Sunlight is, at long last, streaming through the windows, hitting the floorboards and rebounding, sending gentle arcs of light into corners of the house that have been dark and dingy for months. Cobwebs cringe in the illumination, but they've never really worried me. I'm a spider-lover from way back. With windows and doors flung wide open, pot plants holding them in place, not even the wind that swoops through the yard, rattling the upper branches of the trees as it heads toward the house, can dampen my spirit.
Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and for the first time in a week, our evening meal will be child-free. Ordinarily it would pass unnoticed - just another holiday he no longer celebrates - but warmth and light and impending change have made me crave a small celebration of sorts. It's not my thing, Faith, but I do hold faithfully to the little rituals in life that, for whatever reason, mark significant moments. Spring; a house in the country; these are things worth marking in our own, small way.
Over breakfast I pulled out my favourite Jewish cooks; Claudia Roden (rituals, meaning) and Nadine Abensur (inspiration, depth of flavour). Round things, sweet things, not a hint of bitterness lest the year ahead be similarly tainted was what I came away with from Roden, but dinner itself will come, with considerable adaptation, from the divine Abensur. Individual b'astillas of waxy potato slices - golden from a winey, garlicky, 20-minute braise - with wilted spinach, caramelised onions, and bound with a tiny knob of soft goats cheese and coriander. Wrapped in layers of filo, and then pan-fried until crisp and burnished. Blindly hunting around the back of the saucepan cupboard on my knees turned up a blini pan bought years ago, used the sum total of once, then subsequently forgotten. Perfect size. There will be stoved baby turnips on the side (a bunch of beauties I've not yet tackled) and some tiny baby carrots, too.
For later, a metricised version of Alice Medrich's whole wheat sablés, a recipe you can find here, via The Wednesday Chef, (de-chocolatised in the interest of a sweet year ahead) but I think you should buy the book. It's a cracker.
Here's to New Beginnings, for one and all.