Chocolate Cookies for every occasion

I am sure that everyone has their own definition of the perfect chocolate cookies. Mine need to be not too big and not too flat. They should be crispy and cracking when you bite them and then a bit gooey and chewy inside to melt in your mouth. This recipe ticks all the boxes and this is why I stick to it and the only variations are the types of decorations and final touches.

Last time we wanted to make a mix of pink and blue chocolate chip cookies to bring with us to the gender reveal party. And as pink and blue chocolate chips were rather difficult to come by we made our own just by melting white chocolate and adding the food colouring paste. The effect was pretty awesome  and they were as cute as a button, yet as usual the proof was in the eating.chocolate cookies

Coloured Chocolate Chips

1 bar of white chocolate (we picked one with no palm oil) per one colour

1 -2 tsp of food coloring

Melt the chocolate in a water bath. Chop the chocolate into little pieces and place in a bowl that will fit in a pot of boiling water. Leave to melt stirring occasionally but be very careful that no water gets into the chocolate as that will make the chocolate lumpy.

Once melted gradually add the food colouring of your choice and mix till fully incorporated and smooth.

Pour the mixture into an icing tube, or a plastic bag and carefully squeeze little dots onto a baking sheet. Let them to set for approximately an hour.

Continue with another colour.chocolate cookie dough

Chocolate Cookies

150 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

125 g soft light brown sugar

100 g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

300 g flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

100 g dark chocolate

5 tbs dark cocoa powder

chocolate cookie dough

Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Beat the butter with the brown and caster sugar. Add in vanilla extract, one egg and the egg yolk and keep beating until fluffy and creamy.

Melt the dark chocolate in a water bath, let to cool a bit and slowly pour into the mixture.

Mix together the dry  ingredients: flour, bicarbonate soda and dark cocoa powder and stir into the batter.

Finally, fold in the chocolate chips keeping one third aside to add them at the end on the top of the cookies.

Form the dough into little balls, roll them in the palm of your hands and place on a lined baking tray. Add one or two extra chocolate chips on the top.

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes so that the chocolate chips keep their intense colour and the cookies do not get too dry. Let to cool.

chocolate cookies

Put in a cookie jar or in a party bowl for sharing and enjoy.




Who wants to live forever


This is a rather unusual post of mine, yet I wanted to pay tribute to a great star and also tell a secondary school story that all ties in with the AIDS awareness. Back in the early 1990s little did we know of the disease and when we spoke of AIDS it was with fear and distance. It filtered with overseas news of a fatal disease from Africa, a handful of facts and a whole load of misconceptions. On one hand it was seen as a shameful illness relating to certain society groups and on the other it was feared so contagious that many attempts to arrange AIDS Care Centres faced public protests and riots.

It was only a start of raising the awareness and educating the society on the risk, prevention and acceptance. To me AIDS got real and materialized when the news of Freddie Mercury’s death hit the world. A star, an idol and an icon, who lived a celebrity life that most of the teenagers aspired to, dies of AIDS. I think most of us asked the question: why and wanted to learn more about the virus, its transmission and safe practices. This death sparkled conversation and we were no longer referring to AIDS as a despicable outcast disease but we talked of AIDS as terminal yet preventable illness.  Rather than distancing ourselves from the risk we realized we would better play it safe if we do not want to waste our lives and die young.Freddie Mercury 1946 1991

I distinctly remember a simulation game that our Biology teacher asked us to play at secondary school. The rules were simple. All the people in the class were to circulate and meet one to one, shake hands and then move onto the next person. Except that three people, known only to the teacher, were pretending to be infected with HIV. They were behaving exactly like anyone else, circulating, meeting people, shaking hands but also spreading the disease. You infected others – for the purpose of the game of course – by rubbing the palm of their hand with your thumb. No one would notice but the person infected would know. And so it continued  and the newly infected person could now spread the disease by rubbing the palm of another when shaking their hands. I was not one of the first few to catch the virus but when I did, I stepped aside and withdrew from the game only watching others playing. In less than 10 minutes the whole class was infected, and only three, myself included, out of 30 made the decision to quit the game rather than transmit the virus.

Worlds AIDS Day
Quite an experiment that was. And a real eye opener that gave me insights not only into human nature but into the scope and span of spreading a disease. I realized anyone could be vulnerable, even if you think you are fairly risk-free. The red ribbon was the first one I wore to pledge support to those affected. Throughout the last 30 years the awareness campaigns largely changed public perception and educated the society, yet according to the latest data on HIV and AIDS released by the ECDC there is still need for early diagnosis and higher testing coverage that can save lives. Surely we all feel, as Freddie did, risk-free and not afraid of anything, but if you have a slightest doubt or worry, you know what to do.


Wicked Halloween Treats

Halloween Deviled Eggs

I get very excited about Halloween. Wicked, creepy, and deadly inspires me. I can get creative with decorations, food, drinks, party games and of course dressing up and there’s no need for perfection as bit of ugliness, disproportion and roughness suits Halloween just as well. I start my Halloween planning quite early and every year I try some new inspirations but I have a hefty set of tempting and tasty treats that I make year after year as they are an absolute hit at the party. After all, Halloween part screams for wow effect and the X factor and those will surely please the guests. I will not deny it, they might be a bit time consuming, especially the decorating part but they all fairly easy to make and you perfect them over time and year after year.

Halloween Party Pleasers

Deviled Eggs

I found the look inspiration here but I use the frozen blueberries for egg colouring and leave the eggs to infuse overnight.

100 g frozen blueberries

12 eggs

1 tbs wasabi

1 avocado

1 tbs green food colouring paste

1 tbs English mustard

2 tbs mayonnaise

2 tbs lemon

salt and pepper

nigella seeds

Halloween Deviled Eggs

Place the eggs with frozen blueberries in a medium pot filled with water. Bring to boil, cook gently for 5 minutes and leave in the blueberry water for 10 minutes.

Remove the hard boiled eggs to dry but keep the blueberry water. Roll the eggs with a palm of your hand to crack. You want to get lots and lots of irregular cracks on the shell. Return the eggs to the pot and leave overnight so that they can get the blueish pattern.

The next day, carefully peel the eggs and pat them dry. Cut each in half and remove the yolk into a medium bowl. Halve the avocado and scoop the flesh into the bowl. Mash the egg yolks and avocado pieces with a fork and add wasabi paste, English mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise and green food colouring paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Use an pastry bag with a spaghetti type nozzle or a play dough syringe to squeeze the filling into the egg whites. Arrange on a platter or a cake stand and sprinkle with some nigella seeds.

Halloween Deviled Eggs

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen


250 g flour

2 tbs dark cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100 g soft unsalted butter (this needs to be at room temperature)

200 g caster sugar

1 tbs (or more) red food coloring paste

2 tbs vanilla extract

2 eggs

175 ml buttermilk

a drop of cider vinegar

50 frozen raspberries

50 Halloween themed mini muffin cases

400 g icing sugar

100 g cream cheese

100 g soft unsalted butter (this needs to be at room temperature)

1 tsp lemon juice

icing decorations knives from Wilton

red decorating gel

Bloody Red Velvet Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 170° C.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl beat the butter with the sugar until soft, creamy and pale. Add the vanilla extract and the red food coloring paste. Add a tablespoon or two of the dry ingredients then fold in one egg and mix until well combined. Add more dry ingredients, another egg and remaining flour mix and keep beating until smooth. Pour in buttermilk and a drop of vinegar and mix well.

Line the mini muffin tin with cases and fold the red mixture into the little cases. Put one frozen raspberry in the middle of each cupcake to get a blood spilling effect. Do not overfill the cases as they will raise in the oven. The recipe makes about 50 mini cupcakes so you might need to do it in batches.

Bake for 20 minutes and make sure they get a darker red colour but do not get brown. Leave to cool.

For the frosting beat together icing sugar, soft butter and cream cheese until smooth and thick. Use a spatula to decorate in a swirly move but do not cover the red top of the cupcake completely. Stick the icing knife into each and splatter with decorating gel for the bloody effect.

Bloody Red Velvet Cupcakes

Cheese Mummy

I found this recipe inspiration here but I use mozzarella cheese for decorating as it works great.

2 packs of soft cream cheese

1 pack cheddar cheese (grated)

4 spring onions

pack of dried ham (prosciutto or Serrano)

salt and pepper

2 mozzarella balls – for bandages

1 black olive – for mummy’s eyes

selection of tortilla crisps and crackers

Halloween Cheesy Mummy

Mix the cream cheese with grated cheddar and fold in finely chopped prosciutto ham and spring onion. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the mixture into a mummy shape on a platter. Peel mozzarella cheese with a potato peeler or your fingers. You aim to have long wide strips that will cover the mummy. Wrap the mummy overlapping the strips. Serve with tortilla crisps and crackers.

Enjoy those treats and have a happy Halloween.


You Rock! Rocky Roads

There are some recipes that you make once and stick to them because the food is perfect. This Rocky Roads recipe from Nigella Express Cook Book  is certainly one of those. I have been making them for nearly 10 years and I swear I have never tried better ones. It is a great way to use up any leftover chocolate, though I am fully aware that chocolate is not really the type of food that gets left behind. It is fun to make especially if you have some little helpers around the house. It works amazingly well for any birthday parties and is extremely popular at bake sales. I think there is something very attractive and tempting about bite-size treats that just makes you grab one or two quite spontaneously. And then you pick the third one just because you love it and you know you want more. Lately, I have been makings them for my friends 40th birthdays trying to say it with food that they simply ROCK. Make sure to try this recipe out and see for yourself how very addictive those little rocky roads bars are.


Rocky Roads
(recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express)

125 g unsalted butter

300 g of chocolate (a mixture of dark and milk chocolate)

3 tablespoons of golden syrup

200 g Rich Tea biscuits (ideally if you can find ones with no palm oil)

100 g marshmallows (a mixture of colours)

some icing sugar for dusting

sprinkle stars (optional)

Rocky Roads

Break the chocolate into little pieces  and put them into a heavy bottom pot with the cubed butter and golden syrup. Melt on a low heat stirring along the way.

Place the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash them with a pestle or a rolling pin into small bits and crumbs.

Cut the marshmallows with scissors into 1 cm pieces. You can also use the mini ones and save yourself the trouble.

Once the chocolate mixture is melted fold in the biscuits and stir gently. Add the marshmallows and combine.

Line a rectangular (18cm x  32 cm) or square (24 cm x 24 cm) tray with aluminium foil and pour the mixture flattening and leveling as much as you can.

Place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.

Once all set, remove from the fridge and take out of the tray onto a cutting board. Cut with a sharp knife into even finger size bits and sprinkle with the icing sugar.

Rocky Roads

Pop into a treat jar, bring to a party or a bake sale and see how fast they are gone.




Basic Big and Borrowed Bikes

I have always associated bicycle with freedom. Freedom to choose your way. Freedom to choose your pace. Freedom to feel the air in your lungs and wind in your hair.

Bike Quote: A feminist slogan. Photo: My Mum Ela

I only owned three bicycles in my life:  a kid bike on which I learnt to cycle, the junior bike that I roamed the neighbourhood on, and finally a comfort bike that was found in a rubbish dump and got beautifully upcycled (yes, exactly) by my husband.

My first bicycle was a shiny purple small bike fitted with stabilizers that after a few months were taken off to be replaced – very temporarily – by a wooden pole attached to the back of the saddle. My father would hold on to it while running along me until he finally knew he could let go, stop and see me riding away on my own.

Bike Quote: Emo Philips, US Comedian. Photo: Grandmother Gienia

Fairly quickly I grew out of the kids bike and got upgraded to much cooler model with high head tube, hand brake and back rack that could be used to carry the extra person. It looked like this and was all I wanted and needed. I could cycle around the estates, very often pretending that the bike was my fellow horse and together we explored and conquered not the nearby streets but rather distant kingdoms or wild prairies.

Bike Quote: Albert Einstein. Photo: Grandmother Zosia

As much fun as that was, in a few years this bike too became the thing of the past as it was too small for a young girl. So it was sold yet sadly enough we could never afford the new one so I got no bike to cycle to school or ride to friends’ houses. Luckily, there was always someone I could borrow a bike from to go for a day trip to the lake or to the mountains. I always felt great to get on the bike and feel the air blowing in my face and even though some of the bikes were too big and not so comfortable to ride, surely you don’t look a gifted horse into the mouth.

karta rowerowa, cycling licence
Bike Quote: H.G. Wells, British author. Collage: Ewa, old cycling licences and Sonia in Switzerland

I think I truly discovered the culture of riding a bike once I was on my summer holidays in Switzerland. The green ways led us through the corn fields and woodlands, along the golf courses and away from the roads and traffic. And even in the city centres the cars would always give way to bicycles. And the bicycles would always stop for the pedestrians. I was amazed by the respect shown and I never felt as safe riding a bike.

Amsterdam, on the other hand, proved way too professional for my leisure cyclist skills. Even though cycling in Amsterdam was the first thing on my to-do-list I never ventured to merge into a cycling lane as I was afraid I will be knocked-down or at least pinged for not knowing where I was going and not keeping up with the other’s speed.

Bike Quote: Greg LeMond, US Cyclist. Photo: Natasha

Is it easy to learn to ride a bike? I can still remember going through all the stages of learning and feeling proud and very grown-up while reaching this milestone. I can still remember watching my husband teaching our daughter. I think riding a bike is one of those basic skills that parents, well mostly fathers, teach their children. Or is it? As parents have less time and tend to turn to professionals for solutions I could imagine in a few years from now cycling schools will be as popular as swimming lessons. Surely, the kids will have better skills but will we not miss something important and will we still have the authority if we leave teaching our children to teachers?

Bike Quote: Mark Twain, American author. Photo: Sonia on her UPCYCLED bike

Many years passed until I got my third bike. As with many things in my life I didn’t search for it, it found me. The bike was dumped in a pile of rubbish, broken and wasted. The handlebar was dented and askew. The wheels were flat. The brake cable was cut. The chain was rusted. The shifter was gone. While most saw a wreck, my husband saw the potential. He brought it home and started to fix and to tweak and to add until he made the bike just for me. It had now bright red brake and gear cables and a wicker basket to carry all the essentials.

bike quote

We were now ready for family trips. We explored lots of greenways, cycled in parks and along the canals. We traveled with bikes to France and rode along the coast of Brittany. Sometimes a bike would break. Sometimes we got caught in the rain and once in a tide coming in. We do get dirty and the bikes ever more so. When we cycle we mostly escape the city, the crowds and stay away from urban areas. We try to regularly cycle to school. Occasionally, I cycle to work or town but I still feel insecure to join the rush hour traffic. I never cycled on the city bikes, yet I would love to give it a try. I honestly do not care how the bike looks like, if it is mine or borrowed and if it’s slightly too big or too small. As long as there is time to explore, look around and take in what you see, I enjoy it.



Bees and Buzz and Hives


I like to think this recipe is the celebration of bees buzzing around, carrying tiny bits of pollen and making honey to store in their bee hive. I have heard so much about this little sweet treat that I could not wait to try out the recipe. This July we were pleased to host Marysia from Pychotkowo and not only did she bring the forms but also she agreed to share all her know-how with us and she put together the post below.

bumble bee

Bee hives where the bees live

This recipe comes from Southern part of Poland. I always make it for Christmas with my grandma, Baba Kie and there are no Christmas without ”bee hives”. You don’t need the oven to bake them and they are easy to make but its important to have the moulds which are not so easy to find even in Poland. Alternatively, you can try with a really small glass. You can make the dough of walnuts or maybe from cashews.

hives serving

Bee Hives
Makes 12
Walnut Dough

200 g walnuts (powdered, you can easily use a blender to do that)

1 egg white

200 g icing sugar

Chocolate Filling

100 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 tbs dark cocoa powder

50 g icing sugar


wafer or matza crackers

How to make it?

In a large bowl mix powdered walnuts, egg white and icing sugar. You should  not need any mixer,  I always use my hands for that.

To make the filling combine butter with icing sugar and cocoa powder.

See collage below for step by step instruction how to fold the hives.

bee nice hive recipe collageFirst, make a small ball and carefully place it in a bee-hive shaped mould.

Use a spoon to make a small hole in a middle.

Pipe the chocolate filling inside.

Use a round shaped cookie cutter or a glass (2 cm diameter) to cut 12 little bases for your hives.

Carefully take your hive out of the form (don’t worry if the first one will not be perfect)

Seal it with the round wafer.

Continue until you use up all the walnut dough.

Enjoy all year round.




A Lucky Magpie


One rainy evening my husband brought home an injured bird. He found the magpie lying lifeless and miserable in the bushes on his way back from a dog walk and simply scooped her out and took her in. I must say he has a certain knack for rescuing helpless animals as he already brought home a cat, a dog and once he stopped in the middle of a busy road to save a petrified rabbit that got stuck there not able to move out of the way to safety.  So, as with most animals that come around our house, this magpie just happened to us. I had not a clue how to care for an injured bird and I asked myself whether it would be safe to keep a bird in a house where there is already a dog and a cat, but I thought that we were the best chance the poor little magpie got and she would not make it outside on her own. We put her in a shed for the night so that at least she could get warm, rest and not be bothered by cats, foxes or other birds.

The next morning we examined her it and it was clear she must have been hit by a car as all her left side from leg to wing to tail was injured. She could not stand, she could hardly move and surely she must have been very frightened to be handled by human beings. We gave her some water with a syringe and made her a comfortable enclosure out of a see-through toy basket padded with some old sheets. I do not know much about bird care and the first image that came to my mind was the Thumbelina looking after the swallow, keeping it warm and well-fed. And that we did. We gave the magpie some blackberry juice and she seemed to slowly regain her energy. The next morning, as my mother suggested, we fed her some grated cheese. Oh, she did like this and she opened her beak to snatch bit after bit. Even though, she was still very weak, we could see she was getting better and we knew we were doing the right thing.


I have a thing about magpies. Somehow, always the very sound of the word makes me laugh and puts a smile on my face as if it was some sort of a keyword triggering joy. Now this is weird enough but it is even weirder if you bear in mind that magpies here are thought to bring bad luck. As in the rhyme that my friend from work, Elisa taught me once goes:

magpies rhyme

Did the magpie bring us sorrow? I do not think so.  Magpies are one of the most intelligent birds. They can recognize themselves in a mirror and, importantly, they mate for life. Watching the magpie to get back in shape was definitely a great joy. She gave us a fright once or twice when we heard her screeching noise and rushed outside only to discover she was being attacked by other magpies. Luckily, our great dog accepted her as a part of the herd now and he would lie down at the garden door, keep an eye on her and when needed chased the other birds or cats away.

Magpie Children Book Illustration
A Children Book Illustration by J. M. Szancer

After a few days we did not need to use the syringe anymore and we would feed her little pieces of cheese, raw meat, ham and fruit. I really liked the morning feeds when she would pick a piece of food with her beak from my fingers. And when she had enough she would still take the food and hide it away for later.

magpie and strawberry

I did like to watch her bouncing in the garden. At first, she moved really awkwardly in a Quasimodo style dragging her wing to the side but over a few days her leg would become stronger and even though she still could not fly, she was moving quite comfortably around the garden, picking worms, hiding from other birds when she heard them and perching on garden furniture and bikes. Day after day she was getting fitter and it was also more and more difficult to catch her to put in her enclosure for the night.

magpie in the garden

After a week or so she started to practise flying. She flew from the garden table to the shed. She flew from the flower bed to the neighbours’ garden. She flew to another fence. She flew to the roof. And eventually she flew to the nearby trees out of the estate and out of sight. We watched her thinking if she was ready to leave. I was wondering if she was good enough to fly away and survive on her own. But I guess, when you are a bird you do not really wait until you perfect your flying, you just plunge into it and try to manage to land best as you can, even if a bit awkwardly, and then you shake it off and try again and again.


Sunshine Egg Salad

surinamese egg salad in a bowl

This is so much more than just an egg salad. It is also known as Surinamese Egg Salad and for the last six years I have been making it for Sunday brunches, picnics and camping trips. You spread the salad on a slice of sourdough bread or fill a freshly baked roll and there is honestly nothing more that you need. When I came across the recipe here, I did not expect it will be so good. I was not too keen on the idea of adding potatoes into an egg salad, I worried it might be overwhelmingly spicy and I thought it was a bit too time consuming. Well, I was proved wrong. It is divine and we fell in love with it right away.  The potatoes work great here, make it more delicate and absorb any sogginess. The spices make it tangy and I also add some celery to get the extra crunch. And surely it does not take too long to make, especially if you have the little helpers who could crack, roll and peel the eggs and then chop and mash them. In fact, the only issue there is with Surinamese Egg Salad is that I do not make it often enough.

surinamese egg salad

Surinamese Egg Salad

8 eggs

2 large potatoes – diced into cubes

1 red chili pepper

1/2 onion

1 stick of celery

1 clove of garlic


2 tbs curry powder

1 tbs ground turmeric

2 tbs English mustard

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs sweet paprika

50 ml milk


6 tbs mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

2 spring onions

Cook the peeled and diced potatoes until tender. That should not take longer than 15 minutes. Once tender rinse and dry and set aside to cool.

In another pot hard-boil the eggs. Rinse with cold water and roll to crack. That makes them easier to peel. Chop the eggs and then mash with fork. Tip into a large bowl.

surinamese egg salad

Chop chili pepper, garlic, celery and mince the onion. Mash the potatoes and add everything to the eggs.

In a medium bowl combine the curry powder, turmeric, sweet paprika and brown sugar. Add English mustard and milk and whisk well until the sugar is dissolved.

spice list

Add the spices mixture, the eggs and the mayonnaise into the large bowl and stir gently to combine all the ingredients.

Finally chop the spring onions and tip them into the salad as well.

Serve on a slice of sourdough bread or freshly baked roll with some rocket leaves, coriander or any other green leaves of your choice.

surinamese egg salad in a bowl

surinamese egg salad open sandwich

The salad can be stored in the fridge for up to two days and it is a great treat at a picnic.

Enjoy at home or outside.



Storing and restoring

vintage storage trunk

Once upon a time in the furthest and darkest corner of a warehouse there was a chest. Once full of fine costumes, filled with glamour and soaking in the spotlight from behind the stage, now dusted and forgotten. Rather than storing pretty things – it was taking up space. Rather than preserving keepsakes – it was kept just in case. Rather than being brought forward – it was pushed away.

trunk collage 

The trunk was made of solid hardwood. It had brass edge clamps and forged shamrock-shaped corner bumpers fastened with six stubs. On each side there was a thick leather handle for lifting, moving and shipping. It was strengthened with three vertical metal slats and labelled with a bright yellow army stamp font. A brass central lock and two side draw-bolts secured its content. Once blue, the top layer was now tarnished and its metal finishes corroded and distorted in places. Dust and dirt covered the lid and damp and mildew was damaging the bottom.


One day it was found by a friend of mine. Was it the bright yellow imprint that caught his eye? Or was he lured by its mysterious content and curious to explore the inside? Anyway, he decided to find a new home for this bulky neglected trunk and knowing how much I love all things old he offered it to me. My eyes sparkled when I first saw it. It was a rare found. It was perfect.

vintage chest side

The trunk was still in a very good shape clearly showing good craftsmanship and quality of materials. Yet, there were a few bits and bobs that needed to be taken care of. I gave the trunk a careful wash and scrub with the good old bicarbonate soda. I fixed the hinges and secured any sharp or jugged metal edges. I polished the locks and drawbolts – not too much though, as I wanted to keep the aged look and feel. All that was quite easy and went smoothly. The biggest challenge was to get rid of the trunks content. As it did, in fact, store something for all these years. A strong musty smell that reminded me of granny’s wardrobe full of winter coats and of an unaired attic in an old house. The stench was overwhelming and had to go. I sprinkled the inside generously with, yes again, bicarbonate soda, closed the lid and let it do the magic. Two days later I thoroughly vacuumed the top, sides and bottom of the chest and the smell was almost gone. As ‘almost’ does make the difference I let it air in the garden for another two days and this time the smell was gone.

vintage scissors

Now all the trunk needed was a new wallpaper. There was no point trying to restore the old one that was stained, faded and torn in places. However, as I quite liked the floral pattern of the original lining I decided to match it as close as possible and picked a cream one with sage green flowers.

I used a trowel to remove the old lining and evened the surface with sandpaper. I measured each of the trunk’s walls and cut the stripes of the wallpaper. Than I used a brush to apply a regular PVC glue and fixed my cut to measure pieces of the new lining. I finally smoothed it out with a pastry roller, tightly wrapped the paper around the edges and cut off any extra bits. The trunk was now restored and ready to store.

vintage chest open

The trunk is about 90 x 58 x 53 cm and offers an ample storage especially for all things that cannot be folded, squeezed or bent. Sure, as Winnie the Pooh would say it is ” a useful trunk to keep things in” but it is also a stand alone piece that fits our living room just right. Apart from storage I use it as a coffee table, a prop and background for photos not to mention the good old hide-and-seek game. Can you think of a better place to hide than in an old trunk? It will instantly and magically transport you into your childhood adventures and the world of pirates, wizards and voyagers.

I am so happy I have my own treasure chest now. I am as proud as could be for how it turned out. I am extremely grateful to Wiola and Tomek who gifted it to me. I know this trunk will have many more stories to tell.




Shamrocks for St Patrick’s Day

shamrock biscuits

Every year I like to prepare a special treat for St Patrick’s Day so that apart from the must-have Shamrock Shake, Irish breakfast, Guinness stew and a proper pint at the pub there’s a home-made sweet to bite into to complete the celebrations. So far I have quite a nice selection of recipes such as rainbow muffins,  Nigella’s grasshopper pie or Irish flag jelly. This year I am making shamrocks that seem as obvious as perfect choice as it doesn’t really get more Irish than the little three-leaf plant that Patrick used as a symbol to explain about the Holy Trinity. These little shamrocks are completely edible, naturally green and irresistibly crunchy. Unlike many other St Patrick’s Day treats they do not need any food colouring and simply combine 3 ingredients.

I came across this recipe in an old Polish cookbook published back in 1978 when, I believe, no one heard of macaroons or celebrated St Patrick’s Day. At least not in Poland. And yet, there is was – a recipe for shamrocks – and I knew instantly I will baking them this March. The original recipe called for walnuts but I decided to use pistachios instead as their natural green pigment adds just the right colour.


Pistachio Shamrocks

2 egg whites

240 g icing sugar

240 g ground∗ pistachios plus 30 whole nuts for decorating

∗ I used shop-bought packages of pistachios in shells and needed about 550 g so that after removing shell and skin I got 240 g of pure nuts.

3 ingredients dough

First, remove the shells and skins of the pistachios. Measure 240 g and blend them into a soft powder. Keep the rest of the nuts for using as stems of your shamrocks.

Beat the eggs until peaks start to appear then gradually add sugar.

Gently stir in ground pistachios. Leave the mixture to settle for a while.

Preheat the oven to 100°C and line baking tray with baking paper.

Roll the mixture into 3 little balls or beans that are more or less the size of a Malteser, place them on the baking tray and press with your fingers to shape them into little leaves of shamrock. Stick a whole pistachio nut as a stem.

The mixture will make about 30 shamrocks.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes so that they will rise but won’t get brown and ideally will have crunchy outside and soft inside (just as macaroons).

shamrock biscuits

I want to include special thanks to my friend, Wiola, who helped me to translate the old cook book instructions to bake slowly in a moderately hot oven into modern terms of time and temperature, and to my lovely 7-year-old neighbour, Isabel, who volunteered to taste the treats and decided: “They are nice.” Hope you will enjoy them too.

Happy St Patrick’s Day