Bring Out the Branston

If music be the food of love, I’ll have cheese and pickles, thanks.

Someone told me today that she was nervous about cooking for me at an imminent 50th-birthday girls’ weekend away because I’m a “food critic”.

Ha! Little did they know that only minutes after that brief email exchange, I would be standing at the kitchen bench bingeing on Branston pickle, Aldi Far-Too-Salty Sea Salt And Cracked Black Pepper Biscuits, Cracker Barrel Extra-Ancient Tasty Cheddar, and a long-forgotten scrap of brie – sans plate, sans napkin, sans taste, sans everything.

Well, maybe not sans taste.

And that shortly afterwards, I would be making a cup of strong, milky Rosie Lee, all the better to dunk what remains of a packet of Aldi’s Belmont Biscuit Co Dark Chocolate Palazzo Cookies.

Two, it turns out.

It’s week three of life sans the silver fox, who is back in Old Blighty for a month, steadfastly gaining weight and developing sclerosis of the liver under the watchful eyes of his family.

Back here, keeping the home fires burning in Royal Botania has meant a smug and healthy series of toothsome Big Chopped-up Salad Dinners, much like the ones I posted recipes for a few months back, when my cooking – and writing – mojo was in better shape than it is at the moment. Thank you Meat Free Week – always an inspiration.

Stupidly, rather than taking full advantage of my temporary singlehood and going out partying every night, I loaded myself up with so much work that most evenings have been spent hunched over a laptop at home after a day hunched over a desktop somewhere else. Ditto weekends.

Any spare time I’ve had has been spent doing back stretches on the floor to counter all the hunching, with the full dead weight of a sleeping chocolate Labrador crushed against my side. We’re both missing the silver fox.

Except when there’s something decent on the telly.

But tonight was different, my work was done. Lucy had been walked and had: a) not dug up the garden for the third consecutive working day; b) not succeeded in any self-harm by ingestion while on said walk. It was a good night – a night full of salady promise.

All I had to do was put the bins out: “Look over the road to see what the neighbours have put out,” quoth the silver fox as he bid me adieu. “That way you’ll know if it’s recycling week.” He was right.

His advice heeded, I returned to the kitchen, flushed with victory but overcome by a violent post-work, post-walk, post-bin low-sugar plunge, which only large volumes of crackers and the aforementioned cheese and pickle could cure, and which in turn ruled out eating, let alone cooking, anything else for a very long time.

Which is a pity, because today is Monetise This’s second birthday, and I’d have liked to have cooked it something nice.