A Big Day.
Today is spectacular milestone in the history of my blog.
It’s the day that I publish my two hundredth blog post. I can feel a huge surge of pride and satisfaction having created such a significant body of work. This is a very special moment for me, I feel a sense of joy, in recognition of the commitment required to reach two hundred blog posts.
I love a few stats, so here’s what 200 posts consists of, since 31st July 2014…
…not to mention untold hours researching, using social media or swearing at WordPress and my theme.
What have I learned?
A lot, I’ve learned a phenomenal amount whilst creating this blog. I have gained a heightened knowledge, not only about writing, photography, cooking and creating a blog, but about myself. My experiences take in the extreme-high serotonin rushes of social media popularity, along with crushing lows, when all I wanted was to eject my computer through the nearest window, without opening the window first.
The biggie for me is the commitment which this blog has shown. For many years of my life I committed to very little of any worth. Drinking alcohol was my biggest commitment, something I made sure I did at great length, habitually, every week from my teenage years onwards. However, I can’t say it brought me anything in life of any lasting consequence. Equally, I committed to several girlfriends, spending a lot of time in long-term relationships, but my ability to commit to the right one was severely lacking. As I look back on my life, I see a swathe of unsuitable relationships laying in my wake, although that is not to say that I didn’t learn from those experiences, eventually.
The one thing which I have never truly committed to, is anything that is genuinely good for me. Until this blog.
That may sound incredibly dramatic, after all, I’m simply putting nice words and pretty pictures on the internet, how can a blog really be that important? After the first few faltering months, unsure where I was going with it, I have reliably posted, almost every single week, regardless of holidays, illness, work or study. I have honestly committed to ensuring I create something for myself and publish it online, every single week of the year.
It feels like my first tentative experiment in vulnerability, which I have also learned is key to finding happiness. For many years I assumed that vulnerability was a weakness, because we talk about vulnerability in terms of where things can go wrong, how something can be attacked or comprimised. That’s not the case, being vulnerable is the greatest gift to creating human connection that we have.
If you’re unsure what I mean, then watch this video of Brené Brown talking about vulnerability, it’s a powerful message to hear.
That’s the kind of vulnerability I’m talking about.
Exploring the Unknown.
What keeps me going, is the fulfilment my creative self gets from writing my blog. I can truly indulge my own thoughts, ideas and desires without being clamped down by a client, their brief or constraints that ‘real world’ work puts on me.
Without those contraints, I’m free to create whatever I wish, which also means I have to find my own way of doing things and set the schedule. There is no pre-set structure in the development of this blog, nobody is there to tell me what to do. Which is where the vulnerability comes in. I made a decision to commit to this blog, to unleash the words, recipes and images I create for it into the world, with no idea if I would get anything back.
Vulnerability is about speaking first, about putting yourself out into the world, without knowing what response you’ll get. That’s exactly what this blog enabled me to do. I’ve been able to put myself forward and commit to something which has no obvious outcome, no rewards and no clear future. It’s about doing it because I want to do it, because I know that I enjoy it and it’s great for my personal growth.
After that deep introspection about my feelings about blogging, let’s look at some food! I recently saw an Ottolenghi recipe which featured roast broccoli, which was new to me, so I decided to play around with it and discovered it’s a revelation! It’s a great way to cook this green, adding a welcome texture which can easily be ruined by boiling. Coated with garlic and olive oil, along with slightly crisped and browned edges, it brings a completely different flavour to this Brassica. Throwing in some chickpeas and a herb yoghurt rounds it off beautifully, making a truly engrossing vegetable dish to bring to the table.
Roasted Broccoli with Herb Yoghurt
By Gavin Wren
Uses a baking tray and a pestle & mortar
1 broccoli head
400g tin chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, crushed under a knife, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 red chilli, finely sliced
20g parsley, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g plain yoghurt
Cut the head of broccoli into bite-size florets. Toss with the olive oil, garlic, chickpeas plus a grind of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
In a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin seeds to a paste. Add the sliced chilli and grind some more. Add the parsley and grind it all together to a mush. Add the lemon zest and juice, then stir in the yoghurt.
Serve with the broccoli slathered with the yoghurt mix.