My husband is on holidays. During the day, he takes the kids out and about so I can write, bless him; in the evening, he sprawls on the couch with a good book. Meanwhile, I am juggling words, cooking, cleaning, washing, vacuuming, and everything else. He keeps telling me to sit down, relax, don't worry about it all; after about two days, I realised he was right.
So I've taken a holiday myself. I'm washing the fundamentals; cleaning the filthy; but that's about it. We're eating lots of bread and point for dinner: rice and beans, beans on toast, scrambled eggs, and good takeaway. I'm only using dishes that go in the dishwasher; and after putting the kids to bed at night he loads the machine while I, inspired by my Christmas present, go play in the garden.
It's a big shift. Before we had kids, we ate out two or three times a week. Holidays meant time to cook. I'd take the opportunity to make fancy meals, try new recipes and have people over. Now that I cook every day, and prepare and clean away breakfast, lunch and snacks besides, holidays have changed. I spend so much time being inventive throughout the year that holidays mean a sabbatical.
Having said that, I would like to comment on last night's eggs. Our lovely chickens are laying an egg a day and our carton is full to bursting. We eat eggs a hundred different ways, but for the first time yesterday I thought to spice them up.
I warmed some garlic in oil, then added a gentle spice mix (Mason's Moroccan Spice from Mason's Cafe, to be precise, made by my friend, the magnificent cook Viv Mason - but any good mix containing cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg and cardamom should do). When the spices were cooked, I threw in the eggs and tossed them around, pushing and prodding until they were done.
The eggs came out silky soft, delicately flavoured, and lovely. Incidentally, I was recently gratified to learn that the way I make eggs is dignified by a name. I like my eggs rougher than an omelette, but smoother than scrambled; according to Tamasin Day-Lewis's fabulously informative Kitchen Bible, I can call them 'tumbled'. Sounds a lot classier than 'eggs', I must say.
Tumbled Eggs, Gently Spiced
Crack the eggs into a bowl, and beat them lightly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and set aside. (Day-Lewis says that adding salt to uncooked eggs can make them watery. I can't say that I've noticed.)
Whack the garlic with the flat of a knife. Flick away the skins, and chop it roughly. Gently warm the oil in a wide skillet, then add the garlic. Cook over low heat for a minute or two, until the garlic no longer smells raw but before it starts to colour. Add the spices and cook gently for half a minute more, or until they smell done.
Raise the heat to medium, and tip in the eggs. Using a spatula, scrape the eggs from the edge of the pan to the middle, drawing them up into soft mounds. Do this a few times, and run the spatula under the central eggs once or twice, until the eggs are barely set. This will take about a minute. They will continue to cook after you have removed them from the heat, so don't let them dry out.
Serve immediately with whatever takes your fancy: tumbled onto toast, tumbled over rice, or tumbled into baked potatoes with a bit of grated cheese.
(Local: eggs, garlic. Not local: spice mix, oil, salt, pepper.)