On a grey day, it can be hard to fight off the chill after a nature walk. Luckily, food can provide comfort. Here are some of my favourite ways to warm up with food.
If you’re feeling stressed, or want to get your blood pumping, bread is ideal. I experiment with different recipes (though have yet to perfect a gluten free loaf). I love the way the kneading and raising processes changes the way the bread feels; and the delicious smelling house as the bread rises (only bettered when it bakes). Warm bread with melting butter is the perfect treat after a walk – particularly when teamed with home made soup…
The secret to soup is time. A tin of tomatoes can become a luxurious feast when slowly cooked down with roast tomato puree (cook the puree until it goes dark red before adding the tinned tomatoes and a couple of tins of water, then simmer until the whole pot of soup has darkened). A pinch or two of salt will sweeten the tomatoes. I sometimes add a parmesan rind, rosemary, finely chopped chives or a random selection of herbs (mint and feta can be a lovely addition to tomato soup).
Carrots, swede and potatoes can be boiled up and blitzed to create creamy joy, or given more bulk with cabbage and beans thrown in. Soup is the perfect leftovers meal, so see what’s in the fridge and create comfort in a bowl.
There are times when only cake will do. I keep it simple by weighing the eggs, then creaming together an equal weight of butter and sugar, adding the eggs and sifting in the same amount of flour.
Sometimes I pour this mixture over pineapple rings and honey for an upside-down cake. Sometimes I’ll use jam or marmalade to create a sponge pudding cake. The cake also works well on its own, or drizzled with lemon icing.
Bread, soup and cake are the perfect way to reward yourself for getting out to feed the birds – and they’re perfect for sharing too…