I’ve fallen a bit behind in making these posts. I somewhat hit the wall the other week, both with isolation more generally and cooking specially. Probably exacerbated by having planned a bunch of filling a warming meals and being faced with an unexpected warm weather spell. I struggled through with some nice but unadventurous pasta salads until a colleague happened to make the most amazing smelling curry and the desire for curry of my own kicked me mostly out of my cooking funk. At least enough to get a batch of sweet potato and lentil korma made and eaten.
This week, however has been much better. On Sunday, I finally got round to making a big pot of chilli, while on Monday I made a generous – if less substantial than the chilli – pot of rice. This proved to be one of my better plans, as I ended up on the road for work unexpectedly and having a quick and easy tea already to be microwaved was a life-saver – there would be no stopping off for chips on the way back from this trip.
After having hit the wall so decidedly, I decided to retrench completely and focus on making old favourite recipes. I’ve been increasingly drawn to the earlier pages in my home-made recipe book, but this week I’ve mostly been cooking from the recipe books that I haven’t looked at in years, the ones I used when I was first properly exploring my culinary passions. The rice dish I ended up making is called Melting Sunshine Rice and is both super straight-forward and super comforting. Basically cook some rice in vegetable stock and with a teaspoon of turmeric, once cooked, add a chopped pepper, a couple of spring onions, a small tin of sweet corn and about 100g of cheese, preferably edam, put the lid back on for a few minutes so the cheese gets all melty and serve. There are few things more satisfying than realising exactly what you most fancy making/eating and then discovering that you do indeed have everything you need for it in the fridge or cupboard. I tend not to keep tinned sweet corn on hand – I generally prefer frozen sweet corn – and I rarely have edam – Babybels are normally travelling snacks rather than cooking supplies – so it felt extra serendipitous that they were all there to hand.
I’d been meaning to bake properly for weeks, I’d even bought some duck eggs off a colleague with a croft, specifically for the purpose, but I kept putting it off. So after the success of my old school cooking, I dug out my Ainsley Harriott cookbook – in all it’s battered ex-library copy glory – and looked up the old faithful that is his blueberry muffin recipe. I was going to make it with raspberries as I knew I had some in the freezer, but when I went looking I found some cherries which got me thinking and somehow blueberry, coconut and lemon muffins became wholemeal cherry and almond muffins, as I had both ground and flaked almonds in the cupboard. It’s the kind of recipe that comes in three different options with tips on substitutions and encourages adventurousness, and everything came together perfectly. I haven’t made muffins in ages, and this batch reminded me why for so long they were my go-to baked goods.
Next up, another old favourite, some English muffins, though these ones get cooked on the stovetop rather than in the oven.