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Pie 101: Cherry Pie + Peach & Raspberry Pie


Aug
08

I’m pretty sure that I’ve discovered total baking zen lately: that glorious moment when you are completely and utterly in the zone, when everything comes together smoothly and calmly and, above all, you are at peace with the world. Yep, my baking happy place is pie. Fruit pie. Summer fruit pie. Cherry pie. Peach pie. Raspberry pie. Pie, pie, pie. My God, I love baking pies. If I had a pie shop I’d call it What Pies Ahead. Or maybe Pies From The Sky. Or Pie It Forward.

Something about making beautiful pate brisee (shortcrust pastry) from scratch, followed by blanching fruit, stoning fruit, sitting fruit in a mixture of sugar and cornflour is just total baking bliss for me. And then eating pie… y’know, as much as I love the eating of the pie, I think I like the making of the pie a little more. Which is both weird and good – weird because who doesn’t love eating pie?! Good because I need to stop eating pie. Stop Jackie. Stop it now.

But that’s okay because I’m going to pass my pie torch to you (tee-hee, pie torch) and you can make pie and then I can stop being so fat. Okay? Got it? Good.

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Comfort Food: Hainanese Chicken Rice


Aug
06

Comfort food, for me, is a big bowl of white rice and tender chicken. Luckily for me, Hainanese Chicken Rice or hoi nam gai fan as it’s known in Cantonese, is exactly that. I make this far too often for my own good – I could probably live off it quite happily. I’d be very fat… but very happy.

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Salty Piggy Goodness: Chilli Whipped Lardo


Jul
04

If there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s disappearing off my blog for inordinate amounts of time. Whoops. This time I do have a good reason, though – I moved house! Yep, I’m finally out and free of the bedbug-ridden hell hole I was stuck in for a year and am in a lovely little place in SE London with two (new) friends. We’ve been slowly setting up the house (my current project is attempting to build us a coffee table as we didn’t like anything that was available on the market) and it’s coming together, slowly but surely (I still have two boxes to unpack as I don’t have a desk/home office yet). Pretty soon I’ll be able to share some photos but for the time being I’m going to leave you with this oldie but goodie – chilli whipped lardo.

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Dear Queenie: Happy Diamond Jubilee


Jun
06


Jubilee Coffee Cupcakes by Bruce.

My heritage and accent are a great source of puzzlement to everybody who meets me. Born in London but possessing a rather international family (both blood relations and friends whom I now consider family), ten to fifteen minutes of conversation pass before I’m inevitably asked, “where are you from?” or, the (strangely) rather more common, “are you Australian?” Let’s get this straight – I’m British, through and through. I’m not English, I’m not Aussie, I’m not Canadian or American: I am British.

My “British-ness” is something that has taken me a while to embrace – my family are Hong Kong Chinese, with a smidgen of Japanese and Russian blood, my parents both born in Hong Kong and possessing a tinge of an accent (my mother’s a natural slight American drawl, which is where I’ve picked up my own), so that aspect of who I am has always been celebrated and recognised, but this country in which I live has never felt quite where I belong, London too busy, too anonymous, too A-to-B for my liking. It wasn’t until I lived in America that I suddenly felt that this, my “British-ness”, made me stand out a little more, made me special, and at that point I fully started to appreciate the country I was born in, the little points of interest like our (relatively) fantastic public transport, our education system, history and culture, and our Royal family.

As many of you will know, this past weekend was set aside to rejoice everything Royal because we’ve been celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – 60 years on the throne. I’m not one to go particularly nuts over the Royals (during the recent Royal Wedding I skipped the telly watching and flag waving and nipped off to the hairdresser’s to chop off my long locks for The Little Princess Trust) but I fully admit that I love good ol’ Lizzie – she’s a real gem and it will be a sad day indeed when she’s no longer Queen of England.

So whilst the country engaged in street parties left, right and centre and a good 1.2m people showed up in Central London to watch the Royal Parade on the Thames (and in the pouring rain, typical bloody England; Liz did not look particularly happy as she was rowed up the river), I headed over to my good friends Mowie & Bruce’s around the corner for a Right Royal (Indoor) Picnic. Raaaather.

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I Am A Feeder Meets Anecdotes & Apple Cores


May
15

Last year I was lucky to be able to spend the first few months travelling around the world and meeting various bloggers and friends, staying with them when they generously opened up their homes (and kitchens) to me, eating out all over their cities and generally having a blast. It was the most wonderful experience and the sheer generosity and kindness that I was shown was overwhelming – friendships that had before this point been only electronic blossomed, Twitter handles became real people and those real people had a wicked sense of humour, amazing creative ideas and fantastic friends and families whom I was introduced to. It really was a fantastic trip and my inner nomad was deeply satisfied (my wallet, not so much).

When in Austin I was supposed to be staying with and meeting the fabulous Monet and Ryan of Anecdotes & Apple Cores, an amazing and talented woman who was my first ever blog friend (!), but due to circumstances out of their control last minute plans changed (as they do), they were no longer able to accommodate me and I instead spent those few days with the lovely Megan of Stetted. Sadly, just as I was leaving Austin with my friend Andres to visit his part of Texas, San Antonio, I had a text message from Monet asking me if I was free to meet that day but alas, it was not to be, we were already an hour outside of town and I promised her that at some point, somewhere in the world we’d connect.

Clearly I have prophetic qualities because this spring Monet and Ryan travelled to Paris for their 3rd anniversary and whilst they were there decided to hop across to London on the Eurostar and stay with me for a couple of days. Even better, London decided to cease its grey, wet weather (apparently it’s supposed to be May over here – somebody must’ve pissed off Mother Earth recently…) and give us a little sunshine so I got to show them my city at its best! Wonderful few days – come back and see me again soon!

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On Change: Katsu-Don


May
04

As a child I didn’t like change. A fairly serious, determined young thing, I was very black and white in my thinking – sometimes literally. I remember being given an elephant to colour in at nursery school and whilst the other children coloured their elephants pink, red, yellow, blue or a combination of the four (shock, horror), I took a lead pencil and very carefully shaded in my elephant grey (all within the lines, of course). When asked if I wanted another colour I remember telling my teacher rather firmly and with some derision – she should’ve known this for herself, after all – “no. Elephants are grey.”

When I was due to start a new school year, every year without fail, I would start to feel an overwhelming nausea as I approached the school gates with my mother. There was nothing wrong with me but nerves would take their toll every time – fear about who would be my new classmates, about who would be my new teacher, whether or not they’d like me, where my classroom would be, why it had to be different every year, why it had to change. Of course, as soon as I entered the building and had read my name on the list of classes whilst clutching my mother’s hand tightly, I’d merrily skip off to class, all anxieties forgotten and ready to start anew, barely even remembering to wave goodbye to my bemused parent.

I’m somewhat more relaxed now (though if you give me a picture of an elephant I’ll still colour it in grey) and I’ve realised – somewhat reluctantly – that change is inevitable. Don’t fight it, just embrace it – it’ll make your life a whole lot easier.

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On Simplifying Life: PB&J Brownies


Apr
07

I don’t think of myself as a particularly dramatic person and yet drama seems to follow me unnecessarily. Over the past couple of years I’ve faced more difficulties in my life than it seems any one person should have on their plate at any given time. From my health which took a sudden downward turn last summer to the stresses of being a freelance writer, it’s not been a particularly easy path to tread, certainly not helped along by a significant amount of sadness which has dragged on for over a year and a half.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve felt exhausted by it all, to the point where I’ve considered giving up on, well, everything. This blog – which has always been my escape, my refuge – has lately seemed a chore. Writing, which is for me an extremely cathartic process, has not helped me begin to unravel the tangled mess in my mind as it normally would and I’ve even started to consider a career away from food, away from the things that I love and away from my dreams. A hard thing for a person as proud as I am to admit, but at one point I hadn’t been able to afford groceries for two months and so had been living off frozen vegetables and lentils and literally lying awake until the wee hours of the morning, mentally calculating how much money I’d need to save up before I could pay off all of my debts. Needless to say, it’s been a tough start to the year.

But amongst all of the drama, all of the stresses, worries and difficulties, there have been small glimmers of hope and success, from the catering job I recently completed for 150 people, to the wonderfully supportive friends, family and particularly special person who entered my life a few months ago; and they’ve made me realise that all I really need is to drop the drama and simplify: rid my life of the things that make me unhappy and focus only on the ones that put a smile on my face. It’s so easy – I don’t know why I haven’t realised it before this point.

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Jackie’s Spicy Pickled Cucumbers: Who Wants A Nibble?


Mar
06

Every now and then we all need a break: from work, from friends, from life. When those moments occur I like to take a step back, take stock and figure out what’s really important to me and every time, without fail, my health and happiness come first.

I kept saying that 2012 was going to be my year and despite a bit of a rocky start, the past two weeks have me thinking that maybe my bold statement will hold true, maybe this is the year that the pieces will start to come together. Health and happiness are both ticking along nicely and with those things under my belt I feel like I can tackle the world – I’m even beginning to ease myself back into work very slowly and have plans for a mini get-away later this month to Morocco (very exciting, I’ve never ventured into that part of the world before).

So if you find yourself backed into a corner maybe you should do what I do and figure out what’s really important to you… then you should make my spicy pickled cucumbers and treat yourself because they’re freaking delicious.

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Winter Food: Shabu Shabu


Dec
14


All photography in this post brought to you by my iPhone & Instagram!

The flavour hung thickly in the air, flickering across my tongue and creeping down my lungs tantalisingly. I swallowed hungrily, saliva collecting in my mouth again almost instantly. The lid of the red pot was lifted and with a heavy sigh more fragrant steam was released, condensing against the cold windows of the conservatory. I stood against the sliding glass door, watching carefully as plates piled high with meat and vegetables were shuffled; I wondered whether the condensation would taste like the air and watched a single drop make its jagged way down the blinds, dropping to the floor and shattering like a liquid crystal.

Time moved in slow motion as my stomach rumbled in anticipation of the great feast ahead of us – was it ready yet? Could we eat now? How about now? Patience was not a virtue I possessed but could you blame me? It was shabu shabu season.

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Dealing with Conflict: Kiwi Pavlova


Dec
05


Photo credit: David Mason.

We deal with conflict everywhere. Whether it’s at work, with our friends and family, or simply with a complete stranger, it just can’t be avoided, no matter how hard we try; stubbornness is a part of human nature.

I’m not a fan of conflict. I usually try to run away from it and am always the first to apologise in an argument, even if I’m not in the wrong, purely because I find the tension of disagreement deeply distressing. To be so anti-confrontational is not one of my best qualities and in these situations I usually find myself bottling everything up inside and then inexplicably bursting into tears of frustration and anger. This was my week.

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