Slow cooked meats and crinkled sheets

Not having a bathroom turns out to be an amazingly effective way to not do a whole lot things you’d think have nothing to do with having a bathroom. Like cooking, because everything is so dusty. And working, because how can I settle down without being able to get up to pee every 5 minutes. Of course I don’t actually do this, but it’s important to know that I can, so instead I end up spending afternoons in other places where they have flushing toilets, and coffee and whisky and wine and food. As we discovered with our new kitchen last year, half the price of renovations is hidden in all the money you spend trying to get away from the temporary devastation of your home.

But things come together after they fall apart, and we now have floor tiles and a flushing toilet and hot water in our taps again. Showering still has to take place elsewhere, but it won’t be long now before I can go back to my normally obsessive behaviour of visiting the gym only five instead of seven days a week. (Funny how you start to think that everyone notices when emerge from the gym looking fresh after just 10 minutes, and probably think you’re hopelessly conning yourself that somehow being in the vicinity of active gym bunnies has some effect).

Anyway, I’ve been trying to capitalise on quiet kitchen space this weekend, so yesterday I tried David Lebovitz’s recipe for carnitas: what we enjoyed for dinner was obviously inauthentic because we resorted to pita breads rather than tortillas, but the combination of very slowly cooked pork that was somehow crispy and super tender, together with avo, and some fresh herby chilli-ish salsa was right up there.

Next up are a couple of ducks legs which have been marinading in Mr. O’s suggested soy sauce, star anise, five spice and cinnamon concoction for a couple of days. They are halfway through their 3 hours of slow roasting in the oven, and the aromas are beginning their rounds. It won’t be confit, but it will be a juicy, ducky, crisp-skinned delight (which may even stretch to a Peking pancake or two sometime during the week).

Otherwise I have been delighted (thanks to a food listserv I belong to!) to find a very helpful instructional video on Youtube demonstrating the correct method to fold a fitted sheet. She makes it look so damn easy! I tried, and failed. Watched again, tried again, and failed again. I even submitted myself to pausing after every step to make sure I got it right. I still failed. I guess I should be thankful that I’m the only one in our household that cares about what the inside of a linen cupboard looks like. But damnit, I must figure it out.

(On a concluding note, I finally got round to reading the latest “food” edition of The Nation. Unsurprisingly, much of it is drivel, with the usual suspects – Alice Waters, Michael Pollan – saying the same thing they always say. The one article I do recommend is a literature review by Brent Cunningham (Columbia Journalism Review’s managing editor), and a very good critique of the evangelising tendency of “foodies”. Here’s a taste:

‘It is always easier, of course, to identify a problem than to solve it, but the good-food revolution feels stuck, unsure how to move beyond its evangelical phase, which has been fairly successful in raising awareness about the ills of the industrial food chain. To be sure, far from the panel-and-documentary circuit, some important work is under way to change how our food is produced and consumed: the efforts by governments and nonprofits to make farmers’ markets food-stamp friendly; the growth in states and cities of food-policy councils, which bring together citizens, government officials and other stakeholders in the food system to work on all manner of food-related issues; the increasing number of mayors who are adding good-food initiatives to their agendas (…). Yet these efforts are nascent and uneven, and the tenor of the movement is still dominated by big ideas with a facile and vaguely paternalistic quality that is frustrating. Eat less meat. Plant a garden. Cook. Understand that “cheap” food has hidden costs. Appoint a food czar.’

Hear hear. The food czars abound. Now, how do we dis-appoint them??)

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