At last a moment to sit down here and post: I have been a bit preoccupied by being back at work and being focused on another big change for me at the end of this month: I am moving house…and even though I don’t relish the idea of packing up, I am looking forward to having more space: and true to form, I have already started thinking about the first dinner party there! This happened in the middle of one recent night when I could not sleep: I lay in bed, planning the furniture arrangement in the new space.. and once I was satisfied that I knew what will go where, I started thinking up menus and dinner party guests. In reality, my first guests will no doubt be my boyfriend and my children..

Speaking of which: on Wednesday night I cooked the first of this years dinners for sons…and this time a lover… I have two sons and he has one, close enough in age to have a lot in common in terms of interests and close enough in worldviews(their parents share those too, so it follows) to have lively conversations and quick witted repartee, which made for a highly entertaining evening…

But what particularly delighted me, was that I had discovered a new pasta dish! My boyfriend’s son gave me a little pasta recipe book for Xmas, and I quickly saw that beyond the basic recipes for pasta dough, and a tomato sauce, all the recipes were wonderfully creative and totally not conventionally Italianate… so I decided to try my hand at one of the many unusual dishes, and invited my boyfriend and his son to try it out.

I am almost tempted to type out the recipe here: but since I vowed from the start that I am not going to post recipes, I shan’t: there are hundreds of thousands of food blogs where one can find wonderful recipes… but I cannot resist temptation to at least give you an idea of what I cooked: the title of the recipe is Roasted Pumpkin with Mint Pesto and Feta on Linguine. Sounds unusual doesn’t it? Well, it was a total hit. I used butternut though, roasted in the oven, made the pesto but added fresh coriander to the mint and olive oil and chilli and roasted pumpkin seed in the blender….and I cooked penne in stead of linguine! The pesto is stirred through the cooked pasta, then the butternut is heaped on top, the feta crumbled over, and as an added layer of pungent flavour, we grated pecorino over it all, with my beautiful new Microplane parmesan grater….a gift from my lover, who is also a lover of food, and a lover of my love for food and cooking and writing about it….

For pudding we had vanilla ice cream with a quick strawberry and raspberry compote, and then when the table was cleared, my lover’s son revealed what was in the flat, oblong aluminium case he arrived here with: a poker set!

Now, I cannot play poker, but I bravely submitted myself to the merciless teasing from both my sons(especially the older one who is a very good poker player) and the patient explanations of my “stepson” and boyfriend… I’m not sure if I will ever be an expert poker player, but it certainly evoked for me a slight competitive impulse…

Sitting around the table after dinner and playing cards, reminded me about something far more simple which was a regular after dinner game in at the table of my childhood: while we were waiting to have tea, we would play “spin the knife”: a variation of “spin the bottle”, but no kissing!(not that I ever played that!). My dad would spin the knife and we would each have a chance to call out a descriptive term, and whomever the knife pointed at when it came to a standstill, would be “it”….. needless to say we were not beyond calling out: “sissy”! “Scaredy pants” … we sometimes played word games too, but never board games, and the only card games were Snap and Rummy, neither of which I can clearly remember now… as a child I often dismissively refused to play, maybe because I hated losing…

I think I lost out on a lot of fun often, choosing to retreat to the room which I shared with my non-identical twin, to stick my nose in a book, while they played cards, or went swimming….or whatever they were doing while I steeped myself in some new book chosen from the almost adult section in the public library….

I think all I wanted to be was grown up! No silly games and playing for me..

So maybe now that I am all grown up I can start playing! And maybe I am playing already: in my kitchen: what fun to find a new recipe, and to play around with ingredients… but what oh so adult pleasure to know how sons and a lover look forward to yet another dinner here…

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