Favourite Recipes... Dairy Free Pesto

Earlier this week, we shared some of our homemade food favourites on our Instagram stories, and so many of you asked us if you could have our Dairy-Free pesto recipe, we've decided to share it here!

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When you live very rurally, like we do, the option of popping to the corner deli or organic market for some delicious just-made pesto doesn't exist, so when we get a craving for something like this, we have to make it ourselves. 

Luckily, our amazing local greengrocers in the next village (3 miles away) sells huge bunches of fresh herbs. These fabulous bundles are our go-to winter food treat to keep morale up and remind us of summer, as well as boosting our immune systems. One of my favourite things to do - apart from the usual culinary uses for herbs - is to make my own pesto.

My husband is severely allergic to cheese and milk, so unfortunately the usual pesto recipes don't work for both of us, so with some trial and error I invented this one.  

It's extremely easy, fast, and isn't fixed with its ingredients. It doesn't matter what herbs you use. It doesn't matter what nuts you use. The quantities don't really matter either, just put in however much you have, or however much works for you and your personal taste. For example, I like my pesto to be pretty lemony, so I put in lots of lemon.

This is also a great recipe to use up any more flavourful, non-watery salad leaves (such as kale, rocket and watercress) which need finishing to save them from being wasted. Sometimes I make lemon rice with big wedges of lemon cooked in with the rice, and afterwards I rinse off the now-soft lemon and save it to chuck in with my next batch of pesto, rind and all (unwaxed is of course better if you want to do this)!

This dairy free pesto takes around 5 to 10 minutes to make.

The only major bit of kitchen equipment which you'll need is a blender/food processor/nutribullet.

This amount makes around one medium jam jar full. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3oz nuts - my favourites are cashews, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. Use just one kind, or mix them.
  • 2 large bunches of fresh herbs - at the moment I like mostly coriander (cilantro) with some parsley in there too, but use whatever is available to you.
  • Juice of 1 lemonor more if you want.
  • Olive oilI like organic and unfiltered.
  • Crumbly sea salt and fresh pepper to your taste.

First of all, toast the nuts either under the grill or on the hob. Their natural oils can make them heat up quickly, so watch they don't burn!  

Roughly chop or tear up the herbs, and pack them all into your whizzing machine of choice. It'll look like there's way too many, but just squash them down.

Add the cooled nuts, the lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Pour in a good slug of olive oil - a small cupful should do it. It does seem a lot, but it's important because it helps to preserve the freshness of the herbs once everything has been mixed together.

Whizz until all is evenly combined, then put in a squeaky clean jam jar. You might want to add a little more olive oil on to depending on consistency, as this again helps with preserving the herbs.  Your pesto will easily keep in the fridge for up to one week, but it probably won't last that long because it's so delicious!

Here, the pesto has been in the fridge for 24 hours so the oil has solidified, making the pesto hold together more. It will return to being more runny when it's back at room temperature. 

Here, the pesto has been in the fridge for 24 hours so the oil has solidified, making the pesto hold together more. It will return to being more runny when it's back at room temperature. 

As well as being amazing with any kind of pasta, we also like to eat it spread on hot toast or our favourite crackers, as an accompanying condiment to salads, or mixed into hot steamed greens like peas or purple sprouting broccoli.

If you like this recipe and would like us to share more of our easy food favourites, please leave us a comment below! We'd love to know what your favourite pesto combination is...

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spread the love! our brand new website

Today - Valentine's Day, no less! - we are delighted to launch our new-look website, especially as we have been closed for maintenance since early January. 

We thought it was all getting a bit complicated, far too many menus and sub-menus, and web content that even we had forgotten about (!). So we have come up with a more simplified and streamlined look, have removed old content, and added around 50 'new' vintage/antique and handmade pieces to our online shop. We've also re-photographed all our existing stock so that you can enjoy clearer, more true-to-life images.

You'll see that we have a new section called INTO OUR WORLD. We decided to introduce this because we receive so many messages from you all about how much you enjoy our Instagram stories. It you're not already following us, please do check out @JewelleryHannah on IG for up to-the-minute snapshots of what we're getting up to!

In this new section, we'll try to write more regularly about the things we love, and the things we love to share with you... namely our adventures in the beautiful northern-English countryside we're so lucky to call home, the antics of Demelza (greyhound) and Echo (white cat), what goes on behind the scenes in our studio, and anything else we think you might enjoy. And of course, if there's anything you'd like to find out more about then please do get in touch!

We have also simplified our online shop. There are now just six sections, but with more pieces in each. We've tried to curate these sections by style, so that if you're interested in (for example) chunky tribal and bohemian silver jewellery, you can check it all out in one place. IF you're interested in finer, more delicate antique and vintage, that's all under one roof too...

There's also a new section for CRYSTALS & GEMSTONES. Many of you are taking up jewellery making as a hobby, or as part of your own jewellery businesses, so we thought why not have a little section to share some of our favourites with you? In early March, we'll also be adding more feature crystals, rocks and minerals to this section - the sort of pieces which look stunning on a windowsill or mixed in with your favourite houseplants. We're very excited about this section, as Hannah's first love (above jewellery, even) was rocks and crystals!

Later in 2018 we'll be bringing you a new collection called WILD & HIGH. We can't share anything about this yet as it's top secret, but we've just begun working on our first designs and prototypes.

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There's also clearer information about our MAKE YOUR OWN WEDDING RINGS workshops and also our BESPOKE & CUSTOM jewellery.

That's all the main points to cover, but hopefully you'll find our new layout easier and more enjoyable to navigate. We always welcome feedback, so please comment below!

Oh, one more thing...to celebrate our return, please use the coupon code SPREADTHELOVE from 14th February until 16th February to enjoy an extra 10% off everything. Don't say we're not good to you! 

dashing through the snow

There have been a few of decent snowfalls recently, but this week we woke up to around nine inches of the best type of snow; the fluffy, soft kind which drapes itself in drifts under the hedgerows, settles on power lines and branches, and creaks in that satisfying way when compacted. It's absolutely the right time to leave the comfort of home, and re-acquaint ourselves with the hidden world of winter.

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Far away from the modern world and the responsibilities it brings, we explore the woods and pathways near our home.  The world is quiet, the forest is empty. Powerful and timeless, it's all for us... and us alone.

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Deep snowfall on soft ground replicates the easy terrain of the sandy racetracks of Demelza's past, and the feel of it under her paws must flick an instinctive switch somewhere in her brain. The heart and soul of a greyhound in action is indeed a splendid thing to see (please excuse the blurry shots - they're stills from video taken on my phone)!

We chased each other, rolled around in the snow and shouted.  We watched blackbirds flick for food in the fallen leaves, and heard the cry of buzzards somewhere overhead. We crept through dripping ferns as the snow began to thaw, watching for squirrels and deer. We follow the tracks of rabbits, and Demelza leads her small pack deep into the forest. 

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I wear my favourite talismanic jewels of carved horn and antique claw, to accompany and protect us.

As the light fades, time slows down even more. We watch the new moon appear, and the trees sigh and clack in the cold wind. We must head for home.

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rare bright stillness

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
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It wasn't snow when I opened the curtains this morning. It was frost.

A thick blanket of frost. The kind that sits deep on mosses and creeps along frozen branches. 

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After the decorations have been taken down (even the vintage glass Soviet mushrooms) and the last piece of smoked salmon enjoyed, order gradually returns to the house. It is a natural pause when everything holds its breath for a week or two, and I'm given the rare gift of time. I like to drop off the face of the earth for a while; put the auto-reply on the email and indulge in later, more leisurely mornings. Late breakfasts. Afternoon fires. I give myself permission to ease off on the accelerator (too much go-go-go) and come down off the ceiling.

Take time to think, I mean really THINK. It's January, after all, and an instinctive time for setting fresh intentions.

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Recently we've had rain and strong winds. The river was roaring majestically in spate for days, and the garden has turned into a bog (it's like a sponge). Plenty of dead kindling has been blown down, but the wind isn't so good a soundtrack for sleeping (it howls down the bedroom chimney all night). 

Bright, still days like today are a rare gift. Everything is quiet, and even under the midday sun our world is frozen. Still-flowing water pulses under sheets of field ice. Wooden fences steam.  Drystone walls sparkle in a reverie almost as ancient as the hills themselves.

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Perfect thinking time.

Not a breath of wind, and not a single cloud in the sky, just the vapour trail of some distant aeroplane high above a derelict, roofless farmhouse. Modernity speeding on by whilst the valley below dozes under her carpet of frost.

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It could have been like this forever.

A solitary windblown hawthorn, stripped of all signs of life, bent backwards after years of facing the prevailing wind now stands motionless. 

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Candied bramble leaves are dusted with sugar.

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The ruts of old cart tracks solid underfoot, no danger of losing my balance (or even a wellington) today. The crunch of grass like fairy-gravel. The spikes of gorse grown even spikier, but now with more gentle weapons.

Summer seems like a far-off foreign land on days like this, but let us enjoy a brief seasonal pause in our frantic lives to wrap our thoughts up snugly, to incubate our plans, as we begin to pace our own dreamlines across the frozen fields and moors.

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A Ring for St Cuthbert - a commission from Durham Cathedral

This incredible project has been rumbling on for a number of years, and has at last come to its conclusion.  Some of you who follow Hannah on Instagram may have heard the odd snippet of information here and there, but at last (better late than never) we are so excited to reveal the story in full. Three years ago exactly (see THIS blog post) Hannah discovered that she had won a commission from Durham Cathedral. Her self-appointed brief was to design and make a medieval-inspired gold ring, inspired by St Cuthbert's famous gold pectoral cross inlaid with garnets, the carved figures on his coffin, and the myths and legends surrounding St Cuthbert's affinity with animals. The ring is to be included in the displays at the launch of the new Open Treasure exhibition galleries, and afterwards the ring will remain in the Cathedral collections forever.

In August 2017, Hannah and her husband attended the evening Private View launch event for Open Treasure - and finally got to see the ring in the exhibition space it was intended for!  The ring can be seen in the first part of the displays; in the late 14th century Monks' Dormitory. As you go up the stairs, it's in a window alcove on the immediate left. 

Hannah hand carved the ring from recycled 18ct yellow gold. It was scaled up in size and dimension, taking inspiration from bishops' rings, so that the ring would stand out more in the display case. It is around a UK size Z+3. With a slight court-shaped profile, the outside face of the ring is engraved with animals found in the stories of St Cuthbert. Inspiration for the naive style of engraving came from the outline-carved figures on the fragments of St Cuthbert's coffin, which dates from the late 7th century AD.

Annealing the heavy gold with a blowtorch to soften it, and allow it to be curved. 

Annealing the heavy gold with a blowtorch to soften it, and allow it to be curved. 

Carving and shaping the ring from the (oxidised) raw 18ct gold.

Carving and shaping the ring from the (oxidised) raw 18ct gold.

Checking the shaping and the freehand engraved quote inside the ring.

Checking the shaping and the freehand engraved quote inside the ring.

Engraving directly over the pattern for the wild cat. The whiskers were added on freehand!

Engraving directly over the pattern for the wild cat. The whiskers were added on freehand!

Freshly engraved animals in a naive style; the faces of a grey seal and an otter.

Freshly engraved animals in a naive style; the faces of a grey seal and an otter.

There is a grey seal, an otter, a red kite, a wild cat, and a tern. The animals are all native to the North East of England, and all appear in the stories of St Cuthbert as his allies and animal guides. 

The ring is inlaid with twelve tiny faceted garnet gemstones which surround the animals in a scattered pattern, taking inspiration from the garnets inlaid into the cross pendant. 

Inside, the ring is engraved with a quote from Venerable Bede, who was almost a contemporary of St Cuthbert. It reads in a continuous spiral; "he alone loves the Creator perfectly, who manifests a pure love for his neighbour."

The finished ring, on the wall next to our studio. Showing a naive red kite with wings outstretched and several of the inlaid natural garnet gemstones.

The finished ring, on the wall next to our studio. Showing a naive red kite with wings outstretched and several of the inlaid natural garnet gemstones.

Artist's Statement

The statement below was actually included in Hannah's submission to the Cathedral, and beautifully explains the message of the ring, and the honour and privilege she feels when creating something so deeply symbolic.

Although I haven’t been christened or confirmed and don’t take part in formal religious worship, when I enter a consecrated sacred space which has stood for hundreds of years, I cannot help but feel extremely moved. I am in awe that our ancestors had the vision, strength and dedication to build such colossal monuments to faith - to love.

As a jeweller, when someone asks me to make their wedding ring I feel an incredible honour. Of all the thousands (millions?) of wedding rings which exist in the world, they have chosen me to create it for them. This small circle of gold to be worn on their finger (traditionally the finger linking a main vein directly to the heart) every single day for the rest of their lives. A symbol of their love and commitment for another human being.

Rings which I particularly enjoy making are those which some people call ‘ancient’ or ‘archaeological’ in style. In my work do not seek to ape what has gone before, but more to give historical precedents a fresh interpretation by bringing a new visualisation to life.

For this commission, I am proposing to create a new ring to be displayed alongside (i.e. in the same case) - as the older treasures of the Cathedral, the ring being a powerful and universal symbol of love and devotion.

A ring inspired by medieval episcopal rings, taking reference from St Cuthbert’s gold ring which encloses a sapphire, the gold Cross of St Cuthbert set with garnets, the style of the carved figures on the Coffin, and St Cuthbert’s love for animals.

A ring incorporating aspects of previous rings I have made in the medieval style (please see annotated visual information, enclosed in this pack), with particular emphasis on the hand-engraving.

The ring would be, like all my rings, entirely handmade by forging and hammering a flat piece of metal. Any stone settings would be hand-fabricated, and all engraving would be done freehand. The techniques I use highlight the importance of safeguarding traditional skills.

It is my intention that this ring would be used as a tool to facilitate new ways of thinking about the Cathedral, its history, and its Treasures, perhaps in the context of love. There are many ways in which this could be done, but some examples could be: visitors could be prompted to think about notions of commemoration and celebration in their own lives (in the context of the Cathedral and the ring), or visitors could reflect upon the significance of their own rings (or those of a relative) and their own stories of love and commemoration. With a deep personal interest in antique jewellery, I love to imagine the stories which old rings could tell if they could speak; A wedding? A birth? A death? Significant life events which are celebrated and commemorated by the Christian Church and religions throughout the world.

By focussing specifically on St Cuthbert’s love for animals in the engravings (please see annotated designs), I would hope that this ring could also act as a bridge to groups who feel as though the Church and the Saints are irrelevant to themselves and their lives, and be especially accessible for children. For example, once I discovered the stories about St Cuthbert and his experiences with animals, he suddenly became a very ‘approachable’ Saint, someone whom I could identify with. I would propose that the engravings on the ring be used as a prompt, link, or starting point, for visitors to reflect upon their own life experiences, what it is that they love, and their own personal stories and reflections. I have chosen St Cuthbert’s animals as a focus not only because they are relevant to the Saint, but also because they reflect the native wildlife of the north of England, and highlight the importance of their protection and care.
— Hannah Peters, November 2014

You can find out more about Open Treasure and plan your visit to see the treasures of St Cuthbert, via Durham Cathedral's website.