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Tamara's Tea Break: A Recipe for Rainbow Biscotti

words Tamara Vos

24th October 2014

Last weekend I tried making rainbow biscotti.

I wanted to give it a go because "rainbow biscotti" both sounds and looks a little bit magical. I came across the idea for them on this blog, and I thought I might make them in an attempt to become more like my aspirational self (ie. someone who casually has homemade treats lying around to offer visitors/neighbours/the postman). 

Not all things in life come out the way you want them to though.

Instead of turning my biscotti into multicoloured beacons of gastronomic prowess, my sprinkles dissolved into nothing and left slightly mouldy-looking smudges in the dough. I debated long and hard about whether to put these unremarkable biscuits on the blog at all, but it's important to recognise your failures and I like to be honest. My biscotti were plain-jane biscuits, but they still tasted of almond heaven and were gone in a couple of hours. 

It was during the devouring of them that it struck me how nice tea breaks are, to be able to sit down and share a snack with a friend or two. In this new series, I'll be making nibbles that are designed to be passed around and shared in the company of others, alongside a hot brew and a generous sprinkling of gossip. 

You Will Need: 

110g plain flour
25g ground almonds
50g whole almonds (skin on)
75g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
A few drops almond extract
A generous handful of coloured sprinkles

And Now:

One. Preheat the oven to 170c. 

Two. Mix the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, whole almonds, coloured sprinkles, sugar and salt into a large bowl, and mix well.

Three. Add the egg and almond extract, and mix in with a wooden spoon. Use your hands to form a smooth dough (if too dry, add a sprinkling of water). 

Four. Roll out the dough into a thin log of about 30cm. Put it on a lined baking tray, and bake in the oven for 30 mins. 

Five. Take out the oven and leave to cool until cold. Reduce the oven temperature to 150c. 

Six. Once cold, use a serrated knife to cut diagonal slices. Place the slices back on the tray, and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes until golden and crisp. 

Announcing Illustrator Jon Klassen's Instagram Takeover

words Rosanna Durham

23rd October 2014

Every once in a while we hand control of Oh Comely's Instagram feed to a creative we admire. And, on occasion of our interview with picture book illustrator Jon Klassen in the just-published issue 22, it seems only fitting to announce him as our Instaguest this week.

We're big fans of Klassen's work from This Is Not My Hat to his new release Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. His books have a biting, knowing humour that appeals to children and adults alike. This Is Not My Hat, which tells the story of a small fish who steals the hat of a bigger fish, even made my dad tear-up when he read it.

Follow Jon's progress on Oh Comely's Instagram here.

What Does Home Mean to You?

words Tamara Vos

22nd October 2014

Our next issue is themed on The Great Indoors and we're setting out to collect your stories of home.

What does home mean to you? Is it the sound of perking coffee in the morning? The soft mumble of the radio? Maybe it's a specific object, the thing that's seen you through both good days and bad. 

And what about when things turn sour - when your home doesn't feel like "home" anymore, when certain people leave, or when you feel like you don't have a place to go home to? 

We want to hear about your experiences of "home", whatever that word might mean to you. Write about your experiences in under 250 words and send them through to rosanna@ohcomely.co.uk by the 3rd November, with the subject headline "Stories of Home". Our favourites will be published in the issue.

Photo by Maga Soto

Swap A Letter, Swap A Parcel, Find A Friend: The Perfect Strangers Project

words Liz Ann Bennett

19th October 2014

Does anyone remember last year's November Care Package swap? It was a present-swapping bonanza of epic proportions. Oh Comely readers and friends from Poland to Peru were paired up at random. We prepared packages of wintry surprises. We popped them in the mail. And the results were adorable.

Well, the swap is back. And this year it's a little different. It has a home of its own and some special activities for parcel-packing.

How it works

1. Pop your details down for The Perfect Strangers Project, links below.

2. On 10th November, you'll receive your swap partner's details. This is your cue to prepare your box!

3. Post off your box by 24th November, and cross your fingers for receiving your own.

4. Share photos of your box with us on Twitter or Instagram with #OCswapbox.

How to sign up

New to the swap? Welcome! Have a poke around and sign up here.

Did you take part last year? You've got an account all ready on the site under the email address you used before. To get inside, just click 'forgot your password' here. Then click "I'm in!" to join.

Got a question? Email swaps@ohcomely.co.uk.

Above: Melissa Reid's box from last year ready to go.

Introducing A New Series: The Words In My Head

words Liz Ann Bennett

16th October 2014

These days I have more and more of a soft spot for inspirational phrases. Their glibness and worthiness used to irritate me. Sometimes the messages seemed so simple as to almost lose meaning.

But life is often simple and difficult at the same time. Some things I find difficult include: getting out of bed on time, being kind to people when I'm in a bad mood, answering the phone to unknown numbers. None of these are complex.

This is where the gentle encouragement of proverbs comes into its own. In this series, I'll be asking artists, writers and other creative people about the phrase they write in the front of every new notebook or stick on a post-it at the side of their computer screen.

Here is one of my own favourites to begin with:

It ought to read, "You get eat, you get to fuck, you get to read To Kill A Mockingbird," but I had run out of fridge letters. It's from a Louis CK show about how life even in its most basic form is really rather fabulous.

Louis' somewhat crude humour won't be to everyone's taste (and isn't entirely to mine), but I love the point he is making here: even on the worst of days, there is so much about life to enjoy.

A Pea-Sized Creative Challenge

words Liz Ann Bennett

14th October 2014

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore your house while the height of a five-penny piece? Probably not. It was probably just me who spent too long reading The Borrowers as a child.

But, if you harbour fantasies of being teeny tiny, we'd like to invite you to take part in a pea-sized challenge.

Here's what you do. Send some tiny people on an adventure around your house: swinging off the loo roll, perhaps, or using a mixing bowl as a make-shift diving pool. Turn your home into the epic wilderness it would be if you were only 1cm high.

Take some photos of your people on their adventures and send to me at liz@ohcomely.co.uk by November 3rd with the subject "Pea-sized challenge." We'll print our favourites in the Great Indoors issue, which will be out in December.

You can obtain a set of five tiny people in our shop, where they come with a set of art cards, or buy a load by searching for N Gauge people on eBay (just watch out for lengthy international shipping times).

art

Pretty Lovely at the Festival of Crafts

words Tamara Vos

14th October 2014

This weekend, Farnham - a town rich in crafting traditions - will play host to the Festival of Crafts. There'll be lino-printing, book-binding and wooden necklace-painting galore, so if you're of a crafty inclination then this isn't to be missed. 

Set throughout a collection of buildings in the heart of town, the festival will see dozens of exhibitors showcasing their beautiful designs. We are looking forward to awarding the Oh Comely Pretty Lovely Award to our favourite artist, who we will later feature in the magazine.

To get you warmed up, here are a few pieces we already have our eye on: 

 Wooden stools by Circle 52.

Hand-printed paper by Esme Winter.

Illustrated egg-cups by Catherine McGinniss. 

Knitwear by Jules Hogan. 

Festival of Crafts is on the 18th-19th October, in Farnham. Tickets are just £3, and workshops are a further £3. Visit their website for more information. 

Giveaway: 5 Copies of Eating With the Chefs from Phaidon

words Tamara Vos

8th October 2014

Here at Oh Comely we like to be nosey.

We're curious about how you organise your kitchen cupboard, which songs rock stars sing in the shower and what the Queen likes to have for her tea. So when Phaidon published a book about the meals that chefs cook when not cooking for customers, we knew that it was right up our street.

Eating with the Chefs is a beautiful hardback cookbook that brings insight to the daily meals shared by the chefs and staff of eighteen restaurants. Filled with mouth-watering photos and easy-to-follow recipes, it's the perfect dinner guide to see you through autumn. To top it off, we have five copies to give away to five lucky Oh Comely readers. 

For your chance of winning a copy, head to our Facebook page, and leave a comment telling us about your most memorable meal. Our editor Liz leads the way with this childhood memory: 

"One evening, when I was young, my sisters and I were given Angel Delight for pudding. Angel Delight was a real treat back then because we usually only had value ice-cream. We alll poured coloured sprinkles on top and were ready to dig in, but when we looked down at our bowls we saw that the sprinkles were moving. They had maggots in them! We started screaming, and my mum made to take the bowls away, but my youngest sister - who was about three at the time - started shovelling the Angel Delight as quickly as she could into her mouth. She couldn't bear the thought that her pudding might be taken away from her."

We will announce the winners on Monday 13th. Good Luck!