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"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
Pure Style out and about in winter
08 December 2014


Two hours in the seething crowds on Oxford Street and its environs: I`m spent.  The frisson of buy- it -now mania has brought on shopper`s block . Gimme a pink  rose from the garden and a box of Chocolate Bendicks  mints  for sanity.



Wake up in Somerset  to the first frost whites. Spend a happy half hour at Kimber`s farm shop  stocking up with current  cheese  passion Godminster  organic cheddar and a  food parcel with local minced lamb for student daughter, who later posts the moussaka she has rustled up. Tres resouceful of her.




An uplifting  shoot at the house with  beautiful crafted made-in-Britain pieces.  I would so very much like to kidnap the ash and chestnut   Shake cabinet by Sebastian Cox  and keep  it in  my bedroom for ever.




Thinking about christmas baking which will include the usual  chocolate and chestnut cake, and my new favourite savoury: crispy gouda biscuits from a recipe in Prue Leith. I will post a shot next week from an up and coming batch if they haven`t been gobbled up.
Chocolate and chestnut cake
400g peeled chestnuts chopped;125g caster sufar; 125g chocolate min 70% cocoa solids; 100g butter
for icing: 125g chocolate as above; 15g butter; 15ml fresh orange juice; 15m; grated orange rind
Process peeled chestnuts and sugar until smooth. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Add chestnut/sugar paste and mix until smooth. Turn into a greased cake tin and chill in the fridge overnight.


Tags: winter, frost, homecooking,


Autumn and corduroy colours
24 November 2014

Like unclogging bristle brushes under the  tap, a 12  hour deluge flushes the last  leaves from the trees. They  join a golden tide coursing through the roads and gardens of Tulse Hill.  Bulb planting is  an unpopular option for the moment and I escape to  Emily Carr`s   rhythmical brush strokes of the Canadian forest at The Dulwich Picture Gallery.  I also visit   RIBA and  Edwin Smith`s black and white photographs of the beauty in ordinary subjects:  a bench overtaken by a nettles or the graphic ridges and furrows of a Norfolk field .




Autumn fashion: the corduroy trousers of childhood with elastic waistbands, and, later on earnest student males in sagging corduroy jackets turned me off the material for years. I now appreciate its comfortable sensible  qualities and find it amusing that my new cords for autumn are   `sexy boyfriend` ones.  If only.




Like dividing a bag of of pic n mix  sweets I sort the tulip and allium bulbs, from Unwins , Rose Cottage Plants and de Jager  into  16 piles for the 16 beds in the garden.







 More autumn garden things: stray rose blooms; dried spikes of  nut brown cardoons;  busy robins and blackbirds stabbing at  worms,  and  the country in the city earth rot smells of sopping grass and moulding leaves. .










Tags: autumn, bulbs, garden, golden, yellow,


Coffee cake and saving Olhao
13 November 2014


My motherís coffee cake was as much a part of childhood as the roast on Sunday.   She died fifteen years ago   and I havenít been able to pin down the coffee-flavoured memories and textures  until last weekend when I downloaded   Felicity Cloakeís Perfect coffee and walnut cake. Apart from my mum`s touch,  I think the light brown sugar element is what was missing in my  previous attempts.    Here is the recipe with a few tweaks, and sans walnuts because I prefer my coffee cake without . It  was the  pudding queen at a family get-together  in my `secret shed` glowing with candlelight at the bottom of the garden.  Basically I dressed up  the garden shed with candles and tea lights in jam jars,  spread the table with  a white cloth  and  unwound a cable from the house for a heater.  It was snug and good to  be semi-outsde on a dark autumn evening.




The cake

Heat oven to 180C and grease and line the bases of 2x20cm cake tins

Mix the coffee with ltbsp boiling water and leave to cool.  

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture. Once incorporated  sift in the flour , baking powder and salt and fold in with a large metal spoon, adding the coffee, too.

Divide the batter between the tins, if very stiff add a little mili. Bake for 25minutes . Cool for 10 minutes in the tins and put on a wire rack to finish cooling.

 The Icing

Mix 2tbsp coffee with ltbsp boiling water and leave to cool.

Beat the butter until soft, sift in the sugar, salt and add the coffee and cream. Stir until fluffy and smooth.   Spread one cake with   just under  half of the icing, and place the other cake on top. Spread the remaining icing on top.




Save Olhao
Olhao council has some grim proposals for  `modernisation`  including the removal of calcada cobbles, see below, in  favour of shopping mall style smooth grey  slabs and  seafront lighting all football floodlight bright. It is easy to destroy centuries worth of beautiful  detailing when there`re millions in the bank combined with inappropriate architectural  plans and ill-informed Council types.  I have sent my objections together with everyone in the Olhao community who  wishes to keep it`s visual spirit  which is what  makes this little town so  human and special.




Tags: autumn, homecooking, shed, olhao,


The colours of autumn
06 November 2014


I understand how it is easy to fall  into a depression after the completion of an intensive project(school exams the exception).  It`s all over, what to do next?  I delivered my Pure Colour book a few weeks ago  and felt stunned for a few days. But as someone who is always  keen to curl up with a glass of wine and a good read, or catch up on films  and generally reward myself with art, food and natural  beauty, I have avoided a pit of despondency. Rather there is a feeling of  relief, almost disbelief that  I got to the finishing line and everything is in the bag.  





The Indian summer autumn this year is as vivid as the hyper-coloured dreams I experienced during the putting together of the book A kind of affirmation that there is brilliance and beauty in the everyday, and how we need  look no further than a view from the window to see a spectacular  blue sky or  trees with fluttering leaves in reds and pinks and golds.




On Halloween I ditched the pumpkins and eerie candlight for a swim at the Lido. Sparkling blue water (tres bracing I must admit) and sunbathing  in  21C  made it seem  more Miami than Brixton beach.  Mixed muddly climate change  conditions or typical unpredictable English island weather?






You have got to see Mr Turner,  funny, enlightening and as (almost) visually beautiful as the paintings at The late Turner exhibition at the Tate.  I also recommend the dancing and rhythms in Northern Soul,




  Nature is so much more interesting than reading that the John Lewis Christmas ad is out.  This morning it was the first frost and tonight it will be  full moon. First thing  I pull on a sweater over my nightie and go out into the garden  all autumn  damp and with an  earthy country smell  to  snap the frosted leaves and  jam jar night lights on the table by the shed. 








Tags: autumn, PureColour, frost, roses, lido, swimmming, garden,


Pure Style returns
18 August 2014



Sorry for the silence but I have been pushing on with my new book and have a deadline for end of September!   Yes that`s me out there with camera slung round my neck,. sun hat, glasses (can`t focus through  view finder without)  ruck sack , notebook, tomato bun . We`ve been all over  the place  my camera and me , and next week we`re at home in London where I`m  painting  and shooting more  gorgeous colour inspiration. I am    moored to the keyboard,  but  food breaks are not  neglected- the only demand is  that ideas are  simple and easy to prepare.

Peach puree is a favourite:   Peel 5 or six large peaches, stone and slice and put in a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Add two or three tablespoons of sugar and juice of half a lemon. Simmer for 5 to 10m minutes. Cool, blend and refrigerate until use. Decorate with a scented geranium leaf, or not if you don`t have, and  pour over ice cream for a delectable summer pudding.




Have just said good bye to beach style for the season.... home to grey London skies I suspect.









Tags: Summer, home cooking, colour, blue, orange,


Pure Style out and about
20 June 2014


Head down and chasing ideas and making pictures for my new book about colour.  We have a publisher , hooray, and it will be on the shelves next spring. In between, sensual respite for a few days in Olhao.  Soaking up the sun and splashing in first swim of the year sea . So cool and invigorating and then   to eat and feast on fish. Vegetables come home in Olhao where the market is spilling over with plump tomatoes and greens. A plate of roast tomatoes, onions, peppers and courgettes is my offering for  supper with friends. 

 It is `quinta-feira da espiga` (ear of wheat Thursday or Ascension day) and there are bundles of olive, wheat ,poppies, and daisies piled outside the corner shop. It is is good to see the survival of simple country rituals.

Same but different: the beach at Camber sands the day after  friends daughter`s 21st. England is as beautiful as any Algarve coastal retreat. But, and this is a big one I`m not  enthused about   murky English channel  shallows.




View from my room, below.   I am booked on late rooms.com  at Pontin`s `holiday park` fulfilling a childhood curiosity  of what`s  behind the wire of a holiday camp. It`s housing estate on sea:  slot machines, chips, flimsy walls, and family bbqs. Could offer more quality for the price.  And don`t punish your guests  Mr Pontins:  clean the windows, shoot the seagulls and put in bedside lights.



  Sunday morning Long island style at Camber sands, below.




Travelling  mentally to more watery paradise with Clare Lloyd`s My Greek Island Home.   Australian  artist, designer and photographer, Claire left the stresses of  city life in London to set up home in a small village on Lesbos.  The book is a visual feast  in which Claire eloquently describes  the simple pleasures of reconnecting with nature and community. I love the feline details.






 To  Colefax and Fowler on a fabric hunt and to see the new collection.  I want to order  the linen stripes by the hundred metre rollful but am content with a sweet carrier bag lined with `Bowood` my favourite Colefax print



There`s no place like home and  my back garden on a hot day in June.






Tags: summer, Olhao, coast, blue, garden,


Shots of purple
21 May 2014

When the garden is looking as heavenly as it is at the moment I have no huge  need to spread my wings in search of new excitement. ( Although   I  would rather like to go dancing.......  ) This week it is our clever lodger Jeffrey`s birthday and there is cake for tea and all the gorgeous purples and greens of  early summer to mark the occasion.

 Lucky to have the last fading tulip petals (they`re edible!) to decorate a chocolate  Victoria sponge using the recipe from my cookbook, and  to enjoy it against a garden canvas of alliums and lime green lavender and lemon balm leaves:  one of my favourite colour pairings.








See  how  a purple/green combination works in printed floral  cotton: a remnant used to patch one of my chidren`s jeans pocket.







Tags: purple, lime green, purestylecolour, summer, baking, chocolate, garden


Domestic bliss
08 May 2014


  Spring nettle soup, home made granola, blazing fires, chairs to fall back and doze in and gorgeous  beds make Ett Hem in Stockholm  a  luxurious home from home.  I am hooked after spending the weekend in this intimate 12 bedroom hotel designed by Ilse Crawford.





   Elegant and understated  Ett Hem  is   a carefully curated mix of  modern, vintage and bespoke pieces with a Scandinavian feel.  I especially like the rustic  pottery tableware , above, by Birgitta Watz whose studio is in the city.

 One evening after dinner in the conservatory, we wrap up in blankets to sit by the brazier in Ett Hem`s walled garden decorated with   twinkling strings of lights,  tulips and daffodils.  Perfect!






   More  design inspiration at  Svenskt Tenn  where I tip toe through  Josef frank`s tulip prints.
 



Rugs the colour of Swedish summer berries and woods by Mart Maas-Fjetterstrom, see below,  in the window of a small shop not far from
Ostermalms food hall.




Twentieth century furniture, glass, see below, ceramics and  jewellery at   Modernity





We don`t  make it out to one of the islands of the archipelago  but we do run  around the shimmering canal by the royal park , joining  mothers jogging with strollers and longlimbed Vikings in lycra

 The organic garden at Rosendals  is heavenly. The orchard of native apple trees is bursting into leaf, a reminder of how far north we are. I like the pick your-own-tulips,  the scented Joseph Frank-like  border planting, and delicious biscuits at the cafe.









  Stockholm  foodie highlights:  classic herring plates  and crayfish toasts at   Lisa Elmquist  in Ostermalms  food hall  and the snug  Hip Pocket ( check out the simple patterned  blue tiles ). We are also  elegantly barside  at       Mathias Dahlgren   another  Ilse Crawford project,   where we feast on  modern arrangements of  tartare of fallow deer and salted whitefish roe ; grilled Swedish quid and cucumber, and fried white asparagus and black morels. Delicious.

Try here, below,  for daily bread






I recommend Skansen outdoor museum, with Swedish houses from every period, see 18C summerhouse below.  Disarming to be greeted at the door of the 1930`s house by a woman with shingled hair  boiling very smelly potatoes on the stove and  bemoaning the price of servants. Living history. 




Can`t believe how many kms we`ve covered- at last 15k according to the  distance app. Stockholm is a brilliant city for discovering on foot.  I`m not sure whether the experience would be so comfortable in winter. We have a taste of it with flurries of snow  at  Skogskyrkogarden woodland cemetery. The layout is stunning and contemplative: towering pine trees, grass and simple headstones . See one of the chapels below.




Tags: Sweden, Stockholm, spring, simple, comfort, domestic bliss, colour,


Spring break
18 April 2014


Up with the lark. 4.30am actually. Ring at the door bell. Dog barks loudly and wakes me from dream where a shoot is submerging the house in folds of paper. Stagger downstairs and peer through the knobbly glass door panel. Vague outline of  man in motorbike helmet. Panic. It`s a smash and grab raid?  "Who is it ?". ``Pizza". "Pizza, pizza who? "  I say.  "It`s paid for " he says, and hands over  a box from a thermal bag. "  " It`s 4.30, I didn`t order this, and it`s stone cold"  I say, and stagger upstairs.  Someone has messed up at pizza HQ.

Wish  the  `instant` of nocturnal fast food delivery , could be applied to building work.   One thing leading to another is what building is all about. The  attic bathroom project would have been  done and dusted but for this week`s discovery of a wasps` nest,  parts missing,  and paint colour  mixed with the wrong base. Plus the soggy fallout from the unfortunate incident in  the downstairs bathroom when X and X removed the lavatory as part of the panelling job, and flooded the ceiling below. `You`ll have to get in your plumber` they try.  Hmmmm. "You did say X and X  were competent at removing bathroom fittings" I remind the contractor.  And on, and on  it goes.

Oh well. There`s always the garden. My touchstone of sanity. Spring is at least a  month earlier than last year and we are  soaking up the scents of bluebells and frothy blossom like  parched drinkers.  Best job of the week has been raking  bag of grave  in the relining of  the pathways between the parterre beds.  They look refreshed, almost like clean linen. 













  Unsurprisingly, I`m longing for the weekend. I think that spring lamb will be on the menu for our  Easter feast. This recipe with roasted artichokes and spring greens is  from my book .




Tags: spring, colour, garden, homecooking,


Pure Style Competition
17 April 2014

Take a photo of your favourite Pure Style-inspired spring feast.


Upload to Instagram (@janecumberbatch) , Facebook or Twitter and tag @purestyleonline with #springfeast

The winner will get a signed copy of my book Recipes for Every Day

Happy Feasting!

PS: Closing date on the 6th May 2014

Tags: competition, spring, recipes for every day, home cooking, simple design


Birthday tea
01 April 2014


Spring is springing and the first tulips are blasting colour in the garden. The snail and slugs are in retreat and all is well. 

 Party of the year in Battersea Park for Bertie`s sweet 16 walk and birthday tea.  Everyone was there.  Regrets were sent from Khan who was  sad because the vet  said he must rest his leg. He sent love. The weather  was perfect. There was  much frolicking and ball playing. For the most part the guests behaved impeccably, apart from Rosie who  slurped melting ice  from the champagne bucket and Lola the black pug who ate too much birthday cake and delivered it back on the rug. The party boy managed to stay the course and tottered home  happily across the grass as the sun dipped beneath the great  chimneys of Battersea Power Station .


Justify Left


Much to be inspired by in the coming season of blossom and light evenings.  I have my eyes on Gallery   Libby sellers  for  eye provoking  design in a  curated environment;  Ben  and Winifred Nicholson`s very domestic take on early  20C art and life at  Kettles Yard ;  creamy Welsh goats`  cheese logs  from Mootown sold at Sunday market in Herne Hill; and my first bath in the new attic bathroom which will be opened for shoots as soon as the last lick of paint has dried.

Here are pictures of the latest blasts of colour in my  garden, shot this morning soon after the fairy mist had lifted and the sun  had broken through.








Tags: tulips, spring, colour, garden,


In the pink
17 March 2014


This is a  brief  Pure Style update as  much sorting and clearing for  new bathroom in the attic. And I`ve been weed bashing  outside for many a happy hour in the soft bird twittering spring air. 

Colour combination of the  week is a bedside  gorgeous pink rose left over from shoot in a turquoise coffee cup.
 And look, more fabulous  pink in a floaty wrap around dream skirt made for me from birthday present fabric by Tessa Brown.






Daughter, Georgie is taking over the kitchen in a very pleasing way with  delicacies like this Paul Young sea salt chocolate and pecan tart. A comforting slice or two much needed after car break down on the M3 and subsequent lightening of purse .




Tags: Pink, spring, home cooking, chocolate


The garden beckons
25 February 2014


There`s fun in a workout  with  fork and spade in the fresh air . As good as a punch bag (it has been one of those weeks) .Happily ,weeds growing super fast in the warmth, and infesting snails are at the receiving end of my energies.
 I  dig and  thoughts come, like how there is sanity in the unpredictability  of nature.  Give me this  violet (above) pinging with unseasonal  colour and  vigour over a mush diet of commercial uniformity.  Bring on the super green alliums bursting with early green shoots  and,  over there , a  radical  forget met not,  glowing with delicate  cobalt blue flowers  And even though  I canít tame nature  I can attempt to work with her.





 The hazel hurdles are up. Easy to mount the stakes in the boggy soil and they should  make a good backdrop  for  garden shoots this spring.  Iíve recycled the worn out willows ones and put them in the vegetable patch (see below).   Theyíll look good with sweet peas curling up  in summer.





  I am planning a new shoot bathroom in the attic and to line the downstairs bathroom in  tongue and groove mdf cladding.  Iíve my eye on a cast iron bath with feet for the top room  and  Pigeon  dark grey  to give it warmth and contrast  to my mostly white house. 

 On the fabric side of things, I  have recently seen luscious  colours in sleek contract textures  designed by  fashion designer Raf  Simons for   Kvadrat . And there  are interesting retro prints   in Heals` first fabric collection since the seventies`.




I seem to need more raw food at this time of year, something to do with winter depleting our bodiesí stocks of nutrients maybe, or simply a desire for crunch and colour. Here Ďs a simple winter salad, from my  recipe book that you might like to put together
2 or three carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks.
200g red cabbage finely sliced
1 head of chicory finely sliced
handful of pomegranate seeds
handful of chopped mixed nuts
few mints leaves, to garnish ( my local Turkish shop has a steady supply all through the year)
for the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tbsp Seville orange juice or lemon juice
 1garlic clove finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the vegetables, pomegranate seeds and nuts in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the olive oil and orange or lemon juice until amalgamated. Add the garlic and season. Add the dressing to the salad, mix and garnish with mint.

Tags: winter. home cooking, garden, colour,


Hearts and colour
14 February 2014


I am still  married to my rubber boots  even though the sun is spilling through the windows on a rare dry  break in the deluge.
Cat and dog laid out in the warming rays as they spread across the newly made bed and decorate it with the finest of cat  and dog  fur.
After my rant last week, I must say that the upsides of shoots outweigh the occasional down moments.  This week we feasted on  leftovers: coffee and walnut cake.etc.,  made by a young, and starting out cook Charlotte Gardelis, who  expertly fed and watered the team in the main shoot space.





Munching the last slice of  cake and  reading Vogue, I see that my investment in  a lightweight mint coloured  puffa from Uniclo has been given the fashion bible`s stamp of approval, too.  I`m not a puffa person but this is a great colour to go with my pink bits   and is really  warm which  is what really counts.




Dodged  the showers  and tube strike to see  Beckett`s  Happy Days at the Young Vic. It  wasn`t the most uplifting play to go to with a young person at the start of life and full of fluttery hopes, but Juliet Stephenson `s  Winnie showed the female capacity for  looking on the bright side when it isn`t ,and she has great hand movements.

  Happier days, are spent fielding packets of lovely fabric samples, that drop through the letter box for  the new book I`m working on. My heart sings when I come across colours in  embroidery like this from Pierre Frey , above.  Must tell you too that I`m pleased my borders are part of the collection curated by Silvanna de Soissons in her new foodie bugle online shop.

 Days getting a little longer... the garden is beginning to beckon for spring. I am looking forward to replacing worn out and wind damaged willow fences at the  bottom of the garden with  3 freshly woven hazel ones that arrived by courier yesterday.




Tags: pink, valentine, cak, e home cooking ,


A rose, cake and colour
05 February 2014

Daughter can`t get to job and  assistant stuck on bus for two hours. Poor show, striking Tube people and your big brother  boss B.Crow last seen sunning hairy belly on Rio Beach.  But this, and ongoing flood/mud/rain/wind/gloom story  brightened by lone survivor of my  roses, a brilliant John Clare bloom. Also, cheering thoughts of  the  toasted pistachio gorgonzola tagliatelle taste sensation at Zucca a few weeks ago and, look here, chocolate brownies baked by middle daughter for her younger sister`s` birthday tomorrow.  (From Felicity Cloak`s Perfect, and they do taste, just that).




  Inspired by a yellow  Habitat chair on a shoot a couple of months ago , I  thought you`d like to see my  paint update on a chipped and worn chair in my office.    Off I  go  to the paint shop to see if I  can recreate the same  lime green/acid yellow colour  that reminds me of  all things springlike  e.g see  the   angelica flower head I  shot in an Algarve meadow last year. I pick `Tarragon Glory` from Dulux  and it works well. I cheated and bought quick drying emulsion  which, of course won`t wear as well as an oil based eggshell, but I do rather prefer matt painted finishes all round.

















Tags: roses, , winter, paint, spring, yellow , home cooking


 
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