The Plain Kitchen: A Year of Positivity
As some of you may know, I also have a food and recipe blog over on www.theplainkitchen.com. I set the website up last year, on the 7th July, and decided to set myself a challenge: posting a recipe a day, each one devised and made by me in my kitchen on Salisbury Plain. The idea had been bubbling away for a while, and I wanted another creative outlet of sorts: being in the studio, sorting out Hector & Haddock orders, and keeping up with running a creative business can be very difficult (and emotionally, creatively draining) at times, and I felt I needed some sort of "other" creative project. I also write, and I teach too: sometimes one's natural inventiveness and love for creating things can be completely swamped by the daily grind of life. I also wanted to mark my 42nd year with something positive: in 1987, my mum died, aged 42, and, as so many of you who have lost parents or family members early on in life will know, no matter how you live life positively, no matter how you focus on the good, there are always dates and times and ages that pop up into your head- reminding you of your place and time in the universe. These thoughts can turn into nasty little numbers; they can overtake your existence, burrow themselves into your every waking hour, and I didn't want this to happen- I didn't want the negativity and upset to dominate, as they so often can do: I wanted a year of celebration, creation, and love, and I thought getting back in touch with mum's old cookbooks, remembering her through the recreation of some of her recipes, and spending time in my favourite place ever- the kitchen- would be a hugely life affirming thing to do.
So, I chose to mark the year with just this: and, every day, there has been a new recipe or idea popped onto The Plain Kitchen: sometimes with a lengthy nostalgic preamble, and sometimes, particularly in those hungover or exhausted times, a sentence or two followed by the recipe is all I have managed. Today I posted recipe number 315: I am almost there, with just 50 to go. It's a strange feeling, really, nearing the end of this culinary marathon: I am, funnily enough, quite looking forward to the end: managing a business, a home, teaching, writing, and then the recipe creation and blogging has been quite tricky at times! Every recipe is of course measured exactly and tested, and only ones that "work" go up on the site: there have been very many that have been binned or fed to the dog, there have been many which although utterly delicious, just haven't photographed well, so don't make the cut, there have been even more that I can't pop up on the site because I forgot the damn measurements or baking time, so in fact are no good to anyone. I spend a lot of time anyway in the kitchen, which means I do things automatically, unconsciously: and I have never really measured things in my cooking (except of course for baking). So, in a way, posting recipes has meant some sort of constraint in the kitchen: but in a good way. I am now more exacting, I have learned to describe things (hopefully) in a way that seems accessible to people, and I have also learned to write better recipes. I look back on some of my first attempts and writing a recipe- and oh my, there are so many changes I would now make. But, that's what regularity does, I suppose: you learn as you go along, you make lots of mistakes, and you improve.
Although it has at times been tricky, I am going to miss the daily blog: I feel, with the end in visible sight now, that I may be losing an old friend. That, like meeting someone for a daily cup of coffee, or having a regular chat with someone, The Plain Kitchen and I will miss each other. So, I have decided that even though the honeymoon may be over, so to speak, we still need each other, and we still make each other happy. I've decided that come July, when the 365th post has been created, I will post once or twice a week: I will begin to read my cookbooks again, and will be buying some new ones (I've left them alone this year- I wanted to read just my mum's recipes, and to be inventive with my own ideas, so I resisted the urge to delve into my little library). I will write about recipes I have made from my favourite books. I will visit farms and producers and write about the beautiful British produce we are so lucky to enjoy. I will visit restaurants and will try new ideas and products in the kitchen, and will write about them. I can't wait: the year of daily posts has opened up a wonderful world of opportunities and creativity, and I am so glad I celebrated this year with something life-affirming and productive as this. It may not seem like much to others, but it has meant the world to me.
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