It always pleases me when I find I have something in common with someone I admire. If I’m reading an interview with a musician or an actor and they say their favourite holiday destination is the Greek Islands, I think “Ha! If I were ever stuck in a lift with you, we could talk Greek Islands to while away the time until help arrived.” Believe me, I can talk Greek Islands till the cows have come home, poured a drink and settled down with their feet up to watch Mastermind... (Of course, the down-side of this is the slightly yuk feeling one has when one reads an interview with someone and they turn out to have politics that make one wince, or to be deeply evangelical over something one feels cringey about (like loving “Hello” magazine), or they are simply full of sh*t. It isn’t quite so bad if they turn out to be nice but as thick as a plank, but still rather flattening to one's admiration. Luckily, admiring musicians and opera singers, actors and artists, ballet dancers and writers and film directors and architects and the like, I tend to find myself more interested in someone when I read an interview, instead of less).
Anyway; I will try and steer this rambling onwards to the point.
I went home last night and looked in the refrigerator, and saw a random range of vegetables, and a lot of cheese. I thought “Mmm, macaroni cheese with veg!” and I began preparing the random veg and putting them on the hob in a pan of melted butter to soften, with salt and pepper and about ten cloves of crushed garlic. The mushrooms soaked up a lot of the garlicky butter, so I added more butter, because to make macaroni cheese with veg you need enough melted butter in the pan to make the white sauce around the veg – they then cook in it (it saves on dishes).
But then I opened the flour jar; and there was nothing in it. Oh drat. No flour = no roux = no white sauce. Rats!
I didn’t have any yoghurt or any eggs, so couldn’t do my usual gluten-free cop-out cheesy sauce. I didn’t have any cornflour, so couldn’t cheat that way either. I had a pan of butter, garlic and lovely veg braising sweetly away, and another pan of macaroni bubbling merrily beside it. I swore, being me; but swearing didn’t solve the problem. I could have thrown the lot out and ordered a takeaway. I can afford to do that, occasionally, these days. But it does so offend my pride as a cook, to chuck out perfectly good food; and I knew nothing I could order was likely to taste as good as that garlic smelled. Good evening, Problem, what do you need? Problem, meet Solution.
I put couscous in it instead, and went ahead exactly as if it had been flour.
The result was actually very tasty, if a bit heavy on the carbohydrates. Couscous does not make a roux, but it soaked up some of the butter, and it cooked into a sort of creamy, grainy mush when I added liquid. There were so many good flavours in there, what with the garlic and broccoli and sugar peas and mushrooms, that by the time I’d slung on some more pepper and half a cup of grated strong cheddar cheese I was almost pleased with my invention. I don’t think I’ll be serving it to company any time soon, as the texture was fairly odd (& remember, I’m one of those strange people who like cornmeal grits and tofu). Think cheesy gruel with vegetables, on macaroni. But, heck, it was food. That's always an improvement on no food, after all.
And then I was reading an interview online, in my lunch break today, and I found the subject talking about problems and solutions and being able to make a meal out of whatever is in the ‘fridge. I had to laugh. I love bizarre coincidences. There have been occasions in my life when odd coincidences have brought me real blessings. I'd like to hope this one may - I sent GY to yet another agent a couple of days ago. Please, please, please, let me get what I want...
So anyway, now I know, if I’m ever stuck in a lift with the actor in question, I can wipe the embarrassed stars from my eyes and talk cheese sauce recipes with him. Mmm.