Hand made gifts often mean more than anything bought. It’s not just the thought they require, it’s the time taken too. Last Christmas my sister gave me a basket full of jams and preserves she had made with fruit grown in her garden, and special ingredients foraged from the Cornish hedgerows where she lives. Every time I open a jar to scoop out some green tomato chutney or some rowanberry jelly, I think of her and the flavours transport me to rural Cornwall.
The experience of food can be a hugely evocative thing; taste and memory are so closely intertwined and many memories are of dishes cooked for us, or eaten with, our mothers: the restorative vegetable soup she made when I was ill; her English muffins baked fresh for breakfast with homemade marmalade; roast lamb for Sunday lunch. These are not just memories of the taste and texture of the food, they bring back the experience of the table where we ate; the room; the light and the emotions.
It’s pancake day and there are a number of ways you could choose to make them: fluffy ones for breakfast with crisp bacon and maple syrup; buckwheat galettes for lunch rolled around a fried egg and a slice of ham; drop scones with jam for tea and finally and arguably the classic, and still my favourite – lace-thin crepes for pudding at dinner, with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of sugar.
Fluffy breakfast pancakes with berries, bacon and maple syrup
At this time of year there’s one thing I really crave and luckily it’s something healthy. It’s also something that doesn’t take ages to prepare and (thank god, because it’s too cold to nip out to the shops last minute) most of the ingredients are sitting waiting for me in the cupboard or fridge. Soba noodles and greens, served in miso broth with a poached egg on top is my winter obsession. It’s warming, sustaining, nutritious and moreishly delicious to eat, I could have it (and its variations) every day of the week.
This is the blueprint recipe, but if you make it regularly you’ll find you want to add new ingredients or omit some things – as long as the stock tastes good and it’s full of things you like to eat, you can’t go wrong. See my suggestions for optional extras below..
There are many reasons why almond milk is so popular right now:
it’s delicious and healthy (lots of vitamins and nutrients)
lasts much longer in the fridge than cow’s milk (no more dashing out to the shop for more supplies as you pour your coffee)
apparently it’s easier to digest
makes me feel like I’m making some sort of concession to New Year’s health resolutions..
When you’re looking for an easy way to embellish a simple dish, an egg is always the answer. I often find myself searching in the fridge for something quick to make: a soup, something on toast or a chance to use up some fresh herbs or the avocado that’s getting too ripe in the fruit bowl.. Adding an egg provides the substance, protein and colour that turns these ingredients into a tempting dish. Whats more, the cooking just takes minutes.
I recently wrote a post about my favourite cocktail of the moment, a Bees Knees: https://blanchevaughan.wordpress.com/category/bees/
But there’s another, more classic drink with a similar flavour balance – rich, sweet and sour – that deserves a place in this blog.
Whisky sour is up there with the great cocktails, and if you’re partial to shaking one up, as I am, this is the drink to get started with.
The Bees’ Knees. If any cocktail will tempt me, it will be one with a name like this. It promises enjoyment, humour and ultimate pleasure. The sort of allure a cocktail should have. I first came across this delightfully named creation at the bar of Soho’s Quo Vadis club. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Other than its name, the simplicity of this drink is part of its magic. Like most of the best things, it is only as good as what you put into it and in this case, that’s honey, lemon and gin.
Lime honey from our bees