One of the big temptations when lazing around the house, doing my bit to reduce Australia’s GDP by being as unproductive as possible, is to make impulse purchases on Amazon. So many books, so little time.
This week was payload week though, with three of these little packages arriving in my mail box. My excitement was barely containable.
The first was a longed-for Ottolenghi cookbook, which I’ve craved ever since visiting the Islington cafe on a Europe trip a few years ago. I used it last night to make dinner for some friends who are moving to the US – Roast chicken with za’atar and sumac, pumpkin with burnt eggplant sauce (which contained pomegranate molasses – new to me, but quite yummy), and broccoli done simply – blanched, sauted, drizzled with good olive oil and lemon juice. I have some reservations (ha – restaurant pun!) about posting other people’s recipes on here unless I’ve altered them significantly, so I’m not going to repost the whole recipe, BUT, if you do a google search for “ottolenghi” and “roasted butternut squash with burnt aubergine” you’ll find other people who are less squeamish, which is good because it’s delicious! The burnt aubergine sauce is almost a baba ganoush, and is equally good served up with a loaf of Turkish bread. What made it particularly yummy for me is that I used my own homemade yoghurt.
The next book is Dan Lepard’s Handmade Loaf – replete with recipes for all types of bread, flatbread, crackers and so on, punctuated with drool-worthy photos, and stories of bakers across Europe making their traditional loaves. I made some parsley potato cakes for breakfast this morning, served with garlicky button mushrooms, and a soft fried egg. The potato cake was basically a griddle scone that lacked the stodginess of the ones my dad used to make. Again, the recipe is easily found on other people’s blogs, so I’m not reposting it here. We ate it too quickly to photograph, unfortunately, so you’ll just have to imagine the light, fluffy golden contours of this potato cake, with it’s insides flecked with bits of green parsley. The best bit about it is that you’re likely to have the ingredients in your cupboard already (flour, couple of potatoes, baking soda, milk, egg, salt, parsley), and the recipe is easy enough to throw together on even the laziest/most hungover morning.
The last package of the week contained a new knitting book from Ysolda Teague – Little Red in the City. Unfortunately, I’ve still got one more package to arrive, containing some new interchangeable circular knitting needles, before I’ll embark on any of the projects contained within. The book also contains lots of helpful information on different knitting techniques which is a boon to a novice like me.
I’ve found it hard to sit down and write blog posts the last few weeks. It happens to coincide with starting to do a bit of work – casual shifts, private surgical assisting lists and so on. I have a nasty feeling that this lethargy is a direct consequence of working and having other boring things on my mind (like creating invoices), and that the creativity that’s needed to put something down on paper (something I underestimated when I started this blog), thrives on being idle, and maybe, just a little bit bored. To demonstrate how well-read I am (i.e. capable of looking up an online quote compendium), and also to back up that statement, here’s what Virginia Woolf has to say:
Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.
And Susan Sontag:
The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.
Lots of other notables seem to think boredom is evil, I guess an expression of how the devil is meant to find work for idle hands. But I think sometimes a touch of boredom is good for inspiring us to get out and do something different. Hence my forays into extending my cooking horizons with baking bread, and making yoghurt (the homebrew is still waiting assembly). I think a period of idleness, like the six weeks following my resignation, sprinkled with a pinch of boredom has been good for identifying the things that truly excite me, if not so good for the waistline.