Much as I love exercise, one time when I really don’t fancy is the cold air rasping against my windpipe and into my lungs when I’m not feeling well.
I’ve been nursing one of those colds that hovers just below the surface, not quite coming out into the open. Last week, the week just before half term, was phenomenally busy, with a Full Governors, meeting, two Meet the Parents evenings, and a County Governors get together. So you can imagine how ill-disposed towards the world it made me feel that my sister had organised a “let’s go to Mum and Dad’s cook for all the family” on Saturday.
To be fair, it was a nice idea, as it was my parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary. It is just neither of us have ever cooked for 12 people with varying dietary tastes before, so we had to work out what to do.
Luckily, I had heard about this book
on the radio a few months ago, Meera Sodha’s Made in India, Cooked in Britain. It contains recipes for a whole variety of Gujarati dishes, which are all eminently cookable, healthy and tasty. In particular, it covers starters, mains, desserts and drinks.
I have to say that I was too tired to learn how to make samosas for starters, but I figured that spring rolls were similar enough:
I’ve never made this many spring rolls before! LD#2 helped by rolling them all up for me, otherwise I don’t think I could have done it.
One of the amazing things that the book has taught me is how to make rice! Chinese people use a rice cooker, so it’s automatic… there’s also a bit of a Chinese attitude that plain white rice is the “carrier” for the food, and any sort of fancy rice is to make it a bit more palatable to Westerners. Whereas I’ve realised that there are lots of different spices you can add to rice to make it more interesting, and the key to getting the softness/wetness right is a pot with a clear lid.
Everyone I’ve given Meera Sodha’s fennel seed shortbread says it’s the best they’ve ever tasted. Also there’s a recipe for spiced chai which is very special to me now – it calls for one tea bag between two mugs. And when you have a daughter like mine who often says No to what’s on offer, it’s really nice to say, “I’m making a chai… do you want one too?” and be able to give her something without making her worry that I am going out of my way for her.
The only thing that didn’t work out with the meal was my sister’s lamb curry, the recipe for which didn’t transfer well between her slow cooker and my parents’. (Why she didn’t turn it up to “High” when it was clear that it wasn’t softening, I don’t know.) Anyway, after she’d gone home on Sunday morning, we ended up with a lot of undercooked lamb leftovers for lunch. “All it needs is more cooking,” I said. So my dad said he would sort it out. Now, my dad is a good cook, but he is not that experienced with a microwave. Still, I assumed that he knew what he was doing when he put it in on low heat for 60 minutes and then went out to buy a paper.
About 45 minutes later, I smelled something strange, and went into the kitchen, where there were a lot of fumes and something on fire inside the microwave!! I turned the power off and watched the flames dying down while we decided what to do. We all found it quite funny, apart from my mum, who rushed around berating everyone. In the end, when the flames were at a minimum, my dad threw the stew and cracked pyrex out into the garden. The stew must have dried out and overheated, melting the plastic cover my dad had placed over the top of it.
I have to admit, it was a pretty good weekend, despite all my grumblings in the run up.
When I got home I downloaded St Vincent’s current album. The tracks available on Soundcloud make it seem like it’s going to be a lot more hyperactive than it actually is. It ranges from the beautiful:
all about the powerlessness of standing by and watching someone go into self destruct,
through to this kind of intensely searing commentary
on our emotional reliance on social and other media.