Hello and welcome to my blog – I am really excited to be sharing my journey of discovery as seen through my photography and writing with you.
The story of my introduction into the world of food isn’t the usual one. It is said that before the age of eleven I had the appetite of a sparrow and apart from my enthusiastic attempts at mud pie making, I had no interest in cooking or kitchen work. Added to that, my mother who is an excellent cook, quite rightly felt that I couldn’t be trusted with flames or any heat inducing power sources and remained unshaken in her conviction, that left to my own devices, I would blow the kitchen up. Her concern was based on an incident that had taken place many years earlier, when aged nine, I had been entrusted with the dying embers of one of my father’s bonfires at our East London home. I had created such a large and successful furnace in it’s place, that neighbours, seizing the opportunity to de-clutter, started to hand me whole pieces of unwanted furniture over the fence. A chair, a table and a small chest of drawers in and my father put an abrupt end to it and I was swiftly redirected inside. After that, the only culinary responsibility I was afforded was whipping the family cream when it was required. For many years, I was appalled at this all too premature smear upon my ability to control my experimental urge, until… my own sons, then aged thirteen and eleven, decided to use one of my Le Creuset pans to brew a sodium nitrate smoke bomb, while I lay sleeping obliviously in the room above. Talk about told you so!!
So it wasn’t until I went on a Christian Summer sports camp run by my future parents in law that I really got the cooking bug. I remember one day how I had been left in charge of orderly duties which included preparing the evening meal for all the campers. Me and my team had been in the kitchen for hours scrubbing potatoes for sixty people (we used soap free metal kitchen scourers i.e not brillo pads but almost!) and compiling tray after tray of fish fingers and the largest jug of Bisto gravy you have ever seen; yes my father-in-law liked to serve beef gravy with fish fingers. It was minutes before we were about to serve and as the campers were being seated at the table, my father-in-law came rushing in to the kitchen , terribly concerned that the peas were ready. Not having any previous experience of cooking frozen peas, I had simply followed the instructions on the back of the bag and being satisfied that they were done, I had taken them off the heat and drained them. Being an insatiable perfectionist and not satisfied with my verdict alone, my father-in-law stuffed a couple into his mouth and proceeded to chew contemplatively. A rather large smile started to break across his face and he said to me, “they’re perfect, you have cooked these peas to perfection!” He then ran into the corridor joyously like he had just witnessed a great event exclaiming “she can cook!”.
And that was my epiphany moment. Not very glamorous I know, but standing there after all that work, and looking something like dishevelled Pre-Raphaelite woman meets Dame Washalot from the Faraway Tree, I felt triumphant. Confident. I could do this. I could cook. From there I went onto university and let loose in my landlady’s kitchen I experimented. The very first soup I ever made was a milky broccoli and leek offering that I had seen demonstrated on the Oprah Winfrey show. It was so fresh and delicious that I have since retained a love for all things chowder.
I get a real kick out of eating virtuously. That means that I like to eat as fresh and healthily, as organically, seasonally, locally and as ethically as is possible within my given time, energy, and financial constraints. To this end I am very privileged to have a husband who enjoys growing things and has always grown a fantastic variety of fruit and vegetables in our allotment and our garden. My particular love is for British fruit and so about five years ago we planted an orchard in our field with more than thirty three apple, pear, plum, greengage, cherry, damson and crab apple trees in it, including some really old varieties obtained from the National Trust Sizergh Castle garden.