It has been a while, again. I know.
Maybe you were wondering where I had gone all this time.
Maybe you were thinking I had disappeared to somewhere exotic on our honeymoon; having too much fun, and forgotten all about that you ever existed.
But the truth is, I have been too busy looking for the little heart of mine that still wishes to live the every minutes of our Westival, and found it almost impossible to retrieve myself back into the reality quite as so soon as I had hoped for.
Back in March 23rd, on our 9th anniversary, when I made that little speech back at our flat, I couldn't rescue myself from tears thinking of one person who wasn't there to witness the moments of our union; who I knew very well, would joyfully have shared my tears.
She might have squeezed my hands while helping me to dry my eyes, just to let me know that she's there, in the moment, with me. She might even have hugged me tightly with all her warmth to comfort me. And I know she would have, most definitely given me the wettest kisses on my cheeks that I found hard to wipe off, because.., I loved her love.
I knew her well, and on our wedding day when I made that speech, feeling every presence of her around me, I could barely finish the last sentence.
Exactly two years ago, on 23rd of March, when Toby accidentally scratched the wheels of our beloved car 'Merry Edna' named after Toby's nan, we both hoped in anger, that maybe it was the sign of nannie telling us the flat we were about to view was the one.
Later that evening, Toby and I raised our glasses with an excitement that finally the long search of finding our dream home may have come to an end, and thought of nannie who would have been so pleased to hear that we found our nest, at last.
In March 23rd 2009, I thanked nannie Dubery for her kind acceptance and generous loving, and said my good-bye for the one last time.
I bursted into tears whispering how sorry I was that I didn't come back soon enough to see her smile again. I told her quietly that I loved her, and promised her I would always be a good girl to Toby.
I remember so clearly, the very last day I saw her back at the hospital few weeks before her funeral.
Nannie held my hand with her fragile hands and told me with smile that I was a good girl, and asked to come back soon to see her again.
To this date, I still feel so bad that I couldn't have made another journey to the hospital before she passed away.
At her funeral, Toby held my hands tightly and comforted me with the little words of wisdom, just like nannie used to.
He said, nannie was finally happy that now she's with granddad. And we should all be very happy that she found the peace in him.
Love; that lost her soul, that got found in eternity.
Earlier last month, when my family came to join our Westival, going through our wedding photographs they hadn't seen, my mum was surprised to see the snow in England in March. She said in Korea, snow on your wedding day means the wealth is wished upon you.
I told her that I think it was nannie Dubery out on her little trip down to earth to spend the day with us.
And as we were all hoping for the good weather for our much anticipated wedding festival, I whispered a little prayer to nannie to shine her lights on us, just like many other old times.
A huge thank you to all of you who helped us to create such an incredible weekend.
Max and Lucinda at the Park Farm were so helpful, and their 50 acre of private field was just stunning. The mother and daughter team of Vintage Scoops, Vic and Jo served up some of the most delicious ice creams.
Henning and Kasia, the proud owner of the Taco Truck was one of the most loveliest and kindest people I've dealt with in this process of planning a huge party. And their taco is just spectacular!
And last but not the least, thank you Al, for capturing every moments of our special day. Every time I look at it, my emotions still run so high.
Thank you, thank you and thank you!
Baked Eggs with Lightly Spiced Tomato Jam
for the baked eggs
4 medium to large free range eggs
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
2-3 streaky bacon rashers (substitute with toasted bread crumbs if making for vegetarian)
2tbsp creme fraiche or natural yogurt
handful of chopped dill
some rapeseed oil
salt and pepper
for the tomato jam (inspired by Tomato Jam NY Times)
940g mixed tomatoes, coarsely chopped
160g red peppers, roughly chopped
50g mixed chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
25g ginger, roughly chopped
1 chipotle chilli, cut into small flakes
300g jam sugar
50ml balsamic vinegar
1 1/2tsp cumin seed
good handful of fresh thyme
1tsp malden salt
Okay, please let me tell you couple of things about this recipe.
One: you know one of those weekends when you have your friends and family staying over and you're in serious needs of mean cooked breakfast to show off your hospitality, this is it!
Two: this tomato jam in your fridge will rescue you from need-something-quick moments, turing everything into tangy sticky saucy culinary satisfaction, and the left over jars that you've given to your friends will make them think you are one cooking genius!
This recipe will make about 1pint of tomato jam. Having said that, this relies heavily on the ripeness of the tomatoes you're using and the thickness of the final jam.
There isn't any rules as such on how thick it should be. Just go with however you like it. If you make it slightly loose, it will be more like a pourable posh tomato ketchup. I like mine quite thick and sticky, so I can smother generously over the cracker with some mature cheddar.
This jam is amazing with bacon sandwich. It goes really well with grilled portobello mushrooms stuffed with some fried garlic, onion and chilli flakes, and a spoonful of jam in the middle with a good helping of grated cheese. It is also brilliant quick marinade to roast the jointed chicken with extra squeeze of lemon and crushed garlic.
Making the tomato jam is very simple, once you have all ingredients ready.
I use lots of different types of tomatoes; half of the quantity is ripe vine tomatoes and the other half is made up with plum and cherry tomatoes.
Again with chilli, use different strength. I use some very hot ones like bird eye chilli and scotch bonnet, mixed with some very mild ones.
Using your food processor, blitz red peppers, chilli and ginger into fine flecks. They should have paste consistency with bits.
Ground all spices. Put all ingredients into large sauce pan, bring to boil, then simmer over low heat for about an hour and half.
Make sure to stir every so often to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
When ready, cool them down ever so slightly and decant them into the sterilised jam jars.
This will last you about a week in the fridge. However, if you use the canning methods to preserve the jars, it will keep up to a year; stored in a dark and cool place.
That settled, lets move on to bake some eggs.
Start by gently frying the shallots in some oil over medium heat for 5-10mins until golden and slightly crisped up around the edges. Set aside.
Grill or fry the bacon rashers until very crisp. Break them into fine crumbs and set aside.
Lightly butter your choice of baking dishes.
Sprinkle some fried shallots into the individual dish, reserving some for the top. Spoon in the 1tbsp creme fraiche into the dish, crack 2 eggs each per person, rest of the shallots, sprinkle chopped dill and season well with pinch of flaky malden salt and lots of cracked black pepper.
Place the ramekins into the large baking tray and fill the tray with hot water only half way up to the outside of ramekins.
Bake them for around 12mins or until eggs are set to your liking at 180º.
When ready, take them out carefully and garnish it with bacon crumbs.
Serve it with toasted sourdough; it's delish!
It's a shame that I cannot find any old picture of nannie to share with you.
But maybe, I hope we all have our own nannie Dubery somewhere who lives deep inside of us; who quietly carries us through; who gives us the strength to believe in love that sometimes gets lost, and other times... gets found again.
I am yet to find myself to go through the going-cold-turkey moments as my memories of the highs of Westival faint out.
But as amazing as it is to be fed off on those wonderful snippets of the past, I also know that those past were once present.
And for now, I am glad to be back in this space.