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.
Getting married meant moving into a new house. A house that already belonged to my husband, but was a place in which we needed to create a new home together. This can be challenging, especially when little superficially needs to be changed; it was fully furnished, nothing needed redecorating and even the garden was well established. The kitchen soon became my first place to settle in: I filled the shelves with my cookbooks and I hung my favourite pots over the cooker, but still there was a rootedness which I lacked. It was then that I started to look outside.
The new garden in full bloom
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
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..
Giant cedro lemons at La Fromagerie in London
When shopping in La Fromagerie in London yesterday, I discovered a basket full of giant Cedro lemons. It is rare to see these fabulous fruit sold in London, but if you stumble across them, be sure to buy one – you’re in for a treat. The Cedro lemon (or Citron as they are called in English) is actually one of the four original varieties of citrus fruits – along with pummelo, mandarine and papeda (from which yuzu and kaffir fruits derive).
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.
A walk on Devon moorland recently led me to some great foraging opportunities, including some plants I’d never picked before.Wild wood purslane
I found myself in a sea of tiny pink flowers, beautiful in their own right, but then discovered their leaves are edible too. Wood purslane have small, succulent leaves with a fresh, faintly lemony taste, very similar to the larger purslane salad, sold in bunches in Middle Eastern vegetable shops. I like to add a handful of them to other green leaves, possibly with some sliced radishes and a light lemon and oil dressing.