Winter Cooking

Okay.  So I haven't written about food, or much of anything else, for a long time.  But days and days of dreary, rainy weather, short days with dim light for the studio, have driven me inside again.  And what better on these wintry days than my cozy old kitchen, whose stones hold molecules of meals consumed by people long gone.  I feel the smoke from those old fires wrapping around me like loving arms, whispering to me of families, of food generously prepared.

The chimneys are still there, although one of them now has a Norwegian wood burning stove in it.  The other one goes up to the bedroom above, but is no long usable so I put things there I want to keep cool – eggs, flours, sometimes cheese.  All in tight containers, of course, so spiders and other friendly insects can't get inside.  My mother would have been horrified at this crumbling storage area, black with centuries of unremovable suet, hung with spider webs until I clean them out and they return again. 

Anyway, my focus with food these days is more often economical, like using up leftovers, not because we need to, but because I want to.  The amount of food wasted here in the UK is appalling.  It must be many times worse in the US.  Part of that economy is simply  to avoid going to the supermarket, which I detest, which means often using up bits of what happens to be there. 

Today at lunch, for instance, the cupboard was pretty bare.  I made a short crust for a quiche, and then found 3 slices of bacon, and half of a sausage from last night,   I cooked the bacon, sliced the sausage into thin slices, thinly sliced a red onion and slowly caramelized it.  After cooking the crust, I put the meats and onions on the bottom, along with some frozen, grated Gruyere cheese I had left, poured a mixture of 3 beaten eggs, 1-l/1 cups of semi-skimmed milk, a pinch of salt and pepper over it all, and popped it in the oven for 30 minutes. 

It came out puffy and slightly browned, and perfectly delicious.  I made a little salad of arugula freshly picked from the garden with a balsamic/olive oil dressing and a pinch of salt.  Voila.  In not time at all, a pleasant little winter lunch.