My #2 son, when he's not running an international consultancy from his study (as opposed to jetting all round the globe for personal appearances), is a formidable cook. This last year at home in Edinburgh he's been posting photos of the most mouth-watering variety, airily dismissing many of my queries with the assurance that many of his dishes "would kill you, mum." In contrast, I've found myself even more stuck in a rut, a rut exacerbated by the imperative of the weekly shop with no get-out clause and no spur-of-the-moment inspiration from a random spotting of some unusual ingredient. Indeed, I found myself thinking of my father, who liked predictability in both his meals and his packed lunches; I can tell you now that in, say, 1960, we always had fish on Tuesdays ... *
Today I broke out. Just today; I'll be back on auto-pilot tomorrow. It wasn't even as though I'd nothing else to do today - a day that started with the sudden sight from my bedroom window of our gardener's van, parked across the road, and the sudden arrival of a text telling me he was there. "Start on the hydrangeas. I'll be downstairs shortly" I fired back - and I was, clothed and in my right mind but without my face on. Then there was my online Pilates at 10 (nearly killed me after two weeks' holiday - those planks), coffee on FaceTime with my pal, and our Postal voting forms to post. This was unexpectedly hilarious; my oldest grandchild had texted me just before I went out, and I ended up taking her with me, so to speak, all the way to the post box and down the main street so that I could check out the dismal fact that Mackay's chain store (we had a really good one) had closed for good. I still haven't seen the grands yet, but it's very companionable to have a long, silly conversation like that, even if it did make me laugh immoderately in the middle of the road.
Blipping a composite photo of the process of making dinner - an Ottolenghi recipe for a Middle Eastern pasta dish using aubergine, onion, garlic, cumin seeds, mint, yogurt, Parmesan (a substitute he suggested for fermented yogurt), lime juice, olive oil and saffron. It was a bit of a fiddle, though I suspect that was because I kept having to check the recipe as well as cutting down quantities as I wasn't having a feast for six people. It had that delightfully different taste of the middle east, though by the time we ate it I was suffering from the kind of hunger that mutters "Steak. Steak..."
Normal service will probably be resumed tomorrow.
*Fish on a Tuesday was a sensible choice - it was freshly caught before appearing in the fishmonger.