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Welcome to What To Eat

by | May 4, 2023 | What To Eat

Stir It Up Favicon

Welcome to your weekly What to Eat (and in this case, what to do/see/drink because hey it’s January and we need all the excitement we can get).

We are almost at the midpoint of what is a very, very, very, very long month. So long it feels like two months. We are reigning in frivolous spending, eating for two, and drinking for three (ok, not you, but possibly me) and there’s a never-ending moratorium on gratuitous fun.

So in order to blitz Blue Monday (17th!)into oblivion,here’s the Stir It UpSpark Joy in January handbook:

  1. Get involved in other culture’s celebrations

Seek them out. Chinese Lunar New Year is next Sunday 22nd and I for one will be having fun with it. I’ll be making the best aubergines you’ve ever tasted Sichuan Fish Fragrant Aubergines(weirdly no fish in them) my new favourite Sweet n Sour Crispy Tofu (Brand New recipe in the bags next week) and possibly a few Potsticker Dumplings. Get some fortune cookies in (Ocado does them) and toast the New Year (again). Or take a trip to Chinatown– booking advisable. For Londoners, see Time Out’s Top 20 Chinese Restaurants for inspiration. Or get a takeaway.

When I lived in Glasgow, we never took any notice of Burn’s Night, but now I’m an expat, it’s become Something I Must Do. In lockdown, we ordered Burn’s Night Meal Kits for us and my parents and ate over the light of a laptop and a dodgy zoom connection. A lovely evening even if mother never quite forgave me for making her ‘cook’ 5 courses. These days even M&S do a Burns’ Supper. If Haggis makes you squeamish, try the Macsween veggie one– it’s really good. Get someone to stand up and perform “Address to a Haggis” without laughing. I draw the line at the dram- just.can’t.do.it. Like the opposite of Nike.

NB You are legally allowed to celebrate Burns’ Night if you’ve ever eaten shortbread.

  1. Get stuck into Fabulous January Foods

It’s difficult being seasonal in this country- anything we want is usually on a supermarket shelf regardless of the month so it’s hard to know what’s at its best. I’ll save you my musings on kale, cauliflower and jersusalem artichokes as I suspect they have limited joy for you, but just try the citrus in January- it’s sublime and should be slightly cheaper. I eat at least an orange a day through the first 2 months of the year- current faves are Wholegood oranges (so sweet! so juicy!) and Natoora Blood Oranges- only available at this time of year. And of course, the best cocktails call for citrus: Diffords Guide to the 20 Best Blood Orange Cocktails if you will.

  1. Surround yourself with nice smells

Often overlooked but you know it makes sense. I have an acute sense of smell. My most overused phrase is “what’s that smell?” It will feature on my gravestone.

Cheap: a pot of (blue, always blue) hyacinths.They take around 2-3 weeks to bloom from a tight bud situation in a warm room. Buy two pots at a time and have one inside and leave the other in the garden. As the first one starts to bloom, bring the garden one inside and buy another. Repeat until bored. Discard after the 2nd week of full bloom- they start to smell like bleach then, which unless you have a penchant for clinically clean living rooms, is not ideal.

Not so cheap: Candles: I fear you get what you pay for here. Here’s a thoughtful piece in the Telegraph (not behind a paywall) on the best candles right now. I do love a Diptyque though- Geranium Rosa and Figuier are my favourites.Coggleshave a candle sale on right now too.

And for goodness sake, cook something you love to smell… a pastry-topped pie, something with wine in it, something with star anise in it (try it in gravy), bake bread, a cake, some biscuits (with lemon zest in them). Anything that makes you smile.

  1. Make Hay While The Sun Shines

Ok, the weather is dull and gloomy and wet. When it’s sunny, carpe diem and just get out in it. Go for a walk, a run, a cycle. Take a flask of hot coffee and a piece of cake. Go to a public garden, sit on a beach, enjoy the sunrises and increasingly later sunsets.

Do this and next year you’ll be gagging for January. Promise.

Jacquie x