"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away." Marcus Aurelius
Today is the fifth birthday of this blog. The day after Bastille Day. I wonder if I was conscious of that when I began? Anyway it's a truly amazing thing that I am still tapping away here on the computer - and actually the same computer. In computer years my computer is now past it - I can no longer upgrade to the latest operating system - so it's ancient - almost eight years old to be precise. But there I go again digressing.
Back to the topic in hand - 5 years of this blog. It actually began, as my oldest (in terms of time spent reading my ramblings) readers will know, in another format. For Wix too - the software of my choice - also aged and made me switch to a new format at the beginning of last year. The website has always had the same name though because I simply couldn't think of a better one, although, just to keep you on your toes, the url is Rambling Rose, not Rosemary's Ramblings. But here I am, still rambling. I think Wix also insisted that the format of my old site Rosemary's ramblings 1 also had to change, and perhaps it doesn't look quite the same as it did originally. I'm not sure. Anyway it's still there if you want to check it out.
I had a quick look at my past birthday posts, and this is what I found.
I didn't a actually celebrate my first birthday. I think I was away in France on holiday, or just returned or even in the plane on the way home. Although I didn't know it, although I feared it, that was my last trip to France and to Italy. Alas I doubt very much that I shall ever see either again.
On my second birthday I wrote a post called Happy birthday to my blog which was mostly about what I had got out of writing the blog - discipline, a focus for my rambling thoughts, a new way of looking at the world, education on a huge range of topics that were not just food, brain exercise ... I'm sure there is much more and I continue to derive all those things from it.
For my third birthday I found this wonderful photo of Paul Bocuse and wrote a post called Paul Bocuse and celebrations which was mostly about Paul Bocuse who had died the year before, and how we celebrate - at flash restaurants like his often, and the importance of those celebrations. There was almost a passing reference to the birthday of the blog.
By last year I was obviously so into the swing of the blog, and probably so aware of all the COVID stuff - we were in our major lockdown - that I didn't even notice the birthday - or Bastille Day come to that. Life was a 'take every day as it comes' sort of thing.
Five is big though isn't it? It's half a decade. Well for a blog I think. Which is my excuse for repeating myself so often. But then again there is always something new in the world of food.
Anyway to celebrate I thought I would do a sort of repeat of that very first blog which was called Inside my fridge and which began with these words:
“improvising is wonderful. But, the thing is that you cannot improvise unless you know exactly what you're doing.” Christopher Walken
And I still don't know exactly what I am doing. What I am doing at all really. So began my foray into improvising and creating - I wrote about creativity in that blog as well - both on the blog and in my kitchen, where, of course, I had been improvising, and creating for years - beginning with the fridge:
"This is where it all starts. My leftovers book made me realise that the starting point for what I cook is always the fridge - the staples that I try to keep there all the time - milk, yoghurt, cream, eggs, cheese, fruit and vegetables, bacon - and then all the little jars of stuff to enhance and flavour. The picture is a snapshot of the contents of my fridge on July 15 2016 - but I’m willing to bet that they would be much the same at any time of year - the fruit and vegetables, just might be different."
And just to prove the point here is a similar snapshot of my fridge today - July 15 2021. The arrangement is a little different because David made me move all my little jars from the door into the fridge - he said they were too heavy for the door which was being dragged down. But it's pretty much the same mix. Those same basics - eggs, cheese, milk, cream, bread, yoghurt, various fresh fruits and vegetables, a few leftovers and lots of little jars of this and that. On that day back then I decided to make dinner from chicken, fennel, capsicum and some leftover rice. I think it was a sort of tray bake.
So today I am also going to create a meal from what I have in the fridge. Here are my ingredients - ham, an ear of corn, some cabbage, some beans and celery. The corn and the cabbage are probably a little bit past their best, but still Ok to use. Currently I am tossing up in my head between a soup - which will require me to make a focaccia or something to eat with it, or some kind of braised dish to serve with rice - perhaps using yoghurt for the sauce, or that bit of leftover tomatoey BBQ sauce, plus some passata and chilli, or even just some vegetable stock. Maybe milk - I need to use it before it goes off. Decisions, decisions. Braised says David. A green dish by the looks of things.
I also said in that long ago post:
"Improvisation is key to human progress and will probably be even more important in times to come if all the disaster scenarios come to pass. But creating a meal is a very small and insignificant example of improvisation - and we should be grateful that we live in a society where creating something from a vast array of possible ingredients is so everyday."
How very prescient of me. For the disaster came to pass, and it seemed like just about every celebrity chef was telling you how to create a meal from what was to hand. What went with what. How to use up every last scrap, New things to do with old ingredients. Jamie even created a whole TV series using his wife as cameraman with the phone as the camera. If that's not what improvisation is then what is? And we have improvised in so many ways over the whole COVID timespan have we not? Some have made fortunes from their creativity and quick thinking. Some are still learning. Some have suffered enormously. Adapt or die said Darwin and this crisis has more or less proved that point. Well maybe not die, not most people anyway, but suffer certainly.
"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these."
says one Paul Harvey. And he is right. And there always will be. So build those quarantine centres! Whilst at home we must learn to keep our pantries and fridges stocked with emergency provisions that won't go off, and then how to use them to make nourishing and delicious meals. And pass those skills on to the next generation in the process. And appreciate every little joyous moment, and every little piece of beauty and we see.
Here I am at the beginning of this blog's journey. Well - some time before actually - but it was an appropriate picture. I look thoughtful, though I'm probably just trying to pretend that David is not taking my photo - as if I'm planning something, and what's more I am anticipating a most delicious meal in one of the world's multitude of beautiful places. Another world, extraordinary, yet ordinary too. A moment in time - gone but remembered.
"Improvised of course from random thoughts that pop in and out of my brain."