It is firmly mid summer now. The long hot days and torrid nights tell me so. That, and the welcome sound of crickets and cicada wings and evening skies that twinkle with the light of fireflies. I love that summer effortlessly evokes a childlike sense of freedom. Something that seems to lie quiet the rest of the year. Even as an adult summer is the season of no rules; staying up long into the evening, neglecting chores in favor of spontaneous beach trips, swimming out deep into the cool green waters of the atlantic.
And there is part of me that thinks perhaps this clarity of inner child on these sweltering summer days affords me the opportunity to see things in a simpler light. To unpack and uncomplicated the life I live the rest of the year. Leaving it behind in favor of salty beach hair, bare feet, and lazy outside dinners. continue reading
Between the dark and light of the early morning, in slippered feet I stood; flour jar and batter bowl at hand. A warm pine floor dark beneath me and cool stone countertops reflecting back the first bits of daylight. I slipped the heavy linen apron from its hook and over my head, smoothing its front, ritually pushing my hands into each of its pockets before beginning my task. Into the bowl I measured, sifted, pinched & stirred together what will, with any luck, become the start of a dark sourdough bread. It will be coaxed into existence over the next 5 days through a common sort magic, simple but deeply seeded.
On this morning and for the last few, I have been feeling an overwhelming sense of calm. I can only think that it is coming from a place of general contentedness, a feeling of some form of happiness which I have not felt for a time. What I know to be different is how good it feels to finally be back standing in a kitchen of my own after so long.
The thought that the two are connected, this contented calm and having a kitchen of my own again, hadn’t dawned on me until recently. Spurred by the comment of a friend under my image on Instagram, she wrote “one thing about being away is that you miss your own kitchen”.
And this feeling of missing ones own kitchen is something I have known rather poignantly recently. As you may know, a few months ago we, my husband and i, packed up our London life. It was sent one way around the world as we went the other. It was a great adventure, perhaps one of a life time, thought I rather hope not, but the one thing I perpetually missed, that I longed for in this unmoored period was my kitchen. I did my best to mimic some daily rhythm which felt natural to me but how well can one accomplish this in the kitchens of strangers? continue reading
I love catching snippets of other peoples stories. I often find the words of strangers floating over the air and past my ears. Sometimes they are wickedly funny, and sometimes tender. They can be heartbreaking too and deeply relateable.
I wouldn’t call it eves-dropping. I’m not leaning in close to hear a bit of juicy gossip or craning my neck to get a good look at the person on the phone. Its more passive than that, more like receiving a gift. A gift because it makes the individuals I am sharing the space with seem more real and just simply less like, the masses.
Often, these little soundbites are good enough that I don’t want to let them pass by and so jot them hastily down. And every once in a while, I feel like I was meant to hear those words. That I was standing or walking past in that exact moment to hear that exact phrase.
The other day it happen. As I was gazing out of the window at the London skyline: gherkin, shard, cheese grater … on a seemingly deserted train into Waterloo I heard, as if from nowhere, “Do you face into the wind?”
Do you know that feeling?When you stand, arms glued to your side, ridged as a board, bald faced with the wind whipping past your ears so fast its dizzying and all you can do is just brace.
It stuck with me, I didn’t even need to write it down. I just kept repeating it over and over to myself. All day, and the next – turning it over, smoothing it down, wearing it away – until it shone.
This recipe for Kale & White Bean Soup is for those days where you feel like you have spent the entirety of it facing into the wind.
I have made it possibly hundreds of time – I don’t measure anything, I don’t count or figure, I just do. And in doing, is has become less of a recipe and more like a salve.
It is a soup to warm the belly, clear away the cobwebs and bring you back into your self. The cumin and vinegar are the important parts really. You could use anything on hand otherwise (cabbage if not kale, kidneys if not cannellini, faro instead of potato) but below is my preferred ingredient list.
Kale & White Bean Soup
1 large bunch of lacianto kale, chopped
1 16oz can cannellini beans
3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/4 pieces (preferably scrubbed with skin on)
4 cups good quality stock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
knob of ghee (or butter or evoo)
salt & pepper to taste
In a large stock pot saute chopped onion in the ghee over low heat until soft and transparent. Add minced garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add in the cumin and toast until fragrant. Pour in the red wine vinegar. Cook until liquid is reduced by half and then add in the chopped potato. Saute a few minutes more stirring to coat the potatoes in the butter and vinegar mixture. Add the stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender and nearly cooked. Then add the kale, cannellini beans and salt & pepper to taste.
Simmer until kale is tender and potatoes are cooked through.
Serve topped with a slice or two of parmigiano reggiano, a drizzle of olive oil & crusty bread.
This simple bowl of chowder is full of deeply earthy, satisfying flavors – it craves a brisk walk in the steely sunshine and a thick cut slice of dark brown bread.
Chowder is something which feels synonymous with my New England roots. The ubiquitous clam chowder is ingrained in the food culture of the region as much as fish & chips are here in London. I grew up eating simple corn chowder and on other occasions a more robust oyster chowder. I like that they are quick to make and can usually be made with things already in the larder – the staples – butter, milk, water, potatoes.
The origins for this chowder came on a walk through Richmond Park. I can understand why King Henry VIII used it as his hunting grounds- so beautiful & so varied in such proximity to the city. After an earnest walk, I wanted something delicious but unfussy. I used what I had around for this root vegetable chowder. One of which was a large amount of whey left over after making cheese the day before. Instead of dumping the protein rich whey, I used it as the stock base for this chowder. Water or a light stock work equally well.
Serves a group (4-8 depending on serving size)
1 1/2 pounds parsnips
1 1/2 pounds turnips (or swedes as they are known here)
2 sm/medium sized potatoes
1 large yellow onion. chopped.
3 springs of thyme
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp garam masala
4 cups whey, water or light stock
2 cups milk (whole recommended)
knob of ghee or butter
sea salt & fresh black pepper
Melt ghee in the pan and when it starts to bubble add the chopped onion, thyme and a pinch of sea salt.
Sweat the onions until they are translucent. Stir in the garam masala, toast until fragrant, then add the bay leaf and thyme. Stir everything together then add the washed and chopped parsnips, potatoes & turnip. It is up to you if you would like to peel them or not. I usually don’t. Just make sure to use a turnip that is unwaxed, otherwise it should be peeled.
Stir veg together until it is well coated in the ghee & spices. Let it cook for a few minutes more to blend all the flavors together.
Add your stock liquid, which ever you are using and a dash of salt. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until turnips, parsnips and potatoes are very soft.
Liquid should have reduce down quite a bit.
Once the vegetables are done, remove pan from the heat and let it cool a few minutes. Using your preferred method, blend into a smooth but still quite textured mixture.
Return pan to a low heat and slowly add in the milk. You may need to add a little more milk depending on your preference. Heat milk through but do not scald or boil it.
Salt & pepper to taste.
optional – I serve each of the bowls topped with toasted leeks, a drizzle of herb oil and a few dried cranberries.