It’s been a little while since I wrote anything here, and that’s bad. There’s a good reason, though.
I lost my foodie mojo.
It all started back in March. Some life stuff happened and I got all out of kilter, and it got to the point where I was almost contemplating buying a “ready meal” instead of having to go shopping for actual food. Fresh fruit & veg were not making much of an appearance in the fridge, in fact aside from some tomatoes & cucumber the fridge was to all intents & purposes empty. I was still eating relatively healthily – fresh pasta sauces, salads, the odd bit of fish – but it was on a day-to-day basis and some days I just couldn’t be bothered. (On those days I made mushroom risotto. There’s always dried fungi in the house.)
Cakes became a real rarity. Biscuits, ditto. Bread became a pipe dream, which was a shame because I had a pretty decent sourdough starter and some poolish hanging around that had to be thrown through lack of feeding. The cake thing really was a problem because I got some of my recipes in a book, and wanted to start making other people’s recipes from that book, but it all seemed like rather a lot of effort. There was a launch party for the book just before I started losing my mojo, and I had fun photographing it.
Anyway, over the last few weeks we’ve been on holiday (and spoiled by a brilliant farm shop at Chatsworth, over the road from where we stayed) and I gradually started picking up my cooking mojo again. It took more time than I would have liked, but I’ve made a pineapple upside down cake which was lovely and the sweet potato & pecan cake from the book.
Now, here’s where my mojo came back. I’ve been hearing a lot about “speculoos spread” recently – it seems to be an ingredient du jour – so when I spotted some in Sainsers I picked it up and, well, between us we ate most of a jar on toast. It’s lovely, but lethally addictive. It’s also very rich. My friend Becs started my brain working with some cupcakes with speculoos buttercream but my usual thoughts on cupcakes are unprintable and buttercream is one thing I really have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate because it’s just so, so rich. On the other hand I can eat cream cheese frosting quite happily. So I mixed 100g cream cheese with 100g of biscuit paste and a tablespoon of icing sugar, and realised this would be the perfect filling for the sweet potato & pecan cake.
It so is.
And that was that. I’ve been baking bread again (disappointing results, probably because the baking sheet wasn’t hot enough but it’s a start). I decanted the marmalade rum & gin that I kicked off back in February (photo above) and used the gin to make Tom Collins (no kidding, this was a joy when the sun came out). I’ve made more cakes. Mushroom pasta. A home made minestrone which lasted for days and was fantastic. Felafel (failed when frying, but I think I know where I went wrong). There’s a new sourdough starter going – we got some sourdough crackers from Chatsworth which were surprisngly tasty, so I want to see if I can make my own – and I’ve got an artisan patisserie course coming up next month. And I’m doing more chocolate demonstrations at the Arch Cafe in Leeds at the end of the month, being thrown in with what used to be Leeds Loves Food and is now Leeds Food Festival.
The mojo is slowly returning. And it’s more than welcome.
(I’m also playing with watercolours, but I won’t inflict that on you!)