Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Goodbye, the end

Now it's here, the end, I find myself uncharacteristically unable to think of anything profound to say.

I'm sure there's so much I've forgotten to tell you. The "drafts" folder of this blog is full of half-written posts, that stop in mid-air, trying to say something. But the thought was too vague, or I was too tired, demented, angry, self-pitying, or just busy, to finish it.

Some of you understand why this blog has to stop and others don't. The best way I can put it is that if I carry on, I will feel like I am betraying something.

Let me explain. Life with a two year old and a four year old is still demanding, but I can't deny that it's easier. At times it's even nice in the way that life with two under-threes, or a new baby, or being pregnant or whatever just isn't ever. Well not for me anyway. I was always having a good time despite something and I would briefly think "Look! Look it's not relentlessly crap!". Whereas now I find that, as a family, we all bring something. We all, also, take turns to ruin everything, don't get me wrong, but it's never one person consistently making it all bad.

And I really don't want to start writing posts that coyly go "And you know what, we actually had a pretty good time..." because that's just fucking annoying.

I've changed, too. When I was in the eye of the storm I was a better person, I thought more deeply, I was more sensitive, attuned and intellectually alive. Now all I think about is my career and clothes. That's it. I chase the high of a new commission and the high of total, sheer, vanity. It's abominable really and has no place in a blog that started out charting self-taught cookery, but has become a safe place for mothers demented and deranged by small children but unable to express how they are feeling, unable to find anyone else who can express what they're feeling either.

There's no shame in it - not everyone is good at expressing themselves. I'm not good at maths - in that I can barely even add 7 + 4. And I also can't really express myself in person, watching me trying to finish a sentence in real life is gruelling. But I can do it in writing.

So that's what I did and this is what this blog became. But I can't do it any more. I'm too distracted and shallow, and I don't want to let you all down.

I don't like goodbyes. Who does? Maybe there are some over-emotional people who relish leave-taking, the hugs, the vestibuling, the promises they don't intend to keep. Not me. I don't like it. I am an expert at what is known as the "French exit", which is when you go "I've just got to make a quick phone call" and then disappear in a swirl of cigarette smoke and Coco Chanel, not to be seen for the rest of the night.

There will be another blog. I'm working on it! I'm sure many of you won't like it and I'm sorry about that, but, you know, things have to change. Modernise or die! Anyway I will post a link here to the new blog when it's ready for those of you who aren't on Twitter - and everyone else will be able to find it on Twitter.

There has to be a farewell recipe,  of course, and here it is. This is a very old-fashioned thing I made recently from a recipe written by the Irish cookery writer Theodora FitzGibbon (no, me neither), which my husband absolutely and totally loved in a way that is actually quite unusual and noteworthy. (Though he may have just been hungry.)

It's a bizarre recipe - I've never seen call for boiled onions before - that speaks of a time and a location where there wasn't terribly much available and you had to use your imagination with what you have. I didn't hold out much hope for it, pork chops aren't that easy to render edible, but in fact this works very well.

So, for the very last time, here we go:

Theodora FitzGibbon's Stuffed Pork Chops
Serves 4

4 best pork chops
black pepper
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
50g butter
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
150ml warm milk
2 tbsp cream
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 extra large blob of butter
about 10 sage leaves, chopped.

Preheat your oven to 220C

1 FitzGibbon says "trim the chops" and, like, fuck knows what this means, but I just cut the skin off and tidied them up a bit. No idea if that's what I was supposed to do, but that's what I did. Put the chops onto a grill pan and scrunch over some turns of black pepper

2 Put the sliced onions into a saucepan, just cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

3 Heat the butter in another pan, then add the onions and sugar, and cook until they are soft - probably about 15 mins. Then mash with a fork or masher (I told you this was a mad recipe).

4 Add the flour to the onion mash and let it cook for a minute then add the warm milk and some of the onion liquor to make a thick sauce. Add a good quantity of salt and pepper and then stir through the cream and the chopped sage.

5 Grill the chops well on one side only and then transfer cooked side down into a roasting pan and cover the tops with the onion sauce. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, then a dot of butter and pepper.

6 Cook at 220C for 20 mins

Anyway so while you're thinking about all that, if you'll excuse me, I've just got to go and make a quick phone call.