We’ve been decorating a lot recently. Despite moving into the house we now live in in October last year, and endless trips to Homebase, we are still sanding, still painting, and still making trips to the timber yard at 6:30 am. I am not a gracious decorator. I have little to no idea what I’m doing, so await instruction, and then moan about whatever task I’ve been given. The prospect of cooking at the end of these long, sweaty, dusty days is not one I want to entertain.
And when I feel like that, I make these: speedy, spicy, peanut butter noodles.
We spent the last weekend in Edinburgh with my goddaughter and her parents. Friends from college days who, having actually put their money where their mouths are, and produced a real live human baby, I now deem impossibly grown up.
It must have been twenty years ago that I first tried mussels on holiday, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to shake off the sophistication I felt when eating moules mariniére for the first time.
Lately, I have dreamt in custard. Lying in bed last night, I could have sworn I could smell the faint boozy hum of vanilla, the richness of eggs and cream. It’s not surprising. Over the last month, custard and I have become pretty well – if reluctantly – acquainted.
This week has not gone to plan. There wasn’t even a particularly clear plan from which it could veer, but veer it did, when I found myself on Tuesday morning stuck on the floor of my landing having slipped a disc.
My childhood was littered with quiche. Mostly quiche lorraine, from Marks and Spencer, served with baked beans and chips. It was my mother’s ultimate comfort supper and I was, without fail, a little brat about it. I was adamant that I didn’t like quiche, despite demolishing it whenever it was put in front of me.
Almost six years ago to the day, I completed my graduate diploma in law. A month later, I secured pupillage at a fantastic set of chambers, and prepared myself for a lifetime of criminal law. I was absolutely certain that I wanted to be a criminal barrister for the rest of my working life. But, four months ago, I handed in my notice. And yesterday, I left the bar.
Last night, I spent an unwilling half an hour playing freezer Tetris, trying to fit more lamb’s liver than I’d like to say around boxes of mini Magnums and bags of chicken stock. So when it came to supper, I wasn’t prepared to give my time to standing over a stove. Enter: perfect sausage pasta.
Sam has, for as long as I can remember, claimed lemon posset as his favourite pudding. Whenever I asked him what he wanted after supper or Sunday lunch, that would be his answer. I, on the other hand, could never be pinned down to one: the thought of having to choose between sticky toffee pudding and trifle, creme brûlée or tiramisu is horrifying. Even asking me to choose a winner between lemon sponge and ginger sponge is asking too much. I’m a flighty pudding eater, and I refuse to rank them. But Sam remained steadfast and certain: lemon posset.
This is my ultimate everything-will-be-ok supper. Something I make when I’m feeling sad or scared or just a bit hopeless. It revives, it reassures. It’s aromatic, and sweet and sour from the tamarind, and it is comforting without being heavy and stodgy. It’s everything you need on a dreary almost-summer Tuesday evening.