Sunday, Sunday…

20 09 2010

One of my Nana’s old sayings came back to me, yesterday morning, as I stood with M on a secluded beach with gusts of wind fairly punching us and sharp streaks of rain hammering our heads – “that’ll blow the cobwebs out”.

It was wild, woolly and magical and I was overjoyed to be out walking in it, feeling refreshed and energised by the power of nature.  We managed to get home just before a torrential downpour which encouraged a certain smugness – as if we were at one with the awesome temperament of the weather.

I feel viscerally affected by the sound and the might of a significant wind. I believe I become quite unfocused and more susceptible to mood changes. We were prepared for these storm conditions, due to the glut of doom and fear media coverage but aside from making sure we had candles and water,  no other accommodations were made.  There was nothing to do but ride it out.

We spent most of the day in a lazy haze of chatting and watching movies; napping on the sofa and cooking.  M, who is working towards his PhD, attempted to add a little research study to the mix but was uncharacteristically distracted.  Zuzu was in her own little world – alternating between cocooning herself in her warm and cozy bedroom and trailing me around the house, feeding me little snippets of interesting information.  At one point, we all sat down for a conversation about getting a puppy and a kitten.  It started with somewhat of an agenda which included time frame, duties and responsibilities and swiftly moved to breeds and colours and names.  I’m not sure we accomplished much more than agreeing we would all like a puppy,  soon-ish.

M mentioned that he hadn’t had cornbread for years. Zuzu couldn’t remember ever having cornbread (although I am sure she has had her share at Thanksgiving dinners in the U.S).  Suddenly, I was compelled to make cornbread. I did a quick search on google and found some strange-looking cornbread recipes as well as cornbread forums and heated discussions over such things as the efficacy of sugar in the recipe and oil vs melted butter.  I did not let that deter me and found a simple recipe that allowed me to use organic polenta  in place of fine cornmeal. I used this basic recipe from  The Fresh Loaf :

Basic Polenta Cornbread

Step 1: In one bowl, combine: 1 cup polenta, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar), 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt.

Step 2: In another bowl, combine: 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter, 1 egg.

Step 3: Mix them both together and pour into a greased pan ( I used  a square pan with parchment paper).

Step 4: Bake in 190°C oven for 20 – 25 mins. I left it in until the top was browning a little.

Zuzu wanted to make chili and I was happy to let her. I love knowing she is developing a nice little collection of meals that she can comfortably put together. I would like her to discover an interest in healthy and hearty cooking in her own way – I periodically solicit her help with my meal preparation (while it is still more fun than a chore) – and so far she seems to have a confidant attitude to creating interesting and tasty dishes.

The  recipe she used was a super quick  Can Do Chili that I discovered many years ago and have adapted to suit just about anything I have in the fridge or cupboards.

Step 1: Sauté 1 chopped onion, a few cloves of minced garlic, a ¼ tsp chili powder, salt and pepper.

Step 2: Stir in 3 cans of beans – drained and rinsed (this means anything from chick peas, four bean mix, black beans, lentils, cannellini beans, lima beans, broad beans, kidney beans). Add more cans if you are making chili for larger gathering.

Step 3: Stir in 1 can of peeled, chopped tomatoes (or more if needed).

Step 4: Add 1 can of spiced chili beans – usually found in the International section of the market near the tacos.

Step 5: Stir, checking spices and altering according to taste. Simmer on a low heat until ready to serve. I have also made this in a big pot during a power outage and put it on top of the fireplace.

There is so much you can do with this basic recipe. I often add fresh spinach at the last moment or corn kernels – I will use red or green lentils in place of beans, if I feel like it.  It really is up to you!

The wind was steadily howling all through the day and by the evening I found myself feeling a little fragile and weary. I sequestered myself for a few hours and vehemently insisted on some privacy – much to Zuzu’s annoyance. It was strange to have felt so buoyed by the wind’s tantrum in the morning, only to find myself having my own Greta Garbo – like tantrum in the evening.

"I want to be alone"

Later that night, as I lay with Zuzu talking about moods and behaviours, I couldn’t help but feel so fortunate that her temperament is so temperate. From time to time she has small outbursts which she clears up remarkably quickly and moves on without a trace of a grudge or residue irritation. I think that attitude will serve her well and I am doing all I can to learn from her.




2 responses

26 09 2010

Lovely post! Thanks for the recipe, I have the polenta on standby for another rainy night. 🙂

26 09 2010

Dear Mumma,

I love you, you are not just a good cooker… You are a great cooker.

I’ll see you when I get back from Warkworth & Hamilton, I’ll miss you.

I ❤ Yooooooou so much my mother of my heart & soul. xoxoxoxooxoxo

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