12 Foods of Christmas Revisited

December usually marks my busiest time of the year making and selling preserves that Christmas can sometimes seem to come and go in the blink of an eye. This year Smy Goodness preserves and podcast have been put slightly on the back burner as I started a new part-time job at the British Museum! I have been focusing on that and pinching myself as it is truly a dream come true to work there. So as stocks are low and almost all sold out I have bundled all of last year’s 12 Foods of Christmas podcast episodes together in one place for easy listening and linking. These mini episodes range in length from 5-12 mins long and are perfect for listening to whilst in the kitchen, car or at work and you can wow your family, friends and colleagues with interesting Christmas-y facts, tips and stories.
Happy Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!!!
(Above is the divine Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present from my all time favourite Christmas film, Scrooged.)

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Ep25 - Gooseberries and Gooseberry Gumbo at Jimmy's Festival on Jimmy's Farm

You’d be a gooseberry foole to miss this episode which looks at gooseberry history, etymology, historical pairings and lots of slang. We’ll look at competitive gooseberry growing, the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Society and the world’s record holder for biggest gooseberry. There is a brief look at the Enclosures Act and how they affected rural life in England. For art we’ll look at still life paintings by Dutch artist Adriaen Coorte, landscape painting by British artist Isabel Naftel and contemporary painting by Indigenous Australian artist Madawyn McCarthy. Plus you’ll find my recipe and some snippets recorded from my Gooseberry Gumbo food demo at Jimmy’s Festival hosted by Joe Hurd (Instagram) & Hardeep Singh Kohli (Instagram)…don’t be a gooseberry and miss this one!

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Ep24 - Fiori di Zucca with Orso Tosco, author of Aspettando I Naufraghi

This episode it's the zucchini aka the courgette and their stunningly beautiful flowers. As my guest was Orso Tosco, the Italian author who has just published his novel, Aspettando I Naufraghi. For his topic Orso chose fiori di zucca or courgette/zucchini flowers as they feature in his novel and are one of his favourite dishes. As we will see there is a strong link between Italy and courgette flowers which will play out in our chat, the artwork covered in this episode and their interesting history. So listen above to find out about Orso's book, his process, food thoughts and memories; their earned reputation as symbols of the sensual and erotic, artwork from Arcimboldo, Giovanni de Udine, Georgia O'Keeffe and find out where courgette/zucchini come from, their travels around the world, how we get their beautiful flowers, and the myriad of ways that we can use them.

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Ep23 - A Rhubarb of a Pickle of a Jam

This episode looks at where rhubarb came from and how it traveled the world. I look at the changes from how rhubarb was first used by humans to how it is enjoyed today. We'll learn about the etymology of rhubarb, the need for albarelli drug jars and then there's the utterly interesting link between rhubarb and the Zoroastrian creation myth. I'll share why the culinary tradition of Forced Rhubarb fully deserves its PDO status. I will share how I was inspired by the rhubarb inspired artworks by Nikolai Astrup, Mary Fedden, Elizabeth Johnson. I share some of the ways that I use rhubarb in my cookery, preserves, food photography and patterns.

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Ep22 - From Christmas to New Year's Eve - Champagne, Prosecco and Cava

At Christmas-time and NewYear we drink more champagne, proecco and cava than ever and it seems perfectly acceptable to be cracking open bottles of bubbley before noon. Those bubbles can go straight to ones head…and what starts as giddiness…quickly moves into tipsiness…which is sure to end in headache if one too many glasses are enjoyed. We'll look at the roots of bubbly and how it became such a celebratory treat.

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Ep20 - Gin & Sloe Gin - 12 Foods of Christmas

It's the mid point between Christmas and New Year…we might benefit from a break from the excesses that have been and may be yet to come. We also can't go cold-turkey from the excesses of non-stop food and drink so a gin and tonic or a bit of sloe gin is a welcome comfort. I never manage to get the timing right to pick sloes from the hedgerows where they can be foraged. The Sloe, or wild Plum, is the fruit of the Blackthorn found in the hedgerows. By autumn these small fruits are oval, blue-black and their sourness makes them perfect to cover with sugar and gin which by Christmas will have formed into a perfectly luxurious holiday tipple, sloe gin.

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Ep19 - Christmas Chutney - Twelve Foods of Christmas

Capturing magic in a jar, sharing that with family and friends, creating new culinary moments and memories with family and friends and repeat.Today’s Christmas food is chutney. Since the last 12 Foods of Christmas episode featured cheese, it would seem only fitting that we follow that up with chutney. So there we have it, will you be enjoying chutney this Christmas? What are your favourite flavours?

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Ep18 - Cheese - Twelve Foods of Christmas

It’s a perfect symphony of seasonality. Many cheeses  we enjoy at Christmas are coming into peak maturity around the holidays. What’s your cheese? British classics or continental cheeses? Do you go for the cheese board rather than pudding? At Christmas you can sample ALL the cheeses and ALL the puddings! It's a perfectly delicious puzzle when choosing ones plate of cheeses and pairing them w/chutneys, crackers, wines and ports. How cheese is good for us, more Ebenezer Scrooge and artwork by Floris van Dyck.

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Ep17 - Oranges - Twelve Foods of Christmas

In the 5 or 6 weeks prior to Christmas is when clementines, satsumas, manderins and tangerines come into season and join forces to dominate the fruit bowl. Their flavours and essences appear throughout our food, drink and traditions throughout Christmas. Find out about the roots and origins of oranges and the differences between the easy-peelers. We'll learn about St. Nicholas and why we put oranges in stockings with help of Gentile da Fabriano and his painting, Three Gold Balls.

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Ep16 - Mulled Wine - Twelve Foods of Christmas

It has lots of the familiar spices we associate with Christmas infused together in warmed wine, spirits, fruit and sugar. Walk in to a party from the cold and serving mulled wine and you’ll know instantly as it saturates your sense of smell and warms you up as it fills your belly. Since pre-history we have found ways to drink fermented beverages and we owe thanks to the Greeks and the Romans for specifically bringing mulled wine to Northern Europe and throughout the world. We'll discuss Circe, her role in the Odyssey and with Odysseus will be discussed as well as her appearance in Gioacchino Assereto's painting Circe Mulling Wine. I share my own tips and recipe for mulled wine and more.

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Ep15 - Christmas Goose - Twelve Foods of Christmas

Goose - the squatted, more flavourful, dark meat alternative to their dry, white-melted fowl cousin the turkey. The custom and popularity of eating a goose during autumnal and winter harvest and holidays stretches from when they were domesticated by the Egyptians over 4000 years ago. This episode looks at traditions throughout the ages including the long-running Tavistock Goosey Fair, Michaelmas, the Smithfield's Market Christmas Eve Sale and the goose/turkey dynamic of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

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Ep13 - Cranberry Sauce - Twelve Foods of Christmas

These small, round, bright-red berries are more tart than sweet which makes them a perfect accompaniment to roast meat and dinners bringing a nice bright dash of Christmas red to ones plate. This week we look at how these North American fruits have become part of Christmas, gained status as a superfood and the many ways they can be enjoyed throughout the holidays and year-round.

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Ep12 - Brussel Sprouts - Twelve Foods of Christmas

When I was little I was sure that someone with magical powers had shrunk cabbages into bite size portions. If you don’t think they taste delicious, you’re probably cooking them wrong! And if you’re just eating them at Christmas…well lots of people do but they deserve a place at the table beyond the Christmas holidays and sprouts are a £650,000,000 business with loads of varieties to try and inventive pairings and ways to prepare them. Artwork from Amedee Varin

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Ep11 - Mincemeat - Twelve Foods of Christmas by Smy Goodness Podcast

Mincemeat and mince pies are markers of Christmas. Mincemeat is the filling baked inside pies and they originally contained dried fruit, spices, vinegar and meat when they first appeared in the 15th century. There’s the old wives' tale that you should eat a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas for good luck in the upcoming year. Listen and see below for more information, tips and recipes.

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Ep10 - Plates and Platters with Tim Parker of You'll Soon Know on NTS

This week I sat down with Tim Parker the Web Developer, Designer, DJ and host of the NTS radio programme You'll Soon Know. We discussed food and music memories, travel, design and how we approach and share all of the above.

Before my chat with Tim I look at the history of plates from our pre-history days as humans and their quick evolution from functional pieces to decorative, artistic and even space exploring items. The work of Judy Chicago, Chloe Wise, Dr Amanda Furman's The Ascent of Woman, the Voyager Golden records and more are discussed.

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Ep9 - Anyone Sycophancy a Fig?

Figs reverence surely stems from their historic connection to our own agricultural journey and they are a symbol of abundance and important to ancient peoples, cultures, art, cookery and religions. They are symbols of fertility, wealth, youth and the brevity of life. This episode will look at the Greek etymology behind 'sycophancy' and the Roman Apicius' recipe for fegato. Artists discussed include Giovanna Garzoni, Albrecht Durer, Clara Peeters, Suzanne Valadon, Vivienne Westwood and Figs in Wigs.

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Ep8 - Dumplings with Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren of Chinese Laundry Room

This episode will focus on the Chinese dumpling, and look at how this ancient food is the epitome of a food so steeped in art, history and design that, when done properly, is a little edible works of art. I will focus specifically on jiaozi, guotie, zongzi and wonton dumplings and look at stories of the Silk Road, the Chinese physician Zhang Zhongjing, the poet Qu Yuan and how dumplings, family and festivals are always linked together. Then I will be talking with Tongtong (Tungtong) Ren and Peiran Gong - the owners and chefs of Chinese Laundry Room. We’ll discuss the originality behind both their restaurant and the path that has taken them from their native China to London. Art by Shaoqiang Chen, Qi Baishi, Nishikie.com, Yiying L and more.

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