Of late, as you know I have often been completely out of ideas about what to write about. Today, because of a series of events, or things I have come across I have so many interrelated thoughts that I don't know where to begin, or how to compose something logical out of them. So I thought I would list them all - and their coincidences, relationships, what I might write about ...
Beginning with the picture at left.
Yesterday when I was looking for the picture of Stephanie Alexander with her mandoline, I had to go through her book, Cooking and Travelling in South-west France, almost page by page, to find it. There are lots of beautiful pictures in the book - of food and of France - and this one, in particular somehow struck a chord with me. It was so like the soups I remembered from my time in France. So potential subject number one. I know that I have done soup before, but it's a big enough subject really to be able to compile something new surely?
From this came the phrase 'bonne femme'. The soups are often called Potage bonne femme and 'bonne femme' does not just apply to soup. I could explore that in all sorts of ways. Because it sort of means from home - mum's - all that sort of thing. Again I have done that before too, but perhaps not specifically 'bonne femme'.
Then came two coincidental and associated things. The first course of our Mercer's meal last night was Minestrone soup - and dare I say - that for once I thought my version is better. But anyway Minestrone is sort of the Italian version of Potage bonne femme, so could be included in the 'bonne femme' thing, or indeed given a whole post of its own.
Then after our meal I watched the lovely Monty Don rambling around French vegetable gardens - potagers - is the French word for them. So much to say about them - some of which, again, I have said before, but I could probably find something new.
So several ideas from one picture of soup.
Because of the soup thing I started looking through my cookbooks for other versions and came across a two page rant from Elizabeth David called 'Garlic presses are utterly useless'. Now how can you resist that? And that particular rant carried on with a rant about stock as well. So two more things to ruminate on there.
Still on Elizabeth David in her French Provincial Cooking she introduces her chapter on soups with a long piece about seasonality and a whole lot of other things, that are also worth delving into. And not forgetting Robert Carrier, who I believe she did not approve of, in his Great Dishes of the World at the beginning of his chapter on soups he extols the virtues of the blender. Something else to consider.
Then - potatoes, carrots, onions. This is virtually all I have in the way of fresh vegetables at the moment. I thought about this because we had to go to the supermarket today and I hoped to stock up on fresh vegetables. All I could bring myself to buy though - because of the high price of everything else - was a cauliflower. I do miss the Queen Vic market and am finding it hard to adapt to supermarket prices. And I've definitely done cauliflower, but not the really basic trio of potatoes, onions, carrots.
Also whilst still on the supermarket. I was going to get szechuan peppercorns, so that I could have a go at making my own five spice powder - as I talked about a few days ago. Surely they would have them thought I - they turn up in so many recipes these days. But there were none to be found. I checked online when I got home and no, neither Coles nor Woolworths have them. So there's a potential subject - why? And also what to do with them if I do find some - other than five spice powder that is.
Then I realised that I had 'missed' the fourth birthday of this blog, on July 16th or is the 15th. How to mark that? Or is it too late?
And last - for something completely different. I can't remember why now but I started thinking about how much I love maps, and then it occurred to me that recipes are a bit like maps really. Computer programs too - I'm trying to teach myself some basic coding at the moment. So that's something that could be explored.
The map shown here by the way is of where I spent most of my childhood - my home in Hornchurch and where I went to high school in Brentwood. The bit of river in the bottom left hand corner is the Thames.
Now I shall probably abandon most of those ideas, and something else even more potentially interesting may pop into my head too. Hopefully there is something to look forward to there. Sorry - this was a real ramble. What to say when there's nothing to say!