Happy New Year! I’m back. I’ve indulged in a long break. In fact, the longer I took, the harder it became to throw myself back into blogging and recipe creating. This year I’ve buried my head in the sand a bit too when it comes to ‘diet’ food or New Year’s resolutions. I make resolutions throughout the year. I constantly try and stick to things, and I fail, so I set new goals and targets and start again. It’s never just a January thing. Besides which, it’s far too grey and cold outside to think about salads or healthy things or fresh starts. I still want to hibernate and eat pancakes and wrap myself up in a big blanket. The funny thing is that the two most popular recipes on my blog so far this year have been my Healthy Hot Chocolate Breakfast Smoothies and my Nutella Bread Pudding with Leftover Christmas Panettone. So I’m thinking, that whilst half of you are searching for the good stuff to help you along with diets and food resolutions, half of you (like me) want to prolong the festive sweet-fest, invoking the excuse of finding ways of using up all the tempting treats lurking in our cupboards.
My fridge isn’t helping matters much in terms of inspiring recipe posts. I mainly have two large tubs of sour cream to use up, lots of cheese leftover from a cheeseboard and two jars of Christmas mincemeat. A couple of spoons of sour cream found their way into my apple pancake mix and that’s used up some flour and lots of fresh apples, too. The cheese will get grated and turned into a relatively unhealthy macaroni cheese tonight. I’m not sure anyone can really stomach any more mince pies. My fridge rumblings have also indicated one other thing: that too much food goes to waste. A couple of jars of curry paste were well past their best and I found some jam I’d made early last year that had seen better days. Nothing major, but enough ‘odds and ends’ to make me think I need to buy smaller jars of pastes and jams, or learn how to make better use of my freezer. That could be a resolution, of sorts.
Aside from my fridge, a recent post by Dianne Jacob caught my attention. Dianne is a food writer and the author of one of my favourite books, Will Write For Food. If you are an aspiring food writer or blogger, it’s definitely a book you should add to your reading list. Dianne also writes a regular blog and in her latest post wrote about 3 Beliefs to Challenge in the New Year, focusing on turning around the negative self-talk that many writers are guilty of and that I certainly empathise with. We all have beliefs that hold us back; Dianne calls it the ‘inner-critic’ – the one who tells you that you are not a good enough writer or who fuels the belief that everyone else is doing better than you are. She asks what’s on our lists and challenges us to find ways of changing the negative to positive self-talk.
I’ll definitely be adding ‘banishing the inner-critic’ to my list. I do try, as much as possible to think positively. Often the problem is less about lack of self-belief and more about lack of time. But the more we complain about having no time, the less time we have! This year, I’d really like to focus on working on some new book ideas. I believe I have a couple of ideas that could work. But there have been knock-backs and it takes quite a lot of courage to come back from that and to keep plugging away with something new. So for me, 2014 blog-wise and work-wise will be about focusing and prioritising. I resolve to generally be more selective about what I spend my time on; to only write the posts and recipes that I want to write and to set aside at least one morning a week to work on book ideas as well as fitting in freelance projects.
It could also be time to reconnect with the original purpose of my blog, which was to ‘brighten things up a bit’ and to remember that I didn’t start blogging so that I could ‘host the most successful giveaway’ or ‘promote big brands’ who frankly have enough funds and marketing avenues to promote themselves in ways that don’t include taking advantage of bloggers.
I’m also bringing back my Simple and in Season blog event, as I loved the interaction that hosting a blog event created. It’s also a reminder that writing a blog is really about generating a feeling of community. Hosting an event also encourages me to go and explore other blogs who have taken the trouble to link up and reminds me that plenty of us share a common interest in using seasonal food to create interesting meals and treats. Like these apple pancakes, inspired by the pancakes my Mama would make at home as an after-school treat.
I find now that there is a certain pressure that has come with blogging; pressure to conform to the ever-changing rules and regulations of the World Wide Web, standards of photography are higher, bloggers are a lot more competitive. And there will always be criticism, too, by those who don’t quite understand what you do or why you do it, or who are perhaps a bit too afraid to take a chance themselves. Perhaps then, it is time to override both the ‘inner critic’ and the ‘outer critics’ and to focus solely on taking on creative and inspiring projects that we are most proud of. I’d like to simply continue to eat and share good food with a focus on seasonality and would like to focus even more on taking inspiration from my Polish heritage and from the food of my childhood.
I hope that 2014 is a good year for us all. I hope that bloggers continue to receive recognition for high quality work. I hope that anyone hoping to start a food blog starts one; as mine has opened doors I only ever dreamed it would open. I hope that my own little blog continues to be a place that inspires – both in the kitchen and through the written word.
I’ll be writing a separate post to officially launch the monthly Simple and in Season blog event. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for ‘Racuchy’ or Polish apple pancakes, using some deliciously sweet apples.
- 4 small apples, or two large apples, I used Pink Lady, Bramleys would be good
- 2 eggs, separated
- 125g/one cup self-raising flour
- 250ml/one cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Peel, core and finely slice the apples. Set to one side.
- In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, flour, milk, salt, sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Stir in the sour cream, if using.
- In a separate very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the egg whites to the rest of the pancake mixture and fold with a metal spoon. Stir in all the apple slices.
- On a medium heat, heat one tablespoon oil in a large frying pan. In batches, spoon some of the batter into the pan to make pancakes the size of American breakfast pancakes. Fry on one side until golden brown (about two minutes) before flipping over to cook on the other side. Transfer to a plate and continue cooking the rest. Add a second tablespoon of oil to the pan half way through. You should have enough for 12 pancakes.
- Serve the pancakes whilst hot, dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon.