I've always loved the shape of hearts. As a child I gorged on candy hearts and loved Valentine's Day more than Christmas. Friends and family buy me gifts and housewares sporting all manner of hearts. My favourite heart gift ever was a red heart, Lé Creuset cast iron casserole dish Richard bought me, our first Valentine celebration in England. I've used it more than any other cooking pot. At 2-liters, it's the perfect size for two. And unlike a lot hearts, it came with a lifetime guarantee. While the glossy sheen was lost long ago, I find it's well-used look enduring.
The heart shape has been with us since the middle ages. It gained in symbolism and popularity during the Renaissance. It's form likely took inspiration from many sources, including ivy, leaves, blossoms, bulbs and seeds, as well as the female body. Buttocks, pubic mound and flushed vulva are thought to have contributed to the romantic symbolism of the heart.
Sometimes I daydream about operating a retail business with beguiling heart art, pottery, cookware, tableware, housewares, decor, jewelry, accessories, food, and clothing under one roof. In realty retailing is a tough business and would sorely compromise the time I require for writing and making art. Perhaps if I had an accomplice as mad about hearts as I am, we'd convince each other to make a go of it.
I'm not a collector (says the woman with 39 pair of sunglasses and seventeen berets) but if I were I'd probably surrender to my heart obsession with a giant, sunken heart shaped bathtub for two and Emma Bridgewater's entire line of heart inspired pottery and housewares. It's easy to say I wouldn't get carried away, but who else buys heart marshmallows and serves them on a heart plate from her heart dinnerware collection?
I once tried counting all the hearts in my house. I never made it out of the kitchen, where in fairness most of them exist to add a bit of romance to meals.
Does an egg taste better served in an egg cup with a heart?
I have never understood why anybody would choose to eat out when cooking together at home is so much fun, not to mention worlds tastier. One of my favourite menus is also one of the easiest, perfect for a workday feast packed with flavour and goodness.
A handsome boneless beef rump roast, say 1750g (about 4lbs) slow cooked in a bottle of Guinness with onions and horseradich sauce, is just thing for a cold winter's night. Serve as sandwiches in crusty French Rolls, with a side salad of crispy lettuce, adorned with this blue cheese dressing, and you have my idea of the perfect meal.
Blue Cheese Dressing
Combine 150g/about 5 ounces of your favourite blue cheese (I use Saint Agur for it's creamy texture) with 200ml/about a cup of Greek Yoghurt and 120ml/about half a cup of Rapeseed Oil. Mix well. If it's a little thick, add a bit more oil. Ideal with Little Gem Lettuce, Romain Lettuce, or Red Chicory.
Slow Cooked Beef Rump Roast with Guinness and Onions
I usually make pot roast in the slow cooker overnight while snoozing. This recipe is very forgiving and only requires about a half hour of your time. While I find few things more delicious than a hot roast beef sandwich with au jus on the side, this roast is also perfect for serving with Yorkshire pudding, roasted carrots and potatoes; beef and ale pie; shredded beef tacos or enchiladas.