So the story goes - I am nominally following a 1940's inspired cleaning regime. So far, I have three excellently clean bedrooms, which are more or less staying that way, due to frenzied nagging on my part. For the past three weeks I have been meaning to 'thoroughly clean the kitchen on Friday'. Well, the first Friday I just stood in the kitchen and sighed a lot. My kitchen is not very rewarding to clean. It is 'on the waiting list' for renovation. Really, it would have more chance of getting fixed if it was on the waiting list for elective surgery. One day it will be our bedroom. Currently, a large part of it is covered with plywood where we ripped down the chimney in order to renovate the room behind it. That, plus the fact that the oven is still standing on the cupboard just where we ripped it out of the wall, and the fact that all the appliances in the kitchen are connected to extension cords draped artistically along the walls, give it that charming but authentic slum tenement look, so sought after by avant garde kitchen designers everywhere.
So, first week, sighing. The highlight of the second week was discovering that both my refrigerator crisper bins fit in the dishwasher at the same time. Stirring stuff. We now come to the third Friday, where again, I did, well, nothing. In my defence, I have been very conscientious in my morning and evening routines. With the dishes done, the sink gleaming, the table clear, the stovetop shining and the floor swept, the kitchen actually looks looks cleaner than it has done for years, and any further effort seems like gilding the lily. Also, Friday I picked up my fornightly box of organic vegies. I buy a huge box, far too much for us to eat while it is all still fresh, because I really want to be able to eat just from the box, and from our garden.
So, Friday night and Saturday every other week the kithchen resembles a witch's cavern as I chop, dice, stew, double, double toil and trouble through a giant box of fresh produce, occasionally stopping to consult 'Stephanie', world's fattest and most useful cook book, on how to work witchy magic on some tricky vegetable. I have discovered that peeling and chopping pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower, and throwing it in the freezer in icecream containers, still raw, preserves it beautifully, and gives me two weeks of pre-chopped veg, which is marvellous for busy evenings. Cooking 'from the box' has given me a whole new way of planning meals. Instead of planning meals from cook books, or my rather boring stock meal plans, I have to think of ways to use what is in the box and the garden. My theory is that the world's fabulous regional menus all developed out of desperation. 'Aaargh! We have three hundred and forty seven beets in the garden! Quick, make them into a soup and invite all the neighbours!'
This week, a giant bag of beautiful green basil clearly indicated pesto. Serendipitously, I also had a giant bag of walnuts from a friend's walnut farm, so I had the children in a production line, shelling walnuts, stripping leaves off basil and stuffing it in the food processor. We made four big batches of pesto, which I freeze in ice cube trays, then tip into ziploc bags to store in the freezer. Each cube serves one person for a lunch of pasta and pesto - a green and pungent echo on winter days of summer warmth. Skip the parmesan if you are freezing pesto, just add it in lashings as you serve...
We also have about a million tomatoes from the garden, and with a bag of eggplant in the box I made a giant pot of ratatouille, which the children were so excited about. I told them they should be grateful I was broadening their culinary horizons, but I tell them this so often that they kind of blank out while they think up various cunning ways of disposing of it when I am not looking. I am now trying to think of creative things to do with beetroot. The soup idea? Not so popular here.
So, there are my excuses. I think they add up to - I really couldn't be bothered, and then I was too, too busy. This week I shall have to do better with the excuses, or maybe actually clean...
Châteaux in the Loire
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