Sunday, June 19, 2011

How To Eat

It's been a very long time since I last posted. That's partly because I've been busy trying to get into college, but to be honest, really it was because I think I was feeling as though I had nothing much to say. Fact is I made a lemon tart a couple of days ago, which came out beautifully and is currently resting in the fridge (I think I feel like a slice). Lemon curd is scarily easy to make and although mine came out a little more bitter than I'd have liked it was pretty darn good. The recipe called for 3 eggs, 150 gm sugar (granulated, I used icing), about 80 mils of freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 60 gm butter and 4 teaspoons of lemon zest. The last ingredient was, I suspect, the culprit. Too much zest.

Before that I made a green, chocolate cake for my brother on his birthday, and a random little cake for myself when I was feeling lonesome and indulgent. I've been feeling like that a lot lately, and I think now's about when it's beginning to take a toll on me. Sitting around at home and baking has not been the best plan for this in-between-school-period. Fortunately, I'm leaving in three weeks for J-School down south and I hope that'll snap me out of this self-pity mode I'm in right now and back on my toes. I hate to admit this but I miss classes.

On a more positive note, one of my female guppies is pregnant! Isn't that amazing? I'm thinking of taking her out of the tank tomorrow and putting her in a separate container till she's had the babies since they tend to eat the newborns by mistake, apparently. Also, I discovered the most indulgent pasta sauce! I don't know what the Italians will have to say about this, but I think it's super. It's definitely super easy. You just bung a couple of tomatoes, slightly blanched, into a food processor. Add a sprig of basil here, a slosh of olive oil there, some freshly ground pepper (you've gotta love pepper) and some salt and give it a whir. Then add one medium sized onion, or two smaller white onions, cut in quarters, and blitz again. Chop and fry some bacon, lardon would be good, but regular bacon strips are fine. It's the strong flavour of the bacon that really gives the whole thing an extra kick. Once the bacon is almost crisp you douse it in the toe-may-toe-onion sauce and let it simmer. Take off the heat and add a dollop of cream. As much or little as your prefer. Have your pasta boiled and ready by this time. What I like to do is warm about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot, add a couple of whole garlic cloves and some finely diced red chilies (I get a fat variety that I don't have a name for), let simmer for about a minute before bunging in the pasta and stirring it all together. At this point I tip my sauce over into the pot and let it bubble away for about 5 minutes so the pasta's had some time to absorb all that flavour. This CANNOT taste bad. In fact, it's perfectly, indulgently gorgeous. Just don't forget to add the salt at some point (a little while blizting the tomatoes. check sauce for taste as bacon will have contributed to saltiness).

Here's my other predicament... I need a new laptop and I want a Macbook. Just the most basic white plastic unibody Macbook. And I don't think I can have it. I spent the last two hours obsessively looking at videos of Macbooks, articles on Macbooks, pictures of Macbooks – it's like fueling this insatiable craving. I am besotted. I think the reason why I'm craving a Mac, as much as I often crave chocolate, is because it is so ridiculously pearly white and shiny. It quite literally glistens and that, at the moment is my ideal. I want to glisten in that beautiful ethereal kind of way, be as white and fresh and happy as the daisy that inspired this machine. It's consumerism at it's best. I’m projecting my own neurotic perfectionist desires on to a THING. Buying a Mac isn't going to ensure that I live up to these ideals. I've just got to do it, even if I'm doing it on a Dell. Dell is good, by the way. I use Dell and I can say that it's good. Customer care is a bit cumbersome, but it's a nice computer.

My mother, who has been terribly patient with me, and relented to my most unreasonable and childishly irritating whims, bought me a copy of HOW TO EAT: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food, and I think anybody of hasn't read it yet MUST get a copy. You can buy it cheaply on Flipkart, which is what my mother did and it's worth it I assure you. Every one of those pages in that lusciously white, clean book just oozes of Nigella and the love and flippant intensity with which she regards food. I think in some ways I'm a little like her. For one thing, I too occasionally raid my fridge at midnight when I know there's something yum in there. And for another I am daunted, absolutely mortified, at the idea of cooking for large numbers of people, on a particular occasion, by a certain time. My best cooking moments are on afternoon when everyone else is either out or asleep and I can potter about at my own pace, fixing this and baking that. I get as much satisfaction out of making a bowl of my favorite moist, eggy fried rice for lunch alone, as I get in eating it. I cannot say the same about cooking for guests. Which is not to say that it's not fabulous when they eat something they like and eat more of it. But just getting to that point in the end of me. I don't like precooking. Not for most things. So... that's a bit of a bummer.

But, coming back to the point, this book is fantastic. She's not teaching you how to cook but how to eat! There's a section on cooking for just one or two people (including yourself), a section of feeding babies and young children (which I prescribed to a friend who now swears by it. She has a beautiful plump little baby boy who thus far has no problems with his food), and a section on the commonest of common things that nobody else would bother talking about, having assumed you already know. Her recipes and advice on making sauces, broths and soup, pancakes, birthday cakes, desserts have been a blessing since, it's the first anyone ever showed how important some of these very basic things are.

So, while my cooking is sadly going to be taking a bit of a back seat for the next year or so, I shall certainly not be going anywhere. A nine month course in Print Journalism should sharpen up my writing skills, what? And with that we shall plough onward bravely.

Go Forth and Conquer!


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