Tuesday, 13 September 2011
I know this blog is supposed to be about books, but today I want to describe the anatomy of a couscous dish I made - perhaps that should be 'assembled' - last night for supper. The whole thing began by buying a pack of new potatoes with a knob of butter already inside, the sort you are meant to microwave, and a pack of carrot batons. The potatoes were already at their best by or sell by date, so after a day or two, I took them out of the fridge and tipped them into a frying pan for fear they might go bad. As long as they were sitting in the frying pan looking at me, I could not forget them. One had already gone a bit dark and mushy on one side so I threw it away. I cooked the carrot batons in the normal way, by boiling them in water. Another day passed. I decided to make soup. I chopped up an onion and some cloves of garlic and softened them in some sunflower oil, then added the potatoes in quarters, and the carrots. After five minutes or so I added water to cover and a spoonful of Marigold vegetable stock powder. The soup was not very tasty, so that evening, I took a ladle full and added it to a tin of Baxter's Highland Crofter soup, made with pearl barley, beef and lamb. The soup was a surprising tomato colour, but did add to the interest of my homemade effort. In the way of things, the ladleful plus tin of soup was annoyingly more than I could manage for supper, but too much to throw away. I had three spindly courgettes by me, locally grown, and a pack of couscous so (you're guessing already) last night I sliced up the courgettes, added a good sprinkle (for the scientifically minded about 200gm) of couscous mix brought the whole damn thing to the boil, added a little boiling water and left with the lid on for twenty minutes. It was absolutely delicious, but of course unrepeatable in the sense that no one in their right mind would have set out to make it from scratch. Lots of home cooking is like that - miracles of happenstance and makeshiftery you wouldn't ever put in a recipe book. Rather like Life Itself, in fact.