Friday, 28 December 2007


It is always these days between Christmas and New Year that I find difficult; a period of no-man's-land time, hours that seem to demand to be filled with the same partying excess as those in the days preceding them. Not that there was an awful lot of excess this year, but still I'm not entirely sure where to put myself right now. It's probably not on the sofa with a bottle of red.

I had a wonderful few days with friends and family. Christmas Eve canapes and fizz was immense fun, and enough people accepted last minute invitations to make it a lot more of a party than I had intended it to be - nothing wrong with that! Christmas morning was spent pottering in the kitchen and cooking at a lesiurely speed while P slumbered late and my mother went to church; we opened presents and had yet more fizz with the neighbours before I served lunch late, and after that we managed a bit of a walk before dusk fell and we huddled up en famille to watch tacky movies and read books and listen to music. Boxing Day saw P and my brother at the races, and my mother and I on an abortive sales excursion to Bath, and then in Bradford on Avon eating a delicious lunch with too much wonderful fresh warm home-made bread which I suspect was responsible for yesterday's wince-making figures on the scales (better today, and hopefully even better tomorrow).

Yesterday I tried to adjust to being on my own again, and am doing the same today. This morning I even made it back to the gym. Yay, go me. I am determined to keep that up this year, to get back into the habit of going. It's not so bad early in the morning. Since then I have pottered around town, drunk coffee, done some desultory clearing up of dried plant stalks and leaves in the garden and now I am waiting for some more neighbours to return from their holiday trip so I can steal their dog and force myself out for another long walk in my new woolie hat.

The past few days have reminded me, not that I ever need much reminding, how much I love cooking for company. I never cook much for myself; my food doesn't need much, if any, effort to prepare. I can quite happily eat broccoli florets straight from the bunch, straight out of the fridge (not that I often do - I do at least get the knife out). But I really enjoyed the cooking I did this year. There was the Christmas eve canape selection, which was pretty much how I anticipated it being in my last blog post. For Christmas lunch, P wanted ham, so I soaked a green gammon for a couple of hours the day before, and then poached it with star anise, celery, carrots, and onion studded with cloves. On Christmas morning I mixed honey, balsamic vinegar and whole-grain mustard into a sticky, sloppy glaze, poured it over the meat and roasted it in the oven. After an hour, to my relief, it stopped looking like, well, like what it was (boiled dead thing) and started looking picture perfect. Veggies were fennel braised in white wine and veggie stock; steamed chantenay carrots; steamed January King cabbage and broccoli, with chopped chestnuts. Roasted potatoes, as I had planned, for everyone else. I made cabbage parcels stuffed with a little mashed parsnip, and mushrooms and chestnuts cooked in white wine with garlic and onions for myself. We ate leftovers on Boxing Day, and yesterday I ate cold leftover veggies for tea, like a glutton straight out of the serving dish.

Today I have eaten pineapple and pomegranate seeds, several stalks of celery with low-fat cream cheese, a salad of rocket and chicory with beetroot and a balsamic/mustard dressing, a few almonds, a brazil nut, some grapes and a dried fig. Yes, I am grazing. :-) But if one is going to graze, grazing through a fridge of green veggies is not a bad way to go about it. If I don't cook for neighbours tonight, my supper will be salad made with lots of chopped parsley, pomegranate seeds, clementine, chicory, with a few pieces of pecan and chestnut, and some cottage cheese on the side. Baby steps towards CRON 2008.


Christina said...

Sara - I love reading about these many interesting veggies and the ways you cook them. Sounds delicious.
All the very best to you in 2008! :)

Sara said...

To you too, darling! :-)

artifex said...

Yes - enjoyed reading about the specific varieties of vegetables - had to look up Chantenay carrots. Dragers grocery stores, for all that they have a splendid variety of produce, don't pass on, if they even get, varietal information.

The Territorial Seed Company just sent a substantial catalog, with a great range of vegetable varieties - enough to get me considering adding an irrigation system so as to be able to use the raised vegetable beds. More than 50 lettuce varieties.

Happy New Year when it comes


Sara said...

And to you. :-)

Yes, I am looking forward to devoting the garden to veggies rather than wedding flowers next year. The slugs will defeat my lettuce ambitions but they don't like rocket or any kind of bitter salad greens, and I am determined to have a courgette glut (this year we foolishly managed to grow an impressive quantity of very beautiful but completely inedible gourds. Oops).

April said...

Always glad to get your updates Sara!

I'm still getting over being sick. It seems to have hit all of us this year. And breathing Danny's smoke didn't help. But better now.

lots of love to you!


Ali said...

Your posts always make me hungry for exotic veggies. I am going to look to you in 08 for vegetarian inspiration =) Have a happy new year! ali

HkGrace said...

Happy New Year, Sara!!
I loved being able to picture your house during the holidays.

Arturo said...

Hi Sara
HNY. Your blog is always a delight to read, like an article on healthy eating, if it could be found in Gourmet magazine. I'm trying to find my CRON groove, after losing it over the holidays. I ate my only serving of meat of the year at my aunt's on Christmas eve, some Honeybaked ham. Subsequently, I took tiny bites of foods that had seafood and chicken in them at different family gatherings and can tell you honestly that I felt disgusted with the taste. After one bite of turkey on Christmas day, I felt as if I had been served human muscle, like in the film, "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" so I pushed it aside and said told my mom I don't enjoy eating animal muscle. I'm much happier being vegetarian.
Cheers, Arturo