I adore cooking (unless I’m exhausted). Beans and pulses soaking overnight in water, fresh herbs on a sunny windowsill, chatting with my husband or daughters. The scent of freshly ripped basil leaves or ginger or lemon zest invading my senses. Delicious.
All these things, and more, make a kitchen feel like home. The scents and flavours absorb my attention. It is my creative workspace, and interestingly, it is in my kitchen cooking up meals where I often cook up ideas for my novels.
I dream of a large open-plan kitchen with conservatory style ceiling, and an Aga for those chilly Winter months, with a huge old oak dining table for friends and family to gather around. But even in a regular kitchen, I feel at home with my tools and ingredients.
A few years back, I wrote The Mystic Cookfire. It was meant to be a small collection of favourite recipes I cooked when I was editor of The Mother magazine and hosted annual family camps. The book is anything but small, with over 280 plant-based wholefood recipes, and a whopping 434 pages.
In amongst writing my novels, I have a couple of other recipe books on the go. In My Kitchen, and Cooking by Degrees (recipes for university students). I hope you’ll join me as I share recipes (all trial and error, of course) on my blog from time to time. I’d love your feedback.
Beans are a fantastic source of protein, regardless of whether you adhere to a plant-based diet or not. It’s easy to soak beans (and by soaking them yourself you’ll be unlikely to experience wind like you would with canned varieties). Simply soak overnight, and rinse, then leave to soak some more until you’re ready to cook.
Pinto and Sweet Potato with balsamic rice Serves 6-8
500g dried pinto beans, soaked overnight (minimum of 12 hours), rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 peppers, chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 T tamari (wheat-free soya sauce)
4 bay leaves
4 T smoked paprika
2 T sea salt
1 T coarsely ground black pepper
2 t bouillon
4 T balsamic vinegar
1 T honey or maple syrup
1-2 cups water
Cook the beans until soft.
When done, rinse and leave to one side. Cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft, then add the sweet potato, bay leaves, and peppers. When softened, add garlic and paprika. After a minute, add the water and leave to simmer for a while until the potato is tender. Add the remaining ingredients including the beans. Adjust seasonings to taste.