It’s Monday. Two words: tea and coffee …
Winter is afoot. I can feel myself bracing for its arrival. Scarves and hats are sitting in a basket in the hall. The damp mornings feel that much heavier, the darkness that much more enveloping. The soup-maker in me has roused herself—the chicken-roaster too. This is a huge deal because lately I’ve been disinterested in cooking. Without Number Four here during the week, for the first time in TWENTY-NINE YEARS OF PARENTING, I haven’t had anyone else to cook for—except me. Cooking for one is both a luxury … and highly overrated. Chocolate has been my meal replacement. I snack on the couch. Or stand against the kitchen counter, eating out of hand. I’ve made food because it’s been the right thing to do, but it’s taken a monumental effort to make it happen.
I could credit the change in season for shifting my appetite, but quite honestly, I’ve been propelled to cook mainly because the guilt of tossing out spoilt food has been unbearable. So I retrieved the butternut squash and sweet potatoes lurking in the cupboard and popped them in the oven to roast—both whole, nice and easy. Sweated some onions and diced apples with fresh sage and thyme in butter and olive oil, with a sprinkling of red chilis, a grating of nutmeg, minced garlic, sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. When the roasted veg had cooled slightly, I peeled, scooped and added it along with the remains of some pumpkin puree, to the onion-apple mixture. Then came the vegie stock (enough to cover) 20 minutes of simmering, and finally, a good whizz with the immersion blender to puree. And then I was all: Oh right. That wasn’t so hard now was it? Totally worth the effort.
I felt as though I could taste food once again. It was a major revelation.
With Kieran’s arrival Friday evening and his departure this morning, I felt some renewed comfort in routine and ritual, and that crossed over into cooking. I’ve missed the rhythm of our Sunday brunches. It’s been a couple of months since we’ve had pancakes and fruit, omelette and home fries, waffles and yogurt parfaits, frittatas and bacon, oats toasted and cooked just so, with maple syrup, seeds and berries. The reassurance and comfort in that has eluded me. We’ve both been buried in computers or books, pushing hunger aside in favour of a lazy start to the day, grabbing cereal, a bagel or scrambled eggs at best. Winter cooking is calling me … and I’m feeling inclined to answer.
When I’m seized by the urge to bake a cake for no reason other than that I MUST DO SO IMMEDIATELY, I’ll know my mojo’s returned. Meanwhile, I’ll settle for baby steps.