I’m not going to talk about the usual new year weight loss imperative after a festive season of excess, although suffice to say that the hedonistic husband and I are committed to a few weeks of two days fasting until the surplus pounds have slipped away. Suffering from my usual post-Christmas attack of catering fatigue, my first few weeks of 2017 have been focused on finding some new things to liven up our family meal times and relieve the monotony of meal provision.
Never one for traditional New Year resolutions, the contrary maverick in me was briefly tempted to order in another case or two of delicious wine and spend January eating only takeaways or supermarket ready meals with a red traffic light dominance. I got as far as one expertly negotiated Indian takeaway upon our younger daughter’s return from the school skiing trip: Austria has great scenery and slopes but has yet to embrace the notion of vegetarian cuisine! Anyway, the request was enthusiastically and extravagantly executed and we probably consumed more calories and saturated fat in one sitting than in any single celebration meal during the Christmas period. The guilt the next day was sufficient to disavow me of my dastardly plan and set me thinking about how to re-energise my enthusiasm for cooking while keeping us on the diabetic straight and narrow.
Obviously, the usual nutritional principles needed to apply. Light on calories, GI, sugar and saturated fats, heavy on fibre, vegetables and all the good things. Any new meals would also have to satisfy the hedonistic craving for bags of flavour and large portions; the harassed food provider’s need for meals that can be prepared in advance and served in multiple sittings and the vegetarian daughters’ aversion to flesh.
After an uninspiring google trawl for something suitably hearty and warming on a particularly cold and frosty day, I changed tack and decided to look for a new cookery book that ticked all my boxes. The next day, Anna Jones’ fantastic book ‘A Modern Way to Eat’ arrived on my doorstep and from the very first page I felt like I had found a new friend. Unashamedly vegetarian, incredibly healthy and nutritious, her food also manages to be wonderfully tasty and satisfying. The ingredients are unpretentious, easy to procure and prepare and beautifully combined to create something special.
That very evening we were tucking in to the first of her delicious and almost effortless recipes. This dhal was the perfect Friday supper, which the hedonist and I enjoyed a deux, after walking the pooch in a biting icy wind, in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass of red wine. I haven’t stopped cooking from Anna’s book since, apart from fast days and crazy days, so expect to see more of her amazing food in my pages soon.