Today is January 7 2011, and I am on a train, off to a meeting and happily feeling like myself again for the first time since just after Boxing Day. Don't get me wrong, we had an idyllic Christmas but it seemed to go on and on, to that point where too much of a good thing ultimately brought me down.
As I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher for what felt like the hundredth time, I became acutely aware that cooking and cleaning had become to this wannabe Domestic Goddess, what we now know real live children became to Enid Blyton. She could not stand the blighters and in my world of food and cookery books, things were turning nasty too. Vegetables were seen but not peeled and familiarity turned into contemplation as I longed to be out of site as I retreated into my mind.
Galvanised by sugar and the New Year approaching, I ate what was supposed to be my last mince pie with almost a whole tub of brandy butter (yes I did say 'tub' as I did not find the time to make it this year). I made my new year's resolutions and donated the remaining Christmas carbs to the birds. The Happy New Me was going to bring in balance, socialising and a life enhancing eating and exercise regime; not to mention Ruiz's 5 Agreements and a move to a house with a garden. I was totally psyched!
Not wanting to leave this new life to chance, I observed a revered but rather revolting Italian tradition and prepared a stuffed pig's trotter and lucky lentils to eat at the stroke of midnight. The trotter is for health and love and the lentils for prosperity. My husband was working and superstition drove us to see him before bewitching hour to deliver his share of love, health and prosperity, albeit lukewarm and in a Tupperware box.
Once back home I am proud to say that I multitasked right up until the end of the year and with one eye on Jools Holland and one hand on a Play Station microphone, I competed for fame and fortune with gusto singing 'I AM WOMAN' at the top of my lungs. At the stroke of midnight, I was informed by a virtual Simon Cowell, that I sucked the big trotter in the singing department and as the children danced I reached for the champagne and wondered if they could see how much his careless cyber flippancy had hurt. I took another swig of champagne and resolved that the new me would be less sensitive.
A recent newspaper pole showed that 36% of the British public voted 2010 as the worst year of their lives. I have to say that despite some wonderful moments and achievements I can sympathise. With the obvious pressure upon us all as world events unfold, for me 2010 was the year that I yet again surrendered my power and yet again 'people-pleased' myself into co-dependent confusion. I say yet again because despite working at this game for years and knowing so much stuff in theory, so much so that I am now paid to provide light hearted guidance and comfort on a regular basis, I was sickened for forgetting to drink my own medicine.
The big question for the new decade is how easy is it to muster up a new version of ourselves? How can we effectively and permanently override those built in factory settings that are the biological and environmental basis of our behaviour? They say 'it takes one to know one' and only then perhaps we can be at one with our one. I am gradually recognising patterns in my life and when I stumble on a familiar pebble, I now know to pick myself up and get back on the road.
So happy to have my life back, today is my New Year's day HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! May this decade taste wonderful to you, may you find the strength to own your true power and hold on to it. It takes a lot more than a fat sausage and some lucky lentils to make us happy, but I have learnt that when we commit to understand the true flavours of life, we really start cooking with gas!
That said, life without luck is like salt without pepper, so here is my recipe for Lucky Lentils. Like people, the year is forever renewing itself so you can celebrate a Happy New You any time you are ready.
If, like me, you have already strayed from the path, don't sweat it, dust yourself off and get your arse back on the road to happiness. You know you're worth it! Please send cooking conundrums and domestic dilemmas of any kind to: email@example.com
Lentils are considered to be lucky in Italy and always eaten on New Year's Eve as an auspicious way to bring in luck and money. I eat them all the year round, for good measure!
500g Puy lentils
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic pealed and cut in half
1.5 ltrs vegetable stock (made with 2.5 vegetable stock cubes)
3 sprigs of tarragon
salt to taste & freshly ground black pepper
Place lentils in a sieve and rinse (checking for stones as you do)
Heat oil in a shallow pan, sauté onion and garlic until onion is soft and glassy.
Add lentils and herbs and sauté with the onion.
Add stock and leave to absorb on a low heat with the lid half off and half on, until lentils are cooked but still retain a bite.
When cooked remove from the heat, and season adding a further drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve tepid or cold.