January 10, 2007

Cavolo Nero

Exactly one week into my new life as a freelancer. It’s OK. Some days I sit in the kitchen facing towards the fridge, other days I sit facing the back door. Occasionally I walk through to the front room and look out the window, to check the weather. Haven’t yet been tempted to turn on the telly before Eastenders, haven’t yet sat down to start work much after 9am. Things are going pretty well, I’m pleased with progress.

I like not having a job. The feeling of being free to sit down and apply for any vacancy listed, however ridiculous, irrelevant or badly paid. Today I saw that Brighton Museum are looking for people to do 3 months research into any object in their collections which relates to courtship – wooing, getting it on, having it off, however you want to put it. They’re offering a bursary of £5000. Not much dosh, nothing to do with the web, but still, sounds interesting. Suddenly life is full of odd tangents, tempting diversions. Must stay focused though, I’m too easily distracted, like proverbial kid in candy store.

Mmm.. what’s this over here? Interesting… hmm let’s just take a quick look… er what was I meant to be doing… oh, yes…

Boiling cavolo nero

The veg box, as always, continues to inspire culinary diversions. Thanks to the good folks at the River Cafe (not to be confused with HFW’s metro-peasant posse over at River Cottage) we’ve discovered that Cavolo Nero makes a magnificent pasta sauce. Just boil the leaves from 2 or 3 heads with a couple of peeled garlic cloves, drain, and blitz to a rough paste. Finish by stirring in plenty of olive oil, more raw crushed garlic, goodly amounts of salt and pepper. Stir it into a bowl of tubby pasta shapes and serve with parmesan and more oil at the table. A worthy winter pesto-substitute.

Grating parmesan

I’ve also had a kilo slab of pork belly kicking around in the freezer since our last trip to the Farmers’ Market. I’ve been meaning to have a go at making home-cured bacon for a while, and according to HFW in the Meat Book, it’s a pretty simple procedure.

Pork belly

So I’ve mixed up a bowl full of coarse salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, pepper and chopped bay leaf and rubbed it into the belly meat. This salty pork slab is now sitting in the fridge, and I’ll need to drain it off and add more cure mix each day for the next week or so. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Measuring curing ingredients

And now it’s nearly 6pm. Time to get my coat, hat and scarf on, tuck my laptop under my arm and walk round the block, returning home with my domestic head on. A little fake-commute to remind myself I am in reality a poor boy wot must work for his crust and not, alas, a lady of leisure.