Oh my crumble: recipe

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

I’ve covered crumbles previously, with Leon’s lovely recipe, and with the weather changing from autumn into a definitively wintry vibe, I thought it was high time I baked one again.

It was Mark Bittman who said “There’s nothing you can do with an apple that you can’t do with a pear.”, and with a clutch of slightly elderly pears on hand, it was time to road test them in a crumble. Oats stop the topping being a total flour-fest (which I find to be rather lumpy sometimes) and give it a crunchier texture.

Pear & Blueberry Crumble

For the pear filling:
6-8 pears (of any variety) – or one tin of pears in juice
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
¼ cup of water – or simply the juice, if using tinned pears

Handful of frozen blueberries

For the crumble:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of cubed, room temperature butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp ginger – optional

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Peel and core the pears, chopping the flesh into large chunks. Heat in a saucepan with brown sugar and a little water until you reach the desired consistency – softened but still solid. At the last-minute, stir in your frozen berries, and take your pan off the heat, and leave to one side.

In another bowl, rub the butter together with flour, oats, sugar and cinnamon to make crumble. Cool hands are your best tool here – you want a rustic look, not fine breadcrumbs.

Put the filling mixture in an oven proof dish. Spoon the crumble mixture evenly on top, filling any gaps. Cook the crumble at 180C for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve warm, or at room temperature, with a helping of ice-cream or thick yoghurt (my housemates and I enjoyed it with passion-fruit flecked yoghurt, which was a winner).

Yield: 6 hearty servings

N.B. If you find yourself with too much crumble topping, put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze, you’ll be able to use it later, straight from frozen, for micro-crumbles (an earthenware cup of crumble for one!), or any other crumble emergencies you may face.

White flakes falling

It started last Friday. The white stuff. A few flakes here and there while I walked to work…


By lunchtime, Spa Fields, the park behind the studio was covered, so Rosie and I went frolicking.

Clerkenwell pyramid

Funnily enough, when it snowed last year Thom and I went to the Barbican to see a film. Same again in 2013!


The next day I went to Jen’s place in Hackney Wick for breakfast. Everything was icy and cold. I slipped along the canal (spot the Olympic Stadium in the background), praying that I wouldn’t hit any black ice. The smell of wood-fires burning in the bellies of the canal boats filled the air.

2013-01-19 17.02.12

Saturday night saw Thom and I head to Oxfordshire (emphasis on shire) for the weekend, where we basically spent the weekend hanging out with ponies and puppies, and having snowball fights. Best time ever, although I did get bitten on the hand by an overly enthusiastic Blue, when I was trying to give him Polo mints.

Snow ponies
Snow days

Not pictured – the biggest drooliest dog you might ever meet. Happy days, but looking forward to getting back to the South Pacific next week.

Ice floe


ice floe

City Road Basin is on the Regent’s Canal, between Angel and Hoxton. Sometimes I wander past here on the way to work, just to look, and say hi to the ducks. This morning the black water was smothered with an oily sheet of ice. One of those rare London moments when you look up, and realise you’re all alone.

A cold wind blows

Regents Canal

This time last year Thom told me that blooms of emergency exit green on the canal were a sign that it was sure to be a cold winter. He was joking, but I believed him and fretted about impending doom and urban frostbite.

But now, dare I admit it, I am looking forward to the chilly months. Which is absurd, because I am a bonafide sun lover. But something about micro-fleece leggings, mulled wine, autumn leaves and mittens is tickling my fancy.

Last week I booked a flight back to New Zealand in February, which might be lulling me into a sense of security.

I will get a summer, I will get a summer. Best of both worlds?

Snowy London


Last night was one of the most memorable nights of my life. Reasons include:

1. Being asked to work on an interior design project for a bar.
2. Seeing Stephen Fry in said bar.
3. Annnnnd SNOW!

Indulge me for a bit, I’m from New Zealand and we don’t get urban snow like this. It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen – cars, trees and houses all dusted with the white stuff.


Snowy staircase

The Barbican. We went to see a movie and when we came out the Barbican looked  like this.
The lake is all iced up!


Thom & Mikey

Hoxton Square


My first snowball, wahoo.


A snow-penguin!

Winter wonderland



alpen hotel

ice skating


hoop game

My new happy place is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’s an architectural dreamscape, where Austrian clichés meet Christmas kitsch. Amusements include mulled wine, blizzards of fake snow, roasted chestnuts, animatronic moose heads, the carousel bar, reindeer races, fairy floss, pretzels, talking trees, ice-skating, krugs of beer, fun fair tokens, and of course, a visit to Santa.

It’s absolute madness and I love it.

Sunday afternoon in the city

Despite the calendar telling me it’s winter, I can’t quite believe it yet… There’s too much warm sunshine and colour everywhere. So what to do on a clear Sunday afternoon, with not much money and tummies full from breakfast galettes? The answer is walk, from the top of town to the bottom, from head to toe; peering in shiny windows packed with merchandise, and people watch, until the sun sets over the port.




Vintage friend

Kitchen aid

unity books


The White Lady

Tattooed lady

Container city


Mine The Depths | 10 Heartening Winter Ideas

Winter light, originally uploaded by Amber P*.
Winter usually is a sign of colds, miserable long nights and darkness. Often with a matching dark mood because you’re all snuffly and bedridden (or wishing you were!). Partly to make myself feel better about the colder months and partly to inspire you, I’ve made a list of 10 tips to making winter better.
  1. Make a big batch of comfort food! The more carbohydrates the better I think. One very successful recipe I’ve made is: orzo pasta + roasted vegetables (red onion, carrot, kumara, potatoes, garlic etc. – all chopped up into small pieces) + crumbled feta. Yum! It works well served both warm and cold, so make a bit of it and save it for the next day when you can’t be bothered cooking! Or invite a friend over for a wee dinner party. Wine, hearty food and friends – it’s a wonderful combination that has popular since we all lived in caves.
  2. Wrap up with a big stylish scarf. Here’s a few of my top picks for the girls. For the boys, may I suggest this killer yellow men’s scarf by Paul Smith.
  3. Hold a movie night! Some of my recent favourites have been the Indiana Jones series (which leads in well to an expedition out of the house to see the next installment. Another idea is a themed marathon – my flatmate and I are looking to do a young Tom Cruise evening soon (Risky Business, Top Gun, Cocktail) and a NYC overload (movies that star the beautiful city as a main character).
  4. Add to the movie night with a big bowl of popcorn. My favourite topping (ooh not healthy at all) is 2 tablespoons of butter, a cup of icing sugar and enough boiling water to mix it all together. Slather your popcorn with the entire mixture, until it is drippingly delicious.
  5. Pull on your shoes and go for a body heating power walk around your neighbourhood! All you need is shoes and some sort of head covering. I only just realised why my ears get sore every time I go for a walk – it’s that whistling wind, so cover them up. For bonus points, measure your distances on Google maps.
  6. Set some goals… things that make you want to get up in the cold mornings! My goals include taking wardrobe_remix pictures, which means I have to get up with enough time to consider outfits and take a photo. Another goal is around increasing my writing productivity, so every morning I leap out of bed and savour my writing time before work (hello Code for Something)!
  7. Go skiing! Whether outside carving it up or indulging in my favourite bit, après-ski, a bit of snow business never fails to make me happy.
  8. Make the most of the gorgeous light winter gives us – go photo mad. The shot above was taken in my candy coloured bedroom on a Sunday afternoon. Experiment with Lomos, digital camera, different lenses, new formats, expired film, Vaseline or stockings over your camera! A photo a day or a photo every hour for a day? Colour or shape themed photo missions?
  9. Go see a band on a cheap night. Tuesdays are good nights to go out… quieter, earlier in the evening, usually no cover charge, beer specials and it will make you feel better to get out of the house.
  10. Most importantly, keep up your health! I’m taking flax seed oil, 5-htp supplements (it aids my sleep as well), drinking more than 8 glasses of water a day and trying to exercise more! Don’t let the winter take you out… keep up the vitamin C and try some sort of olive leaf extract if your immune system is weaker than usual.

Yep…winter can be fantastic! It takes a little bit more effort to make the most of, but it’s a season definitely worth trying to exploit. Now only if I can listen to most of my own advice…