Slowing down the pace in the kitchen
The general slowing down of life in winter has become a luxury.
As I stare out at the new garden with the turned earth ready for planting, I dream - not of new growth - but of wrapping up in warm blankets for a nap in the wintery sun.
The truth is that as romantic as the cooler weather is - the flattering cut of a winter coat, the smell of leather gloves, the appeal of fireside chats - there really is no time to enjoy any of it.
Baby-wrangling, vacuuming, sheet-changing, drop-offs, pickups, husbands to feed, work to do, IRD, GST, Internal Affairs, ACC, driver's licenses, birth certificates, book sales and photo shoots.
Even with all of that my life is probably less busy than most. Fitting in the things that keep me sane like sitting by the sea, time with friends or or yoga is hard at any time of the year but short days don't help. I need cunning beyond my sleep-deprived brain's abilities.
It is during these manic times that I turn to Italian food. The Italians are so appreciative of food that they created the slow food movement.
Initially seen as a way of honouring and preserving Italian food traditions, it now works to protect food internationally.
Beginning with a protest in 1986 to prevent a McDonald's being opened on the Spanish Steps in Rome, the slow food movement has spread around the world and its last conference in Turin boasted attendees from 95 countries.
Ultimately, preserving unique (and delicious) food traditions is, in my opinion, another way of saving the planet.
The best way to prevent humans living off a diet of modified corn is to encourage the enjoyment of foods requiring local and diverse plant and animal life.
With Italy in mind I look forward to watching Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan journey from Liguria to Capri in the film The Trip to Italy; great food, comedy and a bit of a nod to the romantic poets.
My trips to Italy while at cooking school in London taught me how to sit in the sunshine and dine slowly, to enjoy a wink from a waiter and appreciate a compliment.
Today when I hulk out a slab of mince and pull down a tin of tomatoes from the pantry, I can choose to wallow in the mire of relentless family meals or lift my game and match the bolognese of my travelling exploits and memories.
This slow-cooked bolognese is both glamorous and clever.
I use the slow cooker so that I don't forget about it and burn the house down, or even just burn the pan. (The stove for three hours works fine if you aren't absent minded.)
The tamari counteracts the slow cooker. I find food cooked in these machines often needs a little zap added - be it lemon juice, vinegar, soy or a slug of something alcoholic.
The bolognese has well-browned mince in its first step, and the long slow cooking adds melt-in-the-mouth goodness.
Here's hoping that for one meal a day, life just might slow down.
Sunday Star Times