It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of wanting more: more money, a bigger house, a more expensive car, “better” clothes, handbags and shoes. I learnt a lesson I’ll never forget when I was 18, inter-railing around Europe on less than £20 a day. We were admiring the boats moored along the front in Monte Carlo. The owners who were sitting out on deck looked smug and were enjoying the admiration of the crowds. And then a boat about ten times the size pulled in and made all the others look pitifully small. It doesn’t matter what you have, there will always be someone who has bigger, better and more expensive. The question is whether you feel you need to compete or whether you can be happy with what you have.
I live in a particularly wealthy area and it can be a struggle sometimes to not envy what others have (especially where holidays are involved). But the cliché that money doesn’t make you happy is a cliché for a reason. And that is really very fortunate as there is not a lot of money in cakes… I would rather be baking, walking or at craft, ceramics or yoga than shopping, and for Christmas I was given a subscription to the magazine “the simple things” (so simple they don’t even need capital letters). Their strap line is “taking time to live well”. I love it. Although to live well simply and beautifully there is still a lot to covet, and a lot of money to be spent!
The magazine is full of beautiful photographs with incredible ceramics, linens and accessories: think Anthropologie and Annie Sloan, cottage gardens, Scandi style and wild landscapes. This soda bread recipe is from the April issue (although I think there was a mistake with the quantity of liquid required and so this is my version of the recipe as I made it). There was also an article on foraging and since reading it I have been looking everywhere for wild garlic to make wild garlic pesto.
I had almost given up on finding it near me when I found a small patch in the bluebell woods next to my friend’s house. I had a little taster and the leaves were so strong I decided maybe wild garlic pesto wasn’t for me after all… I think maybe I will give nettle soda bread or nettle crackers a go instead. Although I’m not sure about going for a walk in rubber gloves: perhaps gardening gloves will work…
500g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
150g Cheshire cheese
Two large handfuls of watercress
2 tablespoons full fat yogurt
400 ml milk
Set the oven to 200°C. Grease or line a large baking tray.
Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl.
Chop the cheese into small pieces and roughly chop the watercress.
Mix the watercress and cheese into the dry ingredients. Add the yogurt and milk and mix in.
Shape into the form of a loaf and tip out of the bowl in one piece onto the baking tray, using a bread scraper or spatula as it will be way too wet to knead.
Bake for around 40-45 minutes, or until well browned and it sounds hollow if tapped on the base.
Allow to cool on a wire rack (or eat warm).
This loaf makes the perfect accompaniment to soup.