But January is not a month to be too hard on yourself; eating well shouldn’t be confused with austere eating. When the weather’s bleak and cold and even getting to work is a struggle, the food you eat should lift your spirits, be simple to prepare and re-energise and revive you with bright colours, intense flavours and interesting textures. Comfort food in the form of a hearty stew or warming soup made perhaps with a stock from the remains of a chicken you roasted earlier in the week doesn’t go amiss either. Grim self-denial achieves little but failure and resentment. Eating should be a pleasure, not a penance so give some thought to what you are eating and then enjoy what you choose.
This is what a few of us at Cactus Kitchens will be doing in our own kitchens in 2017:
Laura wants to perfect Laksa; Anna intends to bake her own bread all the better to smother with mashed avocado and chilli flakes for breakfast; to experiment with different porridge toppings and to recreate “the amazing Mexican style soup that I enjoyed in Guatemala years ago – nothing has come close to it since.”
Harriet is looking forward to vegetables (overlooked as a side dish for too long) taking centre stage; to making the most of her leftovers and what she finds in her fridge and cupboards; to eating more sustainably and experimentally.
Rosie our resident wine buff is eager to explore more Cremant, the Champagne-style French regional wines, she sampled on her recent trip to Paris. Elizabeth wants to keep her sourdough starter alive and to do more advance meal planning.
Beyond the kitchen, The Palomar is still on Anna’s list, as is a return visit to The Hardwick in Abergavenny for the food and the ambience. “I’d love to head to Colwyn Bay to try out Bryn Williams’ newest restaurant by the seaside. And when I next go home to Liverpool I really want to eat at The Arts Club.”
Harriet will be visiting more food markets; KERB was a 2016 highlight and she’s looking forward to Street Feast in Canary Wharf and Time Out Market in Spitalfields. Next time she’s at home in Yorkshire she’ll be heading to Norse.
Elizabeth can’t wait to try out the tacos at El Pastor and sampling more produce (cheese and charcuterie especially) from the UK’s artisan producers.
Start the year as you mean to continue. With an array of skills-based courses coming up, there’s never been a better time to learn to cook. If you found a Cookery School voucher under the tree, put it to good use now.