I first fell in love with the quiet glories of winter in my mid-twenties. Before that I associated winter with prolonged bouts of sickness (hello recurrent tonsillitis), mine and Dave’s mum’s deaths (I know, sucks, right?) and a general feeling of etiolation (“pale and drawn out due to a lack of light, having lost vigour or substance; feeble” -the most wondrous word, yes?1). But since I decided to stop complaining, embrace the darkness and look at winter differently, I have come to adore this season. Yep, adore; strong word, there. (read more about how I did this here). So, I can say with great confidence that the single best way to embrace these short cold days is blessedly simple; cook delicious food, and have friends over; preferably both at once.
We hosted Christmas this year and I relished making the house warm and welcoming, full of decorations and wonderful smells. I wanted to put a little colour and cheer into this quiet January wintery month so hosted a simple lunch at my house for Ray and Charlotte. It turned into a bit of a power lunch with three of us sharing business ideas and excitement, sometimes at volume, all at the same time. It was hilarious, and just what I needed.
The Monsoon Gather range is made for tapas-like sharing, so I made a warm winter salad and some mushroom tarts. I didn't want anything too complicated, but I did want it to be nourishing (lord knows I need it this month!) I use Deliciously Ella’s recipe for ‘marinated kale salad’, I am not a huge fan of some of her other stuff but I adore this recipe. I added some roasted roots and it is absolutely delicious served warm.
I also made mini mushroom tarts, to my own recipe. I cooked an onion slowly, then once it was transparent and very fragrant, I added a diced leek and a punnet of sliced chestnut mushrooms and let them fry for 10 minutes or so. I poured about a half cup of Barista oat milk to add a bit of creaminess, then let is simmer and cook until everything was rich and creamy (10-15 mins or so). I then then piled it on to rounds of gluten free puff pastry (the ready-made stuff from Jus-Rol is accidentally vegan). And baked according to packet instructions, or until the pastry looked golden.
A January Table:
I have hosted a lot this month. For me, it goes hand in hand with staying indoors and cooking and hibernating by the fire. I hosted two wonderful workshops and some meals with friends, and there is a birthday celebration at ours coming up too. I have found myself reaching for the same Simple decorating elements each time.
For my simple January table, I laid down my stone coloured table cloth from LinenMe, used a couple of my favourite vintage wooden candle holders, and popped some simple winter greenery in small stoneware vases. I also added more greenery to the mantelpiece and lit candles around the room. This is simple and quick to set up, which I love. The platters add some very welcome colour and pattern to the table too, I love having bursts of subtle colour around my home in the winter months.
If you are also in need of a bit of a cheer up, invite some friends or family over, cook some delicious hearty food and spend a little extra time laying the table; it always makes things feel a little more magical.
This post is in collaboration with Denby, a brand I love working with. Of course, opinions are always my own.
P.S I have continued to be blown away with the reception that my January Book has gotten. Over 700 of you have now downloaded it (zomg)and I have had the most incredible feedback from people for whom it has really helped to find clarity for the coming year, pride for the year that has passed and togetherness with their partners and families too. Thank you all so much. I am busy thinking about how I can offer more of this content for you all!