It’s a cold, bright morning here in the suburbs, with a thin veil of mist hanging across the horizon and blurring the leaves of the trees into one bold splash of colour.  I’m drinking strong, hot coffee, and playing with the cat, and trying to forget about the things I don’t have. My time will come, just as surely as the bright leaves will fall and the sun will set. And in the meantime, there are warm cinnamon buns to be baked, and sunny autumn mornings to admire.

The inspiration for these came from the Primrose Bakery recipe, but I wanted them to be free of animal products and found that this was perfectly easy to do. Best enjoyed warm on a cold morning, but pretty good at any time of the day or night.  View Full Post


Welcome to my new ‘living well’ series! This first post is all about ethically sourced foodstuffs. As is pretty obvious from this entire blog, I love my food and get through a lot of ingredients, but have more recently become aware of the problems associated with many of my favourite products. Like most people, I want to get the highest quality product at the lowest possible price, but what we often don’t realise is that this can come at a cost to the producer. Many industries rely on underpaying and exploiting their workers — or even on child labour and modern slavery — to keep prices down and turn over large profits.

If I have one issue with the current ‘wellness’ trend (and tbh I have quite a few) it’s that it’s very driven by what’s good for us and our bodies — what makes us look and feel good. These things are important, but sometimes I find there’s so much emphasis placed on this, that it clouds out issues which are more important. What about the people that grew the raw organic cacao? What about their ‘wellness’? If your food is all organic, cold-pressed, unrefined etc, that’s great – but surely the most important thing is that it’s ethically sourced?

I’ve asked Joe Osman, Sourcing Director at Traidcraft to answer a few questions and shed some more light on this issue, since it’s something I’m still learning about myself. Evidently, it doesn’t just apply to food, that’s just what I’ve chosen to focus on. This isn’t a sponsored post, but I do recommend you have a look at their website, as they have some wonderful ethically sourced products and run key campaigns. View Full Post


Of all the American classics, pecan pie might be my favourite. Its warm, buttery comfort sometimes lured me to Oxford’s famous ice cream parlour, G&Ds, on cold autumn evenings. I’d sit by the window, late into a Sunday night, with forkfuls of warm pie and sips of ice-cream-blended-hot-chocolate, alone with my essay deadline. There was something peaceful and detached about watching rain-blurred fragments of people and lights and umbrellas and colours smear past the steamy windows in the darkness and the rain. Pecan pie, like the parlour itself, was both a part of Oxford and an escape from Oxford. I felt about G&Ds as Holly Golightly did of Tiffany’s; nothing very bad could happen to you there. Not even Monday morning could come for you there.

Fast forward a year, to a different autumn and a different place, pecan pies remained an occasional Sunday evening escape. 10 degrees below freezing and three thousand miles from home, I watched a different blur of people and lights hurry home through falling snow, and felt faraway.

Even the best food grows heavy in a mouth that cannot swallow. But though pecan pie may never have solved any of my problems, it provided moments of warmth and respite in harsh climates. And sometimes that’s all a pie needs to do.  View Full Post

healthy mocha | magpie + maple

healthy mocha | magpie + maple

healthy mocha | magpie + maple

I called this morning mocha for purely alliterative purposes, and because I wasn’t comfortable with a one-worded title. Really, this is a great drink for any time of day. In fact, I have a lot of time on my hands these days, so I’ve taken to creating ‘coffee shop afternoons’, and this mocha often features there. I put on some jazz, make lots of coffee, and work my way through a stack of books and magazines while my cat clambers over me and the furniture. It feels productive, and is as enjoyable a way as any to fill the time provided by unemployment.

The recipe is very rough; basically, moderate the quantity of ingredients to make it as sweet/ chocolatey/ dark/ bitter as your mood and tastes determine. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, change it up with a pinch of cinnamon/ salt/ chilli / vanilla bean. The options are endless. View Full Post