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26 grains

I’ve been wanting to visit 26 grains since when they first opened last June. Following them on Instagram always made me instantly hungry and I’m glad I finally got there!!

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains // colourliving

As expected the place is small but perfectly formed. I was immediately greeted by some very capable young ladies who work that place like magic. You feel the energy of the food as soon as you step through the door and know whatever you’ll order you are about to do something very good for your body and on top really enjoy it too. Result!

With a very small kitchen unit, all dishes are made to order and you can feel the love that goes into each one.

26 grains // colourliving

Ah, now what to choose. I had read on their Instagram page that they’ve just added some new dishes. One of them was the 3 Grain Blood Orange & Cacao Crumble (Almond milk oats, barley and rye blend, blood orange compote, cacao crumble, greek yogurt).

26 grains // colourliving

I decided to first take photographs, have a peek at some of the dishes being served before deciding what to feast on.

Their menu is really quite extensive for such a small place and I particularly liked that you could have sweet or savoury dishes. Their drinks list covers everything from smoothies, lemonade, drinking vinegar to teas and coffees made with almond or coconut milk and turmeric tonic. There is even turmeric latte and hot turmeric choc.

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains rolls their own oats and in their savoury dishes they use stock to cook the grains.

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains // colourliving

I loved their simple system of keeping track of orders.

26 grains // colourliving

This here below is a Bircher muesli. How pretty is that? Oats and chia seeds soaked in almond milk, Coconut, goji berries and date syrup. Yum!

26 grains // colourliving

The very simple decor is charming and effective. Little touches here and there, a few cacti, a little painting and some hydrangeas give it that homely feeling.

26 grains // colourliving

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Cucumber and lemon water is readily available.

26 grains // colourliving

As it was lunchtime and I always favour savoury over sweet, I opted for their Egg & Kale (Oats with Kale, Egg, Avocado and Chili Sauce). Now, that might not sound seductive but I knew it would be just the right dish for me and it was! As I wanted to try their homemade black tahini I chose that as an add on as seen in the photograph.

26 grains // colourliving

26 grains is a great addition to the increasingly health conscious London food scene. Can’t wait to return!

26 grains,
Neal’s Yard,
Seven Dials,
Covent Garden,
London,
WC2H 9DP

Mon – Thurs 8.00-18.00
Friday 8.00-17.00
Saturday and Sunday 10.00-16.00

Instagram.com/26grains

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conservatory archives

Today, I’m über excited to introduce you to the latest addition of a specialist shop in London. Conservatory Archives is a plant shop like no other I’ve encountered.

conservatory archives // colourliving

Opened just before Christmas 2015, owners Jin and Giacomo are currently working on their website. Unfortunately for now you’ll have to take a trip there but boy will you be pleasantly surprised and rather overwhelmed with so much beauty, integrity and discernment.

So what will you find there? Well, if you’re after the usual plant suspects, you’ll find a few of those. Mostly there are unique beauties, be it extra large cacti, airplants and monsteras. You’ll find many small succulents for terrariums, some very rare species obtained from real plant collectors. There are vintage pots and some furniture. The choice and selection is truly breathtaking and you can see the discerning eye. I didn’t know where to look first and I felt that I was in a place where someone knew their craft.

Meet Jin, who tamed my curiosity.

conservatory archives // colourliving

What’s your background? I’m originally from Seoul, where I studied graphic design and also worked as a fashion designer. I came to the UK 5 years ago to study English in Edinburgh, where I met Giacomo. Then I went on to Chelmsford to get a BSc (honour) in Horticulture. Last year we came to London and planned this shop.

What’s the idea? When studying Horticulture, most students focused on landscape gardening. I knew I wanted to work with an ‘indoor garden’. I come from a big city (Seoul) so living with indoor plants in a big city really fascinates me.

conservatory archives // colourliving

conservatory archives // colourliving

Why the name ‘Conservative Archive’? When we took the lease for this shop we knew it used to be london’s oldest ironmongers. A raw and wonderful space. We sadly couldn’t keep the shop facade without painting it due to bare wood not weathering well in London. It ended up looking like a conservatory. There have been pop-up shops here since the ironmongers closed. We plan to stay indefinitely, hence the word ‘archive’.

Do you collect anything? Except for everything to do with plants, I love collecting bric-a-brac, animal figurines, Dieter Rams’ Audio players for Braun. We love going to flea markets and antique markets. I love sourcing containers, pots and anything that will house a plant.

conservatory archives // colourliving

conservatory archives // colourliving

Tell me about the vintage furniture here in the shop! Giacomo and I both love vintage furniture. We have quite a large collection back in Italy, where Giacomo is from. Slowly we’re hoping to bring bits over. We love mid-century furniture and often source form Sweden and Denmark.

Where do you source your unique plants from? Oh, anywhere and everywhere. Our favourite thing is to get into our van and drive to the middle of nowhere where a plant collector hopefully will sell us his beauties. Often they don’t want to part with them. We go literally anywhere.

conservatory archives // colourliving

conservatory archives // colourliving

conservatory archives // colourliving

conservatory archives // colourliving

This will be my go to shop for anything plant related. I bought the most beautiful and unique cactus which no doubt will be featured in another post! Jin, it was such a pleasure to meet you. I cannot wait to return. Now I just need a bigger flat!

Oh, I have it on good authority that there will be coffee served there soon.

Conservatory Archives
493-495 Hackney Road
London
E2 9ED

Open: Tuesday -Sunday
11.00 am -7.00pm
Instagram: @conservatory_archives

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stoke newington organic farmers’ market

Today, I thought I’ll introduce you to another of my favourite farmers’ market. Stoke Newington Organic Farmers’ Market has become a key part of the neighbourhood’s weekly shopping routine. Although I live in Islington I love going there on a Saturday morning and stocking up on some of the best food grown.

All stalls come from small-scale organic or bio-dynamic producers – most of them within a 60-mile radius – and there’s an excellent variety.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

You’ll find long queues outside the butcher’s van, where the sausages are a big hit. They are my go to for raw jersey kefir.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

Another of my staple daily diet is the most AMAZING sauerkraut from PAMA. My favourite is the one with Turmeric. Patka & Martin founded PAMA in 2011 while discovering the RAW food scene in California. Now based in Hackney they make a delicious range of fermented products including sauerkrauts, sweet and sour pickles and their own sauerkraut crackers.  Patka and Martin source organic vegetables for their pickles from Ripple Farm, Kent – who also come to the market.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

PAMA’s Jalapeno carrots.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

Hook and Son (father and son) have a small organic dairy farm in East Sussex near Hailsham. They produce raw milk from their 75 Friesians and make cream and butter too. They also sell rose veal. Their organic farm has been in their family for 250 years.

My staples from them are their raw butter and ghee.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

Brothers Matthew and William Rooney grow organic oyster and other exotic mushrooms at their small farm in Great Bromley, Essex. The Mushroom Table are pioneers of the biodynamic cultivation of local mushrooms. Biodynamic mushrooms have culinary and medicinal uses and it’s worth reading up on it and their website is a great start.

Matthew also serves up the most delicious oyster mushroom sandwich. I opt to have it in a cup without the bread. Truly scrumptious!!

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving
A variety of the wild mushroom you’ll find at the stall.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

I’ve been shopping in farmers’ markets for many years. Often I’ve struggled with the vegetables stalls. This market, in my opinion, has the best vegetable offerings in the whole of London.

My go to’s are A G Brockman and Ripple Farm.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

Ripple Farm grow over 15 different organic potato varieties. I do tend to prefer sweet potatoes but if I do eat normal potatoes I ABSOLUTELY favour Pink Fir Apple potatoes, here below.

Pink Fir Apple’ is a main crop potato variety with a pink skin and cream, waxy flesh. It has a long, knobbly shape. Originally, it was imported to the UK from France in 1850. I tend to boil them and serve up with spring onion, generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, amalfi lemon and malden salt. I promise you, you’ll be in heaven!

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

Look at this wonderful squash! Here’s a great sqaush indentification chart.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

There’s breads galore. Aston’s organic bakery has got a fantastic choice, offering sourdoughs,walnut levain, spelt sourdoughs, sourdough rye, multi-grain cobs, cholla, as well as traditonal soda breads and croissants.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

OK, I might not have a sweet tooth and make my own raw chocolate but at the market you’ll find great chocolates, cakes, Turkish börek, stuffed with piping hot spinach and butter, creole fritters and many other stalls to wet your appetite.

stoke newington organic farmers' market // colourliving

What is there not to love here? And best of all, when you shop at the market, not only do you get delicious food but you are also helping to support small, sustainable farms and farmers around London. Win, win!

Stoke Newington Organic Farmers’ Market
St Pauls Church,
Stoke Newington High St,
London N16 7UY

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blade rubber stamps

I remember in the 90’s discovering this amazing shop that sold rubber stamps. Back then, situated in Neal’s Yard – Covent Garden, it was one of those speciality shops that made London retail’s scenery so enticing.

Well, the speciality retail scenery might not have lasted (although we’re seeing a resurgence) but Blade Rubber Stamps survived, albeit in another location now. Tucked away, moments from the British Museum, the shop is bigger, better and whether you’re a business, designer or crafter, their range of products will wet your appetite and give you new ideas. It’s not all about scrapbooking, I promise! I dare any other retail shop to have a vaster range in coloured inkpads!

Blimey, the selection of rubber stamps is enormous. You can order the collection online.

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Throughout the shop you’ll find homemade cards displayed everywhere. I wanted to know who’s cards they were. Apparently when people come and do workshops on how to use rubber stamps for card making they often leave their piece of art in the shop for customers to get inspired and see some end results. How nice is that?

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I picked an example here of two different people using this tree rubber stamp as inspiration for their very different creations. It shows how the rubber stamp motif is just the bases for the final artwork.

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Some further examples where people have used the rubber stamps from the shop and created a unique piece of work. Inspiring?

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You can also use their made to order rubber stamps service. Always useful!

It is refreshing to see how Blade Rubber Stamps have weathered the economic downturn and remain firmly a destination shop for many people around the world wanting to ‘create’ something. After all we are now in the era of ‘makers’.

There were no names available to credit the artists of the pictures I took.

Blade Rubber Stamp
12 Bury Place,
London WC1A 2JL
020 7831 4123

This post will stay live until Monday 1 February 2016.

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urbanjunglebloggers – kitchen greens

It’s the first Urban Jungle Bloggers post of 2016. For my previous editions, see here.

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series, devised by Igor and Judith. The idea is to get some green into our homes, especially for us urban folks! Every month they invite bloggers to share ideas for creating an urban jungle through styling challenges, DIYs, green tips and tricks. Every month there is a different theme on the topic. You can follow and get more urban jungle bloggers inspiration on their Pinterest boards and Facebook page.

January’s theme is: ‘Kitchen Greens′.

C’mon in….. Here’s part of my kitchen. I really appreciate the very big and wide windows I have and the view!

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I just had to get this gorgeous hydrangea the other day. The colours….

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OK, not a plantie thing but isn’t this egg holder just the best? It literally cheers me up every day.

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My kitchen shelves are mainly used for herbs. I grow herbs on the roof terrace but in the winter months I supplement with bought ones. I also love to keep succulents. My aloe vera plant is growing a bit out of control.

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This little baby below was given to me by a dear friend. It always reminds me of palm trees.

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Some of you will remember my Spider Lily from a previous hanging planters post.

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I also keep one of my Terrariums in the kitchen area but as I have an open plan flat it’s all a bit of a mix and match situation and I like moving things around.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my kitchen shelfie. I look forward to having a browse in your cuisine.

UJB-sidebar-green

This post will stay live until Monday 25th January.

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365 days of creativity

A belated happy new year dearest readers. I hope you’ve all had a good break. How has January been treating you so far?

I’m really glad I’ve had this time to reflect about whether I wanted to launch a 365 days project and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not what I want at all. I think what I was trying to do is make sure I keep up my sketching and creativity in general. What I realised over the break is that I seem to do that anyway.

As luck wanted it, a while ago, I stumbled across a free class on Skillshare entitled create a cityscape with Adobe Illustrator. I bookmarked it and over the break, on one Sunday afternoon, I decided to get to grips with it. I must admit my Photoshop skills are good but I’ve always struggled with Illustrator. A few hours later, voila, the finished cityscape. I loved every minute of doing it and learning more about Illustrator.

365 days of creativity

There are so many fantastic courses on Skillshare and Creativebug. I want to do more of them.

So, once I decided I’m committing to 365 days of creativity instead of a 365 days project, I felt free and inspired. Once again, Lisa Congdon’s new daily drawing challenge came at the exactly right time. Start day was 1 January 2016. Task: draw a different object for 31 days (we were given the list of things to draw).

To be honest, my drawing isn’t very good and I tend to sketch cityscapes and patterns instead of drawing objects per se. I’ve been really enjoying it because it forces you to really look! We are a third way through but you can join at anytime and as ever, my fellow students are very encouraging and damn talented.

I sketch in my square sketchbook with white pages, but for this post here I decided to give the drawings coloured backgrounds. Which one is your favourite?


365 days of creativity
Day 1 // Draw a Tree

365 days of creativity
Day 2 // Draw a Teacup

365 days of creativity
Day 3 // Draw a Chair

365 days of creativity
Day 4 // Draw a Leaf

365 days of creativity
Day 5 // Draw a Rose

365 days of creativity
Day 6 // Draw a Sneaker

365 days of creativity
Day 1 // Draw a Pitcher

365 days of creativity
Day 8 // Draw a Cat

365 days of creativity
Day 9 // Draw a Bird

365 days of creativity
Day 10 // Draw a Mushroom

For now I feel really inspired to continue and no doubt I’ll join some other class and do more sketching like I did last year. I’m proud of myself that I’m now into my second year of regular sketching. Long may it last.

Have you started a special project?

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launching a 365-day project

Another year, another Christmas, a blogging hiatus! Yes, my dear readers. After a very busy year which, amongst other things, has seen the birth of Mapology Guides, I’m reflecting back and starting to think about plans for 2016.

launching a 365-day project // colourliving

launching a 365-day project // colourliving

With the launch of three new maps in early 2016 and continuous plans for my Home Finding business, my attention goes to my sketching endeavour of 2015. When I started, what I called Daily Sketching I had no idea where it would take me. What was apparent from the start is that the way I produce art is rather intricate and time consuming. Many late nights later I realised that my sketching became a necessary part of my weekly routine but greatly interfered with my ‘early nights’ and therefore my well-being.

This made me think. What would I like to tackle in 2016 to keep up my creativity and sketching? To be honest, right now I don’t know as this is a real commitment in time and energy. Also, would I like to make this a 365 day project. (It’s 366 days in 2016)

launching a 365-day project // colourliving

I don’t know exactly why I want to do a 365-day project, other than that I really enjoyed my sketching this year. I ended up with a body of work I wouldn’t have otherwise. This time round I want to have some theme I can work to and attempt to do something daily. Here are my thoughts so far:

  1. I’ll keep doing something in my square sketchbook but this time instead of filling 2 pages I’ll only fill 1 each day!
  2. I fancy using collage and other materials as well as my sketching tools.
  3. I would like to incorporate text and language.
  4. The theme could be: What have I learned today? OR Daily observations? OR simply Art Journaling?

launching a 365-day project // colourliving

launching a 365-day project // colourliving

Have you done a 365-day project in previous years? If so, can you share your experience? Are you planning on doing one this year? Fancy joining in? Accountability is everything. It would be fun to form a group for support.

I would like to thank everyone who stopped by this year, who read my posts and took the time to comment. It’s so hard to find time these days to read blogs so I really appreciate it. I’m going to take a well deserved break, recharge batteries and get energised for 2016. Wherever you are, have the loveliest of Christmas and a happy start to the new year.

I see you all back here on Monday 11th January 2016. Until then, stay save x

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islington square

London seems like a never ending building site. Wherever you look there are cranes, houses being demolished and re-build. And of course there’s a housing shortage. Prices are far too high and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any day soon. There’s a new development happening in Islington, my hood.

I was charmed when the developers involved in creating Islington Sqaure put on The Festival of Culture over the weekend. I briefly popped in on Saturday early evening.

So what was it about? Basically Islington Square, to open at the end of 2017, is a new development which will include the conversion of the Edwardian Royal Mail sorting office into large warehouse apartments retaining many of the original features including high ceilings and ornate detailing.There’ll be a vibrant hub of community life with restaurants, cafes and retailers offering something a little different from the high street.

My favourite part had to be the architectural model on display, which I believe can still be viewed for a couple of weeks. I was also pleasantly surprised that in one building there will be 50% affordable homes and in another about 30%. Expect the usual luxury penthouse with swimming pools, but it’s really encouraging to see that there will be a varied and vibrant community with very different scales of what kind of home people can afford to buy.

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

Here’s a detail of a lit up photographic representation.

islington square // colourliving

In order to introduce the concept the developers put on The Festival of Culture, a free event which included a pop-up cinema, community gardening, a street food market, theatre and dance, some children entertainment, a spectacular light display, live music and buskers.

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

islington square // colourliving

It’s always nice when there’s a community spirit in one’s area. The Edwardian Royal Mail sorting office has been empty for a few years. The last big event was feast, one of the first street food events back in December 2012 which has always been my favourite.

I think Islington Square will be a nice addition to the borough.

This post will stay live until 14th December.

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the five things book

Here’s the story so far! Paul McNally, Belfast-based graphic designer, chose as his final MA project to document people’s favourite ‘Five Things’. Basically, he wanted to know which five things mattered to them most and why! I immediately fell in love with this project, joined in, asked Paul for an interview and blogged about it.

five-things

The idea spread quickly and now, after having collected an interesting variety of folk’s ‘Five Things’ Paul decided to take his project to the next level. Publishing the ‘Five Things’ book. “Five Things. A design-led book; exploring over 100 people’s five favourite things, along with the personal reasons for their choices.” Perfect for a Kickstarter campaign, wouldn’t you agree? The book contains many notable designers, musicians, photographers and loads of other interesting people from all over the world.

Take a look here to see what it’s all about!

I think most people underestimate the intensity and hard work that goes into preparing a Kickstarter campaign. Paul took on the challenge and I’m delighted to share that he’s reached his initial goal of £8,500 with still a week or so to go.

Here are some spreads from the forthcoming book.

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Why not pledge? Have a look at the rewards and be among the first to hold this fine tome in your hands. Delivery is April 2016. Ships anywhere in the world. Personally, I cannot wait to receive my own copy.

The best of luck Paul with the book and your future ventures.

All images © Paul McNally Design Limited 2015.

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The variety of vegetables in the winter months

It’s so important to nourish ourselves with good and wholesome food. As we’re approaching the 1st December, here in the northern hemisphere official winter is about to set in. As a regular farmers market shopper I’m well used to eating seasonal fare. In the summer months when all foods are plentiful, it is easier to get a good variety. Not so in the winter. I thought I’ll highlight some of the vegetables and fruit in season and link to some yummy recipes so you can have a go.

I do advocate organic food and always try and buy my vegetables with the earth left on. They keep for longer like that.

The lovely parsnip is a very underrated root vegetable. Pale yellow or ivory in colour, parsnips are very tasty and simple to prepare. Take a look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes for some ideas.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Beetroot, also known simply as the beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new super food due to recent studies claiming that beets and beetroot juice can improve athletic performance, lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. The Beetroot comes in many varieties. Here’s the Red Beetroot and some fab recipes.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Celeriac, another underrated root vegetable, also known as root-celery, is a closely related variety of common leaf celery. It’s fantastic if you can look beyond the nobbly bits and peel it. I use the leaves for my bone broth. Why not try this Smashed Celeriac recipe.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Good old potato. A staple for many. Loved by most. There are too many varieties to list here. I do love potatoes but tend to prefer sweet potatoes these days. They are better for me. Having said that, who can say no to proper home-made potato wedges?

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Red onions are most often used in salads, salsas, and other raw preparations for their color and relatively mild flavor. The lovely red color becomes washed out during cooking. I use red onions nearly daily. If you find their flavor to astringent for eating raw, try soaking them in water before serving. Try some roasted red onions with butter, honey and balsamic vinegar.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Beautiful January King Cabbage. This is a really hardy winter cabbage – not even severe frost seems to bother it. The heads of the January King cabbage are crisp and crunchy. So many ways to cook this. Fancy braised beef with January King Cabbage and Carrot Crush?

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Another vegetable that many people don’t know what to do with. Leeks, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the Allium. Readily available, I like using them nearly daily. Love this simple recipe: Leeks En Cocotte.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Mostly seen in green, these beautiful purple kohlrabi are quite divine. I’ve eaten them raw or cooked. Here are two different recipes for you. One for raw and one for cooked. Kohlrabi carpaccio, Steamed kohlrabi.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Brussels sprouts are a bit like marmite. You either hate or love them! With Christmas approaching they are very much in the lime light. Why not try these parmesan brussels sprouts?

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

The squash is rather versatile. You can eat it raw, sautéed, grilled, steamed, boiled, baked and fried. Easily puréed for soups, cakes, pies and quick breads, it also can be added to stews and made into dishes like ratatouille and pumpkin pie. Served alone or as an side dish, the diverse flavors of squash lend itself to any occasion.

There are so many different varieties of squash and pumpkin. How to choose one recipe? Well, let’s choose 80 sweet and savoury squash and pumpkin recipes instead!

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Red Kurl Sqaush

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Kabocha Sqaush

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Autumn Crown Squash

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Table Ace Squash

Peppers, tomatoes and red radicchio are still in season if grown in green houses or poly tunnels. There just simply isn’t enough summer season to grow them purely outside. No farmer could make a living out of it.

Here are 27 ways to make your peppers less boring.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

Garlic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

For those of you who are not familiar with Radicchio, it’s a leaf chicory, sometimes known as Italian chicory. It is grown as a leaf vegetable and is bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when grilled or roasted. I used it a lot in salads but also in cooking.

I particularly like this Jamie Oliver recipe and have made it many times.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving

I like buying my organic fruits from Chegworth Valley. Their handpicked apples and pears are amongst the best you can find.

Everything you need to know to make the ultimate Apple Pie.

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Russet Apples

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Boscop Red Apples

The variety of vegetables in the winter months // colourliving
Comic Pears and Conference Pears

To end with a pear recipe, here is the incomparable Nigel Slater doing what he does best.

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