Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Swirling thoughts

Since my last post I have had a birthday, celebrated by having friends here for dinner. As the day itself, the Glorious Fourth, was very busy with the Italian class and then lunch together, most of the cooking had to be done the previous day. Just as well, as I am not as fast or super-efficient as in the days of yore - although I hastily add, that I am still pretty efficient.

So I spent the Wednesday cooking - osso buco, and a quince and apple crumble, leaving the risotto alla milanese until the next afternoon. It is very satisfying having an all-day cooking session, moving from task to task, refreshing cooking techniques, checking the progress of the cooking, and the sensations of slicing, chopping, pounding, mixing, frying, stirring,  simmering, enjoying the aromas, ticking off the tasks, and working out what is next to be done. Cooking has always been a pleasure and an interest, more in the past than in the present. Cooking for one's self only cannot compete with cooking for many.

And I had a very lovely evening with these dear friends. They have all been so good and kind to me, taking such good care of me, with conversations, practical help, entertainment and wonderful company.

Little life changes happen too. My daughter had said she did not like the dinner set I have used for years - a gift from my mother, (who died in 1973) and I decided it was time to re-arrange the deck chairs before the boat sinks.  I brought out the other dinner set, and put it into the kitchen cupboards, thus necessitating  a lot of moving about of things. It had made me meditate on how our bodies learn to do things, - reaching into the cupboards to find things, and then having to think through the new arrangements. The bowls of the 'new' set are much smaller than the old ones and it takes some getting used to the different shapes and sizes. I'd like to hand some of these things to my children, but their cupboards are small and already full.

My friends arrived with a bottle of bubbly. Oh, I thought, I do have champagne glasses, but hardly ever use them. Memory was not much use here, so I had to check all the possible places before finding them.

The champagne glasses are Waterford crystal, very beautiful, not shallow bowls, but deep and narrow. My father sent them from Ireland when he visited the country, and I remember this large box arriving, and unpacking it. It was full of padding and straw, and I carefully looked for the contents. When the sixth glass was found I presumed that was all - but then checked the label to find there were eight.  These glasses have hardly ever been used, as I do not often drink champagne, but am now resolving it is time to use all the things kept for best or for special occasions.  Dr P and I often used to go out to restaurants with friends, and having friends over for a meal became a relatively infrequent event, and I still do not do it very often. Which means that lots of things sit in my cupboards and are not used the way they should be. I hope in the fullness of time they will find good homes and frequent use, but in the meantime perhaps I can mend my ways and get back into the kitchen. And not confine my efforts to the making of jam and marmalade - satisfying though this is. Are there still domestic goddesses? Or is it only Nigella?


Relatively Retiring said...

Belated happy birthday. The cooking sounds wonderful so it certainly isn't just Nigella!

Joan said...

Happy Belated Birthday! The cooking must be all the more enjoyable now that the home improvements have ceased and all is more or less as you want it.

Display and use all your »best" things. The subversive burst of pleasure mixed with guilt will settle into a profound sense of well-being over time.

Pam said...

I used to hand-wash all my "good" china because it has silver round the rims and I was worried that the dishwasher would wear it off. And then I thought - what am I keeping it "good" for? So when we use it - which is only on special occasions when there's a lot of washing up - into the dishwasher they go. And the rims are so far fine.

I'm glad that you enjoyed your birthday!

VioletSky said...

I doubt Nigella is feeling very goddessy at the moment.
How nice to invite friends over and cook for them - and for your own birthday, no less (instead of being taken out and treated!)