In the week before Christmas I realised I had become hugely dependent on chocolate. Like an alcoholic who needs to keep topped up throughout the day to stay functioning, I was at the point where I was reaching for the 72 % proof almost as soon as I got out of bed (and I was getting up seriously early). So on Christmas Eve I gave myself a stern talking-to and since then, apart from accidentally eating a choc-dipped ice cream, I've been chocolate-free.
For the most part it's been extremely easy and it wasn't until I was watering the garden last night that I realised why. Just before Christmas we spread sackfuls of cocoa bean husks over large sections of our garden and for most of the ensuing month it has smelled like Willy Wonka's place.
The cocoa mulch was the idea of this clever gardener and it comes from the Whittaker's chocolate factory 20 minutes away (though we buy it from here, if you are keen to get some). As well as smelling amazing - for a while everyone who walked up our path arrived at the house expecting some sort of chocolate extravaganza) - it's very good nutrition for the soil and it's good for the gardener because it suppresses weeds. You can use the sacks it comes in as weed mat too! The fact that it totally nullifies any desire on the part of the gardener to eat chocolate for breakfast has been an unexpected bonus.
Have you been doing anything creative with chocolate this month? This month's We Should Cocoa is all about using chocolate in recipes that don't contain any cane sugar - I'm looking forward to see what people have come up with. In the meantime I'm going to content myself with deep sniffs of the chocolate in my garden (and making miniature wine glasses from the chocolate wrappers discarded by everyone else in my house).