Working from home can present some, albeit few, challenges. Admittedly I see only positives most days - no bra; getting dressed at midday if you like; starting work ridiculously early so as to spend the afternoon doing something you really want to - but I must say, a recent trip beyond these lovely, high walls proved that I have let myself go just a little over winter. It's all too easy to snack at will when your kitchen doubles as an office. Prowling the pantry hourly for an apricot here, a cashew or ten there, starts to add up. It's little wonder that my favourite pants, the ones that make actually make my bum look rather good, no longer do.
If I'd not been heavily ensconced in some heavy-duty working from home yesterday, I wouldn't have had to interact with nor indeed to lie to complete strangers.
Dressed in non-threatening shades of pink and blue, two women rang the bell at our front gate yesterday mid-morning. I, unwashed and hair typically a-mess, answered their call with a small terrier barking uncontrollably at my side and, somewhat inexplicably, a toothbrush in my right hand. Politely (perhaps timidly is more accurate) the braver of the two held a small book lovingly in her palm and asked if I'd like to talk about The Bible. So I told them, again somewhat inexplicably, that 'round here, we are Jewish. Which is mostly truthful. In a way.
They were off before I could even get the dog to calm down.
With spring (supposedly) in the air, I'm ready to tackle this expanded girth of mine. In an effort to feel more in tune with longer, warmer days, and get energized about our impending move, I'm shifting this neglected winter bum into gear. If only so as to shoehorn it into those flatteringly good trousers again, some time soon. I see salads, more protein and far less sugar in my immediate future.
Lighter, fresher, brighter flavours to make the task ahead seem just that bit more enjoyable.
Smoked tofu, mango and avocado salad, for one
Based on an idea gleaned from Colin Spencer's entertaining collection of essays, Vegetable Pleasures. Smoked tofu has a deep, strong flavour yet the creamy avocado and slices of sweet mango rather than being overwhelmed, stand up to it admirably. Quick, pretty and satisfying.
1 shallot (golden eschallot)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sugar or agave syrup
Toasted sesame oil
1 perfectly ripe, juicy mango cheek
1/2 a ripe, firm avocado
6 thin slices of smoked tofu
Peel and chop the shallot as finely as you care to, then place in a small dish. Juice the lime over the top, add a generous pinch of salt and leave for 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar/agave and a drop or two of the sesame oil. Whisk well and set aside.
Arrange a handful of rocket on a plate. Hold the mango cheek in your palm and carefully slice it lengthways without piercing the skin. Scoop out with a large spoon. Repeat with the avocado half.
To serve, fan the fruit and tofu out over the rocket, alternating as you go. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the dressing over the top and eat. Easy. The remaining dressing will keep for a day or so if refrigerated.