The carving of pumpkins, decorated with scary faces or images linked to Halloween (or StarWars pictures if your street is anything like ours!) and lit up with candles are synonymous with the Halloween season. This is something that has grown massively in recent years in the United Kingdom compared to what it used to be and now sees the majority of homes with one of these carved vegetables sat on their doorstep or in their window. The practise of carving pumpkins originated in Ireland from an Irish folktale about ‘Stingy Jack’ and was originally carried out on large potatoes or turnips, only transferring to pumpkins when Irish immigrants took the tradition over to America. Now seen in huge displays in UK supermarkets, recent figures suggest that 2 in every 5 Britons buy a pumpkin in October (with 3 children who have very different ideas of what can generously be described as pumpkin art so requiring a pumpkin each, I am definitely included in these statistics). In the USA, the common practise is to use the flesh to produce dishes such as pumpkin pie once the carving has been complete thus making full use of the entire vegetable. In the UK however, we are less likely to do this and therefore waste an astonishing 18,000 tonnes of potentially edible pumpkin flesh every year! At IronFire, we believe in sustainability and making use of as much as we can – so after the carving of our pumpkins, we passed the flesh over to Kiran, the appointed IronFire chef, to do what she could with it…. Pumpkin Risotto INGREDIENTS 1 small pumpkin (may only need half of the flesh) 1 small red onion 850mls vegetable stock 1 garlic clove 350g Arborio rice Salt & pepper Olive oil METHOD Cut and deseed the pumpkin, drizzle with olive oil and roast in oven, 180 degC until soft and starting to brown. In saucepan fry onion until soft, add garlic, salt & pepper. Add rice and coat with juices in pan before adding 1/3 of stock, simmer and stir occasionally. As liquid reduces, gradually add balance of stock. When most of the liquid has been absorbed add chucks of pumpkin and finish cooking until the rice is soft and the liquid fully absorbed. With the spare roasted pumpkin, why not try using it in soup? In a large pan, fry an onion until soft, add a finely diced large carrot and cover with vegetable stock, simmer until carrot is soft. Add remainder of pumpkin and cover again with stock, when warmed through blend until smooth. See the image below for our risotto serving recommendation for Halloween parties! (Could also be used for serving the soup but we take no responsibility for any mess it may cause)
2016 was Hygge, 2017 was Lagom…the influence of Nordic trends has made a massive impact on consumers and social media users and their ways of life – what they buy, where they buy it and in fact if they decide to buy it at all. The theory behind the Danish trend of Hygge – in the Oxford dictionary as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded a a defining characteristic of Danish culture)” is a warming sentiment. The Danish are considered to be some of the happiest people in the world and to be hyggeligt is to recognise and enjoy the present. Whether this is alone or with friends (or strangers if that makes you happy!), it is imperative that at that moment in time you feel contented and comfortable. The appreciation of this can be as simple as lighting a favourite candle to create ambience, or enjoying a social event – involving simple rituals in your life that take you away from the dullness of the everyday slog and give you a ready brek type internal glow. Hygge was a huge influence in 2016, but then in 2017 the Swedes took over the English obsession with Nordic phrases with Lagom. In contrast to Hygge which involves adding elements to your life to make you comfortable, Lagom is about concentrating on the essentials and paring back your life – putting balance and moderation into everything that you do. “Not too little, not too much, just enough” is one of the best ways to apply Lagom; and it is about life as a whole. Unfussy, sustainable and confident; living the Lagom way of life means having only what you need and appreciating what you have. There seems to be a belief that you can have a Hygge life, or you can have a Lagom life, but you can’t have both. Surely though, with these lifestyle trends, both of which advocate feelings of happiness in your surroundings, appreciation and contentedness, why not take the best elements of both and apply them to your lifestyle in a way that makes you happy? If Lagom is a way of life – using sustainable products and being frugal – then let us live this functional way of life and pepper it with Hygge moments to maintain a feeling of satisfaction when the minimalist living is getting too much (or not as the minimalist case may be)! Being very British and definitely not Scandinavian (apart from our website guru who is part Nordic and helps us pronounce “Hygge”), at IronFire we think that the best approach is to embrace your favourite principles of each to help you live a contented life that benefits both your happiness, and that of the people and planet around you. But what is next? With 2018 fast approaching, is another Nordic lifestyle trend on the pared back but cosy horizon? A feeling that you have no intentions of going out but are instead going to stay at home and get drunk in your underwear anyone? This is the definition of the Finnish word “Kalsarikännit”. We’re hoping that as we indulge more in it, it gets easier to say. Sounds to us like a great lifestyle trend and one that will be very popular (just make sure you recycle your bottles, wear underwear that is made of natural fibres and light a candle to make sure that you maintain Hygge and Lagom while doing it). So at IronFire, how do we use these trends – all of which we admire – in the production of our furniture? We use sustainable sources and local products in the manufacture of our tables and chairs, and guarantee longevity so that constant replacement is not an issue. Wood warm finishes in natural colours; tables that people just want to gather around, and our great prices and customer service that give you a feeling of comfort while purchasing and using our furniture. And our staff? We’re just over here indulging in Kalsarikännit while you decide which of our tabletops you want…..