Picture a beach house, the waves crashing under the deck. Add a book, one you are really engrossed in, and a couple of dogs demanding to frolic in the sand twice a day. Some yoga on said deck every morning. The closest supermarket requiring a car and some time. And then follow the image all the way to the kitchen: seriously, who feels like cooking?
Garlic is an interesting vegetable. Its flavour and pungent after-effect divides people into those who do ‘do’ garlic and those who don’t ‘do’ garlic. I used to be one of the latter – loved the taste, but the smell would suffuse my body for days after I ate it. I could feel it fizzing in my blood. I was once sent home from my Saturday morning job at a clothing store because of the aroma I was emitting. “Love garlic too”, said Vaughn, “but let’s face it darling, garlic and fashion just don’t go.”
I took a ridiculous amount of pleasure in finding a few scraggly-assed plants in my little veggie plot in McG.
Actually, to call it a veggie anything is a stretch – but it is there and it is ground and it has a couple of things growing in it, so it qualifies in my book. By the time you read this – it will have had a full overhaul and have been dug through and fertilised and well watered by Jan-the-gardener. And he and I would have planted cauliflower, beetroot and butternut seeds and split the garlic chives, spring onion, spinach, mint, peppadew and baby onion lurking along the edges, to see if we can get them to flourish. We will also have tenderly buried some sprouting baby red potatoes – donated by sofadad.
This week we are going to tell you about some fabulous food we had during our most excellent vacation in NYC. We are not going to bother with the restaurants that let us down (yes Shake Shack, we’re referring to you) – because that would be the wrong way to remember our adventure. Instead we are going to tell you about some restaurants or food stalls that will have us remembering them with love, smacked lips and happy discovery.
camparigirl and I both love Mexican food. But the real, real kind – not the mushy-allthrowntogether-nonsense that passes for this fabulous cuisine in some parts of the world. She can’t eat cilantro – and both of us would prefer a more restrained use of onions – but when the ingredients are fresh and the spicing is spot on – there is nothing better.
I haven’t done much ‘from scratch’ cooking over the past few weeks. sofabrother is back on his Banting Diet (I refuse to use Banting or bant as a noun), and I have been travelling a fair bit … so home meals have been concocted from various bits and pieces left in the fridge. A favourite pastime of mine, as regular readers will know … using up every last scrap in the fridge or pantry to come up with an edible, preferably delicious meal. Especially when I want it ready in a hurry.
I had such wonderful plans for this post. I was going to showcase caramel in two different ways. One – a miso infused light toffee, poured into a delicate casing of dark chocolate. Topped with an orange infused disc of the same. The other – dulche de leche, baked in the oven from a tin of condensed milk. The latter burnt – while I was sitting on a sofa not 10 feet away. The former was runny and oozed out of its chocolate container.
“Epic fail Suzie”, as the Nans would say. In my defence – the miso recipe was followed to a T, and my ongoing sinusitis has wiped out my ability to smell anything anymore. But it’s more than that – I am having a bad cooking run. Nothing is coming out as planned. Even my tried and tested recipes. I made a potato bake on Saturday that used up scraps – perfect. I made it last night – using the same items, but fresh – and the creme fraiche separated and looked like fungal infection. Everyone ate it politely – but it wasn’t fabulous.
There is a woman at the McGregor market who is much beloved by all dogs. She has a teeny, tiny stand, topped with a wooden fruit box, filled with paper packets. Her whole vibe is unassuming. But you know there is something special going on by the number of dogs sitting quietly at her feet. Eyes glued to the fruit box. For in that wooden treasure chest lie …. dog treats. Her recipe is closely guarded – but she has admitted the inclusion of liver: “all dogs love it.”
In the pale dawn light filtering through the blinds, I slowly open my eyes and the first thought knocks on my barely awake consciousness: What day is it? Followed closely by: Where am I supposed to be today? This ritual has been repeating itself for the last few weeks, relentless, every morning, even on those few days when I am not expected to juggle any of my three current jobs (four, if we include the blog).