I am often asked why I put so much effort in to cooking and how I find time to write, photograph and publish this blog. I have been wondering the same thing myself lately. I have just finished 2 weeks of study time, cramming in an amazing amount of information into a sluggish and aging brain. But yet, instead of being sensible and filling the fridge with Marks and Spencer ready meals, I continued to cook our everyday suppers most nights and some treats too. I make the time because it is important to me. Yes, I could eat ready prepared food and it would be nutritious (mostly) and quick but it would not satisfy my soul. This blog may look like a collection of recipes but that is wrong way to look at it. This blog is about my cooking and cooking is about my life, not a list of recipes… I made this dish because I needed cheering up, I made this dish because it was January cupboard clear out, I made this cake for a special event. And so in my way, I am writing about life, my life.
Cooking makes me happy and happiness is an art and therefore requires practice and concentration; a different type of concentration to my studies and day-to-day work but no less demanding. There are few true masters of happiness but we can all dabble, practice and improve. Like art, happiness is ‘in the eye of the beholder’ so whether something makes you happy or not is your choice. Food and cooking makes me happy so I continue to play with it. And the photography too. Also I am not hugging person and being an introvert it is difficult for me to express my care for other people except through my cooking for others and so this has become a tangible way of loving them. I hope they appreciate that. Cakes taste better if made with love.
I thrive on being busy, when everything (especially emotionally) is in balance. Give me a challenge and I can think of nothing better than running with as far as I can, or until something better comes along. At school I was told I couldn’t do three sciences, so I did; I was told it was too hard to get into vet school, aim your sights lower, so I aimed higher; I was told I was just average and was bullied so strived to prove I wasn’t; I was getting too comfortable in my job so I aimed for a postgraduate certificate. And this blog is part of this journey of my life. I laugh at the photos I took just 18 months ago but look how I play with light now! But it is not easy and I constantly have to push myself to improve and currently this means getting up for work an hour early so I get the photography done in the short daylight hours of a British winter. No 12 hours of sunshine here, unlike the blogs I follow that are written in sunny California.
Go find the happiness and importance in all you do.
I had meant to make these in time for Valentines Day. But it didn’t happen. I suppose part of me despises the crass commercialisation that comes with Valentines Day; the shops fill with pink and heart shaped things and ugly teddies and over priced flowers and cards with sickly sweet sentiments and overpriced heart-shaped food in a restaurant packed out with courting couples. So rather than have one overblown day of the year, my husband and I reaffirm our love on a regular basis with a simple ‘I love you’ when getting in from work, a spontaneous gift, a box of home made truffles…
120ml double cream 120g good quality plain chocolate 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon golden syrup cocoa powder flavouring (optional) - orange liqueur, coffee liqueur
Place all the ingredients (except the cocoa powder and flavouring) in a double boiler pan or a pyrex bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. The key is to make sure that the mixture is heated very gently. Stir occassionally until almost fully melted, take off the heat and stir until fully melted and smooth and glossy. Stir in your chosen flavouring if wished.
Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight until set.
On a small plate, sift a good dredging of the cocoa powder. Have a second plate nearby. With a teaspoon (or melon baller of you have one), scoop out small scoops of ganache, roll quickly in your hands until roughly spherical, drop on to the cocoa powder and roll around until covered. Store on the second plate. If the chocolate ganache is turning into a sticky mess, cool it down by sitting it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so and cool your hands down (under a cool running tap if you can stand it).
Once made, store the truffles in the fridge and eat within a week. You can customise these to your favourite flavour by adding a dash of spirits or flavourings to the mix before it sets. Or alter the outside by rolling in desiccated coconut or cocoa nibs.