in my kitchen this month…..
…..I’m really enjoying lots of fresh, crunchy food after a few weeks indulgence. The apples may look more suited to an Autumnal kitchen than a January scene, but they’re the last of the apples from Granny’s orchard. And their still crisp, sweet flavour says it all about the sort of food I’m craving so far this year.
Very welcome this week in healthy salads packed full of flavour, the apples have been sliced and added to walnuts, slithers of raw beetroot and parsley with a dressing made with cider vinegar. Or added to a sort of coleslaw that I made to go with home-made bean burgers.
Before you jump to conclusions about my virtuous New Year diet, I have to come clean and admit that they were also cooked to a puree on the wood-burning stove to eat with pork chops marinated in a maple syrup, rosemary and garlic brine. The brine tenderises the chops wonderfully as well as adding a glorious flavour and it’s one of the dishes I regularly cook from Diana Henry’s Salt Sugar Smoke.
This swinging between warming comfort food and raw veggies, with a good few spicy dishes in between sums up the food in my kitchen so far this year. Much as I’m craving home-grown veggies and fresh tastes, there have been some cold, grey days when a treat is surely in order. Talking of which, the last quince is saved for a tagine with lamb shanks which I’ll make soon.
In my kitchen…..
….. it all seems suddenly bare now that the decorations are down, and the gingerbread house is derelict; there are missing windows, a back wall and the marshmallow picket fence has come under attack from hungry 6 year olds. Typical of Ruby though, she doesn’t want to see it totally demolished. A hoarder ( we have so many cardboard boxes from Christmas presents around the place that she’s adamant she NEEDS to make things with) she’s also a child with far more willpower than her Mum when it comes to saving precious chocolate/sweet things. She still has an Easter egg in her room for goodness sake – well, a chocolate bunny. Apparently TOO BEAUTIFUL to eat.
Similar to the balance between healthy and comforting food, although part of me relishes the simplicity of the bare kitchen now that the decorations have gone, Ruby’s pictures are bringing some cheery brightness. The wire herb hanger is now devoid of the very scruffy home-made Christmas biscuits that added colour. Can you spot the rogue custard cream by the way?
So while the ribbons dangling from the beams no longer have Christmas cards, at least we have a picture of bright pink candyfloss. Yes, I think it probably did start off as a Poppy.
In my kitchen……
…..there are some very tasty hand-toasted nuts. I was kindly sent some samples from Chika Russell, who has set up Chika’s to provide West African inspired snacks. Now based in Notting Hill, Chika spent her childhood between London and Anambra, a Nigerian village where she was surrounded by a big, warm, noisy family whose focal point was food. Huge slow-cooked stews, fried plantain and roasted yams were served with masses of fresh fruit and vegetables. How I would love to be transported to that kitchen…
The sweet potato crisps and nuts toasted by the village ladies over an open fire inspired Chika to set up her own nibbles business and I love the way that she’s drawn on her rich heritage as well as the fact that they’re all produced using traditional techinques, by hand in small batches and in accordance with Fairtrade and organic principles.
Chika’s snacks include unpopped corn, plantain crisps and sweet potato crisps. The peanuts, toasted by hand, are very tasty but I’m saving some as nibbles for Friday night cocktails. Well, we have been reasonably virtuous all week, resisting the Sloe Gin and Quince Ratafia. Maybe I’ll add a squirt of lime in accordance with my very mixed (some may say weak/dodgy) New Year healthy living.
Would love to be included once again in Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial’s great IMK where we get to peep into kitchens around the world. Looking forward to the virtual warmth of kitchens on the other side of the world.
So many goodies in your kitchen Andrea… the apples look quite divine. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!
Thanks Lizzy and I hope you have a wonderful 2014 too.
G’day Happy New Year Andrea to you and your family too!
May it be the best year ever and enjoyed also today your kitchen view!
Thanks for visiting Joanne and a very Happy New Year to you.
It sounds like very good January food and I love that poppy
The poppy candyfloss is cheering me up too on the greyer January days. Just made a pheasant, bacon and mushroom pie – definitely the weather for alternating pies and bakes with spices.
I have been quite health orientated this week but agree with you, there are times when inly comfort food will do. I love the sound of those pork chops, and how lucky to have so many apples stashed away, enjoy them!
The pork chops are delicious cooked this way and yes, we are very lucky to have the apples. Must’ve eaten our own body weight in them over the last few months!
I know what you mean about craving fresh foods at this time of year. Salads in January might seem like a strange idea, but with some warming citrus and chilli they’re good even on a cold evening. Love the art work – you have a talented daughter there!
Definitely something about citrus and chilli flavours that are addictive at this time of year. The candyfloss is now joined by 4 other paintings. Ruby has been prolific in her output over the last few days1
Oh I had to giggle at your 6 year old – I was exactly the same way! Keeping boxes to make things from and hording chocolate until the same holiday rolled around the next year ;D Happy New Year!
Wish I was as good at hoarding chocolate! Maybe not the cardboard boxes though.
Andrea, your posts are always so relaxing to read. I’m sitting here with a piece of marble cake and a mug of fennel tea, and I feel like I’m right in the middle of your kitchen, wondering what herbs you’ll be drying on your hanger, or peering around the corner to see what Ruby’s latest cardboard creation. I think I’d be tempted to leave the poppy/fairyfloss art up forever..
Agree about the jolly painting Celia and thank you! Hearing about that marble cake and fennel tea makes me want to pop over to your kitchen though.
Andrea, you’ve inspired me to cook a batch of applesauce on our wood-burning stove. Thanks for that, and also for the lovely peek into your kitchen. Ruby’s art is a delight!
There’s something very satisfying about cooking on a wood-burning stove isn’t there – making totally good use of something that’s keeping you warm. I cook lots of apple sauce and freeze some for future granola. Thanks lots for visiting Kim.
It is nice to have a bit of health and crunch at this time of the year! The peanuts sound interesting, will look out for them.
The peanuts are great. Would be good to experiment with them in cooking too – will keep you posted.
I’ve been craving vegetables and so we’ve had quite a few warm salads. Full of wonderful veg and grilled Halloumi. So tasty and no need for meat. GG
Totally agree, you’ve reminded me, must have some grilled Halloimi in salads – yum.
I wish I had some of your colorful art in my kitchen as it feels very bare with the decorations taken down.
The art has now expanded across the beam – including a very jolly self-portrait! I’m very glad of it as hate the bareness after the decorations are down too.