There are many things about Britain that are completely mad – morris dancing, Crufts, teachers’ work loads – but one of the weirdest has to be the fact that 400 years on, we still celebrate the failure of a plot to blow up Parliament.
The celebration of Bonfire Night was brought about by the Observance of 5th November Act 1605, which called for annual public thanksgiving. Although the act was repealed in the late 1850s, we still love a big ol’ fire and watching explosions timed to a playlist that seems to always include something by Queen (sadly, it’s rarely Fat Bottomed Girls).
It’s one of my favourite nights of the year. Read More
They’re the brightest food market indictor of autumn, as well as being a versatile and storable staple ingredient: oh my gourd, squash season is upon us.
I love a butternut squash soup as much as any cosy-seeker, but when it comes to branching out to the myriad other varieties, I’ve been nervous. Will the skin of an acorn squash destroy a peeler? Can you cook anything beyond pie with a pumpkin? It’s time to find out. Read More
Man, I’m late with this one. Hedgerows have been thick with blackberries for weeks, thanks to a meterological anomaly of a year that’s brought a heatwave and with it early sightings of autumnal fruits. Same as every year, I’ve been opening drawers to stare longingly at wooly tights, so this turn of events is all too welcome. In mid-August I rolled up my jeans, went off for a walk in search of these gems – with the Myths & Legends podcast in my ears– and was rewarded with a lot of nettle stings but, more importantly, a big bag of blackberries.
During my outings, I’ve also picked a berry with a fat spider on it and stood on a bird corpse. Swings and roundabouts.
To be pernickety, blackberries aren’t really berries at all – they’re made up of drupelets, the individual bobbles you get on raspberries and blackberries – and have also been known as brambleberries, brumblekites and lawers. No matter what you call them, they’re also great in terms of fibre and vitamin C. For me, blackberries = crumble time, but I guess it’s time to branch out… Read More
For 23 years, I hated tomatoes. I hated them with a passion – cutting them, touching them, sometimes even looking at them made me recoil. It’s the firm outside and squishy inside. Or its the way they spurt when you bite into them, and the weird jelly that surrounds the seeds. For 23 years, my dad asked me on at least a monthly basis if I liked tomatoes, making a shudder pass through me as I contemplated them. No.
And then one day the answer was yes…right as he learned that I do not like tomatoes. We’re now three years into the reversal, and sometimes when I see a photo of a dark, juicy, fleshy specimen I salivate instead of sneer in disgust. Now that we’re in British tomato season, that happens with alarming regularity, a craving I never thought I’d feel. Read More
If you imagine me coming to a screeching halt like a cartoon character approaching the edge of a cliff, you’d be about right. I’ve barely had time to come up for air since Easter, let alone do any food experiments – my go-to dinner has become rushed noodle soup or store-bought fishcakes at a push.
As anyone who follows me on Instagram knows, I’ve mostly been eating ice cream in various corners of the country, which, although a great pastime, and one that I fully intend to continue, has left me craving savoury. Just the odd vegetable, please. Read More
Summer’s here, y’all! I’ve got hastily cobbled together spring wardrobe to prove it. It would seem this is the year my friends and I have aged – when we got together for a picnic in Regent’s Park yesterday we all took suncream (factor 30 to 50), wailed over the lack of need for the word “listicle”, when “list” is perfectly good (okay, that one was just me), and, in the most ridiculous show of no longer being the partiers we once were, discussed our favourite humous varieties (a lot of support for original, and red pepper).
But seriously, invite us to all your wildest raves, we’re a scream. We’ll be the ones with wine and water bottles.
Anyway, now we’ve had our first scorching weekend of the year, we can start to look forward to those glorious months of abundant produce, beginning with a vegetable that has legions of loyal fans: asparagus. Read More
It’s spring, all of sudden, isn’t it? I know this because at the weekend I had to urge to pull up all the sofa cushions and hoover them, a level of domesticity that I’ve exhibited before in my life a grand total of zero times. I had to wait to do it until my hands had thawed out from a chilly wander around a nearby rec, but it happened and I was rewarded with £1.50 in change found down the back of the sofa and crumb-free cushions. Earlier in the day I also realised that the honk of the Canada goose is a lot like my laugh, but that was a slightly less welcome discovery than the coins.
Alongside the gradual change of seasons comes the short wild garlic window. With a softer taste than bulb garlic, it lends itself to a wide range of dishes including as an addition to salad – if you can find it. Thanks to its preference for damp, shady woodlands, in London, wild garlic locations are closely guarded secrets. For those of you lucky enough to have better access to it, here’s some tips for foraging wild garlic, and a whole bunch of recipes… Read More
In one of the most ridiculous middle-class struggles, I have a cookbook problem. A lot of us –and by “us”, I mean the people who hang out in the food section of book stores, stroking spines and sighing with longing – have cookbook problems. Too many books, not enough shelf space, and a disinclination to actually look through them when the internet is right there. They’re there as a safety blanket, for proper baking days or, god forbid, when the internet dies.
My questions is this – how can we make cookbooks more user friendly, more likely to be cooked from? What will encourage me to follow a recipe instead of whipping out my dinnertime classic, “Stuff in a Pan”? I’d love to hear what makes you use yours, whether that’s apps, making room for the books in your actual kitchen, or an elaborate treasure hunt that encourages you to explore your many, many volumes of Jamie.
The recipe search is harder at this time of year. There’s only so much you can do with a cabbage, and I don’t know about you, but basically all I want to eat is stew…and so, this year’s February round up is all about keeping cosy when it’s snowing outside. Read More
It’s a new year! It’s a new you! It’s time to give up sugar, and booze, and fun!
Just kidding. I took these chocolate tahini cupcakes into the office the first day back, then made a massive green smoothie – the kind of broken “balance” logic employed the rest of the year, but with added glitter sprinkles for some pizzazz for 2017. Instead of resolutions that require an abrupt end to previous habits and tend to drop off after a month at best, I’ll go in favour of better balance, particular with this ace daily goal tracker.
We’re easing into slightly more exciting produce at this time of year too, with forced rhubarb coming in, and loads of green stuff, livened up with sweet potatoes – which are in the middle of their season – and the last of the beetroot until the summer.