July 24, 2011

Sugar and spice...

Growing up I had the opportunity to row, and I loved the feeling of gliding across a crystal clear surface as you watched the dawn break over a crisp, peaceful morning. It was my favourite part of training, and I found there was always just something very centering about it. But as we built up to a big regatta the crew would sit down and discuss race tactics, and as we laid down the event day script the cox was inevitably instructed, "thirty seconds in, tell them to breathe". At the time I always thought this was a ridiculous thing to say. Besides, it's an unconscious act, who on Earth forgets to breathe? But then, as you powered through the first twenty strokes and someone suddenly screamed "Breathe!" you realised your focus had been getting in the way of the important things, and that with a sharp intake of necessity, everything suddenly became a lot clearer.


And I find life, at times, can get a little bit that way. You become so focussed on getting everything done that importance becomes relative, and as you start to micro-manage what were once the fun things, even a piece of perceived downtime can become lost in the fight to stay afloat. In essence, you forget to breathe.

So I am slowly learning to make time for this, and while we all breathe in different ways, what works for me is the simple things - I sit in cafes and watch the world go by, I run, and I bake, and having completed my second half marathon last weekend (life challenge no. 2, *tick!*), baking was clearly next on the agenda.

For me, one of the great things about food is that it is a delightful combination of comfort and experimentation. While the processes can provide you with a contented familiarity there is unending opportunity within this to stray from convention and add a little spice. And in the mother of all segues, yesterday this is precisely what I did, as a few combinations that wouldn't necessarily be at the forefront of one's palate predictions were attempted... with rather delectable results.

There was a particularly luscious olive oil cake featuring the curing combination of rosemary and dark chocolate...








And from one of the prettiest cookbooks in existence, these rather ambrosial saffron and coriander scrolls with lemon glaze...












Sometimes it feels good to just breathe...



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