Last year I learnt:
1 Why people wear coloured socks. It's not, as I previously thought, because they are insufferable optimists, looking to display their sunny personality through their jazzy footwear. Rather, it is so they don't end up wearing odd socks (one black sock does look so much like the other one and yet they are alwas fundamentally different in size and texture). And there is something really massively unsatisfactory about wearing odd socks. So I now have a lot of very colourful socks, and always wear matching pairs, and very zen I feel about it, too.
2 I cannot control events with the power of my mind. When I went to see Dr O with my nervous breakdown, I explained to her that I feel very superstitious about my anxiety. "I believe that if I worry enough about something, then it will not happen," I said. Dr O looked at me. "So what you are telling me," she said, "is that you can control events just with the power of your mind?" "No!" I shrieked. "It's more complicated than that." But it wasn't. That is what I believed. I don't believe that any more, and I am much less anxious. But I worry that I am less interesting.
3 I am not good at being flexible. When Kitty was very tiny I lived my life and hers by the clock. I'm talking to the second. From the outside it probably looked really mad but I was terrific at it and it worked. I never had to fret over whether she was hungry or tired because she was never hungry or tired because she was fed before she was ravenous and in her cot before she was hysterical. But now Kitty is nearly one and she's more of a real person rather than a blob and some days, like the rest of us, she is more tired or more or less hungry than others. So now I have to do a thing where I have to make about a million little decisions, from day to day, about whether this is one of those days that she needs to go back to bed at 9.45am for a little kip, or whether she can make it until lunchtime. And just between you and me, I hate it.
4 Being a lazy shitbag is okay only for so long. I am a quitter, through and through. I hate making an effort at anything, it causes me genuine pain. I don't like doing exercise, or "sticking at" things. When I think about having to put my clothes away at night I want to cry, so I don't and they pile up on the chair next to my bed until on morning, usually on a Sunday, it even repulses me so much that I do something about it. But last year, I had to persevere at some stuff. I couldn't give Kitty up for adoption, because everyone would know what I'd done and be SO unsympathetic. And I had to keep wearing my stupid fucking teeth braces to correct my teeth because both my husband and my dentist, Handsome Richard, made such an almighty fuss about me giving up. But now Kitty is so much less of a hassle than she was and my teeth are near as damnit straight that I now, with great reluctanct, admit that perseverence might not just be for massive square martyrish losers after all.
And so it is with dinner. The past few months have seen me so incredibly uninspired about food in general and dinner that I am just doing the same old things over and over again. It was mostly because I couldn't be BOTHERED to think about it. I would mull over our dinner options for about three minutes and as soon as I had settled on an old favourite I would just go with that.
But on the way to the shops yesterday I really thought about it and came up with a couple of things we really haven't ever had before, or hadn't had in ages. They don't comply with my husband's usual cry for things to be purchased from the Ginger Pig, or to be carb-free, but there's no time for that kind of dicking about this year. We must have variety, and vegetables, or we will all go mad.
So I did a very obvious dinner thing last night that was nonetheless really nice. It was very lazy pub-starter stuff - just a slab of ready-made puff pastry flattened and goat's cheese and roasted tomatoes on top. But, you know, it was really terrific and terribly easy and I'll be doing it again. If I can be bothered.
Goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart
2 packs Capricorn goat's cheese
1 slab ready puff pastry (I get Waitrose own, which comes in two slabs. One of those, rolled out a bit, is enough for 2 people.)
1 string of baby tomatoes on the vine
some mint, if you have
salt and pepper
semolina for dusting
1 Shove the tomatoes in the oven for an hour at 180 with olive oil and salt at some point during the day.
2 When ready for dinner roll out the puff pastry to a longer-ish oblong. Dust a baking sheet with semolina to stop the pastry from sticking. Beat an egg in a bowl and brush the pastry all over with about a third of the eggwash.
3 In a bowl combine the torn-up goat's cheese (rind on or off, it's up to you), the tomatoes, some mint, salt and pepper and the rest of the beaten egg. Then pile up in a fat straggly line along the centre of your oblong (as it cooks it will melt and spread out and you don't want it to slop over the edges of the pastry).
4 Shove in a 180 oven for about 20 minutes. We ate this with Polpo's courgette salad (also on this blog).
Yes yes I know a lot of you will be rolling your eyes at the obviousness of this, but as my husband always says "The perfect is the enemy of the good".