It had been sat there glaring at me from the middle of my ‘to do’ list for well over a week…..months it felt like…’write blog’ it said, so simple when I started, the last one: the first, was very simple and the subject matter and where i was going with it felt so straightforward; it knew there were loads of ‘blog entries’ rustling beneath the surface wanting a look in.
Unfortunately I forgot about my ability to stop….the moment where I start to go into a dwam, its taken me years to realise that it happens just before I do something. I need activity to break it, the right activity, the thing that needs to be done, needs to be started; I cant settle down and get the ‘other stuff’ done , that lurking ‘to do list’ if theres something urgent I’m ignoring, it can be as simple as the house REALLY needs tidying up…….THIS time….it was more complex, the weather unseasonally cold and wet, was threatening to induce mistimed hibernation ,but my daughters birthday was imminent. Ten of our closest friends with sixteen children between them were coming round, a flurry of cakes were waiting in my imagination like a corps de ballet in the wings anticipating a dance of cream cheese, honey and cinnamon frosting; chestnut flour nutritiously clumped dreaming of the lick of dark chocolate to ooze between its morsels, and swathes of dried fruit, cherries and peels, treacle and ginger and sharp cutting lemons gathered in my kitchen, hid within the tunnels of boxes under the furniture, wanting, needing, passionately inclined to frolic across the wooden cake stand once
But there I sat, trying to figure out where to start and frustrated by the sudden cessation of writing, then the witching hour settled, the countdown had started whilst I barely stirred from my stupor, it was less than 24 hours until I had promised a hedgehog cake, of sumptuous chocolate almonds and chestnuts, and our friends would arrive, so I went heavy headed, made a start in the kitchen, gathered ingredients…. It took a while a few moments. The beginnings of a red full moon rose in the sky, I grated the first of those golden lemons, my corpuscles jumped at the scent, my brain mist dispersed as the oils drifted across the kitchen, my first inspiration returned, here was where it all began….I cook, I really cook, I can create new flavours from the memory of smells, as I now try to do with words, the recipe books are mere aesthetics, I don’t cook like this very much anymore , it creates an intensity I find hard to embrace without reward, I recoil from the over worn phrase: ‘giving birth to a story’, but that rush I get when a new story develops like this Summer’s Pheonix resplendent from the flames, is one I get when I cook, and now with my storytelling vibrant and coming naturally I realise that this is the story I had to tell, this time it wasn’t to be written or told it was to come from the oven warm and rich….
the stories are always hardest when theres a huge personal chunk, and thats why cooking is so emotive, there was that hedgehog hibernating devoted to my daughter, rich with mood enhancing nuts, to keep her brave and strong, full of chocolate, and intensely deeply sweet. Sticky iron rich treacle filled ginger cake, the spice called the red dragon mother, topped by crystalized orange peel, totally free from fat especially for my mother whose gallstones direct such endeavors. Extra tiny chocolate cakes for my friends daughter who believes cake without chocolate is living a lie, a mere malt loaf usurper. Apple and cinnamon cakes topped by that honeyed cream cheese for the friend I sat with every Thursday afternoon a tribute to the carrot cake we ate during the first baby years, who I know saw cream cheese topped cake as a survival tactic, a reminiscence of the roots of our friendship. Spiced aduki beans, with tomatoes and sweet potatoes thick with cumin, cinnamon,turmeric to ease the cava down, atop deep yellow barley the joy of saffron alive with goji and dark green parsley, tiny buckwheat blini the rich bean dish I knew two friends particularly would love as they tried to guess the spices so rapidly erased from my memory as they’d trickled through my fingers with a life and thrill of their own….. It was all a story, this was a story of my friends, as I work and write drift in and out of a world of plants and herbs, of stories, of my child, I do not spend the time listening to my friends as well as I once did, but the story comes out when I cook, as I imagine who will like what, as I tailor ingredients, put packages aside for people who didn’t come…..its all a story, just which story on which day and how it is given and to whom varies and it can change, its just how we fly through it and how it feels that changes,the impact is often the same…..
Link to recipe for Spicy three bean dish: https://www.facebook.com/notes/amanda-edmiston-herbs-movement-and-grand-drama/three-colours-of-spicy-beans-from-301211-blog/301650469872108