My year of New Things has begun and my first scary challenge, I mean new experience, was horseradish. Fresh horseradish, not the stuff in the jar. It's something I've wanted to try; but never felt brave enough.
When I looked up how to prepare the root Mum bought, I have to admit to being horrified. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made the process sound like I was about to take my life in my hands. And I quote...
"It's not often this column comes with a safety warning, but I'm making an exception today. You're probably going to need goggles, or at the very least a well-ventilated room. Brace yourselves to tackle the fiery, sinus-piercing, eye-watering root, horseradish."
The idea of trying New Things rapidly lost its appeal; but I was determined to soldier on, not fall at the first hurdle and all those other clichés.
Following his instructions to the letter I donned my old swimming goggles (very old) and we sat on the patio to peel and prepare it. Hence this foolish picture; but I wanted to document the moment.
Now I'm not sure if Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall was joking and only foolish cooks actually put on the safety gear; but I did as I was told.
I don't think the precautions were strictly necessary. Don't get me wrong it had a kick when you caught the scent of it, a sharp, tangy, peppery smell; but it didn't blow my head off.
The ultimate test was the taste test and once it was all jarred up, we used it in a dressing for his recipe for Horseradish, dill and potato salad with salt beef (also on the recipe page). It was delicious; but I'm not sure I could taste a difference to the horseradish you buy.
We've used it in several meals since, including roasting a piece of beef a la Jamie Oliver and done some of his Money Saving Meals.
The horseradish seems to be keeping well in the fridge; but I don't think I'll be donning the goggles again anytime soon. It's just too much faff when you can buy it and the only effort is opening the jar.
As far as New Things it was much more daring than I had intended; but kicked the year off to a dramatic start.
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and author of The Choice. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.