It's been a while...
Work has been stressful, changes to our working hours, a reduction in our O/T pay, rota complexities as we are obliged to accommodate the needs of a rival Lab in Eastern Europe. We are not happy campers and some of us are making plans to move on...
I am reminded of that saying "God give me strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference".
So while I work on my stress levels and try to find the courage to take the steps that I know are right for me, I find myself drawn to memories of my two years in France, and to the house in Brittany that I still own. And I take comfort from those memories of happier, more relaxed, fun-filled times, even as I shake my head and ask myself "Why the hell did you return to the rat race and come back to the corporate cage?"
So, here's a post from my days in France.
This is my therapy
Saturday Night Fever
Did I ever mention that I love to cook?
Because I do, for me cooking is an emotional, spiritual and deeply pleasurable experience
People who know me well say that my culinary concoctions are an accurate indication of my current emotions and mood, as in, when I am feeling maternal I produce a vegetable-rich beef stew with dumplings and an old-fashioned pudding with custard
When I am feeling skittish, when there is a new moon and a soft breeze from the south it's seafood, preferable the kind that you can eat with your fingers and with melted butter and juices dripping off your chin so that you have to lick your lips a lot
Those times when wanderlust overcomes me, when I long for faraway places and exotic locations I cook hot-hot chilli, or work my wok to create Chinese dishes or experiment with something drawn at random from one of the cookbooks on top of the cupboard over the sink
When memories engulf me and I want my mum I do as she did, I spend a whole morning baking cakes, in her case one fruit cake (for father) one sponge cake filled with cream and strawberry jam (for her) and a tin of small cakes and pastries for us kids and all delivered with the profound declaration "Yes, you can have a cake but When They're Gone They're Gone".
In my case it's my shortbread cookies and a rich gooey chocolate fudge cake since I have no man to cater for
And when I am Homesick for England I cook the National Dish of The Englishman
Above is a picture of tonight's dinner sizzling on the stove
a hot and spicy aubergine bhaji
a chicken korma just waiting for the addition of coconut milk and cream
and pilau rice
(I would have made puffy oven bread too, had I not been too busy grappling with grammar and distracted by dictionaries all afternoon...)
All cooked from totally 100% raw ingredients, even the spices are home-crushed and dry-roasted, everything as nature intended it...
If I am ever tempted to cheat with a ground garam marsala or, heaven forbid, an additive-stuffed, preservative-bound, fakely coloured sauce in a jar then I simply go away and eat a cheese sandwich instead
So on Saturday night I spent several hours happily slicing thick cloves of garlic and fresh juicy ginger into wafer-thin slices until my fingers were gently marinated in their juices, gently frying pinches and palmfuls of cumin, turmeric and ground coriander in home-made ghee, salting black shiny aubergines and hot-popping mustard seeds in olive oil until they danced and sang
all without weights or measures because each time I cook a curry it tastes different and that difference is due to my influence, my mood, my vibrations....
in the background the music of a sitar made me swish and sway...
and for inspiration Madhur Jaffry's fabulous book A Taste of India was open at a page showing a vibrant street market...
Last night the chicken korma was a silky-smooth golden sauce, with a tender hint of coconut and subtle undertones of ginger
the aubergine bahji was chilli-hot and lively
and the rice was subtle and subdued, definitely playing the supporting role to the main dishes
Last night I was definitely Hot!