Saturday, 20 July 2013

Saturday Night Fever...

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!


  1. Oo-er! When you're cooking very garlicy Chicken Kiev with spinach and butter beans, let me know. Oh yes, you'd better let me know what mood you're in first; just in case. :)

    1. I certainly will Tom. I hope that one day you and Lucy will come to dinner at my French home :)

  2. Gosh that looks good, and might well be one of my favourite curry combinations, I love aubergines.

    Too hot to think about any such slaving over hot stoves just now, but to wander out in the cool of the evening and partake of such a thing would be lovely. And you're quite right about those dreadful sauces in jars, though I do find Pataks curry pastes useful, with a bit of fresh spice, garlic etc added too.

    Funny the kind of mis-en-abyme hankerings within hankerings going on here though; you miss your French life so you renew a post from France where you are cooking a meal redolent of nostalgia for England...

    1. Also too hot here although the heatwave is set to break tomorrow and we are due a deluge.

      I do miss my French life, the nostalgia-nights were quite rare and I didn't miss England that much. But I often wonder how revealing are our online musings...

  3. I've been worried about you. I check several times a week for new posts and had not heard a squeak from you. I'm sorry work is stressful but I hope things will work out the way you want and need them to!

    1. Thank you :)
      Life is just very stressful, not just for me but also for most of my colleagues in the UK


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