Life recently has been finding sings of spring on every walk, shooting pictures of blossoms with my phone, a lot of new t-shirts, going out with frequency higher than during winter months, but also our kitchen reaching a whole new level of messy, hence - hardly any cooking because nothing, not even extra kilograms, is as discouraging in the field as a pile of dirty pots. I also caught a bad cold - me and weather-inappropriate dressing go waay back - so this week was also all sleep-ins and watching Friends. There are also some things causing worry/anxiety, a lot of questions which are by no means necessary but I can't help asking them prematurely. And so much disappointment! I've promised - myself, but also to others - to dedicate more time to exercise, but it's not going too well. And very time I leave the house, I see people, fit and clumsy alike, running laps around our neighbourhood, so guilt has been poking me regularly there says. And my lists of to-do are just getting longer and longer, with hardly anything crossed off. I keep on returning books to the library late yet never opened. But at least I managed to do the laundry today.
There is something about the change of seasons causing increased motivation and willingness to make plans, but my/human body and mind need some time to adjust and having to take things easy leads to frustration when paired with that, ahh, it's spring and the world is beautiful and I can do anything. So, in short, there's a lot of nice stuff going on, but just as much nasty. And, as often in times like this, I reached out to chopping and stirring to feel better. I had to man up a bit and do the dishes, but seeing an empty sink felt like an accomplishment in itself.
The recipe for the chutney comes from the most beautiful cookbook in my collection, On Apples, written by a Polish blogger behind White Plate, Eliza Mórawska; a volume which offers more than just recipes, being also a collection of sensational photographs, looking at which I can't help but think, this is how I want to work when I grow up. There are words - soft, intentional - to which I can relate: the childhood stories, the anecdotes about first cooking attempts, descriptions of experiences which feel exclusively Polish - take even our love for apples. How can you not be excited by a fruit that can take from a cold, Northern country to an exotic place where a combination of ginger and raisins is a norm? You try a teaspoon of this chutney to check for seasoning and the heat in your mouth transports you to a place drained in sunshine, a place where things are slower, and you feel better, even if just for a minute.
(adapted from "On Apples", Eliza Mórawska)
(makes one 350ml jar)
2 large apples
1.5cm piece of ginger
50g raisins (I used a mix of raisins and cranberries)
75g / 1/3 cup dark sugar
75ml / 1/4 cup apple vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
salt and pepper to taste
on photos, served with:
1/2 cup cooked buckwheat
1/2 cup cauliflower florets, boiled then fried in a little olive oil
a pinch of fresh mint
Finely chop the onion, grate the ginger, peel and dice the apples. Combine all in a heavy-bottom pot with a fitting lid. Add the vinegar, sugar, raisins and mustard seeds. Cook on low heat for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Transfer to a clean jar and keep in the fridge, where the chutney will keep for 2 weeks.
I had it with buckwheat and cauliflower, but it would also be great stirred into lentil soup, a bowl of otherwise plain rice, spread on slices of roasted aubergine.