I am just catching up with what you've been up to while I've been away. Good to see that your dinner on the eleventh was ''a couple of tins of Heinz baked beans, tarted up with finely chopped chillies, several shakes of Tabasco and mushroom ketchup, and a tablespoon of black treacle.'' This is heartening to know as sometimes we mere mortals get a bit fed-up with some of the more anally-retentive food writers who never seem just to go to the fridge with two slices of bread looking for something to put between them. It's not that we don't appreciate all the effort you all go to, trying to entice our taste buds to new pastures. But, actually, i rather like to hear an idea for jazzing up a tin of beans on a cold wet Monday when the urge to cook has left me. Food eating is just that, and left-overs and store cupboard staples can be just the thing when the fancy takes you.
Tomorrow is pancake day and the eggs and lemons are waiting. Such a simple thing to mix a batter, yet the supermarket shelf is lined with ready-made mix and synthetic lemon juice. My younger children will probably go for maple syrup in the sort of industrial quantities that ought to require a health warning.My family will not be happy with one or two neatly folded little pancakes, sprinkled with caster sugar and swimming in lemon juice. They will require a never-ending succession of straight-out-of-the- pan offerings. I remember a few years back, with ten children in the house (including three step-children), it was quite a conveyerbelt affair with three black iron pans on the go and a row of empty mouths clamouring for more.
You and your friends are busy debating the merits of bland food, such as cauliflower cheese and risotto. The kind of comfort food that I've been pining of late, too. I think it must have something to do with the cold grey bleakness of February, but a fine risotto is exactly what i have in mind. And i find one - just what I've been looking for - in your 'Real Food' cookbook: A leek and taleggio risotto. The leeks are so good at the moment, and this recipe gives me just the excuse i need to buy a piece of one of my favourite cheeses.Think I'll have to buy extra or it may never make it to the risotto.
Soup is also high on my agenda. You notice that it always seems to be raining when you feel like making soup. That could be why i seem to make to much of the stuff - it rains a lot here. I like to have a large soup pan on the go at the back of the stove. I'm never sure how many times you're allowed to reheat and reheat a pan of soup, but my soups take a fair thrashing. Through traffic into the house usually helps themselves to a bowl, and i like to come in to a hot bowl at lunchtime. I don't even mind if I'm eating the same soup every day for a week (as has been known when I've doubled the quantities for a soup that others have turned their nose up at). In theory i know i could freeze it, but that rarely happens. And lunchtimes, like breakfasts, can often take monotony. I'm considering getting back to regular Bread making because i know this is as good for my soul as it is for me. This, and the soup is all i need for a king's luncheon.