For a while, life was feeling wholly bland and tasteless, as though I lived in an apartment with all-beige walls and dank black carpet, and spent my days taking long commutes to a dull job in a stark white office.
Anyway, I'm still not sure if this was cause or effect, but around the same time I lost all inclination to cook. Frighteningly, I can't remember what I've been eating for the past two months. The fact that I always seem to be buying only bread, salad leaves and tomatoes implies that the answer might be "sandwiches". Which isn't exactly suicide by poor diet, but still, I felt I was missing out.
So this is my attempt to bring the flavour back. In addition to the quick meals that are a necessity during the week, at least once a week I'll try a new recipe, preferably one that uses fresh basic ingredients rather than prepared mixes. The extra incentive was finding that I'm not alone; my good friend Maggie will be jumping in and joining me on this little project.
Well, remotely, at any rate. It's a bit hard to share a kitchen when one of you is in Sydney and the other in Singapore. But it's good to see the life coming back into my eyes and tastebuds. It's good to be mixing marinades again, and doing the intricate choreography of the Baste With One Hand, Hold Up Oven Rack With The Other And For Goodness' Sakes Don't Burn Yourself Again! dance.
Here's last Sunday's subject: slow-roasted pork in a lemon rosemary marinade. As always, so many lessons to be picked up.
First, that I can cook pork that isn't better used as a baseball mitt than human feed, after all. Wonders will never cease.
Second, that parsnips and potatoes take an impossibly long time to cook in the oven. I was so tempted to yank them out and boil the lot, but they were hot and there are only so many times you want to do the dance in a given day.
Third, that you can mess with a good thing and not regret it. Raw pears, yummy. Pears soaked in lemon rosemary marinade and roasted with the pork, potatoes and parsnips, even yummier. The pears, being very sweet to start with, were the only things to come out from the lemon assault relatively unharmed.
Fourth, that I should be much more sparing with the lemon in the lemon rosemary marinade next time. It's just, I had so much fun hand-juicing them that I completely forgot to think of the repercussions taste-wise. Note to self: Save the lemons and get a stress ball.
So the taste wasn't great because of the overpowering sourness, but it was nothing that could not be helped with a generous pile of chopped mint and bread in a homemade red wine vinaigrette.
It's nice to be cooking again.