Happy New Year everyone! As you can see I’ve had a little bit of a spring clean round here and updated my blog design to something a lot cleaner and simpler for the new year.
Last year I read a lot of posts about intentional living and becoming the best version of yourself, I spent so much time with my head in books (or more correctly an iPad) at the same time Dan actually went out and achieved it (he got a job in London last summer). Over coffee this weekend we discussed this post about new year reflection and I realised whilst I don’t have any strong regrets about 2013 I wish I had accomplished more.
In 2014 I want to knock a couple of big things of the proverbial 10 year plan. I want to become better with my money and stop frittering it away by creating a proper budget (for the first time). I want to travel outside the UK, I haven’t gone abroad in years so I want to make seeing the world a priority. I’d like to think that I am a polite person, but I frequently late which is so rude! So this year I want to become punctual. I want to say yes to more invitations, I feel like I am always so hesitant to accept anything. I want to continue practising the good habits I started last year and build on them.
2014 is set to be a fantastic year with friends weddings, lots of big birthdays and a steadily filling social calendar. I’m going to my first hen do in the spring, running in my first half marathon. We’re moving out of our flat of three years, which has made me increasingly weepy the closer we get to the date (we’re now down to counting the time in weeks). It’s really exciting to be moving on to the next chapter in our lives but our home has been good to us, and I’m sad to say goodbye to it.
As for this site, I have been beating myself up over it since it turned 2 in July, wanting to post more consistantly, and berating myself when I failed to keep up to the schedule I set, which happened nearly every week. It was exhausting! It made me resent blogging, which resulted in a lot of time spent staring at a blank screen getting nothing done. So this year I am going to accept that I can only comfortably post once a week and hopefully get some of my mojo back.
^^^ a couple of photos of soup and breadsticks from my Sherlock dinner party
On the topic of new things for 2014, I have become a little obsessed with the new series of Sherlock this week. I can’t believe that the BBC are showing all three episodes in just 11 days, it’s over so quickly. To celebrate the end of the winter break Dan and I threw a little Sherlock inspired dinner party for a couple of friends. As well as tuning in for the latest episode I created an 19th Century English menu (I love a theme) with gin and tonics (London Dry of course!), trifle for dessert and this posts recipe London Particular Soup.
Named after the thick ‘pea soup’ smogs of London – referred to by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as ‘a dense yellow fog’ this thick English soup is the perfect cure for the January blues. The recipe is very similar to the pea and ham soup I blogged last year, but uses dried peas instead, which makes it thicker a less watery. I found that using a ham stock rather than the chicken I usually use results in a salty soup, so it’s worth tasting the soup as you thin it and add water if instead of stock if it’s on the saltier side.
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recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the Guardian
For the Ham and Ham Stock
1 smoked ham hock, soaked overnight in cold water
1 onion peeled and halved
1 stick of celery leaves removed and roughly chopped
8 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
For the Soup
200g dried yellow split peas, soaked overnight
1 onion, diced
1.8l ham stock
freshly ground pepper
some left over boiled ham shredded
Discard the water the ham was soaking in and rinse under a cold tap.
Place in a large sauce pan with the onion, celery, peppercorns and herbs and cover with water.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, half cover and cook for a further 2 ½ hours, topping up the water if necessary.
Remove from the heat and the ham to cool in the liquid.
Strain the stock through a sieve and reserve for making the soup, adding more water if it tastes too salty.
Shred the meat into small chunks.
Strain the soaked peas and rinse until the water runs clear.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions in it until they turn soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add the peas and stock and boil until the peas are very soft (20-45 minutes).
Puree about ¾ of the soup adding more water if it seems to thick.
Return the pureed soup to the pan with the rest of the soup and season to taste.
Add some of the ham and warm through.
Serve sprinkled with a little extra ham and crusty bread.