Lockdown Lunacy

Blimey. Is everyone still sane out there? Here, I’m lurching between cooking and baking, reading and writing, trying to keep my creative mojo going whilst wondering just how much longer I can tolerate the new lockdown chic: I seriously look like the ageing lovechild of Simon Cowell & Prue Leith. It’s not even funny. In a bid to improve my look, I rashly dug out the dreaded Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred DVD and can highly recommend it if you want to instantly slip a disc and subsequently let yourself go completely.

I guess I’m lucky. Until last week, I was still working full time. Now though, I’m in my second week of furlough. Like I say, I’m lucky. I’ve managed to hang on to some positivity. Words are being written – 10,000 so far, go me! They might not be the right words but I shall pop them in a tupperware to keep them fresh and rearrange them later. This is more than can be said of the sourdough starter I, er, started. Why didn’t I know I’d need some fancy gubbins for the proving malarkey? Oh well. French banneton, Dutch oven. How terribly continental. I hope the Brexiteers don’t find out what I’ve been up to.

The whole sourdough starter thing has always terrified me, to be honest. I have this fear that the stuff will all bubble up, burst the lid off its cage and escape. Out of the kitchen, along the hall and out, OUT into the world through the letterbox. Forget Covid-19, the new peril on the streets would be this creeping yeasty beast, inching along while nobody looks before taking over other people’s worlds. It could happen.

Anyway, I had better go google my latest must-buy. To accommodate the unexpected purchase, we will mainly be eating hoover fluff and hedge clippings for the foreseeable. Oh, and just in case you doubted my skinflintery, here’s the cake I baked for my birthday yesterday: keeping it retro with a poor man’s Black Forest Gateau. It’s amazing what you can do with some out-of-date cocoa and a tin of cherry pie filling, eh?

Of Multicultural Confusion

I’m a Jersey girl, baking Cypriot pittas by the billion in my little Victorian kitchen in Suffolk whilst listening to Indian music on French radio.  No wonder my brain’s a bit wonky.

To be fair, the Indian music was accidental but such is the joy of FIP.  Never let it be said their music combinations aren’t eclectic: Miles Davis followed by Wham and then perhaps Manuel Volpe & the Rhabmontic Orchestra.   I love it.  But then I love everything French.  It’s my dark secret.  As I tap away here, the Greek God is whizzing up mint for tzatziki and marinating his pork (ooh er) for tomorrow’s souvlaki.  But naughty me is having secret thoughts.  French thoughts.  Ooh la la.

I’m surreptitiously working on the Greek God: in the spirit of ‘you are what you eat’, I’ve started feeding him all things français: jarrets d’agneau braisés au vin rouge last week (“d’you fancy lamb stew on Sunday, darling?”) and caviar d’aubergine:

Halve three aubergines lengthways and score the flesh in a criss-crossy pattern.  Bung ’em on a baking tray and drizzle with oil (I’m loving English rapeseed at the mo).  Grab six garlic cloves and squish them flat with a knife, leaving the skins on and put one on each aubergine half, along with a sprig of thyme.  Cover with foil; bake at 180 for an hour or so.

Take ’em out, discard the thyme and peel the garlic.  Scoop out the aubergine flesh and chop it finely, adding the garlic, S&P and a drop more oil if you need it.

I think I swerved international suspicion by serving it with pitta chips made from leftovers.  OPA!  Cheeky AND cheap.  What’s not to love?

Recipe swiped from the utterly gorgeous French Brasserie Cookbook by Daniel Galmiche.  Le sigh.  I love this book.