Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 step recipe for a pleasant Thursday night

Work has been destroying me lately. Mostly targeting my sanity. A range of circumstances, unforeseen and somewhat distressing, have resulted in an inordinately large pile of highly sensitive work, with ridiculous deadlines, landing in my lap. And I've been going like the clappers, to borrow the extremely unfortunate phrase. People who I've actually spent time with lately (which isn't many) deserve many props, not least gentleman caller (soon I will have to call him gentleman roommate - eeek) who has been stoic, pragmatic, and a reliable provider of nourishing meals through all this.

So I'm having a February that I wouldn't wish to repeat, that involves 8-12 hour days 7 days a week, minding a cat that chooses to defecate in the living room more often than not, and ridiculous and zany (though not fun) mood swings of a type that could well be termed 'histrionic'.

However, tonight I managed to have rather a pleasant night, in the midst of all this. Here's how I did it:

Step 1: Work late, but not too late. 

I worked until 7:30, which is late enough to feel that I've achieved a large amount (especially given my 7am start) but still early enough to be able to salvage my evening.

Step 2: Have delicious leftovers ready and waiting for dinner.

My leftovers were purple and black eggplants that I'd sauteed with shallots and bell peppers, then stirred through with sliced Adelaide and Black Russian tomatoes, sprinkled with sumac and topped with a tahini/yoghurt/lemon juice/garlic dressing. Mixed with parsely and pearl couscous. NOM, I TELL YOU.

Step 3: Acquire additional comforting treats on the walk home.

Treats this evening constituted The Best Chips In The World (you may also know them as Red Rock Deli Potato Chips with Sea Salt) and a Bounty Bar. Hey, I'm a simple girl. All this is very important, as it means that you can leave work, and indeed stay late at work, safe in the knowledge that pleasantness awaits.

Step 4: I can give you more Meet entertainment needs

I signed up at the Blockbuster Videos that is one block from the office and half a block from the house, so that I could rent a movie without having to ride my bike the several small blocks to the Video Ezy on St Georges Rd. I know, I know. But that's just how it was today.

The lady made me fill in several forms, and gave me a hard time about not having a bill with proof of residence on it. And in my head I was all "hehe, jokes on you lady I'm only house sitting and I'll be GONE in a few weeks anyway!" but in reality feigned humility and pretended I still lived at Dudley St and several minutes later came away with Julie & Julia. This was something of a victory, as whilst in the office I'd been pondering the need for some pure feel-good escapism and the best I'd come up with was Mamma Mia. I know, I know. And so, still keeping with Meryl, I feel I really triumphed at the Blockbuster this evening. Julie & Julia was something I'd had every intention of seeing at the cinema. But as with so many movies, I had completely failed to get there. Also, if you don't know me/are a dimwit, I am mildly food obsessed, which is to say, I'm happy to think, talk, read, hear about food anywhere anytime. Also to eat. This is very important.

Step 5: Get home to a piss and shit free house

The madly defecating cat seems to calm down her frenzied excretions in direct correlation to time I spend at home. I was here last night and this morning, and thus, by miracle and demented cat logic, there was no shit this evening. Hallelujah.

Step 6: Talk to my family

Yes, this makes me one of those people that other people who don't get along with their families think is a schmuck. But I haven't had a proper conversation with my Mum or my Dad (divorced) in weeks. And there have been some broader family-related things going on. And it was very grounding to speak to both of them. And to be able to blurt out how manic I've been feeling, to a non-judgemental audience (Christ, just writing that makes me realise how lucky I am with my hardly-perfect-but-extremely-otherwise-functional parents).

Step 7: Crack a bottle of wine

I had a 2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris in the fridge, and it complemented my dinner perfectly.

Step 8: Watch entire movie

I curled up, cat nuzzling my knee, and ate my way through the chips, more wine, and then the bounty, watching Julie & Julia.  And it was thoroughly delightful. It featured relatable women: smart, funny, with unutterably amazing partners, but who were perhaps a little lost. Oh yes, and who were food obsessed. I realise that every woman aged 30 who has seen this film has probably also thought this, but c'mon you guys, this was shouting out to me.

Obviously* I had a little cry during parts of the movie, and that was nice too.

Step 9:  Write on blog

It has been ages since I've had any dedicated brain capacity for anything that isn't work related. And as it's most likely boring and definitely completely inappropriate to write about work on this blog, I haven't written at all. It's good to write.

Step 10: Go to bed

This is the step I'm most looking forward to! Little poo-bum cat will come and curl up in the crook of my knee, the breeze from the open window will waft around the room , and my head will sink into the cool darkness of the squishy pillows until my alarm tells me it's time to go for a run, at sparrows' fart tomorrow.

Thoughts on Julia Childs' French cooking.

Obviously, it looked magnificent. And I am in complete agreement with her thoughts on butter (ie you can never have too much). But it didn't make me salivate the way that Mediterrainean or Middle Eastern or South East Asian cooking can. It was all meat and potatoes and European flavours. It screamed STODGE. Which is not to deny that any of the dishes would be anything but exquisite. But for a whole year?!

But I did love her intrigue with the science of cooking - that will make a souffle rise or a sauce emulsify or a combination of flavours explode. And the extravagance of some of the recipes were awe inspiring in themselves. I also really enjoyed the demented perseverance of Julie Powell, who must have been a sleep deprived loon for the love of cooking. And while the movie focussed on her job and her culinary feats, all I could think was "and she's still managing to writer her blog every day!" . That's a dedication to writing that is clearly well beyond me and I have to admire.

And so, with these thoughts, I wish you Bon Appetite, and good night.

* I cry in everything. EVERYTHING. Like Terminator Salvation, and RSPCA commercials and terrible rom coms. I'm beyond shame, it's who I am, and I've learnt to live with it. And the movie was quite touching in places.  Although it should probably also be noted that in the last few weeks I've been (not)dealing with this sudden burden of stress at work by being basically on the verge of tears a good 90% of the time, and spazzing out in more ways than one. So.