The dreary days of January - a fruit crumble to add some colour into my dispirited mood
January is always a burst balloon, isn't it? After the Holidays, the excitment of Christmas and NYE, the glorious food, the dolce fare niente, the ease, the calm, the slow living, January strikes you like a right handed punch from a very strong boxeur. Or a kick from a kickboxer. You get my point. It's a long month. It's a cold month. Dreary too. A month that seems to stretch ahead with nothing to look forward to but bleakness. It's a Dickensian month. One that saps joy and energy in equal quantities, but that always looks so beautiful and cosy if you can afford to stay in. Like I do. I tend to get a lot of writing done, in January. Not that it's any good writing - editing will be a pain, later on - because being a bleak month, my writing tends to get bleak too. Over sentimental as well. Focused on stuff that ends up being quite unnecessary.
But I do tend to spend long hours immersed in the writing, listening to particular types of music that do end up bringing out even more sappiness into the writing, or researching like mad on all sorts of subjects which in the end turns out to be a waste of time because I don't use any of it. Sometimes I do. Like when I researched Finland for 'Commoner', and Helsinki's neighborhoods. A research that left me wishing I could move there and spend a year of my life perusing those streets, those places. I ended up feeling dispirited for knowing certain pipe dreams won't ever come true. If I could afford to, I would spend a year of my life in every place that captures my imagination. I can't afford to, and if I think about that during January, I end up dispirited.
Because January actually is a month where I do tend to get dispirited as hell. I start questioning everything, the purpose of everything, and all the hard work I put into things. I start questioning if I should even bother - this blog tends to get the brunt of it, I usually tend to want to give it up during January - if maybe the universe isn't telling me it's time to quit, time to go do something else, maybe try and get a real job so I can help around the house in a proper way. I start looking up my sales' reports for the novels I've published and instead of thinking "Wow, all these copies of my books were bought, all these people wanted to read them!" I start thinking "Wow, my books suck, hardly anyone goes in for the second round, let alone the third. Fourth round is a joke, no one wants to read after book one because it's so bad no one liked it. I should stop writing." That's my general January outlook in life.
Of course I persevere, for whatever reason - I'm either stubborn and masochistic or so narcisistic I do believe deep down I'm a bloody talented writer and food blogger, only the world's too blind to see it. But the fear and doubts start to creep in, come January. My mind starts having these conversations with itself where I question my whole purpose to even exist, let alone insist on writing and blogging. I start doubting whatever new book I'm working in. I start questioning why I waste so much time toiling at it, if it clearly interests no one. I begin to fear Iwill never sell another copy again, or get another comment on this blog. This last one is very real, most of my posts go without comments. It is what it is, but during January it tends to hurt. Yes, I am vulnerable and I am not ashamed to admit it. I hurt easy, I am not resilient at all, nor thick skinned, nor am I a strong person. I am me.
To counter this state of mind, I turn to food. Not in a binge eating way, but to try and get some comforting warmth and nourishment. And a visual interest, too. Pretty food. With deep colours, with depth, with redolent smells that fill the house with a sense of joy and homeliness. Breads. Cakes that are heavy on the spices and fruits. Stews that are packed full of veggies. Roasts that comr out of the oven crispy and indulging. Risottos, pasta, the works. Mulled wine in which over ripe pears have been stewing gently, pineapple, apples and red berries that have baked in the oven until they melt in your mouth. The comforting aroma of cinammon filling the house. Crumbles. That crumble in your mouth and make you go 'hmmmmm' as you eat. That warm up the soul and make everything feel less dreary, less dispiriting.
Saddly, my kiddo does not care for crumbles, so I don't indulge enough. I only started making them recently, and wonder what took me so long to fall prey to this delight. We are particular to crumbles that pack up apples, pears, and all the red berries we can get. Like this one. For it, you'll need:
- 2 to 3 russet apples, depending on size
- 2 to 3 red apples, depending on size
- 2 to 3 pears, depending on size
- 1 cup frozen mixed red berries
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 125 gr flour
- 95 gr dark muscovado sugar
- 100 gr butter, diced
- 1 tsp cinammon (ye, another)