Yesterday I had the uncommon pleasure of striking everything out on my daily to-do list. I’m still feeling chuffed about this.
Usually I make the mistake of putting too many things on, or just wasting my time one way or another, or forgetting about some item on it. Last month I read a book on the practicalities of long-distance wilderness backpacking in the US, with the suggestion that it is useful to have a ‘drift box’ — supplies that you send from one waypoint to another, rather than from home to the pick-up spot. These are things you might wish to have later but not carry.
In much the same way, my to-do lists have drift items. These are ones that are, perhaps, not urgent, nor even usually all that important, but that I would like to get done at some point relatively soon. Vacuuming, or writing a letter, or picking up the miscellaneity of items on the ottoman in my living room, or putting together the loom that has been sitting in pieces since I moved to Halifax two years ago. Or indeed continuing to cross items off my larger list of Things Before Thirty. And so I’ve been progressing through those drift items, little by little. (The vacuum and the ottoman still need doing.)
Two food-related items on my List are (a) making pad thai from scratch and (b) learning to make five cocktails well. Now, I already make a good gin and tonic, so that’s one. I ran out of tonic last week, and since (in another challenge) I’m trying to go through a No Spending month (which is to say, no spending on inessentials, under which category tonic water definitely falls), I was pleased to discover the existence of a cocktail involving gin and lime cordial, both of which I have on hand. (I decided a lime could count as a food essential, for the prevention of scurvy.)
The gimlet is famous from Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, which I have not read. That drink appears to be half and half cordial and gin, which most moderns find too sweet. I followed several recipes that suggested 2 oz. of gin and 1 oz. of lime cordial, with or without a squeeze of lime juice, over rocks as I like my drinks cold but don’t have a martini shaker.
I have to say that I was much taken aback by the strength of that gimlet. I don’t know how people in the age of cocktails didn’t all end up with cirrhosis of the liver or alcohol poisoning if they drank multiples of that sort of drink daily; at any rate, I am a weakling and also have things to do in the mornings, so the next time I felt like trying a cocktail I reassessed proportions.
I still have some tweaking to do, but the 1 oz. of gin together with about 2/3 oz. of lime cordial, plus a slice of lime, a couple of ice cubes, and a squeeze of lime juice, made a pretty fine gimlet in my view. So there’s cocktail no. 2 of 5.
As for my efforts at pad thai…. I followed Donna Hay’s recipe in her Classics 1 cookbook. I didn’t have quite all the right ingredients, which always throws things off. I wasn’t worried about bean sprouts or peanuts, but I think the lack of shrimp paste defeated me. Although tasty, the final result was not much like pad thai except in involving rice noodles, egg, and shrimp all together. But that’s okay; I will search out other recipes and see what I see. It did involve the rest of my lime (see! a necessity!), which means perhaps I need to look for a third type of cocktail involving either gin or white vermouth — or both — or scotch, and not too many other items, to try next.