A recipe for heaven

Our theme for December is ‘a bit of coorie and hygge’, which frankly we all need at the moment after being thoroughly launched into winter with torrential rain and flooding, then blown away in Storm Arwen and pelted with snow! It’s definitely time to stay warm and cosy, and in our online content this month we’re bringing you nourishing seasonal recipes, Christmas crafts and creative pastimes. All things that can be shared with the good people in your life and will help keep you toasty and contented throughout the coldest season.

Reading Lasses – Wigtown

Jacqui Robertson spent 30 years working in education as a teacher and lecturer in the Falkland Islands, Orkney and Glasgow – teaching all ages between 5 and 65! She then decided to retire and buy the Reading Lasses Bookshop Café in Wigtown, as well as running The Quirky Tiffin Company. She has never worked so hard. Ellie the dog makes her go out for walks to take ‘breaks’.

Many people tell Jacqui that having a café is their dream . . . 

Jacqui says, ‘be careful what you wish for!’

Reading Lasses is known throughout Dumfries and Galloway for its delicious soups, hearty nourish bowls and spectacular cakes – all of which take their inspiration from both traditional Scottish recipes and international flavours. This is the first of three warming winter recipes Jacqui has kindly loaned Autumn Voices from the Reading Lasses kitchen, and we think these are the perfect tasty treats to help us coorie in for the winter and share a bit of hygge over a bowl or a plate with the good people in our lives. 

Jacqui is extending her hospitality this winter to host a Christmas Market in the event space at the back of the café. Running in tandem with the Wigtown Book Festival’s Winter Kist, the Reading Lasses Christmas Market will have its second outing on Saturday 4th December, showcasing fantastic artists, makers and craftspeople from the region selling all sorts of wonderful hand-made and sustainable gifts, foods and decorations. 

You can find Jacqui on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sweet Potato, Coconut & Rose Harissa Soup (vegan)

This beautiful traffic-light trio of soups also includes Cream of Tomato, and Creamy Pea topped with Nigella seeds and crispy onions.

Serves 4

  • 700g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 litre vegetable stock or bouillon
  • 1 tbsp rose harissa paste
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and then add the chopped onion and cook until it has softened. Add the chopped sweet potato and stock to the pan and turn the heat up to bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Remove the pan from the heat and blend the soup using a stick blender. Alternatively, tip it into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the coconut milk and rose harissa and blend again.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tip: When we serve this in ReadingLasses we add a little cream (or vegan alternative) and a sprinkle of rose petals.

Send us your flash submissions on our December theme:
a bit of coorie and hygge!

Are you an avid Christmas crafter? Do you run any creative festive workshops for people in your area? Do you have any special winter routines or hobbies that help you to stay cosy and navigate the chilliest months in a state of contentment? Were there any festive or winter traditions you had growing up with your family or friends? If so, we’d love you to tell us about it in a flash submission. It could be a memoir, a short story, an anecdote or a poem.

Ends on December 31st and the author of our favourite entry will win a book prize and have their submission published on the website. Entries are free.

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