Now that I've got that off my chest, I feel the pull of writing again. Not that Not Drinking was a block, rather that the changes that accompanied getting to that point was all-consuming - getting married, back-to-back rounds of Michelle Bridges' 12 Week Body Transformation, chiefly, and then there was the mad, sad, and very, very bad closure of the bookshop I loved werking in. It's taken a few months to recover from the grief and trauma that customers transferred to me ... so, onward and upward. Unemployment is good, and there are plans afoot to change a lot more of our lives.
One of the downsides to no longer being in the book trade is not seeing new books, being so out of the loop that it almost hurts. Cue the lovely Charlotte from Pan Macmillan who nabbed me on my way out of Dymocks a few weeks ago. We hugged and chatted, then - super-star that she is - she sent me a parcel of new books. In the pile was a cookbook I'd not seen, a lovely thing called Ostro by a young woman called Julia Busuttil Nishimura, with rich, sometimes dark photography and groovy back-streets-of-Fitzroy-with-the-family stuff, all very Melbourne. I've cooked three things so far, and each has been excellent: an olive oil rhubarb cake flecked with chocolate to which I added ground and crystallised ginger; her "dependable cabbage salad" which was glorious and, below, her baked beans.
I was dubious about the beans, having found dried cannellini's to be, frankly, a pain in the arse. Despite doing everything one is told to do about dried beans - buy from somewhere with a high turnover so they are fresh, soak for 12-24 hours, cook for an age, blahblahblah - they always ended up slightly crunchy. And nothing does my digestion in like a crunchy bean.
But here's the thing. Turns out that I've been doing it wrong for all these (considerable) years. Julia has you do all of the above with one key difference, a point of genius that I have to share; after soaking and draining and rinsing the beans, you boil them at a rapid pace for 30 minutes, then drain and get on with cooking them long and slow in the oven, but it's that boiling that is absolutely key.
Soft, tender, moreish beans that don't wage war on one's gut. Perfection.