When we first started our weaning journey over a year ago, I chose the baby led route because I wanted meal times to be easy. The idea of handing over a pear or slice of bread, moving on to chicken drumsticks and eventually plates of the exact same food we were eating as adults appealed as a simple option and seemed like the best way to avoid fussy eating or multiple meal making. To a large extent I’d say it’s been a success – Nino’s a hearty little eater, loves his veg and asks to try almost anything in sight – but I’d be lying if I said it was plain sailing over here. There are days when foods are rejected, forced on whichever unfortunate soft toy he’s lined up as a mealtime companion or thrown on the floor. Like any normal mother, I often cook the things I know Nino will like, especially if it’s someone other than me feeding him. And although he’s pretty handy with plastic cutlery nowadays, he’ll still insist that I spoon food into his mouth or ask me to cut something that could easily be bitten in two on a pretty regular basis. Continue reading
Three years ago to this day, we walked out of our wedding ceremony to the cheers of the congregation, rings on our fingers, Nat King Cole’s L.O.V.E dancing in our ears and joy in our hearts. I married you because you make me a better, happier, more confident me, for your easy charm and endless capacity to love. I thought our wedding was the happiest day of my life until we found out that Nino was on the way, then came the day that he was born, then every single one since: that happiness dial keeps tipping as our family expands. Continue reading
Ever since we found out about Nino’s heart condition, I’ve listened to love songs with a different set of ears. A broken heart takes on a totally new meaning when you’re concerned with the actual anatomy. If love alone could heal, our baby boy would be better than brand new, but the reality is that the way to mend a broken heart is open heart surgery. Last week we were finally given a date of Wednesday 13th April for Nino to be admitted, so if you’re the sort for sweet thoughts, prayers or positive vibes, we’d more than appreciate any you can send over his way. Continue reading
To my darling boy,
Today your Dad and I celebrate our eleven year anniversary. Not of getting married – we did that just over two years ago in Kew Gardens under blazing sunshine and surrounded by all of our favourite people in the world: I’ll show you the photos when you’re big enough to roll your eyes and be bored and embarrassed by them – but of meeting for the first time. We were twenty, at university, fresh faced and with no idea what would happen in one year – let alone eleven – except that we seemed to have fallen in love.
We talked about the future from fairly early on, not marriage and kids and mortgages in any sort of sensible grown up way, just a mutual understanding we needed to be together, and that everything would turn out all right if we had each other in our lives. When conversation did turn to children, we knew we wanted lots of you, couldn’t wait to see what would happen when our features and personalities combined (my eyesight, Luke’s ears please) and even had a favourite boy’s name long before you first appeared as a kidney bean-sized heartbeat on the ultrasound scan. Continue reading
Remember those tiny pots of Petit Filous you’d eat as a child? The flavour of this mousse is not dissimilar, served in glasses and sprinkled with hazelnuts as a nod to grown up sophistication. It’s mousse, so the texture is creamier, but it still reminds me of childhood puddings. Blackberries are all but gone from the markets by now, but if you can sneak a punnet or two before the November frost creeps in, I’d recommend making this mousse. Continue reading
‘The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…
[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.’
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating Continue reading
When I was fifteen I got my first mobile phone. Not your standard smart phone with fancy apps, a camera or even a colour screen; just a pink-cased Nokia brick which I used as a sort of portable telephone box to call my parents. Friends were contacted using our good old-fashioned landline and the internet (including the joy of MSN Messenger) accessed by via our clunky home PC. I didn’t spend much time online and any baking we did was inspired by my Mum’s extensive collection of recipe books, magazine cuttings and a little bit of imagination. Continue reading
One of the strange things about writing a cookbook is wondering where my recipes will end up. I don’t necessarily mean the tables that they’ll grace or mouths that they’ll feed – although I’m completely fascinated by that too – but the way in which people will interpret what I’ve written, reinventing their very own versions of the flavours I eat and enjoy. Continue reading
My first book deadline is just a couple of weeks away and my fridge and freezer are groaning with food, my recipes are out with an army of testers and I’m finalising the ingredients and anecdotes in every spare moment. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, here’s a sneak preview of some of what I’ve been working on. Continue reading
We spent this weekend just gone at my parents’ house in Italy (yes, if you clicked the link, I’m finally on Instagram and a little bit addicted, come join me!). High in the Tuscan mountains with little more than the sun shining above us, trees around and valleys below, we had time to reflect on the important things in life. Love and family and food featured foremost, with pretty much equal emphasis on all three.
Leaving lessons in love and family aside, let’s focus on the food. There everything seems to just taste better, from freshly podded borlotti beans to creamy mozzarella cheese, ripe tomatoes, leafy greens and the heaviest of melons, sweet flesh replete with juice. Continue reading