As a five-year old I was not known for my discretion. Not as 30-year old either when I come to think of it, but I am working on it. What made me think of that?
The appearance of Christmas decorations before the Jack O’Lanterns were decently decayed got me remembering my indulgent parents who let me pick a truly awful artificial tree (which I loved) composed entirely of tinsel branches. Which led to the memory of pestering my father to tell me what was in the tiny box he’d bought for my mother.
“No, you’ll tell her.” After much pleading and promising he revealed the secret: telescopic golf clubs. He explained, “You are driving along and you think I’d like to play a game of golf. You stop the car and pull out your telescopic golf clubs, you can play anywhere.” I thought this was fabulous, and was very disappointed when the little box contained a watch. What’s the segue?
I recently made a roast beef dinner which telescoped into multiple meals. I’d made the Brussel sprout recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast, which features chestnuts and pancetta. I gently reheated the leftovers and had them on a bed of greens with a citrusy dressing and a few shavings of parmesan. Scrumptious and filling.
A pound of the left over beef went into an Indonesian style curry with lots of ginger and coconut milk. Delicious, but I went overboard on the quantity of sauce, so I ladled off enough to make matar paneer which was a welcome vegetarian respite.
With the remaining roast beef I made main dish salads with greens, avocado, cherry tomatoes and a mustard mayo dressing. Didn’t waste a morsel of that beef, much to the dachshund's disappointment. The great thing about cooking by the stream of consciousness is you can never step into the same stream twice.
By delightful chance the third book in Gyles Brandreth’s Oscar Wilde mystery series, The Dead Man’s Smile begins on the cusp of Christmas. I’m only a few chapters in, but it is as intriguing as the first two. I recently finished the second book The Ring of Death, which puts a complex spin on the classic locked room mystery trope. Both books are studded with historic trivia, adding to their fascination for me.
The Vanishing Velázquez by Laura Cumming is a real life mystery: the authenticity and whereabouts of a portrait of the prince who would become Charles I of England by Velázquez. He produced what many think to be the finest painting in the history of European art, Las Meninas. The portrait was purchased at an auction by John Snare, an English printer and stationer in 1845. He spent the rest of his life fighting, and sacrificing virtually all, to prove the painting’s provenance and to retain possession of it. Cumming braids the lives of the painter and the printer into an intriguing narrative.