[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] H[/dropcap]ere we are at the end of the year and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to you for reading Stonesoup this year. I really appreciate your time and attention!
And while I’ve got you I have a quick favour to ask….
I’m always looking for ways to make Stonesoup a better blog so I’d really love to get your feedback. In particular the answer to these two questions…
1. Why do you read Stonesoup?
2. What should I stop doing / start doing to make it better?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
And before I go I have a Christmas treat for you!
I’ve really been getting into baking (or in this case not-baking) with whole food ingredients and skipping the processed sugar and flour.
These blondies are one of my current favorites. Although I must say the chocolate ‘variation’ is also pretty addictive…
These may not look the prettiest but believe me they’re super delicious. Especially if you’re a fan of caramel flavours. And the best part is there’s no need to bake.
makes enough for 6-8
takes: 15 minutes + 30 minutes cooling
100g (3.5oz) pitted dates
150g (3.5oz) almond meal
50g (1.75oz) melted butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 tablespoons psyllium or oat bran (optional)
1. Place dates in a heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for 5 minutes.
2. While the dates are standing, weigh out your remaining ingredients into your food processor.
3. Drain dates and add to the food processor. Whizz for a few minutes or until you have a smooth mixture that clumps together.
4. Dump your mixture into a loaf pan lined with baking paper and use your hands to smooth out until it’s the height you prefer. Don’t spread the mixture over the whole base. Only use half or less.
5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer. Then chop into tiny squares.
chocolate brownies – add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder to the mix.
different nuts – feel free to use other nuts or nut meals. Pecans are particularly good.
short on time – pop in the freezer to firm up. Will take about 10 minutes.
medjool dates – no need to soak, just be sure to remove the pits.
nut-free – struggling with this one. Sorry!
dairy-free / vegan – use the coconut oil option.
more decadent – cover with a layer of melted dark chocolate.
ps. If you’d prefer to keep your comments confidential, just hit reply to this email and share your thoughts. I’ll be reading every response :)
1. I can hear an Aussie accent when I read your posts. I stopped looking around for crocs in late July.
2. I imagine with nearly 65,000 followers, a few of the yanks reading your recipes would know how to tare a scale … the rest of them might like teaspoons, tablespoons and cups, please. Psyllium? Probably not in every yank’s pantry. Gives baked goods a certain get-up-and-go, right?
Truth be known, your blog IS fun to read. If I’m not careful, I learn stuff. I have a scale, so keep doing what you’ve been doing, just the way you’ve been doing it. Merry Christmas!
I like your recipes & stories/messages!
1. I’m a vegetarian and love your recipes!
An American friend put me on to you, I live in NZ but US born and bred. Measurements don’t faze me, I am used to converting back and forth. Two things stand out for me: one is that you are trying new ideas like raw baking, same as I am, and more veg less meat , no refined things etc. I feel supported and encouraged by your offerings. The other is that I already look at what I have and experiment a lot, but sometimes my imagination is just too tired, and luckily that day yours isn’t! Thanks for your cheerful sharing of your life, too.
A happy Christmas to you, your Irishman, Fergal and Baby X.
Why do I read Stonesoup? Who can go past recipes that are so tasty but only require a small list of ingredients that are in most pantries? I also love the research that you share, as you often pursue questions that I ask myself from time to time. The most recent one on the best oils to use was great and has changed my habits for the better.
I love your blog for more than one reason. The recipes are often easy and quick, and I like the emphasis on healthy eating.
I can’t think of anything to improve your blog. It suits me completely!
Hi Jules, I really like your simple, doable, quick, tastety recipes! I am especially grateful for your delicious wheat free dessert recipes, I am looking forward to to doing the raw blondes! Also I like all your variations on the basic recipe to fit a variety of food preferences.
Having the spoon and cup measurements would be helpful along with your usual weight measurements so we could choose.
I love ethnic food from different countries, and new ideas and flavors! Lately I have been into oven roasted veggies, pickled carrots
( great dippers with your hummus recipe) and gluten free, grain free quick flat bread (almond flour with arrowroot).
Thank you for all of your inspiration. Happy New Year!
Simplicity…. taste…. healthy…. with that bit of flair! We dont eat a lot of meat so am biased towards the vegetarian recipes that you post. Look forward to each and every one. Great job! Xx
I read Stonesoup because I always get new ideas and good information. I am interested in simplifying my cooking and planning and this is THE place to do that. I like the blog as it is, and can’t think of anything you should stop doing or that you could do better. One thing that might be nice is more examples of simplifying complex recipes. I get the basic principle, but it would help me to see more examples.
1. I love your recipes because a person who has few cooking skills like me can actually make them and acquire new knowledge!
2. Jules, us Aussies know it’s hit in Australia and that Australiabs often wear “skimpy” clothes!
When I first started reading your blog and watching your videos I had to have a giggle to myself !
Often in your videos (the ones obviously recorded in summer) you can appear as if you are not wearing any clothes! Your hair covers the straps of your top and we can only see your shoulders !
Has anyone ever mentioned this! I know … we’re Aussies … but I wonder what those overseas members think!
3. I love the recipes, the video lessons and the suggestions at the bottom of the recipes to insert substitute ingredients!
I love Stonesoup – most of favorite go-to recipes come from here. One thing I’d like to see less of is almond meal – they’re bad for the environment.
why are almonds bad for the enivornment? I’d love to know. Never heard this before.
I’d love to know why you’re not a fan of almond too Kathleen!
Like the new ideas and simplicity of the recipes. Encourages me to try new things.
I love your recipes because they are simple and healthy and that I can make most recipes from my pantry provisions,
I trust your recipes and opinions due to your food and academic background.
I love that you do not follow the fads, rather you provide sound advice and reviews following your own research – an example being the article you posted on the oils.
I love that you include substitutes.
I hope you don’t change too much.
1. I read Stonesoup because you cut to the chase pretty quickly…not too much stuff to get through before you get to the recipe! And the recipes are always very simple – your point of difference and I love that!!
2. Cups and teaspoons…yep that’s a good suggestion from your other readers. Otherwise I have no improvements – it’s one blog I have never unsubscribed from and I have bought most of your e-books!! Thanks so much Jules x
Long time reader here the US. California to be exact. I say this as I tend to modify your recipes to fit my tastes which tend to be more Mexican flavored. However with your recipes and approach it is very easy to do. I love that you offer vegan-vegetarian options and or solutions. Your ketchup bakes legumes are one of my faves and I make them with pinto beans and chilie powder. In fact that was dinner this evening. Super tasty and easy. I love your simple minimal approach. I follow Zen Habits so that will give you an idea of how I approach things. Keep doing what you have been doing.
I love reading your posts because you are an Aussie and I love supporting local talent. I like how you stay in touch regularly and are generous with your stories but not over the top (i.e. multiple posts a day!). A big advantage with your blog, is that you give ‘variations’ for each recipe. I don’t see that in other blogs so it’s great! Keep up the passion and I look forward to many more. #onwardsandupwards
I’ve been reading stonesoup for years now and I don’t as much follow your recipes as take inspiration to feel confident playing around in the kitchen and creating simple healthy and do-able meals for my family every day. The simplicity of the meals and substitute suggestions lend to their affordability and sustainability but I would love even more of an emphasis on that (less almond meal, meat as a side…). Thank you Jules!
Love your blog! So interesting that you’ve made the shift from city to country life. I like that you’re into simple, healthy, tasty meals, with great tips for the less-confident/experienced home cooks, but I am an absolute fan of your amazing sweet treats – some of the most delicious, easiest recipes ever, that I come back to time and time again.
I love your blog because of your ‘5 ingredient 10 minute’ philosophy (ie quick, simple, nutritious and bursting with flavour) and I also like your alternative ingredients because we have a nut allergy in our house and it’s great to learn how to substitute for nuts eg by using capsicum/red onion for crunch etc. In fact I’d like to see an almond meal alternative for those nude brownies, they look almost perfect for our lunch boxes!!
Keep posting new and simple 5:10 recipes, these are my ‘go-tos’ and are extremely helpful on busy week nights.
I love your blog – you know that – and your cookery school has been very helpful to me. My favourite aspect of the recipes is the variations you offer. One more variation might be useful – what to add if you have more time or are willing to increase the number of ingredients – I’m one of those cooks that is willing but untalented in the “what to add” department. As I move closer and closer to a vegan style of living I fnd your recipes even more useful.
Thanks. Have a wonderful holiday.
1) I started reading Stonesoup for easy take-to-work lunch ideas, and I continue reading the blog because it is inspiring. Keep up the great work!
2) Start doing: links to websites to purchase the ingredients that are unlikely to be in our pantries.
Keep doing: the personal touches. Updates on Fergal, the veggie patch, what you’re up to on the weekends. It makes the blog so relatable.
Stop doing: unless there is something about Stonesoup that is causing stress, everything about the blog is great.
Oh yes – and to all the people who think we should still use cups and teaspoons – it’s not just in Europe and Australia that this is changing. Weight in grams or ounces is a more accurate way to cook and lots of people are changing. Kitchen scales are not expensive and getting more common here in Canada.
I read stonesoup because I like the way you summarise current research into plain English. I also love your simple recipes and most importantly the variations at the end. From reading your variations it has taught me how to adapt other recipes. Thank you.
I like the simplicity of your recipes and the approach of just balancing the flavours.
A suggestion that would help me – when I do plan meals ahead it is not always helpful as I am looking after someone ill. Then they do not want what was planned and food is wasted. You have I think done this before – shopping for what is in season plus basics and then forming different meals as required. Combining basics in different ways. You really mostly do this, and I appreciate it!
Healthy eating!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Like that it is quick, nutritious, tasty and practical. That peas with the onions, spinach & sherry vinegar is now a goto of mine. I substirate rocket for spinach & add more herbs & feta. Yum. Think I will go make some now…
Hi. I enjoy reading your blogs but appreciate your recipes because I like the substitution section. Although I live in another country, we all need to eat and I like your quick and easy style.
I’ve been following on for a long time. But for various reasons… I generally don’t finish the courses. That said – I love it.
1. Why do you read Stonesoup?
It’s inspirational. Having been raised by non-cookers, my knowledge is still not great, but slowly getting better. Even if I just quickly scan the emails, parts stick in my mind.
At one point I think we exchanged emails, and you laughed at my admission that tofu frightened me. I don’t recall any of your recipes having tofu, but I had started to feel bolder in the kitchen.
Later, I started the 30 dinners course. I was so happy after pea and pesto soup, because I am allergic to cheese / whey. But! I found your recipe for a pesto with raw cashews. I was very happy that I tried it, the soup was great. I skipped some later recipes, but my growing boldness made me toss pesto through some pasta.
I felt like such a winner when I reached the Broccoli pesto / pasta thing! I didn’t do that one (cheese!), but it was a special moment when I realised that I’d had a decent idea all on my own :)
2. What should I stop doing / start doing to make it better?
I struggle with some of the measurements. I am sure that this is something very basic, but I’ve just had no exposure. So “4-6 wedges roast butternut squash (recipe HERE)” with HERE doing nothing in the PDF… I just have no clue how big is a wedge? Then I squint at the picture, but there’s nothing in there to tell me the scale. This is the kind of thing that makes me skip some recipes.
Another factor is that I have no food processor. So some things get skipped if I can’t think of a way to work around that. I sometimes wish for a “no food processor” in the variations. (the cashew pesto was by combining the vegan recipe, and the no food processor recipe)
1. Why do you read Stonesoup?
For easy, everyday meals that are healthy. An answer to the 6pm scramble.
2. What should I stop doing / start doing to make it better?
I like it when you discuss the science of food, or techniques in the kitchen that produce better results.
Oh, and I really love your substitution options at the end of every recipe. So helpful!
1. I can read the blog (and your recipe archive) at 5pm and have dinner served at around half past!
2. Keep doing what you are doing. I just love it.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, Jules! You are one of my internet heroes! I love your blog and recipes because of their relative simplicity, the many options you offer, and the delicious ingredients. The beautiful photography (and the videos too) inspire me to cook more! I also love the science behind food preparation that you include.
I love the natural way you write and
Am so inspired by your ideas.
Don’t change a thing!
You’re a winner.
I’m Catarina, from Portugal! (yes, you have readers here too! :) )
I love your blog because it is so unique! Nowadays there are millions of recipe blogs and I find that too many times they tend to copy each other’s look and photography style. Even though your pictures and overall look are very simple, I love that! Also, I love that you talk about other subjects along with your recipes, I learned a lot about the paleo diet because of you.
Finally, I was really inspired by your post “My best decision. Ever”, thank you for showing all of us that it’s possible to live doing something we truly love!
I wish you all the best!
I love what you write because I can relate to most of what you say and I adore your recipes, they are straight forward and really help me out due to my daughter being a vegan.
Merry Christmas x
That the recipes use common ingredients and few at that, and most importantly your variations is what satisfies me most in receiving and reading Stonesoup. Thanks.
I love your sensible, easy recipes, and your no- nonsense manner, and the options you give in the recipes!
I’m a vegan – for health reasons – who can’t cook. I like your 5 ingredient fast recipes. Thier healthy, you give vegan variations, and they are easy enough for me. It’s not just that I can’t cook. I don’t want to. A re I’ve that says takes only a half hour – that’s 20 minutes more than I want to spend. Your recipes save me!
I would love it if you sent MORE emails ,maybe just a new “recipe” or an idea and also I would really enjoy it of you covered things that you have ALREADY covered so that we can get some repetition on things some of us have maybe forgotten.
First of all your enthusiasm is infectious! Who wouldn’t want to read you? And of course your recipes are terrific. Few ingredients, leaning to more vegetarian and healthy eating, and delicious! Thanks for sharing all that you do.
Positives: Love you, your blog and your knowledge. I feel that you really care about your fans and we really care about you and your family. Only one negative: your cooking videos aren’t as professional as your blog. The sound quality is poor and your lovely accent doesn’t come across consistently. Until you can fix the audio, perhaps you can create videos with written instructions across the screen and soft music only. We love to see you in the videos; don’t hide from the camera, but just cut the audio, replace with music and type the simple steps onscreen. Thanks. Your cooking school attendees will increase!
1. Really appreciate someone who believes that it is possible to make something really great with only a few ingredients…preferably ones you would normally already have in your kitchen.
2. Just remember that with an international following, some of us, like us Yanks up here in the USA, may not always be familiar with some of your Aussie terminology.
I heard about your blog via the Slow Home podcast and was enticed to check out your 5 ingredient recipe book (which I shared with as many people as I could because the recipes are delicious and so efficient to make!!!) I really enjoy what you are putting out there into the universe so I can’t think of anything to suggest you do differently – please just keep the fun, informative info coming my way! Thanks so much for what you do!
I read your blog because of the simplicity and health benefits from your recipe suggestions. A homeopathic doctor once told me that if the list of ingredients (on any variety of commercially prepared prepackaged food item) is long and/or difficult to read, we are better of avoiding it. I think this is a good approach with recipes too which make your recipes ideal. I also remember a great animated public service announcement from my childhood that had a tune singing “Don’t drown your food” with regards to the over use of fatty or sweet condiments which add empty calories to what had otherwise started out to be a healthy food item like a salad, veggies or meat. Again, your recipes are clean and follow this rule really well. Though I generally try to cook and eat this way, I like to look at what you are up to for fresh ways of mixing things up, new ways of treating familiar foods or for exposure to new foods all together. Since you are in Australia and I am in Canada, there are things that while common to you are not to me, so I enjoy the learning. I don’t have any suggestions on how to improve on what you are already doing. I love the presentation and photographs of your dishes, I love the fonts you choose for your books! I even like that you send just the right amount of emails. Just enough to stay in touch without being annoying like some intrusive companies who inundate the inbox. Sorry, that I can’t come up with how to do things better. Just keep up what you are doing… works for me!
I love your recipes and really love the variations at the bottom of every one. It makes the meals inclusive for all dietary needs/preferences. Keep up the awesome work!
You make us feel like FAMILY. You share great simple recipes with us, you tell us a little about your private life (except the name of your Irishman!), and I love your travel tales when you come back with something special from Europe or one of the big cities. You combine educated insight about nutrition with wonderful Australian openness, and I have bought about 20 of your cook books for family and friends. They are in frequent use.
Things to do differently? Well, I know how much you like chick peas, maybe suggest an alternative that is a little less gas-inducing…
I am interested in recipes that use seasonal, healthy ingredients. As a new visitor to your site and blog, it looks as though your ideas are similar.
Keep up the good work.
Love the variations, really great to personalise the recipes, maybe reduce the need for using food processors and do more recipes that can be made without gadgets as it’s annoying to have to get them out and then wash them for 1 part of a meal
I’m a long-time reader and fan Jules. I’ve really enjoyed hearing about your life and food philosophy over the years (though not so keen on not-supported by science or history fad “Paleo” eating). I love the simplicity of your recipes and, like everyone, the variations. Best wishes to you and your growing family.
Mainly for the recipes and I like the variations at the end. I don’t personally really need the tips on eating better, making meals simpler etc.
I love the simplicity and flexibility of the recipes. Keep it up please :)
Love the simplicity of your cooking, making it attainable for all. Love the wisdom you share. Thank you. X
Cooking for one is a challenge, another is cutting out Sugar the worst is finding simple recipes to suit what is in my Pantry, I go to you first because my problem is generally solved there and then. Thanks Jules x
I found this blog (even don’t remember how) quite some time ago and I just love to check out the newsletters from you. You keep it simple, logical and yet very inspiring. I love the variations section for every recipe!
I can’t think of anything you would need to change on your blog to improve, but I would love to see more on substituting various products and blending unusual flavors.
Anyway, here goes big THANK YOU for your work, passion and all warm inspirations that you share with us!
I like the fact that there are usually few ingredients and yet the recipes are still full of flavour. I also like the variations and suggestions for swaps. For most recipes other than baking I tend to only use the amounts as a guideline, so don’t mind how they are measured. If push came to shove I prefer cups and tablespoons.
the fact that you make a living doing what you do says it all.i cant say that i watch your videos as cooking skills aren’t really required for most of your recipes.i did get a laugh out of someone who got stimulated by your nude look.i can see you lying in bed at night thinking about that!,in your video improvements department! your food philosophy is very sound.i just spent some time reading up on environmental soundness of almond meal/flour vs other flour choices .the arabs discovered nuffing takes up sweet sugary syrup any better than almond meal.i also follow another 4 food blogs so yours is a balance to the more cookery style of the others.your less commercial as travel subsidy/restaurants reviews isn’t apart of your interests and lifestyle.keep up the good work and offering lifestyle choices to the recipe works very well and is a part of your unique style.so no complaints here.-)
I love your posts and blogs! Great fun and very useful. they inspire me although I only get round to doing a few. I have to watch my sugar and carb intake. Love the photography too!
I love your blog as it reads as you speak in your videos. When I commented I had trouble navigating our cookbooks you offered sensible, practical advice. I have now mastered it. We all love your recipes, especially the variations offered.
Don’t change anything.
Happy Christmas and New Year.
I read you from Spain, looking for new ideas, not only for recipes. Sometimes some of the ingredients sound strange to me, maybe a link to a picture or page with explanation would be nice. I also read some page which suggests a weekly menu for different diet models, maybe it’s an idea for you.
Happy christmas and I wish the best four you in 2016
Your recipes are simple so most of the time I already have the ingredients on hand, are delicious and most of all healthy… does it bet better than that>
Love, love, love the simplicity, the variations, and the assurance that a nutrition expert is behind the recipes. I don’t have a food processor or room for one so I’d like an alternative for that – I do have a knife, a mixer, and a blender!
I know several people have asked for cups and tablespoons, but an Imperial cup (pint, tablespoon, etc.) is 20% bigger than an American one so I know that’s not as easy as it sounds. I’m fine with using a scale, even though it’s not how I usually cook.
I love your emails/posts because you don’t ramble, use the KISS approach and provide many ideas and alternatives for every preference so it’s win/win. You use fresh/healthy storecupboard ingredients and have a video sometimes as a bonus for those visually stimulated cooks. With all that in mind I don’t think there’s any need to change..Happy New Year!
I like the simplicity of your recipes and helpful substitutions. I also enjoy your informative posts like the recent one on oils.
I really hope you’re not going to start doing a bunch of sweet recipes using dates all the time, like some other food bloggers…. I don’t like dates and as they still contain a lot of natural sugar, I don’t think they are the solution to ‘sugar-free’ baking.
I would be interested in getting some savoury snack ideas :-).
Happy New Year!
1. I cook on a small budget, so your short ingredients lists really help. For the same reason I love your suggestions/substitutions bits. Sooooo helpful if as dont have the funds/cupboard space for every seasoning under the sun.
2. Literally I can think of nothing, you’ve got the perfect chattyness/recipe mix for my liking.
All round you’re making me a braver, more inventive cook. Thanks :D
I love that your recipes are healthy and easy. I like that you keep across all the ‘new’ things and share with us – ie. you do the reading for me! and I really like your informational posts – eg. one I read recently on cooking oils – that kind of stuff is invaluable for me! Hope you and your little family had a great Chrissy & New Year! xx
I read Stonesoup because I love your recipes, easy with few key ingredients. I have bought about 4-5 of your ebooks and refer to them frequently. I also enjoy the ‘experiments’ you do on yourself re diet and I’d love to see your paleo posts found in one place as I like to re-read them. Thanks!!
I read for all the delicious recipes, just like this one!
Just wanted to say that I absolutely adore these blondies… I first made them a couple of weeks ago as the third course in a vegan meal for my brother; they went down a treat. I made them again today when I felt like I needed something sweet but healthy. I actually didn’t have enough ground almonds in the larder, so I experimented and made up the weight with walnuts, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, cocoa nibs and some puffed buckwheat. The buckwheat made it much more ‘flapjacky’ in texture – or more like a cereal bar – but I was delighted all the same! Obviously not in keeping with the five ingredients theme, but definitely in keeping with the tweaking/substitutions…
Thanks for such a lovely recipe!
So glad you’re enjoying AND experimenting Kitty!
Thanks for reporting back.
I’m a brown desi guy. Have you heard about that before? :)
Your recipes are delicious.
BTW, it’s hard for a new person to comment here because it’s bit confusing to find an input field in your comment box. You might want to look into it.
Thx for the feedback Ammar…it’s on my list!