Z thinks about food (constantly)

At this time of year, my tastebuds have two, at least, wildly different inclinations. One is for crunchy winter salads, with sharp, tangy dressings and the other is for loads of spice and vegetables. In fact, there’s a third, which is comforting casseroles and a bit of stooge. We’ve rather gone through them all in the last couple of days. Tim made a beef rogan josh yesterday, we had gravadlax and salad for lunch and a cauliflower cheese for dinner. Tomorrow, I’m not yet sure, but we are developing a minor egg mountain. Only two or three eggs a day, but we haven’t really eaten any since Christmas. However, Tim is planning to make his Famous Leek Quiche tomorrow, so that’ll use a few.

There’s not the least chance I’ll get involved in the restrictions of Veganuary – just can’t be bothered with substituting perfectly good butter and cheese with substitutes, let alone worrying about making vegetable stock when I’ve got the chicken sort in the freezer, but I do want plenty of fabulous veggies just now, probably as a reaction to eating a fair bit of meat over the last week or so. The newspaper has recipes from a current book at the weekend and I’m very tempted by two of them. Both Indian cooking, as it happens, and I can’t pretend I really need them. I have a feeling that I’m actually just missing India. It’s eight years since I’ve last been there and I’ve no idea if or when I’ll go again. My sister hopes to visit her friend in Chennai next year – Kamala is over 80 now and each meeting is precious; K won’t visit here again, though she used to be an enthusiastic traveller.

Frankly, going to spend a night at Tim’s house in Reading is a pipe dream at present, so better not think about it.

As we shared the gravadlax this lunchtime, I remembered the time I made a version of it – it was for a blog party, probably the third one. I cured a whole side of salmon, can’t remember which recipe I used but it contained beetroot, I remember the edges of the fish being stained red. The difficult bit was slicing it, that I do remember. It was very tricky to hold it, for a start, and to cut thin slices at an angle. I remembered a very thin knife my mother used to have, which would have been perfect, but which I last saw at least thirty years ago. As long as a carving knife but with a very sharp, flexible thin blade. “I know just what you mean,” said Tim, “I bought one like that in Newlyn some years ago, for filleting fish.’ Of course he did and of course he has. He’s very good like that. When he does finally get to Reading, he’ll look it out. Though I’m not really entirely sure that the game of home-curing salmon is entirely worth the candle. Those rollmop herrings were good, though. More work, actually, but I think they’re worth it.

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