Yesterday a pile of books in my bedroom threatened to engulf me. There aren’t any shelves, only artfully arranged stacks. And the one I wanted was at the bottom.
The cookbooks in the kitchen do not fare much better. They have to share space with our ever-expanding tea collection (black, green, white, cranberry, chai, cardamom, almond) that also threatens an avalanche when one item is removed.
And somehow I seem to forget to use them. Or I open them only at well-loved recipes, creased pages. Some of their spines have never been cracked. For the last month, I have been stuck in a rut, making the same two cakes (upside-pomegranate and orange with coconut); soup, bread and Rachel’s peperonata, which never gets old. (Today it is going in a savoury tart and I cannot wait for lunch.)
Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries have been demoted to bedtime reading, or worse, laptop stand. Not good enough. The seasons are changing, on the cusp, and the markets have switched their produce from one week to the next. Like in Japan, where the 1st September means off with the air-conditioning, here the first weekend of March means I can’t find any more pomegranates, but artichokes are in abundance. So I am getting out of my rut and opening my books.
If I go rescue the Kitchen Diaries from my bed, let’s see… For the beginning of March, Nigel offers lamb shanks, and passion-fruit creams, like a ray of sunshine. (In fact, the recipe for the latter is remarkably similar to my rosemary creams.) This month, I am going to try at least one new recipe per week, each from a different book. Must include artichokes, since I’ve always avoided preparing them. And I think I know which book they require, The Painter, the Cook and the Art of Cucina …