Yesterday was one of those work days where everything that can possibly go wrong, does. I spent half of the day sorting out the impossible dilemma of how to screen a film for 60 students when one videocassette snapped, two were stolen and one was unmasked as an illegal copy and I was therefore banned from using it. British Amazon no longer stock this (French) film; even French Amazon had run out, and I was reduced to panicked pleas for help to colleagues all over the city, people I hadn't even met. The next problem was how to fit 55 students into a room that seated 40 (answer: steal chairs frantically and illicitly from a neighbouring room, and squeeze the students in like sardines; don't, on any account, alert any administrative system to this potential health and safety hazard). Then I contrived to partially lose my voice. A good start to a term, you might say. I came home dragging my feet, simultaneously exhausted and over-wired, longing to forget the day and yet unable to. I have yet to learn the art of zen; I do worrying so much better.
Anyway I did manage to make dinner, cooking being one way I destress (another one is to sink into a hot bath with a novel); I smeared cod fillets in sundried tomato paste and basil leaves, wrapped in parma ham and baked. (This is a rip-off easy version of the stellar monkfish in parma ham from Happy Days, which is a fantastic recipe) I also made Jamie's roasted baby leeks with thyme from Cook with Jamie. Wash and trim baby leeks, blanch for 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water, drain, then toss with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sliced garlic cloves and thyme leaves. Roast in an oven preheated to 200C for about 10 minutes until golden and caramelized.
I was a bit underwhelmed by this recipe. It's not that different from the whole-baked carrots recipe I tried recently, which I really liked; this one was nice, but it didn't really excite me much. This may be because baby leeks aren't in season - mine were dodgy imports. It may be because leeks just aren't exciting enough to warrant a blog entry. It is probably also because my boiled potatoes were a boring accompaniment. Anyway the leeks were nice enough that I would make them again if I had baby leeks, but wouldn't go out of my way to buy those leeks again - until spring/summer, when I promise I will give them a go in their correct seasonal setting. I have been breaking seasonal rules for this project and perhaps this is nature seeking its revenge. In any case, dinner did me good. It stopped me fretting about rooms and videos and pieces of paper and reminded me that work doesn't have to shadow me all day long like a persistent ghost; it can and should be laid to rest. I need to remember that when I wake up at 3 am with raging toothache fretting about the practicalities of the working day to come.