Friday, July 04, 2008

A Day in the Life, or how to make my piquant sauce To Die For

Sometimes I'm struck by the various skills and abilities I have, seemingly quite independent of my conscious mind. Today I found my fingers delicately picking up and feeling tomatoes at the shop, knowing by gentle feeling whether they were just right or not, and taking pleasure in knowing and feeling it, my mind elsewhere, as it often is, but my body working cleverly, with experience and enjoyment.

Continue the success story with cooking. Take an oven dish big enough to hold your fillet of salmon. Squeeze into it the juice of a lemon - or like today, a lemon and a half, why not. Add enough runny honey, and sea salt, and ground mixed chillipepper spice. Take the bottle of Gewürztdaminer Mezzacorona out of the fridge (no, it didn't really have enough time to cool while you drank the mouthful of cider leftover from two weeks ago and smoked a ciggie on the balcony, and began preparing the marinade, but that just can't be helped now), open it, pour a glassful and tip it into the oven dish and another for yourself. Taste it and find it nice. Acknowledge the fact that, indeed, it did not have quite enough time to go cold. Mix the marinade ingredients in the oven dish with a spoon or similar. Place your salmon fillet, face down, skin-side up, into the marinade. Put the bally lot back into the fridge.

Take and chop up finely a red onion and enough garlic. Saute gently in olive oil until soft and lovely. Add some flour (oh - you will have boiled the kettle for a pint of fish stock. Shop-bought will do) but go easy on it - you don't want a thick squidgy sauce, you want it just right. Allow the flour to cook just a little and remove from heat. Stir in the stock - little by little is good, so you achieve a homogenous consistency each time before adding more stock. This will ensure the sauce is not lumpy. (And oh again - you will have heated your oven up to 200° C whilst diddling with the onions cetra). Once all the stock is added, bring to boil. Your oven will most likely have just heated up now, ready like a reliable actor in the wings, on cue, so do now take the salmon in its oven dish out of the fridge and, holding on to the salmon so as not to lose it, pour the lovely stingy sweet-sour piquant marinade into the sauce. Smear the skin side of the salmon with oil (if you have a cheapo less nice one bought e.g. by your mother, it will be good enough this time - it's only to easy the job of the washer-upper afterwards, as the skin isn't really worth eating in this dish), tip him over (face up, skin-side down) and pop him in the oven.

Take a break. Go and speak with your mother on the phone about your cousin's wife and the fact you both suspect she's either mad or has post-puertum exhaustia and compulsive disorders, while painting your toenails and smoking (the balcony is good for this - the day is as hot as these latitudes will allow). Once finished with both the phonecall and the toenails, pour yourself some more wine (it's even nicer now it's properly chilled), put the new potatoes you mean to boil in the sink with some cold water, and a pot of water for them, to boil. Drink some wine. Start writing a blog post. Go back and wash the potatoes so they, in their turn, are ready and waiting like good reliable actors cetra when their cue comes. Go back to drink more wine. Don't forget to stir and taste your lovely sauce every now and then. It is gorgeous, if I say so myself. Continue with your blog post and the wine. Have another cigarette.

In your near future, you foresee having to super-rapidly throw together your favourite salad - spinach, tomato, feta cheese, lightly-roasted pine nuts, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (curse the fact you forgot to buy olives, again, and worry over whether to use a bit of avocado or save it all till tomorrow when it would be properly soft), as well as eating, putting on that designer-label summer dress you bought second hand for a mere 12€ and have washed and ironed, but not worn, and maybe some make up and hair fiddling although maybe not, and hurrying off to hear your friends play their music and allow their new films to be viewed. Be aware that after the official programme has finished, the sweltering evening will most likely degenerate into drinking more wine and being all cultural and artsy.

Have another cigarette, add fresh dill to the To Die For sauce (leaves and stalks - use scissors, it's more fun) and to your drained new potatoes. Realise your blog post lacks all the wee details you wanted it to have - how your cooker and kitchen are freshly cleaned yesterday, how you put kitchen paper atop your drained potatoes (and the lid on tight - they cook to perfection in their own steam).

Don't forget the feeling of the tomatoes, though, that was a lovely find.


Reading the Signs said...

Two problems: 1) I have given up smoking cigarettes and 3) I have virtually no contact with my only male cousin, know very little about his private life - and do I have to call my mother in order for this dish to be as exquisite as it sounds?

Actually problem number one may be resolvable as temporary sanity-preserving measures are currently in place by virtue of a packet of Golden Virginia and blue Rizla papers. I have not said this, ok? Not referring to it on my own blog means it isn't happening and I am still squeaky clean and smoke-free.

And I suppose I could dredge up another relative to talk about. Having a long conversation with the Mater while all this is going on might mean imbibing a fair bit of (Gewürzt,what?) alcohol.

Kitchen paper atop the spuds is a nice touch. I usually use a cloth towel - silly me.

I will say nothing about the state of my kitchen and cooker top.

Reading the Signs said...

- and another problem: I have forgotten how to count up to two.

Anna MR said...

Signs the Mathematician, hello. And hmmmmm. I've had to think long and hard about your innumerable problems, and have come to the conclusion that

1) secret consumption of a mixture of Golden Virginia and blue Rizlas will adequately compensate for the non-smoking of cigarettes (as well as temporarily preserve sanity). You never said a word about them, though.


7) both the phonecall, the mother, the cousin, his wife worries, and your toenails can be replaced with similar unrelated-to-anything activity which will, with its perfectly-timed yet totally natural duration underline to you the natural-talentedness of your cookery escapade. Although if conversations with Mater will help with imbibing a fair bit of Gewürztwas?, they are recommended. It's a nice wine.

34) a cloth towel is probably more environmentally friendly, being of a sustainable source and reusable nature, but to my credit we need to point out that I a) use a recyconomic kitchen paper and b) put the used stuff in my biowaste.

67) I will say nothing about the state of my kitchen or cooker top prior to the clean-up operation which took place over the course of the week. All I'll say it took days to come up with something resembling spotlessness.

99) we cannot help with your innumeracy plight. We did calculus mathematics and cried doing it. We were and, indeed, still are super proud of having done it, although we remember precious little about it (the symbol for integral we do remember but cannot get MacLaptop to repeat it, which we find supremely annoying. We couldn't do integral anymore, to be precise, but we do remember it was for some reason always harder than derivation, although it shouldn't have been.)

I was considering writing up another post today, but after careful consideration have come to the conclusion that it would be cheating, so will put it here for you, sweet sees:

Tomorrow, or
Another Day in the Life, or
how to make more food from yesterday's piquant sauce To Die For.

Boil some water for rice and, in a separate saucepan, heat up yesterday's sauce. You will have planned all this whilst out with your dog, she enjoying getting as mucky as is possible, you enjoying watching her enjoying herself getting as mucky as is possible, as well as whilst writing your blog comment replies, so it will go very smoothly. Besides it is piss-easy compared to yesterday's effort. Put the rice to cook under a tight-fitting lid (you like these) and chop up the remnants of the salmon into the sauce. While the rice cooks, prepare a salad of avocado, tomato, feta and pine nuts. Acknowledge the fact you have been bone-idle and haven't gone to the shop, hence you have no spinach or lettuce or basil or any other fresh green thing. Don't worry about it overly. Eat. Enjoy. Congratulate yourself. Drink more Gewürztdammer.

That's about it, for now, seeskins. Mwah and mwoh and see you soonskins. I hope.

Anna MR said...

PS Have a cigarette before you start.

nmj said...

Cyberfinn, I can feel the tomatoes from here.

I want you to come and make me this salmon right now, it sounds so seductive and delicious!

I am still trying to clean a dish that I baked chicken in a week ago, the marinade got a bit charred - I'm still soaking the dish.

Anna MR said...

My Cyberfriend, the author of books (not long to go now, eh? It must feel so fabulous and you must be so excited. I am excited), there's something too fabulous about you feeling the tomatoes all the way from there. And do you know, I have been looking at flights but oh, they don't seem to be doing my bidding - how the hell did you get here, was it via London? It was, wasn't it. But in any case, rest assured, eventually I'll be there and if you so insist, shall cook the salmon (nervous now, should know better than to sing my own praise as I did in the post, so help me...)

And oven dishes are just flawed in that marinade and other yummies seem to weld onto them in the oven. What's that all about? They should surely be made so they could be just wiped clean.

Hello, honey, by the way, totally lovely to see you. x

Reading the Signs said...

Ms Calcula Culninaria, you are a mathematician after my own heart - making it up as you go along. Which is clearly what you do with the cooking. And I echo what Ms Booklegs says in her second para.

I am very grateful indeed that you think to provide me with suitable menus, as this is something I find an increasing pain to have to think about, and even though I'm still (in theory) on this low carb regime (give or take a packet of biscuits or two and cake, obviously), you can't really live without rice so the recipe looks very good. Problem: I have no dog to take out for walks and get mucky with, hence I won't have been able to think this up, will I? You will think I am being too literal about this, I know. Being too bone-idle to stock up on appropriate green stuff is, however, no problem. Yes, I can do that. And I overcome the no-dog problem and pretend I have been rolling around on the patio with my cat.

I have just roasted a chicken and eaten it with broccoli and drunk white wine spritzers. Am congratulating myself.

Merkin said...

Needless to say, The Merkin has such a touch with regard to marrying flavours that a recipe book is only in the library for the lovely pictures.
However, were I to actually use one of those books I would love it to be as written by MrA.
Lovely stuff.

PS Welcome MrA.

Merkin said...

PS when I heard the Hoosiers, I was immediately reminded of Gruppo Sportivo and Beep beep Love.

LottieP said...

Cam I come to dinner? I can be there in 16 hours.

Hope all's well


nmj said...

cyberfinecook, i did indeed go over london, it was a nightmare, so much walking and renovation, Dr Who-like corridors, miles & miles of them, but i think it cannot be avoided... can it be almost a year since i came over? i wish i could give you a date for launch, i am hoping that once the books come in to publisher (monday hopefully!), waterstone's can get sth in place. but you are welcome here anytime. x

Anna MR said...

Good Reading the Spritzs, dear sees, hello. Yes, yes, yes - mathematics, cooking, life, everything in between - making it up as I (we) go along seems to be the cure-all recipe (sometimes, though emphatically not always, for disaster, but hei. Disasters need people too). I have again thought hard about the problem you bring up and I hereby declare that pretending to roll about on the patio with the cat does not substitute for the dog activity I describe, but actually rolling around does. So worry not, the recipe will work with the ingredients you can supply.

May I congratulate you on "Calcula Culinaria" - what a wonder title for me. I shall print it on t-shirts. It's a gem. Your food sounds pretty good too, although chickens fly and thus are out of my list of edibles (nothing that flies or runs is on it) - but I'm sure it was nice.

And, you know, you be careful what you wish for. One day you may find me making it up as I go along in your kitchen.

(Oh - and also. I saw over at Ms Booklegs (again, what a fine invention, seeskins) that you are allergic to penicillin. Didn't want to mess up her pages with my nonsense (hello, Cyberhoney) but you will not be surprised to know that I am also. Of course. I swell up. Have had it twice, the reaction was umpteen thousand times worse second time round, have been advised not to try a third time, as I may swell inwards. Antibiotics are okay - although very trying on the tum. This information comes to you free, because we're separated at birth.)

Mwahs from the wilderness, sees - that's where I am tonight. Lovely.

Anna MR said...

Hello Merkin and thank you for the fine links you supply (the leopard-skin leotards were quite something else). Thank you also for the fine cookbook compliment - funny you should say that, actually, for long ago when I was young and lacking money but amply supplied with time and small children, in Wales, I had this idea that I'd write a cookbook. I had it all planned - you see, in those days they said a cookbook was terribly easy to get published, and once you'd published one, you were a published author and it was a whole heap easier to get your other stuff published too. A sneaky route into authordom. Anyway, my cookbook was going to be called Soup from a Stone, and it would have included all manner of recipes thrown together from the odds and ends people have in their fridge - bits of leftover mashed potato turned into delicious hearty potato cakes, that sort of thing. For some reason I never got round to it in the end - but if someone lands here with theft in their mind (not meaning you, Merkin), the idea is © me, so help me.

Anna MR said...

Lottie - of course. Just let me know when you're leaving and I'll get the wine and salmon (and the wine, dammit, is not called "Gewürztdammer" as I claimed in a comment, or even "Gewürztdaminer" as I claim in the post itself. It's called Gewürztraminer, and I'm officially a pleb).

Lovely to see you, by the way - and yes thank you, things are not as bad as they might be, and that's as much as one can hope for in life, no?

Hoping, however, that all's a little bit better than that for you, though.


Anna MR said...

Sweet Ms Booklegs - today's Monday so is it all go with the publishers now? God, it must be so very terribly exciting to finally, finally have it happen. Thank you for the open welcome you extend - seriously, big BIG thank you - but I think realistically it is now looking less likely I could make it there for the launch and/or during the summer. The ticket prices shoot up something silly if you don't buy well in advance, it seems - and oh woe, I'll be back to work on August 1st, and although I could maybe just about nip over for a weekend, I can't be taking weekdays off work. It's a right rotten thing and I'm sorry - but maybe I could come in the winter, after Christmas? I hear New Year's pretty good over in Scotland, Hogmanay and all that. In any case, sooner or later, and thank you again, sweetie.

Any book news, launch or others, though, do let me know immediately. Maybe the universe will sort it out somehow for me to attend.


Reading the Signs said...

Of course you are allergice to Penicillin. This and the webbed toes and all the other stuff. And now - get this - His Lordship has paid a visit and is talking about String Theory and I've done my best to sound like a Poet and Mystic in response to cover my ignorance (though of course I am a poet and mystic and intellectual) but I feel like a right nincompoop, I can tell you. Be a dear and go and say something intelligent, would you? But the long and the short of it (string, you know) is that you and I are probably conjoined twins, allergic to penicillin (or variations thereof), in any number of other parallel universes. drinking Gewürztwas and smoking one cig after another. Yes, especially that. Packet gets thrown out today when son arrives back, for I will no longer have the excuse.

Anna MR said...

Oh and oh and deary me and he has, hasn't he, sees. But what to do? For although I married a physicist once and was interested in the laws of physics (before that, you know) and actually have read a book on String Theory, all these are a fair few years ago, although the laws of physics would still be lovely, specially at the sub-atomic level when things get interesting, but they tend to carry associations, still. Hoping to get over them (associations), and what better reason than His Lordship's String Comments. But as for nipping over your place and saying something intelligent, oh oh. I'd be caught out immediately because it's obvious he knows a hefty amount about the string shite (about a lot of other shite too, I'm in no doubt). I may have to rev up here a little - or somewhere, in some dimension. In fact, it may take me some Time. In the meantime, though, you've come across beautifully as a Poet and Mystic and an Intellectual, so fret thee not. Just enjoy the return of SoS (shame about the ciggies, though).

Raising my glass of Gewürztwas to clink glasses in many parallel universes, dear sees - sadly, not in this one, just completely out of the stuff at the moment. But mwahs all the same, and I'll work on the strings, I promise.

Merkin said...

'For although I married a physicist once ....'
Beautiful. That should be in a book.

Reading the Signs said...

He'd right you know, Anna.

(Hi, Merkin.)

Anna MR said...

Merkin, Signskins, thank you kindly.

It would be super cool to write a book. But I'm a blogger, and, you know, that's cool in its own way too - no, for real. I really like the way one can add little loophole doors to other things, and pictures, and soundtracks, and stuff.

Not to mention communicate directly.

The final word on the matter: both books and blogs are necessary.

Apologies, incidentally, for having left you both unattended to for such a long while. I've been away and it's been mind-consuming. Hoping you're both well.

Reading the Signs said...

Well I think in the circumstances we might accept your apology, though Merkin and I have been sitting here twiddling our thumbs and we finished the peanuts and aperitifs ages ago.

And I find you've uttered another profound truth: both books and blogs are necessary. Though tell that to the punter on the street - huh.

Reading the Signs said...

- and now we've gone on to the avocado course, Anna, and if you find marks all over the walls it's because Merkin has been bashing his to a pulp. You really shouldn't leave us like this, because look what happens. Also, I've finished off the Gewürztwas.

Anna MR said...

The avocado course? I see. Signs, allow me to quote from Wikipedia:

"The word "avocado" comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl (testicle, a reference to the shape of the fruit)... Historically avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant and were not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to preserve a chaste image."

With this fact and quote in mind, your comment acquires some, um, undertones. In fact - you have turned my house into one of ill-repute, in my absence. But not to worry, that was rather a cool thing to have done. And yes, oh dear, I have left you here for a disgracefully long time. Let's uncork another bottle. I'm back now, for a couple of days anyway.

Reading the Signs said...

Anna! Merkin and I have been behaving with the utmost decorum, I can assure you. Well I have, anyway. Can I help it about the avocado? I just take life as it comes, you know? Oh, for pity's sake, don't smirk ...

Anna MR said...

Alright sees, I'll take your word for it. Although given the timespans involved and how long I've left you two here, unentertained as it were, it would be no wonder if you'd slipped into some indecorate behaviour, just to relieve the boredom.

Hello, anyway. I think I may be back, but time will tell.