Adventures in mental health and cheffing

  • Hash for Lunch

    Today I made hash for lunch. I just needed to use up the potatoes and the deli meats left over from Christmas. I hadn’t thought about hash in a long time. Not so a few years back.

    This restaurant seemed all about hash. Best seller at brunch and lunch. The prep was never ending. It was hash prep that resulted in me getting a bollocking for being ill. I was ill. Too ill to be in work. It was acknowledged that I was ill and still I was shouted at for cutting the chorizo too slowly. I defended myself. Of course I was working slowly I felt really ill. I was told not to answer back. Just like a child. I was a woman in my early 30s at the time. In a place of work.

    “Don’t answer back”

    Everyone says that kitchens are better now than they used to be and of course that is the truth. Maybe though the bad old days are not as old as I think.

    The hash was delicious though. I roasted the potatoes with paprika and oregano. I fried the bacon, the salami, the chorizo until it was beautiful and crisp. The eggs were fresh, organic. Blissfully golden yolks. Just a little hot sauce. It was comforting after the cold morning. It took me no time at all to cut the chorizo.

  • Coming soon…

    Our daily bread..

    I’m going to be starting a new series in the new year. ‘Bex Basics’ where I’ll be sharing some of my favourite basic recipes and techniques. Please comment if there’s anything you’d like me to feature!

  • Did you ever?

    Sit on a bench?

    And cross,

    Your ankles,

    Behind you?



    Right them again?

    Just in case.

    You forgot.

    Got up,

    And fell?

    And sometimes you just trust the joy your body provides.

    This is something that has been on my mind a little bit as I have been getting better. Anxiety is, of course, a mental illness and yet I have always been fascinated by the way it affects me physically.

    A panic attack for me always starts in my fingertips. That one back in the summer was so bad I could barely walk.

    I’m better now. A lot better than I have been for a long time.

    Still frightened to cross my ankles behind me though!

  • Blessed are the Dishwashers

    For all my favourite KPs

    Everyone who has ever worked in hospitality knows that a good KP (that’s a Kitchen Porter for all my lovely non hospitality readers) is the backbone of the kitchen.

    Chefs are OK. Trust me I know I used to be one! But what is a chef without a clean pan to cook in? Without a clean plate to put it on? Here’s to the good folk who keep the kitchen moving.

    I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible KPs over the years. All ages, from all over the world, from all walks of life. It’s a tough job. Not everyone can do it. It’s hot, it’s wet, it’s cramped. It’s constant physical activity. The chefs always need something. ( Demanding lot as they are!)

    A good KP is a joy to find and a pleasure to work with.

    I have been out of the industry long enough now to start feeling a bit of nostalgia. I am home from work again at the moment. Yeah I’m not going to have Mental Health in the next life thanks. I’ll give it a miss.

    Seriously, though, I am on the mend once more, and I will be back to work on Monday.

    Today, though, I made a chocolate cake. For old times’ sake, I thought I’d have a go at some sugar work. I am pretty rusty, but I did manage a couple of spirals and some threads. Beaming with pride, I fired off an excited photo and message to T.

    Then I started cleaning the kitchen. First, the dishes. Now I am pretty sure I apologised to every KP I have ever worked with when I brought them a caramel pan. Today I apologise again. Guys! I am sorry. Caramel pans are the worst!

    Blessed are the dish washers.

  • Tagine for a Troubled Soul

    Tagine for tea boys.

    How’s your day been lovelies? If its been anything like mine it started out badly then got worse from there. As days go I’ve certainly had better. I’ve had worse too mind don’t worry.

    The old soul has been troubled today. Come 7pm it definitely needed a bit of soothing. Luckily slow cooked lamb tagine was on the menu. I love a slow cooked lamb dish and this tagine ticks all the boxes. Minimum effort maximum flavour.


    Lamb ( a large lamb shank was plenty for me and T) or use a half leg or a shoulder

    1 Onion roughly cut

    1 Red Pepper roughly cut

    1 Bulb of Garlic (but always with your hearts people, always measure with your hearts)

    1 Pack Baby Corn

    Handful of Dried Apricots

    2 Preserved lemons

    1 tbsp Molasses ( I used mulberry molasses but whatever you have is good)

    1 tbsp Tomato Puree

    2 tsp Honey

    Ras el Hanout



    Salt and Pepper (all to taste)

    1 Pint lamb or chicken stock

    Handful of ground or flaked Almonds

    Pre heat the oven to 130o

    Add everything except the lamb and the almonds into a tagine dish.

    Season the joint of lamb well and seal in a hot frying pan

    Put the lamb in the pot with everything else.

    Cook on 130o for 2 hours

    After 2 hours add in the Almonds and turn the oven down to 100o

    Cook for a further 4.5 hours until the lamb is fall off the bone tender

    Serve with cous cous or flatbreads or of course both! Who doesn’t love a double carb!

    If you don’t have a tagine dish a slow cooker will work just as well. 2 hours on high 4.5 hours on low.

    It’s good for you this one and not just because it tastes nice.

  • If looks don’t matter…

    Then why does anxiety have to be so ugly. Now we don’t take too kindly to toxic positivity around here. Don’t take too kindly to toxic negativity neither.

    OK hold on what was that first line again? Yes. I know! I know! That definitely sounds like a pretty toxic statement.

    There’s so much value tied into human beauty that the word ugly has almost become a taboo. When you dare utter the u word. People will rush to deny it. People will try to correct you.

    People. There they go again loving you.

    And once again I am not saying that they shouldn’t. One of my biggest troubles with trying to overcome my anxiety has been trying to move away from meeting it with scorn and contempt and moving more towards treating it with kindness and compassion.

    Cough cough, first line, cough.

    Yes thanks I get it.

    The thing is though is that anxiety can look physically ugly.

    When I’m slumped on my kitchen floor, with my unwashed and unbrushed hair. My ugly old grey dressing gown. My pale tear stained face.

    You can be kind to me (I mean please please do be kind to me.) I can be kind to me.

    But let’s be realistic here you can’t say at that moment that I look beautiful.

    This is the reality of what anxiety can look like.

    Anxiety can feel ugly. Anxiety can act ugly. Anxiety can certainly look ugly but what do looks matter? Let’s treat it with kindness anyway.

    After all whatever our mental health looks like aren’t we all worth more than our physical beauty?


  • Oh wouldn’t it… be adequate.

    Hint, yes. It would

    An adequate day. In an adequate neighbourhood. In an adequate city. By an adequate girl.

    So I’m going to be perfectly honest here. Mental health wise. it’s not been such a great week for me. On the surface I am fine. Logically I am fine.

    Nothing wrong. Just a normal human here. Yeah just me a human. Humaning normally. Nothing to see here.

    “It’s only a matter of time before they find you out you know”

    Thus spake my brain. All week.

    When nobody was looking.

    The thing about people.

    The one thing.

    About people.


    You can’t get away from this thing.

    The thing about people.

    Is that they love you.

    To people you are the stars in the sky, the light in the tunnel. The cream in the coffee.

    The problem is that I’m lactose intolerant. I of course am joking. But not about the lactose. That’s a serious matter.

    No the problem is not that people love you. The problem is that you are constantly told to love yourself.

    I have written about toxic positivity before and I have to say that the idea that you need to learn to love yourself . That to me is a top five answer.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t love yourself of course. If you do, that’s awesome. If I know you I’m sure I love you too. If I don’t hell I probably still do!

    This is the thing. I love lots of people.

    But I don’t really love myself.

    I don’t usually hate myself anymore either.

    When my mental health is bad what I aspire to be is a normal human. Humaning normally.

    What I aspire to do is look at myself in the mirror and say

    “Damn girl. You’re doing Ok”

    If loving yourself sometimes feels like a tall order then that’s OK. You don’t have to. Despite anyone telling you otherwise.

    Other people love you. I promise you that.

    To yourself.

    Give a little smile.

    Give a little nod.

    You’re doing OK


    Oh wouldn’t it…

    Be adequate!

  • The Sound a Squirrel Makes

    Another one for T

    It was on our walk.

    Sunday before lunch.

    This time we heard the squirrel.

    Before we saw it.


    I said to you.

    A bird?

    You asked.


    The squirrel.

    I laughed.

    There are days,

    That I regret ,

    Just how late we met.

    You smile


    I am good at.


    Not so much.

    We met.

    You said.

    When we were supposed to.

    Two years ago.

    We saw the squirrel.

    Before we heard it.

    Late as it was.

    We still have things that we learn together.

    Like the sound a squirrel makes.

    Hey Squirrel Friends!
  • If the Mario’s crew ever got hold of some of these rubes…

    In loving memory of Anthony Bourdain

    Yes indeed dear restaurant folk I know what you’re thinking. About time you paid a tribute. Rest in peace chef. You are truly loved and truly missed.

    If the Mario’s crew ever got hold of some of these rubes they’d have the fillings out of their teeth. So said the late great Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential of the kids he was at the Culinary Institute of America with.

    Chef Bex thought of these words and smiled a knowing smile.”They’ll get there she thought.” Chef Bex. She put a kind hand on a trembling shoulder. She said take a deep breath. She said, “the more you do it the easier it gets,” morning, noon and night. She meant it.

    Office Bex?

    Well office Bex is one of these rubes. Office Bex finished her new job training today. Office Bex starts her new job properly tomorrow. Office Bex is a little scared.

    Of course they won’t have the fillings out of her teeth. I mean for a start she hasn’t got any.

    Joking of course. It just isn’t that kind of place. Everyone is super nice. Everyone is supportive. A big day will always be a big day. A first day might be the biggest of all.

    But with the right hand on a trembling shoulder.

    You’ll get there.

    After all. The more you do it the easier it gets.

  • In praise of being up high…

    The high life

    Not what you’re thinking you naughty lot!

    Now we’re all settled (finally!) in our lovely new house Sunday walks are back on the agenda. Seriously they should never go away. My lungs still don’t really enjoy going uphill but every time my brain convinces them it’s totally worth it.

    You see I love being up high! Always have. When we were kids we used to always get Dad to park right at the top of the multi storey car park. It is a testament to his patience and his enormous sense of fun that he always did.

    In those days I used to run down the stairs. You won’t catch me running now of course!

    A few months ago me and T went to Cheddar Gorge. I loved Jacobs Ladder when I was a kid. I still love it now. Seven year old me of course went up and down a lot quicker than 36 year old post covid me. Frankly it was a struggle!

    But still. Its so high! That view is incredible. I’m grinning just thinking about it!

    When we were away at the Eden Project we climbed right to the top of the dome. It was amazing! Even in the tropical heat I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It was easier than Jacobs Ladder too.

    Heaven up here!

    Once I’ve got my breath back from the climb. Yes for the thousandth time cheers covid. I find a tremendous peace in being up high. Its like I leave all my worries at ground level.

    Take a breath my brain says. You’re here. You deserve it. I’m always grateful for these kind words from my brain. It doesn’t always have many.


    Race you to the top!


    You’re a bit late for a race.

    19 years to be exact.

    Go on. I’ll catch you up!

    Back down we go.
  • Shower Thoughts of a New Starter

    So much to take in!






    It’s in your bag.

    Where else did you leave it.

    This shirt.

    You thought.

    Just right for the office.

    You said.

    Until you saw it in…



    It’s me ya girl.

    The hamburglar




    Dear lord I left it on the bus.



    I won’t tell you again.

    It’s downstairs where you put it.

    Sorry if I seem a little jittery.

    It’s the acrophobia.

    You see.

    The office?

    Isn’t that high surely?



    Fear of heights.

    Oh is that it?



    You mean spiders?