(photo by Adrian van Leen)
Forget your perfect offering,
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
Anthem - Leonard Cohen
Not such a bleak mid-winter this year although we've had our fair share of rain and yet more rain. In fact, that ark I built last summer is coming in very useful; if nothing else then as an exit strategy from London! But despite the mild weather, I still love comforting winter food and of course there are still fresh seasonal foods that are good to eat.
British root vegetables are in season to turn into hearty warming dishes such as a traditional beef and ale stew served with a mountain of mashed potato and buttered greens.. Or what about a decadently soothing potato and cheese pie?
Winter suits my urge to make soup. Or perhaps it's the other way around. But either way, I find soup making very therapeutic - a very good way to get rid of winter blues and post-holiday angst! Nothing chopping vegetables and giving food a blitz in the blender to grind out seasonal anguish. My favourite soup of all time is probably a knobbly celeriac with Stilton cheese (although most blue cheeses will do). I love the comfort of homemade soup, especially if it is accompanied by some homemade bread - try out the spicy parsnip soup for a bit of a taste kick too. There are stores of fruit such as apples and pears. Flat fish are particularly good right now and I am determined to eat more game this year, such as venison and pheasant.
And while I may be suffering the post-holiday doldrums, there is Burns' Night on 25th January to look forward to. Mmmmn, haggis (Macsween's for me) and neeps. While Seville oranges are not British, they brighten up the cooking year and it is certainly traditional to make marmalade or orange curd as soon as they are available. I am very fond of Seville orange cake and one of my friends recommends drinking the juice in a gin and tonic for an extra fillip - which is another way to chase the gloom of January away. Of course, I am now working my way through last autumn's damson gin, which is enough to make anyone happy, whatever the weather.
vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (Jerusalem), beetroot, broccoli (purple sprouting), Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbages (various green varieties, red and white), carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens (spring and winter), kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, shallots, spinach, squash, swede, turnip
fruit and nuts:
apples (pippins), pears, rhubarb (forced)
meat and game:
beef, chicken, goose (farmed and wild), hare, mallard, mutton, partridge, pheasant, pork, turkey, venison
fish and shellfish:
cockles, cod, crab (brown, cock and hen), haddock, herring, lobster, mussels, plaice, oysters (native and rock), scallops, shrimps