I was thinking about #sublimesunday and thinking what a great word sublime is. It makes me feel very peaceful. I've had a very nice week, with three lots of good news on Wednesday, two of them life-changing; the third I am simply pleased that it is coming to a conclusion.
Thursday was good, too, with two presents. One was a king-size goose down duvet. It is brilliant! Packed so tight in its box, it was hard to imagine how it would expand with a shake and fill with air. It is the lightest, cosiest, warmest cover and arrived with perfect timing along with freezing temperatures, icy nights and bitter winds.
This was the second present: a 22cm Le Creuset Provencale cast iron casserole. I have two very large dutch ovens, excellent for roasting whole chickens, or filling the shallow one with onions and potatoes and placing a leg of lamb on top to roast and taking the whole thing proudly to a table of eager faces, or putting a loaf pan of rye bread inside. I wanted something a little more dainty for side dishes or smaller, midweek, meals.
This is perfect. There is something very pleasing about the curved bowl shape of the pan. Le Creuset pans are very expensive, although they are fabulous to cook with. I like to save up and buy them in the sales or sometimes I am lucky and they are a special present. Each one is handcrafted, cast in a sand mould, and guaranteed for a life time. I used it today to slow cook the last of the red cabbage from the organic Christmas sack.
I spent some time today checking my plants and bringing the more vulnerable ones under cover. This is a jasmine and probably my most precious plant. It flowers in the Spring, pretty white blossoms with a delicious fragrance. Last winter it suffered in the arctic weather and I was so relieved when it grew back. This winter, I'm taking no chances.
Cooking and eating are one of the fundamentals for me. I love shopping for food, especially in markets, I like being able to buy a single red onion, a pepper, a little parsley, some tiny new potatoes or a portly flushed Bramley apple. Some years ago, I bought a wicker basket just for buying fruit and vegetables - floppy plastic bags or even a soft sided jute bag for life are not really good enough.
Here's my overwintering chillis. The one on the left is a Serrano, with three fruits just ripening; an Ancho in the middle and a novelty saucer shaped one on the right. Again, I've brought them under cover against the frost.
Jamie Oliver had a profound influence with his fifteen minute meals - building big tastes quickly and having a set of essential utensils to hand. He introduced me to duck-billed tongs and, you know, the cheapest aluminium ones are the best! They are light to hold, delicate and agile, sure-footed when you go to grab a slice of onion or a slippery sausage. Alongside them, my other favourite utensils are a slender little Sabatier paring knife and its sharpener, an OXO Good Grips swivel vegetable peeler and a fine grater. I use all of those pretty much every day.
Here are the chillis with their frost protection. They were in the porch, but the jasmine pushed them out!