Six with Seedlip
In honour of the six plants we work with to create each of our Seedlip Spirits, we’re putting six questions to makers and creators whose life and work is influenced by the natural world.
Anna Jones is an international best-selling author, cook and stylist who writes a weekly column for The Guardian. You may be familiar with her double award-winning book The Modern Cook’s Year.
Vegetables, cooking with seasonal ingredients, and sustainability arethe key elements of Anna’s cooking ethos and she believes that vegetables should be at the heart of every table.
Anna talks to Tom Harfleet, our Head of Nature, about taking risks, her favourite green spaces in London and what she likes to do to switch-off.
I. How do you enjoy nature?
I have made a new rule to myself that come rain or shine I’ll spend at least half an hour outdoors in nature every day.
I live in Hackney, East London, where we are lucky to have some open green space. I walk on Hackney Marshes up to Walthamstow Wetlands with my son. It's about an hour’s walk and you don't feel like you are in London at all; there are even cows.
I also try to get out of London as much as I can. My husband John is a surfer, so we often head to the Cornish coast at the weekend, which resets us all.
II. Best decision in your career?
The best decision I made was taking a leap into the unknown. I went from a stable office job to working as a cook, and this was 15 years ago, well before being a chef or a foodie was considered a legit career, unless you liked Michelin-star style cooking. My salary was next to nothing, the hours I worked almost doubled, and I went to bed most nights with every bit of my body aching from working so hard. But I was doing what I loved and with a bit of hard graft and a dose of luck, I've turned that cooking job into the career I dreamed of. Take risks.
III. How do you keep yourself inspired?
I try to find inspiration in the everyday. Before I was a Mum there were more dinners out and more trips to far-flung places. But these first few years with a young child mean I’m at home a lot, so inspiration comes from different places; like trying to get a meal cooked with one hand in 30 minutes. But I find these recipes are actually much more useful to people than a complicated curry you ate on a trip to Burma.
IV. Dead or Alive: who would you most like to go for a cocktail with?
Both my Nans.
My Dad's Mum, who we called Mam, had 12 children. She lived her life, for the most part, as a single parent. Her husband died shortly after number 12. I want to ask her how she did it.
My Mum's Mum, who we called Grandma, was another single parent living on very little and ostracised by her Irish Catholic family. She looked like a movie star and was always immaculate.
They both died when I was about 10 but I would have loved to have had an adult chat with them. I do feel they have passed some of their grit and strength down through the generations.
V. How do you switch off?
My favourite way to switch off is jumping in the sea. I love the pins and needles feeling on my skin after a dip in the cold water. Though in January and February I do usually wear a wetsuit. I love surfing for switching off too. I'm still very much a beginner so it takes all of my concentration and leaves little room for anything else. When I’m in London, I try to get to the Hampstead ponds or the lido near me for the feeling of being in water. It's not quite the same but I still find it very calming.
VI. Tell me about something you’re working on?
I am working on my fourth book at the moment. All my recipes are vegetarian, most of them vegan. They will be quick, life-friendly recipes with sustainability underpinning them all. It's not out until Spring 2020.
My third book The Modern Cooks Year, which has over 260 recipes for cooking seasonally with veg at the centre of the plate, just came out in America (it's been out in the UK for a bit longer). I have been travelling all over the US cooking and eating.