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What’s cookin’, good lookin’?


This blog is apparently now just storage space for my twice-yearly bouts of FEELINGS. There’s nothing wrong with that — you guys know I love a good FEELING, even if I would prefer it to be felt by someone I made up, or who at least reported it to me over a post-work wine — but it’s also not that FUN.

I’ve been thinking about this, when not having feelings.

I’ve also been thinking about the amount I write. I write fiction before work, at lunch. I write for my job, 40 hours a week. I freelance after work and on the weekends. About the only thing I do that doesn’t involve piecing words together like beads on a string is cook.

I love to cook. I know most people, even many of the hobby chefs, find making dinner every day a grind. I don’t — it makes my day. It probably helps that I’m lucky if I get three nights at home a week (and by three I mean two) but, for me, cooking is my wind-down. It’s my release, my only real creative process that I don’t formulate in sentences, in stories. I follow a recipe or I make one up, I have a glass of wine, I put on some soothing One Direction…

It’s relaxing. It’s creative but not draining. It’s NOT WRITING.

Let’s change that!

While I was at my grandmother’s, I found my grandfather’s copy of the Yates Garden Guide. It’s dog-eared and tattered, annotated all over and stuffed with notes and newspaper clippings picked up over the 50 years he kept his garden. I flicked through it and thought about how much knowledge died with him. He knew how to graft fruit trees and build glasshouses and grow avocados in Canterbury.

I don’t even really know if it’s weird to grow avocados in Canterbury — I just don’t know anyone else who’s tried.

He had an acre of vegetables and fruit trees, and I spent a lot of my childhood watching him dig potatoes or shell peas. I remember him telling me how to get rid of aphids without chemicals, but I don’t remember what he said. He ruined supermarket fruit for me forever, and left me with this nagging sense that the way we eat isn’t the way we’re meant to.

I like to cook food and I like to eat food, but I also like to read about food. Y’all know I’m a sucker for the climate and gender issues, but what really gets me hot under the collar is food: the separation between us and it, the insanity around diets, the way it’s produced. A couple of years ago I read a bunch of Michael Pollan’s books, which kicked off a massive change in the way I eat and the way I think about what I eat.

I started trying to be more mindful of where I bought my food and how it had been treated before I got it. I annoyed my family and friends with tales of factory farming and nitrogen fertilisers. And I cooked. And I ate. And I listened to boy bands.

But, although I buy organic veges (sometimes) and free-range meat (always), I still feel like part of the problem. Not only do I have no idea how to grow any food, I don’t even know what season you’re supposed to eat it in. The supermarket gives me whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. The disconnect bothers me.

Before Christmas, I pledged this. It seemed like a good start — there’s now something in my kitchen that tells me which fruit and vegetables are in season, so I can get better about cooking with local produce.

At some point while I was paging my way through that 35-year-old garden guide, an idea started cooking. (YEAH I DID.) A way to revive my blog, share the recipes I invent that are worth sharing (assuming any are), and turn my ONE FUCKING NON-WRITING HOBBY into yet another word-wrangling exercise.


It’s recipe time, folks. I’m not saying I’m outlawing FEELINGS — I just think they could come with something delicious to eat. And maybe, if it works out, eventually I’ll try and grow that garden, and together we can have comical misadventures here once more. (I seem to have far fewer comical misadventures as I get older. I feel like this probably means I’m basically succeeding at life now — I definitely fall over a lot less — but it does mean I don’t have as much to blog about.)

Or maybe I’ll just think about it twice a year and then write something maudlin and self-serving. WHO CAN TELL?

My questions for you, gentle reader(s):

  • should I do this here, or start a new blog specifically for kai-based musings?
  • does anyone know the etiquette of sharing adaptations of recipes, especially if the original isn’t available online?
  • …that really concludes my questions. Those of you who aren’t tiny google-robots, please leave your responses in the usual places. And thank you for being here even though I’m lazy as ALL GET OUT and you should have found something better to read by now. Or maybe you have and I’m talking to myself. In which case…


Posted by

Writer of things. Annoyer of cats. Mother of very small dragons.

4 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I LOVE this idea – but I am not sure about whether to do it here or start a new blog. Helpful I know! Maybe start it on this blog and see how you go? Or do you think that if you started a new blog that would give you more motivation to do it more often? And then you could keep this one for all the feelings?
    I guess the thing with a new blog is that you’d have to think lots about what you want to include/exclude etc – whereas you could maybe feel that out here for a little while and then once you’ve got it a bit more sussed, then launch your new blog? I don’t even know. I have more questions than answers.

    I am with you on the food disconnect thing, it’s something I think about lots – and even more so now that I’m feeding a little one and am fully responsible for everything that goes into her wee body. Having said that, I usually only know what veges are in season because they are the things that Daniel brings in from the garden and tries to get me to incorporate into every dish for two weeks.

    Also, have you seen Nadia Lim’s first cookbook which is arranged by seasons? I’ve been meaning to get it for ages – but then decided the Food Bag was easier, haha.


    • Haha, Kelly – as always you sum up my own feelings perfectly. I think you’re right that I should at least start here, and then if it turns out to be a whole other thing, I can always move it once I understand what that thing IS.

      I want Nadia Lim’s cookbooks… I asked for them for Christmas, but Santa wasn’t listening. Oh actually, Santa gave me a Whitcoulls voucher, so maybe he just wanted me to do the legwork myself… 😉


  2. Good on ya! Do it here. Feelings and Food. Food and Feelings.
    I look forward to learning through you. 🙂

    And Katie… would you say this is the… ‘Story of my life’?


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