My Little Black (Cook) Book.
Some people have yoga, some people have meditation. Some people jump into freezing cold water on New Year’s Day in Siberia… but I have cooking. No matter what’s going on in my life, no matter how great the drama, the minute I set foot into a kitchen, any kitchen I’ll immediately start relaxing. I know what to do in a kitchen. I know how to be. In fact, I’m pretty sure if an asteroid were hurtling towards Earth and a bunch of giant space lizards were gobbling up every human in sight, I’d be found in a kitchen, searching through my little black book for my perfect scone recipe. Or better yet, banana bread. Because who doesn’t want to eat banana bread at any given opportunity? Or maybe that’s just me!
I’m just going through all of our things, almost 18 years of stuff to work out what to keep in storage, what to donate, sell or throw and what to take with us on our big trip and the first thing that went on my ‘to-take’ pile was my little black book. It’s a Moleskine notebook Tony brought me the first year we met, probably with the thought that I’d use it to jot down novel ideas or something. What’s happened instead is much better. The elastic strap that’s supposed to hold it closed is all stretched out now, but that doesn’t matter. Over the years it’s turned into a brilliant little time capsule with all the recipes I’ve collected from friends, from new places we’ve visited.
It’s got the first ever scone recipe I learned in it. It’s got recipes in it that I can only make in Borneo because I can’t find the ingredients anywhere else and one I can only make in Scotland because I don’t know anywhere else I can get squat lobster tails as good! And I’m not even going to begin to go on about the quality of the chicken you can get in the Middle East (no hormones, normal sized, super tasty) or I’m going to want to hop on a plane just so I can have authentic chicken shawarma again. (If I’m honest, I never got around to learning how to make that one, it just tasted so good when it was made for me!)
I know it’s easy to get recipes online nowadays, but it’s not the same as flicking through the pages and seeing a friend’s name next to a recipe, knowing that the dish I’m cooking is important to someone I care about. The book’s over half-way full right now. With luck, I’ll find a bunch more recipes (and memories) to fill it up over the next few years!