It was when I stood there last night, turning two sizzling duck breasts in the pan, that I smiled and sighed my delight at being back in my kitchen. I had a clear moment of sensing the shift to being fully back, after the recent six weeks interruption of recovering from surgery. Already in the week, on Wednesday, I had the first stirrings of this: I cooked us a meal of pan fried scottish salmon, skin on, baby potatoes and sweet carrots: a simple mid week meal turned celebratory dinner as I opened a bottle of good sparkling wine: the celebration? Three years of being lovers. I am teased by my now husband often about how many anniversaries I keep track of: the first coffee date, the first kiss, the first meal I cooked for him, and then that night three years ago when he did not go home after yet another meal I had cooked for us. Our love story is inextricably linked to cooking and eating together… and documented by my very prolific journal keeping(thus I know the exact dates) and also by this blog: In July 2010 when I started this, we were new lovers, discovering delightedly that we had as much of an erotic connection as we had in music and food and life philosophy…
But back to last night’s meal: when I bought the duck I could not decide how to do it: I have two basic ways of cooking duck breasts: pan fried and served with a red wine reduction and veggies, or dry-marinated with chinese spices and extra szechuan pepper, pan fried and served sliced atop a bowl of fragrant oriental noodles.
Last night the more traditionally french way won out: dauphinoise potatoes, green beans in burnt butter and almonds, and duck breasts pan fried and served with a red wine and blueberry jus. Also actually very simple and really easy to cook. I am often surprised when I hear people say: oh, I can’t cook like that. It’s as simple as following a recipe, at least the first couple of times. I often still take out a recipe book to just make doubly sure of an ingredient or a quantity, as I did last night, not remembering if I used to mix the cheese into the milk and cream mix or sprinkled it on top only when I last made dauphinoise potatoes.(it’s on top).
I phoned my sister last night and told her about the meal I was cooking, and I knew that she had probably never made duck, or even eaten it. Even dauphinoise she did not know the name of. I could not help again wondering about how it happened that I became so almost obsessed with good food and cooking: even though my mother liked to cook(well, I think so), she never made elaborate meals or experimented with exotic ingredients. Partly I think because her options ingredient wise were limited and her husband was a conventional eater, and her food budget was probably half of mine, and she cooked for six people. There were some nudges though in the direction of knowing that food and cooking was important: always part of celebrations: birthday dinners, sunday lunches, christmas cooking. Something of that must have stuck in my brain, because here I am: even writing about cooking and food and my love for it.
And cooking nice meals for two, turning the very act into a celebration of life and love and togetherness.
Next I shall be having a dinner party to officially announce my return to the kitchen. Probably more french food: not quite cold enough for a Toulouse cassoulet, yet another incredibly simple dish which once was so exotic that I did not even know of it’s existence. But maybe a casserole of coq au vin… hmmm, at last. I’m back.