a rainbow on a “blue monday”

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today was apparently “blue monday.” I didn’t know this existed but I can understand it. but let’s not focus on the negatives, let’s try to focus on those little pleasurable things that make us happy. I know I always go on about that but it really is life changing! during these winter months being surrounded by greyer skies, chilly weather and bare branches I have managed to find a few little rainbows and rays of sunshine. amongst lovey-dovey acoustic song lyrics and cosy nights in with family and friends I have found comfort and colour in beautiful vegetables and fruits! what better way to add some colour into a gloomy day than through sunny lemons and rosy beets?

however, I am in no way, shape or form telling you that I ignore the beiges and the browns. after all, we need some warming colours too. the beiges and the browns bring wonderful things; they give the colourful a pillow to sit on, a blanket to be wrapped in; the beiges and the browns bring the cushion and the cuddle and the comfort. what is a sweet potato and chickpea curry without a heap of brown rice to soak up the sauce? what is a bowl of veggie soup without a crusty bread roll to mop up the bottom of the bowl with? what’s a delicious tomato and basil sauce without pasta to cling to and to cuddle with? what are bananas if not mashed into a moist banana bread or rippled through porridge oats? what’s a world without chocolate and cake and cookies? we need the beiges and the browns!

now excuse me while I go off on a fruit-veggie tangent and allow me to let loose a few little unrelated, random thoughts and photographs that I have gathered over the past few weeks. the disjointed-ness is perhaps not very “good writing” and the photos don’t match the writing but I kinda like them. when a thought came into my head I tapped it into my keyboard. when I saw pretty fruits or vegetables, I took a snap on my phone or camera. and this blog post is that. a compilation, if you like.

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*in january, we don’t crave lean and light food like we’re told we’re supposed to. it’s cold!  we crave large bowls of pasta and porridge and rice: food that sticks to the ribs and give us a cosy cuddle. in winter, we don’t want to enjoy our veg fresh and crisp and crunchy in a big bowl of green salad.  we want jammy caramelised onions and soft and sweet courgettes and peppers that leave crispy bits on the pan that we can unapologetically scratch off with a spoon or our fingernails. because the flavour you get from crispy bits is just divine. people, char your veggies so confidently that they set off the smoke alarm and steam up the kitchen windows – I dare you!

*who wants to chomp into a cold, hard apple when it’s -1 degrees outside? cook apples down and mix them with cinnamon to make a delicious mush that sits under a crumble or a buttery pie pastry top.

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*top tip: I like to chop my pile of colourful vegetables next to a big beautiful brown bread loaf. as if creating a rainbow on a roasting tray and making it shine with a drizzle of fruity olive oil wasn’t satisfying enough – now tear off a chunk of bread and pop it in your mouth – oh, delight!

*charred and blistered brussel sprouts and leeks with curling blackened leaves sprinkled with cinnamon and cumin and ground coriander, sweet with aromatic spices and caramelisation. these are pretty good I guess.

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*these are the days to play jenga and scrabble at 9:30pm before you head off to bed for an early night. when it’s not your turn you should be reaching over to a tray of hot, roasted chestnuts and cracking open the shells to reveal the sweet, chalky nut. we burn our fingers, but this is a sacrifice worth making.

*if you don’t have a little bulge (or a big one) right where your trouser button sits then, in my house, you’re not doing winter quite right I’m afraid.

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*if you must eat it, eat your kale not raw in a cold-pressed juice but wilted into a hearty, tomatoey soup in a jumble of beans and carrots and other lovely things. a hug for you.

*my goodness – roast your cauliflower until its so tender it practically melts in the mouth. 200 degrees celsius. cut a head into florets. toss them in a tbsp of olive oil and season. roast in the oven covered with foil for 20 minutes. take off foil and roast for another 25. switch off oven. leave in the hot oven an hour or so. my goodness… the most delicious thing I promise you, I promise you. the parts of the cauliflower that were touching the tray go the most beautiful shade of brown and taste so sweet you can’t believe. cauliflower is my new obsession. I am in love.

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*don’t forget. vegetables can satisfy that sweet tooth too – rich and muddy beetroot chocolate cakes, soft and spicey carrot cakes, courgette cakes studded with golden sultanas and vibrant green pistachios… this is making me hungry. time for a baby clem or two.

*and finally, an ode to little clementines. so special at this time of year. I like to think of them as little fairy lights that brighten up cosy nights in and make them even cosier! perfect as they are. jolly and joyful in their juiciness and their popping capsules of citrus sweetness! the ritual of sticking your thumb into a baby clementine, peeling it open, breaking apart the segments and offering one to the loved ones that sit around you is almost as sweet as the baby clems themselves!

in a round up of my January eats, at the end of the month, I will share with you all the wonderful things I created with these fruits and vegetables but for now, from me and my baby clems, good night and sweet dreams.

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