Oh Nigella! That British accent, your carefree approach, the ingredients I could count on one hand. All this combined created a new culinary confidence in myself. I headed to the market, grabbed a basket... and realized that while listening to the interview, I had neglected to write down any measurements, quantities or proportions. Proceeding a bit more slowly now, I bought garbanzo beans (1 can? 2 cans?), canned cherry tomatoes (did you know they came in cans? I didn't), chorizo sausage, dried apricots, and a bottle of cooking sherry.
Back at home, I was struck by the fact that two months had passed since that morning in the car. Two months for memory, and recipe instructions, to fade. A moment of paralysis, followed immediately by the thought that the whole point of the recipe was simplicity. I would wing it.
Sausage sliced and sizzling in the pan, I stared at my list and decided that surely I had written it in the order of additions. Sherry was next. I had never used sherry. How much to add? When to add? Into the cooking sausage? After the sausage was cooked? Or maybe my list wasn't in order after all!? I fell back on tradition, and did what I always do when immobilized by the stove. Knowing he was at work, I sent my friend "S" a text: "Making sausage and tomato stew. When do I add the sherry?? Help!"
I poked at the sausage and waited... a phone call! It was him! With grace and laughter (and using up his break time at work) he told me all about sherry and made some suggestions. Empowered once more, I returned to the galley and realized I had neglected to ask, "How much?"
Big Sigh. I dumped some in.
On to ingredient number three! I added two cans of garbanzo beans, waited until they were warm, and opted for just one can of cherry tomatoes. Everything simmered away fragrantly while I chopped up dried apricots---don't ask me how many--- and tossed them in. With the burner adjusted to the lowest of low, I peered in.
It was so pretty! Almost festive. I think it was the first time I cooked something so bright and merry looking. AND it tasted great. Definitely up for a repeat... but not too soon!