Comfort and joy
Every year I forget how miserable January can be, and it takes me by surprise with its cold dark days and grumpy ways. Post-Christmas winter is a lot less fun than the chilly days leading up to the holidays, when the first frosts seem sparkly and exciting, and I come in from the cold to a flat full of fairy lights and mince pies. In a belated bid to stave off the January blues I have signed up for 100 happy days, a project where you take a photo of something that makes you happy every day for, you guessed it, 100 days. You can follow my photos on instagram, if you like, or sign up yourself here. It seemed like the perfect way to put my instagram addiction to good use!
In the face of so much January-ness one photo a day isn’t quite going to cut it, so I’ve been working on lots of ways to boost my sagging spirits. Old holiday photos are pretty good, as are board games with friends, glittery nail polish, and the Great Sport Relief Bake Off. And of course, comfort food has a part to play here too. I’m set up for lunches this week after making a huge pot of this soup, as suggested by Susan at Mess in the ‘Ness. Healthy but hearty, I’d suggest you cook some up too.
Sweet potato and spinach dhal (recipe from New Covent Garden Soup Co)
1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat, and fry 1 finely diced onion until nice and soft. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp chilli powder and 2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated. I always just used the stuff in a tube as I can’t stand the smell of fresh ginger on my hands. Stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
2. Add 250g red lentils and 900mls vegetable stock and stir really well to mix all the spices from the base of the pan. Add 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, 1 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets, and 1 bay leaf. At this stage I added around another 40omls of stock but I think my potatoes and cauliflower were unusually large. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
3. Stir in 200g fresh spinach and simmer for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted. Then eat some, tub some, and fill up your fridge and freezer with delicious dhal to brighten up some weary work days.