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Book review – A Gathered Radiance


A review from Goodreads.com:

A Gathered RadianceA Gathered Radiance by Joyce Weaver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Page-turner!, 12 May 2012
By
Jan Warburton “Jan” (Yorkshire, England) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Gathered Radiance (Kindle Edition)
I found this a fascinating read. A real page turner!
A Gathered Radiance is a complex story about a beautiful, wealthy and successful rock singer, Kelly Matthews, who from childhood has been haunted by constant reminders and nightmares of a previous existence. Things start to unravel once she is able to have “regression therapy” to learn more about this dramatically shattering “other life” she apparently experienced in 1943s war-torn Haute Savoie, France.
When things go radically wrong with her musical career, mainly due to a painfully unhappy life with her evil, brutally controlling husband, Nigel, who is also her manager, she decides to escape from it all. Her brother, Paul offers her a secret refuge in his newly acquired, derelict farmhouse in France, which he and two friends are renovating. This is when coincidentally things start to come together for Kelly, and past and present gradually begin to intermingle and get played out in the most explicit and graphic detail.
The main characters are all imaginatively colourful and vividly well drawn, and as the story progresses the plot becomes more and more dramatic and meaningful.
To say more would spoil the impact of this fascinating story … you must read it for yourself, to discover how Kelly’s moving regression into this other “earlier life” enables her to lay the ghosts of such a violent and dramatic past.
A great debut novel, Joyce, and I look forward enormously to the sequel.

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Components for a Healthy Diet

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It is difficult to get a balanced, interesting and satisfying diet when you have to restrict yourself to the foods you can tolerate. You can encourage recovery, by rotating the foods on a four day cycle and you will  always have something different to look forward to tomorrow.

By eating a balanced diet you will build up your fragile health. This diet includes carbohydrates, fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and sources of important fatty acids.

Complex carbohydrates give you slow release energy, to keep you going until the next meal-time and are in foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and wild rice.  Refined sugars on the other hand are simple carbohydrates which give you a quick fix of energy, but don’t satisfy your appetite and they can leave you craving more.  The simple carbohydrates are bad news for those of you who have Candida fungal problems. (See Candida UK’s website for more details on the health implications of Candida overgrowth).

Fibre is provided by the variety of vegetables, fruits and grains available. There is a choice of protein to suit meat eaters and  vegetarians.

The rotation diet has a choice of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, eggs, fish and milk, to provide you with a balanced intake of vitamins and mineral traces. Those of you who are vegans should take your doctor’s or dietician’s advice about vitamin B12.  Vitamin B12 is in meat, cheese and eggs, but not in vegetables. Severe vitamin B12 deficiency, is an extremely serious, indeed life threatening, condition.

Trace quantities of minerals, are also needed to keep you healthy.  For instance the potassium in fruit helps to regulate blood pressure.

Some readers may benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements.  Supplements should be taken  as directed by a doctor, to suit the needs of the individual.  Inappropriate intake of supplements can have a negative effect on health, for instance, an excess of Vitamin C will only cause diarrhea, but an excess of Vitamin A can be harmful.

The rotation diet also provides good sources of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).  EFAs are components of oils, which the body cannot make for itself, but are needed to keep us healthy.  Deficiencies can contribute to distressing conditions such as: Impotence; Infertility; Stress; Sight or hearing problems; Poor circulation; Dry scaly skin, and inflammation, such as that associated with rheumatic disease.

It is very difficult to get simple understandable, undistorted information about oils.  Cooking oil refiners and margarine manufacturers, ably assisted by the advertising profession, extol the virtues of spreads and oils derived from polyunsaturated oils. However, manufacturing processes may damage polyunsaturated oils, with the production of distorted fatty acids, called trans-fatty acids, which are harmful and increase the risk of heart disease.

Two types of essential fatty acids, are  omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fresh wild fish, and flax seed oil and omega-6 fatty acids, found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, (star-flower oil),  nuts and seeds. Fish from the following list are good sources: salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, eel and to a lesser extent tuna.  Nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds are good sources.  Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, flax (linseed) and hemp seeds* can be included in the diet and are also good sources. (*these are readily available in many health food shops and do not contain any narcotic substances in their seed form and so are not illegal to buy; just don’t try growing them.) Hemp Seed Oil is reputedly, the best source of Omega 3 Omega 6 and Omega 9 that you can get.  I like to include it in a salad dressing.

Some cooking oils, such as sunflower and safflower should be good sources of EFAs.  Most  brands are processed to give high yields of oil but in doing so their chemical nature can be altered  and  undesirable impurities produced.

Extra virgin oils are the first fraction from the seed pressing and are generally better than the subsequent pressings.  They should be stored in tightly lidded glass bottles, away from sunlight and should be used quickly.  Plastic bottles should be avoided as trace chemical impurities can dissolve in the oil and upset sensitive people. Monounsaturated EFAs, are believed to have a very protective function for our health and the best source is extra virgin olive oil. As with any oil, it’s best to buy the ones sold in glass bottles rather than plastic as traces of chemicals can leach out into the oil.

Another natural oil which can be used in moderation for cooking, is clarified butter; some people who are allergic to ordinary butter can tolerate clarified butter which has had its casein and albumen (milk proteins), removed.

Dice around 8 oz (200 grams) butter into a heavy saucepan (preferably stainless steel or glass).  Allow to melt over gentle heat and keep it cooking until it is foaming.  Skim it well and strain through a muslin cheese cloth into a basin.  Allow it to stand for a while until a layer of sediment forms in the bottom and decant the pure clarified butter in to a suitable container, leaving the sediment behind.  Store in the fridge until needed.

Some readers may wish to take supplements which contain EFAs in concentrated, easily available, forms.  Evening primrose oil is a very well known example.  The gelatine shell may be derived from animal bi-products.  Vegetarians  may wish to squeeze the oil onto a spoon before ingestion.  There are other supplements and star flower oil ( from the borage plant ) and linseed and marine oils are  examples.  N.B. Cod liver oil is not a good source of EFAs but is  a rich source of vitamin D, and also vitamin A, which is harmful in excess, so the recommended dose must not be exceeded.

Despite some of the claims made on television, margarine is not necessarily without danger for the allergy sufferer.  Some contain traces of dairy products and saturated fats.  There are some types, available from health food shops, which are combinations of oil and water, called emulsions; these often contain emulsifiers such as lecithin to keep them stable.  If tolerated, they can be taken in moderation.

When hydrogenation is used to produce margarine it gives rise to trans fatty acids; in this process a deodorized and purified oil, is turned into a fat by pumping hydrogen through it in the presence of a catalyst, which is usually a compound of nickel or platinum.  The oil is poured in to a huge vat and hydrogen  is bubbled through it along with the catalyst and rapid hardening takes place.  It is at this molecular restructuring stage, that trans-fats are created. Colourings such as annatto or beta carotene, may be added to improve the appearance and vitamins and flavourings are often added, to make the product more appealing to the consumers.

Manufacturers are now aware of the dangers of trans fatty acids and are altering their manufacturing methods.

Hints & Tips


It’s virtually impossible to devise a recipe book to suit all allergy sufferers.  We are all individuals and so our needs will vary from person to person.  I’ve tried to include as many foods as possible in this four day rotation diet to allow for peoples likes and dislikes, known allergies and other practical considerations, such as seasonal availability, expense etc.  There are other things to bear in mind as well.  If  you already have a history of allergy problems and eat only a limited number of foods, you may find yourself eating the same foods so regularly that you develop even more intolerance and your diet becomes even more restricted.

This is particularly true if you are a vegetarian, and even more so if you are a vegan.  By varying your diet as much as possible, you are obtaining a wider spectrum of nutrients, boosting your immune system and minimizing the risk of developing new intolerance.  At the same time allowing your body to lose some of its sensitivity to the foods which currently upset you.  Many people have a serious problem with wheat and other cereals.  If this applies to you, then you may find it best to avoid all the grains in the grass family (and possibly raw cane sugar, which is another member), to allow your immune system to lose some of its sensitivity.  Don’t be too disheartened if you feel worse for the first few days of this diet.  If you get a headache or just general aches and pains and feel out of sorts, you are probably hooked on a few foods and suffering withdrawal symptoms and it may be at least a week before you begin to feel the benefits.

All the fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, for each day are grouped into food families. Buckwheat for instance, belongs to the same food family as rhubarb. There is now a delicious buckwheat pasta which you may find useful, but check the label to be sure all the ingredients suit you.

Soya beans belong to the legume family, so do peanuts.  If you react to one member of a food family, you may possibly get a cross reaction to other members and have to avoid those as well.  Don’t be afraid to adapt these recipes to suit your own individual needs.  Many  recipes contain nuts for instance, but for the most part, they are optional extras and should be left out if you react to them.  If possible only eat each member of a particular food family once every four days. This is only necessary, until you find your problem foods.

Different members of the same food family, such as apples and pears, should strictly speaking be eaten on the same day.  One of the exceptions I have made to  this has been the grass family. All the members containing gluten are on day one and the others, millet, maize, rice and wild rice are on day three.  This is because otherwise you would be left with a day with no complex carbohydrates to fill you up and give you enough calories for the day.  If you react to foods from a particular family such as potatoes, then you may have to fill up on vegetables from another alternate day.  As I said at the beginning of the book, you may find it easier to have a separate cupboard, or shelf, with perhaps colour coded stickers, of staple foods for each day so that it is less confusing.  A four tier vegetable rack, also colour coded for each day, will be useful as well.  This diet may seem daunting at first, but with a little patience and organisation the results are well worth the effort involved in setting it up.

If you have trouble finding some of the more obscure fruits and vegetables, such as yams, breadfruit, plantains and sweet potatoes, a trip to your nearest inner-city market with a large Asian and West Indian population should pay dividends.  The stall-holders I’ve met have been really helpful in offering hint and tips on how to cook unusual foods.

I’ve included hens, ducks and quails eggs for added variety, but please make sure that the hens’ eggs are free range.  Additives are often included in battery hens’ diets to improve the colour of the yolk. Some people react to all types of eggs so be very careful.

You may find that having a juice extractor is very helpful.  Many of the fruits and vegetables of the day, on the rotation diet can be juiced and well diluted with double or more of the amount, of either sparkling mineral water or filtered tap-water.  The left over pulp can either be used up in soups and stews or puddings and cakes, as the case may be.  However, juices should be regarded as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of your daily diet.  This is because without the fibre (which is left behind in the pulp), the juices are absorbed far too quickly into your blood stream thereby making it more likely that you will become sensitised, whereas the whole fruit releases its sugars much more slowly.  The vitamins and minerals in raw fruits and vegetables are vital to our good health and give a wonderful boost  to our immune systems, especially in the winter months. Freshly juiced fruits and vegetables need to be consumed as soon after juicing as possible, as they quickly discolour, due to the enzymes coming into contact with oxygen.

The fruit and vegetable juices that we buy in supermarkets are usually heat treated to preserve them but unfortunately, this has the effect of destroying the enzymes that we need to help our bodies’ metabolism to function properly.  Enzymes are able to cause specific chemical reactions to take place and are manufactured by every living organism for this purpose.  Only very small amounts of each enzyme are needed to catalyze chemical reactions in living cells.  Some enzymes can cause sugars to turn into fats, proteins etc.  Living organisms contain many different kinds of enzymes, each with their own particular function.  Enzymes perform a very important function in the stomach and intestines during digestion, helping digestive juices to break down the food we eat into its most digestible form so we are able to gain the maximum amount of nourishment from it.  So in effect, the more raw fruits and vegetables we eat the better. Unfortunately, these enzymes are destroyed in foods that have been irradiated in order to extend their shelf lives.

Where-ever possible, buy organic fruit and vegetables, or if you have a plot of land big enough and the inclination, grow your own.

Some of the vegetables on day 3 of the rotation diet are hard to come by in supermarkets but are quite easy to grow in the average sized suburban garden and will give you several months worth of vegetables for very little outlay and effort.

Where-ever possible, buy organic fruit and vegetables, or if you have a plot of land big enough and the inclination, grow your own.

Some of the vegetables on day 3 of the rotation diet, are hard to come by in supermarkets but are quite easy to grow in the average sized suburban garden and will give you several months worth of vegetables for very little outlay and effort.

Orach, (Mountain Spinach), was widely cultivated in this country in Tudor times, until the introduction of true spinach, when its popularity died out. Nevertheless, the young, tender leaves make an excellent addition to salads and the older tougher leaves can be cooked like spinach. There are red, green and white varieties and they are quite ornamental to look at.  The plants grow from 3 to 5-ft high and seed should be sown out of doors in April.  The seeds are quite hard and may need a good soaking if the weather is dry.  The plants need good soil in order to thrive and may need thinning out once established, to about 1 foot  apart.  They may need earthing up and staking as they get bigger and the leaves can be pulled off on a  cut and come again basis.

Swiss Chard is not generally grown as a commercial crop because it is very bulky and wilts about 24 hours after being pulled.  However, it has a very useful place in the allergy sufferer’s garden, because it is so versatile and convenient, once established.  The smallest and most tender leaves can be used in salads, and the large green leaves can be cooked like spinach.  They actually taste better and boil down less than spinach does and the thick white stems can be steamed in bundles like asparagus.  The plants are biennial and will produce flower stems in the second year and these can be cooked and eaten like sprouting broccoli.  Swiss Chard is harvested by plucking off a few stems from the base of each plant and like Orach, this is done on a cut and come again basis without stripping the plants completely of their leaves as this would kill them.

This crop is suited to any well drained soil that has been fed with organic manure.  Sow from mid- March to the end of April and again in August, in drills 1 inch deep and 18 inches apart thinning out the plants as they become established.  Water often during the growing season and feed with liquid organic manure occasionally.  The first crop should begin to yield in late summer and continue until late October.  The plants are quite hardy and will survive the winter  to produce another crop in spring before going to seed in early June.  The second sowing (August) should be ready for use during the following May or June.

Good King Henry is a hardy perennial, which is easy to grow.  Sow the seeds either in seeds trays in the greenhouse or kitchen windowsill, or out of doors in early spring and thin out to 12 inches apart once the plants are established.  In well nourished soil, it produces good growth which is usually trouble free.  It looks like kale in appearance but it tastes very much like asparagus when cooked and is well worth the effort of growing it.

Salsify is a little like a parsnip in appearance but the flavour is similar to that of oysters and goes well with a creamy sauce. Sow out of doors in April or early May about 9 inches apart about an inch below the surface.  Alternatively, you can start the seedlings off in a greenhouse, or a propagator on the kitchen windowsill, then gently transplant them when they are about 2″ high.  The crop should be ready from early October onwards and lifted before the ground gets waterlogged.

Scorzonera.  It is very much like a parsnip in flavour but its skin is almost black and the roots tend to be longer and thinner than parsnips.  It can be peeled and roasted with meat, steamed or boiled until just tender.  It can be grown and harvested in the same way as salsify.  Like all vegetables, they taste better from your own garden.

If you don’t have a big enough garden, or you are a flat-dweller, then obviously this is not a practical prospect.  However, there are some things that you can easily grow on a window sill that are both cheap and highly nutritious.

Sprouted seeds such as mung beans, alfalfa sprouts, sprouted chick peas, lentils and cress are all relatively quick and easy to grow.  Many health food shops now stock custom made propagators and a wide range of pulses and seeds to sprout.  Some are stacked so that you can grow several varieties at once without taking up too much space on your window ledge. If you follow the instructions supplied with your propagator correctly, your first crop should be ready in about five to seven days. Use them in your choice of the recipes on the rotation diet.

With all fruits and vegetables it is obviously important to retain as much nutritional content as possible.  Don’t overcook vegetables – steam them whenever possible, or even better eat them raw.  Buy them as fresh as possible and keep the water they were cooked in to use in soups or stews.  Store fruit and vegetables out of direct sunlight, although this aids ripening of fruits and vegetables it also hastens decay and destroys vitamin C

Excerpt from A Gathered Radiance


Leo prayed she’d sleep through the night, without waking them all up screaming the place down, yet again, but she was already starting to dream…

From a distance, the intermittent bursts of gunfire, sounded almost harmless, like popping champagne corks.  But the screams of the victims she’d just abandoned, still echoed in the girl’s ears, as she fled for her life on a creaking, rusty bicycle.

Behind her, a firestorm was raging.  The crackling flames from dozens of burning houses lit the night sky, in a grotesque parody of a sunset. Scorched roof trusses buckled in the heat, to then implode under the weight of disintegrating slates.  Swirling showers of sparks hissed and danced in the drizzle. 

The girl left the blazing village and sped across squelching mud, into a black empty abyss. The feeble glow from her cycle lamp scarcely penetrated the darkness.  She blessed a shaft of moonlight that cut through the clouds, to briefly illuminate her path, across undulating meadows, to the lonely farm.

The rear mudguard rattled against the back wheel and startled a dozing cow.   It lurched to its feet, with a bellowing moan.  The beast loomed out of the shadows, like a drunken spectre.  Her shriek sent it lumbering back into the night.  She daren’t imagine why no one had taken the herd to shelter in the barn, before dusk.

Freezing darts of rain stung her cheeks. The thin layers of clothing clung to her back like a damp shroud.  She shivered as icy rivulets of water drenched her hair and ran down her neck, but there was neither time, nor place, to take shelter.  They had to be warned, before it was too late…

As she reached the farmhouse, her heart contracted with terror. Four trucks stood in the yard. Their blinkered headlights showed at least a dozen armed soldiers storming the place.  Others were searching the outbuildings, with sniffer dogs.  Defensive gunshots came from one of the barns.

Two soldiers dropped to the ground, dead or dying, she couldn’t tell.  More shots rang out as the militia returned fire.  Terrified wails came from the children, who’d sought sanctuary, beneath the sweet smelling straw. Then that awful rattling popping sound again, followed moments later, by a sickening stillness.

Imploring shouts and harsh screams came from the house, then a baby’s protesting cry.  They were all silenced by staccato bursts of machine-gun fire. The girl switched off her lamp, stood astride the bike, and watched helplessly.  Tears mingled with the rain on her face.  Numb with grief, she cowered in the shadow of a hawthorn tree by the boundary wall.

One of the tracker dogs picked up her scent and barked a warning.  Its handler unleashed it. It loped across the yard towards her hiding place. She took out the gun she’d wedged in the belt of her trousers and uttered a silent prayer for forgiveness, then pulled the trigger. The dog screeched in agony as it keeled over.  Bullets whistled passed her head and sprayed splinters of bark into her hair as she ducked behind the tree.

Her heart missed several beats, as she cautiously peeped out. She saw the handler framed in a pool of light from the trucks’ headlamps. He’d knelt in a puddle, to stroke the whimpering animal.  Driving rain streamed off his helmet as he took out his own gun and shot the dog in the head.  Two soldiers ran towards her, aiming their weapons. She fired again.  One of them screamed, as a bullet slammed into his shoulder.  The other fell to his knees and yelled for assistance, as he attended to his injured comrade.

 She seized the chance to stuff the gun back into her belt and get the hell out of there. She swung the bike around, turned on the lamp and peddled madly up the steep farm track between the fields.  The girl prayed she could reach the forest that crowned the top of the hillside, some three hundred metres from the house. 

She was almost there and risked a glance up at the canopy of swaying trees, their bare branches silhouetted in a delicate tracery against the night sky.  She didn’t see the boulder, directly in her path, until the front wheel crashed against it.  The impact catapulted her over the handlebars on to the rock-strewn path.  Dazed and sick with pain, she staggered to her feet. The lamp had fallen off.  She picked it up and shone it on the bicycle. The front wheel was buckled. Its broken spokes glistened with the grease she’d oiled them with, to keep the rust at bay, but this was no time for regrets.

With a strength born of blind terror, she yanked the bike upright and flung it towards the bushes, before plunging headlong into the woods, with only the fading cycle lamp to light her path.

The girl’s breath came in ragged sobs. Brambles ripped her clothes and tore into the skin of her left wrist.  Gibbering with fear, she dragged herself free and fled, too terrified to care about the pain.  Tree roots reached out of the ground, like old men’s fingers, and tripped her scurrying feet.

 Above the pounding drumbeat of her heart, she heard sporadic gunshots, and more dogs keening as they picked up her trail. 

She daren’t imagine what they would do to her, if they caught her.  She paused for breath and sobbed with relief.  The gun was still tucked into the belt of her trousers, with a few bullets left in the chamber.  The combat knife was still in its sheath, strapped to her right calf.  She prayed she wouldn’t need to use it again and stole a quick glance over her shoulder.

The night sky was lit with the sickening radiance of orange flames tinged with acrid black soot. The whole village was ablaze with a ferocity that even the torrential downpour could not quench.  The girl clutched at her crucifix and said a quick prayer for the victims.  There was little else she could do for them now. 

Torch beams flickered in the driving rain.  The hunters were getting closer.  Another burst of machine-gun fire made her heart lurch.  Had they found the others?  More rapid gunshots and the cries of wounded, dying men, gave her the answer.  Her breaking heart, told her she must turn back to help them, yet every instinct screamed at her to keep running. 

If she could only reach the lip of gorge, she could make her way down to the river, and then wade across, to throw them off her scent.  As she drew nearer, the steady hiss of the cascade became a tumultuous roar, as it surged down the gully. Torrential rain had turned the steep hillside, into a squelching treacherous morass.

Something rustled in the undergrowth close by. A dog barked.  She tried to out run it.  Her foot caught in a tree root. She was pitched forward. Pain exploded through her chest, as her ribs caved in. She’d landed on a half buried rock.  Her screech sent a flock of roosting crows, cawing and flapping up into the night sky. 

The dog barked frantically as it got closer. She tried to crawl away, but collapsed sobbing, in the mud. She hardly dared to move, let alone breathe. Being captured and tortured couldn’t be worse than this.

She slithered relentlessly, towards the edge of the sheer drop. 

A shaft of moonlight illuminated the waterfall. It was well over a hundred metres high from where she lay and plunged down at least other hundred and fifty metres, into the foaming river.   She was centimetres away from the brink of the precipice.  Her horrified screams, echoed around the limestone cliffs.

She grabbed handfuls of decayed bracken leaves, but they crumbled away to dust, in her fingers.  The ground slid out from under her. Then she was falling, falling for what seemed like a lifetime.

Hands reached out of the darkness to grab her.  Someone was shaking her and calling her name over and over again.

*****

‘Kelly? Kelly? For goodness sake, stop screaming and wake up.  You’re scaring me and you’ll wake Mummy and Daddy…Stop it, please…You’re scaring me…’

Kelly opened her eyes.  Paul was sitting on her bed, shaking her shoulders.  His face was ashen. He was doing his best not to cry.  He remembered her words in the playground. “Only babies and cissies cry in public.”  Her face crumpled.  She flung her arms around his neck and sobbed.

Summer Vegetable Soup


1 large red pepper
1 large courgette (Zucchini)
1 large bulb of fennel
3 florets of broccoli (either fresh or frozen)
3 teaspoonfuls of vegetable stock powder (preferably yeast free)
Fresh basil (optional)
olive oil

Method

De-seed the pepper and slice with all the other vegetables into chunks. Pour enough olive into a skillet pan to cover the bottom. Add the veggies and cover with a lid and allow them to sweat over a gentle heat, until tender stirring from time to time, to prevent burning.
Fill a blender two thirds full with filtered water add the vegetable stock powder and the veggies and fresh basil if using and blend until smooth. Re-heat and serve.

Strawberry Dairy Icecream


    1 lb of strawberries
    Raw cane sugar (to taste)
    2 tablespoonfuls of icing sugar
    1 pint of whipping cream
     ½ pint extra thick double cream
    1 dessertspoonful of cornflour slaked down with enough filtered water to mix to a smooth paste.

Stew the strawberries with enough filtered water to just cover the bottom of the pan.  Add raw cane sugar to taste.  Once stewed, add the cornflour mixture and heat until it thickens.  Allow to cool and blend in a blender to a smooth puree.  When cold add the extra thick double cream and blend again.  Meanwhile whisk the whipping cream until stiff.  Add the strawberry cream and blend the two together.  Turn into an ice-cream tub and freeze for an hour or so.  Take out and thoroughly whisk again before freezing until required.

Apple Crumble


2 lb (800 grams) cooking apples (peeled and sliced)
Raw cane sugar, if tolerated or choice of either pure rose hip syrup or concentrated pure apple juice to sweeten to taste
8oz (200 grams) wholemeal, rye, or barley flour
4 oz of butter
2 oz (50 grams) chopped almonds or macadamia nuts (optional)

Stew the fruit with your choice of sweetener.  Allow to cool before putting the apples into an oven proof dish and covering with the crumble topping and nuts if used.  Bake at 190 c for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Variations:- Substitute plums or prunes for the filling or include blackberries if in season.  Or add a teaspoonful of cinnamon.  Serves 4 people.

Cooks Tip

Drizzle enough filtered water onto the crumbs to firm them and the crumble topping will have a much crunchier texture.