I am surrounded by boxes.
I have to go over an obstacle course to get to my door.
I’m typing this on my bed because my desk is covered with stuff.
But five months after everything went pear-shaped, I finally have a place to call home.
Home’s a funny thing. Home is, famously, where the heart is, but it’s also where the people welcome you, where you can hang your hat up, where you can put your feet on the furniture and your alcohol on the windowsill. Home is where you keep your crap, literal and figurative in more than one sense. Home is where no questions are asked and also where all the deep questions are asked. Home is when you can say that you’re stuffed and ready for bed and you can just go there. Home is re-discovering old clothes and old books. Home is baking at ten o’clock at night and rearranging the furniture to suit yourself.
I’ve learnt a lot in the past five months. How to accept hospitality, as well as being able to offer it. How to ask for favours. How to live with all kinds of different people. How to make macarons. How to not blow my top at work. How to move, again and again, packing up what I need and driving around with a doona in my boot just in case. (And a pillow, and some sheets, and a beanbag, some Tupperware and a TV remote control. Yup.)
In this house, tea is made approximately fifty times a day, which suits me just fine. Tea is one of the wonders of the modern world, brought to us thanks to industrialisation and British homesickness. Tea can be drunk to relieve hangovers, homesickness and heartache, to calm the senses and make one ready to face the day, even if that day is Monday. Tea is a miracle beverage.
And with tea comes biscuits.
I have a pretty large collection of cookie cutters, as is fitting. For my recent birthday, I was given a few specially chosen ones and they are particularly well suited to my new house and housemates. These biscuits are good for dipping but just as good eaten on their own. I am ridiculously happy to even just be baking again for fun, whenever I feel like it. To have my apron collection back with me, and be making tea in my favourite tea pot. Even if the rest of my stuff is still in boxes.
Chocolate-flecked butter cookies
Adapted from the Golden Book of Cookies
2 2/3 cups plain flour (400g)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (250g) sugar
180g unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
90g dark (at least 50% cocoa) chocolate, coarsely grated
Preheat your oven to 180/350 and line two baking trays with baking or parchment paper.
Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the grated chocolate and sugar and make a well in the centre.
Stir in the butter and eggs with a wooden spoon until the mixture is homogeneous. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for about half an hour.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until about half a centimetre thick. Cut out desired shapes and arrange on prepared baking tray with space in between. (Not too much space, just enough so they all have some room).
Bake from 8 (for small cookies) to fifteen (for larger – the teapots in this instance) minutes, until lightly browned and smelling delicious.
Music listened to while blogging: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours