Cookbook of the Week, ‘Appetite’ by Nigel Slater


My greasy, ripped copy of Appetite (2000) which I purchased in Oxfam for £3.99.

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Soundtrack to the Week

Top track/band

I’ve been listening to a lot of First Aid Kit recently. I love the new album, RuinsStay Gold is amazing too.

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Slowly, self-care has moved from “doing the things you need to do to keep functioning” to “buying loads of luxurious stuff and pampering yourself”. In doing so, it’s stopped being helpful for the people who need it most – having a bubble bath is lovely, but if you feel crushed by your own sadness, it’s not going to make you feel OK again.

The Goopification of self-care misrepresents how hard looking after yourself can be 



I turned forty-one at the weekend.

I found hitting forty much harder than I expected. It’s not that I’m scared of getting older (yet, anyway!), but my fortieth brought up all this existential angst about life and meaning and my value and place in the world. The experience taught me that it’s a good idea to be aware of your subconscious beliefs about birthdays and not to treat any particular birthday as some kind of referendum on your life.

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Weekend Cooking – Root Vegetable Cobbler


I love cooking and I’m trying to make sure I get the time to cook something a bit special at least once a week.  This weekend I made the Root Vegetable Cobbler from Ruby Tandoh’s Flavour. There are not many cook books that make me want to work my way through pretty much every recipe, but Flavour is one of them.

This cobbler is basically a vegetable stew with a simple scone topping. It’s delicious and filling. After a lifetime of hating swede (thanks 1980s school dinners!), it’s also the first recipe that’s brought me around to the vegetable.


Imbolc & New Beginnings

This week we celebrated Imbolc, the Celtic festival that marks the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It’s also known as Brigid or Candlemas, and the beginning of spring.

We cleaned the flat, bought some daffodils for the kitchen table and made a nice meal.  We lit our Imbolc candle (yellow) and each chose something to release. I decided that what I need to let go of is my belief that I can just not feel my feelings and, probably more importantly, my belief that this is a sensible and realistic goal.

I don’t start any new life projects in January. January is cold and dark. It is for eating, sleeping and snuggling under blankets. But by the time Imbolc comes around, I’m feeling ready to set some goals. Last year was all about improving our financial situation and living environment. I got a new job and we moved to a bigger flat in an area that suits us better. I was exhausted, though, and with therapy as well, that was about as much as I could manage.

This year, I’d like to be more focused on personal self-development. This is not about self-improvement. It’s about creating a life that’s meaningful and in which I’m getting my needs met. There is a spreadsheet, because entering stuff into spreadsheets makes me happy, but briefly, it breaks down into four “projects”:

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Jane Hirshfield, ‘One Sand Grain Among the Others in Winter Wind’

I wake with my hand held over the place of grief in my body.
“Depend on nothing,” the voice advises, but even that is useless.
My ears are useless, my familiar and intimate tongue.
My protecting hand is useless, that wants to hold the single leaf to the tree
and say, Not this one, this one will be saved.
Jane Hirshfield
from After