put in on our travel list. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thai Basil Lemonade

Lemonade is really a summer drink but why not enjoy it all year, in fact winter is citrus season. We enjoy winter citrus especially Meyer lemons from California and honeybells from Florida. We still have a little fresh basil in the garden but I am not sure for how much longer but you can find it in grocery stores and Thai basil in your local Asian store. Our wee man helped me make this simply love involving the kids in the kitchen.


  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • sugar to taste about 2 tablespoons 
  • one cup of water 
  • a few crushed Thai basil leaves 
  • a handful of ice

  1. juice the lemons, mix with sugar, water and basil
  2. pour over ice 
  3. enjoy 

Whatever the season we can create sunshine in the kitchen and wear a smile 

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Craft: Glitter Pumpkins

One of the joys of this time of year is decorating and also carving pumpkins, fun for all ages and really brightens a front step. I didn't grow up doing this but have really adopted this lovely American tradition since living here. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash, Chickpea and Wheat berry salad

Its always fun to eat in season when foods are at their best, in the autumn winter squash have their chance to shine. They really come alive after being roasted and are pretty versatile, allowing them to be added to soups, stews, couscous and other grain salads. This is a simple salad with roasted acorn squash, chick peas and wheat berries. It is flavorful and has a fun variety of textures. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Meet Eric Reid Cacao Farmer and Entrepreneur

I recently got a message on LinkedIn from Eric about SpagnVola chocolates asking if I would like to try them. You may have noticed but I very rarely feature or mention food products here. In fact Chow and Chatter is advertisement free and I also never sell links.

But after learning about Chocolate from the amazing Simran Sethi and trying some single estate chocolates from Ecuador I was curious to try and my palate had been spoilt. I used to have a perception that dark chocolate was bitter but a good one is smooth full of flavors and wonderful tastes of the area it is grown. Like coffee cacao is grown in countries along the equator and each region has its own special characteristics. Good chocolate really only has three ingredients: cacao solids, sugar and cocoa butter.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fruit and Vegetable Prints

I love doing crafts with the kids and am always looking for new ideas, I had some ink so figured why not make some simple prints, I chopped up vegetables and fruit and made cards with the prints. The oranges worked well and another day we used okra this was also pretty. You can make simple stamps with potatoes also by carving the desired shape into it.

This craft is great for toddlers, as they can stamp and learn colors and shapes at the same time. I actually sent these cards with some pictures of the kids to my Grandma's in England :-) 

Hope your having a great weekend we visited a local butterfly farm today and got to feed the majestic monarchs and then they released them to start their epic journey to Mexico. Sadly these amazing butterflies are in decline and on the endangered list due to many factors possibly pesticides and loss of milk weed. Milk weed is the only plant the caterpillar eats so its vital a wonderful organization -Monarch watch is helping by supplying seeds and encouraging home gardeners, schools and folks to plant milk weed and flowers. As Monarch way stations to provide rest, food and place for the butterflies to mate, lay eggs, grow into caterpillars, then butterflies.

I planted some milk weed today :-) hope you can find some locally also and help. If your in the Winston Salem NC area, there is a way station in the Demo garden at the cooperative extension building on fairchild road and one at Bethabara.


Milkweed this is an exotic one so an annual but you can also get perennial varieties 

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Okra with Panch Phoron

I was recently visiting a great spice shop in Greensboro called Savory Spice Shop, I have tweeted and chatted on facebook with them for a good while and it was lovely to meet the manager in person. I have seen Panch Phoron on Indian blogs its a Bengali spice blend. After I got it I mentioned it on the facebook page and asked for tips, folks said its good with vegetables or potatoes. Since we love okra in our house I figured lets sauté some with it. It was an easy to make side full of flavor, so if your looking for a fun new spice blend to try, check out Panch Phoron. It means "five spices" in Maithili 
and consists of fenugreek seed, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Southern Heritage Apple Orchard

I visited Horne Creek Historic farm this summer with the kids it's a beautiful old farm from the 1800's that offers a snapshot into life in that era, with folks dressed in historic clothes, demonstration cooking, a garden, some animals and a heritage apple orchard. It was at that time that I first chatted to Jason Bowen the orchard manager and Horticulturalist there, I asked if master gardeners ever volunteered with him and that I was studying to be one. So fast forward to the last few weeks I am now a master gardener and volunteering in various gardens and thought I would ask if I could help in the orchard and learn about apples. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Banana Tea Loaf

On the day I made little cupcakes for the wee man's third birthday I realized I didn't have enough cake for the adults and we all like cake right, so I quickly made this banana tea loaf was super easy and was a hit, with the kids and adults a like. Funny I used to be so intimated by baking and have made lots of mistakes, you see my Grandma is one of the worlds best bakers and has big shoes to fill. But as they say practice makes perfect and over the years baking is getting a little easier. I love making cakes with the kids and have been since they were young. Our daughter is now 6 I started Chow and Chatter when she was a baby, she can now pick veggies from the garden and cut them and help me make dinner - magic. 

Thanks for continuing to be with me on this blogging journey, pull up a chair for a cuppa and slice of cake. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Falkland, Scotland Photo Series

 Falkland is a gorgeous little village nestled at the foot of East Lomond in Fife, it was built in the 1500's by the Stuarts where they enjoyed hunting in the forests of Fife. Mary Queen of Scots lived here.  It also has one of two tennis courts built in the 1600's the other being in Hampton Court. Over the years the Palace fell into disrepair but was restored by the 3rd Marquess of Bute in fact the family still live in the village, it is managed by The National Trust and is well worth a visit. Falkland is home to many artists and has a great selection of coffee shops, art galleries and craft shops. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spiced Sole with Seasonal Vegetables

As summer produce from your local farmers market or garden starts to wind down, be sure to enjoy this beautifully simple dish. I lightly pan fried sole with some Turkish spice mix or any desired spice blend would work, grilled some zucchini and squash and had a salad. Every season has its gifts as we look towards fall in our part of the world with wonderful pumpkins and winter citrus. Its fun to embrace seasonal eating as often produce is cheaper and more flavorful in season. 


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