A new year is beginning. It has the flavour of white pages where you can write freely, oranges in the morning and thoughts in search of form and substance. We are human beings perpetually chasing a new balance. The new calendar that you hang on the wall on the morning of January the 1st, still sleepy after the previous night’s merrymaking, and the untouched agenda, where you barely had the time to scribble down a few birthdays and your good intentions, those are the signs of a renewal that we are constantly searching for.
Set aside the Christmas holidays and the merry-go-round of lights, decorations and family meals, we begin a new year. Luckily, we are always the same.
The ideas far exceed the time that we will objectively have. To put some order in this cauldron of projects and intentions, we rely on words. Written, because ideas carved with ink on white paper gain in clarity and sharpness. Pronounced and invoked, because the spoken words are prophecies and a declaration of intent.
I chose the word that will guide me through this new year.
I chose craft because it reminds me of the workshops where the artisans spend hours perfecting the technique, finishing and polishing. Craft is humble, more tangible than art, but it retains a human warmth, dedication and commitment. Craft involves working hands. I want to hone my skills in cooking, photography and writing, learn the technique, breathe the practice, day after day.
We chose also a word for our work, a declaration of intent that helps us to line up the projects: the word sprang up effortlessly like snowdrops in the garden at the end of winter.
We chose seasonality.
We chose seasonality because this is how we eat. We embrace tomatoes in summer, when they ripen under a fierce sun. The best extra virgin olive oil is peppery and makes you cough when freshly pressed in autumn. The bitterness of artichokes and radicchio signals the arrival of winter on the market stalls. Eating seasonally is our approach to a sustainable lifestyle.
Our focus on the blog has always been seasonality and micro-seasonality, which is even more inspiring, because the agretti only make a fleeting appearance on the market stalls, we must be ready not to miss the pleasure to cook with them. You turn around, distracted by the asparagus, and instead of the agretti here they are the tender green zucchini.
Here on the blog you will find weeknight meal ideas and recipes with an Italian charm, written with enthusiasm and illustrated with passion. There is a nine-year archive with more than 600 recipes: this is what we like to do, what we can do better, therefore we will continue on this path.
There is also another seasonality, subtle and private, our inner response to the passing of time. There are small rituals and gestures that can help us to live intentionally, aware of the here and now.
The fresh basil leaves crushed in between your fingers and rubbed on your bare legs to keep away the mosquitoes have the same summer smell as a watermelon granita. Now you sit at the table with a coffee and a catalogue to choose the seeds to plant, in a vegetable garden with paths and patches or even in two pots on the window sill. It’s time to savour this winter, when the rhythms necessarily become quieter, when the evenings spent reading wrapped in a blanket are what our body needs most, before the carefree summer of adventures and excitement under a sky full of stars.
Living seasonally means appreciating the cold tip of your nose after an invigorating walk out in the cold, whether in a muddy country road or in a neighborhood street, among wooden front doors and shop windows. Let’s go outside and reclaim the natural rhythms of light and shadow, day and night, sweltering heat and biting cold.
I don’t want to live waiting for the next season.
I want to understand and enjoy the beauty that is here and now, in this January 2018, under a drizzling rain and a cloudy sky. Together we will find what is worth to be enjoyed and remembered, before filing with gratitude January and welcoming in February. A new month, a new challenge to being present and intentional. We will tackle these steps together, learning to make every day count, with an Italian touch.
For example, now, to choose my 2018 word I would brew a spiced hot tea, without cloves if possible as I only like clove in broth and panforte. I would light a candle, a plain one, its magic lies in the flame that dances on the faintest air draught. I would sit next to a window, immersed in the cold January light, with a pen and a piece od paper, to give importance and value to what I am going to write.
What is your word? How do you want to feel this year?
As in any good plan, you also need to take action.
How can I put this into practice? First of all respecting my own times. Then, in our case, taking the first real holiday in almost two years. As you read this post, we are on a train to the airport, destination Dublin. I’ll be back after 17 years, I can barely wait.
We have also some news.
We will always be here on the blog, where we intend to keep on writing at least once a week, sharing not only recipes, but also our lives. For us it is the content that matters: reliable recipes, lots of written words, photos where the hero is always the food, collaborations with clients we love and travel guides to our favourite areas of Tuscany.
We will pop once a week in your mailbox with the weekly newsletter, where you will find not only the links to the latest posts, but also insights of daily life, updates and work in progress.
You can also find us on a brand new Facebook group, Cooking with Juls’ Kitchen, where you can share your experiments and the recipes you made from the blog, questions and requests. The focus will be the honest and seasonal Italian cuisine, the recipes you want to make on a daily basis, something to inspire your weekly meal planning, a way to access Italian cooking, sharing this curiosity with other people. It will be a way to see the behind the scenes of the blog, to understand how we get to a new post and a new recipe.
Once the group gets off to a good start, we could also cook together recipes chosen by the participants, choose weekly goals, learn together the basics of the Tuscan and Italian cuisine with videos and Q&A sessions… Let’s start and see where curiosity and enthusiasm will bring us.
On Instagram we chose a specific hashtag, #myseasonaltable, where we will collect our seasonal recipes. You can already find some inspiration, usually our improvised lunches. They will not be structured recipes, just tasty ideas, a quick guide to what is in season and that abounds on the market stalls. Use it to share what you are cooking right now. We also opened a new profile, @myseasonaltable, where we will gradually repost some photos selected from those published with the hashtag. Find me there for last minute ideas. There are already a grilled radicchio and a pan of artichokes waiting for you.
Along with all these ideas, I felt the urge to write again, not a journal nor a blog post, a new book.
At the moment it does not have a definite title or track, it is just a notebook, a pen and a dozen densely written pages. Seasonality already permeates these first pages, I’m excited and inspired, I feel like I am writing again for the first time.
We hope to have you on board during this new exciting year, with your enthusiasm and your friendship. We are full of good intentions, we hope to be able to turn into action at least half of our projects! We’ll be back after Dublin, refreshed and ready to cook, share and eat!