Saturday, 9 April 2016

Apple Crumble... My comfort food's story

Organic Apple Crumble 

One of my most vivid memories as a very small child around 2-3 yrs old is sitting in the kitchen of my grandparents farmhouse in Warrandyte eating my Nana's apple crumble. 

Apple Crumble for me is the ultimate dessert, not because it is particularly complex or luxurious but because it's simple ingredients, aroma and texture evoke such wonderful memories. 

I know most of you reading this will have a dish that has the same effect on you. These are the things in life we truly should cherish.

This is my Apple Crumble's story...

Mum in her 20's at Twickenham Farmhouse in Warrandyte 

Just the drive to Warrandyte was an adventure for me, the hills, the winding roads, the bush, in the 70's as a little girl it was pure excitement. It was a Sunday family tradition that has instilled a deep love of Warrandyte in both myself and my older sister Melinda. For my mum however who had been travelling between Camberwell and Warrandyte most of her life it was a normal part of life and an easy drive for her from our modest home in Blackburn to the sprawling farm. During her childhood her mother and father had owned an electronics store in Burke Road Camberwell and they had a residence above the store. 

Above: Popa and Nana (Archibald and Evelyn) and mums younger sister with Bessy the pony.

Above: Mum and her younger sister and father, Above right: The view from Twickenham, Warrandyte.

Their weekends were spent on the farm in a large but cosy Federation farm house  set on 100 or so acres with steep paddocks leading all the way to the Yarra River. Sitting in the kitchen you had the perfect view of the orchard filled with apple trees.

The apple trees were bursting with more fruit than they knew what to do with and the fragrance of fresh apples hung in the air. The pony Bessy spent lazy days rolling around under the trees and munching on the fallen apples and pottering on the lawns around the kitchen. The kitchen was little more than a lean-to annex built on to the back of the house.


Outside the kitchen with Bessy on the lawns 

 Like many rather grand farmhouses of it's time the beautiful 'Twickenham's'  Federation facade was at the opposite end facing the stunning views over Warrandyte and the Yarra and yet most of our time was spent in the back annex in the kitchen and talking to the pony.

Twickenham, Warrandyte 1964 (6 years before I was born) 
Above: Twickenham driveway today, Above right: Twickenham in the 70's.

Etched into my memory is the sensation of sitting in kitchen smelling the aroma of Nana's Apple Crumble and anticipating the heavenly taste! It never disappointed. That memory is as clear to me 43 years later as if it were yesterday. 

Sadly by the time I was 5 my grandmother had passed away very  suddenly. The world as I knew it changed. Twickenham was never the same. My mother was utterly devastated and our hearts were broken, the farmhouse and the land were sold. 

The memories of this place, of the aroma of cooking apples and crunch of the Apple Crumble remain as vivid for me as if they were yesterday. So it's hardly surprising that I harboured a somewhat obsessive desire to recreate the exact sensation of having Apple Crumble at Nanas. 

So after 46 years I have achieved one of my life goals.  I've finally mastered recreating the most beautiful thing I have ever tasted, that's something worth writing about in my opinion. At nearly 40 I finally had a beautiful little boy I was determined  to share my love of Apple Crumble with him.

Just the fragrance evokes such wonderful childhood memories of exploring the grounds of Twickenham,  watching Nana dig around the veggie garden outside the kitchen and sitting in the kitchen with my mum and my big sister watching Nana Cook, whilst keeping a watchful eye on the ever present huntsman spiders that always seemed to be lurking in that kitchen. 

Me at about 3 on the path leading from the bottom driveway up to the house

Now that I'm regularly cooking Nana's Apple Crumble for my son, with organic ingredients of course, I'm pleased to report his evaluation is  "Hmmmmm I really like this Apple Crumble Mummy". What better review can you get than that??!!!

So many childhood memories encompass meal times, one of the reasons a dinner time at the table with my son is one of the most important parts of my day.  I'd love you to  try the recipe I've added at the end of this article. I hope it helps create beautiful memories for your family too. 

Priscilla X

Nana's Amazing Organic Apple Crumble 


Using organic ingredients means the simple flavour of the apples and coconut are the star of this dish. Try to use organic flour, sugar, rolled oats and butter and you'll have a beautiful chemical free dessert.

 150g (1 cup) plain flour
 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
 100g chilled butter, chopped
 50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
 60g (1/2 cup) dedicated coconut
1/4 tsp All Spice
 8 large cooking apples
 Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Step 1
Preheat oven to 180°C. Combine the flour, sugar, butter and oats and coconut in a bowl.
Step 2
Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until butter is mixed in. 
Step 3
Spoon the apple into a pot and add 1/2 cup water, simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes until just soft. Scoop into a medium size baking dish and mix in 1/4 tsp of all spice. Then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top evenly. Bake in oven for 15-25 minutes or until golden. Spoon the apple crumble into serving bowls.
Serve with ice-cream.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Defining your favourite Decorating Style - Part 3

4.  Kitschy accent furniture

Defining 'why' you like a certain style can often relate to your overall taste. I've always collected quirky kitschy objects, since my teenage years of frequenting op shops, so it's not surprising kitschy objects are an integral element to my favourite Interior Designer Joanna Gaines style. So in part 3 I'm looking at Kitschy accent furniture.

Creating shelving from plumbing pipes is a another Joanna Gaines signature style. It looks surprising good with a variety of styles like retro, traditional, industrial and country.

The combination of these quirky shelves with old books and bottles gives the same shelf a completely different look.

Using rough raw and recycled wood for something as permanent as the kitchen island in an otherwise traditional kitchen provides an truly quirky feature.

Using bench seating and old church pews is nothing new. However teaming them with traditional decorating elements like these cushions and framed pressed flowers has a unique look. You can also use old train seats and garden bench seats indoors to a similar effect.

Draftsman draws can be used like this one as a coffee table. I also have one that makes a great kids craft and drawing storage drawer.

5.  Functional accessories
Finding accessories that have a purpose does not mean they can't blend with your style. Here are some examples of how Joanna does this.

Gone are the days of a boring crystal vase and flower arrangement. Recycled timber boxes and tin trays can be used to great effect as vases on dining tables and buffets as seen below.

Selecting dining accessories that blend with your style means you can display them in your home. Simple white ceramics are a classic look. 

Incorporating vintage coat hooks with shelves can look rustic as well as be incredibly functional.

If you like this look and the styling in part 1 and 2 of Defining you decorating style. Take a look at more of Joanna Gains work on Fixer Upper on channel 94 Sunday's at 6:30. You can see more of her work at 
HGTV Fixer Upper

Watch out for my next articles where I'll look at Joanna Gaines style for:
6.  Decorative accessories
7.  Doors - don't under estimate the impact of doors on your style
8.  Architectural Accents

Priscilla X 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Defining your favourite decorating style -Part 2

In our last article we looked at one of my favourite Interior Designers styles Joanne Gaines from Magnolia Homes, Magnolia Market and the to show on Channel 94  Fixer Upper, on at 6:30 Sunday Nights.

We have already looked at:  
1. Ceilings- exposed beams,  timber panelling and feature lighting
2.  Floor covering - fixed and rugs 

So now we'll look at another two elements of her style that will help you recreate this look in your own home.

3.  Dramatic furniture pieces

Exposed open shelving. Thus us a signature look for Joanna and she executes it perfectly. What she also dies is make it look functional. Let's face it, this is something any of us could do if we just got organised.

Kids bedroom furniture does not have to be bland. This us a great way to keep that raw almost industrial look while retaining a fun feeling.

Matchy matchy furniture can feel like a display home. However adding a few strong accent pieces like this lamp table adds an element yet lived in look. 

I love a good kitchen island bench. However sometimes they can look sterile and without character. I use a large timber butchers block on my kitchen. This gorgeous island pictured works perfectly against the white shaker cabinets, without the kitchen looking too dark and woodsy! 

We spend a lot of time at the coffee table so why not have one with character that can take a bit of a beating by the family. Again the cintrast of the wood against the light colour of the  shaker cabinets keeps the look from becoming too heavy. This is the key to intriguing heavy pieces. It's critical to mix them. 

Built ins have had a resurgence in popularity and the return to functional homey cupboards and desks is a welcome comeback in my books. We all need a place to sit and work. I love the addition of wire baskets and tin pails.  I have a lot of these in my home, you'd be amazed what you can hide in them! 

In my next article I'm going to show you some if the great Quirky accents  and furniture Joanna uses in her design.

Still to come:
4.  Kitschy accent furniture
5.  Functional accessories
6.  Decorative accessories
7.  Doors - don't under estimate the impact of doors on your style
8.  Architectural Accents

Priscilla X

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Defining your favourite decorating style

Ever wonder why you like certain decorating styles or certain Interior Designers work? I do! 

I have a couple of favourite Interior Designers, such as Jonanna Gaines from Fixer Upper, Sara Richardson and Nate  Berkus. So in today's article I'm going to visit designer Joanna's work and break down the style elements to help define her style. Why do this you ask?  Replicating the look and feel of a designers work in your own home is very hit or miss when you're  doing it adhoc. However if you've 'unpacked' the style and defined it, keeping an eye out for finishes and accessories to create that look becomes a lot easier. You can collect cut outs from brochures or magazines or create a Pinterest page dedicated to each of the elements. Then when it's time to shop, you're all set. So what are some of the elements. In short:

1. Ceilings- exposed beams,  timber panelling and feature lighting
2.  Floor covering - fixed and rugs 
3.  Dramatic furniture pieces
4.  Kitschy accent furniture
5.  Functional accessories
6.  Decorative accessories
7.  Doors - don't under estimate the impact of doors on your style
8.  Architectural Accents

In this article I'll start with Ceilings and Floors.

1. Ceilings- exposed beams,  timber panelling and feature lighting
Unlike Sarah Richardsons designs Joanna and Chip Gaines often have a simple formula of high ceilings pained with gorgeous country and industrial lighting. Where there are are lower ceilings they'll capitalise on features like wood panelling painted white to add texture and character.

 Even a simple ceiling be a feature when you add a timber and iron chandelier. 

The combination of painted timber ceiling and a rustic chandelier gives an I stand country look.

With high ceilings a dramatic effect can be created with a simple iron candle chandelier.

Exposed beams can be added to create an earthy country feel. Whether they are structural or just decorative they can be used on both flat or vaulted ceilings.

2. Floor covering - fixed and rugs 

Dark timber floors can be softened with the addition of rugs incorporating on trend patterns, textures and colours.

A light stained timber floor can be given a feeling if warmth by adding a deep coloured rug.

Using rugs made from rattan can give a less formal feeling and help create a country feel. 

Watch out for my next articles on:

3.  Dramatic furniture pieces
4.  Kitschy accent furniture
5.  Functional accessories
6.  Decorative accessories
7.  Doors - don't under estimate the impact of doors on your style
8.  Architectural Accents

Understanding why you like a designers style will help you when you are shopping or planning your home design. Over the coming weeks we'll be unpacking a few designers styles to see what's so special about each of their approaches to decorating.

You can watch Fixer Upper at 6:30 pm on Sunday nights on Channel 94 or visit the HGTV website on 
Fixer Upper HGTV.

Priscilla X 

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