Saturday, 16 July 2011

If I wasn't typing this, I'd be standing in the doorway of my kitchen looking up through the courtyard into the garden and beyond. It's a breezy, cool July evening and the trees (chestnut, ash, oak, fir) are swaying irritably in the wind - like me, I imagine they long to be caressed by the warmth we should be having every day in summer but this year comes only rarely: such an fickle lover, the British Summer. I would be looking up the path through lavender and cat mint and bright flaming scarlet crocosmia, to my sweetpeas climbing up their wigwam and the buddleija overhanging them, to a sky that is (for once) blue in the fading light.

But I'm not. I'm typing this and sipping plain cocoa-and-water and when I look up I can see the vases full of sweetpeas that I picked earlier. At the moment my house smells of supper - artichokes with vinegrette, and grilled halloumi with tomatoes and cucumber and leaves - with overtones of what I can only identify as "grandmother", which seems to consist of fresh coffee and baking bread and lavender soap (and is faintly disturbing, to be honest. The ghosts we can conjure in our kitchens are manifold).

So yes, I am typing this. It's been more than a while and it's been a while since I thought about this blog, this pretty much anonymous outlet that I should utilise more often, perhaps. It's a matter of catching myself unwares; if I don't think, I am more likely to do. And I often need a kick to get myself into gear...

So. I last blogged in December 2009. In brief, not a lot has changed (shame to say). Ennui is a hideous thing. I did do the month long cookery course. It was enjoyable and in some ways an education but it wasn't what I wanted; I already know how to cook, and this was a course for much younger people to be taught how to cook and how to cook in a certain way. Let's just say there was far too much butter and cream involved for me. And far too few veggies. I was the only one on the course who lost weight. (Not that I ever complain about that.) But, it did knock my confidence a lot. It's only been in the last six months that I have managed to pull back to wanting to be in the kitchen, to wanting to create, and to feeling that I have something worthwhile to give when I am creating. I'm back onto cooking blind, meat and fish for friends that I will never taste but seems to please them. It gives me so much satisfaction.

The lasting gift I took from the course is both gift and personal curse - the ability and addiction to baking bread. I love it, I just love it. The magical transformation of 4 ingredients, or 3 if I am feeling clever, into something so comforting and visually impressive is incredibly, again, satisfying. It almost feels like a cheat. Flour, water, salt, yeast - and 3 hours later, it's like an artisan market in my kitchen. I don't even need to weigh or measure anything any more; I can tell how the loaf will be by the feel of the dough in my hands. It is beautifully tactile.

(Speaking of weighing and measuring, it goes without saying I no longer practice CRON. Healthy eating, yes. I do try *not* to eat the bread. But CRON, no. Sorry.)

So, well. A lot goes on in a year and a half, and a lot doesn't. I am incredibly lucky in so many ways. I love where I live (oh my garden my garden); I have fabulous friends; I even have people who check back on the blog after months! But it all feels so fragile; as though it could all slip away at any time, as though there is a price still to be paid. Ridiculous, huh? Or the beginings of a mid-life crisis, perhaps. I began this blog when I was 34. I'm going to be 39 next week. How on earth did that happen? How fast does time go? :-)

Maybe more later. Maybe in sooner than another year. xxxx

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