Have you seen the sky today? It’s the bluest blue. Without a spot. Spotless blue. It’s a good piece of sky to be walking under. Talking under.
There’s something uncomplicated about this shade of blue. A shade darker, and it would turn sombre, more thoughtfut. A shade lighter, and it would be cold and impersonal. But the blue on top of my head today is ‘happy blue’.
And there are so many things in the house that match the sky. It’s not a conscious collection of things in ‘happy blue’. They seem to have collected themselves somehow. And now, there are swatches of sky strewn in every room.
Today, I need all the happy blues I can get. Ma and Baba left for India yesterday. We dropped them off at the airport for their long flight back home. Back to their own space. Back to friends. Back to the comfort of familiar chores.
But my house is terribly empty. And for days I’ll miss the routine we’d all fallen into. The chatter. The cups of tea. Long walks. And longer meals. The house has suddenly become quiet. A bit sad. It’s a different kind of blue.
So, I did the only thing anyone can do to banish the sad kind of blue. I baked bread. There’s nothing like the smell of a loaf turning golden in the oven. Surely it must be the happiest smell in the world? The smell of warm, freshly baked bread, brown and crusty on top, soft and fluffy inside. If one could bottle the smell of a just-baked bread, I’d buy it for a grey day.
Lemon thyme, green peppercorns & cheddar bread
This bread defines delicious. Really. It’s perfect, even on its own. Its softness seals in the tangy fragrance of lemon thyme, the heat of the green peppercorns, and the cheesy, melted saltiness of cheddar.
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup lemon thyme leaves
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp green peppercorns, roughly crushed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbs butter melted
1 tbs olive oil to fry the onion and garlic
1 tsp olive oil to grease the bread tin
1/2 cup cold milk
A sprig of lemon thyme to garnish
In a pan, heat olive oil and fry the onion and garlic till well browned. Let it cool.
In a big bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, fine sea salt and pepper. To this mix the lemon thyme, green peppercorns, fried onion and garlic and cheddar. With your hands, mix them well, and quite firmly, slightly bruising the leaves.
In a separate bowl mix the eggs, olive oil and melted butter. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add a bit of cold milk if the mixture feels too tight.
Grease your bread tin. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven, at 160 degrees C, for 45 – 50 minutes. Insert a knife in the centre of the bread. If it comes our clean, the bread is baked.
Garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme. Serve warm or at room temperature.