We often go out to buy a dozen eggs, or a pair of socks, and come back with books instead. So now, there are books oozing out of the cracks in the walls, and out of the floorboards. The end of the year is a particularly bad month – Santa Claus brings us a lot of books. And then comes D’s birthday, which was yesterday. This is what I got for him.
Chotto-ma has her own burgeoning collection, which can no longer be contained in the bookshelves that we have downstairs, and have been demanding a space of their own. We had a battered old bookshelf lying in the shed, which I had bought from a thrift store last year. It was standing there, relegated to a dark corner of the shop. Old and scratched, and with nails rustier than my French. But it was £5, so it came home with me.
D dug out the bookshelf from the musty, murky depths of our shed, while I went to look for the right shade of paint. I have a shelf under the kitchen sink where I keep my collection of paint cans. I am known to buy acrylics, emulsions and eggshells on a whim, just like one might a pair of Muji shoes. And now own a healthy collection of cans – some Farrow and Balls, a few from the Little Greene Paint Co. and some from Fired Earth.
I chose a rich, foresty green for the shelf. Painted it, then distressed the paint till patches of the wood showed through. I wallpapered the inside of the top shelf, and sewed a curtain to cover the lower shelf.
Chotto-ma loves it – her very own bookshelf. And seems to have found many uses for the curtains – sometimes it makes a theatre, sometimes a kennel, a room, a hidey-hole.
An hour later, I was standing in the kitchen staring at my purchase, without a clue about what to do with it. So, instead of opening my spice cupboard, I open Wikipedia. A bit of reading tells me that Jerusalem Artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem. Neither were they a kind of artichoke.
Cumin-spiced Jerusalem artichokes with chorizo, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorns
As it turns out, Jerusalem artichokes have a wonderfully earthy and nutty flavour, and a sweetness that combined beautifully with the salty, spicy kick of the chorizo. This recipe is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver. He doesn’t use chorizo, so for a vegetarian version, that’s a lovely option.
5-6 Jerusalem artichokes, sliced round
3-4 inches chorizo, sliced round
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 bay leaves (I used dried bay leaves)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
A pinch of cumin
1 tbs olive oil
Heat olive oil in a pan, and add all the ingredients, except chorizo. Chorizo can become quite tough when sauteed too long. Cook the Jerusalem artichokes for about 20 minutes, lifting the lid once in between to give them a stir. Uncover, add the chorizo, and stir for a 3-4 minutes will the chorizo is done. Serve hot.