Simple pleasures – just add harissa
I must confess, that after the initial excitement of setting up my blog, I have been putting off the scary first post. It feels like it should be something big and important, a bold statement that tells you what I’m all about and why you should want to keep reading and coming back for more.
Today, I was sitting in the garden while I ate my lunch and pondering what grand subject I should launch my blogging career with. Maybe best to start with a classic, like the perfect Sunday roast, or perhaps something practical on using up leftovers… or I could be really controversial and discuss my love of tommy k with fish pie and macaroni cheese… As I considered, I found myself drifting off and instead, rather smugly, congratulating myself on my impulse decision to add a touch of harissa to the mayonnaise which accompanied the chicken leg and simple salad that I assembled for my meal (note of course that the chicken was leftover from the PERFECT Sunday roast I cooked at the weekend – you see where my inspiration comes from…)
Then it struck me, I don’t need to talk about something big and life changing (although it could be argued that the discovery of harissa and mayo with a chicken salad is pretty life changing…) The whole point of this blog is the happiness that food can give you – just the simple pleasures.
Turning a hurried lunch on the go into a mini moment of bliss
While I’ve been on maternity leave, I have mostly lunched alone. Even Seth is normally napping. I grab a quick sandwich while I get on with chores, which, while very practical, takes all enjoyment out of it. I’ve finished before I even noticed that I’ve begun. Any parent will remember the first few months and know that sanity lies in whatever precious moments of peace that can be found so I recently decided to make lunch one of those moments. I don’t mean that I’ve started to buy expensive ingredients and spend the whole morning in the kitchen preparing a lavish feast – of course that would be completely counter-productive and miss the point of just having a few minutes of simple relaxation and pleasure.
Take today for instance, my lunch was left over chicken and some salad – not that inspiring? WRONG! It only takes a little thought and care (and that doesn’t mean effort or cost!) to add a little something special…
The salad – this isn’t rocket (pardon the pun) science but just think of what you have around in the fridge, the fruit bowl, the cupboard or garden that might add a little je ne sais quoi to your everyday salad. My staple salad is lettuce (usually cos or romaine), tomato and cucumber. Just these 3 ingredients plus a simple dressing of white wine vinegar and extra virgin oil are pretty good but there are so many little additions that can turn it into something a bit more special. Try some of these:
Fruit – this is one of my faves. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but if you haven’t tried it, then do! I like melon, grapes, kiwi, apple and yesterday, I even tried nectarine, which was delicious. Just chop it up and add it in with the rest of the salad – the dressing above still works really well.
Herbs – pretty obvious right? Still, I don’t know about you, but I don’t always think to add herbs. When I do remember, I’m always glad that I have. Coriander adds a freshness that’s really, well… refreshing. Basil works well as an obvious bed fellow of tomato. Mint is another favourite. I sometimes add this to greek yoghurt with a little lemon juice and honey as a lovely dressing.
Cheese – most people have a bit of cheese in the fridge don’t they? Even if it’s just a spot of good old cheddar. Other cheeses that I like in my salad are feta, big shavings of parmesan and the dieter’s friend – cottage cheese. The latter works really well with prawn salad, in my opinion. Some people like blue cheese too I’m sure, but try as I might, I can’t bring myself to like it.
Nuts – I have to be careful with this one because my son, Jacob has a nut allergy, but nuts and salad are a classic combo and an easy way to make it a bit more ‘ta da!’
Avocado – luscious, creamy avocado. Why on earth wouldn’t you?
So anyway, my point is – take time to enjoy food. Don’t just eat it. Don’t settle for dull and drab – think what you can add to make it more memorable. For me today, it was harissa in my mayo. I’d never tried it before but I’ll definitely be doing it again! Don’t just eat and run – take a few minutes to savour your meal. Chat to your family and friends – or if, like me today, you’re eating solo, find a beautiful spot – if it’s sunny go outside if you can, or sit by a window or even just a painting or photo that you love and make your meal into a moment. A simple pleasure.