A fresh approach

Nigel Slater is changing the way I think about food.

I have fallen into his book, Kitchen Diaries II, and become enraptured by every chapter. Frantic searches on amazon.co.uk have already taken place in my bid to own the first in the set.

Mr Slater’s description keeps me reading avidly. I’m a sucker for good description – my favourite book ever is The Wind in the Willows. Like Kenneth Grahame, Nigel Slater’s writing transports you and your sense through the page. I love feeling involved in a book. Plus, all of the recipes seem achievable so my involvement will soon be a reality.

But this is more than just a recipe book. It disregards the notion of food purely as fuel for our bodies. The way Slater writes about food conveys his sense of sheer joy at being surrounded by it. That passion is passed on to the reader and the delight of food carries on.

One thing that stirred my envy was the bountiful kitchen garden Slater has at his disposal. It got me thinking and the events that followed have become blurred. I was suddenly buying gardening gloves and containers. I loaded a trolley full of pots of fresh herbs. I had signed up to a gardening club? I have never been allowed to stretch my green fingers before and living in rented student accommodation means there are still restrictions. However, we are lucky enough to have a large garden with plenty of room for pots. Armed bravely with my wishful thinking and some compost found in the garden, I quickly fixed up this beauty.

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Now, I’ve probably put the wrong plants together or planted out of season or what have you. But I couldn’t be more chuffed with my efforts. And I was surprised about how cost efficient this set up was. Seeing as the compost was foraged and the container was from Poundland, I only had to buy the herbs which were really quite reasonable for the amount of use I will get out of them.

What better way to celebrate my new found access to fresh herbs than a simple dish. A plate of sweet potato rosemary wedges. My housemate has a Tefal Actifry machine which I stole borrowed for the evening. Free herbs, pence for the smidgum of oil, two sweet potatoes at 56p – we’re talking dinner for under a pound! Much healthier and cheaper than chip shop fare, and oh so delicious.

I branched out on the second night, combining fresh thyme and rosemary to my normal homemade tomato sauce. Gosh, what a flavour hit. This dish confirmed for me the difference between dried and fresh herbs and what all the chefs have been preaching. I feel enlightened.

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