The garden and Nigel Slater

Today’s post was going to be on a sample I’ve been … sampling. But it’s not working. The perfume never settles well enough on me to write something useful or interesting. In fact, it makes my eyes hurt and makes me feel a little bit ill.

So instead, as I needed to come up with something, we’ll be looking at a weird mishmash of the relief of spring and Nigel Slater. If you aren’t familiar with him, have a look at Google or at Amazon for his books.

He’s a sort of cookery celebrity here but not in an annoying way.

In any case, Mother Nature keeps promising spring. The key word in that sentence is ‘promising’. Everything is leafing but we had way too much rain this autumn/winter (wettest period in 130 years) and nothing looks hugely happy. I am trying to coax things along but until the sun comes out for more than one day at a time it feels like the plants are holding their collective breath. My fingers are very crossed for the brown fig, the two roses, the apple tree, the jasmine, and the lilies. Very crossed.

I’ve got two dahlias sprouting inside the house plus some morning glory seedlings.

Anyway, that’s probably way more than you wanted to know so we’re back to Nigel Slater.

Why him? Well, he does food columns, cookery shows, and books – ie, he’s not a chef (based on his own description) but rather a Cook, with a capital C. One of the book series he has published is called The Kitchen Diaries. These loosely follow his own diaries which meander through food shopping, cooking and baking plus some commentary on his London garden (designed by Dan Pearson, who does really interesting things and is quite dishy as well: and his house (I love my house – and my garden – but if I was gifted with something like this I definitely wouldn’t say no: ) .

Anyway, I’m on number 2 of The Kitchen Diaries, the sections of which are arranged over the 12 months of the year. He meanders through what he cooks, what he does in his garden, where he shops (local farmers’ market, Middle Eastern ingredients from Edgeware Road, the fancy fishmonger I used to go to when I lived in London), how he was refurbing his house.

These books give you ideas – all kinds of ideas, not just food – and make you want to actually carry through on those ideas. I really appreciate that kind of writing.

Another things I love about Slater is he has a breakfast ritual which he discusses at length in the first Diaries book (a lot about espresso, toast, sometimes miso soup). I too am breakfast obsessed (maybe my favourite meal) and have a ritual — which I now get to draw out as I’m retired but mine revolves around sourdough, olive oil, kefir, sunflower seeds, water and Ceylon tea.

So, that’s where my head is. I’m awaiting some Convolvulus mauritanicus with light blue flowers to trail over the front wall and a purple dwarf buddleja because the butterflies have never been that interested in my garden (thankfully, the bees like it) and I want them to take a second look when they fly through.

I made some dark chocolate discs from one of Slater’s recipes where you melt the chocolate, drip it on to greaseproof paper, ping with some salt flakes, candied orange & lemon peel, and nuts and stick in the fridge for an hour. Very more-ish. I used his sourdough recipe for my first starter which is the only one that resulted in decent bread and I’ve made his ludicrously easy soda bread with seeds.

Back to perfume next week.

Pics: Pexels and mine

  • Tara C says:

    Breakfast is my favorite meal as well. I make a huge bowl of strong black tea with milk and a thick slab of toast slathered with salted butter, jam and sometimes almond butter as well. I make my own challah bread for the toast. Just now I made a batch of Irish cream scones for tomorrow’s breakfast, which I slather with Devon double cream and jam. So wonderful! I linger over my tea and read in the mornings.

    • cinnamon says:

      Oh, my, scones with cream and jam. The local farm shop here has a wonderful strawberry and rose jam.

  • alityke says:

    Have you read his autobiographical Toast? There are recipes as well as his commentary.

  • Tom says:

    Well I love reading about food and gardens so I’m glad to read this. Sometimes you get a sample and it just doesn’t work.

    • cinnamon says:

      Agree on samples but for reasons not worth going into I expected this one to be stellar — which it wasn’t. When I’m between novels etc I read my cookbooks. The Slater diaries are sort of between a book with a narrative and a cookbook. Really nice balance.

  • Portia says:

    Hiya Cinnamon,
    Not perfume but decidedly satisfying.
    I’m not much of a breakfast person but have been known to eat cereal at all hours of the day and night.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Interesting how we are all different in our habits. I’ve never been much of a cereal person but really love breakfast. I have really strong memories of breakfasts when I lived in NYC because I almost never ate at home — always bought something from a shop on the way to work.

  • Dina C. says:

    Sounds like a good book and a relaxing ritual. I also like tea and sourdough bread. I’ve been exploring the low FODMAP diet for several months now and am still trying to find things I can eat for my meals that don’t take a huge effort. I enjoy watching slow-paced cooking shows as a source of inspiration too.

    • cinnamon says:

      I like rituals of different sorts and my current breakfast one really makes me happy.

  • March says:

    Whoa, that sounds wonderful, thanks! I’d never heard of Nigel Slater. I’m going to use your tips and find the first one. Please send us some of your rain. It snowed on and off for much of last week (lol) but there wasn’t much in terms of useful watering. Enjoying watching things come up in my new mystery garden space.

    • cinnamon says:

      I don’t think he gets much attention outside the UK , where he is very well known and popular. I have finished number 2 and am waiting for number 3 to arrive. It’s actually raining now — again. I would happily send you our rain. At this point all it is is annoying. Love what new gardens present.

  • SpringPansy says:

    Hi cinnamon, Nigel Slater sounds like my kind of author. I’m having trouble figuring out which of the four is his first in the Diaries series. Can you help me? I’d like to start with that one.

    • SpringPansy says:

      Never mind, I think it’s this one. The Kitchen Diaries : A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater. Not sure why I’m having trouble figuring it out! Anyway, thanks for the fun post. I’d love to read more about your own breakfast ritual as well.

      • cinnamon says:

        That sounds right. I have 1 and 2 (waiting for 3 to arrive) and 2 is labelled with Roman numerals. Ah, breakfast. Suffice it to say that if I don’t have something to do that morning I usually linger for a couple of hours.