Broccoli pesto pasta


It is unfortunate that the photograph makes this dish look somewhat boring, when it really isn’t. I chose this recipe because it reported to be easy and quick and it was a weeknight, so I didn’t want anything that would take too long. The flavours are subtle, causing one to savour each bite. I doubled the recipe, which made a lot, more than I was expecting. But the pasta is also great as a pasta salad. I’ll include both the recipe for the pasta and also for how we made it into a pasta salad.

Broccoli pesto pasta
(From BBC Good Food)

Serves 8

  • 800g penne, farfalle or conchiglie pasta
  • 250g broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 6 Tbs pine nuts
  • 10 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 Tbs Parmesan (or grana padano), grated
  1. Tip the pasta into a large pan of boiling salted water and cook according to pack instructions. Meanwhile, bring a smaller pan of salted water to the boil, add the broccoli and boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Drain the broccoli and return it to the pan. Lightly mash the broccoli with a potato masher or fork. Finely grate the garlic and zest the lemon, then mix into the broccoli with the chilli flakes and pine nuts. Cut the lemon in half and keep for later.
  3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Stir in the broccoli pesto and squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon. Pour in the olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Spoon in the grated Parmesan, toss the pasta well and serve.


IMG_8160Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 2

  • 200g pasta, prepared as above
  • 200g salad leaves of your choice (we used mixed leaves one day, then rocket/arugula the next)
  • a handful cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • a handful of chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • parmesan (or grana padano) cheese, grated
  • lemon olive oil, to taste (can substitute olive oil and lemon juice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients into a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Enjoy!

Favourite things

My church:


Dressed in penitential purple for Lent. I know, my church has featured before, a few times. But each time I’ve provided a different picture of the church, so it’s all good… ūüôā

Out of season

Last December I posted about a crafting project I had started¬†using the autumn leaves F. has brought back for me from Germany. I never did write the follow-up post because it included someone’s Christmas present, and then I ran out of craft tape,¬†but now I’ve finally finished all of the framed leaves I was going to make, so I can write about them.

After preserving the leaves with modge podge, I chose the best and prettiest leaves to frame. I ordered four sheets of A4 plexiglass from Amazon and bought four glass picture frames that were on sale at Boots. I discarded the backs of the picture frames, saving them ‘just in case’ for another project which, conveniently, I have found a purpose for (forthcoming). The glass panels are held together with craft glue, hot glue, or modge podge — I experimented to see which works best, and it’s all-purpose craft glue. The craft tape I found at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s (I can’t remember which) while in the States, and I found something similar from Bonkers here in town when I ran out. I would have preferred book linen tape, but I couldn’t find any *anywhere*. The craft tape worked out fine though.

a) Sarah's leaves b) my leaves

c)   d)

a) Sarah’s leaves; b)¬†mine; c)¬†F.’s grandmother’s;¬†d)¬†and F.’s.

Sarah’s features a leaf from Oklahoma, Scotland, and Germany. Mine and F.’s grandmother’s have leaves from Germany and Scotland, and F.’s is fully German. I have lots of leaves left over but I have put them away until I can think of something else to do with modge podge-preserved leaves.

This is an example of how long projects can take at this stage in life. My workspace for crafting is a little alcove in the sitting room and the preserved leaves lived there for about three months. I only have time to craft about an hour or so a week, if even that, so it takes a long time for any project to get done.

Anyway, although the autumn leaves are out of season now, they are still pretty.

Mango cream


Whenever F. and I have dinner together we try to have a dessert. Nothing fancy, just something sweet to finish off the meal. Since yesterday had the good news of a job interview and finishing my second penultimate-ready chapter, I bought some double cream, mango, papaya, and passion fruit yoghurt, and some mango chunks.

The problem with yoghurt is that it can be too sweet on its own, and that’s why we mix it with cream. The end result was somewhat plain looking, so I cut up the mango chunks and arranged them on top to make it look special.

Mango cream

  • double cream
  • mango, passion fruit, and papaya yoghurt
  • mango chunks

1. Whip the double cream to your preferred consistency. I like it just before it gets whipped, when it’s still liquid, but thickly so.

2. Mix in the yoghurt to taste.

3. Chop up the mango chunks into smaller chunks and mix in with the yoghurt cream. Arrange slices on top if you wish, but this is not necessary.

Simple, thicker and creamier than plain yoghurt, and delicious.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Opening line: ‘Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father.’

go tell it on the mountainAs it nears Johnny’s fourteenth birthday, Johnny is increasingly at odds with his community, especially his father. Gabriel Grimes’s fanaticism drives him to abuse his family in his pursuit of righteousness and perfection. Set in 1930s Harlem, Johnny does well in school and dreams of leaving Harlem to live in the big houses of Fifth Avenue. But Johnny doesn’t know the stories of his community and his family, how his parents and aunt all came to Harlem from the South and the lives they left behind and the sins they brought with them. Sin, redemption, faith — these all bind the stories together, even Johnny’s.

Writing a summary for this novel was really difficult. There are three parts to this novel: the first and last parts are Johnny’s story, and the second part tells the individual stories of Johnny’s father and aunt and of his mother. Reading this novel provides insight into the black community in the early twentieth century. I found it challenging at times, regarding zeal and faith, and also found it very heartbreaking. Racism is awful, full stop. I know I write that from the position of being a white woman. But being a woman means that I can relate, a little bit: the scene where Gabriel walks down the street to get medicine for his wife, and he’s afraid because he’s aware that he’s the only black man out and there are white men all standing at the doors of the bars, and the sense of plain¬†wrongness and frustration at feeling afraid in that situation — as a woman, I too have felt that when walking down a street at night, alone, in a city, being hyper-aware of my surroundings. Not the same. But similar. This is a novel I would recommend people to read if they’ve never really thought about race relations in the U.S., or if it’s been awhile, or just to anyone.

Some like it hot

‘After a cup of tea (two spoonsful for each cup, and don’t let it stand more than three minutes,) it says to the brain, “Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!’
‚Äē Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat


I like my tea hot, and I like it to stay hot while I jam away to Brooke Fraser while editing my chapters. Luckily for me, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a ceramic travel mug for Christmas. It has a lid, which helps keep the tea warm.

IMG_8139And then Sarah told me the trick for getting the tea to stay hot for even longer: first pour boiling water into the mug and once the mug itself is warm, discard the water and then brew the tea in it. Presto! Hot tea that stays hot until I finish it! (Okay, with one or two exceptions, but I’m impressed by how long my tea stays hot in this mug.)

The only problem? The ceramic would get so hot I couldn’t hold the mug. The solution: for my nifty travel mug, I would knit a stylish travel sleeve.

And so I did. I used the Woven Cable Coffee Mug Sleeve pattern from A Tight Knit Gathering Blog. Fingers no longer scalded by hot surfaces, hooray.

Now I just need a tea cozy for my teapot and then I will be sorted for piping hot tea for finishing the rest of my PhD!