Time Out from Marcella – With Margaret Fulton, Weight Watchers and Marcella #117 (of 466)

You may argue that my ‘time out’ has been time out from blogging. Since my last post, 17 days ago, I’ve been back at work, speaking at an evening on Mentoring Women, speaking at a Women’s Weekend Away, and hosting various visitors staying in my home. I’m probably ready for some more time out. Meanwhile, I have fond memories of a ‘time out’ visit to a cafe in Sydney’s CBD, where my order was delivered according to the animal on my table – not a table number. Nice touch!

A sheep?

A sheep?

Regular readers may also have noticed that I’ve been on a break from my cooking adventures with Marcella Hazan’s ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.’ This was partly due to a few weeks of relative hibernation – and I rarely cook her recipes just for me. It was also due to a concerted and, so far, successful attempt to shed some kilos and once again fit into my clothes (I am 3 kilos lighter).

Thus my cooking has revolved around Weight Watchers recipes. It has been interesting – but nowhere near as tasty as Marcella’s recipes!

A visitor staying, a desire for a simple ‘poached pears’ recipe, and a two-month look at Margaret Fulton’s cookbooks on The Cookbook Guru, had me turning to Margaret’s recipe for Poached Pears. Hers included a macaron-like stuffing of pistachios. I was lacking in time and pistachios, so I skipped the stuffing. Her poached pears had very little sugar in the poaching syrup (some recipes online called for 2 cups of sugar!!) and worked beautifully. A simple scoop of vanilla ice cream on top was all that was needed.

Poached Pears

Poached Pears

Two nights ago, I experienced a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of a tunnel of weakness, a taste of the old energetic, hospitable life I long for once again. I had four students, from the college where I’m working this year, come for dinner and a chat about the future possibility of them living, working and sharing God’s love in other parts of the world. They each had their eyes set on different corners of the globe. We chatted and dreamed as we shared Italian food together. I cooked Marcella’s ‘Chicken with Lemons’ (this is the third time I’ve cooked this!) and her ‘Potatoes with Onions, Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper’ as a side. Simple and delicious!

Steam from the pan fogging up my camera!

Steam from the pan fogging up my camera!

I’m not up to a repeat performance anytime soon – but it was good to keep the hospitality flame burning!

Wednesday Night: #117 ‘Potatoes with Onions, Tomatoes and Sweet Pepper’, with four students and their dreams, at my table.

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The Solace of Simplicity – With Marcella #69 (of 466)

I am presently in need of simplicity.

Thus, I have been having dinners of leftovers from the freezer, making much use of the humble egg on toast and loving the return to porridge for breakfast each morning.

I haven’t made much headway with the Marcella project in the past week or so. So, after tiring of food eaten out (a little too rich) and food eaten from the freezer (a little too microwaved), I thought I’d give Marcella’s much-praised ‘Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter’ a whirl.

Simplicity itself! Open a tin of tomatoes and plop them into a saucepan. Peel and halve an onion and plop that in. Slice off a chunk of butter and plop that in. Simmer gently for 45 mins. Boil some pasta. Remove onion halves. Pour sauce over pasta.

It was delicious! So perfectly tasty and simple.

Last Monday I had made use of my first ever batch of Chicken Stock and made the Malouf’s ‘Golden Chicken Soup with Coriander, Garlic and Parsley’. I had three friends join me and we enjoyed every spoonful of it. Chicken soup truly is good for one’s body and soul.

My soup was not so ‘golden’ and for the life of me I couldn’t locate where the coriander came into it – until the next day I realised that there was a call for a blob of ‘Taklia’ at the end….I’d missed that. Taklia is a paste with coriander and garlic. Still, it was yummy as it was.

Golden Chicken Soup with Coriander, Garlic and Parsley

Golden Chicken Soup with Coriander, Garlic and Parsley

 

I’ll try revisiting ‘Saha’ before this month is out and the Cookbook Guru moves on to another book.

Tonight, though, I will be having the leftover pasta and sauce from last night – microwaved and all!

Last Monday: #69 ‘Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter’ with just me at my coffee table.

 

 

A Friend in Need – Indeed!

In my younger years, I could never quite grasp the proverbial affirmation that ‘a friend in need was a friend indeed.’

I wondered how a friend that had needs could be much of a friend to me – certainly not to the extent that warranted an ‘indeed’

Or was it that a friend that is there for me when I was in need was a friend indeed?

Or was it that a friend who was to help me in my time of need would have to be a friend in deed?

Anyway, all this to say that in the last couple of days I have had some friends in my need and they have been friends indeed and in deed!

Friends sent a new magnetic fridge poetry set to replace the one I had lost in an episode with no poetic justice to speak of.

There's only one 'friend' and no 'indeed' in the set.

There’s only one ‘friend’ and no ‘indeed’ in the set.

They sent the poetic magnets via friends who offered ears (to listen) and a beautiful meal (to eat).

A friend dropped by earlier today with cheery pink flowers from her garden.

My housemate (admittedly without prior consent, but later willingly) supplied the requisite tin of tomatoes and tablespoon of tomato paste to add to this soup:

Poetry and Soup 003

Spicy Tomato Soup

 

Inspired by the Cookbook Guru to explore the cookbook of the month, ‘Saha’, I made the ‘Spicy Tomato Soup’ for dinner last night and had leftovers just now for my lunch.

I actually remembered to take a photo of it (long-time readers of this blog will know that I’m trying to make an effort here) and I thought that I was being all ‘foodie-arty’ by adding a garnish of parsley….but then realised that I must have been subconsciously inspired by the blog post with photo that I had seen this morning. Take a look and judge for yourself.

Tonight I have a friend coming over for a simple dinner of chicken soup. I made the stock last night, from the recipe in ‘Saha’. It was made from the frozen (and defrosted) carcasses and bones from past ‘Marcellan’ meals.

I’ve never made chicken stock or chicken soup before.

I’ve heard it’s good for you in times of need 🙂