Last night we had Leftovers for supper. Actually, to be honest, we often do. I have never been that sort of a cook who follows recipes, noting down what I might need in order to cook a certain dish and then trotting off to buy it.
Is this, I wonder, because I am too lazy/impatient to don my prescription specs and follow a recipe?
Could be. I remember once thinking I was dutifully following one cake recipe when I was,in fact, following two. I did wonder at the imbalance and curio-factor of blending two unlikely bed mates into one cake, but the wild and colourful in me rose to the occasion with a skip of excitment. The cake, or cakes, arrived as one rather wonky lump, listing dangerously to one side and quite impossible to present on any level surface. I make up my own recipes now.
Back to last night. Well, first I must open the fridge. I creep up on the door and swoosh it open suddenly. This is an old tactic and can often prevent anything escaping.
Aha! I say with a cook’s gleam in my eye. Opportunity presents itself and I grab it quick and hold on tight.
Next, onions. I always need onions and garlic and I rarely run out of them because they lie artfully arranged in a nice basket from Portugal and in full view. Any old vegetables, chopped, julienned, grated, diced, depending on what lies floppily inside the salad drawers. Olive oil, infused with whatever I can more-or-less identify as herbs in the herb garden. I know I should know which is which, but the voles have shifted the labels around. Big pan, light on, favourite wooden spoon ( I never cook with metal weapons) and off we go, but to where is quite another thing.
As each ingredient is added, the house fills with tempting aromas that join together in a rising sound wave until I turn down the heat. As one animal now, it simmers and softens into a harmonious chorus. Now, what would lift this dish? I taste a little and let my instinct guide me.
What? Mint you say, and dark chocolate and fresh nutmeg?
Never doubt that voice. It’s not a left brain thing. This could be casserole or cake. Just don’t argue.
I comply and taste again. Delicious.
I notice 3 old bananas hanging on the banana hook, all in a big brown huff. What can I do with you I wonder? I check the fridge – a tub of elderly natural yoghourt, lemon juice, and in the drinks cupboard which is still called that even though it isn’t any more, I find a teaspoonful of banana liqueur.
I chop the bananas and fry them in butter, adding a spoonful of wild honey and the liquer. Whizzed up in the whizzer to a fine puree, I add three serving spoons of yoghourt. Meanwhile some almonds have been toasting in the oven. I pour the mixture into two glasses, top with toasted almonds and pop them in the fridge, which is empty again.
Or is it? One woman’s empty fridge is that same woman’s chance to shine. It’s all about self belief and no 24 hour shop down the road.
In that famous parting line from Fanny Cradock’s tv series, spoken with such confidence and encouragement into a thousand homes by her husband and assistant, Johnnie…..
May all your doughnuts look like Fanny’s.