I’m writing this in the room we grandly call ‘the office’. There is just enough room for the laptop on this huge old wooden desk, jammed between a pile of notebooks on one side and a stack of what looks to be school ‘art’ projects, plus the recently deceased cover of the ironing board, on the other. I have a cup of tea balanced precariously on a pile of papers that includes a recipe for ‘pancetta’ cured kingfish and a cookbook idea I wrote down in a hurry last week. It is a mess and I really should do something about it.
The dishwasher is purring upstairs, but not so loudly that I won’t be able to hear my best beloved cutting into the loaves of bread I’ve just taken out of the oven, despite knowing this is a terrible crime. So far, 2016, so good.
We ended 2015 with vintage champagne, whitebait fritters and lamb racks cooked to a recipe from the first Ottolenghi book, plus chocolate fondants from The Cook’s Companion. The fondants were a disaster (I was so desperate not to overcook them that I erred too far in the direction of undercookedness), but no one seemed to mind. The champagne may have had something to do with that, or perhaps it’s because molten chocolate is better than no chocolate. Anyway, I’m going to get them right eventually.
Apart from that, I have no pressing food goals for 2016. I’m not going to drink less wine or eat less cheese. I’d like to grow more vegetables and see if I can nurture a new sourdough starter. If that sounds all a bit too virtuous, I’m also going to master the new ice cream attachment I have for my KitchenAid.
The latter goal reminds me of a clipping I have pinned to the wall above my desk. It’s a fragment of an interview with Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian politician who was held hostage in the Colombian jungle by FARC guerillas for more than six years. At the end of the story, Betancourt says the experience made her decide that she would learn to cook when she got out and that she would “always have flowers in my room and wear perfume; that I would no longer forbid myself to eat ice-cream or cakes. I understood that in my life I had abandoned too many little pleasures, taking them for granted.”
Ingrid Betancourt had to suffer unspeakable horrors to reach that realisation, the rest of us should learn from it. Like she says at the end of the story, “I never say no to an ice-cream.”
What are your ice cream dreams for 2016?
Happy new year! Your bread looks gorgeous – have you posted the recipe before? My son wants nothing to do with my Tartine Bread recipe sourdough, so I'm on the lookout for something he might try.
Here's to simple pleasures and plenty of ice-cream. Now there's a worthwhile resolution if ever I've heard one.
Thank you Ping, Happy New Year to you too. The bread recipe is Dan Lepard's sour cream loaf, which is the most-requested bread in my house. It makes a very tall, fluffy white loaf (and I tell myself the cream involved is an important source of calcium, protein and fat!) Dan's recipe specifies sour cream, but I often use 'normal' cream, or cream that's starting to sour a bit, or Greek yoghurt. It's very easy to make and freezes reasonably well too. I'd love to swap for some sourdough starter…
happy new year – the bread looks lovely but I do cringe at the idea of cutting straight from the oven though bread always smells so enticing when just baked! Undercooked chocolate fondants would be great – much nicer than overcooked – and practicing them sounds like no great hardship!!!!! Hope you have lots of ice cream in 2016 – and lovely fresh bread
Thank you, same to you. He will never learn, no matter how much I remonstrate with him, that bread needs to cool down first, so I have stopped complaining and now just enjoy the chance to eat it myself! May your 2016 be full of lots of ice cream too x
Happy New Year. An ice cream attachment – now that sounds really good. I don't have an attachment to ice cream at the moment – it's too cold. I got around the problem of excessive clutter on my old, large desk by getting a much smaller, new desk to replace it. It forces me to be neater and it sort of works. Although I've just lost a Half Man Half Biscuit CD down the back of it somewhere.
That sounds like a CD best lost in a dark corner! I am finding a similar problem with my ice cream maker in that it now takes up one-third of my very small freezer. So I'm going to need to use it a lot so it earns its keep. A good problem to have, I'm sure. Happy New Year to you x
Great walk-through. I value this post.
I am delighted to read this article, Thanks for sharing.
And yes belated Happy new Year!! XD
Lucy, loved this post! If I have a goal for 2016 it's to get my office squared away once and for all! I may have to get a smaller desk because apparently I will pile up the top of a desk, and my desk is huge. So smaller desk, smaller pile, right? As to your nurturing a new sourdough starter, I've discovered my starter needs next-to-no nurturing, and I'll be blogging about that soon.
Hi Jean, happy new year. I love the idea of 'smaller desk, smaller pile' – can you let me know if it works? I will keep an eye on your sourdough process…