I tend to think the mark of a good cookbook is when you find a recipe so good, and you cook it so many times, that after a while it just becomes a reflexive part of your cooking rotation. Except of course the problem with this is that after a while, you stop picking up the cook book. The recipe has become part of your routine, you take it in your own direction, you make changes according to whatever happens to be in your fridge that evening.
The japanese chicken with smashed cucumber salad from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite is one such recipe for me. The original page is soy splattered and and sprinkled with ginger, but since I knew how to make it back to front (totally delicious by the way), I had stopped picking up the cook. And then last weekend, looking for something interesting to do with some pork shoulder, not too carb heavy, I pulled the book back off the shelf again, and wondered why I’d stayed away from it so long.
We had spiced pork steaks with a fiery ginger mango salad on the side on Sunday evening which was just so good. I’ve never bothered to put mango alongside a meat before, and now I realise I’m missing out. We were so pleased with that one, the next evening we tucked into schwarma chicken with sumac onions and chickpea puree. I promptly ignored all the spicing instructions for chicken, switching mixed spice and turmeric for ras al hanout instead, loved the garlic heavy chickpea puree, and crunched my way through the thin onion. Perfect chilly summer evening eating.
This is such a great cookbook – it tapped into healthy eating just before bone broth and spiralising took over, and actually, it’s a much tastier way of eating. I love Diana Henry’s sensible, well-researched thought on what (and what not) to eat sprinkled throughout the book, and how the recipes are structured into seasons, to take you all year round.
While I’m not quite sure why I stayed away from this so long, it’s been a delight to rediscover this book – and assuming the forecast of 23C on Sunday holds, I expect the next recipe I’ll try out will be the greek yoghurt, honey and apricot ice cream.
It’s now under two weeks until I’ll be slogging my way around the Hackney Half Marathon and as I’ve been trying to cram in the last few training runs, I’ve switched to run commuting part of the way home. Yes: I have become one of the lycra-clad runners charging around London after work. And you know what, it’s actually not been too bad at all. But, like starting anything for the first time, there are a few tips for run-commuting I wish I had known before I started.
Plan your route: Strava’s routes feature has been an absolute godsend for figuring out a) where the most common running routes are, and b) how far my routes will be. You can save routes to load when you’re running, but since it doesn’t give you audio cues whilst you’re on the move, I don’t find it great once you’re out, so just make sure you’ve built up a mental map ahead of time.
Pick your backpack wisely: mine is… not great to say the least. It has no cross-body straps which means it bounces around as I run, and it’s shoulder straps are pretty thin which means they end up digging in. It doesn’t make running impossible, but it’s not the most comfortable run either.
It matters how you pack your bag: believe me, five miles with the underwiring of your bra constantly poking you is no fun at all. Spend an extra two-three mins packing it properly ahead of time and won’t have to deal with constant low-level irritation.
Don’t forget the small things: hair ties and face wipes in particular. I have definitely had to beg hair ties off my colleagues after forgetting mine when packing my bag ahead of time. So far I’ve always been able to borrow one, but save yourself the stress and pack them ahead of time.
It’s way more common than you think: in my head, I thought I would stand out bobbing along in my bright yellow backpack. But as soon as I hit the embankment for the first time, you encounter whole herds of runners using it as main highway. I’m not the fastest by any means, but I blend in pretty well.
When we got engaged, I was convinced I wouldn’t talk about weddings over here at all. But then it’s hard when it suddenly seems to take over so many of your evenings, and how can you not want to share what you’re happy about? As we’d hoped we managed to get ceremony and reception venue sorted before Christmas, but we popped back into the pub earlier this week and found it was even better than we remembered. We’ve booked our fantastic wedding photographer and the save the dates should be going out over the next few weeks. So really, it does all seem to be suspiciously under control. Hard to believe we’re already down to about nine and half months to go.
Between all of the bursts of wedding activity, these are some of the links I’ve enjoyed recently: