I hope that you’re keeping well and having a nice start to the weekend. My partner has had a nagging cold all week and is finally starting to feel better, but I think we’re still going to take it easy. Really hoping that the sun will come out at least a little bit. The nonstop grey days definitely take their toll after a while!
I plan on making Meera Sodha’s potato and chickpea curry and Cloudy Kitchen’s no knead focaccia, starting it Saturday and baking Sunday. Making bread and yeasted baked goods is my new low stakes hobby that I’m quite excited about. I have told myself for years that I’m bad at baking, baking is not my thing etc. I realized over the holidays that this wasn’t true at all. I also had reservations about a food-based hobby when it already takes up so much of my life, but what can you do! I truly love making bread-adjacent things, so whenever I have time on a weekend I’m going to make something and feel joy ✨
Here’s some weekend reading, feel-good things, and some questions answered below. I’ll mention again that I usually collect questions in Instagram stories with a question box, but you can also leave them in the comments of these posts or email me any time. Be well!
5 Things I’m Reading:
- What the Longest Study on Human Happiness Found Is The Key to A Good Life
- Living Well with Herbalist Rachelle Robinett
- Honey bees are not in peril. These bees are.
- The Domestic Spice Trade Is Just Getting Started
- Meditation could have positive effect on gut and overall health
5 Things I’m Enjoying:
- Vegetable roasting cheat sheet
- NPR’s Life Kit podcast
- Really love watching this person trim boxwood hedges on TikTok. It’s weirdly relaxing haha
- Also on TikTok: a fridge made out of Lego! With “ice” dispenser!
- I’m loving Move with Nicole’s Pilates workouts
- Meals for when you’re completely burnt out, broken and overwhelmed by life?
I have received a version of this question every week for the last couple months. It’s tough out there. The darkness of winter doesn’t help and folks are just tired and going through a lot. My advice is to keep it as simple as possible and to help yourself do one less thing if you can–whether that’s in the form of a store bought sauce/dressing, a salad kit, those little pouches of cooked rice, or even a pre-chopped vegetable if those are available to you. For a majority of last year, I really struggled to make dinner. I just had a mental block and deep frustration with it (and also some other stuff going on in life). Some of my go-to’s were so simple that I feel embarrassed sharing them on a website dedicated to recipes. Cooked pasta, drained canned chickpeas, jarred marinara, baby spinach wilted in (I always have this vegetable on hand), and chili flakes was a staple meal for much of last year because it was comforting, nourishing, and I didn’t have to think about it. Sheet pan dinners are helpful here too (I would Google “vegan sheet pan dinners” or something similar). You just put a bunch of veg, beans, tofu etc on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and seasoning, and the oven does the work. You can serve that with a little sauce or some pre-cooked rice. These types of meals have minimal cleanup, which is a nice bonus. Another recommendation is to use an Instant Pot if you have one. A lot of Instant Pot recipes are chop, drop, set the timer, and when it’s done you have a big pot of soup, stew, dal, rice and beans etc that you can go back to all week. My last suggestion here is to ask for help if there is someone in your life that you feel comfortable reaching out to for any level of assistance with this. Just the idea of asking for help may seem harder than trying to take on yet another thing on your own, but it might be one thing that really makes a difference.
- Is there a new book coming any time soon?
This is another question that I get every week, which I really appreciate. The short answer is no unfortunately. I’ve been really committed to sprucing up the website and making it as great as it can be. There is a backlog of things I need to do with my site before I feel comfortable starting on another huge project. Add to this the amount of content required to keep a presence on social media lately, a new recipe and newsletter here every week, life stuff… I just don’t have the time at the moment. I am slowly working on an idea/proposal for a second book though (somewhat inspired by some things I covered in the previous question), so we’ll see where that goes ♥️
- Do you have any favourite gardening organizations or publications that you read or follow?
I love so many of the UK gardening magazines (I read them with my Apple News+ subscription). Modern Gardens, Homes & Gardens, Country Living, and Gardens Illustrated. BBC’s Gardener’s World is also a great resource. I watch their programming with the Brit Box subscription add-on to Amazon Prime. Of course I recommend following Carol Klein and Monty Don on Insta as well. For vegetable gardening and cooking inspiration, I recommend following @urbanfarmandkitchen, who also has a book coming out this year (that I wrote the forward for)!
- Where did you get your flat wood spatulas that you use in your videos?
This is another question that comes up every week! They are the flat sauté sticks by Earlywood Designs. I love them and use them all the time. Their tools are all beautiful and will last a long time with good care/regular oiling.
- Do you prefer Winter over Summer cooking?
I like them equally, but do tend to cook with a bit more effort in the Winter! In the Summer, there’s so much local produce that doesn’t require much finesse to taste amazing. We do a lot of grilling and simple salads when it’s warm and the farmer’s markets are bumping. We’re also just a lot busier in the summer with family stuff and maintaining our yard, so we have less time to devote to cooking. This time of year is a lot slower, so I get to meditate on it a bit more, which I love.