30 June 2003
I am, I always have been a child of enthusiasms. Usually I do one at a time, obsessively; at the moment I'm multi-tasking, all the old favourites come at once. I'm on a writing-jag and a cooking-jag, I'm tending my pot-garden and keeping up with friends and reading and shopping and somehow finding room for all of this, without feeling that anything particular has been let go. It can't last, but I like it while it does.
The novella cracks on apace, though it's rapidly losing any resemblance to what I thought it would be. This is disconcerting, but not unsatisfying. It's at a tender stage, though, and talking about work-in-progress is never easy anyway, so there's not much more I can say about that.
Had dinner with friends on Saturday, but because they are friends and because I don't have their permission to gossip about their innermost lives online, there's not much I can say about that either. I shall revert to type, take the safe option and talk about cooking.
I put a pound of white kidney beans to soak on Friday, forgetful that I was out to dinner the following night. Had to do something with them, Saturday afternoon; so I put them in a pot with fried onions and all the chillies in the house, a tin of tomatoes, some thyme from the garden (I really have started calling it a garden; I like this) and a half-shoulder of lamb. The plan was to leave it on a very very low heat in the oven all the time I was out, and expect rich succulence on my return, fit to be reheated next day and thereafter.
But it took no time to put together, so it had already had an hour before I left; and the house smelled gorgeous as I came downstairs, so I checked, and even on the lowest setting it was bubbling away far too vigorously to be allowed a whole evening's worth. Amazingly efficient, these cast-iron casseroles, once they get up to heat. So I did the other thing, turned off the gas and left it to sit in the residual heat, and that was plenty. Got back in the early hours, had a look and a lick, and oh it was good. And hot. And still warm.
So yesterday, to go with, I plucked my first courgettes, sliced 'em thin and softened 'em slowly with half an onion and a clove of garlic, stirred in a hefty spoonful of heavy cream and a handful of chopped chives to make a sort of emollience to work against the chilli. I made that word up, but you know what I mean. And it was lovely; so today I did the same thing except that the courgettes came with flowers attached, so I steamed those as a sort of garnish, and they were lovely too.
And today has been full of travel plans, to Orkney and to Korea with barely a day between. And me such a homeloving boy, seldom happy away from my own bed; and Misha still so disturbed when I sleep away; and who will water my garden while I'm gone? It's all worry and stress, which I'm fairly sure must be why I do it, can't think of any reason else...
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.