Juliet Powell – Choice Therapy


Juliet Powell joins me for a cuppa and a birthday treat in Hotel Du Vin to talk life, business and how she is applying her advanced diploma in therapeutic counselling to support the parents of tweens and teens.


If you would like to share your story of self employment please email greedywordsmith.com to arrange a cuppa with Claire.

The setting.

We chose to meet at Hotel Du Vin, York in recognition of our first meeting at the coach led networking group Winning Women. As it was Juliet’s birthday (I don’t have permission to let the cat out of the bag on age) we ordered the affogato and pear and almond tart before settling down for our interview.


Describe life before Choice Therapy.

With a degree in Land Management, Juliet started out working in an office environment, made lifelong friends and was introduced to the world of trade unionism – a movement she is still interested in. Her first career change came with a move into the teaching profession as she took a post covering schools in Grimsby, Rotherham and Selby. Juliet then spent ten years teaching mainly business and ICT studies in secondary schools until a change in their family circumstances made a demanding teaching career unsustainable.

When personal and professional paths collide.

In 2008 Juliet and her husband made the monumental decision to adopt, the children finally joining the couple in 2009. After taking the 12 months of adoption leave awarded to adoptive parents before returning to work in 2010, Juliet realised that the demands of her role as an adoptive mother were not compatible with the responsibilities of a secondary school teacher.

Whilst adoption is a very rewarding experience it can also mean giving lots of support to children from difficult and challenging circumstances. A passing conversation with another adoptive mother introduced Juliet to the idea of a career in counselling. After three years of attending college at the weekends and completing coursework around school hours, Juliet was awarded an advanced diploma in psychotherapeutic counselling.

“Each year you gained something different,” says Juliet. “after the first year I could have left with training in hypnotherapy and basic counselling skills. The second year I acheived a diploma in counselling. I decided to stay on for a third year and get the advanced diploma.”

Studying on weekends gave other family members the opportunity to get involved with childcare and meant that she was free to attend mid-week activities in school, including the Parents Breakfast Club.

“The lady who organised it is still a good friend of mine. We could turn up, have a cup of coffee and a bacon sandwich and chat with other parents. I didn’t know it at the time but these meetings would go on to be the inspiration for my monthly parent socials.”

Why Choice Therapy?

Juliet knows first hand how difficult it can be to find support for children and families. She is passionate that understanding exactly what options are available can play a crucial role in moving forwards.

“We all have choices in life. We can put up with what we have or make a decision to change. Sometimes that is all it takes, just knowing that we have choices can make all the difference.”

A new way of working.

Juliet describes herself as working with parents on families. She is keen to point out that she’s not in the job of giving out parenting advice, rather helping people share experiences and find their own answers. Whilst she does provide a more traditional counselling service in the form of one to one sessions, her heart lies with bringing parents of tweens and teens together for peer support.

“Once a month I organise a parent social in a cafe setting. There are different themes. The next one focuses on helping parents to set boundaries on the use of social media. This can be particularly difficult over a long summer holiday with children away from school. For those interested in exploring topics on a slightly deeper level I also deliver workshops on a variety of themes. People get to explore topics together, take home strategies and reflect. I limit the workshops to around eight people and they are held in a private but relaxed setting. The real power comes from realising that they are not alone. There can be shared laughter and tears in a safe and confidential space. And there is tea and cake!”

The most common misconceptions about therapy.

“Many people think it needs to be long and upsetting. Counselling doesn’t have to involve going over the past. Often I help people to look at what is going on for them right now and how they can take action to make improvements. I also hear people say that I’m much friendlier than they imagined, as if they expect therapists to be cold and distant. Of course boundaries are important but we’re all human too, with our own experiences.”

Three pieces of advice to anyone thinking of becoming a therapist.

  • Be clear on whether you want to be self employed or work for an organisation.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not sure about having a niche. There is nothing wrong with being a generalist.
  • Equally, don’t be scared to niche if you know where your passion lies.

What’s next for Choice Therapy.

Juliet is looking to run slightly larger workshops so that she can reach more parents. She would like to build on the sessions she has already done around stress and anxiety in children and parents, along with more specialised work for those experiencing trauma.

July 13th will also see the arrival of the first Choice Therapy Health and Wellness Fair. At just £7.50 for one or £10.00 for two, visitors will have the opportunity to access a variety of trusted therapy professionals from York and the surrounding area. You will have the chance to chat with the exhibitors and get exclusive access to discounts on therapeutic products and services. Tickets can be booked through eventbrite, the first 20 people to arrive on the night will receive a fab goodie bag.

The next Choice Therapy Parent Social on Social Media is on 12th July in Costa Coffee, Haxby. For more information on this, the upcoming Health and Wellness Fair or any of Juliet’s services you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.



A fricassee of rabots.

Once again, the link to my most recent piece with a historical influence. If you are a fan of rabbit dishes I can highly recommend trying the dish.

I will continue to share my history related from The Greedy Wordsmith but if you are interested in reading my additional work on wider food and cookery topics please drop by my professional page and say hi!


Come on over!

Since re-branding my professional work as The Greedy Wordsmith, I incorporated all of the food history posts on my new blog. However, I see that I am still picking up one or two followers on here. So hello!

Please click the link for my recent piece following up on the work shared at York Food and Drink Festival.

It goes without saying, if you like what you read then please drop by the sister site for more articles on food, cookery and community.


Ginger biscuits in a quick oven.


As detailed in my last post, The History Girls were recently invited to take part in Archives@Dusk – an open evening for North Yorkshire Records Office. The recipes I was asked to reproduce both included ginger and regular readers know this is one of my favourite spices. As I have covered the story of ginger previously I simply share this eighteenth century recipe for you to try. As is common with many recipes from household manuscripts of this period the proportions are huge – so I have made one or two tweaks in order to make it more realistic for a modern bake.

Makes approximately 100 small biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4

Pour 225g black treacle and 100ml of single cream into an oven proof dish and place in a luke warm oven.

Rub together 225g and 675g plain flour together until a breadcrumb texture forms. Stir in half an ounce of ground ginger and 225g of white caster sugar.

Remove the warmed treacle/cream mixture and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir well and bring together into a stiff paste.


Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper onto your worktop and roll out a section of the paste to about the thickness of a one pound coin. Cut to desired size. Bake on a greased baking tray for 12 – 14 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before transferring onto a cooling rack.

I hope that you enjoy the biscuits – let me know what you think on the facebook page or on twitter.

Archives @ Dusk


Instructions on how to wind a clock

So, you know how much I love ginger right? This has ultimately paid off during a recent expedition to access the manuscript archives at North Yorkshire Records Office. They have kindly invited me to be a part of their upcoming Archives @ Dusk open evening in May and I shall be recreating a couple of recipes for visitors to try on the evening. To my great joy there were a number of fabulous recipes containing ginger and I chose to offer these during the night in question.

I love reading old cookery notebooks – if only for the random nature of the notations. Amongst recipes for handmade oyster sauce, sponges and a York Punch you will also find instructions for winding the clock, a polish for cleaning the harness on your carriages and instructions for how to treat women during her menstruation.

The authors of such hand written manuscripts would often make a note as to whom the recipe or piece of advice came from, the date and sometimes the circumstances in which the recommendation was given. This allows great scope for further research in to the names mentioned and accurate documentation of recipes being used at the time.

20150415_153648As I referenced at the beginning of this post – I shall be using the Archives @ Dusk evening to talk on my favourite subjects – that of ginger and gingerbread. I am particularly keen to try the traditional recipe for ginger beer – found written in a book from 1827.

I shall also be baking a recipe for gingerbread biscuits from the same book and I am extremely curious to see the size of the batch of biscuits gained from one pound butter, three pounds flour and one pound of moist sugar. It is not uncommon to come across recipes on such a substantial scale as they were often written by those managing a large household with a number of guests and staff coming and going.

This takes me to the last notation I wish to share with you today. It is taped on to the inside of the front cover of a manuscript from the late 19th century and states the allowances for servants living on site.


The Humble Cauli

As a food writer I often take inspiration from the seasonal produce available at the local market. Even the early months  offer Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb and Seville oranges, lifting tired culinary spirits after the long haul of winter and raising hopes for the abundance to come. Sadly nature has other ideas as we head into March – traditionally known as the famine month amongst growers – and the hiatus continues until the arrival of asparagus in the middle of April. (I caught my first glimpse of British asparagus today). These days we can access bounty from all over the world – widening our repertoire massively. But amongst all these exotic temptations there are still a few gems of our own waiting to be rediscovered.

One vegetable available most of the year round is the much maligned cauliflower. Seen as a vehicle for a rich cheese sauce rather than the star of a dish, the good old cauli seems to trigger a bored reaction from many cooks. It has been part of the European diet since at least the 12th century and may even receive a mention from Pliny the Elder in his 6th century book, Natural History. Though the cyma he documents may have actually been a reference to it’s greener relative sprouting broccoli.

So what can be done with this very British staple? Early ancestors of our modern cauliflower cheese can be found in a medieval recipe for cauliflower boiled in milk and topped with cream, nutmeg and mace. Many go on to suggest soaking the head in a brine solution before boiling whole. This would then be served lathered with butter and a dusting of nutmeg, believed to be a favourite for King Louis XIV. It is thought that the brine had less to do with flavour than it did the removal of creepy crawlies hiding amongst the florets. In her book, Food in England, Dorothy Hartley also suggests that the leaves of make an excellent side dish of their own.

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The cauliflower made it’s way into European diets via the Assyrian Empire and suits the strong, punchy flavours of the region perfectly. Roasted with cumin seeds and chillies, scattered with toasted almonds it makes a wonderful warm salad. Stir in some chickpeas and dress with olive oil, vinegar and chopped herbs and you have an excellent vegetarian main meal. So go ahead, pick up a humble cauli this week and make a meal fit for a (French) king.

Saffron – The forgotten superfood.

This week I shall introduce you to the incredible history of Crocus sativus, or saffron. Native to parts of Asia – the golden stamen of this crocus were originally cultivated for use by the Ancient Greeks. They utilised it in everything, from masking smells and medical treatments to dyeing clothes for the wealthy. Regularly used in fertility rituals it is also mentioned in many of the death/rebirth stories of Greek mythology.

During the many centuries of cooperation between Greece and Rome, this bewitching spice conquered Roman culture and is believed to have been scattered through the streets as Nero entered Rome in 54AD. They also prized it as a culinary ingredient and brought it with them during their time in Britain until their retreat in the 5th century.

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We didn’t see saffron in Britain again until the 14th century when it became a popular crop around Western Europe, with the majority of English saffron coming from Saffron Walden, East Anglia. During the Black Death epidemic in the mid 1300’s it was thought that saffron offered a miracle cure and high demand required huge imports of Non – European supplies too. So great was the craze for saffron and it’s health giving qualities that thieves sailing Mediterranean seas are believed to have ignored ships transporting gold for those taking saffron to Venice and Genoa. The saffron mania culminated in a fourteen week war between Basel and Austria when a 800lb shipment was taken hostage by a group of nobles. The hoard was eventually returned. At the same time in England, punishment for selling adulterated saffron was incarceration – before execution by immolation.


Cultivation of the crop continued in South East England until the late 1700’s when an influx of modern foodstuffs such as vanilla and chocolate drew the attention of middle and upper class consumers. In recent years there has been a resurge in English growing and native saffron can be purchased from Norfolk Saffron, along with others.

I finish this blog with a recipe inspired by Apicius, infamous Roman chef and inventor of many incredible dishes. He describes a meal of chickpeas, olive oil, cumin and coriander. This can be found adapted for the modern cook by the fantastically named blog Roman in the Gloamin’. But as we are still in the throws of winter I developed this gentle soup to nurture the most frazzled of souls and stomachs.


  1. big pinch of saffron threads
  2. 2 large leeks, finely chopped and cleaned
  3. 1tsp ground cumin
  4. 1tsp ground coriander
  5. half tsp ground black pepper
  6. vegetable stock cube
  7. 1 litre of water
  8. 180g red lentils
  9. 400g tin of chickpeas


  • Take as large a pinch of saffron as you can bear and drop into a small dish. Pour on 2-3 tablespoonfuls of warm water and set aside.
  • In a large pan – fry the sliced leeks in two tablespoons of olive oil until soft and translucent. Tip in the ground spices and stir through for a minute or so.
  • Add the stock cube, water and red lentils. Stir again. Bring the contents to boil and leave to simmer – covered – for around ten minutes.


  • Return to the saffron. The water should now have a deep red/golden colour. Tip the liquid, stamens and all, into the pan. Toss in the chickpeas and mix well. Replace the lid and simmer for another fifteen minutes or until the contents are cooked through. Add extra water if required. Season with salt and extra pepper as required.
  • Once cooked remove three ladles of the soup into a separate container and blend. Pour back into the pan and combine to create a silky soup with a little texture. Drizzle with olive oil to serve.


Healthy Eating from History – Erbolate

Welcome to the second instalment of the Healthy Histories series. We kicked off 2015 with the toothsome pudding from Turkey called Asure. Today I share with you a dish of baked egg and herbs. A simple supper made for Richard II, Erbolate appeared in one of the earliest cookery books in England, A Forme of Cury from 1390.

Duck, Old Blue Cotswold and modern speckled brown chicken egg.

Duck, Old Blue Cotswold and modern speckled brown chicken egg.

From peahen to the much prized turtle, mankind has eaten eggs throughout culinary history. Extraordinary Roman chef Apicius, thriving in 25Bc, is thought to have invented many familiar egg recipes. He is the first to document a sweet baked egg custard. By the Middle ages eggs accompanied fish and almond milk as suitable alternatives to meat during fasting.

Many herbs from this period are no longer easily available and when they are found it is often in the context of herbal therapies. Indeed, many of the plants noted in this ‘receipt’ were likely included for their medicinal qualities.

Take and grind parsel, mynthe, sauery, sauge, tansey, veruain, clarey, rewe, ditaiyn, fenel and southernewood and grinde hem fyne.

Rue, Dittany and Southernwood are all extremely bitter tasting leaves which are toxic and should be used with extreme care. They were all believed to be beneficial to the digestive system as many bitter herbs were. In actual fact, Southernwood is the Mediterranean relative of Wormwood, infamous ingredient of absinthe and containing neuro-toxins. Tansy is another which should be used sparingly but will impart a unique aromatic flavour not dissimilar to nutmeg or clove. Tansy can be found growing wild across England if you are a confident forager.


Tansy – photographed on a guided foraging trip last year.

Clary, otherwise known as Clary Sage, was utilised by the Romans to make an eyewash and is believed to be good for easing muscle spasms. This is still in modern culinary and herbal use as is Vervain. Better known as Verbena, Vervain is thought to be one of the 38 plants used to make the tincture for Bach flower remedy.

The challenge when recreating Erbolate is matching the flavour profile with ingredients which are both flavoursome and easy to source. We are not as accustomed to bitter leaves here in Britain, though other parts of Europe still value them as part of a wide ranging diet. Frisee and dandelion leaves were excellent possibilities, along with the chicory and rocket I eventually decided upon. Parsley, Mint and Sage were obvious enough and I chose to add a little thyme to echo the qualities of the Dittany and Savoury. Finely, a little nutmeg grated sparingly over the top will do in the absence of Tansy.



or Baked Herb Omelette


  • 1 handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 chicory head
  • small amount of each fresh – thyme, parsley, mint, sage, fennel or tarrogan
  • 3 duck eggs
  • salt and nutmeg for seasoning


Serves two with salad

  • Preheat the oven to 175C.
  • Take a small baking dish and grease lightly with butter.
  • Gently tear the rocket leaves up and place them in the bottom. Break 2-3 blades from the bulb of chicory and lay them on top as seen in the picture below.


  • Finely chop the herbs and scatter on top of the chicory. Start with around about a loose teaspoon of each once finally chopped. You can then adjust according to personal taste if you wish.


  • Whisk the eggs and pour them over the herbs. Press everything down so that the chicory is coated and is less likely to catch in the oven. Chicken eggs could also be used, but I went with the more robust nature of duck eggs to stand up to the strong flavour of the other ingredients. Grate a little nutmeg over the top before placing in the oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes depending on how you like your eggs and the depth of your dish. Remove and serve. Leftovers can be eaten at room temperature the next day.


Gingerbread spice and all things nice….

For the second post in my Christmas series I take inspiration from Medieval flavourings to show how you can add a little sweetness and spice to your Christmas hosting. In addition to the wonderful gingerbread alluded to in the title I have tagged on a tasty alternative to your eggnog this year.


I have picked gingerbread as it was one of my first introductions to the medieval era and inspired one of my favourite edible gifts for Christmas. Early gingerbread delicacies were made from breadcrumbs (hence the name), honey and some spices, though not necessarily ginger. The ingredients would be boiled and then poured/pressed into elaborate moulds dusted with even more spices as a demonstration of wealth. These moulds were often carved in the image of the monarch of the time – and so the gingerbread man was born. By the early 1600’s chefs had also added red wine, brandy and of course, sugar. This in turn evolved into the cakes, biscuits and shortbread eaten today, though the strength of flavourings have become rather subdued over the centuries. Here I combine some of the original spice mixes of early Medieval cookery with the easier baking techniques of the 21st century to produce this mouth puckering gingerbread man for the child in all of us.

Giant Gingerbread Man

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 3 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • half tsp cinnamon
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp milk




  • Preheat the oven to 160C
  • Using baking parchment, draw a template of a large gingerbread man. He wants to be about 31cm high.
  • Warm the sugar, syrup and fat in a pan. Weigh out the flour, add the spices and pour in the melted ingredients. Add the milk.
  • Bring together into a soft dough and knead gently. Roll out to about an inch thick.
  • Using your template and a knife, draw the outline of a giant gingerbread man onto the dough. Make sure he is cut out properly and place on a non stick baking tray.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool slightly before placing on the cooling rack.
  • Decorate and wrap how you please!



After writing cards and wrapping presents nothing beats sitting in front of the fire, festive music on the stereo and warm drink in hand. My next offering is a delicious alternative to mulled wine and makes just enough to share with someone else whilst you squirrel up on the sofa. Again, the spices are typical of the period and would be utilised to great strength in order to demonstrate wealth and status. This recipe is adapted from one mentioned on website Medieval Cookery.

Buttered Beere

  • 1 bottle of real ale
  • 2 egg yolks
  • brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ginger
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 tbsp of butter


In a medium sized pan whisk together the eggs and sugar. Pour on the ale and warm gently, whisking all the time. After 5 minutes add the spices and continue on a low simmer for 5 – 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Pour into mugs and serve hot.

Culinary Pleasures – A book review

Culinary Pleasures

Cookbooks and the Transformation of British Food

Nicola Humble


After the positive reception to my first book review; A History of Food in 100 Recipes I decided to share a very different, but equally enjoyable piece of work by author Nicola Humble. Nicola is an experienced lecturer at Roehampton University and quite obviously holds a passion for food literature.

Unlike ‘A History of Food’ this book was purchased by myself on a whim. Occasionally I develop an overriding desire to find something new and this urge is so overwhelming that, despite there being no more room in our home for more culinary literature, I can focus on nothing else until I have fulfilled the craving. I picked up the beautifully covered Culinary Pleasures on one such foraging trip. Sadly though, I then seem to have placed the book on my shelf without actually reading it, and it became one of those books I would glance at guiltily thinking, ‘when I have time, I really must pick you up.’

A recent retreat to a log fired, countryside cottage became such an opportunity and I did not regret choosing Nicola Humble as my companion for a week of reading and eating. The book introduces you to a variety of food writers beginning with the infamous Mrs Beeton and the food of Victorian England, and ending with the phenomenon of the celebrity chef and the food trends seen at the time the book was written, 2005. If nothing else it serves as an excellent reference  for budding foodies wishing to explore influential writers of the last 100 years. This is the least of it’s achievements however. Culinary Pleasures has the academic confidence that you might expect from an university lecturer but this is carefully tempered with an open, honest style which allows the reader to feel that they are standing in a room with Nicola, the cookbooks wide open on a table in front of them. In the process you are also guided through the development of the British diet and how, from two World Wars to Salmonella and B.S.E, the food we eat is irrevocably tied to the social and political issues of our time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and, whilst the topic of food writing is one I am bound to be attracted to, feel that it is Ms Humble’s skill as an author which really makes this book stand out to me. It is a shame that she doesn’t seem to have published any more work since ‘Culinary Pleasures’ was released in 2005 as she seems to have a real flair for relating to the reader in a clear, but amusing manner.