Hello friends. It’s been a while. Things have been good, I’ve just been working hard, I won’t bore you with the details of things but unfortunately the blog here has suffered. I do love writing here, I always mean to, but sometimes it feels like when you’re a child and contemplating getting on the escalator, the steps seem to be going just a touch too fast and you watch the steps forming, meaning to get on each one as it comes up, but it takes you a few to finally do it.
Anyways, things are nice here. This is the first winter since I can remember that my mood hasn’t always matched the weather: bleak and gray, a little bit rough and bare and vacant. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but seasonal affective disorder always kind of gets me, I can be prone to ruts especially in winter even though ours here in California is quite mild. I take lots of vitamin D/K2 blend (this one if you’re curious), I am always low in vitamin D in my blood tests and this one really helps, especially in the cold months. In addition, this year I’ve made it an absolute sticking point to go for a walk each day, no matter if its raining, windy etc which is pretty easy when it doesn’t ever snow where you live. We most often go late afternoon, during golden hour when the sun is low and getting lower, tinging everything golden, including my mood. If you live where you can’t get out and your mood is affected, light therapy can help a lot. Often, your insurance can cover costs for such things, too. Take it seriously if you do have SAD and seek help. Mental health is not a joke nor something to be embarrassed, shamed about or shoved under the rug.
What’s helped so much too is shifting perspective, this year I consciously decided that I would make a point of finding, seeing, searching for the beauty in things. Even though winter is not my favorite season as a summer baby through and through, I started noticing things. The beauty of the tonal grays and browns in the landscapes. The way you can see all the kinks and gnarls and stories in the skeletons of the trees, it feels intimate, like peering into someones purse. Noting and drawing parallels between the themes of death, introspection, hibernation, rest, and applying them into my life- it’s the perfect time to slow down and reevaluate now so when rebirth comes in spring, things are fresh, stripped down and not weighed down by staleness.
California is gorgeous, always, and even though the landscapes may be less colorful than normal, the market sure isn’t. This weekend, we were supposed to hike with friends and it ended up with a storm ruining our plans, washing them down the drain so to speak, and I was in a pretty bad mood about it. I had been really looking forward to getting out, its a tradition we keep every year on the superbowl, my silent rebellion against something I’ve always detested. After I pouted a good part of the morning, we headed to the market in a nearby town and my mood was lifted. Something about food, markets, that connection to such a primal pleasure, always makes me feel good. A rainbow surrounded me- carrots in every color, all kinds of potatoes, sunchokes, greens of all shapes sizes and textures, saturated colors of citrus galore, really a huge abundance, with the rain coating everything and making it glitter and glisten. I came home with the mood lifted and things to cook, the fridge full and a certain satisfaction that comes from having good things to eat.
I had picked up a lot of root vegetables, fitting for the season, jeweled beauties living underneath the dirt, ready to be pulled when you are. Turnips, multicolored carrots and radishes, sweet parsnips, sunchokes. I decided to cook them in a creamy sort of sauce, like a gravy I guess almost, along with white wine, thyme, pepper. With a pile of mashed potatoes or some good crusty bread on the side and a nice green salad, perhaps a glass of wine, you’ve got a nice full meal. I thought I’d share the recipe here- I’ve been testing and cooking so much for the ebook that I haven’t been sharing much here.
Right. So lets cook: turn some good music on (my favorite cooking playlist is HERE), pour a glass of wine, cut up the veggies and sear them in a nice wide skillet. You’re going to reduce some of your wine with them, add in the flour, add the broth, and let it simmer to cook through, adding more water or broth as needed. Then add in the beans to warm through, and serve. Easy. Enjoy and stay warm. xx
root vegetable stew
This is a lovely and creamy way to serve humble root vegetables. It can also be turned out into a gratin dish, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and run under the broiler till the top is toasty. Serve with a simple salad and some mashed potatoes or bread for a light dinner.
1 shallot, sliced
3 medium turnips
8 small radishes (1 bunch)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced fine
3/4 cup white wine, like sauvignon blanc
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 cups broth, plus more as needed
1 cup cooked giant white beans or 1/2 cup cooked chestnuts
salt + pepper
to serve: a few tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Peel the carrots and parsnips and slice lengthwise. Halve the radishes and quarter the turnips.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the vegetables in batches, with salt and pepper, so they get browned and golden on the bottoms. Remove from pot and set aside. In the same pot (don’t wash it out!), heat the onion and sauté until translucent and a bit browned, about 10 minutes.
Return the vegetables to the pot and add the wine, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle over the flour and thyme, and stir very well to combine, cooking about 1 minute. Pour in the broth and stir well, scraping up any stuck bits from the pot, reduce heat to low.
Let simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened. If the veggies aren’t tender but the sauce is thick, add a few splashes more water, stir, and recover, cooking until they are tender. Add the beans and stir well to combine.
Taste and add salt as needed, then divide between plates, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.