Monday, 18 March 2013

Turning a corner

I have been ill for quite some time.  I refuse to label it.  It is, after all now a part of me, intrinsic to who I am.  Its fair to say I'm used to it and the oddly comforting relationship I have with the dark, black cloud that hangs over me for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time.  It ebbs and it flows and I feel safe, secure, knowing that just like the tide as it recedes from the sands it will eventually subside.

I never know how long for or when it will happen but the very moment it does begin to disperse the world changes. maybe I change?  I notice things with clarity, the world no longer seems foggy and grey but clear, awake and to be savoured. 

I no longer just cope through the rigorous routine, the almost constant exhaustion and broken sleep.  I begin to 'do'. My desire to make things sets off at a ferocious speed. Ideas come quickly, thickly and I almost need to tell my muse to stop. I work hard, careful in my attempts not to burn out again for fear of another dark arduous slump.

Time is spent admiring the things that usually pass me by in a haze. The hawthorn as it comes into the leaf. The fuzzy buds on the branches as they swell with each passing day and begin to open. The birds that make their home in my garden and often share the crusts from breakfast and a few slices of apple. It had never seemed relevant. 

I know things are getting better, my kitchen table has become a mass of cookbooks, new herbs and spices I'm eager to experiment with. The floor of my studio is littered with an incomprehensible assortment of sketches,  the drawn out ramblings from my mind that somehow come together. Piles of books form from the ones I have read waiting to be donated or read again. My hands have the lingering aroma of darkroom fixative.  My windows, they are scrubbed clean and thrown wide open. A ritual of sorts to force out the stagnant air that has held me down for so long. 

I cope in only the ways I know how. Enjoy the moments of bliss when I can and hope that the next bout doesn't last so long.

Monday, 11 March 2013

getting my groove back

It has been a rare thing for me too cook these last few months. Pressures of being a carer and my own illnesses have taken the pleasure out of cooking. Yesterday, for the first time in months I actually had an urge to cook. Not just any meal from my repertoire but something new. Ok, these were easy dishes but they were something new for me!

spicy bean stew/soup

First up was a quick and easy spicy stew/soup. Its somewhere between the two and tasted great. I just chucked all the ingredients in a casserole dish  and cooked it in the oven.


Another spicy dish for a Sunday, shakshuka. This doesn't look anywhere near as good as the recipe found here yet it still tasted great. So good the boy ate his portion then took that last of the crusty rolls to clear out the entire pan.  This dish has been added to the "must make again" list with the boys insistence.

white chocolate buttons with poppy seed and craberry
 I rustled up a quick treat. giant white chocolate buttons with poppy seeds and dried cranberries. These are nearly all gone!

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Waking up with watery eyes and a stuffy nose I feared a day of migraines and a general all round fuzzy head.  The start of the hayfever season is usually absolute hell, the worst of the symptoms and hayfever meds bring on some quite ferocious migraines. Yes, believe it or not the trees outside are swathed in catkins,  daffodils, crocus' and snow drops are in bloom. Yesterday I noticed my front lawn cheerily covered in dandelion and daisies!

Thankfully the plantain tea I've tried as a hayfever remedy is working just as effectively as the prescription meds leaving me in good enough health to spend a day cooking.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Spring is here, thrust upon us suddenly.  Lighter evenings and the first buds have broken through the winter cocoon.  Woodland walks are now more than wading, ankle deep in thick, leafy mud but a hunt for the first greens.

I can smell the ramsons before I even make my way down the steps of my home.  I have plans and new recipes for this seasonal treat. Ravioli, tarts, herb butters and risotto's alongside the usual green soups, salads and pestos.

The nettles too, are growing vigorously.  I have missed eating my creamy nettle soup since the last frozen batch was consumed in autumn.

It already feels so brisk, life springing up where only a few days ago it felt so lifeless.  I barely feel able to keep up with the foraging yet its only just begun!

Off I go, basket in hand and a kitchen and well stocked cupboards waiting for my return.