Can the sky weep? Can the clouds be blue? It certainly feels like it today in Melbourne. It's a curl-up-with-a-good-book-in-bed kind of day. I started the food memoir Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton last night, and if the first few chapters are anything to go by, it’s going to be a ripper. But one must be productive and not give in to all of one’s whims, especially when there is work to be done in the office of Writing Spirit. Still, I believe we should give in at least to some whims, even on a weekday. There’s no reason why a modern gal can’t slow cook and earn a living at the same time, especially when she has the luxury of working from a home office. I simply must make soup.
There are a few bacon bones in the freezer, plenty of carrots and a somewhat limp half celery in the fridge, and a few onions and garlic on the bench top. And joy of joys – there’s a pack of split peas in the pantry.
By 7am, all of the above apart from the split peas has been put on slow boil in a large pot of water. At first cup-of-tea time at 10.30, I strain the whole concoction through a muslin cloth into another pot, and add the washed split peas. At cup-of-tea time number 2 a few hours later (ah the joys of being my own boss), I pick the meat off the bacon bones and add it to the soup, along with salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a few of our home-grown chillies. The peas are by now soft and the soup is looking deliciously silky.
By 12.30, I’ve done half a day’s work (at least in the paid sense) and the soup is ready. I slice some dense sourdough bread, find a wedge of ricotta in the fridge, scoop up some olives, and get out the olive oil. By the time my mother arrives soon after, we sit down to a decadent weekday feast. The sun decides to pop its head out for a few minutes (the weather sure is alive today). Even the blue/grey clouds don’t seem so grim. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone or anything feeling grim when they have peppery pea and ham soup in their belly.