Day 19: Ok, I’m turning this into a food blog now (because there’s not enough of those)

Ok, it is 21:09. I have 21 minutes to write the absolute bejaysus (do we think this is a plausible spelling) out of this entry before I positively PLUMMET back into Modern Love and the chocolate pavlova awaiting assembly downstairs. (Note to the long-time readers: I know you’re thinking that I’m breaking my strict, vehemently-principled veganism by violating almost every rule of the plant-based rule book with this decadent dessert but can I please remind you I’m not a vegan on weekends and now we’ve all stopped counting days and every day is essentially a weekend now I’m basically just being super woke and fluid in my food choices so please stop judging me. Besides, the cream will go off if I don’t eat it.)

And yes, that phrase could essentially sum up every food choice I make. Examples:

But that bread will go mouldy if I don’t have a slice of it mounted with butter every forty minutes. But if I don’t slather everything with hummus, it will go to waste and then my mum will be upset because no one ate her hummus and then she’ll never make hummus ever again and that’s too tragic to even contemplate. Best to have another dollop. But if I don’t eat that cake as an accompaniment to whatever meal and/or snack I happen to be having, it will expire and thus be tossed atop the pyre of our gluttonous desire thereby contributing to the three million tonnes of food waste destroying the planet. Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m saving the planet – and my mother’s feelings and culinary pride – one mouthful at a time. And if you could please give me the thanks this selfless act deserves, I’d really appreciate it as my waistline doesn’t seem so grateful. You can address your approval to my new self-appointed title of Mouther Teresa. Or Mother Taster. We’re still recipe testing what my altruistic saint name should be – I’ll get back to you.

I feel a positive frisson of ecstasy when I hear the question “what’s for dinner?” What isn’t for dinner, my dearest sibling?

Oh for fuck’s sake, after MANY hours – a whole EVENING worth of hours – refusing to go on Instagram I just got bored writing my own bloody blog and have now wasted ten precious minutes casually eroding my self-esteem. Also, Holly, if you are getting bored writing the sentences what hope is there, pray tell, for the readers expected to read them?

It is 9.23pm feck feck feck feck.

Ok, we have seven minutes to turn this around you guys.

Basically I’m a culinary goddess and I feel my calling in life is to turn this into a food blog so you can all benefit from my cooking prowess. I’m not sure how much of lockdown I’m doing “right” – you wouldn’t think there was a way to “do” quarantine correctly but social media assures me there is and as I am still on my buzz of shunning anything approaching a Zoom party or partaking in these ridiculous nomination challenges (yes, I’ve donated to charity, do not @ me) it would appear I am doing corona completely wrong. That is, until I step into the family kitchen and create symphonies of colours, whole suites of perfectly married flavours, beautifully paradoxical textures, wonderfully married nutritional content and planet-friendly ingredients.

GIVE ME A COOKING CHANNEL.

My cooking is so impressive that my mother actually said – only the other day! – that I really should have a food blog. “You would be so good at it!” she cooed. I asked her if this was like the time she told me I could be a model. Reader, as much as I would love to hoodwink you into thinking otherwise, I am no model. “Noooooooo”, she said indignantly. But the ‘oh’ was slightly too high-pitched and a little too drawn out to be convincing. I returned to whatever I had thrown together (probably just some noodles with freshly-chopped ginger, garlic, red chilli, tenderly roasted vegetables, crisply scallions and draped in a thick tahini and soy sauce – nothing fancy, just a real low-key kind of meal) and once again had to live through the trauma of having a mother who thinks everything I do is so wonderful that she builds my expectations to completely unrealistic levels until the sands of reality shift and my dreams return to dust once more, leaving me bereft and rejected, a shell of a once-hopeful cover girl. What a bitch.

This time though, I think she’s on to something. I mean, a lunch of a toasted cheese sourdough extravaganza that was half a butter, mustard, rich cheddar combo (why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is already so darn wonderful?) half an ode to pesto, sundried tomatoes gooey mozzerella and all encircled by a zesty salad and proper knobby crisps. A dinner of homemade cornbread on a bed of fresh spinach, topped with logs of crispy halloumi, harissa-roasted aubergine and chickpeas, lashings of lemony avocado, a grated garnish of dressed beetroot and carrot, a fried egg of exceptionally happy disposition, and a dollop of warm hummus….I mean, am I worthy of a column yet?

Ottolenghi, Slater, Darina, I mean you’re great, you’re all totally fiiiine, lovely crowd pleasers, great for maybe a slapdash supper and you’ve all had a great run and everything and obviously gotten very lucky but don’t we think it’s all just a bit passé now? Maybe a bit, I don’t know, what’s that word – bland? Maybe time for some fresh blood and fresher flavours? Just an idea I had.

Life is but a fridge door and my purpose in it to open said door with gleeful eyes and clapping hands to see what discarded treasures my family have left for me to resuscitate into something approaching edible.

I realise this is incredibly boring for you all, – ugh, like did I really just spend twenty minutes describing what I ate today?? – I but I think it’s time to be honest about the thing bringing me most joy in lockdown and that is, undoubtedly, the anticipation of mealtimes. I feel a positive frisson of ecstasy when I hear the question “what’s for dinner?” What isn’t for dinner, my dearest sibling?

I have taken to playing a silent and as of yet imperceptible game of Ready Steady Cook with myself. Given my love of creative cooking (I genuinely believe recipes are guidelines at best and this is why I am the world’s worst baker) and my complete intolerance of food waste, my culinary experience of quarantine can be encapsulated in just one word: leftovers. Life is but a fridge door and my purpose in it to open said door with gleeful eyes and clapping hands to see what discarded treasures my family have left for me to resuscitate into something approaching edible. Let me tell you, it’s amazing what you can create with some unwanted potato skins and broccoli stalks. Don’t even get me started on the potential for cauliflower leaves. The possibilities are, quite literally, unbeleaveable. I am both sorry and yet not at all sorry for that.

The added pleasure of this experiment/planet-saving operation which my family seem unaware of or else unaffected by is, of course, the suspense that accompanies each meal: will this creation be edible? Will whatever whim I have succumbed to result in masterpiece or food poisoning? WHO IS TO KNOW. I imagine the sensation is similar to the suspense you are all feeling now as you wonder, will she make this end? Will she stop?

Considering it is 21.59 and I am wholly unprepared for the week ahead and if I don’t eat my chocolate pavlova soon I will almost certainly have nightmares (because not having pavlova is obviously not an option) I reluctantly, regrettably, dolefully, release you to your Sunday night fear.

If you need me, you can find me wearing one of those outrageous chefs hats and probably just cooking up a casual soufflé because I find stuff like that really easy.

Tree Tings

  • I cannot remember if I’ve yet mentioned sourdough in the recurring ‘tree tings’ theme of Holly’s obsession with bread but, if so, it can be honoured with my first second mention, as it formed the base of most of today’s meals and almost 100% of the snacks I consumed while deciding each meal. The foundation of my succulent toastie, the altar for my repulsive marmalade obsession, the peninsula on which to drizzle tahini while deciding what to eat. Perfection.
  • Halloumi. A perfect cheese if ever there was one. Greasy. Salty. Gooey. Fuck it, I need more halloumi.
  • Apple tart. The first thing I ate this morning and, if I’m lucky, the last thing I will eat tonight. I feel one cannot over-exaggerate the life-altering power of a good apple tart.

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