In England, it’s March that’s said to come in like a lion, and go out like a lamb. But Downunder, thought the librarycook, it was this May that brought zoological comparisons to mind. May arrived with pleasant, lamb-like, even balmy weather, but by the middle of the month* the leonine conditions had arrived, with temperatures dropping to single digits, and the librarycook’s thoughts turned to warming, filling, comforting dishes, and the May issue of Delicious was here to help.
First up was Herby Zucchini, Leek and Potato Soup. Rated 7.5/10 for its C:R ratio**, this recipe involved some minimal chopping and then an entire hour during which it virtually made itself, giving the librarycook more than enough time to complete Ben Aaronovitch’s latest addition to his Rivers of London series, What Abigail Did That Summer, a delightful novella featuring talking foxes and a haunted house.
Roasted Mushroom Broth with Mushroom Dumplings was next up on the librarycook’s menu. Not only did this recipe provide an hour’s virtually uninterrupted reading time, it was also a mindfulness exercise calling on the librarycook’s origami skills to produce the dumplings. The hour was put to good use, with the librarycook immersing herself in Esther : The Extraordinary True Story of the First Fleet Girl who Became First Lady of the Colony, a lightly fictionalised biography of Esther Johnston, who, along with her husband George eventually settled in present day Stanmore in a genteel residence named Annandale, after George’s birthplace in Scotland. If, like the librarycook, you are also an enthusiastic sheep fan, you will be interested to learn that Stanmore can boast it was home to the earliest merinos in Australia, pre-dating the Macarthurs by four years.
The recipe itself was a success, its warm umami flavours contrasting with the tang of its accompanying kimchi in a bowl of deliciousness on a cold Sunday evening. Serendipitously, the following day, the librarycook spotted not one, but two recent, apposite additions to the library : Death by Dumpling, and The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling – she’s unsure about the first, but is in full agreement with the second.
And lastly, a Chicken Cassoulet with Spicy Chorizo and Smoked Bacon. Delicious though this was, in a spirit of pedantry the librarycook must point out that in French cookery, a cassoulet will always feature dried white beans, and not the fresh broadbeans added at the last moment of this recipe. Regardless, it was both warming, comforting and generous enough to provide leftovers for another evening – bonus reading time, on top of the two hours its initial preparation offered. The recipe’s subtext suggested that, were the librarycook in possession of a slow cooker, those two hours could stretch to six, provoking a little envy in the librarycook’s mind.
*Does May have Ides, wondered the librarycook idly.
**Cooking:Reading ratio – the more time available to read, the better.