Disperse February gloom with songs to make you smile
Taking Time to Live Well
Indian dishes can have endless ingredients but this light and spicy curry is a doddle
4 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dried red Kashmiri chillies
2cm root ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large plum tomato, finely chopped
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 tbsp palm sugar, or soft light brown sugar
2 tsp tamarind paste
1 green chilli, deseeded
and finely sliced
500g firm white fish fillets, skinned, cut into 3cm chunks
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Thyme sprigs or chopped chives, to garnish
Lemon zest strips, to garnish
1 Toast the coriander and cumin seeds and dried chillies in a dry frying pan for about a minute. Crush in a pestle and mortar, then mix in the ginger, garlic, turmeric and 1 tsp salt.
2 Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and fry the onion until soft and golden. Stir in the spice mix. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato and cook until it is soft.
3 Add the coconut milk, sugar, tamarind and green chilli and bring to just under the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste for seasoning.
4 Season the fish all over, then add it to the sauce and simmer for about four mins until cooked through. Add the coriander leaves and serve with rice.
Recipe from Simple by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley)
See, do, stay, love the UK. This month: Lou Archell stays in a Georgian B&B in quiet and wintry Penzance
Our regular travel series comes from online UK travel guide This is Your Kingdom, whose handpicked contributors explore favourite places, special finds and great goings on.
You can read about one we love each month in The Simple Things - turn to page 66 of the January issue for more of this Cornish adventure - and plenty of others at thisisyourkingdom.co.uk.
Made from recycled material, these are super eco-friendly and non toxic
You will need:
Ends of candles
Empty baked beans (or other) tins
Some sheets of newspaper
1 Place the candle stubs in a rinsed out baked beans tin and place in a bain marie with a couple of inches of water.
2 Turn the heat on low to gently melt the candle wax.
3 Remove the lid from the egg boxes and place on a few sheets of newspaper to protect your worktop.
4 Put a large pinch of sawdust in the bottom of each egg holder.
5 When the wax is liquid, fill each egg holder to about half full.
6 Wait until completely cooled and set, before using scissors to cut up into individual firelighters.
The egg cartons light really easily and the sawdust acts like a wick for a candle, keeping it lit more than long enough for the fire to get going.
Idea from sugarandloaf.com/cottages/the-stable-at-huntington, who use these lighters for their wood-fired hot tub and Kotlich outdoor cooking pot/fire pit.
This wonderful green paste may make you look like a witch temporarily but will cast a spell on your skin, leaving it refreshed and glowing
1 tsp matcha tea powder
1 tsp yoghurt
1 Put the matcha tea powder in a bowl and stir in the yogurt to make a smooth paste.
2 Apply to a cleansed face and relax for 15 minutes.
3 Remove gently with tepid water and enjoy a healthy glow.
Why it works
Matcha tea is high in vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and minerals. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and draws out impurities. Yoghurt is moisturising and nourishing.
From All Natural Beauty by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer (Hardie Grant).
A bowl of hot porridge made with a cup of home-brewed coffee (that’s coffee to put in the porridge, rather than drink), toasted walnuts and a drizzle of syrup is tasty fuel to kickstart those midwinter mornings when getting out from under your duvet is almost unbearable. Toast walnuts in advance to build in extra snooze time.
This recipe for winter morning fuel comes from the co-owner of London-based Danish restaurant Snaps+Rye
MAKES 2–3 BOWLS
2 tbsp chopped toasted walnuts
125g jumbo oats*
250ml full-fat milk
250ml home-brewed coffee
Drizzle of maple syrup
1 Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/350F. Place the walnuts on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 15 mins, turning after 5 mins.
2 Meanwhile, put the oats, milk and brewed coffee in a pan and cook over a medium heat for 5–10 mins.
3 Remove the walnuts from the oven and leave to cool.
4 Spoon the porridge into the bowls, top with the toasted walnuts and drizzle over a little maple syrup.
Recipe from Spoon by Annie Morris and Jonny Shimmin (Hardie Grant). Photography: Hugh Johnson
* Jumbo oats lend themselves perfectly to full-fat milk, you get a creaminess that you cannot be achieved from other milks.
On a gloomy January day, why not take a bit of comfort from the relaxing glow of a candle?
These projects offer bright ideas for refashioning bits you may well already have about into candleholders – then strategically place around the home, for instant cheer. We even tell you how to make – and scent – the candles themselves.
A quick word about wax. These projects use soy, which is made from vegetable oil (paraffin candles use petroleum oil). Soy candles have a longer burn time and less black soot than a paraffin equivalent. Using soy also means you can add essential oils to scent them – try vanilla oil for the hint of freshly baked brioches, or mosquito-repelling citronella oil to conjure balmy summer nights (remember those?). To get even fancier, you can buy colour wax flakes or add dyes. For wicks and wax, try Hobbycraft (hobbycraft.co.uk).
Turn your old tins into something as sweet as the bread itself
Makes three candles
You will need:
3 x 10cm pre-waxed wick assembly
3 small brioche tins or metal jelly moulds, roughly 150ml capacity
Glue dots or glue gun
6 wick-supporting sticks (or wooden cooking skewers cut in half)
750g flaked soy wax – about 225g (or roughly twice the volume of your tin) for each candle
6 small elastic bands
Small pan or metal mixing bowl
1 Fix the wick assembly to the centre of the bottom of your tins by using a glue dot or a dab of hot glue from a glue gun.
2 Take the supporting sticks or skewers in pairs and bind them together by wrapping a small elastic band around them at either end. Use the skewers to hold the wicks vertically by resting them across the rim of each tin, the wicks pinched firmly between the skewers.
3 Put the wax in a small pan or bowl and set the bowl in a pan of water on the hob over a medium heat. Add about three drops of fragrance oil (if using) to the wax. When melted, the wax will appear completely clear. Use your spoon to stir the oil into the wax.
4 Pour a small amount of the liquid wax 5 into the bottom of your prepared tins to just cover the metal wick assembly in each one. Leave to harden for about ten minutes. This is to make sure that the wicks stay in place for the main pour in the following step.
5 Return the pan to the hob to ensure the wax is fully melted, then pour it into your tins to within about 6mm of the top edges and leave to cool and harden fully. If the wax dries with a small dip around the wick, top it up with more melted wax and thinly cover the surface of the candle evenly.
6 Using scissors, trim the wicks to about 12mm from the top surface of the wax. Leave your candles for at least 24 hours before lighting.
Adapted from Take a Tin by Jemima Schlee (GMC, available from thegmcgroup.com)
Turn to page 113 of January’s The Simple Things for two more candle projects: gold painted hurricanes and a candle in a jar.
Things you might want to do this month (no pressure!)
Turn up your internal central heating with spicy stews and aromatic teas
Have your sledge at the ready for the first snowfall
Enjoy the peace and order that this month brings
Take a pot of steaming soup to a friend or neighbour in need
Change your route for a month and notice new things around you
What would you add? Come over and tell us on Facebook or Twitter.
January is full of possibilities. Plans and hopes and dreams. As it should be at the start of things. But no need to rush. The warmth of hearth and home is what we need during these dark midwinter days. Appreciating what we have and where we live, embracing being indoors, cosy and comfortable together — a hygge life. Let your mind wander while you sit; make the case for adventure, for exploring the unfamiliar, for strange languages, for the mountains and for the stars and where they could lead you.
January’s The Simple Things is all about hygge. Pronounced hue-gah, hygge is a Danish word to portray a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special. Get your copy now for plenty of ideas to try this month.
We might not have the snow here but you can pretend you’re in Scandinavia with one of these fun Nordic experiences. If you can’t beat them and all that...
l If you’re going to Paris and fancy a very different experience, head to the Insitut Finlandais and spend the night in a Finnish wood cabin (above). The cabins are a temporary installation (until May) designed in a pared-back Nordic style and guests will be treated to a taste of the Finnish hospitality with a traditional breakfast and themed events from music to film screenings. kotisleepover.com
l There’s plenty of hygge to be had in London this winter. At Southbank Winter Festival (until 25 January) pop into the Rekorderlig Cider Lodge to sample the new Spiced Plum cider and huddle round firepits with bowls of Swedish food. Or go to Winter Wigwam in Hoxton and feast at a long table, warm up with hot mead by the fire and join a hair braiding or ukulele session. queenofhoxton.com
l It’s bound to be chilly in Scotland but keeping warm is easy in the new 40ft loch-side sauna with panoramic views of Loch Tay in the Taymouth Marina. When it all gets too sweaty, you can jump into the loch to cool off before cosying up by the firepit.
Don’t throw away your Christmas tree clippings. Spruce needles are an invigorating natural remedy, great for clearing the head. If you feel a cold coming on or are simply exhausted, have a bath with this spruce tree essence and let the scent of a forest work its magic
3 fresh twigs from a spruce tree, washed
1 litre water
1 Cut the spruce twigs into small pieces, place them in a saucepan and add the water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
2 Now remove the pan from the heat, cover with a cloth, and let the solution of twigs infuse for another 10 minutes while you run your bath.
3 Strain and add the solution to your bath. Relax in the bath for 20 minutes, breathing in deeply and taking in all the wonderful forest scents.
4 Go to bed immediately and rest!
From Vinegar Socks, Traditional Home Remedies for Modern Living by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer
Prosecco lends festive sparkle to this almondy tipple
2 shots amaretto
1 shot lemon juice
½ shot sugar syrup (see below)
Sliced lemon and cocktail cherries, to serve
1. To make sugar syrup, combine equal volumes of water and sugar (a cup of each, say) in a saucepan, heat gently till the sugar dissolves, leave to cool and store in a bottle or jar.
2. Pile a glass with ice and then pour in the amaretto, lemon juice and syrup before topping with the prosecco. Mix carefully with a spoon and serve with a slice of lemon and a cherry.
Happy new year from The Simple Things!
It's one of the best bits of Christmas... Getting the box of decorations out of storage for another year and opening it up. The first glimpse of those favourite baubles, the ones that take pride of place year after year, always make us smile. Even though we like to add to our collection every year, the continuity of the heirloom decorations is reassuringly peaceful - a tonic before the madness of the Christmas rush sets in.
The Simple Things team would love to see which decoration embodies Christmas for you so, before you take down your tree, take a high res snap and send it to us.
January is full of possibilities. Plans and hopes and dreams. As it should be at the start of things. But no need to rush. The warmth of hearth and home is what we need during these dark midwinter days. Appreciating what we have and where we live, embracing being indoors, cosy and comfortable together — a hygge life. Let your mind wander while you sit; make the case for adventure, for exploring the unfamiliar, for strange languages, for the mountains and for the stars and where they could lead you. Happy New Year from The Simple Things.
View the sampler here
It’s worth having this uplifting body oil ready for those dreaded hangovers that can take you by surprise at this time of year. After the first obvious step of a bacon sarnie, try taking a hot shower, then applying this soothing tonic
Things you’ll need:
3 tbsp jojoba oil
3 tbsp almond oil
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
8 drops peppermint essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil
4 drops tea tree essential oil
4 drops geranium essential oil
1 This is the easiest of recipes. Simply combine all the oils in a glass bottle and shake until they’re mixed and ready. Use this body oil after a refreshing shower and, voilà, hangover no more!
Why this works...
Eucalytpus is invigorating and purifies the body. Peppermint supports digestion, improves focus, boosts energy, helps to clear headaches and eases muscle pain. Soothing lavender has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tea tree reduces bad odours and can help to stimulate the immune system. Geranium helps skin to stay healthy. Jojoba oil contains vitamin E and has high levels of antibacterial iodine. Almond oil calms irritation and is moisturising.
Taken from All Natural Beauty by Karin Berndl and Nici Hofer (Hardie Grant).
Settles the stomach after overindulging in rich foods, making it as much of a festive essential as sprouts and brandy butter
KEEPS: 1 year
Dried ground herbs:
15g angelica root
15g marsh mallow root
15g artichoke roots or milk thistle seeds
340g jar of runny honey
1 Mix the ground herbs thoroughly with the honey to make a paste or thick syrup.
2 Take 1–2 tsp in a glass or cup of hot water, 1–3 times daily for as long as needed.
Found in The Domestic Alchemist: 501 Herbal Recipes for Home, Health and Happiness by Pip Waller (Leaping Hare Press)
There is a moment at every Christmas lunch when the paper hat is unfolded from
a cracker and plonked on the head. These crown shaped hats are peculiarly British and are said to either date back to Roman Saturnalia celebrations, or Twelfth Night knees-ups as a nod to the king or queen, depending on which source you believe. Whatever their provenance, these hats that suit no one are best worn without self-consciousness and endured until the turkey arrives, when they can be ‘accidentally’ brushed off and swept under the table.
How do you drain your sprouts at Christmas?
With an advent colander.
Who hides in a bakery at Christmas?
A mince spy.
What do vampires put on their turkey?
Why did the turkey decide to join the band?
Because it had drumsticks.
What's the best thing to put in a Christmas pudding?
What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
Can you smell carrot?