I started in this position at the end of May 2019 after many years working freelance as a recipe and photography contributor. During that time I also underwent some pretty massive life changes as my grown-up sons flew the nest, with my ex-husband following shortly thereafter.
After making it through that upheaval, I self-published my first cookbook, which I am hugely proud to say went gang-busters. In the past three years I have intermittently worked on my next book, and I’m thrilled to share one of those recipes with you below.
Rather than try to describe the premise of Stuck Together, I thought I would let my book intro do the work for me…
A few years ago I wrote a cookbook. Coming Unstuck was the outlet I needed to share the experience of the aftermath of my marriage break-up, sharing the recipes I cooked for the friends who listened to me, hugged me and let me fall apart in their living rooms. To show my gratitude to the people who gave me diversion, love and patience until I could gather myself to carry on.
I wanted to talk about the process, and my way of showing love through cooking, in the hope that both the recipes and words would resonate with others experiencing similar.
But, the thing is, it doesn’t end there; life goes on, becomes ‘normal’ again and then what? What happens next?
Stuck Together has been in my mind and heart for several years before making it onto these pages. It has been an ever-changing, fluid beast as I have navigated my way through life-after-divorce with an empty nest on the side.
At first I imagined it as some kind of victorious example that finding new love is possible. Or maybe a tribute to going it alone and how, ultimately, we have to rely on ourselves to get ‘stuck (back) together’. Or celebrating the sisterhood of new single friends supporting each other on our quest for who-knows-what?
And the truth is – it is all of these things. A stuck-together papier mâché of reasons to celebrate life.
Among these pages are many of my favourite recipes, the dishes I have made during a couple of short-lived dalliances, those I have imagined cooking for a long-term lover, and others that I have whipped up for a multitude of dinners with new and old friends.
Over the past few years my life has changed. I have moved house; started a new job; my darling sons, Pog and Hoob, have returned to my new (tiny) nest; and we have bumped around, working out how this different way of living works — establishing the line between being family and flatmates. Meanwhile, I have thrown myself into my work, which has presented a grand and alluring diversion from the absence of a significant other and the possibility that there might never be one.
And there it is. The big ‘if ’. What happens if this is it? If I ride solo for the rest of my life? Do I endlessly chase a relationship via Bumble or Tinder, or relax, as I am so often advised to, in the belief that something will happen when I least expect it? Neither. Or both – depending on which day you catch me.
Is it the end of the world if I end up as a ‘table for one’? No. Somewhere along the way I learned that we really do need to take each day as it comes in perpetuity, to celebrate the joyful moments, to comfort each other in the shitty ones, to stick ourselves and each other back together by sharing love, tears, laughter and, yes, food.
So here you go then — pull up a chair, let’s have a good old chat, a drink and something to eat together. We’ve got loads to catch up on.
Greek Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Oregano and Garlic
Come on now, who doesn’t love a roast chook?
1.7kg whole chicken
5 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 180°C regular bake.
Pat the chicken dry and squash the garlic cloves by pressing down on them one at a time with the base of a knife blade...or just bang them with a rolling pin. Halve 1 lemon and cut the other into quarters.
Put the chicken into a roasting dish and poke the lemon quarters into the chicken cavity with the garlic cloves, bay leaves, fresh rosemary and oregano.
Drizzle the honey, olive oil and lemon juice over the chicken and season well with salt. Pour the wine into the base of the roasting dish, add the lemon halves and tie the chicken legs together with a little cooking twine.
Cover with foil and roast for 1 hour.
Remove the foil, baste with the cooking juices and sprinkle over the dried oregano then cook a further 40 minutes until the juices run clear.
Serve with the bloody fabulous roast tomatoes and crunchy polenta spuds in Stuck Together cookbook.
Stuck Together is available at stuckinthekitchen.com and in all good bookstores.