Life is an adventure of the heart, an adventure into love

Monday, 25 January 2010

Irish Soda Spelt bread

I absolutely love Soda Bread, it's so quick to make, no kneading, no rising, delicious! I decided to make this particular loaf with half wholemeal spelt flour and it worked just as well as it does with all wheat flour. It turned out in quite a peculiar shape, which I think is more to do with our strange temporary oven which is actually more like a grill! Perfect with some delicious home made Oxford marmalade- recipe coming soon.

olive oil or butter for greasing
125g/9oz plain flour, 125g/9oz Wholemeal spelt flour
1 level tsp salt
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp soft brown sugar
225ml/8fl oz buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, you can squeeze half a lemon into ordinary milk and heat it until it curdles or use live yoghurt)


1. Heat the oven to 230C/445F/Gas 8. Grease a baking sheet with a little oil or butter.
2. Sift the flour and soda into the mixing bowl and add the salt and sugar.
3. Stir in the buttermilk, at first with a wooden spoon, then bringing it all together in a doughy mass with your hands. It should feel soft and firm, not sticky. Add a little more flour if the mixture is too wet.
4. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl for about half a minute, until smooth, then shape it into a ball, as deep as you can make it. Place it on the greased baking sheet. Slash a deep cross in the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. This will allow the bread to open out as the soda starts to work and expand the dough.
5. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until the base of the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.
6. Allow the bread to cool for 15 minutes, then cut it into thick slices and serve.
This bread is so versatile, you can add an egg and a little butter if you want a richer finish, or try sprinkling some pumpkin seeds on top.
Either way, sit down and enjoy it with your favourite jam or marmalade!

Friday, 22 January 2010

On following your heart rather than 'performing'

Bit of a revelation today. I woke up feeling swamped. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with the day, I felt confused and my natural response was to 'check out' of life- to sit in a chair like a zombie with 'this is all too much' going through my mind. In this place, I found myself able to let go a bit of tying to understand and just 'be' like a helpless babe waiting to be fed. I have been here so many times before, I know now that all I can do is honor my heart by stopping rather than 'doing'... and wait. I began to realise that I had woken up today with a feeling of 'What am I going to do today' but with the anxious emotion of 'What can I do that will feel like a valuable use of the day? What will make me feel like I've performed well?.' This old need to perform is really just another expression of 'I'm not enough on my own' which is probably rooted somewhere in the old religious system. With the newness of following my heart and giving it space in my life, I have to let go of this old 'performance life'. In this place of 'letting go', life opens up and becomes an adventure of the heart.

I suddenly thought 'If my life was a play, I would be the main character in it, center stage.' So why do I feel like I'm a supporting role with 'doing things' feeling like the main reason for being? I felt a peace come as my heart was reassured that it was not going to be walked over, that it was valued and had breathing space to take center stage in my life. Suddenly I felt a glimmer of enthusiasm fill me- to go to a garden centre. I got up, had a shower and got dressed and soon my daughter and I were on our way. As we were driving, I thought 'Why not pop into the 'fish man' and see if he has any more scallop shells (I need them to present my home made soaps in), so we stopped off there and he had a whole bucket full, those loaded into the car we continued. I felt to go a slightly different way, just following the whispers of my heart. I suddenly remembered a riding school near by, so my daughter and I went and looked at the horses together and enquired about riding lessons (only £5 for a child's pony ride- a definite yes!)... on we went and ended up in a local town- why not have a coffee and pick up some seville oranges for marmalade making? So we did. Last stop was the garden centre, where my little girl kissed all the plastic robins that were 'getting wet in the rain' and I browsed with no real desire to buy anything. Home we went with happy hearts- well they were being given space to be the most important part of our lives. I believe that the most beautiful thing in the world is the human heart, when we allow our hearts space, all manner of goodness is released all around us- or maybe we are just more aware of it. For a heart warming story about following your heart, I would recommend 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho (see my fav books). He says 'When you follow your heart, the universe conspires to help you', I agree, although I would say that when you follow your heart you find God there, inside you, and all around you, this is life as it was created to be!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


There is a large Poplar tree in the garden behind our house. A man popped around yesterday to say that the Poplar tree would be coming down and today there have been several men in the garden with chainsaws. It is dark now and the tree is only half down, so I expect there will be more action tomorrow. When we were talking to our neighbor yesterday, he mentioned that they would be cutting the tree down now due to the fact that the sap hasn't started rising up the tree yet. This got me thinking. It feels like I am very much in a Winter season personally right now. There is so much going on in me emotionally, spiritually, creatively, yet it is all so internal, and it feels like it is deep down inside the very heart of me. I feel the promise of Spring around the corner, when the sap will begin to rise up and the buds will burst forth into leaf and flower, however at the moment, the days seem short and I can't see much fruit anywhere. I know that this is a really valuable and important time, but at the same time there is alot of frustration in me. I think the frustration is a longing to feel the flow of creativity in every area of my life. I think for me, this process is becoming less about having creative outlets and more about expressing myself on my life as a whole. I've realised that feeling like I can only be creative if I'm sitting painting is now confining for me, whereas before it was complete freedom to allow myself the time to do that. I think this change has come about because life and I am so much bigger now. I don't want to miss the creativity in simply living and breathing life. It seems to be that the way forward is feeling OK about not understanding everything, and accepting myself and loving me, whatever day I'm having or whatever emotion I'm feeling.